Powered by Blogger.

Do Politics and Blogging Mix?

Image Source
To say it's a pretty turbulent time in world politics right now would be an understatement. With Donald Trump as President of the United States, everyone is fearing for the worst, and for many people, fears have already been realised. But does politics have a place in the world of blogging? On Twitter over the past couple of days I've seen many people angrily tweeting about big bloggers not using their platform to speak out on pertinent issues. I ran a poll on my Twitter last night to ask whether my followers thought that bloggers have a duty to comment on political issues. Here are the results:
So, let's talk about both sides of the argument. I've included both my own views, and those of people who tweeted me about the issue. I'd love to know what you think too, so please leave comments below and give me your opinion.

YES - Bloggers should be speaking out...
  • A point excellently articulated by Bryher was that although it's great to share your opinions on the latest beauty products and lifestyle trends, if people don't stand up to the current extreme political events, we may not be allowed to express opinions on anything in future!
  • If you have a large platform of followers, what you say about a political issue can have a real impact! For this reason, many people believe that those with thousands / millions of followers have an obligation to voice their opinions as they can make such a big difference.
  • If nothing is said about big political issues, and nobody calls out the people who are doing wrong, this will perpetuate their actions and enable them to carry on the same path.
  • Sarah told me that reading posts written by fellow bloggers really helped her to make up her mind on the issue of Brexit.
  • The more people who speak out - the stronger the voice and the stronger the opposition to oppression!
🚫 NO - Bloggers should not be speaking out...
  • Blogging can be an escape from the scary political world. Reading a beauty or lifestyle post with idyllic photographs and no mention of Trump is can be a welcome restbite. Writing and publishing such posts can have the same effect! They can be a source of comfort to both author and viewer.
  • Some bloggers simply prefer to keep their content neutral. 
  • Expressing political opinions can cause people to receive online hate. This may not even come from within the blogging community but from internet trolls who exist purely to upset people and provoke a reaction.
  • Other bloggers I spoke to stated that expressing political opinions could cause you to lose followers.
  • Bloggers need to be very careful what they say, especially if they have a big audience. Quoting a piece of information in a post which turns out not to be true, or accidentally misrepresenting a political view can land a blogger in big trouble.
A number of bloggers that I spoke to said that they did think that the blogging world ought to be speaking out, but that they lacked the confidence to write about political issues themselves. Given how divisive political issues can be, this is totally understandable. Even if you lack the confidence to put pen to paper yourself, you can still be a part of the movement to speak out. Here's how:
  • Retweet content you agree with. 
  • Share news articles to help educate others.
  • Engage in discussions on social media, even if you're just talking to those with similar opinions to yours.

What do you think? Should bloggers be political? Will you be writing a political post yourself? Why / why not? Please comment below and fill me in, all opinions are valid!

Until next time,

A x

Why I Don't Shop at MAC

Whether its their best selling Velvet Teddy lipstick, their popular Prep and Prime base, or their famed Studio Fix foundation, MAC is a staple in the makeup drawers of pretty much every blogger going. But today I'm here to share with you an unpopular opinion: I don’t shop at MAC, and I probably never will. Don't get me wrong, I've had the chance. I won a MAC gift card in a blogger giveaway, and I was gifted a MAC voucher for Christmas, but I've given both of these away. Wanna know why? Just keep reading.

1) MAC tests on animals.
MAC is not a cruelty free brand. Because they sell their ranges in China, this means that their products are tested on animals, as this is a legal requirement that China has for cosmetics that are imported into their country. MAC's full policy can be seen on their website. I find it so disappointing that in this day and age, the makeup industry still tests on animals and puts them through lives of pain, suffering, and misery. One of the most powerful things that you can do to stop animal testing is to stop purchasing from companies that are not cruelty free, and this is one of the main reasons that I do not buy MAC products.

2) Their shops and staff are intimidating.
I have never felt welcome in a MAC store. I don't wear a great deal of makeup on a daily basis, and when I popped in to my local MAC store  in order to pick up a lipstick for my blog launch giveaway, I was wearing none at all. I wasn't dolled up, I was wearing baggy jeans, my glasses and an oversized jumper, carrying my uni rucksack. The dirty looks that I received from the impeccably made-up staff made me feel so uncomfortable and unwelcome. One girl practically sneered as she came up to me and said I looked like I could use some help. I promptly left and decided to shop online instead.

3) It’s overpriced.
£20 for a bottle of foundation?! £17.50 for a lip pencil?! £35 for a palette?! If you expect me to pay this much for makeup, I fully expect makeup angels to descend from heaven to apply it for me and make me look like Kim Kardashian. No really. Give me a budget makeup brand any day - you get so much more for your money! I recommend you check out Sleek or MUA, who are a lot more affordable and (importantly!) are cruelty free. The price of MAC products also brings me on to reason number four...

4) So many good dupes exist!
Beauty bloggers (naturally) are your friends here! If there's a great MAC dupe out there, I can guarantee that someone in the wonderful beauty community has blogged about it! I can recommend Aisha's post about a dupe for MAC's Impassioned, and Mary's post about a dupe for MAC's Amber Times Nine eyeshadow palette to get you started. Keep reading, who knows what moneysaving dupes you'll discover!

Do you shop at MAC? Why? Why not? Share in the comments below and let's start a discussion!

Until next time,

A x

DIY Afternoon Tea

Last week, I blogged about my afternoon tea experience in Oxford, which inspired me to create an afternoon tea of my own! The crowning glory of my afternoon tea at The Grand Cafe was definitely the gorgeous home-made scones, so I decided to recreate these in my own kitchen with this super easy recipe. You can easily whip up some of your own fresh scones in a matter of minutes, just to treat yourself, or to share if you want to add a sophisticated afternoon tea vibe to a get-together. Keep reading to discover my recipe.

You will need:
Self raising flour (225g / 8oz)
Margarine or butter (85g / 3oz)
Caster sugar (55g / 2oz)
Sultanas (55g / 2oz)
Milk (just a splash!)
Circular cutters
A baking sheet

Step One: Preheat your oven. Turn it up to 190 degrees, 170 degrees on a fan oven, or Gas Mark 5.

Step Two: Place the flour, margarine, and sugar in the same bowl. Plunge your hands in and start rubbing the mixture together until it becomes the consistency of breadcrumbs! The photo below shows you what you should be aiming for.

Step Three: Make sure that there are no large lumps in your mixture. Then add in the sultanas and mix them in using a spoon.

Step Four: Add small splashes of milk and keep mixing. Keep adding little splashes until you have formed a sticky dough, which looks like the picture below.

Step Five: Sprinkle your work surface liberally with flour. This will prevent the mixture from sticking to the countertop. Then place your mixture on the work surface. Don't roll it out with a rolling pin. This will push all the air out of the scones and make them all flat - not good. Instead, lightly press out the mixture with your hands until it's even on top.

Step Six: Use the circular cutters to cut out your scones, and place them on the baking sheet.

Step Seven: Once you've used up all of the mixture, place your scones into the oven. They usually take between 10 and 15 minutes to cook, but check on them regularly as they may need a little longer. Once they're cooked, they should be light brown in colour on the top, as seen in the photo below.

Allow them to cool on a rack for a little while, then they'll be ready to eat! I like to enjoy my scones with strawberry jam and cream. If you have a go at this recipe, do share photos with me on Twitter or Instagram!

What are your favourite afternoon snacks? Are you a scone lover? Or do you prefer a chocolate biscuit with your cuppa? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,

A x

My Dream House

When it comes to amazing houses, there's one woman who's got it going on. And she's been rocking the housing market since 1959. Barbie, I salute you! That little blonde style icon has been living it up in her three-storey mansion, complete with a kitchen stocked with only the best plastic lobster, and a garage for her bright pink convertible. Oh, and don't forget the pool for those all important parties!

ANYWAY, forget Barbie, today I'm here to tell you all about my dream house! And there isn't a dash of pink in sight, nor is there a water fountain out front in the shape of a giant stiletto (soz, Barbz). This is also a collaborative post with my lovely friend Abbie from abbiechic.com, who has written about her dream house as well. Check out her post here!

I am a sunny weather girl. Give me a beach and 35 degree heat and I'll be a happy bunny. I'd love to live somewhere like Greece and no, not on a party island like Mykonos, thanks. A rural, sleepy Greek or Italian seaside town, preferably in close proximity to some interesting archaeology (I'm a nerd ok) and the beach would be fantastic! I'm not a big fan of city living, and the thought of living somewhere as busy and crowded as London is my kind of nightmare, so my dream house would have to be a bit off the beaten track!

My Space
The most important room in my dream house would definitely be... My library! I absolutely love books! Studying and reading are a massive part of my life. I'd love to have a library completely lined with bookshelves! I will have many leather-bound books and the room will smell of rich mahogany (anyone get the reference, anyone?). I'm thinking a full Harry Potter style library, but with fewer books that try to bite you and more comfy beanbags and cushions. I'd also have an open fireplace to cosy up next to in the winter, and some window-seats in which to bask in the sun during the summer.

The Bedroom
What girl doesn't dream of a walk-in closet? I'd love a way to keep all my clothes and shoes on display so that I can pair things up way quicker and come up with interesting clothing combos. I'd also like to have a massive corkboard in my bedroom on which I could display photos, posters, and meaningful bits and bobs. Most important, however, is the bed! I want the full king-size four-poster memory-foam BED OF DREAMS. I mean, sure, with my lack of tidiness it'll soon start to look like a Tracey Emin art piece, but I can start with good intentions, right?

I'm not the biggest partygoer in the world, but I absolutely love to cook with the guests that I do have over at my house, so a big open-plan kitchen and dining room is a must. Top of my wish list would be a kitchen island, where I can have a big bunch of fresh flowers to brighten the room. I'd like quite an old-fashioned and vintage look to my kitchen, with wood panelling and an AGA stove. I love the homely country kitchen feel!

The Garden
Swimming is one of my favourite ways to keep fit, and it's something that I just don't have the money for while I'm studying, so in my dream house, I'd definitely have my own pool in the back garden! As well as the pool, I'd love a secluded wildflower meadow, a space where I can be alone with my thoughts. And of course, the garden would have to be big enough for a dog, as I have my heart set on being puppy-mother to both a Dachshund and a Border Collie!

What does your dream house look like? Do we have any fantasies in common? Share in the comments below! 
Don't forget to check out Abbie's post too.

Until next time,

A x

Have Tea with Me

How many special attractions are there right on your doorstep that you've just never visited? I've been studying in Oxford for nearly four years now but there are still so many places that I've never checked out. One of those is The Grand Cafe, which stands on the site of the first coffee house in England, established in the 1600's. When David came down to visit me for a couple of days, I seized my chance and dragged him along for an afternoon tea! It was his first ever afternoon tea experience, so keep reading to find out what we both thought!

The Grand Cafe, with its eyecatching gold columned frontage, is located on Oxford's High Street, just a short walk from where I live. The window is always filled with a gorgeous display of cakes, which I couldn't wait to sample! Upon our arrival, we were given a little table in the corner by the big windows, so we settled in to peruse the menu.

We opted to share one High Tea, comprising sandwiches, petit fours, and scones, and one standard Cream Tea, consisting of scones, jam, and cream. I was tempted to order a High Tea for both of us but when it arrived, I was so glad that I didn't! The portion was generous and I ended up taking one of the scones home in a napkin anyway! At £16.95 per person, the High Tea is pretty pricey, but the quality of the food really was excellent. The petit fours and scones were freshly made, and the sandwich fillings (egg-mayo and smoked salmon with cream cheese) were delicious. If you're not massively hungry but would still enjoy an afternoon tea experience, I would definitely recommend splitting one High Tea between two!


Now, unlike David who is a coffee connoisseur, I am very picky when it comes to hot drinks. I can just about manage a hot chocolate when I really fancy one, but tea and coffee are usually a big no. However, at such a classy occasion as afternoon tea, I thought it would be rather rude to try a cup, so I ordered a Lavender herbal tea. I was pleasantly surprised at this, the tea was very aromatic but not overpowering and I managed to drink the whole pot! I must admit that it had a rather soporific effect, so I was nearly dozing off at the table afterwards!


The interior of the cafe is opulent with marble and gold wherever you look! You definitely feel like you're at a high society tea party - I felt like I ought to be wearing a corset and a bustle! Despite the grandeur, the cafe was still very welcoming and the staff were friendly. As the cafe is in close proximity to a lot of Oxford's tourist hotspots such as the Radcliffe Camera, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Bodleian Library, it is an ideal venue at which stop off for a pot of tea if you're visiting the city for the day.

David and I had a lovely time (excuse my very round little face in our selfie!) and it really was a pleasure to share this experience with one of my favourite people. David is a rather talented chef in his own right, and he has just started an Instagram to share his food, so do go on over and follow him here. But before you all puke, that's enough of me being soppy for one day!

Have you ever been out for afternoon tea? Is there anywhere in your local area that you'd recommend? Please tell me in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

How to Start Blogging with a BANG!

how to start blog blogging success

How do I start a blog? Moreover, how do I start a SUCCESSFUL blog? It can seem like a mammoth task. So why not take advice from someone who's already been there, done it, and got the tshirt? I pretty had a pretty sweet start to blogging life, I'm not gonna lie. Although it makes me cringe to look back on it now, my first ever blog post got over 30 comments and over 700 views, which really overwhelmed me! If you're tempted to delve into the world of blogging yourself and want to kick off your blog's career with a bang, keep reading to discover what worked for me! 

1) Build up a social media following before you launch 

You can choose to do this on Facebook, by creating a page for your upcoming blog and inviting friends and family to like it. You can also try Twitter, by getting involved in Twitter chats, and by getting to know people and engaging with their content. Instagram and Pinterest are great places to gain a following as well, as they too can promote your blog once you launch.

2) Create a hype about your blog launch

Set the date for your launch and start a countdown! Drop a few clues about what your first post is going to be about, but don't give the game away! This will get people excited and ready to read your content. You may like to think about offering a giveaway to celebrate your launch. If you have a substantial social media following, you may even be able to get a brand to gift you some products to give away. I was lucky enough to have the lovely people at Penny Rose Home & Gifts sponsor my blog launch giveaway.

3) Find your blogging style

The best way to do this is by reading other people's posts! While you're reading, take a few moments to think: What do you like about this post? What don't you like? What could you improve upon? Figure it out, work out your style, and create your blogging voice! You can also look at other people's blogging schedules to help you decide on your own. Posting twice a week works well for me, for example, but you can choose to post more or less frequently.

4) Organise, organise, organise!

Having a consistent content is good. It'll keep people returning to your blog. While you're building up your social media following, get writing! Have a few posts ready to go before you launch. This will mean that you won't just have a fantastic couple of days after your launch but consistently fantastic weeks and maybe even years afterwards! Makes sense, right?

5) Get your blog lookin' fly

Get your blog kitted out with a sexy theme! Pipdig and Etsy are two great places to go for these. Play with photo editing software before you start, and have a go at taking and editing the photos for your first few posts. I can assure you, getting that perfect set-up is harder than it looks! I use Canva for all of my editing. You'll also need to make a blog header, or have someone make it for you! Claire from Aloha Lola Cards made my header and I still FRIGGIN' love it, even after all this time.

If you're an experienced blogger reading this, do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment below! What advice would you give to someone about to embark on their blogging journey?

Until next time,

A x

My Self-Care Checklist

Self care. It's important. Not just for your physical health, but your mental health too. It isn't self-centered, selfish, or inconsiderate to take time out of your busy schedule for yourself. Taking time to relax ensures that you are refreshed and able to handle the challenges that life throws at you. A healthy relationship with yourself is necessary for a happy life, this can be brought about by practicing self-care.

But when it comes to putting our good intentions into practice, things can go awry. Busy lives filled with studying, working, blogging, maintaining friendships, cleaning the house etc. etc. mean that self-care can often fall by the wayside. So, I'm going to show you how to make my easy and simple self-care checklist that'll help focus your mind on the importance of self-care and encourage you to take that much needed time out.

This post was partly inspired by a #TalkMH Twitter chat that Jemma from dorkfaceblog hosted back in November. It was this question that sparked it all off:

In response to Jemma's question, I mentioned my self-care checklist, and loads of people seemed interested!

So, without further ado, let's get into the checklist! I call it my "Fun Police" list, as I like to imagine the Fun Police turning up and telling me off if I don't take time out to chill out and relax (I'm weird - I know!). I base my list around the eight weeks of my university term, and I aim to complete each self-care activity at least once every week.

My list includes taking baths, reading for fun, walking in the gardens, watching Netflix, writing letters, having lie-ins, cooking, and exercising (can you tell which one I fail at the most?). If you want to make a checklist for yourself, you could also include categories such as having a coffee with a friend, using a face-mask, doing yoga, tweeting a motivational message, baking, practicing positive affirmations - anything that works for you! I wrote out my my self-care checklist on a piece of A4 paper which I stick onto the front my wardrobe, but you can do this in your bullet journal or planner if you'd prefer.

Make your list look super pretty with vibrant colours and little doodles which will really encourage you to tick off all of the boxes! I went for simple doodles executed in biro, but you can be as fancy and creative as you like. It's your list, so make it uniquely you!

I really find that this checklist makes me want to take time out of my busy schedule to relax and look after myself, and I believe it can work for you too! What self-care activities would be on your checklist? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

A x

Breakfast at LEON*

Hands up if you're a perpetual breakfast-skipper. I know I am! It takes a lot to get me enthused about eating in the morning, but when I was invited along to an exclusive preview of the breakfast offering at LEON's new store in Oxford, three days before they opened to the public, I couldn't say no!

LEON are all about natural, fast food. Their vision is to deliver high quality food at top speed, and with a reasonable price to boot! Their menus are nutritionally balanced, with a focus on fruits and vegetables. The company sources its food ethically, supporting environmentally positive farmers. Aside from their authentic Spanish chorizo, all of their meat is from UK Freedom Food approved farms. The eggs that LEON use are free range, and their coffee is fairtrade and organic. I was really impressed with LEON's ethos and I couldn't wait to sample their grub!


Time for the taste test! I took a friend along with me to LEON's event and together we sampled the Porridge of the Gods, a Halloumi Muffin, a Better Brownie, and a latte and a hot chocolate to wash it all down. I was incredibly impressed by the quality of the food on offer! Everything tasted so fresh and delicious! The porridge was not too heavy and perfectly flavoured with organic honey and melted chocolate flakes. The brownie was dense and chewy, just the way I like it, with plenty of tasty almonds and orange zest. The toasted halloumi muffin was served piping hot, with red peppers and LEON's own home-made ketchup! The process from ordering to collecting our food took less than five minutes despite the place being packed with other bloggers and reviewers - impressive stuff!


LEON's transparency with their menus is really admirable. You can see all of the ingredients and nutritional information for their items on their website, which really helps you make informed choices about the healthiest options. It's also super easy to eat vegan and vegeterian at LEON - you can switch the milk in your coffee for a dairy-free alternative, and you can even opt for almond milk in your porridge. Options that are wheat free and gluten free are also plentiful, so whatever your dietary requirement, LEON can cater for you!

Another aspect of LEON's restaurant in Oxford that I really like is their decor - it definitely doesn't feel like a fast food joint, there is more of a restaurant vibe! There is ample comfy seating both upstairs and downstairs, with funky, well-thought-out decor which makes you feel right at home. One of my favourite features is the seasonal food wheel which we found upstairs. This tells you exactly which fruits and veggies are in season when you visit!

I should also mention the customer service at LEON, which was second to none! My friend and I really struggled to decide what we wanted to try from the extensive menu, but the girl behind the coutner was so patient with us, asking us what kind of flavours we like and suggesting her favourite menu items. Service with a smile really makes a difference when you're dining out, and we couldn't have been made to feel more welcome at LEON.

I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast at LEON and I'll definitely be back to sample their dinner menus too! You can find LEON's Oxford store at 44-46 Cornmarket Street, Oxford,  OX1 3HA, right in the city center.

Have you ever eaten at LEON? What is your favourite thing from the menu? Please share in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

*Disclaimer: The meal detailed here was provided free of charge by LEON in exchange for a review.

This Time Next Year...

Happy New Year! I hope you're reading this with a blazing hangover, having welcomed 2017 in with a bang! As it's the start of a brand new year, I thought what better time to make some resolutions for the next 365 days. Back in November, I was tagged in the 'This Time Next Year' lifestyle tag by the wonderful Pandora from Pandora's Jar of Curiosities, and I thought that today provided the perfect opportunity to share this post. So, let's get cracking!

Image Source

Rules of the Tag:
  • Thank the person who tagged you (thanks Pandora!)
  • Write your goals for next year
  • Write how you’re going to achieve your goals
  • Tag at least 5 of your blogger friends to share their goals
  • Then, if you wish, in 365 days write a post for everyone to see if you have been successful or not.

This time next year... I'll have graduated from my Masters degree with a distinction.
I'll achieve this by... working hard, retaining my focus, not procrastinating, taking a well-earned rest when I need it, not being afraid to ask for help when necessary, and not giving up!

This time next year... I will have been blogging for over a year and a half!
I'll achieve this by... staying motivated, organising my time well, setting small but achievable goals, staying engaged with the blogging community on social media, and not giving up!

This time next year... I will have a better handle on my anxiety.
I'll achieve this by...  attending a mindfulness course, reading self-help books, talking to friends if I need reassurance, putting myself first when I need to, and not giving up!

This time next year... I will be a more well-rounded person!
I'll achieve this by... learning another language, unleashing my artistic and creative side more, reading more widely, listening to more music, reading the news regularly, and not giving up!

As you can probably tell, my theme for 2017 is don't give up! I really want to make this year a success and being determined and never giving up will be a big part of that. To just keep going and battle through is my over-arching goal for the New Year, and with a bit of grit and bravery, I'm sure I can do it!

I am tagging: 
Hayley from lifethroughtsg.com
Eloise from isthateloise.co.uk
Abbie from abbiechic.com

I hope you enjoyed my first ever tag post! Let me know what your resolutions for 2017 are in the comments below! Where do you want to be this time next year?

Until next time,

A x