It's Sunday! - Self care when studying at university

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Happy Sunday! Get ready for a rant!

I have had a hard week at university. I think I have had the same headache as well for this whole week. It is difficult when I'm at the university to care for myself and think about my well-being when every day I have a different deadline. However, I am in my second year now. So I have learnt some tips from struggling through my first year. Halls was not a good place for me. I thought it would be a good idea to go into student accommodation in the first year because I was in a new place and it felt comfortable to be around people in the same boat. Being put into halls is usually a great experience for people in their first year, it just didn't personally work for me. When I was in halls, I found taking care of myself even harder. I wasn't eating properly and I struggled to sleep properly a lot of the time because living on campus was always so loud. 
However, since I have been in the second year and I have been living with my best friend and boyfriend, I have figured out how to live more comfortably. 

The first thing I learnt was eating correctly. This is so so important. Your brain needs food to be able to work properly. Repeat after me, packaged sandwiches brought from Waitrose is not dinner.  You need a hot, homemade meal, it doesn't have to be a pro-chief meal but a bowl of pasta with a side of vegetables is so much better for you than a pizza delivered from Dominos. When I first started making a dinner for myself, vegetables was something I found so hard to add to my diet. I am definitely more of a fruit lover myself but eating your greens is so important. I always try to add a side of veggies to my dinner. For example, if I am doing a pasta bake (a common meal in my household), I will add pepper or peas to the mix and then put a side of frozen veggies alongside. 
Basically, just make sure you give yourself a set time to take care of what your body needs food-wise because your brain is so important to your academic journey.

Secondly, live with people you love. This is a little more tricky than just eating right because some people don't get a choice of who they live with. But if you can, choose people you KNOW are going to be nice to live with. Before I lived in my student house and I was in halls, I felt trapped in my tiny room as it was the only space that could be labelled 'mine'. Now I live with people I love, it's so much easier. The house is cleaner because there is not the problem of 'causing an argument when asking if someone can simply wash up. We are able to make a coherent rota for cleaning and cooking because we are friends and we KNOW we will stick to it. But above everything, it's cheaper. Food shopping and cooking together means you save so so much money. I can not stress what a difference it has made to my university experience knowing that when I get home, there is a supply of food in the fridge and my housemates will all be cooking the same thing. Sitting around a table with your friends, eating dinner at the end of a long day has made uni so much easier.

Thirdly, having an unproductive day is okay. Yes, you are paying £9000 a year and that is a lot of money and yes, you want a good grade. But working yourself hard every day is going to end in nothing but more stress. If you wake up one more and you still feel tired, go back to bed. If you attend every class and do every piece of work, it is okay to stay home and DO NOTHING. This is definitely not advisable for every day but you should not feel guilty for preventing a week long headache and just taking a break. 

Next, make times for friends. Friends are so so important. New flash: Secondary school DOES NOT MATTER. The people who are in your life matter so much more. I met three of my best friends in secondary school and they are beautiful strong ladies,  I love them to pieces. I see them regularly and when I go home I make time to see them. But the people you meet at university and especially on your course will understand what you are going through so much better than anybody else.

Finally, produce things you are proud of. If you are not happy with your course, change it. If you aren't happy with what your writing, stop doing it, speak to someone. You have the right to be 100% enjoying every single thing you produce. You should adore working on your all projects, you should get excited to go to class and learn. This is your journey and it matters how you feel along the way. You don't want to look back in 10 years, unimpressed with yourself and thinking that you put yourself in debt for no reason. My favourite quote ever (and get ready for some cringe) is 'you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously' (Sophia Bush). I think this is so true regarding your university experience. You should love your work but you should be able to always see how you could improve.

Please try and be happy with your university journey.

Holloway - Robert Macfarlane

Wednesday, 14 March 2018



Genre: Nature writing (36 pages)
Published: 1st May 2014
How long did it take me to read: 1 hour

If you couldn't guess from the title of the book, this novel (if you could call it that, its only 36 pages) is about Holloways. Holloways is a sunken road which was man-made a long time ago. This path allowed people to get places faster and could have been used for a quicker route for traders.

Okay, so two hearts is a rather low rating from me. 

What I think was my main problem with this book was the price. I had to buy this book for university course because I was studying nature writing, therefore I had no choice but to purchase this book. I bought it second hand on Amazon (thank you Amazon for always helping out poor students) for £5.99. When I got the book, I thought it was gorgeous. The cover was flawless. The illustrations were adorable and I know, for a fact, that I would at least of picked it up in my local Waterstones.

However, I was still disappointed when I received this book. Don't get me wrong, it was...interesting. But was it £5.99 interesting? It was only 36 pages. Lets some simple maths, £5.99÷36= 16.6388. That means that each page is worth around 16p. I understand that a lot of the budget for this book would be spent on the fantastic illustrations. But I wouldn't have spent that much money on this book if I didn't have too.

Nevertheless, I had so much fun taking these flat lay photos of it because, at the end of the day, this novel is extremely photogenic. Holloway was written by Robert Macfarlane and was dedicated to Roger Deakin as he wrote the nature book, The Wild Places. Robert Macfarlane goes and visits the Holloway in South Dorset and repeat's the journey he had once done with Roger Deakin. It comes across as a wonderful gesture. However, for the most part, I wasn't overly impressed with the book. I found myself skimming through it rather than pondering every line, which I think is what this book needs. And I felt that the author was reliving something because they felt like they should and the idea of going back to Holloway where he visited with his friend, Roger Deakin. However, as a reader, I didn't get the emotional connection too it as I think the narrator wanted there to be. I didn't feel much at all when reading it apart from 'Wow, I love these drawings'.

When I read the blurb of this book. I got really excited because it is based in South Dorset and I am originally from Dorset. I did learn things from this book as well, I had no idea what a Holloway was. When reading it, I kept thinking back to my hometown and remembering little paths that I used to walk down as a child and wondering if they would be considered a 'Holloway'. I did find this aspect interesting and I think that especially for people who live in the UK, that this would be a common theme. 

Overall, I was disappointed by this book. I liked the creative ways that a Holloway was described and I think Robert Macfarlane did a good job. I was really inspired by this book to write something similar myself but this book didn't stick with me. I didn't know what I was expecting from this book. However, it still will be on my favourites page because although my cynical self-didn't enjoy it, so many of my friends told me I was crazy, as they really really loved it. So many people have told what an enchanting read it was!
I don't know if it's just the fact that I don't read a lot of nature writing and haven't ever really ventured into that genre. But if you would like a copy and the photos of my illustrations have captured your heart, then head on over to 'my favourites' page. 

For now, keep on reading. 

It's Sunday! - An honest review of the Poppy Austin mascara

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Hello Hello. Happy Sunday!

This is not my usual post, on Sunday's I like to post lifestyle posts and in my daily life, I do wear makeup. So's not outside my usual posts? However, I am a very sensitive skin gal, so finding makeup that actually agrees with my skin is a hard task. I got into contact with the Poppy Austin makeup company because they sell natural products, which is something that appealed to me and my skin massively.
I received the mascara on Monday, so I have been wearing it for about six days. What the trouble with my other mascaras is the flaking. I can wear a mascara all day and not even think about it until it begins to itch. I then have to admittedly take it off, no matter what time of day it is, where I am, or what I am doing, I have to take it off. 

So the main selling point of this mascara is the fact that it's vegan. Vegan you may ask? Is it edible? No. Well, I don't think so? Personally, I haven't tried it. What the vegan label on this product means is that it's not tested on animals. Many popular products like MAC, do use animals to test their makeup to make sure it's safe for human application. To be honest, these thoughts never really went through my head until people started really complaining about MAC and shops like LUSH started advertising their 'animal-free' products. Obviously, I care about animals as much as the next person, but I feel that this year I have become so aware of where my cosmetics come from. Also, this might be obvious to some, but I found that when I started looking at all natural products, I found my skin to be less reactive to them. I know, shocking.  But that is what drew my eye to Poppy Austin's mascara. I loved it. It didn't make my eyes itch and I could wear it confidently knowing that no animal suffered in order to make something I use for vanity.

Secondly, the feeling of the mascara. The wand was slightly different from the ones that I had used before. It was more square, yet the bristles were more woven together. I've taken a picture of the brush below because honestly, I had trouble describing it. However, I have no problem with describing what it did to my application of the mascara. The formula itself was light, I could see the product before I could feel it on my eyes. The wand allowed for the formula to coat my eyelashes evenly, distributing the cosmetic perfectly. I wasn't worried about the fallout or flaking during me putting it on.

I have quite average length eyelashes, they aren't short but they definitely aren't long. I am always open to trying a mascara that will length them a little but doesn't make it look like I have spiders taped to my eyes. Basically, a mascara that can add volume to my eyelashes without having to put a million coats of the product on. The Poppy Austin mascara is flawless in this department. A couple of sweeps and it is on perfectly. And you better believe that mascara is there to stay. This mascara is waterproof and it will not move from your face for 24 hours.

Finally, the packaging. I like the minimalistic packaging however, I don't know if I would necessarily see it in a store and pick it up. I think the main selling point is the fact that it is vegan and for an animal-free product, it is EXTREMELY fairly priced at about £20. I would defintiely recommend this to a friend and furthermore, I would probably buy a second tube when I run out!

Thank you so much, Poppy Austin!
Go check out their company!

Their Instagram: Poppy Austin
Their Shop: Poppy Austin Cosmetics 

Milkweed - Jerry Spinelli

Thursday, 8 March 2018



Genre: Novel
Published: 1st September 2005
How long did it take me to read: 3 days

Hello! I am a day late on posting my weekly book review because I have been SWAMPED with work and decided to put my university project above posting. Today, I decided to do a slightly older book than I normally write about. I read a lot of books in my spare time and the topics that they encompass changes a lot. However, I thought I might take the time this week to look at one of my absolute favourite books.
Milkweed is based in Warsaw during the Holocaust. Our main character is a young boy who guides us through World War Two. He is a child living in the war, he doesn't have any parents and the only fact that he definitely knows about himself is that he is Jewish. I'm sure I don't have to retell you what happened during the Second World War and there are plenty of fictional stories that are based around it. However, there is something so refreshing about this tale. Being written from a young boy's point of view, the reader is left in the dark a lot. We are misled often and get explained a lot of heartbreaking details of the main characters live through a fun, misunderstanding children's voice. For example, the Nazi Soldiers within this book are called 'Jackboots' because of their big, black boots. We are never told they are Nazi Soldiers, we are just left to assume they are by the young narrator. It's strange but different and almost heartwarming in amongst such a gloomy event.
The protagonist is called many things like 'thief', which because of his age and lack of parental influence, thinks his name is in fact, 'thief'. Later in the tale, we find out his name is Misha and he begins to find friends within the war. Misha is small, as he is a child. He learns that he can fit through tiny gaps and retrieve food for his other friends. This is was a dangerous job in World War Two, but we are told through the enchanting voice of the child narrator, that we barely notice.

I feel that many tales about Nazi Germany weave into the same gloomy story, however, this story is refreshing in a way. We, as a reader, are forced to hear about some horrendous events but we are charmed at the same time by the child's narration voice. This book was released a lot later than the books I normally review. Therefore, I feel it is okay to spoil the ending. If you don't want to know the ending, stop reading now!

The ending to this tale is why I love the book so much. As you can see from the picture above, this book is very well loved, the spine is broken and the corners are creased. This is my comfort book. When I am down, I will read Milkweed, when I am happy, I will read Milkweed. When my local Waterstones is boring me with all the new releases, I will read Milkweed.
Within the first final chapter, we are shown Misha again, in a post-war world. He is happy, he has children, he has grandchildren. He now has a name and it is 'poppy noddle'.
Despite my adoration for this book, I only gave it four stars. I have read many a book by Jerry Spinelli, including Star Girl, which I would recommend even more than Milkweed. However, this doesn't mean that Milkweed is any less than it. I loved every, believable character within this novel and that's why I continue to go back.

From cover to cover, I will continue to live in my routine of going back to this book. Jerry Spinelli is well known for this charming children narrators and I would highly recommend anyone this book. If you want a good read, but aren't scared of hearing some real-life events thrown in with some fiction. Then this is definitely the book for you!
You can find a copy on my favourites page!

It's Sunday! - How to take a flat lay that you are proud of

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Okay, let's begin with what a flat lay actually is...

When I first started blogging back in December, I didn't know the word 'flat lay', but after making friends with other fellow bloggers, they explained that a 'flat lay' is simply taking a photo of products from an above angle, usually with a plain background. 
I personally try to take all my blog photos using similar props and colours, so they match and are a part of my theme. 
What is one of my pet peeves is bloggers that use other peoples photos. I don't understand it when it's so easy and affordable to take your own. Also, it such an issue along the lines of copyright. Yeah, sure you might not be stealing your photos from other bloggers, but Google Images aren't free to use if you begin earning money. 
A small disclaimer - I am not an expert.
I had to learn how to take a flat lay that I was proud and would happy using. But when I promote for companies, they always compliment on my photos so I thought I would share how to take similar flat lays too me. 
There is one thing I can promise you though, they will be cheaply made. I am a poor student and I can't afford to keep buying new props for every photo I have to take. I post twice a week, so having to buy new items every time I released a new post would become very pricey very quickly. 

So let's get into it...

First of all, I will pick my props. I have set props I use, but I will try and swap some out when I can. Pictured below are a few of my favourites. The branch and the leaves are literally from my garden. I put some shoes on, go outside with a pair of scissors and cut off some leaves. As simple as that. But be prepared to get some weird looks. I have had the branch for a while and I keep it in my 'props box'. Again, I found it outside while walking home one day and I took it back with me.  The only other plant pictured is my cactus, which I replanted into a more photogenic pot, a simple black one.
The heart dish that you can see, was given to me by my mother. However, if you go down to your local charity shops you could almost definitely find some dishes that would look really good in your own flat lays.  
That is where I got the pink balls from that are pictured below. I got a large pack of assorted potpourri from the charity shop. I have had them for a while now and they have lost their smell, however, they still look good in my photos. 
And finally, my fake flowers. These cost me £1 and I use them in nearly every photo. These are fake orchid flowers, which I love. However, the main reason I bought them was that of the neutral colours. I know I use a lot of green in my photos so the little green seeds on them would work and the white always looks good with bright colours.  

 The next step is really useful if you are promoting a product. This week I was asked to use The Willow Tree's cards in my post. These beautiful cards are extremely well priced retailing at about £2.50 depending on the card. I loved these products so much I jumped at the chance at featuring them. The 'Hello' card is perfect for a student like me, who likes to send cards to their other friends at university, rather than text them. I find that sending people cards is so much more personal than a phone call. The 'Bloom and Grow' is a postcard, but I have recently stuck it up on my wall and it looks adorable. A big thank you to The Willow Tree - I will link them below so you can check them out yourselves.
So why did I include this photo? Figuring out what colours compliment what you are promoting or even just including within your blog post is important to how your photo comes out. For promoting these cute cards, I have focused on the green and white in the first postcard, complimenting it with the green and white in the orchid flowers. I have also included a grey piece of fabric to compliment the dark grey of the 'Hello' card. This ties the photo together and makes it look more neat.

Do you edit your photos?
I hardly edit my photos at all. I sometimes crop them if they aren't perfect and I usually enhance them slightly to make the colours pop, but apart from that, I leave them as they are. I take all my photo below a large window and this allows the natural light to shine through and brighten the images. So they barely take any editing. 
How you place your props is the next thing you have to think about. You want to promote the items (for me, it's the cards) and not have the props swallow them. Adding my grey piece of fabric allows the cards to be separated and shine amongst the other props. It has to be clear from the photo, what you are focusing on. 

Finally, the amount of space that is present. Don't be scared of having a little space present in your photos. You want the white background to shine through, otherwise whats the point of taking photos on a plain backdrop anyway. However, you want your flat lay to look fun, yet professional. So having a lot of space might make the photo look slightly boring. I sometimes use confetti to fill these tiny spaces, however, they are so hard to clean up and they get EVERYWHERE. So I have started to use leaves, as pictured below. It fits my overall theme better and they are so easy to sweep up and throw away. 

I hope this has helped you in some way! I would love to hear your opinions and your very own tips in the comments!

A big thank you to The Willow Tree!
Check out The Willow Tree: Shop
Check out The Willow Tree: Instagram 

In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom - Yeonmi Park

Wednesday, 28 February 2018



Genre: Novel/Autobiographical/Political
Published: 29th September 2015
How long did it take me to read: 2 days

This book was both the worst and the best thing I have read to date. The tale follows Yeonmi's real-life account of her struggle to leave North Korea. It was painful to read, but educational nonetheless. I don't know what it is about autobiographical novels, but slap a 'real-life story!' sticker on the front of a book and I will most likely pick it up. However, this novel felt different. I felt like I was reading something that couldn't be real. This horrible place Yeonmi was describing, where she was censored and kept away from the real world couldn't really exist. How could it?

I think what kept me hooked on this book was how rooted in Yeonmi's life I was. I followed her everywhere, she described every harrowing event in detail so much so that I could physically picture them happening. Sometimes I didn't want to see what she was describing, but I suffered through it because she, herself had to go through it also. I have labelled this book above as a 'political' novel, as well as autobiographical. I felt I was being educated on a way of life on every page. Yeonmi's feelings about her way of life and her love for her family were so well communicated, I felt like she was confiding in me personally.

Usually, this is where I would say, 'let's talk about the plot', however, the plot is a difficult word to use when describing this book. It isn't a plot, we are reading someone's real-life journey. I am going to try hard not to spoil anything massive within this novel, but I do want to talk about some of the twists that are included within. I guess I am trying to warn you, that before picking up this novel, be prepared to cry and be thankful for where you live.
Make yourself a cup of tea, take a big breath and begin.

Yeonmi suffers through many of the worst life traumas that can be thrown at her. Some of her family members make the journey out of North Korea, some don't. I won't spoil who sadly doesn't make it, however, there is a beautiful selection of personal photos halfway through the novel that will lend hints. I can't say much without spoiling everything within the book, but what I will say is the main feeling I got from this book was admiration. Yeonmi and her family were so brave. They fought against every power telling them not to go, but they knew that if they didn't they would regret living a life of fear.

One of the only thing that got me through this novel (apart from a cup of tea) was my adorable bookmark from Stitch and Wood. I have been using this bookmark EVERYDAY since it arrived through my post. I am so in love with it. I tend to read many sad books and when I open my page and see the cute, smiley design,  it can't help but lift my mood. How enchanting is this design? The amount of effort that clearly went into this bookmark is amazing, thank you so much StitchandWood, I will link their Etsy below.

Overall, I gave this book a five-star rating because of how harrowing the tale was. It sat with me for a long time afterwards and in my opinion, that is the sign of a good book! I would recommend it to a friend, but I would have to make sure they were in the right head space to read something as distressing. However, I feel that Yeonmi Park's brave story should be passed on.

Thank you StitchandWood!

Check out StitchandWood: Etsy
Check out StitchandWood: Instagram 

It's Sunday! - How I made my Instagram feed healthier

Sunday, 25 February 2018

How on earth did you make your Instagram feed healthier? It isn't a living being, it doesn't eat or exercise, so how could it be...unhealthy? 

Well, although my Instagram isn't a person, I am. I got sick to death of scrolling through my Instagram and not feeling good enough because of my feed. I know that sounds strange. But I felt like I needed to change what and who I saw on my own Instagram feed in order to feel happier outside of using the app. Okay, let me explain.

Every time I would go to my Instagram, whether it be for business or for pleasure, my whole feed would be filled with skinny celebrities promoting diet products that would make them even skinnier. I personally am a very petite individual, I usually wear a size 6-8 in clothes and sometimes, ONLY SOMETIMES, I can shop in the 'tween' section of shops. But I am tiny in height as well, I am only around 4ft11, so I am a healthy weight. Like most women and men, there is always going to be parts of my body that I would like to change or work on and there are parts of my body which I love. I am trying to make myself love rather than hate the skin I am in. However, I find this mindset extremely hard to get into when my whole Instagram feed, daily, is promoting diet pills, diet drinks and diet teas too me. Why don't you just stop using Instagram then? Instagram is where I do the majority of my business deals, it's where I have a good following and for the most part, I enjoy using the app. I decided I needed to fix this problem because I wanted this app to be part of my daily life and my blogging experience. So, one day, I went through everyone I followed. I unfollowed nearly every Kardashian (even though I have recently refollowed Kylie Jenner because of the whole baby drama), every model and every diet/clean eating company. I decided that my health was perfectly fine and that in order to love myself a little more, I needed to cut out some unnecessary negative self-reflection.

Secondly, my investment in large companies. I come from a family where nearly every member owns and runs their own businesses. However, when scrolling through my feed I noticed that I follow a lot of chains. I followed large, corporate businesses that I didn't necessarily care about. Their products would litter my feed, convincing me to spend money I didn't have on items I thought I needed. These items would be over-priced, machine-made items. I decluttered my following list massively, whittling it down only large companies I truly loved like Waterstones, Paperchase, Whistles and H&M. I began following small business, which products were creative, new and unique. I found out that I LOVED following Etsy sellers, people who hand-made their products. Each one was different. When I promote companies, whether it be for money or for free, I do like working with bigger companies. I like how professional they are and I am always really grateful when I am truly in love with the products, that I get to make them part of my blogging journey. However, I do try and promote smaller, Etsy sellers whenever possible as well. I enjoy giving smaller sellers a voice and sharing my love for them with my own followers.
The bookmark above is from an Etsy seller by the name of ShadowPawDesigns, which I will link below. She makes all sorts of Cosplay items and plenty of other bookmark designs. I feel in love with this bookmark straight away, as I always use cacti in nearly all my photos. It was dispatched and received quickly and I couldn't be happier with the quality of the product. Next time you are scrolling through Instagram, looking to brighten your feed, go on an Etsy sellers search. There are some amazing, innovative designers out their, like ShadowPawDesigns.

Thirdly, just outright blocking people. For anyone who knows me personally, they know I will block anyone who even looks at me weird. However, I have found recently that I tend to not block people who I need to block. I unfollow them for sure, but then I always find myself going back to see what they are up too. Going back and checking up on people who are genuinely not good for you or want to drag you down is not okay and will not allow you to be happy in the long run. Note-to-self, block them and then just leave it. I get sub-tweeted (when someone doesn't openly say it's about you or tag you in it, but you KNOW it's about you) and sub-grammed (Same thing but on Instagram, not Twitter) quite often. And I have to remind myself that most of these people who are making bitchy comments and not saying it directly to me are adults just like me. Adults who pay bills, do their own washing and cook their own dinners, full grown adults. Who can't really be that focused on their own life and achieving their own goals if they are so busy trying to squash mine. Also just a side note, this is about no-one in particular (otherwise I feel that would be completely going against what I am saying), but my 'blocked' list this year on social media has expanded, A LOT.

Finally and probably the most important, support other bloggers. Honestly, this rule that I set myself, has been the easiest one to follow. I seek them out and support them, we mutually like each other's post and message each other every so often because we are all working towards the same goal. This isn't so much of a problem in the book blogging community because there are plenty of books and everyone's opinions differ. However, I also blog about lifestyle. I do a lot of promoting products for companies and sometimes the companies want me to promote their items in a certain way, using a certain style of post. Which is fine, it's their product, I can review/feature it honestly and take the photos how I like. Although, sometimes these posts have been done before and I am neither the first person to come up with the idea of telling my reader 'whats in my bag?' or 'how to save money as a student'. However, alongside a company wanting to promote in a certain way and me wanting to write the post, I am going to write about it. I make sure I show support for every type of lifestyle blogger, book blogger, beauty blogger, mum blogger - literally any blogger because we are reaching towards the same goals and we are not against each other. If the only support I can offer is a message, a follow and comment, then so be it. 

Applying these rules to my daily Instagram usage has made me more active on with my profile and has made me genuinely happier when I am not using the app. I have made new blogger friends this way and I have managed to open up to companies even better as well (also a small shoutout to all my irl friends who help me every day). Honestly, make yourself a little happier today and just make your Instagram feed a little healthier.

Thank you ShadowPaw Designs!
Check out ShadowPawDesigns Etsy: ShadowPawDesigns
Check out ShadowPawDesigns Instagram: ShadowPawDesigns

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