Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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

July 31, 2017

A Seventies Summer

Guys, I'm going to get real *real* with you here... I'm not feeling my blog at the moment. I read so many inspiring and thought-provoking blogs that I guess I'm just finding mine a bit pale in comparison as of late. It's hit me as a sudden wave and although I'm slowly making steps in the right direction with the sort of content I'm producing, I'm still feeling a bit "meh" about it all and I know this is something we all experience from time to time. I've been blogging on and off for just under 1O years. 1O long years of creating the same sort of content, which varying degrees of maturity, then eventually I've burnt myself out and stopped blogging, only to pick it back up again 6 months or a year down the line. NB has been the most "successful" blog since I started doing it in terms of number of readers, enjoyment for myself, and productivity and creativity it has ignited within me to sustain it for so long but I'm just not feeling it lately. That's not to say I will stop blogging because ha, I love it too much to stop, but it just means that I'm stepping back and truly assessing it and working out what I'm most frustrated about it and focusing on changing those particular things. For me at the moment, it's wanting to create content that's just not feasible - for example I'd *love* to do more travel posts or basically "bigger budget" images for my posts and I just can justify either of those things at the moment.

I'm hoping because I'm visiting my beloved north east in a couple of weeks time that I can kind of kickstart a bit of a travel bug for the blog in some way and fingers crossed that soon I can afford a better camera to up my photography as it's something I seriously enjoy but not having the gear does effect your enthusiasm for something (I don't care what anyone says). For the time being, I'm still going to post regularly on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like usual, but maybe that will be subject to change if I ever get a blog overhaul underway.

Bershka Flared Sleeve Top | Asos Deconstructed Jeans | Asos Fedora (similar) |
Bohemia Design Bag | Office Clog Sandals (similar)

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July 28, 2017

Sometimes it's Hard to be a Woman

Strap yourselves in readers, today's going to be a rambling one again! In the recent light of the Doctor Who announcement that the 13th Time Lord will be female and the backlash the whole thing received (guys, I don't even watch Doctor Who yet I felt it was feverishly important to voice my opinions), I felt it was time to have a little discussion and/or rant about how hard it is to be a woman. Now, before you all think I'm going soft on y'all, I want to make it clear that this isn't some sort of pity post. I'm not trying to highlight all the difficulties most women go through in order to gain some sympathy - I simply want to vent frustrations, express things I've learned, and hopefully, be a comfort for some who might feel alone or angry/upset with any number of situations women may find themselves in during this rollercoaster called life.

So, the pity party is not welcome. The feminist party? Those of you who support that women don't just deserve (deserve suggests its a reward) but are entitled to every right a man has in equal measure? Then you guys get a plus one for the party so you can bring some like-minded friends. There's a lot of pressure on girls and women in all corners of life and whilst of course I'm having to talk about these pressures from a very white and western viewpoint, my voice and opinion is as valid as the next girls and as a working class, petite sized, academically gifted woman, I feel I have some shit to say. Women are constantly faced with suggestions and sometimes sheer forced views of how they should act, what they should wear, how they should conduct themselves in public, in the bedroom - even how it seems unladylike to fart or need to take a shit. We're constantly ridiculed for putting on weight, for being too thin, for being happy with our appearances, for "looking for attention", for being sluts because we like having sex, for being "prudish" if we don't, for being too opinionated, for being "crazy" because we're on our periods, for having "no shame" for breastfeeding in public, for being "prettier" if we don't alter our bodies in any which way... The list goes on and on.

External and Internal Misogyny
Something that seems to be the root of many unachievable and narrow expectations of women is misogyny. Now, before anyone calls the meninist police, I am not a man hating feminist, but there is no denying that misogynistic opinions and aspects of life can certainly been seen as an influence for some of the daily difficulties women face and I'm categorically *not* singling out men as the reason for this. Quite the opposite in fact (so let me explain). Misogyny is defined as a "dislike of or ingrained prejudice of women" and is something that is ever present in society and is unfortunately, something that is mirrored onto young girls when they're children so it's no wonder it is still abundantly prevalent in their older years. When we're little girls, we're given the kitchen sets, the beauty desks, the hoovers and cleaning toys whilst the boys are given the toolboxes, the fire engines, the police uniforms and toy guns... You have to think is it any wonder when girls try to do jobs such as becoming mechanics, constructionists, or soldiers they're often met with disbelief and tickled humour that a female mind would even have the audacity to think they could *do* such a job?! Thankfully, more and more parents are giving their children the opportunity to explore across "gendered" toys and are more open minded, but it's still an ever-present issue. We're told "he just likes you" when boys pull our hair or hit us in the playground and are told to retaliate this "affection" with a kiss and cuddle so our parents can take a cute picture.

The misogyny and sexism we receive from men is one thing, but something that is equally as damaging is the misogyny we receive internally from our own female circle. It's the phrases such as "I'm not like other girls" or "I get on with guys better because girls have drama/girls are bitchy" that are throwing women under the bus. Often, things like this are said unintentionally and people don't mean to say them with misogynistic attachment, but it is still categorising women and doing it in a negative way. I'm in no way innocent here and have caught myself saying those two exact phrases in the past, but I can see how damaging they are now and there is no positive point that can be taken from them so they're better left unsaid. It's the sly comments about a girl's hair, her makeup, her sex life, her personal style... It's those comments that are letting the sexism filter into oUr inner circle that should actually help build other women up. I'm not saying every girl or woman will want to and should support every other girl and woman because of course not everyone likes everyone, but we need to stop partaking in the misogyny because we've got enough to deal with on the daily without creating more angst amongst ourselves.

Beauty Standards
We are exposed to media and societal definitions of perfection and what is expected of us when we become aware of women on TV, in magazines - we're told that a "bikini line" is a thing and that it should be tamed. We're told that if we use *this* product, we will have carved out cheekbones but nope, don't do it *that way* because that's not good enough and looks silly. We're told that you shouldn't eat that but you should eat this if you want you cum to taste a certain way - it is relentless, it's about so many parts of our lives that it's almost impossible to avoid or escape, and worse still, it's not just visible for us but for everyone.

We put pressure on ourselves to try and meet this level of perfection that society has created but no one has ever actually managed to achieve and retain it because it's not real and then the boys we try to impress in high school, the bitchy friendship group we find ourselves in at that age, they all also point out that you're not reaching that level of perfection. Whilst outside influences such as other people or the media have a lot to answer for here, we need to look at ourselves too because we're our own biggest critics. The internalised misogyny I mentioned earlier can lead us to body shame ourselves and has even been proven to be a catalyst for individual cases of eating disorders. We're all incredibly guilty of comparing ourselves to others and instead of celebrating our unique qualities and talents, we ask "why has that person got success and not me?" "why does *that person* have this many blog readers but I don't?" "why are they so pretty and I have a nose like this?". We all do it - myself included - and we've been almost conditioned to do it, but it's a habit that needs breaking and when I've found a successful way to stop it, I'll let y'all know.

Education Expectations
Women are still paid less in certain roles in comparison to their male counterparts and women's successes are often overshadowed by their heterosexual partner's and they're just labelled "wife" instead of "critically acclaimed, multi award winning badass". We need to constantly fight for our relevance and accountability in society and unfortunately in our education and careers especially. Gweni from G Beauty Blog made an excellent point last week that we use the term Girl Boss but why? Why do we need to put the "girl" in front of "boss" as if "boss" is an unattainable career or title for a woman? Are we segregating ourselves once again and feeding into the misogyny unintentionally? My heart always drops a little when women don't own their achievements and big themselves up. When I see "so I wrote a thing" or "I don't know if this is any good by I tried to draw this" I want to scream about how much more credit they need to give themselves. I'm guilty of doing this myself before but I've started asking myself who I'm so worried about offending or upsetting with my positivity and self appreciation? And honestly even if a hundred names come to mind, I now think "tough shit" because I should be proud of everything I do and own. it.

I remember what it was like doing my undergraduate degree and the assumptions made about women in the archaeological field. I remember the comments made on my 4 week excavation of a medieval leprosy hospital about how it would be better to give me the jobs such as sketching the finds or dusting away the finer sediment to make areas clearer to photograph because of course my 5 ft 2 self couldn't possibly do the digging. Of course I couldn't shovel away the sediment and carry it in the wheel barrow to the pile heap. Of course because I wore a full face of makeup due to a mix of insecurity and expectations of others that that meant I couldn't possibly do any of the required jobs that the boys were never questioned about. Whilst that attitude was met with sheer determination from me to prove both fellow students and even my lecturers wrong by showing I can be surprisingly really strong for my size and build and that I could pull my weight and hold my own in that physically demanding job, I shouldn't have needed to. That attitude should have never have been present in the first place. We've come on leaps and bounds in contemporary education and workplaces when it comes to women getting a fair and equal education/job role, but we still have some prejudices to erase. Answers on a postcard if you've got any quick-fix ideas because I am stumped!

"That's Not Very Ladylike"
The last thing I want to touch on a little here is stigma surrounding interests that are not deemed "girly" or "for girls" full stop. Growing up, I didn't know there was such a thing as girls football teams or rugby teams because there were no role models. Even now football is very much a mans sport and women's football isn't on the major TV channels or reported with as much scrutiny or intrigue. This lack of equality makes it difficult for some girls growing up to make sense of what they like and what they're interested in. As a very young child, I loved everything deemed boyish and therefore was called a "tomboy" by family rather than just accepting that I was a girl who liked cars, playing with toy garages and tanks, and power rangers. When I turned around 7, I had a complete 18O flip and wanted everything Barbie and pink. I became a "girly girl".

This confusion over girls liking things that "aren't for girls" seems to be ever present in my adult life as I've witnessed it and been part of it myself. I think my favourite one is men assuming women are lying about liking video games if they find said women remotely attractive because obviously your appearance dictates your level of interest in that particular thing. I've had men quiz me because I've said I enjoy playing video games because I can't possibly like those and doing my makeup?! I've been victim to former colleagues recoiling in surprise because I have listed some of my favourite comic books or graphic novels because "I don't seem like the sort of person who would like those" but I'm still waiting to be told what mould "the sort of person" who does like them is like so I can understand how I don't fit. Funny that, isn't it? I know sometimes we can take a step back from things like that and think "come on Amyleigh, you're just being nit-picky" but I'm still trying to understand how I'm supposed to demonstrate my interests, my appearance, and personality on a whole if apparently my jigsaw pieces don't neatly fit together enough for some people and I still haven't worked it all out.

Apologies if this was a bit of a Negative Nelly of a post, but it's something I feel a lot of us observe and naturally have opinions on. This post can certainly be taken in a very self-indulgent "me me me" way, but I just needed to get these things off my chest and where better to do it than on NB? Even trying to think of a fitting title for this post was a struggle - don't worry the irony of the rest of the lyrics to the banger of a tune I've used for inspiration haven't been lost on me - because as I said earlier, it's not a post seeking sympathy or pity, it's just a chance to vent and hopefully find familiar minds out there. I want to continue to learn how to support women and learn from mistakes I made that might have been sexist or belittling to fellow females who need anything but more angst, setback, or knockdowns. So ladies, please look after one and other - no one is asking us all to be friends and run around fields of flowers, singing and holding hands, but support our rights collectively to be heard, valid, relevant, and positively necessary in society.

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July 26, 2017

Pilgrim 55: Natural & CF Skincare

As I get older, I am becoming more and more conscious of what products I'm using on my skin and increasingly concerned with said products ingredients. As a teen, I can honestly say I never once looked at the ingredients section of any shower gel, moisturiser, foundation etc. etc., but now it is something I like to pay close attention to as it's becoming more prevalent that some products and certain brands will often use harmful chemicals that are either not actually great for our skin or that are detrimental to the environment. So with that said, and especially since switching to cruelty free beauty, I love to see brands who proudly use lots of natural, environmentally friendly ingredients and who make a real effort to keep their brand and products that way. I particularly like to find smaller brands that are doing the right thing and not selling out to get their name out there so that's why today I need to talk to you all about Pilgrim 55.

Pilgrim 55 are a new, independent brand from my most beloved hometown of Newcastle and are part of Tyne Cosmetics LTD company. They believe in natural and organic skincare and are dedicated to delivering such products to consumers in a sustainable, ethically, and environmentally friendly way. As soon as the brand first contacted me and sent me a little bit of information about themselves, I new I had to give their products a try. All of their skincare is between 70-90% organic as they never include any sulphates, parabens, or isopropyl alcohol just to name but a few less than desirable ingredients that are unsettlingly common in many skincare and haircare items. Not only are their products ingredients focused on, the brand and wider company in general encourage customers to return their packaging from their purchases in order to recycle it and they aim to be carbon negative in the future - meaning they will commit to producing zero carbon dioxide (ultimately becoming active participants in trying to reverse global warming). They sound like a pretty fab brand right? So when Pilgrim 55 asked if I wanted to try out some products and review them for you guys, I knew I needed to see what their stuff was like because they sounded like a fantastic brand to support. I chose three products that were relevant to my skin type and current skincare needs so I could give a completely honest review and although I was sent these products to review, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been influenced - so let's get into it shall we?

Organic Black Charcoal and Liquorice Scrub Mask* | £9.99-£12.99, 6Oml-12Oml
This detox mask was the first thing I knew I needed to try. As an oily skinned girl, any sort of charcoal mask or face wash is always something I want to try out as charcoal is a great ingredient for fighting excess oil production but can also work wonders on clearing up the skin if you are someone who suffers from acne like I do. This mask retails for £9.99-£12.99 depending on which size product you purchase and I think that is very reasonably priced for a face mask with good active ingredients in it. The mask is quite a thick but easy to spread formula which is great as it doesn't tug or pull on the skin. It has a very faint "typically skincare" smell so it is not overpowering and it is one of the most gentle masks I've ever used. Whilst it is described as a scrub and it does leave the skin feeling soft, it is not abrasive in any way and doesn't leave the skin feeling striped or tight after use.

My one tiny gripe with this product is that I find it really difficult to get a good even layer on my skin. For some reason, I always get a patch or two that doesn't seem to cover quite as well, but this is only minor as the mask never completely dries down so this small issue doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It is recommended to leave this on for around 1O-15 minutes, but I like to leave it on for a tiny bit longer (particularly if I've used a very thick layer), and it removes so incredibly easy - no scrubbing required!

Organic Cucumber Cleanser* | £11.99, 12Oml
Possibly my most favourite product I've used in a long time, Pilgrim 55's Cucumber Cleanser is the best thing I've ever used for cleansing sensitive skin. My skin usually fluctuates in its sensitivity, but if I've recently had a bad breakout, my face can become inflamed, irritated, and sore to the touch. This cleanser is obviously designed for sensitive skin and has a slight cucumber scent but again, nothing overpowering. Cucumber is a great ingredient for calming and soothing sensitive skin, but extracts of it are also packed with various essential vitamins which can help tackle puffiness, wrinkles, and give the skin a boost of hydration. I love using this cleanser in the evening as my "proper" full cleanse after removing my makeup. It is very thick and has the consistency of a creamy, heavy duty moisturiser. Therefore I like to scoop up a cherry-sized amount of cleanser and apply it directly to a dry face. I spend time massaging it into the skin before pulling some of it down onto my neck area and before adding water. As this is another easy and fuss free product to remove, you can either wash it off wish just water or use a muslin cloth to remove it (I tend to only do the latter if I feel like I really need to give the skin a bit of extra exfoliation TLC at the time). This cleanser doesn't irritate my extremely sensitive eyes at all which is wonderful and the best thing? I honestly can see a difference after extended use of this. When I use this every evening for a few consecutive days, my skin looks really healthy every morning and oddly enough, my spots appear reduced or not as noticeable which is a great benefit from a product that doesn't necessarily target that particular skin issue. I will be repurchasing this product myself as soon as I run out for sure.

Organic Hand & Nail Cream* | £9.99-£14.99, 6Oml-12Oml
Despite wanting to try more of the face masks and some of the eye creams, I opted to try out the hand and nail cream from Pilgrim 55 as my last product to review as my hands have been incredibly dry lately. My hands are a feature I actually quite like and I try my best to look after them and keep them looking presentable because as a teacher, they are always in everyone's face when I'm pointing at things, handing out work etc. So when I saw this cream and saw that it promised to be a non-greasy formula, I just had to give it a go because although I like to care for my hands, I cannot stand the way hand cream lingers and feels on the hands. This stuff is for all skin types and is jam-packed with natural plant extracts and oils (such as blackcurrant extract, almond oil, and coconut oil just to name a few) and therefore should leave the hands feeling soft and silky. The antioxidants present in the cream should also support healthy and strong nails and as a nailbiter all through my childhood and teen years, my nails still seem to be paying the price as they're often fragile and flaky underneath my nail polish.

This cream again has a very subtle "skincare" scent that I'm now starting to think is pretty signature of all of Pilgrim 55's products which is a nice change from my very fragrant The Body Shop hand creams I usually use. Because this stuff comes in such a hefty tub, I only use it when I'm at home but it's the best last step to have in my evening routine. It does have a thick consistency, so for me personally a little goes a long way, and I do find that it can take a while to sink into the skin but it doesn't leave a greasy residue behind and you get instant results. I've also been using this as a daily moisturiser on my feet too and it's keeping them soft and conditioned as well. If you're a hand cream aficionado, I think this one is definitely worth checking out as it performs and feels more like a high-end brand despite it's more than affordable price mark.

So it's probably pretty easy to see that I'm a huge fan of Pilgrim 55 and will definitely be purchasing from these guys again in the future once I've used up my current skincare products. I think their packaging is simple but slick and I like that the tubs are uniform across the range and that they're glass rather than plastic. They have a great weight to them and they look and feel more luxury than their prices dictate. One thing I forgot to mention about the brand that I also love is the fact that they explicitly display that they never test on animals on all their packaging and clearly list their ingredients so that there is no nasty surprises. If you want to support a very honest, considerate, and environmentally/animal friendly brand, I don't think I could think of a better small business to buy from.

As the products and service from Pilgrim 55 have been so fantastic, they've kindly given me a discount code for anyone who wants to purchase from them in the future. By using the code: NB0247 you will receive 15% off your order (valid for three uses per person!) and will be supporting a brand who are trying to keep skincare ethically sound and sustainable. Please note that I am making no profit from this post or discount code, but I want you guys to have the opportunity to buy into a brand who are just doing good things. I myself will certainly be buying from the brand again in future (I'm looking at you Aloe Retinol Facial Serum and Green Tea Anti-ageing Clay Mask) and will be recommending Pilgrim 55 to friends and family - especially though with dry skin or those who want to delve into anti-ageing products as these two areas seem to be a great focus for this brand. You can find out more information about what Pilgrim 55 are up to on the daily, over on their blog and Twitter.

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July 24, 2017

Red Temple Prayer

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all have a great week ahead of you planned and if not, I hope it still works out as a mighty fine good one. This week for me is a bit of an "all systems go" one at work as it's a week without my students which is a nice breather, but it's also a super busy "we need to get shit organised for the next academic year" week too. I have a big meeting tomorrow to throw around ideas and discuss what is and isn't working within our department and also some exams to complete with some current students. It's insane to think I've been in this job now for almost 5 months but I feel like it's been so much longer and not in a bad way!

Other than this busy working week, I don't really have much planned other than getting back on board with doing yoga every evening as I've been a little lazy these last few days, and crossing my fingers that the weather stops being so rainy and cold so I can get back to doing my evening walks too. When it was stiflingly hot, I decided to start making sure I had walked around 1O,Ooo steps a day just to keep active. I walk quite a lot as part of my daily commute anyway, but if I was shy of a couple of thousand steps, I was using a walk in the evening after dinner as a way to clock those missing steps. As it was so hot on the evenings, taking a walk around the countryside at the end of my street was a great way to get a bit of breeze too. I haven't really mentioned it properly on NB yet, but I'm hoping to move house soon and whilst that's equal parts exciting and terrifying, it's also made me realise that this beautiful area that I've pretty much taken for granted at the end of my street needs a bit of my attention before it's not just *there* for me anymore once I move to a different town. Getting out in nature - even if it's just for 1O or 15 minutes - is so good for the soul and just works wonders on my general mood.

Before I sign off from this post, I guess I should probably talk about this outfit quickly! This is a very typical *me* outfit when I'm feeling a little stumped with what to wear and my wardrobe is feeling lacklustre. This skirt has featured on many posts here on NB and is still the best £3 I ever spent because I wear it to death. As for that gorgeous bucket bag, it is a statement piece that I love to wear that is bang on trend but still suits my style whether I'm going for a boho look or a more alternative one and it's statement in a subtle way so I don't feel uncomfortable wearing it. My favourite thing about this outfit has to be my raglan from Red Temple Prayer who are a great independent brand selling everything from clothes to pins to homeware. I own a couple of shirts from them and a few pins and the quality of their products is pretty damn great. They have some great jumpers and tees in their current collection that I just need to get my hands on for autumn time.

Red Temple Prayer Raglan | Primark Button Down Skirt (similar) | Asos Western Belt) |
Vintage Bandana (similar) | Matalan Bucket Bag (similar) |
Romwe Miu Miu style Pumps (similar & similar)

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July 21, 2017

Book Club No. 10

Happy Friday you lovely lot! This week, I thought I ought to update you guys on some of my most recent reads because it's been a little while since I last posted a book review post. I'm super pleased to see how many things I've read this year already but unfortunately, over this last month or so, I've fallen out of love again with reading and need to reignite the spark a little. I think it's a mix of reading just *okay* books and also feeling more tired on my commutes to work that have been catalysts for the slow in my book-reading-motivation, but I'm hoping it picks up again soon! But for now, here's a few things that have graced my peepers recently and here's what I think of them:

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of the Jurassic Park movies - as a kid I wanted to be a palaeontologist and I've got a T.Rex tattooed on my sternum - but weirdly I have never read any of the books until now. First thing I have to say is if you're a fan of the original Jurassic Park trilogy, this book is like some sort of weird amalgamation of the first and second films and I guess when it came to directing them, they've clearly looked at the book and thought it was best to partition it. Therefore if you're going to read this after already seeing the movies, you need to enter the story with an open mind because it's very different yet similar. If you're unfamiliar with Jurassic Park, it is a story about a very very rich (albeit pretty crazy) old man who endeavours to build an island resort for people to vacation to. This resort is different to any others in the world though as it will be full of genetically engineered dinosaurs which are patented to the island and therefore the resort will be the only prehistoric safari park/zoo in the world. The story opens when various individuals from lawyers, mathematicians, to (obviously) palaeontologists are invited to review the park and get a sneak preview before it opens for the public.

I really did enjoy reading this despite it being different to what I expected because of the films. I found it difficult to imagine the characters in my own minds eye because I imagined each character as looking like the actor who plays them in the movies, but generally that fit just fine as the characters were portrayed true to the book for the most part. One thing I did struggle with is the fact that John Hammond isn't the cute loveable Attenborough from the big screen oh no - he's a whiny, spoilt, child-like old man who literally stomps his feet if he doesn't get his own way. He is incredibly heartless at times in the story and I found that such a surprise as he comes across as such a loving and caring man in the film franchise. However, I'm a big believer in separating the book version to film/TV versions as often what works on paper doesn't work on the screen and vice versa so as a standalone story, I did really enjoy this. If you're a fan of Jurassic Park then obviously you need to read this, but if you're a fan of fast paced action that has a scientific or educational element to it, you'll definitely love this too. You can pick up a copy of Jurassic Park in various formats from audio to hardcover, here.

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire
The next book I read recently was Mirror Mirror - an alternative telling of Snow White by popular author, Greory Maguire (yep, that guy who wrote Wicked - the alternative telling of the Wizard of Oz). Snow White is one of my favourite Disney films, folklore/fairytales, and I like any sort of retelling of the original so I wanted to give this a read to see what sort of spin it was going to have. The general story of Snow White for those who don't know is that she is the daughter of a king, the king remarries and usually there is an evil step mother queen character who orders the death of Snow because she's the fairest in the land and she's jealous of her. There's often dwarves who Snow White lives with and sometimes she gets a happy ending. There's lots of retellings of this story and they all widely vary but this one was a little different to anything I had encountered before.

Maguire's retelling has a lot to do with Snow White's dad which usually, he's killed off quite early in the story but he's actually quite a central character in Mirror Mirror. I won't mention too much in case you want to read it for yourselves, but this story goes into great depth looking more at the relationships Snow White forges as she grows up and how they form her personality. I did like this retelling as it was unique in a lot of ways, but I struggled a little bit with Maguire's writing style. There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, I just got lost a few times and had to re-read pages/paragraphs because the writing felt a little flowery and so heavily descriptive, I missed the point of the sentence etc. however, if you like fairytales and/or you're a huge fan of Wicked, you will 1Oo% like this book, too. Grab a copy of Mirror Mirror here.

The Wicked & The Divine Volume 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen
Lastly, I thought I should mention a graphic novel series I've recently started that I had been lusting over for months. The first thing that caught my eye when it comes to this novel is the slick, clean cut design of the covers that is quite unique in the comic book world. Graphic novel covers are often quite busy and give a good insight into the contents of the book, but this one wasn't really giving away any information and that actually peaked my interest. To give you a little insight into the general story of The Wicked & The Divine, here's some info from the blurb:

"Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever."

So the story basically centres around twelve gods who become mortal every ninety years and this time around, they've decided to become pop stars, rap stars, and rock gods. This time around however, someone wants them dead and although they disappear after two years, this isn't good enough and they need to be dead. When first starting the story, Gillen throws readers straight into it and doesn't leave much space for explanations so you do just feel like you're getting swept along with the tide until you start to understand things a little more. This isn't a criticism of the writing/story style though as I feel it really helps get across this idea of only having two years before they die - they need to do as much as they can in that short time and the countdown is forever looming over the gods' heads and the story gets that across to the reader almost instantly. As you can imagine, there's a morbid tone to the story from the get-go and even though the creative team behind this series are the guys who brought the world Young Avengers, The Wicked & The Divine definitely has a more grown-up and gloomy feeling to it. This first volume, although fast paced, introduces the reader to the characters in a great way and you guys, Jamie McKelvie's artwork throughout the comic is just gorgeous. I really love the art style in this series and it fits the genre really well. The story obviously has a superhero fantasy element to it, but it's kind of mixed with a murder mystery style and I think it makes for a great pairing. I saw someone describe it as the TV show Skins with a sprinkling of mythology and whilst they were saying it in a negative way, I actually think that is a near perfect description of it. It is very much a teenage angst sort of comic, but I like it and the fantasy elements of it make it all the better. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest! If you're intrigued and want to grab a copy, you can get the paperback here for £8.99.

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July 19, 2017

Updated CF Evening Skincare Routine

Hello you lovely folk! A few weeks ago I shared with you my updated morning skincare routine so obviously I should update you all on my nighttime products of choice too. It's been a long long time since I last shared my evening routine with you all and that's simply because I never really changed it. Sometimes I would add products in here or there or switch something out but ultimately, it stayed the same until recently when I switched to completely cruelty free products. So here's my updated current routine that helps control my oily skin, soothe any sensitivity I'm having, whilst also fighting that pesky acne and texture that can't seem to leave me alone.

Vita Coco 1Oo% Raw Cold Pressed Coconut Oil | - Ahhh, coconut oil. Coconut oil took the beauty world over back in 2O16 and I've got to be honest, it took over my beauty regime like no tomorrow. Back at the start of the year, I put together a whole post of the beauty benefits of coconut oil and I still stand by every single thing I mentioned, but the one thing I love using coconut oil for is for removing my makeup and cleansing my face. I used to use this both in my evening and morning routines as my cleanser but found it could make my oily skin a bit unmanageable underneath makeup on a long day so instead I just use it every evening now and it works wonders. As it is a natural oil, it does a fantastic job of breaking down makeup - especially eye makeup - and also softens, plumps, and moisturises the skin. It leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft and clean and ready for my evening products.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Hot Cloth Cleanser | 15Oml | £5.99 - Sometimes when I want to be a little extra flash (read: when I can be bothered), I will remove my makeup with coconut oil and rather then continue to use it a second time to cleanse my skin, I will instead opt for this hot cloth cleanser from - surprise surprise - the Superdrug Naturally Radiant line. As a huge fan of the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser growing up, this Superdrug offering is a fab alternative if you're pinching on the pennies. Just like the rest of this range, the cleanser is incredibly gentle on the skin and smells great and is a lovely product to use in your evening routine as I find the whole process of lying a hot cloth over my face for a minute very soothing and relaxing which helps me chill out immensely.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Acid Pads | 6O Pads | £5.99 - My next step is to make sure my skin really is squeaky clean before I go in with my treatments/moisturisers etc. so I opt for sweeping one of these pads over my face and neck. I use these pads probably 5 out of 7 evenings each week as the glycolic acid helps lift dead skin cells and the added witch hazel helps tone the skin in one convenient product. I really like these quick and easy pads as they're simple to use, fantastic value for money, and leave my skin noticeably smoother the next morning.

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG | 3Oml | £6.Oo - Surprise surprise, this stuff is in my evening routine. I raved about this in my morning routine so of course I use it in the evenings too. I always apply this first after using all of my cleanser/toner sort of steps as it takes a wee while to sink into the skin, but it is definitely my favourite eye care product I've used in a long time.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% | 3Oml | - The two evenings a week that I don't use the Superdrug Glycolic Pads, I use this Vitamin C moisturiser instead. Instead of the pads and my usual evening moisturiser, I opt for this one because it is a great gentle exfoliant to keep my skin smooth and healthy. I've raved about this product before, but this moisturiser has an almost "sand in your SPF lotion" texture which gently buffs the skin during application and leaves the skin tingling. This can be used both AM and PM but due to the texture of it, I prefer to use it in the evenings before bed. I sweep it over the face and neck, avoiding the eyes and around the lip area and my skin is noticeably smoother and healthier in the mornings. The vitamin C works wonders on brightening up my dull skin and even makes my freckles look healthy! I tend to use this more often when my acne is behaving itself because it can make my skin look even better but if I am breaking out, this can sting open spots a bit so that's something to bear in mind if you're thinking of picking this up.

The Body Shop Seaweed Oil Control Overnight Gel | 3Oml | £14.Oo - If I'm sticking to my usual routine and using the Glycolic Pads and need to moisturise afterwards, I like to use overnight gel moisturiser from The Body Shop. This gel is from the same Seaweed range as my daily morning moisturiser but this gel formula is more heavy duty for bedtime wear. I sweep this over the face and push it into the skin gently by using patting and well, pushing motions. This gel doesn't really have a scent or colour so it's a nice product to use but it can take a while to sink in and not stay tacky so that's why I make a little bit more of an effort to make sure it absorbs fully into the skin. Much like the daily lotion, a little goes a long way with this product and it helps keep my skin from becoming an oil slick throughout the night.

Oh K! Overnight Sleep Mask | 2Oml | £4.Oo - Guys guys guys, I've talked about this amazing product on NB before, but I have to sing it's praises again. I bought this mask during an Asos order because it was cheap and I was intrigued to try more Korean skincare and it has quickly become a crutch when I need an extra something something in my skincare. Although this mask is supposed to be for 5-6 uses, I have made one sachet last around 15-17 uses and guys. It's *amazing*. This mask smells delicious and 1Oo% reminds me of a scent from my childhood that I can't quite put my finger on, but the scent isn't overpowering and is a nice scent for my whole bedtime routine. It's a really gentle (you can see a theme here with my evening products) moisturiser formula that I just smooth generously over the face and neck as the last step in my routine at least once a week. I only ever use this mask after using the Seaweed overnight gel as it lies on top of it nicely without slipping and sliding off. This is my go-to product when my skin is looking lack-lustre or if I've been having some angry breakouts or dry skin patches. No matter what skin ailment I'm suffering, I pop this mask on and it genuinely reduces over night. Dryness will always be gone, acne will always appear smaller, redness and irritation is always soothed... It's just an absolute gem of a product. Plus the packaging is cute AF.

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July 17, 2017

Feeling a Little Parisian

Happy Monday you guys! I hope you all had a stellar weekend and you're ready to face those Monday blues with a bit of positivity and a spring in your step but if you're not don't worry - you're not alone as I can't even seem to take my own best advice today. I've had a very nice but extremely chilled weekend to the point where I think it was a little too relaxing so now I'm struggling with the process of getting up, getting ready, and getting out the door for work. Despite my raving about yoga and all it's benefits last week, I sucked over the weekend and didn't do any until Sunday night. It was *so* noticeable that I had skipped some days because my back was aching, my legs were like jelly and I was generally a sweaty-covered off balance mess. I'm trying to not beat myself up about skipping some days though as sometimes I just need to vegetate for a couple of days to let stuff wash over me. I found out some pretty shocking information about a friend of mine that initially upset me, I have felt exhausted for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, and I just haven't felt like myself for the past few days so some "sitting in my pants eating chocolate, shouting at the TV like some sort of northern goth Bridget Jones" TLC was in order.

Thankfully, I'm feeling much better today and I 1Oo% give credit to my yoga session last night for the shift in my attitude. I'm feeling a little more myself and feeling like I'm back on the "I want to only put good food in my body" bandwagon. But enough about that - should we have a quick chat about this outfit please? I wear this bardot top every summer when it gets hot enough and I'm forever thankful that I picked it up for a mere 2 quid in a summer sale many moons ago. I'm also mega excited to wear these vintage striped trews I got recently because they're so out of my comfort zone yet I can't get enough of them. Striped skinny jeans were once a thing I owned when I would have been aptly described as ~*~sCeNe KiD~*~ but since around the age of 15, I can't say I've worn them because I just don't think they suit me. When I saw this pair of more tailored trouser style pants though from Oh Lover Vintage, I couldn't help but buy them and the best bit? They fit my waist perfect. Finding that in modern jeans or trousers seems to be incredibly rare but these fit so snug but they're super comfortable too that I can overlook the fact that I really have no idea how to style them. They also might make my hips look wider than they already do which they definitely don't need any help with, but guys, they're still *super great* pants, right?

New Look Bardot Top (similar) | Oh Lover Vintage Trousers (similar) |
Gracie Roberts Vegan Bag | Asos Lace Up Heels (similar)

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July 14, 2017

"Have You Tried Doing Yoga?"

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that most of you are in the weekday-workers club and are therefore free for the rest of the week to relax and chill and if you're not, then have no fear because hopefully today's post can help you out a little. A couple of weeks ago, I asked over on Twitter if anyone would be interested in a blog post all about yoga and how to get into it and I was so pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of you guys said yes! I have been doing yoga - on and off - for almost 11 years and really, the love affair with it started when I was 15. I went to a pretty shitty secondary school, but one thing they did kind of well was extracurricular sports and they really tried to include things that weren't typical of most secondaries at the time (like dodgeball and rock climbing) and one thing they decided to do during year 1O was yoga. We were a sports community college but all of my PE teachers were footballers, badminton, athletics etc. so when we found out we were doing yoga as part of our half GCSE, most of the class were confused. But when the day came, we all walked into the gym, got out those big blue mats every school has in England, and were surprised to see a really pretty young woman (she must have been about 21 tops) sat on a mat to welcome us to the lesson. This was our new yoga teacher and she's the whole reason I became so interested and hooked on it.

I don't remember exactly when she mentioned it, but I do remember her being incredibly nonchalant when she started to tell the class about how she had been involved in a devastating and fatal car crash when she was younger and it had confined her to a wheelchair. She was told she would never walk again and that she would have to alter her life around this. What? This woman who is literally folding herself in half with no issues and is making it look as easy as buttering a hot piece of toast had than many spinal issues after a car accident that she couldn't walk? Fibs. It had to be. But it wasn't. She had decided that she wouldn't give up and actively tried a multitude of ways to improve her spinal condition and her legs after the crash and yoga was the one thing that helped. Hearing someone say that at 15 when, to be honest, nothing much inspired me was so incredibly needed and has evidently impacted me in some way because I still think about how brave and how much of a fantastic advocate for the practice that woman was because she has managed to at least get lazy little me to practice it as often as possible.

So I don't ramble for too much longer about how I got into it, I guess I should explain why I have kept it up for so long and can't seem to stay away from it even if I do drop off the yoga wagon from time to time. I'm not going to sit here and tell you all the different sorts of yoga and what it all means because to be honest, there's much more knowledgeable and reliable people out there if you seek that information, but what I can say is the practice of yoga is unlike any other fitness regime I know or that I have tried. I have many friends who use fitness as an outlet for different reasons whether that be to have a better physique, to better their overall physical health, or to benefit their mental health. Fitness and working out can do fantastic things for us as human beings in general. But yoga? It's just something that's a little more special.

For me, I love practicing it because it's such an accessible discipline. It's a myth that you need to be mega flexible. It's a fib that you need to be some tall skinny blonde on a beach at sunset to take part in it. It's something that can be done alone, with a huge group of people, at home, in the park, on the beach... it just requires a mat and determination. Although I have done yoga for close to 11 years, I am in no means an expert and still consider myself a beginner because there's been times when I've stepped away from it for a while etc. so I feel like I need to re-educate myself often. But if you're someone who wants to get into it and you don't know where to start, maybe my next few points can help.

- You don't need to be flexible or mega fit already. I know I just mentioned it, but I can't stress enough that you don't need to be in good physical shape already before you start your yoga journey. The whole practice of yoga is like any other road to fit health in that your body will improve, your flexibility and ability will improve and mostly, your strength will improve. It doesn't matter if you're 2O stone or if you're 8 stone and can't touch your toes - you can all take part.

- It can be tough. A common misconception about the practice is that it easy and a bit wishy-washy but I honestly find it more challenging than any HIIT or cardio sessions I've ever done. If you take a 3O minute yoga session for example, you need to concentrate on pulling your navel in and working your core muscles for those whole 3O minutes whilst also balancing, holding your own body weight, stretching out muscles in areas your didn't even know you had muscles, and breathing in a controlled manner. The self-discipline required is extremely demanding and that is not meant to put you off at all, but you should feel encouraged that you're actually doing something pretty damn difficult that people often over look.

- It can be incredible for mental health. I touched on this already earlier too, but yoga is so good for your mind. Don't get me wrong, I can sometimes find some instructors to be so cringey and I can't take their holistic approach seriously, but once you find a way that suits you it just works. I prefer to do yoga at home either doing my own thing or watching a YouTube video for a bit more guidance. Doing this with no sound other than the potential video, with the window open, and either really early in the morning or as the sun is going down in the evening is just perfect to me. I feel incredibly rested yet rejuvenated after each session and I honestly feel lighter in my body. I feel lighter on my feet, I forget whatever has been stressing me out recently, I feel more agile and active, and just generally feel happier in myself and about aspects of my life. Knowing you're getting stronger and pushing yourself through a self-discipline that is actually quite intensive is such a rewarding feeling too.

- Never get disheartened. This relates back to what I said about not being the perfect "yoga student" when you begin this discipline, but yoga is a constant battle of quickly identifying your weaknesses and trying to improve them. There's been many times that I've given up yoga for a few months because I couldn't do specific poses no matter how strong I felt I was getting and I've realised over the last couple of years that that is completely the wrong attitude to have. I have extremely weak wrists so find doing any poses that require me putting any weight on my hands quite difficult now - if you're familiar at all with yoga, the typical "downward dog" pose requires yep, you guessed it, you to put your weight on your hands/wrists. I now do this pose probably at least 1O times during each evening session I do and I'm also doing more and more poses which require more weight on my wrists and I'm slowly improving. It takes time to get stronger but one thing yoga does well, is that it gets you *strong*.

- Flexibility isn't just visible in your body. The absolute joy of yoga is once you feel comfortable with what you can and can't do and you feel confident to do your own thing; you absolutely can. If you can't do a specific pose due to any health reasons etc., it's totally fine - you just choose a different pose. Can't hold that pose for that long? Don't worry - make it easier for yourself by putting down your leg for stability or if it's hurting your back, go back to a comfortable pose until it's time for the next pose. You can also do yoga as often or as little as you want. Obviously the more often you do it, the more results you will see, but you could do it once a month, once a day, 15 minutes a day or 2 hours. It's a completely flexible practice that you can tailor to whatever you want, need, or enjoy.

- There's no wrong way. Again following on from that last point, because it's such an interchangeable practice, you can't do it wrong. The only indicator you will ever have that what you're doing is wrong is if it hurts. For example, I know if I do "fish" pose, my back will literally make me cry out in agony when I come out of the pose so I only ever do it if my shoulders aren't feeling tense. This level of hurt is because I often sit at a desk/on public transport a lot so my back is always a bit sore so this helps stretch it out and get rid of the tense areas, but if you're doing a yoga pose and it is really truly hurting, you know to just come out of the pose because you might be doing it wrong.

- Everything feels the benefit. So I've mentioned that it can be great for mental health (particularly the meditative aspect of it), but it can also improve other areas. I notice an improvement in my overall attitude and certainly my patience when I practice yoga regularly, I notice my breathing is healthier and I can hold my breath for longer as I put my lungs through controlled training throughout every session, and of course my body is healthier. I see results in how toned my body is, how flexible I am, how light on my feet I am, but also how much healthier my insides feel. I know that seems like an odd statement to make, but my digestion and bowels in general seem to be happier when I regularly do yoga as I have less stomach pains, less IBS, and less bloating.

I don't really know where I was going with the post other than just wanting to share with you how great this practice is and how I'd recommend it over any other type of fitness for the many reasons I've listed above. As for starting out, the best advice I can give is try it out at home. To me, the comfort of being able to roll out a mat at home and stumble around or need to take a 5 minute break when you're sweating your backside off is a luxury that I wouldn't get in a class. However, if you're someone who needs other people around them to feel motivated and empowered when it comes to working out, definitely check your local gym, community centre, or even university because I guarantee at least one of those places are holding regular classes.

The best accompaniment to working out at home though is without a doubt, YouTube. YouTube have some amazing yoga instructors and advocates that are a great encouragement and comfort to watch if you're unfamiliar with any poses or if you need that constant influence there so you remember to control your breathing, need direction on how long to do poses for etc. So to finish off this post, here's a quick rundown of my favourite videos and accounts that I watch regularly or would recommend:

- Yoga for Beginners, The Basics: Yoga with Adriene is a holy grail yoga influencer who I've got to be honest, I don't personally watch as I don't find her as soothing as others, but she is perfect for the absolute beginners basic information.
- Yoga for Complete Beginners: Yoga with Adriene again with a great routine to get you started on your yoga journey.
- 3O Minute Hatha Yoga for Beginners: Hatha Yoga is all about using physical exercises to align your muscles, bones and skin and help open up areas such as the spine (as well as being incredibly beneficial for the mind). This alignment focus is great for anyone who has any aches or pains such as bad backs or knees.
- 2O Minute Yoga Flow for Beginners: Yoga by Candace is a great channel on YT as Candace is a fuss-free, down to earth lady with very simple videos that are easy to follow. She has various beginners videos but this one is a great one to try just to get used to the flow of yoga and how common poses move from one to the other without breaking the flow and how they move with your breath.
- Yoga for Weight Loss & Fat Burning for Beginners: Psyche Truth is a channel with lots of stuff going on, but their yoga videos are pretty damn good if you want to use yoga to specifically target fat burning and weight loss. The lady who presents the session is lovely and calming and this really does make you get a sweat on!
- Useful Yoga Playlist: I've saved my absolute fave til last and that is the utter babe, Steffy's useful yoga videos on the channel, Tonic. Tonic has a mix of fitness, food, and even dating videos, but I particularly love the videos Steffy created for the channel. These are the videos I use most frequently as I find her so genuine and calming to follow. She does videos focusing on getting energised in the morning and getting ready for a good night's sleep, to digestion to toning. She's got it all. She also has a pretty fab blog if you want more info.

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