25 January 2017

I can quite openly admit that I am a beauty product hoarder, of which is quite possibly a big problem. And being a blogger has definitely got a lot to do with it. I use the “oh, I can buy that, it's market research” excuse far too often than I'd like to admit. So much so, that I have quite the stash of beauty products that I love but never use because they swiftly got replaced by something else!

I swear, I didn't even know it was an issue until I started to clear out my stuff a couple weeks ago. I can't take it all travelling with me in March, and how unfair to leave it here, sad, alone and unused for however long I'm gone for. Half of it, I'd completely forgotten I even owned. You know you have too much makeup and it's time to shift some, when you can't remember the extent of it!

What's worse, is I've gotten into a routine of using the same makeup every day. Whilst that was a strategy I started just before Christmas to wean myself off of some of the unnecessary products that I won't have room for in my suitcase when I leave. It doesn't help admitting to my obsession. But, in going through my stash, I've discovered all of these products, I absolutely loved in the past and can't bear to get rid of, even though I never use them now!

Urban Decay – Naked 2 Eyeshadow Palette

The Urban Decay 'Naked 2' was the first eyeshadow palette I ever bought. The first eyeshadow palette I ever talked about on my blog. In fact, it might have even been the first ever product I talked about (Update: It wasn't but the nostalgia is still there). It quite possibly was the product that kicked off this obsession with makeup, and there I found it gathering dust in the back of my drawer like Woody from Toy Story.

What a sad, sad story.

The pigmentation is amazing, the warm toned neutral shades work with my colourings better than any of the other Naked palettes (particularly the Naked 3 which I also found hidden in a dark corner. It's a great palette for beginners and I'm not just saying that because it was my first ever palette. There is a great variation of shimmer to matte's, granted there are slightly more shimmery shades but it's nothing overly glittery or worthy of being afraid of!

But alas, I can't be falling in love all over again because it's much too big to be taking away with me. But no way in hell am I getting rid of it either!

NARS – Palais Royal Satin Lip Pencil

This lip product I bought at the same time as buying the same pencil, different colour for someone else. I knew I'd love it from the moment I swatched it and didn't want to leave the counter with something for someone else and nothing for me. Selfish, I know.

Here's to, maybe two years later, and it's still almost as new as when I bought it. I guess I don't love the product, not really. The pencil itself is much too soft and run's down very fast. And who own's a pencil sharpener that's that big! And Palais Royal is beautiful colour but the finish is much too dewy for my liking. I'm much more of a matte kind of girl. But again, I absolutely love the colour, there's no doubt about that!

I don't think it can stay in my collection though!

Maybelline – Colour Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow

I remember a day when all of my blog posts consisted of one of these pots of pure joy. There was no beauty product I loved more than these. Back in the days when I wasn't so confident in my smokey eye abilities, came these miracle makers. Just a swipe on your eyelids and a gentle blend with a brush and you have pretty stellar eyeshadow. Somehow (and I'm not entirely sure how) they ended up with the other castaways in the back of my makeup drawer. I probably haven't touched them in almost a year!

I have 3 shades; Metallic Pomegranate, On and On Bronze & Pink Gold. They're all bold, metallic/shimmery shades so definitely won't work too well in the climates that I'm, heading too. However, I'm not letting go of them just yet. I am thinking about popping to Boots and picking up a lighter, matte shade, however, something that will fit quite nicely in my travel makeup bag.

BECCA – Shimmering Skin Perfector // Champagne Pop

There's no disguising how much I love the BECCA highlighters! I have been obsessed since I first discovered them on YouTube a couple of years ago. Back when they weren't so easily found on this side of the pond. I have two shades from the range; Champagne Pop and (my favourite of the two) Opal.

I was gifted Opal for my birthday a couple of years ago, the travel/tester version, which came with a mini pressed powder pigment, plus a mini liquid highlighter in the same shade. Whilst the colour payoff is 10 times better on the pressed pigment, the liquid version is the one that sticks around longer and is easier to apply.

I picked up Champagne Pop in New York last year because of how much I loved and used it's sister. It has much stronger, golden tones and works beautiful with a tan, but I just have so much more appreciation for Opal. It was the one I dreamt of owning for the longest time, I was gifted it by a friend and it was the first I owned of what I imagine will be many! Nostalgia has me won with this one too!

MAC – Gel Liner // Blacktrack

Gel liner is amazing, it's so much more pigmented than traditional Kohl or liquid liners and its stay power is like no other. In fact, I have had trouble getting it off in the past. However, it didn't stick around in my Makeup bag for long. You need to really dedicate time to apply this product as it's much harder to use which just doesn't cut it for day to day use. I only tend to reach for my MAC 'Gel Liner' now if I'm doing something fancy or special and really want and have time to make an effort beforehand! Which evidently, was so long ago I can't even remember!

I'm so, so shocked at how many products I have in my drawer that I value this much, particularly so much that I can't get rid of them, even though I never use them! It seems so silly to keep them here, makeup does go off after all. I'm almost positive that won't sway my decision to keep them permanently planted in my makeup drawer, just in case.

When was the last time you had a root around your makeup stash? Are there any products like mine which you love but never use?

Love always,

18 January 2017

I love travelling, the excitement of going somewhere new, learning incredible things, seeing incredible things. What I don't love about travelling is sourcing the money to make it happen! I work in a minimum wage job, so spare money for savings is hard to come by. But after 6 months of making it work, I thought I'd share my tips on how I saved £5,000 in 6 months to go travelling. 

I've never been great at saving, I'm not one to want to skimp on gig tickets or going out to see my friends in order to put that little extra ££ away in the bank. But, when you want something badly enough, you'll do whatever it takes to make it happen! £5,000 in travel the world senses, isn't enough to be gone for particularly long, I'm predicting i'll only be away for 3 months and get to visit 3-5 countries. But I've only gone and picked 3 of the most expensive places to travel. Maybe, if in the long run, you're more sensible with your money, think visiting Asia (Thailand and Bali are the two cheapest places I've ever been) then you could definitely make your money last longer and strecth further. 

But I'm not here to tell you what to spend your money on, just how to get it...

Think Logically & Don't Go Crazy

It's easy to say "right, if I put £900 out of my £1,000 pay check into savings, then i'll make my target in no time!" I did! But you need to be realistic, how much money do you need to live, until your next paycheck hits your bank? What other commitments do you have? I'm very, very fortunate that my boyfriends parents only ask me to pay the bare minimum for rent but I also had to factor in phone bills, car expenses, lunch money etc. Then there's your social life to consider too. You'd be surprised how drastically that falls apart as soon as money is off the board.

"You will always live within your means"

Don't go bonkers, think logically about what you have and what realistically you can do with it! You will always live within your means, so if monthly expenses are accounted for, you can live on £100, then you will do it! You've just got to know your limits.

Where is your money going?

Do you know exactly where your money is going throughout the month? What about when? And specifically how much? Probably not, there's no way any normal brain can hold and access all of that information. Now, I'm sure if your serious about saving money, then this isn't the first "how to save" post you've read. And it isn't the first time someone has said "make yourself a spreadsheet." Dude, stop reading this right now and create one! Because my God does it change your life.

A spreadsheet will allow you to harness your inner organistational freak that is just waiting to be unleashed. Honestly. Firstly, write down your income. This could be the pay check from your full time job, any educational benefits you recieve, maybe you could even anticipate birthday money? Then start listing all of your outgoings; rent, phone bill, car insurance, road tax, life insurance, social engagements etc. I recommend organising these into monthly segments, especially if you have your life together enough that you can front your car insurance in one yearly sum. Then, decide if you can wittle any of it down, do you really need to go to the cinema every week? If so, is there a cheaper day you could go. My local cinema does discounts on Mondays and student discount for the rest of the week. Or if you bought your insurance through Compare the Market, there's always Meerkat Movies to think about!

Walk to Work and Take Lunch with you

It seems so simple, but I guarantee it'll make such a difference to your savings. Walking to work will save you money on petrol and parking. Taking lunch with you will stop the guilty trips to McDonalds on your breaks. This goes for eating out for dinner and even all those sneaky trips to Starbucks too.

If you're still unsure, try calculating how much you spend on these things in just one month. I'll bet you'll be shocked enough to stop altogther!

Open a Savings Account

I know, boring right! But I can't tell you how much easier it is to save when there's less money hanging around in your bank account. Sounds illogical, right? It's not though, at the beginning of each month, take that money you dedicated to save and pop it in your Savings account. Then your current account shows you only what you have left to spend. That way, halfway through the month when you're trying to decide whether you can squeeze a new eyeshadow palette purchase before payday, you don't get blind sighted by how much money you think you have. 

Don't forget about the 'Feel Good' Fund!

The 'Feel Good' fund is something I didn't think necessary in the first few months of saving. That's right, I went completely cold turkey; no cinema, no shopping, not even any new makeup. Did it work, not at all. I got half way through the second month of saving and felt so awful for neglecting 'me', that I went full shopping spectacular and blew most of the money I had saved so far! 

The 'Feel Good' fund is there to stop that from happening. When sorting out your money on your brand spanking new spreadsheet, put a little aside for down days. It doesn't have to be a lot, but factoring in for that tough week at work where you need a Friday takeaway to recharge or just a little 'well done' treat at the end of the month will have you feeling so much better. If you get to the end of the month and you haven't spent it, then amazing, that's £20 extra for your savings pot.

You know that jumper you haven't worn since 2 Christmas' ago, sell it!

I have been selling as much of my belongings as possible since I decided to go travelling. I have so much stuff that I havent used since I was about 15. Chances are your the same. What's the point in owning something that's not going to be of use to you when your away? Or something that you haven't worn/used since last Summer? It sounds dramatic, but what do you want more? Selling your car could get you to a new country, or an excursion somewhere tropical.

I have been pretty tight and stingy for the last 6 months, but I've got a nice sum of money to show for it and tickets out of London in less that 2 months time. And I don't think I'd have done it without these steps. 

Love always,

11 January 2017

Keeping warm at this time of year can be a tough task. Especially when looking good and staying warm don't always seem to meet as one so seamlessly. But from me, the girl who is always cold, to you, I have some tips to staying warm but look great whilst doing it. My favourite, layering all the pretty knits...

As must as I love Elephants, ending up the size of one whilst trying to keep warm in the winter, is absolutely not the one. There's looking good but being bloody cold. Then there's looking, well, ok but kind of like an elephant with the amount of layers your sporting.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a layers person, as much as not looking good affects my ego and my confidence. It's not as damaging as when I'm cold and damn grumpy because of it.

Staying Warm

That's the main aim of the game, right? The hard bit.

Two layers will always be better than one when temperatures are sub-zero, or even close to. In fact, you'll be short to find me with less than three layers when it gets the height of winter. I'm almost always wearing a long sleeved top, yes not a knit but technically it counts. Followed by a thin knit, topped off with something super thick, chunky and with the highest neck I can find! And then don't even get me started on scarves, I'll layer 2 scarves in one outfit. Anything to keep that cold breeze out!

However, layers are great, they really, really are. But you could be wearing 50 layers and still be freezing if your layers aren't the right fabrics.

Cotton is off limits in the winter, it sucks hard at keeping you warm, especially when damp or wet, which, in England, isn't particularly a far stretch. Cotton is actually one of the best, if not the best fabric to keep you cool in the Summer. So definitely not an option for this time of year! Wool, on the other hand, will keep you super toasty and should be your next best friend this winter. Although it can be kind of annoying to wash, a little expensive and 100% wool blends are hard to get hold of. But if you can, investing in some key, capsule, wool pieces this year, will last the test of time.

If however, luxury knit isn't quite on you bargain buster wishlist this year, then you should have a look at Polyester blends. They're much easier to find, and great windshields too. Meaning that a big knit under a leather jacket isn't going to leave you with pneumonia when out and about this winter!

Looking Good

And I don't mean that in a sleazy, trying to hit on you kind of way. Like I mentioned before, keeping warm whilst channelling the fashionista that you are, isn't the easiest of things to do. It always ends up being; what's more of a priority. Wrapping up warm but looking like an elephant, or look amazing but freeze your nipples off in the process? Decisions.

Layering knits isn't something I see a lot of anywhere. Not on Pinterest (believe me I've scoured for it), not on YouTube and not in Magazines. Yet, it's possibly my favourite fashion styling in the Winter. And is something I pretty much live in for 4/5 months of the year! There are so many ways you can layer different styles of knits to keep yourself warm but look pretty damn good too.

At this time of year, there is a plethora of knitwear to choose from. Thin knits, thick knits, wide knits. High necks, round necks, roll necks, just to name a few. And layering them is so easy. I have two ribbed knits from Primark, nothing chunky, just simple knitted tops. Both are long sleeved with turtle-necks. One's white with frills on the neck and the other is plain beige/pink. I love wearing the pink one under the white, it hides any awkward bra showing that happens with white tops and for the most part is relatively unseen. There is just a sneak of pink showing through from behind the frills. It's very simple, very cute and can be worn with jeans or a cord pinafore!

Another favourite is wearing the same Primark, white, knit top underneath, big oversized jumpers, like the one in the picture. It's super subtle and hardly noticeable but just adds a little something to an otherwise boring jumper.

V-necked jumpers, up until this year were a big no-no for me. Why would you want a jumper that would expose your chest. No thank-you, I'm a 'wrap up warm but look like an elephant' sort of person. However this year, I totally came around to the idea of wearing thin knits underneath the v-necks. It's much more of a statement than the other style's I love. But looks very chic, very cool.


The over-sized, elephant grey jumper is from the Jasper Conran range at Debenhams, it was £45 full price but I managed to grab it for £22.50 in the sale! It's super warm with the stretched turtle neck and rolled sleeves. I paired it with a ribbed knitted turtleneck from Primark, £6 what a bargain! The cute frills on the neck just poke above the jumper above, adding for a cute touch. I have some simple leggings, also from Primark (the ones with the fleece on the inside because they're super cosy!) And some thigh high boots from New Look.

My watch was a birthday present back in 2015 and is from Olivia Burton. It has a beautiful rose gold face and Navy leather strap! My bag is from Rebecca Minkoff, which I sneakily bought on Ebay because I don't have the money to be buying full price designer handbags. I wish!

Layering knitwear is a style I covet in the Winter. It's so easy to do and so utterly underrated! How do you style your clothes in the winter to keep yourself warm? If you have any more tips, I'd gladly read all about them because the girl who is eternally cold is heading to Iceland in March. Iceland of all places and I'm determined not to let the nippy weather ruin my trip!

Love always,

4 January 2017

Can you believe it?! 1st of January 2017, already! Well, that sprung up on me super quick, but I guess introductions are in order. Hello 2017, nice to finally see you! This year I have so many exciting things planned that I've been dreaming about for years, and there are some new idea's at the forefront of my brain too. I'm so excited to get things moving, kick my resolutions into gear and let this year rock!

There's something about the new year and the motivation to make myself a better, more rounded person that I love! I don't get why people hate so much on the 'New year, new me' trend. I get it, you shouldn't wait until the 1st January to make a difference in your life, however, there's something about fresh starts that make it a more exciting and attainable thing. Plus, the inspiration and buzz of everybody working together is incredible.

2016 was a crazy year. I got a new job. Travelled, a lot. Met a bunch of incredible people from the Blogging community which in turn left incredible friendships. Completely overhauled the design of my blog. Then said blog got nominated for the UK Blog Awards! Definitely, the most crazy, fulfilling and energizing year I've experienced.

But 2017. Well, 2017 is going to be something, so much more!

I'm taking the plunge and finally quitting my job to go traveling

Where resolutions are concerned, I don't think this counts per se. I mean, I've booked my outbound flights already, so going traveling in 2017 is pretty much a done deal. No take backsies, unless I fancy losing all the money I've invested. Which I most certainly do not. So I guess quitting my job is something set in stone because my flights are one-way tickets which leave in just 3 months time! Eek, scary.

I've been working in retail for 6 years, mostly alongside education and as much as I love my new position, it's not what I want to be doing 5 years time. When I finished University a year ago, it was a safe and quick way into full-time employment and since then I've lost all motivation to search for new career opportunities. I was comfortable and earning money, so why did I need to? But I do need to, I'll never grow staying in the same place for so long. And I'll never get to do what I love whilst working in retail. So pulling that final thread and cutting ties is the first big thing happening this year!

Be more confident and daring with my fashion choices

I am surrounded by bloggers and friends who have such interesting, beautiful & unique sense in fashion. Something which I aspire my own wardrobe to be like. I spent 60% of my free time in 2016 scrolling through Pinterest staring at outfits which I love and the remaining 40%, on ways I can recreate them at a fraction of the budget. But nine out of ten times, I quit before payment for fear of not being 'cool enough'.

I've become complacent in my fashion choices. I know what I think looks good but also what is safe and safe is as far as my confidence stretched last year! This year I want to try harder to interject interest and uniqueness into my wardrobe. To be more confident in trying new things and not afraid to fail for something to not work. Success doesn't come from never having failed!

Launch my print shop

I've always been so in love with typography and graphic print. I studied Fine Art at University but almost always ended up creating something print and media-themed. I've always dreamed of producing and selling my own work. Work I've made for myself but others (thankfully) seem to enjoy too. I want to be my own boss one day (probably not this year, but soon) and a Graphic artist would be my first choice for doing that!

I've got an immense back log of tests and developments of which final products are just around the corner and I'm really excited to share those with you! Specifically in the form of my own online shop. Whether that's a completely ridiculous idea considering I leave to travel in March and am hoping to to be gone for most of the year, I don't know! But I really, really hope it's not.

Instagram Game? What Instagram game?

I suck at Instagram. Uploading daily seems like such a chore and sticking to a 'theme'. Impossible! My style changes all the time. You'll probably notice this with my prints. It was something I struggled with a lot a University. Most artists develop a style and/or medium which is noticeably, 'theirs'. Me, I just love to have a bit of fun and try everything. Which is why Instagram 'themes' never seem to work for me! It's so demotivating when there's such impeccable competition and incredible stigma to be a certain way on Instagram!

This year I want to stop feeling the pressure to post certain types of photo's, which look a certain way, at certain times of the day, and every single day! I want to find the fun in Instagram and photography again. Find followers who are there because they enjoy what I post and not because it fits with the stereotype. 

Hit 2000 followers

Numbers aren't everything and they're most certainly not a priority. But numbers mean readers and readers mean I'm that one step closer to being my own Girl Boss like I dream to be!

Whilst having fun and enjoying what I'm doing is why I started and why I want to continue blogging, improving my reader base would be the cherry on the cake this year. Somehow, in the last 3 months of 2016, I grew 700+ followers on Twitter. I'm not sure how or why it happened but the friends, fun, and opportunities it's providing me is all the more to keep it going! But it's also why it's the last goal on my list this year. It's not priority, but would be absolutely incredible if it happened!

For those of you who have been reading for a while, thank you so much for the support last year. To those of you who nominated/voted for me in the UK Blog Awards, I can never thank you enough! To those of you who are new here, hello, I'm Melissa, I hope you enjoy your time here. I hope every single one of you, have an absolutely incredible year, I can't wait to see what you accomplish and the fun you have doing it!

Love always,