My Blogging Sins

I admit it. I'm a terrible blogger. I commit all of the seven deadly blogging sins. 

Read on to find out why I should be ostracised from the blogging community for life.

You'll want to lock me up and throw away the key after reading this post...               Image Source: Hope via photopin (license)

1) I don't reply to comments.
Yep, that's right. UNPOPULAR OPINION RIGHT HERE BUT personally I find it a little irritating when I wake up to find my Gmail inbox inundated with emails from Disqus letting me know that someone replied to a comment I left on their blog, basically just saying thanks for commenting. I understand why you would reply to a comment if someone has asked a question, or has started a discussion, but otherwise it just seems like a waste of time. Instead of replying to comments on my blog and saying thanks, I express my gratitude by visiting the blogs of those who have left me comments, and returning the love on one of their posts. To me, that seems like a much nicer way to appreciate them.

2) I don't give a shit about DA / SEO / Google Analytics etc.
Lots of people seem to be hung up about their domain authority and stats like that. I understand if you're a blogger that's keen to monetise their blog or is really keen to track their success, but honestly, I couldn't care less. I judge my blog's success on how much I enjoy writing it and how much the people I care about enjoy reading it. The stats mean very little. And Google Analytics is the most confusing thing on the planet. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat.
 
3) I don't own white bedsheets.
White bedsheets, alongside everything marble and rose gold, seem like the ultimate blogger staple. Are you even part of the club if you don't own this stuff? Let me channel my inner Johnny Depp when I say....



4) I don't have a blogging niche.
One of the biggest pieces of advice that I was given before starting my blog was to find my niche. I wouldn't have a place in the blogosphere if I didn't carve out my own niche, I was told. I look back on that now and think that advice is utterly worthless. I don't have a niche. I don't stick to one genre. I blog about whatever I find interesting and whatever I'd like to read myself. If I'm not a proper blogger because I lack a niche, so be it.

5) I don't use a bullet journal.
*sigh* I have the Leuchtturm notebook, I have the washi tape, I have the pretty coloured pens. But I just can't bring myself to get started. After seeing so many gorgeous BuJo posts like Samantha's and Hannah's, it's hard to imagine me improving on those! Maybe I'll bite the bullet *pun intended* and rectify this sin soon.

6) I have never shopped at LUSH.
If I ever go to a blogging event and admit that I've never bought anything from LUSH, I'd probably be sent packing within 0.5 seconds of the words leaving my mouth. Sometimes the smell from the shops is just too overpowering and I feel like I'm going to get a headache if I step inside! However, I do admire greatly the snaps of LUSH baths that I see on Insta, so perhaps I'll strap on a gas mask one day and venture into a store...

And now for my most carnal sin...

7) I wear Dream Matte Mousse foundation.
Yes, you heard me. I use the foundation that is the butt of every beauty blogger's jokes. I only ever wear a little foundation under my eyes, I don't put it on the rest of my face, and from my experience, the Dream Matte Mousse is the best for my skin! It doesn't crease up when I smile and its staying power is decent. Sorry beauty bloggers, if we can't be friends any more, I understand.

Do you commit any blogging sins too? Please share your own sins in the comments!

Until next time,

A x

Budget Glamour


I'm here today to answer one of life's big questions. Can you create a glamorous makeup look on a shoestring budget? The answer: of course you can! I was recently gifted two sets of MUA products that I'm very excited to show you - a palette of twelve eyeshadows that'll set you back just £4, and two metallic liquid lipsticks that you can pick up in Superdrug for £2 each. I'll be sharing swatches aplenty below, so let's get started!

 

I was really shocked when I received this MUA Glamour Days Palette in the post. It was kindly sent to me by my lovely friend Sarah from writingrambling.co.uk, as a congratulations present for graduating from university with a first class degree! I'm so grateful to Sarah for giving me a chance to try this palette out, I was really impressed by the pigmentation of the shades. The shimmer of the glittery shades isn't dulled at all when you apply it, and they last an impressive length of time on your eyeballs!

There are a couple of down-sides to the product, however, which I ought to mention. There can be some quite considerable fallout from these shades, so extra care needs to be taken when applying them. The flimsy plastic packaging won't stand up to much punishment either, but so long as you handle it gently, it should be absolutely fine.


The shades I've swatched above are my favourites from the whole palette. I've nicknamed them 'Mermaid Shades'! These would go perfectly with a mermaid or under-the-sea themed Halloween costume, for instance! I'd put a little of the creamy pink shade 4 in the corner of my eye, use the glittery blue shade 2 over my lid, blend the darker complementary shade 6 into the crease and use shade 9 lightly all over for that extra sparkle!


Now let's move on to lipstick! These stunning MUA Luxe metallic liquid lippies were a giveaway prize that I was lucky enough to win from the fantastic lifethroughtsg.wordpress.com blog. The shades I received were Luster and Glint. The products glide on like a lip gloss but have the pigmentation of a lipstick - the best of both worlds! The pigmentation of these products was truly impressive. No lip primer was necessary to feel the full force of their colour. The formula is thick and non-streaky. The lipsticks both have a heavy vanilla smell, which I found very pleasant but may bother a more sensitive nose. The texture is not tacky in the slightest, and the finish is super shiny.

The only downside I experienced was the amount of transfer - these will leave lipstick marks on your coffee cup! However, for the price of just £2, you really can't complain that much about these products. Another massive bonus for me is that all MUA products, including the ones featured here, are cruelty free, so no little animals suffered to create these cosmetics.


Do you own any MUA products? What are your faves? Please let me know in the comments, I'm keen to make more MUA purchases!

Until next time,

A x

Abbey's Hallowe'en Kitchen


Hello and welcome to Abbey's Hallowe'en Kitchen! Dare you enter to discover the devilish delights I've cooked up for a spook-tacular extravaganza? Today I'm going to how you how to adapt a couple of easy, everyday recipes to create some simple but oh-so-effective Hallowe'en goodies. If you're hosting a Hallowe'en party, or whether you're making some snacks for trick or treaters, I have the perfect recipes for you!

This is also a collaborative post with the wonderful Abbie from abbiechic.com! We've teamed up to bake some scrumptious Hallowe'en delights this month, and she's going to show you how to make a no-bake cake! Click here to read her post.

 

For my first trick, I will show you how to magic some chocolate muffins into a set of creepy bats! The recipe that I used for the chocolate buns can be found here, but if you don't have time to make the buns yourself, you can simply pick up a pack of plain cakes from the supermarket and decorate them as follows. Grab a pack of digestive biscuits and break a few biscuits in half. Then cut a couple of slits in the top of your chocolate bun and poke the corners of the biscuit halves into them. These will form the bats' wings. Next grab some writing icing (I used this set from Tesco) and use it to stick on a couple of Smarties for the eyes. I added some pupils using more of the writing icing. To finish with a flourish, I popped in the 'creepy' cocktail sticks which I picked up from Poundland. And there you have it - your bats are ready to eat!

 

Next on the menu is some ghoulish gingerbread! I followed this straightforward recipe to whip up the dough, and after I had cut out my gingerbread men, before putting them into the oven I mutilated them slightly by pulling off their heads, chopping off their legs, and cutting a few chunks out of them! I also created some bone shaped biscuits, and some simple round shapes. When they were cooked and cooled, I used the same writing icing as above to stick on some Smarties as buttons, draw on some fiendish expressions and give them some bloody looking wounds! I had waaaay too much fun doing this, and the end result was pretty effective! 

If you want to make some creatively shaped gingerbread men to add into your mix, but you don't have the right kind of cookie cutter for the job, don't worry! You can cheat your way to perfectly shaped biscuits every time! For this, cut out your desired shape on a piece of greaseproof paper. Then place it over your rolled-out dough, as shown here, and cut around it with a knife. With this technique, you can create pretty much any shape imaginable with your gingerbread without having to shell out for any new cooking equipment! It's a win-win!

What are your favourite Hallowe'en treats? Comment below!

If you decide to try out any of these creative bakes in your very own Hallowe'en kitchen, please tweet me a photo or tag me on Instagram! And don't forget to check out Abbie's post, here.

Until next time,

A x

Get Irresistible Hair*


My hair has a life of its own. Most days, I just have to let it do it's thing, because no matter what I try, it'll stick out at whatever angle it likes! I keep it fairly short (always above shoulder length) to try to limit its craziness. Yet even with super short hair, I still sometimes wake up in the morning looking like a llama who has been dragged through a hedge backwards. I've also never been able to get on with standard tong hair straighteners, as I just cannot get the back of my hair to actually straighten! So, when Irresistible Me offered me the chance to try out their Jade Hair Straightening Ceramic Brush, I couldn't say no!


When the brush arrived, I couldnt help but admire the gorgeous sleek black packaging! The tool inside was very lightweight and it has an 8ft long power cord, which is ideal if your plug socket is located a distance from your mirror. The brush came with a full instruction manual, which indicated the temperature that would be most suitable for your hair type. The LCD screen allows you to see exactly what heat settings you are using. The brush also heats up so quickly! No waiting around with this product, ideal if you're always in a rush in the mornings like me!

 

When using the product, I was really impressed that it created absolutely no static on my hair! I've experienced this issue with every single pair of straightening tongs that I've used, so to finally find a product that doesn't turn my hair static is just fabulous! I was also really impressed that I seemed near impossible to burn yourself on this product! Only the grey parts of the brush head heat up, the black bristles on the outside and at the ends of the grey bristles ensure that no heated part of the brush actually touches your scalp. The brush design allowed me to easily straighten the back of my hair, to achieve an even effect all the way around!

Keep scrolling to see some before and after shots of me trying out the Jade Straightening Brush:

BEFORE: (Looking oh so flicky!)
 

AFTER: (Feeling super sleek!)

If you live in the UK (like me) and you're tempted to order a straightening brush of your own, do bear in mind that you'll need to purchase a US to UK plug adaptor in order to use this product, as Irresistible Me are an American company. However, you can by an adaptor very cheaply from Amazon - I found this one for less than £2!

I would heartily recommend that you check out Irresistible Me's site if you are looking to invest in new hair tools! You can get 20% off your first order using the code GET20OFF.

Do you have any tips for taming unruly hair? Please share them with me in the comments!

Until next time,

A x


*The Jade Hair Straightening Brush was sent to me for free in exchange for a review

Learning German with FlashSticks*


If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that this month, I started studying for my Master's degree! A component of my degree course is learning German from scratch. I study archaeology, and many key publications for my subject are only available in German, so mastering this language is key to my success on my course! Therefore, to supplement my university based teaching, I've also been looking into other ways of learning the language, outside of just staring at a page in a book, trying to memorise vocabulary.

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to try out the FlashSticks language acquisition programme, which consists of post-it notes and an app. The beginner pack of post-its teaches you 100 unique words, which can be stuck all around your room so that wherever you look, there's a little reminder! The colours of the post-its relate to the gender of the nouns, which help you to remember the appropriate definite article (der, die, or das in German).

 

The FlashSticks post-its* are superior to regular flash cards because they are really memorable! The little images on each post it note make the word stick in your mind, and to help you with pronunciation, the words are also spelled out as they are supposed to be said aloud on the post-it, which is super helpful! As I'm completely new to the German lanuage, I have the Beginner's starter back, which is a bargain at just £4.99. If you're more experienced, there are Intermediate and Advanced packs too.

   
  
In addition to the post-its, there is the FlashAcademy app* which helps you to learn everything from the very basics to food and drink, key phrases for travel, shopping lingo, and words related to health and illness. The app offers a great amount of variety! Word games and lessons that you can review at any time really help to cement the vocabulary in your mind. As well as introducing you to new words and getting you to match German words with their English translation, the app asks you to spell out the new German vocabulary, identify the new words in sentences, and write simple sentences in German yourself. I think this is a fantastic idea as it makes the learning process a lot more active and really enagages your brain!

One thing I particularly loved about the app was the scan and translate feature, where you can take a picture of pretty much any object you can find and the app will translate it for you! I put this to the test with a few simple items such as a ballpoint pen and a paperclip, and also with more challenging objects such as a hair scrunchie, a credit card, and a sleeping mask and it performed admirably! The app provides detailed translations, which you can simplify if you choose, and will read the translation out to you, so you know exactly how to pronounce it. This app would be an ideal traveller's companion if you're heading to a new country with only rudimentary language skills.

The FlashAcademy app is free to download, and there are a variety of premium packages for one, three, six, or twelve months. If you select the twelve month package, it works out at just £3 a month which really great value. I would highly recommend checking out FlashSticks if you are interested in learning a new language! 

Do you speak a second language? If not, would you like to? Do you have any language learning tips for me? Please leave a comment below!

Until next time,

A x
  
*Disclaimer: All products marked with an asterisk were sent to me for free in exchange for a review.

Custom iPhone Case Review & Giveaway*


If, like mine, your phone is never out of your hand, you want it to look its best. That's why I leapt at the chance to design my own custom case for my iPhone 5C, courtesy of the lovely people at CaseApp. CaseApp are a Swedish brand that specialise in phone cases and laptop skins which really reflect your personality! Scroll down to see how I designed my case and what I thought of the outcome.

 

The customisation process on CaseApp's website couldn't be simpler! Using their intuitive interface, you can upload images, create photo collages, or use their own clipart stickers to craft your phone case. The process was really straightforward and the previews allowed you to see exactly how your new case will look. There are also a choice of finishes: matte or glossy. You can customise pretty much everything about your case, so you're guaranteed a unique product every time!


My custom case arrived just four days after I placed the order, and I was really impressed by the delivery time! It turned up securely packaged in this cute cardboard container. The print that I chose for my case was inspired by one of my favourite clothing designers - Lilly Pultizer. It's really bright and colourful! I also chose to feature my blog header, which was created by the wonderful Claire at AlohaLolaCards.

 

What I liked:
You really can't quibble about the quality of this case! The printing quality is excellent, and even the smaller details in my blog header showed up well on the case. It was a perfect fit for my phone, and not so bulky that I'm unable to fit it into my pocket. The price of the case was also very reasonable - mine came out at around £15. The customer service I've received from CaseApp was also first class - they couldn't help me enough which was a big bonus!

What I didn't like:
There is really very little to complain about with this case, but one thing that disappointed me slightly is how the case held up in the drop test. To evaluate the robustness of the case, I dropped my phone with the case attached onto a soft rug. Unfortunately the case leapt straight off the phone when coming into contact with the rug, which might have resulted in damage to my phone had I dropped it onto a hard surface by accident. This is definitely more of a fashion case than a protective case.


Overall, I was really pleased with my CaseApp experience and I would definitely recommend their service! If you'd like a chance to win a voucher to create a CaseApp phone case or laptop skin, enter my Rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until next time,

A x

Stationery Haul

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blogger in possession of even the smallest of fortune will want to blow the lot in Paperchase. (Just call me Jane Austen). That's right girls, we've all been guilty of spending a little too much when we see an adorable set of notebooks or some pretty washi tapes on the shop counter. However, going back to university this month gave me the perfect excuse to splash out on a few new goodies, so keep scrolling to find out what I bought.


Now, I've raved about the joys of a Paperchase sale before in my Bargain Haul post, but I can certainly repeat here just how fabulous such an event is! I scored this gorgeous turquoise organiser with a 50% discount, making it just £11! There are butterflies embossed into the soft surface of the planner, which adds a classy touch. To go with it, I picked up organiser refils for 2017, which only set me back a fiver. I wasn't able to find the exact organiser that I purchased on the Paperchase website, but here is a very similar one.

Of course with a fancy new organiser, I needed some new fine liners to jazz up the pages! I selected this 36-pack of vibrant coloured pens by Staedtler, and some pencils while I was at it. I was also unable to resist this two-pack of A5 exercise books from WHSmith, which will be perfect for jotting down my essay ideas. The books are beautifully decorated with butterflies, florals, and birds.


A rather unexpected place to find cute stationery is Primark. But that's exactly where I picked up an adorable 4-pack of washi tapes for just £1.50! I'll be using these to seal the letters that I send to other bloggers through the #beechat snail mail scheme. I regularly write to four or five bloggers at the minute, and I love finding new ways to decorate my letters and make them extra special for the recipient.

I also purchased these packs of cards from The Works, which I'll be using for my #beechat snail mail as well. These were an absolute steal at £2 for two packs! I love the simple but cute designs! Another advantage is that they're all blank inside, so you can write letters, or turn them into birthday cards - they can be used for any occasion. Again, I couldn't find the exact cards that I bought on The Works' website, but here are some similar ones.


Where is your favourite place to buy stationery? What do you think is the best item that I bought? Leave me a comment below to let me know!

Until next time,

A x

Journey to Better Sleep

 

Autumn can be a stressful season: the pressures of returning to school or university, or the strains of your job can start to take over. Getting a decent night's sleep couldn't be more important - a good rest leaves you feeling revitalised and ready to take on whatever the world can throw at you.

Here are my recommendations to ensure you're getting the best possible sleep every time you shut your eyes. Take a journey to better sleep with me by following these simple tips!

Step 1: A Relaxation Routine
Getting your brain used to starting a bedtime routine at a certain time helps it learn when to wind down every evening and gets you right in the mood to drop off to sleep. By spending half an hour or so before you go to sleep engaged in a relaxing activity such as colouring or reading a book can help you de-stress from the worries of your day and feel ready for slumber. If I'm feeling especially tense or anxious, I grab a notebook and write down my worries. This really helps me to put my fears out of my head - I like to think I'm abandoning them on the page! If you need some help with establishing a bedtime pamper routine, check out my tips for ultimate pampering pleasure here.

Step 2: Bin the Brightness with Blackout Curtains
Research by the National Sleep Foundation has suggested that a light bedroom environment keeps your brain awake, hindering efforts to go to sleep. Blocking out unwanted light is therefore key to getting a good night's rest. You may like to try a sleeping mask for this, but whenever I have to wear such a mask, I somehow turn into a night ninja during my sleep and throw it into the furthest corner of my bedroom, and it's no fun to retrieve the mask when I've woken up at 3am.

Instead, I recommend you invest in some blackout curtains for ultimate peace from the Yorkshire Linen Store*. They sell a wide range of affordable blackout curtains, and even blackout linings which will fit onto the back of your existing curtains, ensuring that they block out all that unwanted light. Very also offer similar products. My sleep improved massively as soon as I started using blackout blinds in my university room - they're definitely worth the investment.


Step 3: Get comfy!
Pillows, pillows and more pillows! Remember the story of the princess and the pea? Well, I rival that princess's need for comfort. I sleep with at least four pillows every night. Load up your bed with cushions and blankets galore to make sure it's the comfiest place on earth. If your mattress leaves something to be desired, you could purchase a relatively inexpensive memory foam mattress topper to imrpove your sleep quality immensely. The Original Factory Shop sells lots of cheap mattress toppers and they have some really cute and inexpensive duvet sets too!

Step 4: Soporific Sounds
Have you heard of ASMR? For those of you who aren't in the know, ASMR sounds for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a static or tingling sesnation felt on the skin when listening to soft sounds, providing a feeling of ultimate relaxation. There are hundreds of free ASMR YouTube videos out there, which you can listen to as a relaxation tool. If ASMR doesn't work for you, you can also try listening to sleep-inducing sounds such as rainfall - which always sends me to sleep in no time! This is one of my favourites.
I wish you luck on your journey to better sleep! Do you have any advice to add to mine? Please share your tips in the comments below.

Until next time,

A x

* Sponsored link

LTR Perks

It's been nearly three years since I met my boyfriend. Well, it's been three years since my Dad met him as we were moving into my student house in Fresher's week and told him to go upstairs and meet "his gorgeous daughter" because "she's lovely". Cringe. Thankfully good old Dad and his embarassing introductions didn't cause me to be known as the weirdo with the mad father for too long, and Chris and I started officially dating in January 2015. This has been my longest ever relationship, so it has got me thinking about all the perks of being with someone long-term. 


1) No tactical texting
"Well, I texted them first yesterday so I can't do it again today" "Their response took 12 minutes so mine has to take 14 minutes!" None of this mind game bullshit is necessary in a long term relationship, you've been together long enough to be fairly certain that the other person likes you, and so you don't have to overthink and worry about looking "too keen".

2) Freedom to be gross
Burping and farting in front of a new partner is almost unthinkable. In front of your long term squeeze, it barely even raises an eyebrow. Well, it doesn't in my relationship anyway. You can send snapchats as ugly as they come (no makeup, face screwed up, unflattering angle, tongue sticking out) and it's nothing more than a joke - no need to feel self conscious!

3) Getting in sync
You know exactly how your partner will react to learning a certain piece of news, exactly what they'll fancy for dinner, and exactly what they're going to do to annoy you next. This syncing up just comes naturally when you've been together for a lengthy period of time. This is one of my favourite LTR perks, as it's wonderful knowing that person really, really well.

4) Becoming part of their fam
When you first meet a new partner's family, it can be really nerve-wracking! Your mind races with everything that could possibly go wrong: you might accidentally kick their sister's puppy, or spill gravy into their dad's lap, or unwittingly insult their mother's new curtains. But once you've been together a little while, and you've visited their house on many occasions, you start becoming part of the family! When I visit my BF's house, I even go on shopping trips with his mum! 

5) Affection On-Tap
It's basically your partner's JOB to give you a cuddle or a kiss whenever you want it. I mean, what else do you keep them around for?

Are you in a relationship? How long have you been together? Can you relate to any of these points? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x


*Note* I have used gender neutral pronouns in this post in the hope that anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, can relate.
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