Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 in Review

2016 was a funny old year. It started on a high, skiing in Northern Italy with my now ex-boyfriend. The ex part of that sentence tells you far more about how I spent my year than I would like! This little blog of mine isn't even a year old, yet I'm already extremely protective of it. It means a lot to me, and the last two months of reduced posting has really been getting me down. 

We all tend to reminisce at this time of year and I'm no exception. My 2016, reduced down, pretty much looks like this:

January
The ill-fated ski trip. While I had a fantastic time, despite non-functioning heating, a distinct lack of balance and a mountain-side panic attack; a discussion in the taxi home was the first time the depth of my ex's indifference towards me became clear, and ultimately led to five months of misery and breaking up.
February
A long weekend in Dublin in a vain attempt to patch up our relationship. I considered quitting my job because I was so desperately unhappy.
March
More misery. I was crying at least twice a week, yet was in denial over how unhappy my relationship was making me. Instead I chalked it up to my job, and towards the end of the month handed in my month's notice.
April
My relationship deteriorated further, yet I was convinced that when I finally left my job my life would improve massively. I maintained that I was "so happy, most of the time" which was a pretty blatant lie. I started Spare Oom as a creative outlet and a way of avoiding thinking about how miserable I was.
May
It all kicked off! I dumped him, he convinced me to stay with him and then he dumped me right back a few days later. For about three days I was blissfully happy; for the next three months I was a sobbing mess.
June
After a rapid move back to my Mother's house, I cried for a solid month. I was aggressive and hurt, and I said things to people I care about that I didn't mean. I even wrote a very emotional blogpost, much of which I don't agree with anymore. It's representative of how I was feeling at the time though, so I won't be taking it down, even if it is a touch embarrassing.
July
I started learning to drive and finally accepted that it really was over, but I was still devastated. Crying several times a week was still a certainty. I started running on a regular basis and it massively helped with clearing my head getting my emotions in order.
August
Much the same as July, except for a very sedate and slightly depressing birthday.
September
An old friend got in touch, and I finally moved into the really fucking angry phase of getting over a break up. Things started looking up, but I was still unemployed and living at my Mother's, which really got me down.
That old friend became a friend with benefits, I went for an interview at his work and I continued learning to drive in preparation for my test. Blogtober gave me focus and drive as I tried not to think about how much I wanted the job, or growing feelings for my friend with benefits that weren't returned (or so I thought).
I was offered the job, rented a flat and moved to Manchester, passed my driving test, started dating someone, dumped that someone, started dating the friend with benefits and started my new job.
December
Spent most of  trying to process the November, and was the happiest I've been in well over a year. I visited family in Scotland and generally had a whale of a time.

As is perhaps understandable, I'm knackered! All I can say is roll on 2017, and may it be a little less turbulent than 2016. It's off to a good start though, as I'm happier than I have been in a very long time. Long may it continue. I hope everyone reading this (and the many who are not!) have a wonderful New Year's Eve and an even better 2017. Surely it can't get that much worse...

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

How I Get Up In The Morning | Winter Morning Playlist & Tips


I am not a morning person. If the internet is to be believed, being a morning person is the be-all and end-all. If you want to be successful, happy and healthy, you need to get up at 5:00, go to the gym and drink juice made of things that should never be juiced, and enjoy it. That societal ideal is rather far from my reality, and if I'm honest, pretty far from my own ideal. In an ideal world I would wake up at 7:00, go for a run and then sit down to a full English. I also wouldn't sweat, would be a size 8 and my hair would flow in the wind like a goddamn fairy princess. The reality is a 6:00 alarm, a scalding hot shower to convince myself that I really am awake and a mad dash out of my flat to catch a tram at 7:30. It's a far cry from the hot-yoga-on-a-skyscraper and please-don't-tell-me-what's-in-this smoothie lifestyle.
For me though, it's an achievement; I've always been more of a sleep in until noon kind of girl. Since a 6:00 start is now a requirement, and my boyfriend actually is one of those morning people (they exist outside of instagram! And they're not all kale-smoothie-quaffing types!) I kind of have to get used to it. One thing I do like about getting up early is how much I get done. I find that an early morning means I do all the stuff that needs doing, even if going to bed earlier does seem to mean I get less time just scrolling aimlessly through the internet. 
I've been an unwilling early riser for well over a month now, and I've started to figure out a few ways to make things just that little bit easier for lazy old me. My top tips for almost-bearable early mornings is below! Now, a few of these are extremely basic, but man have they made a difference to my life (or at least the mornings).
Have A Bedside Lamp
Yes, okay, I know this is the most obvious thing in the world, but when it's Winter and you wake up in the pitch darkness to an obnoxious ringtone, you're less tempted to go straight back to sleep when there's a light on. The first thing I do, even before turning my alarm off, is switch my bedside light on. The switch for the big light is on the other side of my freezing bedroom, so that was never going to happen. For the first week or so in this flat I didn't have a bedside light, and it made getting up that much harder. The lamp I have is a really soft, warm light, which I find is really good first thing. It's not a harsh, white light that hurts your poor, sleepy eyes, instead it slowly gets brighter, giving you minute to adjust and accept the fact that there really are two six o'clocks in the day and you're going to experience both of them.

Have Hot Water For God's Sake
God, this is another one that makes me sound like an idiot. For the first few weeks in this flat I really struggled with the boiler. I couldn't figure out how the timer worked, meaning that I was getting up even earlier to hit the boost button, which would mean I had tepid shower which just made me sad. My Mother, wonderful human being that she is, figured it out and set it to come on at 2:00, meaning I wake up and there's a glorious, steaming hot shower ready and waiting to get me squeaky clean. Plus, when the boyfriend stops over he actually gets a hot shower instead of nearly losing a digit to frostbite.

Eat Breakfast I Actually Like 
I actually joined the early morning kale-wheatgrass-just-regular-grass-smoothie club, and was all about healthy breakfasts for a while. Then I realised just how much I had come to hate it, and more often than not I was skipping breakfast entirely or subsisting entirely on coffee and fruit salads from Pret. That's an excellent way for all your kale to go off and to run out of money very quickly. These days, I don't go straight for the Coco Pops (not every day), but I do have breakfasts I like. Sometimes that's my favourite, a crumpet with nutella, raspberries and blackberries. Other times it's crumpets with spiced berries, a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of granola, and every now and then I have plain old buttered crumpets. Are you sensing a theme? Crumpets are great and superior to toast and I will defend them forever. Best thing of all? I look forward to breakfast. I'm blow drying my hair thinking about what kind of crumpet I can have today. For real though, I do actually eat things other than crumpets (occasionally). 

Have My Outfit Picked Out
Having my outfit already picked out has simplified my life and saves me at least half an hour every day. In the evening I'm rational and more awake than is ideal most of the time, meaning I can just pick and outfit I know works and be happy with it. If I have to make a decision in the morning, you can bet it will take minimum half an hour and I'll end up with half my wardrobe on my bed in a heap. This way, I just trust past-Bethany's judgement and go with whatever she picked out the night before. That way, the only decision I need to make is what lipstick I'm wearing (sometimes this also takes a while).

Write A List Of EVERYTHING I Need To Do
If I have anything to do in the morning that's beyond the usual shower, dry hair, dress, breakfast, leave pattern, I have to write it down. Even if it's just to empty the bin on my way out, or remember my gym stuff for after work, if I don't write the whole thing down, in order, I'll forget. My brain just doesn't function fully until about 8:30. I even write down the usual pattern, with the extra thing slotted in in the proper order, because otherwise it ain't happening.

Have A Morning Playlist
One of the best things about getting up, for me, is whacking on a bit of music to get me in the mood for the day. These are a few of the songs I've been loving first thing in the morning; they're either poppy-electronic type things that make me want to dance, or chilled-out-yet-uplifting stuff. There's nothing in there that makes me feel sleepy, and they're all absolute tunes in my humble opinion. 

That's how I manage to drag myself out of bed every morning without crying on the tram with smoothie slopped down my front; I think it's better that I show up at with nutella on my nose and a grin on my face. I'm not a morning person, but perhaps I can learn to be (with a little help).

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Saturday, 17 December 2016

My Little Box | December 2016

I recently subscribed to My Little Box (MLB), as now that I'm employed again I actually have some money to spend, and spend it I will. 

I was subscribed to MLB waaaay back in February, before I even started this blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed receiving that little box of treats back then; I only unsubscribed because I wanted to try out different beauty boxes. Now that I have that little bit more disposable income, MLB is back with a vengeance and making me regret ever unsubscribing, because December's Chrismas box is a cracker.*


I absolutely love the design of this month's box, and it will definitely be getting used again. I tend to keep overflow makeup and skin care in old beauty boxes because I have zero storage space in my new flat. As always, you get a magazine, which this month features recipes for nutella truffles, dark chocolate mandarin wedges and mulled wine; a guide to doing a cute snowy manicure; 5 party hairstyles, some of which I might even manage (I am incompetent when it comes to hair); and an interview with Camille Riou of the jewellery brand Lõu.Yetu, which features in the box's contents. There's also a very cute illustrated card, as there is every month; I used to stick them on wall back in my old flat. I'm not sure what I'll do with them here, but I'm sure they'll end up on display somewhere as I love Kanako's (MLB's resident artist) illustrations.


First of all, can we appreciate the fact that there was a candy cane tied to the front of my box? Because that's freaking adorable. Then of course, I open the box up and there's a veritable treasure trove of goodies. The first thing I pulled out was a wee box containing a teeny scented candle. Feu de Bois (firewood), has a very light, fresh scent, and it really does call to mind winter mornings. 


The next thing I grabbed was clearly the best. A pot of SALTED CARAMEL SPREAD. You don't get that in your Glossybox! I hope you appreciate the fact that the seal is unbroken in the photographs, because that took some serious willpower. Salted caramel is my the greatest thing on this plant, and if my own self control was difficult enough to maintain, the despair on my boyfriend's face when I said he couldn't have any (yet) was harder.


In its own little canvas bag was this cute bangle from the aforementioned brand Lõu.Yetu. It's a cuff bracelet in gold with an engraved crimson stripe running round it. It kind of reminds me of Cyclops from the X-Men's glasses, but I like it despite that (or because of that).

Also included was a tin of extremely fragrant tea from Kusmi Tea. This is the Tsarevna blend, and it smells bloody delightful. It's like Christmas in a tea; a mix of black tea, orange and spices and I wish I could smell it forever. I've yet to drink any, as I need to dig out my old teapot as it's a loose leaf tea.


As always with MLB, you get a canvas bag full of smaller goodies. This month there were three things inside the bag, and I had far too much pulling them out one by one and saying "Ooooh!" to the general envy of my colleagues. Of course I couldn't wait until I got home to open the box, are you kidding? A box of full of treats just for me, I'm opening that shit at my desk.

First up was a travel size L'Occitane (fancy!) shower oil, which I can confirm is heavenly and worth risking a slippery death in the shower for. This is the Amande oil; it foams up in the shower, making you feel really clean despite it being an oil. It has very soft almond scent that is pretty gender neutral, and it left my skin feeling beautifully soft.

I also received a little sample of the Hyperbole perfume by Courrèges. I would love it for the name even if I didn't like the scent. It's not the sort of thing I normally go for, as I'm a citrus kind of girl, but I quite like the spiciness of this scent. 


The final item was this little eyeshadow duo from MLB's own brand, My Little Beauty. These are two very wearable shades; a shimmery taupe and matte brown are colours that I think we all reach for on a regular basis as they're just so easy to use. I think I might leave this dinky duo at my boyfriend's place, as that way I always have some eyeshadows there and don't need to go bare-lidded (that's not a word at all but I'm going with it) or lug one of my palettes over to his place every time I stay over.

 
That's the lot! I can't quite believe how much MLB managed to pack in this month, and you can bet I'm glad that I re-subscribed. 



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*See what I did there? It wasn't even deliberate. I'd like to say I'm hilarious and came up with that totally original pun all on my own, but I didn't. It wasn't even meant to be a pun. It really is a damn good box and my subconscious just likes terrible jokes. No, really. My favourite joke in the entire world is "A man walks into a bar...ouch". I'm cracking up just typing this. Someone send help before I get hiccups. 

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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Where I've Been For Over A Month

Even the most casual of reader may have noticed that I've been somewhat absent from the airwaves for the last 5 weeks. I haven't posted, or even written anything thing since my October favourites waaay back on the on the first of November. WHOOPS.

As to exactly where I've been and what I've been doing, perhaps the best way to do is with some inoffensive bullet points.

In order of events, as best I can remember, in November I:
  • Was offered a new job
  • Basically didn't eat for two weeks
  • Passed my driving test 
  • Ran out of data
  • Started dating a guy
  • Had a weird sort-of-breakup with my Friend With Benefits who is now my colleague
  • Started my new job
  • Lived in a smelly hotel for 2 days
  • Still not eating
  • Moved to Manchester
  • Broke up with that guy
  • Became not-sure-what-but-something with FWB/colleague
  • JOB JOB JOB JOB JOB ALSO I HAVE NO BASIC APPLIANCES SEND HELP
  • Started dating FWB who is no longer FWB but boyfriend/colleague
  • Joined the gym
  • That guy I dumped tries to get in touch and be "friends"
  • Didn't go to the gym 
  • Finally got the internet
  • Got absolutely wasted at the office party
  • Guy I dumped now blocked on all forms of communication
  • Told my boss I'm dating FWB/colleague and he was cool with it
  • Lost a full day to a hangover
  • Caught a horrible cold and got sent home from work to cry in bed
AAAAAAND I think you're caught up. It's not meant to be a list of excuses (okay, it kind of is) but do you see?! I'm so blooming knackered, and my life is very different to when I last blogged. There will be a few posts specific to these last few weeks heading your way soon (most notably what the hell happened in my love life this month because, honestly, I'm still not sure what happened).

I now have a new job, a new flat, a new boyfriend and can legally drive several tonnes of metal at high speeds. The last one may not be such a good thing for the people of Britain.

I think the only reason I still have anything left of my blog is thanks to the wonderful Gwennan of Twenty Something Meltdown, who I had paid for advertising for the month of November. She dutifully retweeted and tweeted and did all in her power to promote a blog that was basically on mute for a whole month as I ran wild in Manchester trying to sort my life out. She's awesome and if you don't know her blog, go and read it because it's way better than mine.

Normal service shall resume henceforth. I mean, I say that, but I don't actually have anything planned. December should be interesting, at least for me, if not for my neglected readership. SOZ GUYS. Here's a selfie in a giraffe print onesie to make up for it.

 
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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

October Favourites

October was a pretty busy month for me, with attempting to write every day for Blogtober proving to be something of a challenge. There's been a hell of a lot going on, and November looks set to be even busier. Without further ado, I'll tell you all about my October favourites.
I've been after a something to keep my relatively small brush collection in for ages, and when I saw this candle in Tesco a few weeks ago I knew that it was perfect. I love the hare design and the size of it is just right for most of my brushes. The only problem was that there was a candle in it. In reality, that's pretty much the opposite of a problem since I absolutely love burning a candle in the evening as I'm winding down for the night; I think the soft, flickering light just helps me drift off to sleep easier, and the muted vanilla scent of this one helped as well. This candle burned down very quickly, which was actually a really good thing as I did buy it for the pot. It wasn't even a tenner, so I was doubly chuffed with the end result.

Sticking with the candle theme, once that one had burned down I went on the hunt for one to replace it. I fell in love with the Caroline Gardner pomegranate candle, but there was no way I could justify spending £24 on a candle. In the end, my Mum picked up the Next Winter Collection candle in a similar scent. It's still a warm pomegranate smell but is much sweeter than the Caroline Gardner candle. It's also a hell of a lot cheaper, so I'm happy!

On the beauty side of things, I only have two items for you this month, but I have absolutely loved them both.

I mentioned this No7 single eyeshadow in Mink in a haul post, and I can confirm that it's fab. I've been wearing it swept all over the lid while deepening the shade for the crease. It makes for a really nice muted eyeshadow, for those days when you want a lazy makeup look but still want to look put together. My favourite thing to pair it with is a bold lip, which brings us to the next item on my list.
Since this is a favourites post it's perhaps not that surprising that this lipstick cropped up in my Week In Lipsticks post from a few weeks ago. This gorgeous Bobbi Brown Lip Colour in Orange is a fiery pumpkin red and is definitely my current favourite. It's not as warm as MAC Chili which I also adore, and I tend to pair it with a cooler, more toned down eye, so I've been loving it with Mink. I feel very, dare I say it, Parisian, when I wear this combination. Just show me striped t-shirt and string of onions and I am completely on board.
Finally, I have a little bit of hair care for you this month. I'm in love with this Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance Leave-In Conditioner. I try not to wash my hair every day since I know how bad for the hair it is, but my ends get so dry, especially at this time of year. A few spritzes of this on the ends in between washes helps prevent my hair from getting too dry, and makes it much more manageable. The longer I leave it between washes the more tangled and bushy my hair gets, so this is my current saviour as it just about keeps things under control.

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