Cruelty Free and Natural Winter Skincare Saviours

Aside from the whole Christmas thing, I am not a fan of winter. It makes me want to hide under a blanket, applying layers upon layers of moisturiser and dreaming about a time when I didn't have to wear 5 jumpers in order to feel slightly warm. Frankly, I think England in December is determined to destroy me. As well as leaving me a hell of a let less motivated to leave my bed, freezing winds just seem to strip every good thing that my skin has going for it. Even a matter of minutes out in the cold sends it into a crusty melt-down.

Luckily, the past few years have guided me towards a skin saviour: Oil. Whilst I used to avoid it because I was scared it would leave spots in its trail, I now slather it everywhere. As a moisturiser, in my cleanser, on my lips. No area of my body goes untouched. And it makes winter at least 20% more bearable. So, if your skin suffers like mine in the colder months, these might just be the products that you need in your life.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. 

A last-minute ethical gift guide

With just over a week to go before Christmas Day, I think we can officially call any shopping beyond this point "last-minute". Don't worry, don't worry, I'm not judging. I'm certain that I'll have to dash to my local supermarket on the 24th to find something, anything, for that one person who I didn't realise was coming round for Christmas dinner. It happens pretty much every year. The thing is, despite the fact that it happens every year, I never seem to get any better at it. I always end up buying absolute tat that does little more than gather dust/go into the present box to be re-gifted to some other unfortunate soul next festive season. I'm sure I'm not alone. We've all stared at the cosmetics aisle in Tesco, wishing we were at home eating mince pies, before settling on some kind of bath set that contains fluffy socks and a miniature bottle of foot cream.

However, I am determined that this year will be different. At the begging of 2017 I set the goal to be a more conscious consumer and I've been doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. But let me tell you, last-minute shopping alongside aisle and aisles of over-packaged gift sets do not make for the most ethical shopping experience. Which is why I've created this gift guide, mainly to give myself a helpful push when I have a minor meltdown within the next week, but also as a helping hand for you. There are a tonne of more ethical options that aren't hard to get your hands on, be it vegan alternatives, cruelty-free cosmetics or gift-cards for actually feminist brands. Don't let the Christmas stress get to you, my eco-warrior pal. We can do this!

A Feminist Gift Guide

If there's two things I love, it's badass feminists and Christmas. My dream world would contain more cinnamon and less patriarchy. So, there's little I enjoy more at this time of year than putting together my feminist gift-guide. Now that we're in our second year, I guess we can officially call it a tradition. And not the shit kind that means you have to spend an evening with your racist/homophobic/sexist great uncle, but the incredible kind that's full of pretty undies, vibrator necklaces (!) and intersectionality.

I like to think of this year's gift guide as the older sister of last year's post, simply because I know a hell of a lot more about ethical consuming in 2017. It was one of my new year's resolutions, after all. Everything you see bellow was picked by me not just because it is super sassy, but because of the ethics behind the brand. The Girl Vs. Cancer Tit-Tee donates 25% of its profits to amazing breast cancer charities. The beautiful minimalist jewellery by Made are all handmade in Kenya and have a completely transparent production process. None of these businesses fund fast fashion and a lot of them are independently run. Yay for knowing that you are helping to put food on someone's table instead of just giving more money to an already huge company, ammirite?

Basically, I think that all of these brands deserve our support this Christmas. And I certainly don't think your feminists friends will be complaining!

My Christmas Bucket List

I've been listening to my Christmas playlist all day, we're playing a Youtube video of a crackling fire to give our student home the appearance of cosiness, and I feel like writing a self-indulgent, massively festive post. I've already held back my excitement for the whole of November waiting for it to be 'socially acceptable'. So, please, humour me.

Those of you that have been around these parts for a while will know that Christmas is my favourite time of year. I don't need an excuse to make my whole house smell like cinnamon and to eat chocolate before I've even left the comfort of my bed, but December gives me one, regardless. Add in the fact that I get to head home to Kent (and my family and my boyfriend and my doggies) and I just can't help but feel all fuzzy inside. However, as much as I want to spend every day this month baking cookies, I'm in my third year of university. Your girl has a to-do list the length or her arm and some pretty beefy assignments to get finished.

I'm determined to somehow balance getting decent grades with being able to fully immerse myself in the festive spirit (and the festive food). So, naturally, I wrote a list. I sat down next to our faux fireplace and put everything I want to do this Christmas down on paper, ready to be ticked off one at a time.

Starbucks red cup

Ethical things to do instead of shopping this Black Friday

A few weeks ago I realised that Black Friday was well and truly on its way. The swipe up links started appearing on Instagram stories. The sale threads popped up on twitter more and more frequently. The internet was entering into a collective near-hysteria facing the prospect of being able to bag that jumper they've had their eye on for 50% off. But for the first time ever, I wasn't excited.

The whole thing has made me feel a little bit sad.

Over the past 12 months my shopping habits have changed drastically. Whilst a year ago I would have been loading up my laptop and bookmarking anything and everything that caught my eye on highstreet websites in the hopes that it would be reduced by the time midnight hit, this year I will be steering clear of the sales. Learning that fast fashion is one of the world's largest polluters (second only to the oil industry) and that it frequently mistreats its workers, sometimes even to the point of death, completely changed the way I shop. I really started to think about the hands that were actually making my clothes, instead of just whether they were cheap or trendy enough.

As exhilarating as Black Friday can be, I can't help but feel like it is a magnification of what is already a huge problem: Our over-consumption within the world of fashion. As I've said before, as consumers our power lies in our money. If we choose to contribute to a day dedicated to selling unethical clothing at an even cheaper price, we are funding the continuation of this industry's harmful practises. We are telling business that we care more about getting a lower price than we do about whether our clothing is ethical.  

My Favourite TED Talks

Ah, Ted Talks. My true motivation saviour for when the middle of the university term hits and I don't physically have the time to pick up any of my favourite self-help books. They're the glorious middle-man between a mindless TV show and an intellectually stimulating novel that requires a dictionary to be understood. And since most of them are available at the click of a button, I don't even have to sacrifice my pasta sauce encrusted hoodie to get all of their inspiring goodness.

Now, I've watched a fair few Ted Talks in my time. Not once have I left them feeling like I've wasted a precious 15 minutes of my life. Let's be honest, if someone is invited to do a Ted Talk, they're going to have something interesting to say! Even if it's about a topic that usually wouldn't interest you in the slightest. However, I do definitely have my favourites. Those ones that leave me all fizzy with excitement and that actually changed how I live my life on a daily basis.

Ted Talk Laptop

My Self-Care Checklist Template

October wasn't an easy month for me. Whilst I spent the whole of September milling about thinking "WOW I am the queen of productivity! This juggling blogging and working and having a social life malarkey is easy", my third-year work load really crept up on me. Suddenly, I had 5,000 words to write, three books a week to read and a blog schedule to keep up with. Something had to give. And as I said in my last post, I didn't want that to be my £9,000-a-year education. Even after I stopped posting and doing everything else blog related, I was exhausted. I was staying up late and waking up early. I wasn't taking the time to cook any decent food. Basically, I wasn't looking after myself at all. So, I guess it's no surprise that I came down with several illnesses at once. I can now see that that should have been a sign to slow down, but at the time it was just another reason for me to stress about how I was going to get everything done on time.

The whole thing made me realise that I'm not all that good at self-care when I actually need it. I think, like a lot of people, I'm good at talking about how important it is to look after yourself, but rubbish at actually doing it when I'm having a bad day. Stressed-out-Beth truly can't be trusted to practice what she preaches. Which is why I decided to create a personalised self-care checklist, to take any need for thinking out of the equation. Because thinking is usually the point when I say "nah...I'll just keep working instead".

Even though I've seen a few "Self-Care" checklists floating around online, I found that most of them didn't really apply to me. That's not to say that they aren't incredible, but self-care is such a personal thing. So, whilst I considered just sharing my own practical self-care list, I also realised that it might be relatively useless. After creating my checklist I decided to strip it back into a basic template that anybody can use. Because, let's be honest, we could all use a reminder every now and then. If you can stick that reminder up above your workspace or save it on your phone, even better!

October Favourites: I'm Back!

I felt like a Sunday evening was the best time to make my return to the world of blogging. After a day of drinking Earl Grey tea, reading and just generally being as snuggled as humanly possible, I felt the urge to write again.

You guys know that I like to be as honest as possible on my corner of the internet, to remind you that it's not all 'pretty flatlays of brunch' and 'I'm a total girlboss' 24/7. So, in that spirit, I don't mind telling you that October was a pretty difficult month for me. I had a lot of deadlines and a lot of stress which manifested in me not having the time to blog. Something had to slide and I thought I should probably not let that be the education I'm paying £9,000 a year for! I have a whole post planned explaining my absence, but honestly, right now I just want to have a nice chilled Sunday night chat with you all. So, dammit, that's what I'm going to do! I'm going to sit hear and tell you about everything that has been bringing me joy. Just because I want to.

Things that have made me a better writer

When looking back at my old blog, I try not to cringe too hard. I try hard to remember that I was only 14 and that I was trying to fit in with all of the cool blogging kids. However, it does kind of make me want to gauge my eyes out. I know that I shouldn't be overly critical of my past self, but seriously, learn how to use a full stop instead of an exclamation mark after every! Single! Sentence!

No, I won't be posting a link because, yes, you can trust me when I tell you it's bad.

To be honest, I avoid looking back at it as much as possible. So, when I do have a gander, it really is shocking. Partially because it's littered with grammatical errors and awful expression, and partially because it makes me realise just how far I've come. I think there are a tonne of factors that have contributed to my progress apart from just dedication. So, even though my brain is shouting "LOL YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO GIVE ADVICE", I thought I would share how I have become a better writer.

Supporting unethical brands in their ethical endeavours

Unless you've been living under a rock/avoiding those Lad Bible style pages on Facebook (I can't blame you if it's the later), then you've probably heard that McDonald's are currently trialing a vegan burger. Obviously, when news broke the internet absolutely lost its shit. Because if there's one thing that online folk like to do, it's tell others why they should eat in the same way that they do. Ignoring the people in the comment section shouting "BUT BACON THOUGH!!!", opinions of vegans themselves were pretty split. Half were rejoicing that their post-clubbing cravings were finally being catered to. Others swore that they would never support "McDeath". And to be honest, I can understand both stand points.

I feel like this little vegan burger and its not so little response is a pretty perfect example of a question that I've been asking myself a lot recently: What do I do when an unethical brand brings out an ethical product? Buy it or boycott?

Actually Feminist Companies to give your money to

Take a wander into any highstreet shop in 2017 and you will definitely see the word "feminist". In fact, I'm willing to bet money that you'll see the phrase "girl power" or "femme forever" plastered onto a T-Shirt somewhere too.

As I've said before (like, a lot), it's one of those things that gets me pretty heated. The truth is that feminism sells and brands know it. But whilst they might emblazon every t-shirt/pin/patch/sock with slogans about empowering women, their ethics just don't match up. Fast fashion continues to perpetrate the mistreatment of women in the East on a daily basis: H&M are said to have fired 251 workers due to pregnancy in Cambodia and India and it is reported that 8,000 workers have collapsed in their factories due to heat and exhaustion between 2010 and 2016 in Cambodia alone. Topshop have been linked to the use of sweatshops that pay their workers 44p per hour.

I don't know, but I'm pretty sure they're not feeling those "Girl Power" vibes, despite the fact that it is their hands that hold up these fast fashion brands.

Thankfully, more and more people are waking up the disgusting realities behind the fashion industry and choosing to shop ethically. Whether that means using charity shops, supporting slow fashion brands or simply buying less clothes, I'm all for it. But trust me, I understand that it ain't easy: Nobody is the perfect ethical consumer. So, to make it that little bit easier I've compiled a list of some actually feminist companies that I've had my eye on for a while. Companies that are independent and founded by women. Companies that celebrate every aspect of womanhood, not just the bits that make for a sassy slogan. Now those are the companies that I will happily give my money to.

My post-meditation playlist

For those of you that don't know, a few days ago there was a full moon. Fortunately, I follow enough spiritual hunnies now on every single one of my social media platforms to not actually forget this time. It's kind of a miracle. Usually it takes at least 4 days before I realise that I've missed it. However, this time around I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and took it as a chance for a bit of a spiritual re-boot.

I can't lie, I've been slacking recently. With uni really kicking off, I've been failing to follow my own advice and have been putting productivity before my self-care rituals. You can slap my hand when you see me, okay? At least I recognised it though (which is more than I've been able to say in the past). So, once the evening hit I did some journaling, set my intentions and left my crystals out to charge. Then I went in for an extra juicy meditation practice. I even had my salt lamp beside me and some sage diffusing. It was pretty bloody glorious, to be honest.

Some problems with spirituality and wellness blogs

"Spirituality" and "wellness" are two of those words that I find it pretty much impossible to define. They are terms that are so wide reaching and mean so many different things to so many different people, that I feel as though my personal understanding doesn't even begin to scrape the surface. "Spirituality" can mean spending your Sunday singing hymns or it can mean carrying crystals in your handbag. Or both. "Wellness" can mean being a vegan spirialising enthusiast or it can mean being dedicated to daily self-care. Or both. Ultimately, I think it's this elusiveness that makes blogging about such topics very difficult. Spirituality and wellness will always run off the pages on anything written about them and every reader will have a different expectation. As such, I can't help but feel that online content related to them often falls short.

Before I jump into some of the issues that I have with this community I consider myself a part of, I think it's important to say that I love seeing these subjects getting attention. It was Youtubers such as Catia Mallan and Megan Hughes that introduced me to the worlds of meditation and crystal work. I read wellness blogs on a daily basis. It's something that I think we should be talking about. But that doesn't mean that the way we are doing so is perfect. There are problems that I've experienced whilst reading others' posts and whilst writing my own. There are things that we can and should do better at.

My lecture essentials

And just like that, my first week of my last year at university is over.

I can't lie, I was expecting the transition from having zero responsibilities during summer to having a to-do list as long as my arm to be a lot harder than it was. I guess I'd forgotten how much of a kick I get out of bullet journal spreads, ticked off tasks and getting shit done. But yes, I've actually enjoyed getting back into the swing of things. I even packed my bag the night before my first lecture, like a kid whose just got a new pencil case from WHSmiths. Trust me, that never happens. Especially not when it's a 10am and the campus coffee is so ridiculously overpriced.

Now that I'm in third year I feel like I've finally got the perfect lecture backpack down. I've found that ideal median between 'year 7 with food tech and PE on the same day' and 'that annoying person who never fails to forget their pen'. I have everything I absolutely need, without the backache of over packing.

How I learnt to love my period

I can remember my first experience of period shame like it was yesterday: I was 14-years-old and going through my first time being at school whilst on my period. I was sat on the toilet, pad in hand, waiting for someone to use the dryer so that I could finally open it. The idea of somebody hearing that recognisable rustle made me feel sick. Nobody, not even girls that were probably going through the exact same thing as me, could know that I was menstruating.

These days I talk about periods in the same way that I talk about the weather or how I like my tea made. It's not a cause of embarrassment anymore. I've gone from double bagging my tampons to telling all of my Twitter followers about how bad my cramps are on a scale from 1 to 10. However, I know that not everyone feels quite so comfy talking in an open way about periods. It makes me sad, but the truth is that society does a brilliant job of making women feel ashamed of their bodily functions. Which is why when TOTM got in contact with me and asked me to be a part of their latest campaign, I knew that I had to. It's all about opening up conversations about periods, getting rid of those stigmas and normalising chat that should already be normal by now.

University was the best thing to happen to my relationship

My first year of university was hard. In fact, I’d say that it was probably the hardest year of my life. Mainly it was down to an unpalatable cocktail of homesickness and missing my boyfriend who, up until the moment I left, I had spent every waking moment with. We literally worked together! So, even though I was passionate about my course and about getting a degree doing what I loved, I spent a lot of my time feeling desperately lonely. I know it’s not all that girlboss-y but it’s the truth. On top of that I was constantly being told that pre-university relationships never last.  I was told that cheating was inevitable and that it would all break down for the sake of wanting more fun. Because obviously it’s only possible to have fun whilst single…

All of this culminated in me being an anxious mess who was constantly counting down the days until I was reunited with my boyfriend. Ultimately, I didn’t create a headspace that allowed me to, ya know, actually enjoy my university experience in the slightest.

Two years later, I’m just entering into my final year and I’m confident when I say that university and going long distance is the best thing that has ever happened to our relationship. Just hear me out.

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My all time favourite Lush products

A few weeks ago I visited the Lush Oxford Street store in all of its beautiful smelling glory. Along with the usual goodies, they had just released the Halloween and, most excitingly, the Christmas range. Don't get me wrong, all Lush is good Lush. I have baths at every time of the year and use their skincare pretty much religiously. But there's just something about their Christmas products that make me fall even harder in love. Luckily I went before my student loan dropped, so I didn't spend all of my rent money. However, I couldn't resist picking up some new releases and old favourites, especially since my student house actually has a bath this year!

The whole thing has reinvigorated my Lushie side, so I thought it was about time I do a little update on all of my ride or die products. There's everything from skincare to bath bombs and bubble bars. If you're a novice then these are what I recommend you pick up immediately. If you're a fellow Lush lover, lets squeal about how incredible they are in the comments, shall we?


If I had to pick just one Lush product to use forever, this would be it. It's a gorgeous creamy oil-based cleanser that has kept my skin in shape for the past two years. Not only is it a queen at removing makeup (especially when used as the second step in a double cleansing routine), but the mix of almond oil, beeswax and rose water is super soothing. Even used on its own it keeps me spot free and smooth. I could gush about it for a month straight.

Ocean Salt

As I said in my all-natural skincare routine, I use a face scrub a couple of times a week before applying a mask. Ocean Salt is my absolute favourite because it feels like it's actually doing something. It's made of coarse sea salt that buffs away any dead skin, avocado butter for extra softness and seaweed to leave skin feeling utterly refreshed.

Super Tramp

Bubble bars are probably my favourite Lush bath product. Just a quarter of one is enough to create mounds of bubbles and leave the whole bathroom smelling glorious. Although I wouldn't recommend the reusable ones, the classics are an absolute winner.

Supertramp is one of those scents that is a bit hit or miss, but since I'm a huge patchouli fan, I bloody love it. When mixed with its ginger and sandalwood it creates a lovely earthy vibe. It reminds me of damp autumn walks through the woods which is why I find it so relaxing.


Intergalactic is the only favourite that I don't currently have in my stash, but luckily it's available all year round! It's a cult classic bath bomb that leaves water looking like the night sky and smelling of peppermint-cedar wood loveliness. Get into a shop and sniff it right this moment.

Snow Fairy Shower Gel

Would it be a Lush favourites post if I didn't mention Snow Fairy, honestly?

I'm not alone in having a deep love for this sickly sweet scent family. And yes, I did buy it in the gigantic bottle to make sure that I didn't run out before it came back for Christmas. I use it almost daily and it turns my showers into a candy floss and bubble gum heaven. Add in the fact that it has a soft luster and I really don't understand how anyone couldn't adore it.


I can't lie, when I first tried Butterbear (previously Butterball) I was a little bit disappointed. Until about a year ago I solely chose my ballistics and bubble bars based on how pretty they made my water look and this just didn't cut the mustard. However, when I got out and felt how smooth it had left my skin, a favourite was born. Sadly this cocoa-butter filled beauty is only available at christmas, but I stock up to make sure it sees me through the year.

How to survive studying English Literature at University

English Literature has always been my best subject. Throughout my school life even the idea of balancing equations or learning chemical symbols made me want to scream, whilst an hour of talking about books was pretty much my heaven. It didn't really feel like work, which probably explains how I was able to get consistently high marks. I got through lower school tests, GCSEs and A-Levels without feeling like the work was ever too difficult. It was one of the subjects that I knew like the back of my hand.

Then university came along and I realised that a lot of what I knew about studying English Literature no longer applied. A love for books wasn't enough to get me through (even though it's still easily the most important thing). However, now that I'm heading into my third year I can honestly say that I've got better at getting through dense reading lists, referencing and writing essays without having a little cry at the end of each day. And I got firsts in year one and two, so I must be doing something right!

I know that the jump from A-Level to degree level can leave you feeling way out of your depth, but if you're capable of getting into uni, you're capable of getting through it too! I believe in you, even if you don't. So, in the hopes of making that first month or so a little less terrifying, I thought I would share with you what I've learnt about doing an English Literature degree.

How I made my uni room a more positive space

For the past two years I've lived in university halls, in their constant state of pre-drinking and piles of dirty plates. It was an experience, to say the least. Sometimes a bad one (this introvert does not enjoy being woken up at 3am on a weekly basis by students daring to have fun.) But mainly it was an incredible one. I met some of my closest friends and I grew in ways that I didn't know I needed. Those annoyingly tiny bedroom walls saw a lot of positive change. Plus, there's just something about that communal accommodation spirit that can't be beaten.

I still find myself humming our college chant to myself now without thinking about it!

However, that chapter in my life is over. A few days ago I moved into my first off-campus house with my favourite people in the whole world. It's already starting to feel like home. The fairy lights are up, the slippers are out and, most excitingly, we have a washing machine in our kitchen so I no longer have to trudge to a laundrette. I'm pretty much living a life of luxury! The whole experience is already worlds away from being in halls. So, whilst I'm not as close to the library as I was last year, I'm happy to sacrifice that for the sense of homely cosiness that I get from being in a proper house.

The books I think every uni student should read

In less than a week I will be back living in London, fending for myself and preparing for the start of my last year at uni. Frankly, it seems like a lifetime ago that I did a weekly shop so, even though I am beyond excited to be reunited with my independence, I know that it will be a bit of a shock to the system. I think I might have actually forgotten how to write an essay. Or successfully make it to a 9am lecture on time.

So, with term quickly approaching I thought I would get back into the motivated mindset the only way I know how: Self-help books. These bad boys are some old favourites that always work their magic for me. Not only do they leave me all buzzy with inspiration, but they help to keep me as calm as possible as deadlines approach and remind me to get my organisation on.

Yay for not stress-crying by the end of week one!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Blogging, haul culture and fast fashion

At the age of 16 my favourite way to spend my time was clothes shopping. I was a full-on fashion blogger at that time in my life, popping out OOTDs and H&M hauls like there was no tomorrow. However, unlike all of the 'successful' influencers that I saw getting invited to fashion shows and being gifted Mulberry bags, I was on a waitressing wage of less than £4 an hour. So, I stuck to the knock-off Lita boots and the sale rails of my local Primark. I focused less on quality (and, ya know, whether I actually liked an item) and more on getting as much as humanly possible for my money. I would leave shops with bags full of items that were ill fitting, telling myself that I would "DIY it" or "cover it with a cardi" to turn into into something actually wearable. But more often than not they would just sit in my draws, never worn.

Basically, my shopping habits consisted of everything I have now come to loathe about the clothing industry. Which is one of the main reasons I try not to get too far up on my high horse now that I'm on a journey to becoming a more ethical consumer. Who am I to police people's spending when I was fast fashion's ideal customer a matter of months ago?

Girl Love #12

There are two times of the year when I feel my most inspired. For about 30 days I seem to gain a deeper sense of self and have a pretty much other-worldly drive towards my goals. The first of those months is, obviously, January in all of its "new year, new me" glory. The second is September. I just don't think it will ever lose that back-to-school feeling for me. To be honest, I'm waiting for my Mum to take me to WHSmiths to buy a new pencil case and planner any day now...

So, since "sort your life out" season is in full swing, it seemed only right to put together the latest edition of Girl Love and showcase two amazing women that I think are crushing it right now. These are the ladies whose content has left me feeling all types of inspired recently. And I promise, if you're not in the new term spirit yet, they will certainly get you there.

10 moments I loved on my trip to Kalamata

As I write this post I'm sat in one of those uncomfortable metal airport chairs, with a flight delay between me and a cup of proper English tea. I can see Greece in all of its 30° glory through the window and, even though I'm technically still here, I'm already missing it. And this sub-arctic aircon isn't making it any easier.

So, since it doesn't look like I'm going anywhere any time soon, I thought I would take this unfortunate opportunity to finally tell you all about what I've been up to on my month-long trip to Greece. Every cloud, eh?

When I first got here 5 weeks ago I had grand plans of posting every other day. Then the beach happened, holiday brain kicked in and I actually let myself relax. In fact, I barely picked up my laptop throughout the entirety of the holiday. Hence, it's been pretty quiet around this parts and I now have the mammoth task of documenting my whole incredible trip into one blog post. But hey, your girl needs something positive to look back on when uni stress is determined to kill her in a few months. Plus, I hope that this post acts as a lil life update to make up for my absence and a helpful guide for anyone travelling to Kalamata too.

Favourite Things: August 2017

August, you have been superb. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that you have been the best month of 2017 so far. Lazy beach days spent reading, nights out eating gyros and Sunday trips to the market have all reminded me why I love Greece so much. Really it was impossible not to have an incredible month when the whole of it was spent in such an incredible country.

On top of that it's just been nice to take a step back from working so hard so much of the time. When I arrived in Greece I had grand plans of writing weekly updates plus other blog posts throughout the month. But as you can see by my sparse posting, that definitely didn't happen. For the first time in what feels like forever I've not been thinking about what content will be out and when. I've just been chilling. And trust me, that's a pretty big deal when you're talking about me, a perpetual stresser and productivity addict. It's just been nice to be lazy. To not set an alarm. To have my only real stress being whether I applied enough bug spray.

The trip is coming to end now (no, you're crying!), so a little post about everything I've been up to on my holibobs is certainly in order. But until then I thought I would share with you my August favourites: All of the things that helped to make this such a bloody lovely month.

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My Favourite Positive Affirmations

Over the past few months I've really started to get in touch with my more spiritual side. After years of fighting the urge, I've finally learnt about crystals, meditation and, perhaps most importantly, the power of positive affirmations and manifesting. Yep, I've gone full-on hippie. I now implement rituals in my daily life that help to keep me centred and I'd say that I'm probably the most calm I've ever been.

I'm by no means an expert yet, but the improvements I've seen in my life are immense. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I've always been a stresser. But these days I like to think that I'm growing out of that. Spirituality has helped me to challenge the habits that have a negative impact on my life. It might not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me.

As I said, it hasn't always been like this. Frankly, I wrote it off as bullshit that I was far too good for for a long time. I used to scoff at the power of words and principles that I now live by. Ain't life funny?

So, I guess this post is a "soz for being so closed minded, universe" kinda post, where I talk about my favourite affirmations and why I now say them on the daily.

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My natural summer essentials

 I love the heat, but the heat does not love me. Ever since I was a kid I've suffered from heat rash and frizzy hair as soon as summer hits. However, it will always be my favourite season. I will bask in the sunshine and bathe in SPF 50 until the day I die. I guess it's true what they say: Love hurts (and itches quite a bit too).

Thanks to this love of the warm weather and skin that simultaneously throws a bitch fit because of it, I've had to learn some ways of dealing with the heat. Consider this post to be the 2.0 of last year's post "How to make the heat your bitch". I've spent enough nights tossing and turning to have learnt some new techniques. Which is lucky really since I'm currently in the midst of a month-long trip to Greece.

A little birdie tells me that my chums in the UK aren't having the best weather at the moment but hey, you can't always be #relevant if you schedule posts... I guess this will come in handy if you're off on holiday though. Or, if not, keep it bookmarked until summer 2018!

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3 documentaries that changed my life

I'm not a TV person. And when I am, it's usually so long after everyone else was watching the show that I can even safely navigate Twitter without having to worry about spoilers. I wait until a show has been heavily recommended (and is a strong match on my Netflix account and will solve all of my worldly problems) before even clicking play on that first episode. I guess you could say that I have programme commitment issues. I mean, I haven't even watched any Game of Thrones yet...

However, when I do get into a TV programme, I really get into it. Not only do I watch them, I re-watch them and tell all of my friends to watch them too. Usually those shows are documentaries (though I do make exceptions for Jane the Virgin and Love Island). Since TV isn't the way that I wind down, I don't mind having my beliefs shaken up a bit when I sit down on my sofa. In fact, I would go as far as saying that most of my favourite documentaries have changed my life.

These four shows have completely revolutionised the way I shop, talk and see the world. They're all under two hours long but they've all had a lasting impact.

My Summer Reading List

Unless you read my twitter bio, you probably wouldn't know that I'm about to go into my third year of studying for a BA in English Literature. I mean, considering this is a lifestyle blog and I spend 75% of my life reading, it's a fact that is pretty well hidden among my other passions. Aside from the occasional mention in a favourites posts or an ode to self-help, my absolute adoration of books could very easily be missed online.

The truth is that I don't write about books on my blog that often because it's what I spend the rest of my time doing. I don't want to feel like I'm about to upload something to Turn-It-In every time I hit publish.

However, summer always reinvigorates my thirst for literature. Stepping away from the academic side of things for a few months reminds me that I actually do enjoy academic stimulation. In fact, I think I need it to stay sane. And since I haven't written an essay in months, I'm starting to get the urge to write about books here on my little corner of the internet. So, to fill that void I thought I would share with you all of the books I've packed in my suitcase for my trip to Greece. It's a sweet little mix of course books for 3rd year and 'pleasure reading' that I can't wait to get stuck into.

Me, a book and the beach. Name a better trio. I'll wait...

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My Greek Bucket List

For those of you that don't follow me on Twitter and therefor haven't been victim to my rolling countdown: Today I'm heading off to spend a month in Greece. In fact, as this post goes live I should be in the air, loving life with some seriously overpriced plane food.

If you've been around these parts for a while now then you may be getting a case of deja vu. Yep, I spent a month in Greece last summer too. I'm lucky enough to have a boyfriend that grew up there, so we're using my last proper summer holiday before the end of university as an opportunity to visit his family again. And since the last time around was so incredible, I am more than a little bit excited to get back to what now feels like a second home to me.

In 2016 I was visiting Greece for the first time ever which meant that my bucket list mainly consisted of the essentials: Drinking Ouzo, visiting the Acropolis and eating as much Greek food as possible. I'm happy (except in the case of the Ouzo which is vile) to say that I ticked them all off. I even documented it in this little mini-series. However, despite the fact that I had a month there, I left the country with a whole new list of things that I didn't get the chance to do. So it seemed only right to compile another list for this year's adventure.

July: Favourite Things

July has been a month of getting shit done.

In a matter of days I fly off to Greece to once again spend a month soaking up the sun (and the gyros) before heading back to university in September. Even the thought of all of the feta I'm going to eat is making me want to cry tears of happiness. However, that kind of trip also requires a lot of organisation. So, I've spent the last 30 days bulk taking pictures, scheduling blog posts and squeezing out every last ounce of my creative juices in an attempt to give myself time to do glorious nothing whilst on my holibobs. On top of that I went to Yorkshire for a week for a writing job and have been trying to fit in some dissertation research here and there. But I ain't complaining because you all know that productivity is a little bit like a drug to me.

You have a lot of holiday spam coming your way, my chums. So, before you all mute my Instagram stories and avoid Curly and Wordy until September, let's talk about some of the things that made July lovely.

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Falling off the ethical consumer wagon

In the last week I've made some of my first high street purchases since January. After months of scouring charity shops and eBay, learning how to up-cycle old items and wondering whether my student budget can afford to invest in some of the incredible ethical brands out there, I've finally found something that's beaten me: Sandals. That is, sandals that don't look like they might give me verrucas, survived the war or require me to sell a kidney. So, I caved. I bought not one but two pairs from Primark in the same sort of spirit as 'well, I've already eaten a muffin today so I may as well get that Big Mac for dinner'. They were even on sale, which simultaneously makes me want to fist pump and cry. I left the shop feeling very emotionally confused. But hey, at least they don't use plastic bags, right? RIGHT?

Up until now my ethical consumer journey has been relatively pain free. Apart from a few bits of underwear here and there (seriously, if you know an ethical and pretty underwear brand that doesn't cost the absolute earth, let a girl know), transitioning to 'slow fasion' has been pretty easy. Frankly, I've been riding my high horse all over town and wondering why I ever felt the need to shop on the high street.

Then summer rolled around and forced me to realise that I'm not as out of my old habits as I thought. I may want to be ethical, but years of conditioning and seeing the 52 'micro-seasons' of fast fashion changing before me has clearly influenced the way that I think. With a holiday coming up, I've never felt so much pressure to buy.

Girl Love #11

It seemed only right to type up this post with my salt lamps on, a cup of homemade yogi tea and an amethyst by my side. Since I'm going to be talking about spirituality, I thought I may as well really embody it. And I have to be honest, this sure as hell beats my usual setup.

This month's edition of Girl Love is dedicated to some of the amazing women that have helped me on my spiritual journey over the last few months. Since May I kind of feel like I've become a new person. That's not to say that I'm now a mindful Buddhist who only eats kale and can meditate for 5 hours at a time, but I am much more aware of myself. I feel like my teen years were for building up my character and that my twenties are for chiseling away at it to find the most true version of me.

However, I definitely couldn't have kicked off this journey on my own. So, it's time to celebrate three incredible women who have helped change my life and might help change yours too!

Girl Love: Online spirituality resources

Usher, herpes and STI stigma

A few days ago news broke that Usher has herpes. The internet went wild. Jokes, online hate and uniformed opinions made up about 75% of my timeline and I've been wondering how to write this blog post ever since.

Usher's case acts as the perfect example of the way that STIs are stigmatised and the way that herpes specifically is blown massively out of proportion. His name was being mentioned in tweets that also discussed R-Kelly, alleged rapist and paedophile, literally because he's contracted a virus. Had it been almost any other kind of virus his situation would probably warrant sympathy. In fact, herpes highlights the way that adding sex into the equation completely changes public opinion. You get cold sores (HSV1)? Aw that sucks, but it's totally normal! You have genital herpes (HSV2)? That's disgusting and irresponsible. They are literally two strains of the same virus! 70% of the population carries that virus, although many remain undiagnosed! Both can be painful, both can be unsightly during outbreaks and both remain in your system for the whole of your life. And yet, because one of them happens to be contracted on the genitals as opposed to the mouth, it carries a huge stigma. Because one is transferred during sex it becomes newsworthy.

Usher, Herpes stigma

My Experience with Impostor Syndrome

The past year has been the most successful of my life so far. I've finished my Second Year of university with a First. I landed some amazing sponsored content opportunities with brands that I love and share ethics with. I've just come back from a week in Yorkshire for a writing job that I would never have expected to be able to do even six months ago.

And yet, when asked yesterday what I do for a living I said "Oh I'm a waitress".

I haven't worked in a resturant for over two years and for the past 12 months blogging and writing have been my job. So even I was surprised when those words left my mouth. Not because there's anything wrong with waitressing, but because it's not my reality and I for some reason felt the need to pretend that it was.

I feel like that situation sums up my relationship with work pretty well: I don't feel like it's real. I feel like it's all a dream. Or maybe like I'm being pranked and someone is about to jump out and say "LOL you didn't really think you were qualified or talented or pretty enough to do this did you?" at any moment. Basically, I have a huge case of impostor syndrome and I've only just realised it.

Impostor Syndrome: My Experience

How to make having a UTI slightly more bearable

Over the past couple of years I've become rather well acquainted with UTIs. In fact, I think they like me because they seem to be treating my urinary tract somewhat like a holiday home.

If you've never had a urine infection before then 1. I kind of want to punch you out of sheer jealousy and 2. Please tell me if there's some kind of urethra goddess that you sacrifice to because I am so on board with that. If you have had one - and one in five women have - I totally sympathise. For some reason I'm just very prone to the bastards. I've been through the burning that makes you think your bladder was formed in the fiery depths of hell. I've sat on the toilet for twenty minutes at a time. I've wondered what on earth women did to deserve this kind of life. Trust me, I know the struggle and you're not alone.

On the plus side though, this little love affair I've had with E. Coli means that I can now sense a urine infection from a mile off. As soon as I get that tingle (if you know the tingle, you know the tingle) I can crack open my tried and tested methods for getting rid of them. And most of the time I stop them before they become anything serious whatsoever.

How to get rid of a UTI

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My favourite essential oils (and what I use them for)

Over the past year I like to think that I've transitioned from essential oil novice to (almost) expert. For those of you that don't know, as well as keeping my lil' corner of the internet updated, I blog over at Tender Essence about all things essential oils. From DIYs to beginners guides, we've got you covered. One of the perks of that job is being constantly surrounded by the oils and exploring a tonne of different ways to use them. I even made soap all by myself!

It's been a game changing experience, my friends. These days I use essential oils on a daily basis to help me stay calm, centred and focused. Plus, they just smell bloody lovely. So, even though I've spoken about how I use them on my period and how to use them to up your self-care game, I thought that today I would share with you a more comprehensive list of all of my absolute favourite essential oils.

The essentials of essential oils

My self-care travel essentials

As this post goes live I am on my way to Yorkshire. Yep, that's right. This Kentish girl isn't partaking in her usual Sunday morning routine of absolutely bugger all, but instead woke up at 5:30am this morning to get her butt up North. For the next week I'm staying in a hotel for work (is this what adulthood feels like?) on a project that I can't wait to share with you all very soon! It's all rather exciting, but also a little bit terrifying simply because I'm a massive homebody. I'm not one of those bloggers who whizzes between Thailand and Paris. I spend 90% of my time writing posts in bed with a cuppa beside me and, honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love traveling, but I also get very homesick very quickly, which is why I have to be mindful of what I pack. Essentially my suitcase becomes a home away from home.

How to practice self-care whilst traveling

How my relationship with health and fitness has changed

When I was 16 I went to the gym for the first time. It was one of those really swanky ones where everyone is wearing LuLu Lemon and looks like they lunged their way out of the womb. There was literally a 'café' (I use the word loosely) that sold nothing but protein shakes and smoothies that kind of looked like sewage water. So, when I rocked up in my over sized Beyoncé tour t-shirt it's safe to say that I felt a little bit out of place. I didn't really have any idea what I was doing so I just headed straight to the treadmill, whacked it up to ten and proceeded to actually feel like I was going to keel over after 4 minutes. Fun times. I probably only lasted about 15 minutes in total before deciding that the gym wasn't for me. And feeling thankful that I had only spent my waitressing wages on a day membership.

Even up until six months ago that experience still encapsulated my relationship with exercise: It wasn't for me. Every now and then I would get a burst of motivation and do a few weeks of yoga or some Youtube dance aerobic classes, but nothing ever stuck. I genuinely thought that people who said shit like "the gym is my therapy" were extremely toned liars. Nobody likes crunches, right?

Conscious living wishlist

Back at the beginning of 2017 I made the resolution to become more aware of where my money goes. At the time, that mainly meant not funding animal testing and shopping as locally as possible, but since then I've become even more aware of the ways that I can improve my rather shitty consuming habits.

Now, let's get one thing very clear: I'm definitely not a vegan, zero-waste goddess who goes litter picking in her free time. However, I am making changes one small step at a time. And that's what's important. When you suddenly become aware of how much convenience is put on a pedestal in our society, it can actually seem a bit overwhelming and you might feel like you have to change every aspect of your life immediately. That's great if you can do that, but if you have to take things a bit more slowly that's also absolutely fine.

I for one am focusing on being a better person than I was last month, instead of judging myself on other ethical bloggers. So, this lil' wishlist post is both an excuse for me to get excited about some of the things I can invest in to be less wasteful and also a reminder that, right now, I do still have some rather wasteful habits. Hey, I'll get there eventually!

Zero Waste Wishlist

How to make Traditional Yogi Tea

As anybody who follows me on Pinterest will be able to tell you, June was the month that I swiftly transitioned from "slight hippie" to "full hippie". I even bought crystals and dedicated myself to doing yoga and meditation every single day. I think it was kind of inevitable that I would reach this point considering I've been attracted to the world of spirituality for pretty much as long as I can remember, but now that I'm here I'm excited to show aspects of it to you.

So, yes, today I am sharing a recipe with you all. But no, that's not just because I've seen the success of Deliciously Ella and decided to jump right on board the food blogger train. This little cup of gloriousness is actually part of a wider shift my life has been making. Yogi Tea has become a part of my morning routine and creating it is just so much more mindful than chucking a PG Tips bag into a mug. It takes more than 20 seconds, so making it hasn't just become a case of making something super delicious, but of having half an hour to meditate on life whilst making my house smell absolutely bomb at the same time. I did warn you that I've gone full hippie...