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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

June 30, 2017

The Problem with Tattoos

Ahh tattoos. The age old controversial topic and life decision that seems to impact almost everyone in some way, shape or form for reasons I can never quite grasp. Contrary to the title of this blog post, I am very pro tattoos as a tattooed individual myself (I now feel like I've click-baited you all so hear me out). I've never understood the real issue with tattoos and the older I get, the more I seem to struggle with opinions that oppose them.

It's 2O17 and tattoos have become increasingly popular and prolific in society - particularly if we focus on the UK as this is where the majority of my experience comes from - and that might just be a cultural shift, a shift in societal views, appearance, or the development of online media. It's much easier now to find tattoo artists online that match your budget, style, wants and needs when it comes to tattoo design, but it has also become more of a fashionable thing to have them. Is that me saying that that excuse alone means people shouldn't turn their nose up at tattoos? Of course not. I everyone is entitled to an opinion on this topic just as much as they are on any other appearance-related thing (hair colour, fashion sense and style, makeup style etc.) however, I am also a firm believer that if you do have an opinion that opposes this topic, you do not have the right or grounds to be dismissive or rude to any individual who doesn't agree with you.

That brings me onto this ramble that I just needed to get off my chest. I've always wanted tattoos. Ever since I was around 13/14 I knew I wanted to get some, it was just a matter of waiting and planning what I wanted to get done. I put off getting them for quite a while despite wanting them and really that was down to funding and being fickle with choices and not sticking to them. I finally got my first last year at the ripe old age of 24 and rolled on to get three more in the space of a few months after that. Before getting them and since, people have felt that it's their right to have their say on them, often neglecting the fact that they are on my body and therefore, are a part of my appearance now. I find it's the same sort of questions I receive time and time again from family members, friends, and just people out and about. So here's my slightly arsey but very honest responses to all of them.

Do they mean anything? Honest easy answer? Absolutely not. I currently have a T-Rex skull & succulents, a wolf skull & botanicals, a bee & honeycomb, and a peony rendition of the Creation of Adam and none of them have any true meaning. I see tattoos as being just like artwork in the sense that if I see it and like it, then that's that. Paintings don't necessarily have any meaning to me so tattoos don't necessarily need to either. My Creation of Adam piece has a little meaning behind it, but I don't often tell anyone as it's quite personal but honestly? That's just something I've tagged onto it. Most I have I just have because I liked the designs or the tattooists so I wanted something by them which leads me onto the next (and possibly the most frustrating question)...

They're permanently on your body you know? For life? Guess what? I know. I fully understand that a lot of people regret getting tattoos I mean who knows - maybe I will regret them one day! However at this moment in time I'm really happy with them. Other people who have tattoos can probably vouch for this too but I honestly don't notice them very much on a day to day basis. Yeah, I like having them and like wearing clothing that show them off when I can but generally speaking, I only remember having them if someone points them out or they're made a focal point. I'm always asked about what I will do when I'm old and guess what? I'll have them when I'm old and that's okay. They might go misshapen, they might fade really bad, they might not look anything like they used to but that doesn't matter. I can't worry about something that might happen when I'm 7O+ and let it effect me here and now.

Do you cover them up? This isn't so much a question I get but a bit of a slight odd demand from some people. My grandma certainly comes to mind when I say this one because it seems that although stigma surrounding tattoos is lifting slightly, it also seems to just be shifting. People like my grandma have decided tattoos aren't "too bad" but they should be somewhere you can't see them or you should cover them up for "special occasions" such as weddings or events. For me, this is almost more of a issue than people who just outright dislike them because it makes it seem like it's something that should be hidden away or that I should be ashamed of which just isn't the way I want my tattoos to be seen. This became increasingly clear to me when I became a teacher and saw the reaction some institutions had towards me. I once had a job in which staff genuinely said "you would not have been given this position if we had known about your tattoos" all because it was in a school. There's still a fantastically large stigma in certain professions that tattoos make you incompetent, untrustworthy, uneducated, thuggish, slutty, or all of the latter tied up in a lovely judgemental bow. Obviously this is not the case but unfortunately it is something that seems to rear it's ugly head now and again. I'm not ashamed of my tattoos otherwise I would never have got them so no, I don't feel I should cover them up.

Are you going to get more? This is always a question and it's always a one asked in concern - most people who ask are just curious but a lot of people ask so they can say "I think you shouldn't get anymore. I think you've got enough". It's silly really because it doesn't make a difference if you have one or one hundred in my eyes - if you want them, I say go for it and get them!

Can I see your tattoos? *Proceeds to touch and grab you inappropriately*. This is possibly the worst question anyone with any tattoo can receive because no one waits for an answer - everyone just goes right on in there and gets all handy! I don't mind people being interested and wanting to see and know more, but people seem to assume if you're tattooed that means you're totally a-okay with complete strangers putting their hands all over your body. Not okay. I don't know about anyone else, but my mam drilled the motto "we look with our eyes not our hands" into me as a child and I swear it should be said as a vow before people "inspect" anyones tattoos.

All in all I see tattoos as an art form and sense of personal expression that whilst not be for everyone, it is for many and that should be respected just as much as the next body modification, alteration, or change of clothes are. It's always going to be a touchy subject, but next time you question anyone about their tattoos just remember - curiosity and intrigue are lovely, unsolicited judgement and assumption are not.

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June 28, 2017

Colourpop Liquid Lipsticks Haul

Hello you wonderful people! If you caught my Colourpop Lippie Stix post a couple of weeks ago, you would have seen me ranting and raving about the brand and in particular, their Matte/Matte X Lippie Stix as I recently made a bulk order of lip products from them. So with that in mind and the fact that I just want to show you everything I got and have since fallen in love with, I thought I'd share with you the other lip products I had to try out - the liquid lipsticks. Colourpop have *so* many lip products formulas and shades that I was ultimately spoilt for choice and slightly overwhelmed when it came to choosing what to order but I figured playing it safe and going with some liquid lipsticks was a good call. I picked up three liquid lipsticks in both Ultra Matte and Ultra Satin formulas and couldn't believe my luck when I realised I had qualified to pick out three travel size mini Ultra Satin Lips when I was checking out. Luckily, a couple of shades available in the freebie minis were shades I previously was considering buying so it worked out pretty well!

The liquid lipsticks are like any other liquid lipstick in the sense that they're meant to not budge and be pretty heavy duty. The Ultra Mattes are exactly what they say on the tin - matte formulation and finish and therefore the most "sturdy" of the bunch whereas the Ultra Satins don't completely dry down. The Ultra Satins tend to still transfer a little and don't dry the lips out as much as they still have a little bit of movement on the lips after application. So without further ado, let's see some swatches and what I think of them now, shall we?

Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip 'Speed Dial' | Rich Peach shade | $6.Oo - Speed Dial was one of the first products I popped in my basket as it was exactly what I know I like: matte, liquid lip, and peachy. When it comes to nudes, I prefer peachy/terracotta shades as I feel they suit me more than true brown nudes or pinks/mauves. This shade pulls through quite sandy brown on me but it still has that hint of peach I love so I really like the end shade once it has dried down. As it is a Ultra Matte formula, it dries down and doesn't transfer and lasts really well. It does settle into fine lines throughout the day and can leave your lips feel a little lack lustre when it comes to moisture, but that's to be expected with a matte liquid lip. I found that it lasts really well when eating and drinking as it doesn't crumble or crack which is so hard to find in this sort of formula! Applying this is lovely too as it glides onto the lip really well, one swipe is really pigmented, and the layer is really thin meaning it's just an all-round comfortable lip to wear compared to many other liquid lipsticks I own.

Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip 'Bumble' | Warm Rose shade | $6.Oo - One of the most popular lipsticks from Colourpop, Bumble has always been a shade I knew I had to try. This shade is described as a 'warm rose' but I have to be honest for us pale princesses out there - this pulls through pretty damn dark and not like the swatch on the site. This isn't the end of the world as I still really like the shade, but it's a much darker pink rather than a nude than I anticipated. I find the formula of this one to be more drying that Speed Dial and can only assume it's because the formula seems more gloopy on the wand/in the tube. I will still wear this colour regularly but it is probably the most disappointing shade from my order.

Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip 'November' | Warm Peachy Pink | $6.Oo - So now let's talk about the Satin Lips. November is a Kathleen Lights collaboration colour and I really wanted to try it out. This shade pulls through more pink than peach on my lips but honestly? I actually like that (I know!). I usually struggle when it comes to pink lip shades as I don't really like them on myself, but this colour is a dream. The formula of the Satin Lips are quite thick but they're really long wearing and surprisingly comfortable to wear for a long day. I first tried this lipstick out for a day at work and therefore had it on my lips from around 7:3O til 6:3O and it wore really well. It didn't dry out my lips despite being a heavy-duty formula and it didn't fade or crack. It does however settle into my lines so whenever I went to the bathroom, I used a tissue to smooth the product over my lips again to solve this problem but then my lips looked as good as new. If you're a liquid lipstick lover but need something that's not as drying and that is more flexible, I couldn't recommend this formula more. I really like this shade and I will be wearing it a lot on everyday work days.

Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip 'Frick n' Frack' | Rosy Terracotta shade | $6.Oo - Another best selling shade I wanted to try was Frick n' Frack. This 'rosy terracotta' is a gorgeous deep shade and pulls through a little bit darker than Bumble on my lips. This isn't a subtle colour, especially on pale skin, but it is such a universal shade in the terms that it would suit every skin tone but it also suits almost every makeup look. I kind of view this shade as a dark nude for me and I find it goes with most makeup looks as it definitely suits warm eyeshadow looks but also works equally as well with cool tone eye looks too. Again, the formula of this product has great, one swipe pigmentation but I actually find this one lighter and more comfortable to wear than November so that's a great added bonus!

Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip 'London Fog' | Pinky Red shade | $6.Oo - London Fog is a shade I probably wouldn't have picked out for myself as "pinky red" would have usually have put me off, but I'm so glad I got a chance to try it. This red shade is so so nice on my pale skin and ties in nicely with my dark hair too. The formula of this shade seems to be a little more watery/liquid-y than my other Ultra Satin Lips, but it's still just as pigmented - just easier to apply as a little goes a long way. When this dries down a little this shade is much more of a cherry red shade on my lips which is great as it's darker than the swatch on the Colourpop site which I wasn't keen on. This one does take the longest to dry out of the ones I have tried but it still has fantastic staying power and doesn't crumble or crack and keeps a healthy sheen and slight gloss on the lips.

Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip 'Prim' | Dark Blackened Red shade | $6.Oo - The last shade I thought I'd try out in the mini freebie format is the lovely deep shade, Prim. This shade is by far the vampiest thing I own in my lipstick collection besides my black lipsticks! Once applied on my lips, this shade is incredibly deep and dark but as it's not totally black, it has a gorgeous dimension to it that I haven't got from any other lipstick before. In the tube this shade looks more like a deep burgundy/plummy shade and I would say the swatch on Colourpop's site is very light in comparison to the actual outcome. I think this shade will be beautiful in the colder months and would look amazing for a night out. The one gripe I have with this product is it does bleed a little which is something I haven't experienced from any of the other Ulta Lip range. A liner is definitely needed if you're going to be wearing this for a lengthy time but overall I can overlook that as it's got such a great opaque colour pay off. It does noticeably transfer a lot too which might be something to bear in mind!

From left to right: Ultra Satin in 'Prim', Ultra Satin in 'London Fog', Ultra Satin in 'Frick n' Frack', Ultra Satin in 'November',
Ultra Matte in 'Speed Dial', and Ultra Matte in 'Bumble'

All in all, I think the Ultra Satin Lips are possibly better than the Ultra Mattes and I never thought I would say that! I love the Lippie Stix and think they're my firm formula favourite from Colourpop but when I really want a lip that stands out and stands the test of food and drink, these are pretty damn good at getting that job done. I need to pick up more colours for sure and I've got my eye on some nice orange/peach shades!

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June 23, 2017

How to Love Monday Morning

I hate Monday morning rolling around as much as the next person. If you're a traditional "9-5 weekdays" working gal like me, I think it's a safe bet to stake on that you're not Monday's biggest fan either. It means we're waving goodbye to the glorious weekend (including the potential lie ins) and waking up to a wailing alarm clock and a busy hustle and bustle commute. Don't get me wrong - I bloody love my job so I know I am mega lucky in that respect as not everyone does, but no matter how great it is, the 5:3Oam wake up call and the dread of the busy morning can settle in pretty quickly. Despite the impending dread though, I do actually like being a morning person and would generally consider myself to be one. I enjoy waking up earlier rather than later and I like to try and get as much done as I can before midday as I know it won't get done in the evening as I usually feel quite tired and so relaxed I run the risk of living horizontally for the rest of my days. Naturally, I think I just enjoy the mornings more and like the thought of what the rest of the day may bring but I know not everyone feels the same. So I thought I'd put together some of the ways in which I myself make the whole morning routine more easy and enjoyable and I've also thrown in there some things I *wish* I could include in my routine but just don't have the time in my already busy morning regime.

- Try to wake up naturally. Okay so this first point is kind of difficult and depending on the time of year, almost impossible but here me out. Waking up naturally is so much better for you than waking up to an alarm as you aren't breaking your sleep at crucial moments. Unfortunately, I'm like almost everyone else in the fact that I wake up to an alarm but there's ways to try and make this better. Firstly I totally recommending natural lighting. Especially when it is spring/summer time, the sun comes up at the crack of dawn (obviously, it's dawn) which can make the whole process of fully waking up much easier. I wouldn't recommend having all your curtains and blinds open otherwise you'll be up at the sparrow's fart (i.e. 4:3Oam), but having them opened slightly or having thinner, non-blackout curtains up at your windows can truly help. If that doesn't suit you you can always have an alarm that gradually gets louder so it gently stirs you awake, use a sleep tracker gadget that tracks your sleeping pattern and can gently alert you to stir you from slumber at the best moment for you specifically, or using a Lumie Alarm Clock which gradually wakes you with artifical daylight - perfect for the winter months!

- Get up instantly. This is simple: get up as soon as your alarm goes off. Don't wait around in bed because you're guaranteed to be less productive and just waste time. Getting up straight away can really help you just kickstart your day and as cheesy as it sounds, it reflects how the rest of your day is going to pan out. If you happen to naturally wake up before your alarm and say it's only 1O-3Omins early, I'd also say just get up then. For me, the worst thing I can do is force myself to go back to sleep as I know when I wake up again I will feel much groggier and out of it than I did the first time.

- Make the bed. Before I do anything, I make the bed as soon as I get out of it. Making the bed instantly makes your bedroom look tidier so no matter what you do next in your morning routine whether it's going in the shower, having breakfast, or doing some exercise, when you look back at your bed you will feel more ready to take on the day. Can we get "Tidy bed tidy mind" trending please?

- Have a glass of water. Most of sleep between 4 - 8 hours and especially in the hotter months, we definitely lose some liquid throughout the night. Therefore the next step I always do is drink a glass of water. Whether you want to drink a pint or a small glass doesn't matter, re-hydrating yourself before you tackle everything else can really help wake you up and also keeps your body happy as some nutritionists argue that water in the mornings can help with digestion and bloating.

- Do a little or a lot of exercise. This next point is completely time dependant and also personality dependant. At the moment, I do exercise during the evenings as I just can't slot it into my morning routine however if you think it can help you ensure you actually do some exercise regularly or if it will help wake you up, I'd totally recommend it. I say exercise loosely as it can be a full cardio circuit training extravaganza or it can be some simple stretches. I actually do some simple stretches, lunges, and squats whilst I brush my teeth just to try and wake my body up a little!

- Give yourself a good cold fresh jolt. Now no one in their right mind is going to like this next one except me but hear me out. I always brush my teeth and shower before I tackle breakfast etc. so once I'm in there, I like to fully wake myself up by blasting myself with the cold water. I know. I promise you I haven't gone mad. Even in the hotter months I love a nice relaxing shower as much as the next person but I always find it helps to give my skin a quick blast with the cold to wake myself up. I tend to do this right at the end of my shower so I can quickly turn the pressure off and get wrapped up in my towel. Not only is it good for giving you a good dose of "wake up sleepy head!" it can help minimise pores in a flash and can also work wonders on coloured hair. I tend to blast my back then dance around quick in a tizz before jumping out gasping for breath. If that doesn't suit you and you have access to a back garden, I'd totally recommend the whole having a morning cuppa sat perched on the doorstep with the door open to give yourself a boost of fresh air and help you fully wake up.

- Do what you can the night before. Ahhh... Who's parents made you do this when you were younger and you thought they were daft to only find yourself trying to practice what they preached now? I'm 1OO% guilty of forgetting to follow this rule often, but it's a great one to crack if you can. If you're someone who needs to pack a bag, choose or plan an outfit, or make your lunch for your Mondays, get it all done on Sunday night. Having it all done means you're not frantically pulling your hair out trying to do multiple jobs in the morning which will ultimately leave you feeling stressed and negative. I've started planning what I'm wearing the night before and it has been a game changer. No longer am I trying on 5O different pieces of clothing and throwing them around my bedroom to be a mess I have to tidy away when I get home from work because I know exactly what to put on and I know what I'm going to put on looks great as a whole ensemble. Keeping yourself organised like this can help so so much.

-Give yourself *me* time. Guess what? Getting up a little earlier so you have time to do things at a more relaxed leisurely pace is so great. I know some of you out there prefer your extra 2O minutes in bed but for me losing those but gaining a chilled, chaos-free morning top trumps the sleep. I give myself a solid 2 hours to get up and get ready each morning. This means I can take some time out to have a cup of tea, take my time with my hair and makeup, read a little, scroll through social media if I want to... It just gives me a bit of freedom in my otherwise step-by-step routine. Having this breathing space can make the morning feel less like a chore and more like you're on the ball and I'm all for it.

- Have a routine. All the things I've mentioned are things I do in the exact same order every single weekday morning. They help me keep on track and when the tiredness really hits me I can almost cruise along on autopilot and not put a lot of thought into what I need to do next. Doing this also helps me keep track of time as I can work out when I'm running late or when I'm doing things quicker than usual so I have time to spare.

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June 21, 2017

The Cruelty Free Carnivore

If you follow me on my social media and if you’re a regular reader (particularly my beauty posts), you may have seen me chatting about how I’m making the transition to completely cruelty free beauty from haircare to skincare to cosmetics. For some reason it has taken til the ripe old age of 26 to finally make that jump to a CF lifestyle in this area of my life and I’m not entirely sure why. I think cruelty free beauty is becoming more and more recognisable and abundant in the contemporary beauty industry with stores like Superdrug advocating the leaping bunny logo on CF products and it being a topic that is more widely discussed on the net and in various forms of media in general. I think this is a fantastic shift in our society as we are more aware of what CF beauty is and which products are and are not because honestly? It’s not something I ever remember being a topic when I was a teen starting out with makeup.

I never really knew anything about it until I got older and even now, I still feel it should be discussed more and more and brands especially should be more transparent about whether or not they test instead of not putting it out there then replying with cryptic emails and explanations if you happen to approach them about the subject. It’s something that should be talked about more because there’s so many young girls especially who will start experimenting with products without any inkling of brand ethics or what chemicals and ingredients are included in these products and who actually uses them to then decide “yeah, they’re suitable for mass production and sale”. It’s something I wish I was much more conscious of when I was younger as I feel this transition into a CF beauty life would have happened much sooner.

There’s another reason why it has taken me so long to transition though and this here is where I probably will get a little ranty and a whole lot of rambly so I apologise in advance and if you’re still intending to read on (especially after I used those two words that aren’t actually real words) then you’re a brave soul and I salute you.

So, this *other reason*... I am a meat eater. Since I was old enough to eat solid foods, I have been a meat eater and I’ve never really questioned it. I’m happy to eat vegetarian meals and I quite like making sure I eat more vegetarian meals in my diet now at this age as I’ve grown more and more conscious of the meat and dairy industries as I’ve gotten older. I had a good discussion over on Twitter when I asked followers what their thoughts were on those who eat meat but say they’re mindful of animal welfare and whether or not you can say you’re pro animal rights etc. if you eat meat and everyone had extremely varying but equally valid and well-argued points of view. My reason for asking this was because I have been so anti-animal testing – especially for cosmetics and beauty – for a lot of years but I hadn’t done anything about it until now. And why? Honestly I was scared of the reaction.

I fully believe that testing on animals for the sake of a lipstick or mascara is utterly ridiculous and should be a criminal offence – there’s no reason for it and it’s a research “technique” that is outdated however, how can I say that when I eat meat?! A couple of followers pointed this out and said “I don’t believe anyone can say they fully care about animal rights if they are still eating meat or dairy because the industries are so bad” and I partly agree with them. I’ve gotten so caught up – particularly in the last couple of years – battling with this idea myself but I realised the main driving force behind why I wasn’t committing to CF beauty was because of what others might think rather than what I think. I’ve been thinking “how can I say I want to be cruelty free with this aspect of my life when realistically, I’m not cruelty free with another part of my lifestyle?” and I guess because I’ve questioned myself, that means other individuals can certainly question me and I guess that made me uncomfortable. I like to be completely certain of myself and my choices so if anyone challenges me, I know that even if they cannot see my reasoning or point of view, I can at least argue my case and be sure of myself. Now though? Now I feel I am sure of my decision in this part of my life.

I sound like I’m getting incredibly deep here, but I guess that reflects how much this has eaten away at me and made me think. I’ve now transitioned to cruelty free in all aspects of “beauty” and I feel *so good* for it. As I mentioned earlier, the thought of buying non-cruelty free beauty products was just getting to me because the process of testing on an animal – for a luxury product that is not a necessity – seems completely alien to me. This is where I suppose I’ve drawn the line in my mind of what is “acceptable” for me personally and what is not.

Eating meat is the norm for me and it is a necessity. I know of course people quite easily and happily live on vegan and vegetarian diets, but as someone who has struggled with food throughout most of their life, meat is a bit of a crutch for me as I’ve had to rely on it for a lot of protein and fats in the past. I don’t eat all meats and I am more than happy to swap out meat for veggie options, but it’s something I enjoy and therefore I can justify it in my eyes. That’s not to say I buy any old thing and will always try my up-most to make sure my food shop only contains organic meat and dairy and is from reputable businesses. So from that standpoint I thought “hang on, if I’m being so conscious about *this* area of animal welfare, I certainly need to be doing the same in my beauty area”. As I said, beauty products are a luxury in my eyes – we don’t need them to survive and there’s undoubtedly an obvious clue in the fact that we often refer to makeup as "cosmetics" that they are purely for “cosmetic” purposes and therefore unnecessary in our existence. Sure they’re fun and I love to dabble in them, but they’re not needed therefore animals should not suffer in any extent for their production.

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June 16, 2017

How to Pack Light

Happy Friday you guys! For this week's lifestyle post I thought I'd give you a run down of how I manage to pack light for long weekends away as I'm visiting my best pal at the end of this month and want to pit everything into a backpack for easy fuss-free travelling. I originally was going to travel by plane so would have only been taking hand luggage/a carry on, but now I'm travelling by train I realise the same rules still apply - I still want my bag to be as light as possible and not be weighed down. If you spoke to me about packing maybe 5 years ago, I would have been taking a big suitcase full of junk because obviously I need everything in that case and in reality, I'd not wear most of what I packed or use most of the products in there. So over the past few years I've gotten much better at packing cleverly and effectively so I thought I'd share with you some simple tips and tricks to make the whole debacle of packing a simple activity (although I still find it a chore):

- Before you do anything, make a list. Always make a list before you even so much as start to tackle the chore of packing. Listing things makes you really think about exactly what you need to pack and makes it so much easier to check what you're missing. I tend to wander from my wardrobe, to my drawers, to my makeup cabinet, to the bathroom and back again with a pad and a pen to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. As you start to pack you might realise you missed something (for instance I always forget to pack a toothbrush!) so you can add to the list as you go so you don't forget again!

- Check the weather before you go. I know this sounds incredibly obvious, but especially if you're just staying in the country and travelling to another town/city, it can often be overlooked. Travelling in the UK can be especially annoying as the weather can switch from rainy and cold to full sun and hot in a matter of a couple of hours, so checking the weather first to get a general idea of what to pack can be really helpful.

- Pack for everything but be flexible. So you've checked the weather and it's going to be sunny, cold, thunderstorms etc. Pack clothing that is suitable for most instances and that can be layered if need be. I tend to go with two pairs of jeans or jeans and a skirt then interchangeable tops. If you pack a skirt as well as jeans, you can roll up a pair of tights or two in case it's chilly and you will look like you've got a different outfit on each day. Packing tops that match both sorts of bottoms you're packing is good too because instead of having two stand-alone outfits, you can technically have four. I also think wearing a cardgian/jumper/some sort of knitwear is a smart move too as it means you're wearing your bulkiest item and you've got that extra layer in case it is needed. I have the same philosophy for shoes and tend to wear whatever bulky shoes (whether that's boots or hi top converse etc.) so they don't take up space in your bag, but I will also pack a pair of flats or sandals - weather dependent - in my bag for a bit of variety. I also like to pack a bandana or thin scarf so I can add it as either a neck or hair accessory to help again, make an outfit look a little different in case you're wearing the same outfit two days in a row.

- Try everything on. I never used to do this and I don't know why because it's stupid not to. Trying on the outfits you're going to pack as you're packing is so so helpful because you can guarantee your items are indeed interchangeable and that you feel comfortable/happy in them too.

- Pack similar colours/palettes.The last little thing about clothing when it comes to packing to make your micro wardrobe as streamline as possible is to pack similar colours or items that go together colour palette-wise. If I want to wear a white shirt for example, I will pack other white shirts as this minimises how many bras I have to take. I always wear a new bra everyday but when you're travelling, it's stupid to pack 7 different bras (especially if you have a larger chest as they take up so much room?!) when you could easily manage with 3. Therefore if I pack similar colour tops or tops that I know it doesn't matter what colour underwear I wear underneath them really helps minimise taking clothes that you actually don't use.

- Multi-purpose items are a godsend. My philosophy about interchangeable clothes definitely stems to what beauty and skincare products I pack. I have *a lot* of shit to sift through when it comes to skincare and makeup when I pack but I try to minimise taking too much stuff by picking out items that can do more than one job. For instance, I will take a coconut oil as a cleanser but also as a nighttime moisturiser, hair oil, and mouthwash. I will take bronzer and use it as a subtle contour and eyeshadow crease shade. I will pack a lip stain that can be used on the cheeks too and a highlighter that can double up as a shimmer eyeshadow. This helps me minimise what I need to pop in my makeup bag and it isn't the end of the world to change my skincare and makeup routines for the sake of a few days. I also decant my shampoo, conditioner and shower gel so I don't take full sizes of anything.

- Compartmentalise things where possible. Something I really need to buy for myself are packing cubes as they seem so bloody convenient and helpful when it comes to packing however because I don't have any yet, I simply compartmentalise my packing myself so everything has a space. This helps you visually work out things you might have missed but also helps you effectively pack so your bag isn't bulky and so things aren't taking up too much space. So for example, I will place any jeans or thicker material items on the bottom of my case bag flat. I will then roll thinner t-shirts etc and pack them on top. I will always roll up socks/tights under the inverted cups of my bras to make use of that space. Doing this just makes packing so much easier and creates a subconscious routine which is super helpful too.

- Have the things you need to hand actually to hand. How many times have you had to faff at the airport or the train station, frantically searching through your packed, full to the brim bag for your tickets or passport and they're lost somewhere at the bottom? Yeah, I used to be daft like that too so the simple answer it *not* pack like that. Seems again silly and obvious, but put stuff like that somewhere that's easily accessible. If you're wearing a jacket, put them in your pockets if they fit and you think they're secure enough. If not, put them in an accessible pocket on the outside of your bag. If you worry about people potentially taking them out of your bag without your knowledge, put everything in a pouch that can sit on the top of your packing so you can find everything at once. If you can take more than one bag with you, put these essentials & necessities in that separate smaller bag so you can grab them and go.

- Check your list again. I tend to go through my list as I pack and put a line through what I've packed. Once I think I'm done packing, I will go through again and put a tick next to what is definitely in my bag. I do this because some of my items like a toothbrush or my makeup/skincare might be things that I will still use on the morning of the day of travel so they need to be added to my bag last minute. For those items I tend to group them together in a pile somewhere so I know I have considered packing them and still cross them off the list, but on my second check through, instead of ticking these items off, I will put a little star next to them so I will remember to do a third and final check once I'm ready that day. Call it OTT but I call it better to be safe than sorry.

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June 14, 2017

Colourpop Matte Reds Lippie Stix Haul

Happy Hump Day! It's been a little while since I did a dedicated lip product post and let's be honest, that means my blog is sincerely lacking doesn't it because I do love the lip products. Since deciding to go cruelty free with my beauty products, I've had a huge clear out of my makeup and worked out what I can use up quickly because it's in my usual routine and then never repurchase and also what I can give away to friends etc. as I don't use it often enough. Something I was quite happy to see is the fact that most of my lip products in my collection were from cruelty free brands already, but there were a handful that were not and unfortunately, they were some of my most worn lippies.

So with that in mind, when I saw a Colourpop email stating "free international shipping" drop into my inbox, I knew it was fate. I have been meaning to try out Colourpop for the longest time as they're super affordable, always get rave reviews, and seem to have an extensive collection of shades and formulas in lots of different products including my beloved lip products. So after making a hefty order of various lip things, I thought I'd break it down into a couple of posts based on the style of things I ordered. One of the things I was most excited to try out from them was their Lippie Stix as so many of my fave beauty YouTubers over the pond always rave about them. I stuck to ordering mattes this first time because matte formulas tend to be my favourite as they don't slip and slide and that's definitely a bonus when it comes to a red lip for me. Which leads me on to the next "rule" I seemed to stick to - I only ordered reds/oranges. In hindsight, I should have ordered some nudes because I wear nudes more and more these days, but the range or red and orange shades seemed *so* good, I just couldn't say no.

From left to right: TGIF, Love Life, Trust Me, Bootie, Chi Chi

So before I talk about the individual colours, let's quickly discuss the packaging. Colourpop's Lippie Stix come in nice simple and sleek white plastic packaging with silver branding on the outside and the casing holding the actual bullet is the same shade as the bullet itself. The base of each Lippie Stix has an indication of the colour inside and also the name of the particular shade printed. They also have the formula printed below the shade name which I personally think is so so helpful as I sometimes find I want to wear a certain formula more than thinking "I want to wear *that* shade" so it's great to make these easy to spot and pick out in my collection. Lippie Stix retail for $5.OO so of course the packaging is very light and cheap feeling however this doesn't bother me at all as it means they're great to travel with as they weigh hardly anything but the packaging is still sturdy enough that I wouldn't worry about it being thrown around in my luggage.

The formula of the Lippie Stix has no scent at all and they're advertised as being pigmented and comfortable to wear options so based on that I would consider wearing these for a long day rather than a couple of hours. As soon as I swatched each of these lippies on my hand, I was blown away with the pigmentation. These are very much one swipe products that don't need to be built up which is exactly what I like in a lip product. They glided onto my hand and then onto my lips incredibly well with minimal pull and drag despite being matte formulas. Each shade I picked up was creamy to apply and they honestly feel like I have nothing on my lips. They do dry out on the lips as the day goes on, but they are by no means an uncomfortable drying product as I don't find they settle into or emphasise lip lines and they keep a velvety feeling to the lips rather than a crumbling feeling which many matte lipsticks have if you wear them for more than a few hours. I picked up two regular matte shades and three matte X shades and I will talk a little bit about what the differences are (if any!) in each shade's mini review, so let's start!

Colourpop Lippie Stix 'Chi Chi' | Matte True Orange shade | $5.Oo - I'll start with the lightest shade I purchased and that is Chi Chi. This shade is advertised as a true orange and I'd totally agree with that. It's a nice bright and warm orange that doesn't look to garish or neon bright on the lips. I really like this shade against my pale skin but I think this shade would also suit olive skin tones and really dark complexions. It's very pigmented and comfortable but one tiny thing to note is this one does have the faintest scent compared to some of the others which don't. It's a faint sweet vanilla smell so it's not overpowering or horrible scent but it's worth a mention! This lipstick lasts incredibly well and doesn't really need touching up - even if you've been eating or drinking so this is definitely going to be a go-to for me this summer.

Colourpop Lippie Stix 'Bootie' | Matte X True Orange Red shade | $5.Oo - The next shade - Bootie - is a shade again that is true to the description. This is a very vibrant shade and has great pigmentation but this is the one shade that I think you need to be careful with applying. As it *such* a vibrant shade, it can go from looking nice to clownish in seconds so if you're someone who is pale like me, you might want to be cautious with this one just to stop it being *so* vibrant and in your face (nothing some blotting can't sort out though). This is a great one for summer as it's a nice red but the orange definitely pulls through - especially on certain skin tones. I've seen a lot of people review this as being a gorgeous shade for freckly red heads so if you slip into that category - this may be a one for you. As this is a Matte X shade, you can hopefully see from the swatches that it is very much a flat matte with no sheen on the lip at all and it doesn't transfer like the other regular Matte shades do. This means this shade can feel a little more drying on the lips if you're wearing it for a longer period of time, but it still doesn't crumble or settle into lines so I'm still a huge fan.

Colourpop Lippie Stix 'Love Life' | Matte X Brownish Brick Red shade | $5.Oo - Okay okay. This shade is probably the one I was most excited to try out as I love brick reds or terracotta sort of shades. This was the shade I popped on my lips as soon as the parcel arrived as I wanted to see how it wore. Although it is a Matte X shade, I found this one to feel lighter and not as dry on the lips as Bootie which may have something to do with the shade formulation. I wore this for a few hours just around the house when it first arrived and ate some greast Chinese food and drank a few cups of hot tea and honestly? There was zero difference before and after. I had the tiniest bit of product missing from the centre of my mouth, but it hadn't created that dreaded halo oily foods often do to lipsticks and it hadn't settled in an odd way. This is one of the shades I think the website has actually captured really well on their swatch which is good news when buying online although I thought it pulled through more of a burnt orange red on me than a brown which actually - I prefer! This one does have the slightest artificial/plastic-y smell but it's only very slight.

Colourpop Lippie Stix 'Trust Me' | Matte X Vivid True Red shade | $5.Oo - If you need that perfect red lipstick guys, you've just got to buy Trust Me. This is your class true red in every sense and looks classic and retro on the lips. If you're someone who died and went to heaven the first time you wore Ruby Woo from Mac but you were then disappointed with how dry, crumbly, and tight-feeling it was on the lips, buy this for a fraction of the price and you can thank me later. Despite being the more 'no budge' matte X formula, this shade is so smooth to apply and is still as light an airy on the lips as any other Lippie Stix. The pigmentation in this shade is unreal and it stains the lips a little making it perfect for a date night full of food and drinks as it doesn't really transfer and stays put. I think this shade is one of the most popular on the Colourpop site and it's easy to see why!

Colourpop Lippie Stix 'TGIF' | Matte True Brick Red shade $5.Oo - The darkest shade I picked up on this order was TGIF - a true brick red shade. This shade is quite dark and almost vampy on me with my pale skin and dark hair but I really like that about this. It has a slight sheen on the lips as it is the regular comfortable matte formula, but it still doesn't slip and slide around the face which is so important to me especially with darker shades. This shade unfortunately doesn't have a swatch on the website so was a bit of a wildcard for me but I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn't honestly say it pulls a true brick red on me as it looks almost more plummy on my lips, but it still has that warmth and heat of a red in the undertones so I really like it. This is definitely a one for a night out or for when we start to transition into the autumn months and I'm still reeling at how pigmented it applies. Say goodbye to patchy dark vampy tones if you pick up this baby.

Colourpop have such a great range of shades in the Lippie Stix and I'll definitely be picking up some nudes and dark vampy shades in future for sure. I also really want to try out the satin formulas in this range because if the mattes are so light and comfortable, the satin formula Stix must be an absolute dream.

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June 09, 2017

Foodies Festival | Syon Park

Happy Friday everyone! Today's post is a one that is bound to get your tastebuds a-sizzling as it's all about possibly my most favourite topic: food. I love food even more than video games, makeup, graphic novels, shoes, music (I know) because it's just such a creative outlet that can become incredibly technical, educational, and nutritional all rolled up into tasty goodness.

So, a couple of weeks ago I attended the Foodies Festival in Syon Park, London after the lovely Food & Baker announced me as one of the winners of some free tickets over on Twitter (thanks again guys!). I was so stoked because I've never been to a *proper* food festival before so not only was it giving me the chance to do something a little different, it was also helping me get out of a lazy weekend slump I seemed to have slipped into for the last month or so. The Foodies Festival is a travelling festival that hits a lot of major cities up and down the UK. These festivals are weekend-long outdoor events in areas such as London, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Glasgow, and Bristol and obviously focus on food and drink, but they also have some great live music, celebrity chef cooking "theatre" shows, and activities for little ones thrown in there too. I didn't know what to fully expect when I turned up but I can confirm that I had a fantastic time.

Although I won tickets for the full bank holiday weekend, I only attended the Saturday as I don't live close to Syon Park and I didn't fancy the price tag of staying over for the weekend! The weather was also predicted to be pretty damn rotten that weekend too so Saturday seemed like the safest bet and low and behold, Saturday was full of bright sunshine, fluffy clouded skies and was generally just a sweet deal. The festival was open from 11am - 7pm and I stayed for the majority of the day, dragging Matt along for the ride.

When we first got to the festival, it made sense to just wander around and get a general feel for the place as some stalls were still setting up and the festival was quiet as we got there just after the opening time. It instantly struck me just how fantastic the range of food and drink stalls that were available truly were. After only 1O minutes of wandering around I had spotted everything from vegan falafel to racks of ribs cooking on hot coals and everything in between. The range of food seemed almost overwhelming at first but I almost didn't have time to even attempt to take it in because before I knew it, it was only 11:3Oam and I was being roped into a wine tasting event in a quiet tent.

One thing that was great about the festival was the wine and beer tasting events. These events were something you needed to go and grab tickets for near the entrance just to ensure you got a seat as there was limited space in the tents. They ran throughout the day so you could go to as many as you wanted and they also were incredibly informal which I personally liked. The thought of going to a traditional wine tasting event strikes fear into my heart and makes me feel uncomfortable even just imagining it so when I got into this tent feeling slightly apprehensive I was pleased that that fog cleared as soon as I spotted the rather eccentric gentleman from West London Wine School hosting the tasting. He was incredibly knowledgeable, charismatic, and friendly which made the whole half an hour event really enjoyable. If you're a big fan of your wines, the bonus of this tasting was that you actually swallowed the wine so before I had even ate I had downed a glass of prosecco, white, and red wine (what an animal). I've mentioned a few times here on NB about the fact that I rarely drink alcohol but I'll be honest - a big part of this festival is the alcohol available. That's not to say you couldn't possibly enjoy the whole thing without it because you absolutely could, but many of the drink stalls and tent events involve alcohol so this might be something to bear in mind if you are thinking of attending in the future!

Matt & I also slipped into one of the There's a Beer for That events in the afternoon which had a similar set up. As a table we were given a range of beers to try from pale ales to stouts but this time it was even better - it came with free samples of food. By this point we had actually had more than our fair share of free samples but I'm not the sort of girl to turn down cheddar and chorizo (I might be an animal but I'm not a heathen). This event seemed incredibly popular with everyone in the tent as the host talked us through how each type of beer is made and why certain ones go with certain foods. As again, someone who doesn't really drink and certainly as someone who doesn't like the taste of a lot of lagers/beers etc., this event concerned me a bit at first but it was great! Having the link to food made it so interesting and surprising as drinking beers that I didn't like the taste of suddenly changed on my palette as I drank them between eating a brownie that complimented the flavour or chomping down on some cheese that gave the beer a creamier after taste. The Beer for That franchise has a website which is great to use if you're a beer lover and need to know what you should be stocking up on if you're cooking a fancy dinner or hosting a dinner party as you can search dishes and combos on the site and it will give you suggestions on what to drink - genius!

As we're talking about the liquids at the festival already, I'll keep that ball rolling by mentioning a couple of stalls that particularly impressed me. By far the best thing about Foodies Fest for me was the fact that I come away with lots of new independent and small brands that I had sampled and enjoyed and knew that I could purchase from them again in future. Many of the drinks stalls were pleased to inform curious customers that their products were available from the likes of Waitrose and Ocado so if you didn't get a chance to pick something up there and then or if you loved it so much you needed more, you knew where to head to. So the first amazing drink I need to mention is Kin Vodka which is yep, you guessed it, vodka spirit but with toffee. You guys, this tasted like heaven. It was an incredibly smooth vodka that even as a shot wouldn't leave you feeling hoarse and it wasn't sickly sweet with the toffee flavour either. It was a tasty spirit to have just alone or could easily have a mixer added to it to give it a little extra something. Matt picked up a bottle of this as it was so yummy and it was incredibly reasonably priced too.

My favourite find (and therefore inevitable purchase) of the day was Riddles Tequila Iced Tea. Yep, you read that right - iced tea with tequila. Now, considering I'm not a huge drinker, I actually surprisingly love tequila so when there's a drink that combines that with my beloved tea, I just *had* to check it out. Riddles is a Nigerian creation and it tastes bloody amazing. This iced tea beverage has very few ingredients and all of which are pretty damn healthy. If we ignore the fact that it includes tequila for a wee while, this drink is made with moringa tea which is a great source of protein, vitamin A & C, potassium, and calcium and is fantastic for the digestive system, tackling headaches and heart problems, and fighting various infections to name bit a few benefits. This drink also includes agave as a substitute of sugar which is (controversially) considered to be a healthier natural alternative to sugar due to its supposed low glycemic index. Whether or not you believe agave benefits etc. this drink is phenomenal and if you're someone who doesn't particularly like the taste of alcohol in general, I can't recommend this enough it just tastes like a very unusual but super tasty pop.

Another quick mention I need to make here is Cranes cider because boy oh boy did I like that stuff. Cranes cider brews cranberries alongside apples to make a naturally light cider which has 3O% less calories than many other ciders. They had three flavours on tap to sample that you could also have in a liquer format to "pimp your prosecco" but it was the bog-standard classic ciders that stole the show for me. They're incredibly sweet so if you like fruit ciders such as Koppaberg or Rekorderlig then you're bound to think Cranes is even better than those. Blueberries and Apples, Cranberries and Limes, and Raspberries and Pomegranates are the three main flavours they have created and oh my days - the raspberry and pomegranate one? Phenomenal drink. I really should have picked some up to take home but in my fat piglet food coma state I waddled home and forgot.

So I can't really talk about a food festival without mentioning the food, right? Oh my sweet jeez, there was literally something for everyone and so many flavours, dishes, sweet and savoury snacks etc. to sample I didn't know where to start. Although the prices at the Foodie Festival were of course a little bit higher than if you bought something in a big busy mass-producing supermarket, they were at those price points because you were paying for quality goods that love, care, attention and passion had gone into. Seeing doughnuts as big as my head and paellas that I could have easily bathed in was such a joy for the senses but also made it incredibly difficult to choose what to try. Many of the stalls were more than happy to let you have a sample of what they had for sale and also very warm and welcoming when addressed with questions.

For lunch, Matt & I decided just get something quick and easy and there was a fantastic little bakery stall (many of the goods are pictured above) that was selling giant versions of sweet bakery favourites but he also sold a couple of focaccia-style sandwiches which were delish. I had a chorizo one and Matt chose ham and cheese and despite being simple sandwiches, they were so yummy because you could tell the bread was fresh and handmade. He had a great stall and I'm so annoyed with myself for not recalling the company name and not picking up some of those mouthwateringly good looking almond twists pictured above! At around 3pm we had sampled a lot more alcohol so naturally, we went on the hunt for some more food. There was so much choice that I just didn't know what to have but I know I wanted something sweet. I settled on getting a classic sugar and lemon crepe and the guys from the Vive La Crepe stall were super friendly, slightly drunk, but reasonably priced so a joy to buy from all-round. Matt went for sampling a huge hotdog from a French stall which didn't sell any old hotdogs oh no - these dogs were covered with French cheese and encased in tasty crusty French bread and it smelt amazing. We had hoped to get a bubble waffle each on the way out too but I was honestly so full that I couldn't justify the purchase!

Before we left, Matt & I decided to share the cost of 3 giant pieces of fudge for £1O from Oooh!.. Fudge because it all looked too good to pass up and was the easiest thing for us to carry back home. We picked up caramac, mint chocolate, and orange chocolate and we certainly got our money's worth!

One last thing I haven't talked about yet is the live music at the festival. From open until close, the festival had live music playing on a stage which had ample seating and space to put a picnic blanket in front of the stage so it was a great spot to sit and catch your breath with a drink in hand. My personal favourites from the day was Ruby Confue and Axel Jansson. Ruby Confue was singing an Amy Winehouse classic as Matt & I were deciding what fudge to buy early in the morning and her voice drifted on the breeze and I loved it. She has that classic contemporary Jazz vibe Winehouse had and it was the perfect music to listen to at the start of the festival to get everyone active. Axel Jansson actually played twice on the day we visited and he was fab. Think James Bay without the long hair but still wearing the hat and you have Axel Jansson. He again was the perfect instalment to the festival as he was easy lazy listening in the sunshine when you needed to have a little wind down and a 5 minute rest. If yoga is your bag too, the festival also ran yoga lessons throughout the day in one of the tents so there really was something to suit every individual. Keep your peepers peeled for the Foodies Festival in the future as it could make it's way to your local town. It is often a whole weekend event but tickets are available for individual days or the weekend - it's entirely flexible. It's a great day out whether you're going alone, with friends, or as a family as the brands and companies there are so varied and unique but extremely reasonably priced. I'll be heading back to one next year for sure because there's so many things I want to take a bite of that I never quite got around to and we can't be having that now, can we?

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