Monday, 19 February 2018

Monday Medley #26

Actually writing this on a Monday for a change! *pats self on back for actually keeping to my schedule* This week I seem to have spent a lot of time watching TV rather than reading, something which I intend to correct next week. For now though, these are the things I've loved reading and watching in the last week.




This photo is totally irrelevant to the blog post but I think I look cute soooooooooo that's it.


READING


DIGITAL

I've never been on a beach holiday, but as my daily life has become busier than ever, a holiday where I do very little other than laze around in paradise increasingly appealing. I don't really know of many beach holiday destinations aside from the old cliches, but after stumbling across Lucy's post on tropical destinations I definitely have a few places in mind. Costa Rica in particular sounds incredible.

A lot of people (including me) moan about how crappy being an adult can be. However, Sophie's recent post on the good things about being an adult reminded me of just how good it is. I have freedom in a way I never did when I was younger, and I'm more secure in myself than ever. It's really not all bad.

I wrote a little thing earlier this month about my skin condition, but acne was also a major part of my life for a long time. Lauren's post about accepting that acne is part of her is fab. The battle against acne is constant for many people, but accepting that it's part of you and something you can't change overnight is a step towards self love that society often doesn't encourage us to take.


WATCHING

I've spent most of this week glued to Netflix, finally finishing Limmy's Show, a comedy sketch show that's kind of hard to explain. It's frequently surreal and always hilarious, and somehow the Glaswegian accent just makes it better.

I've also watched the entirety of Altered Carbon, a sort of sci-fi murder mystery. It's kind of rubbish; the dialogue is clunky and it's very cheesy, but I honestly didn't know how the various plot lines would converge and make sense so I ended up watching the whole thing. I wouldn't really recommend it, but there's no denying I enjoyed it.


That's the lot for this week; I have about 10,000 jobs to be getting on with and half of them are blog-related so it's sayonara from me!




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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Getting Excited For Amsterdam

My Christmas present from my Mum this year was a trip to Amsterdam. I absolutely love travelling and I'm currently pretty skint and it was looking like I wouldn't be able to go away for some time. My Mum bought my boyfriend and I flights and booked us a hotel room for three nights in April. Neither of us have ever been to Amsterdam before and haven't had the chance to travel together (unless you count the annual pilgrimage to visit my family in Scotland) so I'm extremely excited. I wanted to show you how I've started planning our long weekend away, and why I'm so excited to visit this incredibly city.


How to plan an Amsterdam city break


When I'm planning a big trip, such as New Zealand or Japan, I tend to dive right in with the guide books. I'll buy the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books for each destination and read them relentlessly in the run-up to the trip, while also quizzing anyone and everyone I know for reccomendations. For city breaks, I tend to chill out a but more. While I do tend to buy a guide book, although admittedly I pinched this one from my Aunt, I tend to just flick through it and pick out anything that seems interesting. Instead, blogs are my go-to planning device. 

When you're spending just a few days in city you don't really have time to explore. As much as we all like seeing the sights, I also love getting a feel for the backstreets and what it's like to live in another city. I use my guide books to figure out which of the big sights are my kinda thing, and then I turn to my favourite travel bloggers for ideas of places a little bit more off the beaten track. 

I have a few favourite travel bloggers that I go back to time after time, all of which crop up in my Monday Medleys pretty often. For reference though, I've found Sophie Cliff, Beverley of Pack Your Passport and Carrie from WishWishWish have the best recommendations for Amsterdam. They're all complete experts at finding the best brunch spots, the cosiest hotels and the chicest shops.

After a lot of reading, I have a little list of the things I really want to try and do while in Amsterdam, so keep tuned for later in the year for a complete glut of Netherlands content in the Spring.



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Monday, 12 February 2018

Monday Medley #25

The weird pose in the photo below is courtesy of serious awkwardness as result of being watched by some people on a balcony out of frame. I love this outfit too much and the church behind me not to share it. This week's Monday Medley is definitely not being written a whole four days late, but I do have some absolute favourites to share with you once again.



READING

PRINT

Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is a really good book. I'd read mixed reviews, and yes there is a bit of a Mary-Sue situation but the plot was strong enough to keep me engaged once I got past the first fifty pages or so. I really enjoyed gradually learning about the world, and even if the characters weren't particularly interesting, I still found that I cared about them. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel at some point.

DIGITAL

Beverley's posts are always fab, but New Zealand has a special place in my heart as you might have noticed in Wednesday's post, and her post about day trips from Auckland is brilliant. I've safely bookmarked it for when I go back and I'll definitely be doing most of these.

The amazing Lauren Evie wrote about cancelling plans and I think many of us can relate to the excitement gradually turning to dread that accompanies making plans. I definitely can, and it was nice to know that I'm not alone in this. I know that it's a bad habit and I'm working on it, but it hard not to listen to the little voice in my head.

Katy's post about her spending 13 hours in Warsaw is a great one, involving a whirlwind trip that shows some of the lesser known sides of the city, including the Neon Museum, a zip wire and some pastel-perfect spots in the old town. Now I really need to book a trip to Austria.




WATCHING

My boyfriend recently expressed horror at the fact that I'd never seen Cloverfield, so we finally sat down and watched it. I really enjoyed it, kind of hating the characters (except for Lizzy Caplan obv) but loving the plot. We're now planning to watch the second one and the third since they're conveniently on Netflix. Bonus points to the film because I didn't have nightmares.

Since I decided to start reading blogs a bit less I'm not sure what to do with these Monday Medleys. I'll still share my favourite things from the week but they might have more films, books, place and food, rather than blog posts. 

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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Five Things I Wish I'd Done In New Zealand

I spent the best part of February 2015 in New Zealand, travelling around the North and South islands with a friend from University. We saw so much in the brief time we spent there, including lots of Lord of the Rings sites and the major cities. However, there was so much I didn't get to see. The friend I travelled with is currently back in New Zealand on his own and I'm insanely jealous as he's doing all the things we didn't have time for the first time around. This is a little list of the things I wish I'd done when I had the chance.

Glenorchy, New Zealand

Rangitoto Island

Just outside Auckland's harbour is a volcano rising up from the seal: Rangitoto Island. It's a popular hiking day trip from the city and has amazing views of the city and the Hauraki Gulf, as well as being one of New Zealand's best nature reserves. We saw Rangitoto in the distance while on the ferry to Devonport, but with such a tight schedule we never made it out there to trek up the volcano. 

Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula

I didn't see a great deal of the North Island, only spending time in Auckland and Wellington. As such, I really want to see more of the island. Top of the list is the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula. The diving in the Bay of Islands is supposed to be amazing and I'd love to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the accords between the British and the Maori were signed. It's an important piece of New Zealand history, and having been in Wellington for Waitangi Day in 2015 I'd love to learn more about it. As for the Coromandel Peninsula, the diving again is supposed to be fantastic, but the real attractions are Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. 

Zealandia Night Tour

Zealandia is an enclosed ecosanctuary, basically a huge area of bush that has been preserved, cared for and maintained for years. It's part of a 500-year plan to return Wellington's valleys to a pre-human state, and it contains species that aren't found anywhere else in the world. I visited here the first time around and it was brilliant; I almost fell over one of the rarest birds in the world which was just chilling with some ducks, I accidentally broke part of the door on a ferry and I held a stick still for half an hour so my friend could get a good photo of a strange looking insect. It was an incredible experience, but what I really want to do next time is a night tour. Many of New Zealand's native creatures are nocturnal, including the famous kiwi, and I think a tour at night with someone who can show you the good places to observe animals (from a distance) and actually knows what they're seeing and hearing would make such a difference and be a really special experience.

Abel Tasman

Despite being in Nelson for a couple of days, we didn't manage to squeeze in a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park. It would require a few days to see it properly and we'd blown our budget on a helicopter trip (which was incredible btw). However, it's definitely something I want to see when I go back eventually. It's a truly stunning part of the world, and I really want to go kayaking as well as hiking to truly experience it and meet some of the wildlife. 

Extreme Sports

I wouldn't say that I'm into extreme sports, but I'm still kind of gutted that I didn't get chance to bungee jump or do the canyon swing last time I was in Queenstown. I had the canyon swing booked for my last day in New Zealand and it was cancelled due to bad weather, and despite being a tiny bit relieved at the time, I'm also a bit gutted. When I go back I'd love to go white water rafting after doing it in Australia and loving it, and I think I'd have to squeeze in a bungee jump somewhere. I reckon they'd probably have to push me off though!


Are any of these things on your New Zealand wish list?


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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Sensitive Skin Care

I've written about my skin a lot as of late, whether it's been the trials and tribulations of eczema and allergy tests or my rare autoimmune skin condition, and so by now you probably know that my skin has some issues. As such, I take skin care pretty seriously. The choices I make for my skin are ever-changing, especially since that surprise bout of eczema, but I do have a few firm favourites that work very well for my sensitive skin. I figured I'd talk you through a few of them today as I seriously rate them and would recommend them if you have similar skin problems.

Sensitive Skin Care, Kiehl's La Roche Posay

If you've been reading here for a while several of these will be familiar to you. I'm a big fan of Kiehl's products, even mentioning their Ultra Facial Cream in my first ever blog post (which I'm not linking here because no one deserves that). I've found that the majority of Kiehl's products don't aggravate my skin; even if I don't absolutely adore a product I know that it's safe and I can count on it not to harm my skin. 

The Ultra Facial Cleanser is one of these safe products; it cleans my face without drying it out or irritating it, but it's a pretty simple cleanser. This is close to running out and I do fancy trying something new; I'm thinking the cult favourite Oskia Renaissance Cleanser is worth a shout, as Oskia has a pretty good reputation for sensitive skin. However, it's nice to know that I can always fall back on this is my skin has a bit of a freak out.

It's the same sort of story with the Ultra Facial Cream, an old favourite of mine. This is the SPF50 version, which is great because I burn in minutes but I find it a little heavier than the original formula. I would buy it again but in a smaller tub size so that I can mix up moisturiser more often and use different things in tandem. 

As much as people rave about the Avocado Creamy Eye Cream, I think it's just okay. I feel like it hasn't made any realy difference to my dehydrated under eye area for all the months I've been using it, but it definitely helped when my right eyelid was flaky and dry after an allergic reaction. It's another great fall back but nothing incredible.

The Midnight Recovery Concentrate really is incredible. I pat this all over my face before going to bed at least once a week and it not only seriously moisturises, but also really helps with redness. My skin is very pink-toned anyway, and any redness from city life, skin reactions or even spicy food turns me tomato-red; I find this really helps keep that under control.

I smear a bit of Indeed Labs' Hydraluron over the driest areas of my face before applying moisturiser. It's packed full of hyaluronic acid for hydration and I find that I really need that extra bit of help in winter. It's quite a siliconey (that's not a work but roll with me) formula, and if I don't give it chance to soak in before applying moisturiser it will pill which is very irritating, so it's one of the first steps I do after a shower. I'll sometimes follow this with another serum but I just ran out of my Avene one so I'm looking for something new. 

La Roche Posay is another of those brands that I can always trust to look after my skin. I always use this micellar water to take off my makeup before cleansing properly, or just as a single cleanse if I haven't worn any makeup. My boyfriend uses it as well, and I like it because it's cheaper than Bioderma and doesn't give me filmy eyes like Garnier. Job done.

Shower gel for sensitive skin

Sticking with La Roche Posay, I've found that the Lipikar Shower Gel is one of very few shower gels that doesn't foam up like mad and dry out my skin. It's unscented so a little boring, but it's worth it to not have eczema. I use this daily and despite it being a relatively recent purchase, I think this is something that will always be in my collection.

The L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil is much more of a luxury shower product; I use it every few days and love the way that it foams up a little but the oil is incredibly moisturising. I love the smell of almonds and this just makes my shower that little bit more special. It never irritates my skin and I just adore it.

Until recently, I never really bothered with body moisturiser. I don't like how it takes ages to soak in and can leave you feeling sticky and a bit gross, but it's become essential to manage my eczema. I now apply moisturiser twice a day and honestly, it's a pain in the arse. I've been using this Aveeno Moisturising Cream and it's just okay. It does the job, but I wish is absorbed a bit faster. If anyone has any recommendations I'd love to know about them, as this stuff is just okay. It gets the job done but is nothing special.

This is the first skin care or beauty post I've done in a long time, but a few new makeup purchases I've been loving lately may make their way onto the blog soon, so keep an eye out for that!

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Monday, 5 February 2018

Monday Medley #24

Oh hey it's me again and I'm definitely not writing this on Tuesday and backdating it...honest. I've not been great lately and motivation to write and get things up on time is always the first thing to fall by the wayside, which although I kick myself about is probably a good thing. Unlike my job and things like eating well, I don't need this blog to live, so of all the things I can afford to stop doing for a week or so, this is probably the best bet. For all that I've been feeling crappy, partially because my skin condition is acting up, something I wrote about last week to raise awareness of the disease, and partially just because I've been putting way too much pressure on myself of late. 

Expect about 10,000 more photos of me in front of this yellow garage door in future because I love it.

READING

PRINT

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is easily the best book I've read this year. I absolutely adored it, and while it took me a little while to get into it, I was gradually drawn into the world of theatre, the Tempest and vengeance; the characters are masterfully written and the plot is entirely unique. I won't say more here as I'm planning to write a full review, but this book was spectacular.

DIGITAL

As I've decided to read blogs less often for the next month or so, these are just a few of my favourite blog posts from the last week from my absolute favourite blogs - the best of the best.

It's refreshing to come across someone in the blogging industry who, like me, doesn't harbour ambitions of being a full-time blogger/#girlboss. If that's your goal, go for it and I wish you all the best, but it's frequently presented as the end goal for bloggers and for some of us it just isn't. Emmie's post hits the nail on the head for reasons to keep your blog a hobby, and I found myself nodding along to every one. Well worth a read for any blogger, whether you're considering going full-time or not.

I bloody love Charlie's blog and am insanely jealous of all the incredible trips she takes. However, I really loved her recent post about a trip she actually doesn't want to take anymore. It's an interesting read about changing as a person and how what might have been your dream doesn't have to stay the same forever.
I generally try and promote the smaller blogs that I'm loving in these posts, but this week I just has to mention Carrie from Wish Wish Wish. I've thoroughly enjoyed her recent posts on Iceland, all of which you should check out, but her final Guide to Iceland was my favourite and has been bookmarked in the hope of my visiting some time soon. Her photography is as excellent as always and I just freaking love her whole blog.

Easily the most powerful post I read this week came from my namesake and general fave person, Beth from Adventure and Anxiety. Please Stop Commenting On My Body comes from a place of strength and insight and it was a privilege to read. She writes brilliantly about not hating her body, despite the whole world telling her she should. Everyone should read this.

I'll see you next Monday (or possibly Tuesday, knowing me) for another round-up of my faves. TTFN.

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Saturday, 3 February 2018

Reading and Writing Blogs

Lately, I've been thinking about the rate at which I read blogs and consume media. Honestly, I read a hell of a lot of blog posts on a daily basis. I tend to use Bloglovin', which a lot of people seem to have fallen out of love with for some reason, as it keeps me up to date on all of my favourite blogs. I check in every day and pick out at least 10 posts that look interesting. This means that I'm reading a huge amount of content every day, which is great as it means I can pick out my absolute favourites for my Monday Medleys and share them with you guys.
The Pilcrow Pub, NOMA, Manchester
However, of late I've been feeling a bit worried about my own content. Some of my posts have felt a little boring, basic and occasionally derivative. I've started to think that I'm reading too many blogs, and that's showing in my own. I don't want this blog to be a carbon copy of everyone else's, although there's an element of inevitability that some content will be similar, such as if you're talking about common topics like a new makeup brand, the same book or a particular facet of life. Even so, I've felt like in a few of my posts lately I've lost my voice. I mean, I'm not certain I ever really found it, but a few of them haven't really felt like me. As such, I think I'm going to cut down on the amount blogs I read. I worry that I'm starting to sound too much like my faves and the only person I want to sound like is me, even if apeing someone more successful might be better for growth or engagement.
For now, I think I might just stick to checking up every few days on my absolute favourites, which include a mix of style, books, beauty and lifestyle. No prizes for guessing who they are if you ever read my Monday Medleys, as they crop up a hell of a lot. In the name of individuality and rediscovering, or perhaps just plain old discovering, my voice, I'm staying away from Bloglovin' for February. 

That's all for now, I'll see you on Monday for the usual round-up of the best things I've read and watched this week. TTFN.


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