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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, searching for pure happiness & joy

September 16, 2018

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe



With exactly one week to go until the designated "first day of autumn" rolls around and since I explored trying to be more 'capsule' with my wardrobe further recently on NB,I thought I'd share with you all my fall/autumn capsule wardrobe for 2018. Autumn is my absolute *favourite* time of year because it cools down, nature looks even more beautiful than normal, and I can layer all my best coloured clothing so what's not to love? I want this capsule to last me from September to the tail-end of November/start of December, swapping out the odd thinner piece for something thicker and snugglier for winter when it gets closer to the end of that time span.

As this is my first fully capsule wardrobe to date, I first tackled planning it out by assessing what I had in my wardrobe already, adding in a couple of things that I was lacking, and creating "themes" that I wanted to have filtered throughout my collection of items for this time of year. So the themes I went for this time around was:
- Burnt oranges, mustard yellows, deep greens... You know, earthy autumn/fall tones!
- Introducing warmer items into my more summery pieces that can still be kept light (just because it's September doesn't mean it's going to get cold right away)
- Off the back of that theme, layering pieces that work well together are a must
- Dark. Denim. And denim in general
- Footwear that covers all weather possibilities

I think those themes are typically what I gravitate to for autumn anyway, but having them as categories to stick to really helped me whittle down what I wanted to include in my capsule and stopped me from adding in "just one more piece". So here is the run down.



Tops & T-shirts
1. Second-hand Rebellion embroidered tee, 2. Second-hand Primark khaki/grey tee, 3. Primark rust-orange tee, 4. Second-hand unbranded white crop top, 5. H&M khaki roll neck top, 6. Vintage grey ribbed crop top, 7. Old New Look beige breton top, 8. Old Bershka white batwing top, 9. New Look Organic blue stripe top

When it came to choosing tops, comfort and a bit of variety was a no-brainer. I went with some short and long sleeved, small and very casual, all to keep a bit of variety. I know some of you will think I'm mad for having two long sleeved crop tops in there considering Autumn will get pretty cold but, ya girl has such a short torso that these fit me really well as regular tops and they are some of my favourites to wear under dungarees or with high waisted bottoms!



Shirts & Blouses
1. Second-hand mega old Topshop western light wash denim shirt, 2. Second-hand New Look embroidered pom-pom blouse, 3. Second-hand Forever 21 western dark wash denim shirt

Shirts are great capsule wardrobe options as they can be worn as is or used for layering. I picked out two of my ride-or-die shirts that I've worn a bunch already as both shades of denim compliment the other colours in the palette I've picked out and they're ridiculously comfy too. I also recently picked up this gorgeous New Look blouse on someone's IG stories and the colour is so perfect for autumn.



Knitwear
1. Second-hand Asos Men cable knit cream jumper, 2. Second-hand New Look tobacco brown chunky knit jumper, 3. Second-hand H&M mustard thin knit jumper, 4. Second-hand Asos orange fuzzy jumper,
5. Second-hand New Look teens cable knit cardigan

Knitwear is my absolute favourite thing about autumn/fall. I knew I would have to pick out some knitwear from what I currently own as I couldn't wear it all, but I made sure to select a range of knits from breathable and good for layering right up to thick cozy numbers to cover all bases. The rich warm palette of these options warms my heart too and I just know I'm going to be wearing that orange number a lot.



Dresses & Jumpsuits
1. Second-hand Zara culotte jumpsuit, 2. Old H&M grey speckled skater dress, 3. Second-hand Asos western denim blue dress, 4. Second-hand New Look denim pinafore,
5. Asos western denim burnt orange dress

As much as I love wearing jeans, dresses and thick tights are something I really enjoy wearing in the colder months. I tried to pick a couple of options that could be layered with my jumpers for more outfit options, whilst also staying true to me and making sure I had some denim in there for casual days too. That burnt orange Asos dress is one of my most treasured items I own but I only ever like to wear it in autumn as it's the perfect autumnal shade. I also adore the Zara jumpsuit as again, it's the best autumn colour but it also looks great dressed up on it's own or layer underneath a chuny jumper with a pair of comfy boots.



Bottoms
1. Asos beige chinos, 2. Old Primark denim a-line skirt, 3. Second-hand Topshop blue denim dungarees, 4. Old Asos straight leg dark wash blue jeans, 5. Stradivarius paperbag waist light wash culottes, 6. Old H&M black skinny jeans, 7. Second-hand BDG culotte jeans, 8. Second-hand Monki culotte olive green chinos

It should be no surprise that most of the bottoms I picked out for this capsule are denim as it's me, but I still tried to have *some* variety. The chinos are a great comfy option and are suitable for work as are my black jeans, whereas the rest are my off-duty choices. I tried to go with darker denim where I could but also items that I knew would go with the tops and knitwear I picked out too. Wide leg cropped trousers and/or culottes are a fit that I've been gravitating towards a lot lately, so I wanted to carry on with that love affair throughout autumn as well.



Footwear
1. Second-hand Converse black hi-tops, 2. Second-hand Minnesota black suede moccasins,
3. Vintage Kickers loafers, 4. Second-hand Doc Marten classic black boots

My footwear meets my theme of footwear for every eventuality and they're all ridiculously comfy so I'm happy with my choices. My moccasins come in handy for when I want an outfit to look more girly or if it's a warmer day, whilst my Kickers and DMs keep my feet dry on the miserable down-pour days!



Bags
1. Vintage box crossbody bag, 2. Fjallraven Kanken grey backpack,
3. Second-hand Next mixed-material beaded crossbody bag

Although I own (admittedly) too many bags, I wanted to try and keep a sense of minimalism to this capsule's choices. Crossbody bags are my go-to but I also needed to throw in a larger option there for work or for days out in the countryside walking.



Outerwear
1. H&M khaki coat, 2. Matalan khaki raincoat, 3. New Look Teens light wash denim jacket,
4. Old Bershka khaki military jacket, 5. Vintage tan cord jacket

Coats and jackets are quickly becoming something I love to buy which always amuses me because when I was younger, I just didn't see the point in having different ones! I went for a lot of khaki green ones in a variety of fits/styles because the autumn weather is so unpredictable. I also had to throw in a denim jacket - because, duh - but picked a lighter wash so it would go with my darker bottoms (I'm no stranger to double denim) and my vintage cord jacket that screams "autumn" has made a return this year too.


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September 12, 2018

Revisiting a Capsule (ish) Wardrobe



Just under a year and a half ago, I decided to try and curate a more minimal wardrobe by having a big clear out of everything I owned and trying to follow so capsule wardrobe rules. A couple of weeks ago I found myself having another big clear out as apparently, I'd been a little spendy spendy since then and was hoarding a lot of clothes - yet again. Having a more curated wardrobe is still something I want to achieve and something I've got my heart set on so after having this clear out round two, I've had a bit of a rethink about my strategy for gaining a more "capsule" wardrobe and here's some of the rules I've followed that's helped me start to get my style and options knuckled down:

- Take everything out of your wardrobe. I mentioned the importance of this the first time I tackled switching to a capsule wardrobe and it really does help. Taking everything out can be the shock to the system you might need as you'll see so much more clearly just how *much* you own, but it also gives you a blank canvas to start with.

- Creating the piles really helps too. Another point that I still swear by is having four distinct piles when you declutter. I typically choose four piles so I can have: one for keep, one for sell, one for donating, one for holding onto. My "holding onto" pile tends to be a mix of a few things I just can't seem to get rid of that have some sort of sentimentality, things that are missing a button or have a tear etc. that I just need to fix or alter and will then re-wear, or things that are very seasonal (e.g. denim shorts for summer that I would never wear during the other three seasons). I try to be as ruthless as possible when sorting out these piles and never try things on as this just makes you want to keep everything. Glancing at items and throwing them in piles straight away is helpful as you don't spend long pondering and talking yourself into keeping things you don't need or wear. Doing this regularly is helpful - no matter how curated you think your wardrobe is - and failing to do it regularly was definitely my downfall last time.



- Make a list of what is needed and your season choices. Each time I revisit my wardrobe, I like to make a note of what I think I'm lacking so if I feel like shopping in the future, I don't get too distracted by trends etc. and look instead to purchase something I think I will actually get some use out of and love for years to come. I realised that making a list of what I was lacking was good but, making lists of my seasonal choices was even better. Something I've started doing this time around with my capsule wardrobes is writing a list of what I plan to have in each season's collection. Autumn is only a couple of weeks away and thus, I started to write a list of what I wanted to have available in my wardrobe a couple of weeks ago. This has been really telling for me I've chosen to write each season's list away from my wardrobe - this means I only include what comes to mind. By creating the lists this way, it helps me realise which items of clothing I clearly love and get use out of as I remember them and include them in my list, and those that I don't? They should probably be popped into the "sell" or "donation" piles; I'm being that ruthless with it.

- Buying two of something new means goodbye to something old. I tried my hardest to stick to the "one in one out" rule last time I capsulised my wardrobe, but it was such a cut-throat rule that it had the opposite effect and resulted in me keeping everything. This time around I've made it a little easier on myself by saying if I buy two new items, something has to go.



- Personal style so, personal rules. One of the most important things I've learned going through this more minimal journey is that capsule wardrobe rules aren't a "one size fits all". Just as I mentioned in my last Sustainable Sunday post, changing your lifestyle to one that is more eco-friendly, minimal, cost-effective etc. is a bold and big move to take and the rules someone else has set out don't always fit into your life or suit you and that's okay. Although I'm pretty much contradicting myself as I've just supplied rules in this most, they should be taken with a grain of salt and only used as inspiration, not hard and fast regulations that you can't alter or ignore. So for a little more insight, here's some of the capsule rules I have myself at the moment (that may be subject to change as I grow, and that's okay!):

- Any and all breton stripes in my collection must be different colours and/or cuts. I can only have a maximum of three in each rotation.
- Each capsule must be able to last me three months until the next season starts. During the couple of weeks leading up to a new season, I can begin switching out some items so that the transition, from winter to spring for example, is easier.
- At the beginning of each season, I will write a list of the purchases I need to make. I can't add to this unless it's a necessity (e.g. my winter coat becomes damaged and I need a new one).
- I'm not allowed to buy anything I've only looked at once. I have to truly consider it and have to be able to plan at least five entirely different outfits I could wear the item with.
- My capsules are not allowed to be over 50 items. This is to include shoes, bags, and coats/jackets. Hats and scarves are not included in this number but are still limited.


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September 08, 2018

Astrology for Beginners - A Little Guide



We all know that astrology is becoming more and more popular and whether you're someone who believes in it wholeheartedly or consider yourself a sceptic, you have no doubt checked into your astrological side at some point in time - even if it's just been reading those corny (and very vague) horoscopes in a TV magazine or local paper. Us millennials seem to be fixated on the mysterious and the holistic and I for one love it. Tapping into my spiritual side helps me understand things going on in my life and helps me feel calm even if I'm going through a turbulent time. So here's my very basic beginner's guide to understanding all your signs (yes, there's more than one so stick with me), your houses, the planets, and how it all affects you and those around you.

Your Birth/Natal Chart
I could talk for ages about birth/natal charts, what they mean, and how they influence your life but if I did that along with all the other little explanations in this post, we'd be here a long ol' time! So I'll keep this brief: to calculate your birth chart you can literally google it or use a book like The Signs: Decode Stars Reframe your Life by Carolyne Faulkner - full review here - and all you need to know is your birth date and your birth time. This will calculate where all of the signs, planets, and houses were in your chart right at the point of your birth and it can be very telling of your personality and true self.



The Signs
The signs are what you're most familiar with no doubt. There's 12 signs in the zodiac and most people are aware of their sign; the sign in which you were born in. Some individuals are born on the cusp of two different signs, but here is a (very) generalised and brief description of each sign so you know what you're working with* (*please note that different sources might give you each sign as a day-out of each of these dates, hence the 'cusp' comment):

- Aries, The Ram (Mar 21st-Apr 19th): fearless in putting themselves out there & fighting for justice.
- Taurus, The Bull (Apr 20th-May 20th): stubborn but they get the job done & enjoy finer things in life.
- Gemini, The Twins (May 21st-Jun 20th): curious, the great communicators, & the most vibrant sign.
- Cancer, The Crab (Jun 21st-Jul 22nd): sensitive but nurturing of other's feelings & "feel at home" vibes.
- Leo, The Lion (Jul 22nd-Aug 20th): outgoing, "the fun one", wearing their hearts on their sleeves always.
- Virgo, The Virgin (Aug 21st-Sep 22nd): loyal 'til the end, practical perfectionists, prioritising wellbeing.
- Libra, The Scales (Sep 23rd-Oct 22nd): the balanced one, seeking diplomacy, cooperation, & harmony.
- Scorpio, The Scorpion (Oct 23rd-Nov 21st): intense magnetism, passion, & building unbreakable bonds.
- Sagittarius, The Archer (Nov 22nd-Dec 21st): philosophical adventurers, big dreamers, & truth-tellers.
- Capricorn, The Goat (Dec 22nd-Jan 19th): determined with long-term goals, calm creators, & leaders.
- Aquarius, The Water Bearer (Jan 20th-Feb 18th): independent, future thinkers, and innovative to boot.
- Pisces, The Fish (Feb 19th-Mar 20th): the healer & great listener fuelled by compassion & intuition.

The Elements
The elements are the four groupings each of the signs fall into and they're something you've probably heard of in different areas of your life: fire, water, air, and earth. These groupings are just further generalisations of what those signs are like but of course, you might identify with more than one group due to your three signs (more on that next!):

Fire Signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius): impulsive, enthusiastic, passionate, and bold.
Water Signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces): altruistic, sensitive, intuitive, and mediating.
Air Signs (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius): expressive, communicative, flexible, and logical.
Earth Signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn): stubborn, practical, attentive, and pragmatic.



Sun, Moon, & Rising
So, there's three main star signs that affect you - not just one. This may sound ridiculous to those who don't really read into this, but when I started taking more of an interest in zodiac signs and astrology, this made so much sense for so many reasons. Although I've always enjoyed reading horoscopes, I always used to think "how can this apply to everyone born around the same time in the year as me?!" because yeah, that does sound rather silly, but when you mix in the fact that another two signs dictate your personality traits too, it becomes a little bit clearer. That means that there's more depth to my personality as more traits come into play and it also makes it all more unique to me as it's reflective of my particular time of birth. Of course, there's others born at the same precise time as me, but I would love to see if they're similar to me because of this.

So what is this 3-way zodiac all about? Well:
- Sun: your core; your "horoscope", your identity. Your sun sign acts as your "role" in life and is essentially your ego and who you are as a person. It focuses on themes in your life and how you will react to them.
- Moon: your descendent sign; your moon sign is your emotions and feelings and is often the sign people identify with most as it will be most reflective of your personality or at least how you see yourself - your "true self" if you will.
- Rising: your ascendant sign; your rising sign is all about first impressions, timing, and new things popping up in your life. So for example, your rising sign might be the mask you portray to those you first meet when you might be wary of them or it could give you an indication as to how you react to things like a new relationship.



The Planets
Each starsign has a ruling planet which has a set of attributes linked to it. Each of these planets are also categorised into three different categories (inner, outer, and social) and each of these groups dictate different aspects of life. So depending on what planet is in which house for you, will dictate a particular part of your life. That sounds very confusing so for example: Mercury is the ruler of communication. My mercury is in Aries and in my Sixth House so I'm typically inclined to analyse how I help others, my health, and productivity - both my own and others. Still following? Here's a wee run-down:

Inner Planets:
The inner planets are named this due to their proximity to earth and dictate your personality and what you actively want, seek, and need.
Mercury: the ruler of communication. Whatever sign is in Mercury for you will determine how you communicate, process information, and think (are you shy, open, hesitant, impulsive etc.)
Venus: the ruler of love. Your sign in Venus will decide how and what you love and how you express your love - whether you're full on, reserved, a hopeless romantic etc. etc.
Mars: the ruler of aggression. This planet rules how you take action in your career or sex life, how you assert yourself, and how you express your anger.

Outer Planets:
These planets have the widest or longest orbits making them the planets of a generation more than just a single person as they tend to stay in one spot in their orbits the longest.
Uranus: the ruler of change. How you react to change, if you choose to be involved in progression or rebellion is all determined by this planet.
Neptune: the ruler of dreams. This planet affects your unconscious and your ambition and how you pursue what you want.
Pluto: the ruler of power. Pluto controls your desire for control, power, its intensity and level of obsession. It will shape if you are a leader, a team player, a follower, or something else.

Social Planets:
Your social planets are exactly what it says on the tin: they focus on how you are perceived by others and are the middle-men between the inner and outer planets due to their orbit lengths and widths.
Jupiter: the ruler of luck and progress. This planet is very philosophical and can affect your growth as a person through how you learn about others, your knowledge, and your spirituality/beliefs.
Saturn: the ruler of self-discipline and boundaries. Saturn rules responsibility and limitations and how you react to them being in place as they're often out of your control.



The Houses
The last 'section' I'm going to mention here is the Houses. Houses are 12 sections in your birth/natal chart that the planets and the signs fall into. Each of these astrological houses affect and influence different parts of your life and can help you understand how you will experience each of them. The houses can be simply broken down like this:

The First House: your self image.
The Second House: money money mon-ey! (and material possessions/financial security).
The Third House: surroundings, familiarity, and platonic relationships you surround yourself with.
The Fourth House: your childhood and family.
The Fifth House: creativity and your sense of self-expression!
The Sixth House: health and work ethic.
The Seventh House: long-term relationships, partnerships, friendships etc.
The Eighth House: sexuality, rebirth, and transformation.
The Ninth House: your spirituality and beliefs (including philosophy, faith, and politics).
The Tenth House: careers.
The Eleventh House: your ambitions and life dreams.
The Twelfth House: your inner life, secrets, and privacy.

Once you've calculated your birth chart, it will be easy to see which planets fall into which houses (some houses may have more than one planet), and you can begin to understand your life experiences better from there. I really recommend the app "Co-star" for understanding your planets and houses and their affect on your experiences and your life in a clear coherent way!



Obviously this has been a really quick overview of astrology and how you can use it to explore your personality more, but hopefully for any of you out there that want to start delving more into the world of zodiacs, this can be a bit of help along on your journey!


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August 26, 2018

Sustainable Sundays: Stop Suppressing Sustainability



Happy Sunday folks! Today's Sustainable Sunday post is a little different to the usual. Usually, y'all will know by now, that I celebrate the world of sustainability because it's more considerate of the environment, fair trade, creating less waste etc. but I think in the current climate of sustainability and zero waste becoming "popular movements", we sometimes overlook how much of a privilege living a sustainable lifestyle can be and/or the amount of criticism those trying to become more sustainable can face. Becoming sustainable - in any capacity - can be difficult for a number of reasons and it's extremely hard to be perfect in every realm of it. I feel like it's an area of life similar to when someone is turning vegan and they are criticised for still eating cheese or questioned as to why they do one thing and not the other - sustainable lifestyle seems to be coming under the same fire recently and it needs to stop.

It is a privilege and that cannot be denied. As I just mentioned, sustainable living of any sort is a privilege. Achieving any level of sustainability can be limited for a variety of reasons and it will also be different from person to person. Becoming sustainable will mean different things to all sustainable advocates and the fact that you have the choice to live this lifestyle, no matter what form it may take, should keep you grateful and humbled that you are in a position to make those positive changes in your life freely without major restrictions denying you of any of those desired changes.

Your upbringing and surroundings can dictate your sustainability. If you had asked this small, ex-mining village girl about sustainability when she was a teen growing up in such a place, she would not have been bothered or understood why someone would even care. That reaction wouldn't have been because I didn't care about the planet or just sheer naivity, but it would have also have been influenced a great deal by my upbringing. Growing up for the majority of my youth in a very working-class single parent household on the bread-line, sustainability wasn't a concern because surviving and thriving was more important. This all links back to privilege as my mam wasn't in a position to be picky about her purchases depending on their materials/packaging etc. so it's taken a lot of educating myself further about the environment and our impact on the planet for me to begin a more eco-friendly journey as it wasn't nurtured from the start.

Even now as an adult, I can't be completely zero waste as I don't have bulk food stores near me and have to rely on a supermarket for a lot of fresh produce so even minimising my plastic pollution can be a struggle. Luckily, I've found a few ways to continue to minimise this latter problem, but it's just worth noting that where you live and the life you come from can project opinions and limitations onto you about sustainability so don't beat yourself up if these things are factors in your journey.



It can be goddamn expensive. Gang, it's no secret that plastic-free fresh produce or bulk products can oddly be more expensive in stores, natural and organic products in beauty etc. can be more expensive, and of course, ethical/eco-friendly clothing can *definitely* be more expensive than what you find on the high street. The main reasons behind this is simply because you're purchasing purer products - natural ingredients are being used and therefore are more costly and along the production line of things such as clothing, there are less processes and employees are paid fairly for their work and thus, the retail price needs to be reflective of this. Therefore it's so important to not beat yourself up if ethical or eco-friendly clothing etc. is just not attainable for you. Not everyone is in the position to even save up for a particular item and might just need the £10 alternative from Primark due to necessity, but as long as you're learning and trying along the way, you're doing a great job no matter what.

You will be criticised at some point and you need to ignore it. Ah, god bless the internet for making us all feel inadequate. But really, in a journey of a more sustainable, eco-friendly life, you are bound to come across some negative nellies who want to point out flaws in your approach and what you've achieved thus far. Whilst I think it's extremely important to listen to constructive criticism and any advice thrown your way, it's also good to grow a thick skin and be proud of any and all changes you're making in your life. Just as I said earlier, becoming sustainable isn't a "one size fits all" thing and your version can and will be different to someone else's and that's okay. Building each other and supporting positive changes is so much more constructive than question why someone is *not* doing X Y and Z. Celebrate what they *are* doing instead.



Take small steps - it can be overwhelming. In all of this, it's vital that you remember that you're making some pretty big changes. Choosing to live more sustainably is a great thing but it's a total lifestyle overhaul and you've got to give yourself credit for that and time to truly adjust. Something I'm pleased I've done so far is taking small steps to changes as trying to change it all at once would just make it all completely alien to you and potentially put you off the transition. Change just your wardrobe one item at a time. Change to just eco-friendly or zero waste cleaning products first. Start buying less plastic or just make small changes around your home. Take it all in your stride and you'll be proud of how far you've come.

Sustainability is always changing so don't beat yourself or others up about it. The last thing I wanted to say is something I touched on earlier and that is the fact that everyone should build each other up and celebrate their changes and accomplishments, not tear each other down over what they're doing "wrong" or what they're not doing. Something I've noticed since around October 2017 (when I first starting making real eco-friendly changes myself) is that so many things are added into the sustainable mix each month. Whether it's new statistics of what is truly polluting our planet, there's new ideas and options coming into play each day so if you are struggling to change it all - take a step back and assess what you're doing and what is right and good for you to change.


Although I will always advocate sustainable living, there's no pressure or "perfect" way to do it and it's good to remember that. Enjoy your journey, enjoy the positive moves you're making, and be *proud* of the goodness you're putting out into the world. Every small change and conscious effort will make a difference so doing what feels right and attainable for you is paramount for sustainability to thrive.


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August 18, 2018

Updated CF Morning Skincare Routine



Since my last morning skincare routine update, I've tried a few different products that I've liked, some I've hated, and couple I've added to my daily routine. I'm always on the lookout for some good products that will help improve my skin's condition and thus there are some areas of my morning routine that I'm happy to switch up now and again. So here's my new routine containing some well-loved things but also some newbie products that have changed my skin for the better:

Cleansing
Superdrug Naturally Radiant Complete Cleanser | 150ml | £5.99 - No surprises here that my daily cleanser hasn't changed. In my last updated routine, I raved about this cleanser and nothing has really changed! Although it is a foam cleanser, I don't find it drying out my skin at all or making my skin any more sensitive than it naturally is so it's my perfect everyday cleanser.

Botanics Radiant Youth Microdermabrasion Polish | 120ml | £9.99* - Twice or three times a week (depending on my skin condition that particular week), I like to exfoliate my skin a little to stop it from looking dull, tired, and textured. The exfoliant I tend to reach for is this great microdermabrasion polish from Botanics. I find it quite gentle on my sensitive skin but it does a fab job at buffing away any dead skin and makes me feel awake and refreshed. The polish has a very fine sand-like texture rather than large exfoliant grit so I find it less harsh on my skin and it also isn't packed with scent which I like. Botanics are such a great budget brand from Boots and have some great natural ingredients included in each product and this has become a firm favourite in the bunch.



Toner
Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic | 200ml | £15.50 - This toner has always been a goodie and no matter what toner I use, I always seem to go back to this one at some point. I've talked about this stuff many times on NB, but just to keep it short and sweet: it brightens, it helps provide a deeper clean so my skin is squeaky clean before I apply my base products, and it doesn't irritate my eyes which is always a bonus. The smell of this toner is also just a nice bonus to sniff in the mornings and I always feel like this is quite a luxurious-feeling product to use everyday despite the reasonable price tag.

Eye Cream
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG | 30ml | £5.80 - Another product I've definitely celebrated many times on this blog is this solution which always knocks every other eye cream out of the park in my opinion. No eye cream compares to this solution because it hydrates my undereyes without upsetting them and I honestly believe it manages to minimise my dark undereye circles too. Whenever I give another eye cream a go, I notice such a difference in how dark and deep my eye bags become in the absence of this product. It's such a great price and a little goes a long way so it's one of my most cost-effective and actually effective products in my skincare collection!



Serums
Superdrug Vitamin C Booster | 30ml | £4.99 - When it comes to serums, I never used to see the fuss but oh, how times have changed because of these next two products. This vitamin C serum is something I picked up when The Body Shop seemed to be scaling down their Vitamin C range and I was intrigued to see how Superdrug's same range compared. I use a couple of drops every morning after I've toned and applied eye cream and oh my days it makes a world of difference. It helps keep my skin looking awake and healthy but also noticeably helps my makeup last longer throughout the day by controlling my oils - a nice bonus that the product isn't necessarily designed to do. If you need something to give your skin an instant pick-me-up each day, even when you look dog tired, this is the one.

Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum | 25ml | £8.99* - My favourite serum (despite my overflowing love for the product above), comes in the form of this All Bright Radiance Concentrate serum from Botanics. I can't put my finger on it, but there's just something about this serum that my skin *loves*. This serum is gentle on my skin with little to no scent and makes my skin look so happy. I notice a huge difference in the radiance of my skin if I skip using this product and it also creates such a great base for my makeup for the day. As I mentioned when I first starting using this product regularly, this serum gives you some serious glow from within and I'm all here for it.



Moisturiser
Botanics All Bright Hydrating Day Cream SPF15 | 50ml | £6.99* - When it comes to moisturiser, I'm usually quite picky as my oily acne-prone skin can make finding an effective moisturiser that doesn't make me look like a total grease-ball quite difficult. So in steps this day cream from the Botanics All Bright range. I bloody love this stuff. This moisturiser is quite light and almost watery in texture meaning a little can go a long way, but I find it does a great job at hydrating my skin effectively without making me just a shiny mess. As it's part of the All Bright range, it is designed to make the skin look radiant and it really does that. My skin feels nourished and cared for throughout the day but also remains looking glowing and healthy on the outside too. It's a great base for my primers and makeup and I've found it to be my go-to on the really hot days as it feels water-light on the skin.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Day Cream for Normal/Combination Skin | 75ml | £5.99 - Another daily moisturiser I've enjoyed using for some time now is this radiance cream from the Superdrug Naturally Radiant line. I feel like this cream and the one mentioned above are very similar in many ways - including the price point, the SPF15 content, and it's performance. The difference with this cream is that this is the one I reach for if my skin is feeling remotely dry or dehydrated. If I'm having a bad break out and have been drying out any open acne, this is also a great one as it's quite thick and leaves my skin instantly feeling softer and moisturised. I switch it up between this one and the Botanics Radiance cream depending on my skin needs, but I love both just the same.



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August 15, 2018

Book Club No.16



Welcome back to another Book Club gang! I've been really into reading lately - more so than normal - so I'm finding that I've been ploughing my way through books quite quickly which is great news for a) my brain and b) for reviews for NB. So here's some good reads I've picked up recently and finished with mixed feelings:

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks
Another classic "I picked this up on a whim" book of mine, Bored Scared sucked me in via the blurb and the thinness of the book itself. Although I really love reading, I'm a very slow reader so books that are on the thinner side sometimes appeal to me as it leaves less opportunity for me to get bored of the story. It also makes it a great option to take with me on my commute to work. So once I'd picked it up and felt the thinness, reading the blurb confirmed my purchase. Born Scared is about a young man/teen who is scared of everything. Elliot lives with his mum and is scared to leave the safety of his room, only usually going to see his "aunt" with his mum and that's it. He's home schooled, takes a lot of medication to try and deal with his fears, and was one of two in the womb and feels that a lot of issues stem from that.

On Christmas Eve, Elliot's mum nips out for 10 minutes to get his medication for him as his pills have almost ran out. She should be only 10 minutes because she's just popping to Elliot's "aunt's" house to pick up the pills which is a mere 400 metres away except, she doesn't come back. She doesn't answer her phone. There's a snowstorm outside and the landline telephone won't work either. Elliot realises he has no choice but to leave the safety net of his home and with the support of his imaginary friend (his deceased twin sister), he braves the great outdoors. I quite enjoyed reading Born Scared because Brooks has a great easy-reading writing style. He did a great job at presenting Elliot's acute fear of almost everything in a way that was easy to understand without him over explaining how Elliot felt or how he processed his fears. The book focused on the right areas and gave Elliot's character a lot of depth whilst leaving the other characters with the bare basic information the reader needed and I feel like that really worked.

In true Amyleigh style, I won't say too much about the plot itself as it will ruin the story, but there wasn't really any twists or surprises but that didn't dampen the story or drama at all. I do feel that the story wasn't totally believable towards the end as I feel that the way Elliot was portrayed would have meant he wouldn't have acted the way he did towards the end, but I can forgive Brooks for that as it was still a quick, enjoyable read. Brooks gives a believable and educational insight into mental health and even if it's not relatable for the reader, you can at least understand and learn more about Elliot's mental health and that's an aspect of this book that I think makes it well worth a read. You can grab a copy of Born Scared for around £7.74 here.



Ink by Alice Broadway
Ahh, this one's going to be a long one gang so strap yourselves in! Ink is a book I've wanted to read for ages purely down to the beautiful cover catching my eye many times in different bookstores, but I finally caved and picked up a copy after getting it for a bargain in a local shop. As soon as I shared that I was reading this one on my Instagram and Goodreads, people wanted to know my thoughts ASAP and after seeing the very varied reviews on Goodreads of this guy, I can see why. Ink is about a young girl 16 year old called Leora who lives in Sainstone with her mum and dad. She's finishing school, doing her exams to determine her future career, has a best friend called Verity, and is just your typical teenage girl who is portrayed as quite quiet and bookish. She dreams of becoming an inker as in Leora's society, tattoos play a big part of people's lives. Everyone is covered in tattoos from pretty much the day of birth and they symbolise all the different parts of your life (e.g. everyone has family trees on their backs, you have age lines/dots on one of your arms etc.). Once you leave school and your career is chosen, you can begin to get your own chosen marks too but these will also determine how people read you.

As tattoos are so important in this society, when someone dies the skin is flayed from the individual to create a skin book. This book is then taken to trial and it is decided whether or not the individual lived a good life or not, determined a great deal by their marks/tattoos. If they lived a good life, the book can go home with the family for them to keep, if not, it will be burned and the individual will be forgotten. Society share folklore and fairytale stories about the White Witch and her sister, Moriah, to scare the community away from blanks. As you can guess, blanks are people who choose to not get their life story tattooed on their skin so they can't be read and have been shunned from the town/community. They're seen as disgusting and the White Witch is the horror pinnacle of them all. Leora is like everyone else in Sainstone and shares the negative view of the blanks but after her dad's death and as she starts her job as an inker, her life begins to crumble and drastically change in ways she never would have expected.

I have such mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I really enjoyed it because its YA dystopian fiction and I'm all for that genre. I also thought the idea of your actions in your life being documented on your skin so you can't escape from your mistakes etc. really intriguing but of course, there's a bit of a massive "but" coming your way. Although I was a fan of the general premise of the book, I sometimes struggled with Broadway trying to be a 16 year old main character. The way Leora is portrayed at times reads like an adult pretending to get into the mind of a 16 year old. I know that is somewhat unavoidable but it meant that I kept getting distracted by how un-16-like Leora was and it took away some of the magic and believability of the story (lets just pretend that's a word, okay?). Another thing that was a bit of a let down for me was the fact that inking is a job role as initially, I thought the story implied that marks/tattoos appeared on your skin at will - so for example if you stole something, a mark would appear to show that - but unfortunately it's just a case of people going to see either a government inker or their own choice of one depending on what mark they are receiving.

I did enjoy the majority of the characters and I do think Broadway did a great job of making each character unique without over describing their personalities/looks and that is always something I bang on about as super important to me in a read. The one last gripe I have with the book is I feel that for 3/4 of the story, not a lot happened and then suddenly the gritty bits were stuffed into the back pages as if Broadway had ran out of a limited page count. I know from other reviews people found the story a thrill ride from start to finish, but I found it a bit predictable up until the last couple of chapters. That's not to say I found the story boring as I still happily read through it each day, but it wasn't as thrilling as I was expecting. That being said, I will definitely pick up the next book in the series as I'm intrigued to see what happens after the cliffhanger this one was left on (more so because the cliffhanger was so obvious in a "har har you have to buy the next book suckers!" kind of way). Ink is available right now on Amazon for just £2!



The Beauty by Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley
Last up for this Book Club is The Beauty - the first volume in the series from Image Comics. I've mentioned before how much I enjoy reading Image Comics and The Beauty has been on my radar for a long ol' time. The general plot for this series is "The Beauty" is an STD that people are actually wanting to contract. If your hair is thinning, you're getting out of shape, your wrinkles are starting to show - The Beauty will fix it all and make you exactly what it says on the tin: beautiful. It's no surprise that the outbreak of this STD has gained a lot of fans and that people are going out of their way to catch it, but when individuals with the disease start to spontaneously combust and burn from the inside out, it becomes clear to the police and mayor that there's more to this STD than meets the eye.

The story mostly follows two detectives who are trying to understand what is going on and most importantly, how to stop more people from dying as so many people have the disease, there's going to a worldwide epidemic and mass death if they don't figure out how to stop it or cure it. I've really enjoyed this first volume as it gets straight into the action after the first couple of pages and the characters are standard "comic book" characters thus far and that's familiar and enjoyable for me. I also like the fact that the further you delve into The Beauty, the more politics and fragmented societal groups are mentioned and brought into the story and that's always an element I enjoy in fiction too. The art style in this graphic novel is fab too and I'm already looking forward to picking up Volume 2. If you're new to graphic novels or you get put off reading things that are way out there and "too fantasy/sci-fi" etc. definitely consider giving this one a go. Pick up a £8.50 copy here


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