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

October 21, 2018

Sustainable Sundays: Switching to Zero Waste Natural Cleaning Products



Hey gang, it's been a hot minute since the last Sustainable Sunday post so that fact combined with something I need to get off my chest, I decided to post this. Cleaning isn't something that's usually talked about on a lot in the blogging/vlogging world, but it's become quite popular recently due to a few different influencers via Instagram, blogs etc. and whilst I think it's quite a good thing, it's also made me painfully aware that many people don't pay much attention to cleaning products and what they're actually are.

I've been cruelty free in every aspect of my life (including my household cleaning products for a little while now), but I've recently upped that movement of mine to making sure I am also using natural ingredients in my cleaning regime which in turn means I am also becoming more zero waste which is great in my opinion. So in this post I want to share with you all why switching to zero waste, natural cleaning products is a really positive and how easy it can be!

It's a lie that you need lots of different cleaners
One of the biggest lies ever told is that you need a whole-host of different cleaners for different rooms, surfaces, spills/marks etc. Don't get me wrong, if you're polishing something that is metal then you might not want to use the same product on something wooden, but the idea that you need a kitchen cleaner, then a bathroom cleaner, then something else for the oven hob, then another product for the shower screen/glass... It's all just lie. Using a natural cleaner with basic ingredients in means you can tackle every job in the house with that one bottle of product and doesn't that sound like the easiest way to live your life?

So many cleaning products aren't cruelty free
Something that not everyone may be concerned about but something that's certainly close to my heart is keeping up my cruelty free way of life. After switching to shopping exclusively cruelty free over a year and a half ago, I've started to pay more and more close attention to what I pick up when shopping and in more realms of my shopping too. Household cleaning products isn't usually the main area people think of when we think "cruelty free". We tend to focus on the beauty and skincare worlds and the household kind of gets left out of the scrutiny limelight. But the problem with this is that *so* many of the popular cleaning products aren't cruelty free. The idea that many cleaning agents are experimented on animals is upsetting to me and so a huge benefit of making your own products at home is without a doubt the peace of mind that I know no animals were harmed at all.



Many products have a lot of harmful chemicals in them
Adding to the cruelty free point, another factor I'm not completely comfortable with with many products is just how full of chemicals they are. I get it - the chemicals help cut through grease or limescale blah blah blah - but so do so so many natural ingredients that are anti-bacterial and disinfecting. I personally like to have a super clean home and a lot of this stems from my mam being OCD and growing up with that, but I'm also a firm believer that if you're not exposed to germs of any type, you're going to have a super bad immune system. Using harsh chemicals that have warnings on the bottles about the product getting on your skin or causing irritation, chemical burns and poisoning just seems like a drastic step to take to avoid some germs when they can be tackled and managed in a much safer way. Some studies have suggested that women who held cleaning jobs whilst pregnant had an elevated chance of their babies having birth defects which of course, is kind of alarming.

Speaking of harmful chemicals, the fumes/fragrances can be toxic too
It's probably no surprise to some of you that a few cleaning chemicals on the market can trigger asthma, other respiratory problems, and allergic reactions (and I know I for one used to cough my guts up whilst cleaning my bathroom). Synthetic fragrances are usually to blame for this and annoyingly, many petrochemicals such as phthalates are included in this umbrella term on the ingredients list. This is annoying for a consumer because phthalates have been linked to any number of things: breast and liver cancer, lowering sperm count, disrupting hormone activity, and nervous-system disorders yet many companies are allowed to include these dangerous ingredients because it "smells nice". Synthetic fragrance is absorbed into the bloodstream through contact with the skin so watch out for it listed in any number of products - not just household cleaning. It can be in candles, dryer sheets, baby wipes, air freshner etc. and although the EU and US banned phthalates from being in products such as childrens toys, they are allowed a very small percent of them to be present and not every single phthalate is banned. To me, it just makes sense to avoid them all together and create your own cleaners!

Switching to zero waste means less one-use plastic pollution
The battle against plastic pollution has been a big one this past year and whilst I still think we have a long way to go and a lot of the damage is irreversible, there's a lot of things we can do to make things better. Again, something that I think is overlooked, is the containers we buy our products in. We often don't think twice about how some items are packaged yet we complain about others (think about the whole debate about fruit and veg being packaged in plastic). The majority of shop-bought cleaning products come in plastic bottles or containers and many of us - myself included for the longest time - didn't give a second thought to this single-use plastic that yeah, we throw in the recycling in the hopes that it *will* be recycled, but if we're really honest with ourselves, we don't know what happens to it for sure. By making natural cleaning products at home, you drastically minimise the amount of plastic you're wasting and throwing out which is a great side-effect alongside all the other benefits.



Homemade cleaners have great natural products which are effective
Something I touched on earlier and will certainly go into more detail in my DIY cleaning products post is just how great natural ingredients are and how effectively they clean. Think back to when Kim and Aggie would go around all those desperate-for-a-deep-clean homes on TV and they would have the place sparkling after a dash of vinegar here and a bit of bicarbonate soda here. These readily available items amongst many others are *so good* when it comes to cleaning and can do arguably a better job than the cleaners with the high price tags and chemical counts if you just use them in the right way, in the right mix.

You will save *so* much money
Last but certainly not least, I can't stress enough jut how much money zero waste homemade products will help you save. Many of the ingredients in these natural cleaners are items you'd pick up in your weekly or monthly food shop and thus are ofte affordable, available, and don't have a great deal of waste. I urge anyone reading this to have a look under their kitchen sink and just tally up how much their various cleaners, detergents, bleaches etc. come to and then compare it to the one or two natural ingredient DIY products you could make. Not only are you saving because you can use cheap ingredients each time you need to make a new batch, but you're saving on overspending just because of a brand name, and you're saving on the price potentially being hiked-up due to paying for packaging as you can reuse whatever container you use again and again.

P.S. Keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for a DIY zero waste cleaning product recipe post so you can make a switch to natural household cleaners with ease!


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October 16, 2018

Book Club No. 17



Hello lovely folk, today I'm back with a book review post for you all. This is an all-round "good books" review which is fab as that's not always the case for Book Club but, I've read some great things recently. If you're a fellow fan of graphic novels/comics then you'll be pleased to know, I've got you covered in this post too! So let's get into the reviews:

Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Oh man you guys, where do I even start with this? If you've been a reader for a while, you will know that I'm a *huge* fan of this series and really enjoyed the first and second books a lot so it's probably no surprise that the third instalment also really floated my boat.

I'm not going to explain the back story or general plot too much as I already have here, but this is such a great third and "final" book. I say "final" because it's been recently announced that Ransom Riggs is actually releasing the 4th book so I'm mega excited, but the 4th book is the start of a new trilogy set in the United States rather than the UK. This book is still following the trip in London that the children are going through to find their beloved ymbryne, Miss Peregrine, after she is stolen away along with the other ymbrynes. Library of Souls goes down the more fantasy route whereas, despite the main characters being magical with amazing varying powers that defy logic and all odds, the other books are set in more realistic environments and circumstances. Library of Souls however spends the majority of the story in a peculiar-only zone/town and part of me feels that a small reason for that is this book can get dark and the magic kind of softens the blow.

The gang that you follow throughout the series get separated for a lot of this book which I completely understand why as it fits the narrative and plot, but I was kind of disappointed because the group as a whole work so well together that I often felt like I was missing characters: Enoch's sarcasm or Bronwyn's care and consideration mainly. Despite this though, it's a great way to explore Jacob's - the main character - thoughts and feelings towards things seemingly coming to a close and him dealing with how much power, influence, and friendship he has built. It gets quite dark as the violence is stepped up a notch and Riggs describes this really well by keeping it suitable for young adults but also making it suitably harrowing at the same time. New characters were introduced into this third book too and I was not mad about it - Sharon is a fucking great character and I hope he has a little cameo in the next trilogy. Overall, the book did a fine job bringing this epic adventure to a close without dulling the opportunity for future escapades and although I would still say the second book (Hollow City) was my favourite, this one still gripped me and had me guessing throughout whilst also turning each page hoping and praying that my favourite characters wouldn't meet their end.

The one problem I had with it, that I weirdly didn't have with the other two books, was the fact that Riggs uses old photographs throughout the book to give you an idea of what particular characters look like. He has stated before that he does this as he's been influenced by these old photos from garage/yard sales and wanted to use them in his stories. Obviously, some of them have been altered to match his characters as well, but it just didn't seem to flow as well in this book. Sometimes it came across as if characters were just included momentarily as some sort of filler just so the photo would make sense, rather than them being central to the narrative. This isn't something that ruins the story at all, it's just something that distracted me as a reader from the plot at times which is a shame. However like I said, I recommend this book and the whole trilogy very highly. Grab your own copy here for £5.58



Injection Volume 2 by Warren Ellis
Somehow, it's been two years since I read the first Injection volume and boy oh boy am I pleased I've got back to this story. I'll quickly give you some backstory: Injection focuses on five specialist individuals who are brought together by the British government to theorize about human culture and why society is progressing and changing the way that it is in the 21st century. They then create an artificial intelligence that is a mix of shamanism and technology which essentially poisons the world in response to their theories and hypotheses. Injection really begins when the group has disbanded and then are being brought back together to try and stop the havoc the intelligence is starting to reek on the planet.

The second volume obviously explores some of the main characters a lot more which is great, and also develops the story so you can begin to understand more about Injection/the poison/the artificial intelligence and how it has grown and learned things to develop itself. This second instalment was just as gripping as the first and had some excellent scenes of humour which I always feel steps up graphic novels that little bit extra as they can jump from funny to serious in a page turn or strip. The artwork in Injection is also really good and fits the genre and mood of the comic well. After reading this second volume, I feel that Injection is a bit of a slow burn overall despite the first two collections being really hard-hitting with twists in the plot, but generally speaking, I feel like it's all building to a huge crescendo at the end which will be epic (or that's what I'm hoping at least). If you like comics that have a sci-fi feel but with elements of superstition, horror, and mythology thrown in there for good measure, you are bound to love this. Volume 3 is also out now and Volume 4 will be released next month so get on it quick! Get your paperback copy for £11.78 here



The Knife of Never Letting Go: The First Novel of Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
I know I said it earlier, but honestly, I don't know where to start with this one, gang. I got this book (along with the next two in the trilogy) from Matt for my birthday and holy shit. I didn't know what to expect, but it's fair to say, it's ended in love after this first book. Patrick Ness wrote one of my favourite books that made me ball like a baby in public the first time I read it, so I was so excited to get stuck into The Knife of Never Letting Go. This series follows a young boy named Todd Hewitt who lives in a backwater town called Prentisstown. This town is on New World - a planet which some humans decided to move to and colonise as they wanted to get back to a simple way of living - and to Todd's knowledge, it's the only town which has survived after the war with the aliens who lived here called the Spackle.

Prentisstown is unique as towns go as it consists on solely men and boys who are taught from a young age that the greatest goal in life is becoming a man; something which little Todd Hewitt is a matter of a days away from and he is dying for it to happen as he is the last boy in the town to enter manhood. Another major factor in Prentisstown is that no one's thoughts are true feelings are entirely theirs to keep to themselves because of the Noise. At the start of the story, Todd explains that the Noise was a weapon the Spackle unleashed on the humans which means that their thoughts are constantly active and visible/audible for all those nearby to see and hear. It has colours, it can be hard to control if you are feeling emotional at all, and it means that the centre of town for instance, can give you a real bad head as there's never any silence. Todd lives on a farm with his adoptive guardians - Ben and Cillian - who promised Todd's deceased parents that they would care for him.

When Todd discovers something in the swamp, he can't keep his wandering mind quiet and his Noise lets slip what he found and his whole life snowballs into escape, danger, and confusion. When I first started reading this book, I instantly thought "oh no" as Todd's character and many of the Prentisstown men's speech is written with an accent: so "you" is written "yer"... you get the idea. I usually hate this as I'm a slow reader as it is, but having elements like this in books makes it even more difficult for me to rattle through them but surprisingly, I grew to love it in this book as it gave me so much more of an idea of Todd as a character. I don't really want to say much more about the plot because it will give away all the surprise and suspense, but this book is amazing for creating drama and leaving you constantly on a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter (including the last chapter - goddamn you, Ness). The characters in the story are so easy to picture in the mind and you get really attached to some whilst others you have a real distain for and it makes ploughing through the story all that more enjoyable.

If you're someone who usually overlooks YA fiction, you *have* to give this book a shot because I feel that Ness is such a talented writer that he puts some adult fiction writers to shame. He creates such a harrowing, dark, terrifying, yet empathetic and beautiful story that I'd be surprised if anyone said they didn't like this at all. I can't wait to dive into book two of trilogy, I'm just building myself up to it because it's a long one. You honestly have to grab this book - it's only £5.73 here




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October 09, 2018

Shane Dawson x Jake Paul - Sociopath Stigma



Gang, I have some thoughts and I just needed to get them out. I've aired some of my thoughts thus far with people in real life, via Twitter, but there's just *so* much I want to say, it made sense to get it all out right here where I ramble best. So let's talk about the current Shane Dawson series with Jake Paul.

Before I really start getting into this, I have to note here that I'm a big fan of Shane Dawson - I've watched his content off and on for years now, I'm a subscriber of his, and I just generally enjoy his content whether it's him just vlogging with his friends or his conspiracy videos - I enjoy the majority of the content he produces. I always view him as quite a genuine, down to earth character and I've always admired the fact that he confronts any criticism well and will apologise for anything said or done that hasn't sat right with people. Shane recently started to create little mini-series in which he would talk to other YouTube stars to get down to the nitty gritty in their lives. I first got sucked into it all when he met up with grav3yardgirl and then, of course, the very popular series with Jeffree Star. Shane has a knack for comforting people and seemingly making them at ease enough to share anything and everything with him, often leaving him quite emotional and viewers like myself also feeling like you've hopped on an emotional rollercoaster. This is where some concern started when the first indication that Jake Paul would be involved in one of these mini-series. People just didn't want it.

Shane received a lot of backlash upon mentioning any sort of collab with Jake Paul. Many fans of Shane said they didn't want to be left feeling sorry for Jake as he's not a nice person, they didn't want to see Shane giving Jake another platform to potentially build an audience or views, and many fans were adamant that if the series happened, they would be unsubscribing from his channel. So it's fair to say people were pretty heated about this before it even took off. I personally don't know much about Jake Paul or Logan Paul - the majority of what I knew before this series started is that both brothers create content I'm certainly not interested in; content that seems very self-invested but not in a positive way, it's about flashing the cash and a carefree attitude because "I've got money so the rules don't apply to me", and making monumentally bad decisions and thus, setting really bad examples for their mostly young impressionable audiences - of course though, this is just my opinion of it and at complete face value. I'm talking about both brothers here because they're very rarely talked about as separate entities - especially now, almost everything comes back to Logan Paul and that straight up fucking ridiculous Suicide Forest video.



But let's get on with the point of this post. Shane went ahead with the series despite the initial backlash and honestly? I didn't think I would find myself watching it because of how little interest I have in Jake Paul. However (and this is a big however), I'm completely invested in the series now. Shane's channel has some great edited videos - he is very very clever with the choice of music, the shock factor, the entertainment, the fact that he's a very likeable person - and this series definitely reflects all of that but, not necessarily in the best way. The first thing I noticed about the series that was a little 'off' for me was the fact that Shane heavily focuses on the idea of Jake being a sociopath - right off the bat. The focus on this is one thing, but the fact that video is edited in almost a horror story-style way is very off-putting. From the very first video, I had a problem with the fact that 'sociopath' was thrown around a great deal despite Shane himself not really being able to explain what that means. It's a word that is just thrown out there at the start of the series and it instantly holds so much stigma. It's something that Shane creates fear around and uses as a "dun dun duuun!" aspect in the videos.

It might sound silly to some, but I probably wouldn't have been so instantly riled up about it if Shane had approached it with more care and consideration. Even if he had sat there chatting to the camera/Andrew/his viewers at the start but had pulled up a google "what is a sociopath?" search and read it aloud; even if he had done just that I would have felt more comfortable. But he didn't and naturally, some folk got pissed off about it. So that brings me onto the biggest issue I have: the therapist.

In the second video, The Dark Side of Jake Paul, Shane sits down with a friend and certified therapist, Kati Morton. Kati discusses the symptoms of this Antisocial Personality Disorder and lemme tell you, I was not okay with how it was done. Kati has her own YouTube channel and whilst I think that her creating content that openly discusses mental health, particularly from a professional, educated level is great to see on the platform, how she discussed this particular disorder was not okay. Repeatedly throughout the discussion with Shane, Kati refers to the symptoms of this disorder as being "icky", "gross", and "creepy". Now, I feel like this may have been because she states that sociopaths wouldn't typically care what anyone thinks of them - so therefore by default they probably wouldn't care about her saying that right? Wrong. Discussing any individual in that sort of demeaning way is wrong, especially when your whole career revolves around helping such individuals in a sensitive, non-judgemental, neutral way.

My major gripe with this was the fact that Kati, as a professional, should not have used those words to describe anything to do with an Antisocial Personality or Behaviour Disorder. Whilst on the one hand I could play devil's advocate and say that she was just talking to a friend and therefore it might have just came out at the end of the day, she's still a licensed therapist and should never speak about anyone or any symptoms in that sort of a derogatory way. I feel that what was said shouldn't have even come out of her mouth - even if the camera wasn't recording. It's completely unprofessional to talk about any mental illness that way but considering this was about one that has so much stigma attached to it already makes it all the more irresponsible. At one point, Kati shares the statistic that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths. This statistic is then tossed around in such a way that is scaremongering; as if there's lots of monsters roaming around amongst us in society. It's almost laughable that symptoms of this disorder are discussed in a way that makes it sound like we're living in The Purge in real life.



This, for me, is where the accountability really needs to be stepped up on Shane's channel. Since that video, Shane has included disclaimers at the start of videos stating that he doesn't mean to accuse anyone, label anyone, and no one should be trying to self-diagnose or diagnose others based on what has been talked about in this series. The problem with this is, it's all a little too late. As I mentioned before, I always appreciate that Shane will answer criticism and that he will hold his hands up and apologise for things he's said or done but I'm just not getting that vibe this time around. Of course the disclaimers are needed and he can't rewind time to erase past video mistakes but the disclaimers are somewhat empty for me. The main reason for me feeling like this is the fact one of the first things Shane has said in response to the backlash is "I've used footage of friends in the clips mentioning sociopaths!". It just sounds like a weak version of those comments you hear like, "some of my best friends are gay!" "some of my best friends are black!" when someone has fucked up majorly. In the fifth video, we see Kati Morton state that she usually works with eating disorders in her day-to-day career and thus, Antisocial Personality Disorders such as this are not her strong suit - again, if this had been discussed more at the start of the series, it might have helped.

Having now watched the first five videos in this eight-video series, I can say that the majority of the series has been entertaining and eyeopening. It's almost been a YouTube reality show sort of level of drama. I don't watch any soaps on TV or any reality shows, but I imagine the *drama* on those shows would be similar to the 'tea' this series has tried to deliver. Although I've found it interesting as I now want to know more about Jake Paul as a person as there's so much controversy and - quite frankly - conspiracy around who he is, what he's hiding, his relationships/friendships etc., I still feel that there's been a lot of distasteful editing and things said that shouldn't be excused just for the entertainment value. YouTubers like Shane are incredibly popular (the first video of this series has already had 19 million views and it's only one week old), and therefore they have a great deal of influence. If 19 million people have watched him throw around the term 'sociopath', if 19 million have heard him and a qualified professional verge on making fun of the symptoms of a mental disorder, if 19 million have self-diagnosed or diagnosed others as a result of symptoms being relatable or stigma being easily attached to themselves or others, *that* is a major issue.

I'll still be watching the series to the end and will no doubt continue to watch Shane as he's incredibly charismatic and I fully believe that the series has come from a good place and no malicious intent is present here, especially after watching episode 5 as it's more what I'm used to from Shane. It's more about getting to know the individual the series is about and not creating this over-the-top backstory before that individual even makes it on screen and says hello. However, I'm full of hope that this series and the criticism it is now facing is not only educational for viewers but, also for Shane himself. Mental health and anything negatively affecting it is not something that should be joked about or used as a prop for entertainment to cause horror or discomfort. As I've mentioned, there seems to be less of the scaremongering and "horror" elements as the series go on, but it means as a viewer, you are even subconsciously looking out for traits and actions in Jake Paul that reflect the symptoms of this particular Antisocial Personality Disorder just because they've been discussed so feverishly beforehand. I guarantee the same would have happened if Shane had set up the Jeffree Star series in the same way. My views are changing as the series goes on and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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September 29, 2018

Real Talk: It's Just Nipples



Identifying as a woman - what a shit show huh? I've talked about being a woman and all that it can involve before here on NB and although I'm always fiercely proud of being female and being strong, independent, and (don't worry, I'm not going to sing Beyoncé), supportive of all other women, it can be hard at times. Women are judged and scrutinised a lot by wider society and their inner circles and it's sometimes incredibly overwhelming to just walk down the street without the fear of catcalling being the least of your worries.

I'm not about to get my tiny violin out and start playing it but there is something I want to get off my chest that just so happens to be on my chest: what's the problem with nipples?

You heard me. Why, in 2018, are we still trying to "free the nipple" and just generally have full autonomy of our bodies without others unsolicited input? It's because we still don't have that simple "luxury". Back in July 2018, Brighton hosted a Free the Nipple march and it was a great success seeing people from all genders and identities taking to the streets to argue the case that having full ownership of our own bodies shouldn't be something we have to shout and argue for. We shouldn't be having to fight the double standards we see in reality and virtual reality alike yet, here we are.

The oppressiveness of the double standard issue surrounding all of this is one of the most damaging and surreal things about it all. If I were to be a visitor from another planet arriving on planet earth for the first time, I would honestly struggle to get my head around it. It has been widely accepted for someone who is genetically, and identifying as, a man to walk down the street topless during summer because evidently, it must just be far too hot for clothing. Whereas if someone with female breasts - because that's the real issue here - were to do the same or even minimise the "shock factor" by wearing a bikini top let's say, that's all too much and that individual would face ridicule, catcalling, and even potentially worse situations that would prey on their vulnerability. Discussing the issues around catcalling is a whole other post, but the difference in the treatment is baffling. Stripping it back further to fully demonstrate the double standard, I direct you to one of my most favourite apps to use - instagram.



Scrolling through instagram might result in seeing a man enjoying his holiday, getting selfies on the beach in his trunks and guess what? No mention of nipples. A woman wearing no bra and her nipples are visible? You can guarantee someone has mentioned it in the comments as if that woman didn't know what she was about or what her body is. I'm using this app as an example because I have seen some of my favourite artists draw female nipples - nipples on full breasts - of cartoon stylised characters and hyper-realistic women and they have been reported for nudity. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but how can a cartoon nymph's nipples be more offensive to the sight than a naked man's? It's silly, right? Right. So I see these artists sharing their work in a shroud, having to cover areas of their paintings and drawings with pencils, brushes, emojis, anything to try to avoid the reports of indecent imagery coming flooding in. It's bizarre times we're living in.

Free the Nipple isn't a new movement but it feels like the progressiveness of it is slow and labouring which is demotivating. A movement that calls for self love, equality, and empowerment is falling short based on outdated views that should have never surfaced and been followed in society in the first place. Free the Nipple is a movement that needs support for all it's positive messages and it's inclusivity. I feel like many people - myself included - see the movement as something that is seeking equality mostly between the treatment of male and female bodies but it has so much depth to it.

We're still fighting for mother's rights to breastfeed in public without facing shame or being asked to do it elsewhere. We're still fighting the fact that the female body is sexualised a great deal and slut shaming is as prevalent as ever. We're still fighting unrealistic beauty standards and need to ensure that women *know* that their bodies are beautiful and unique. This idea that the female nipple is sexualised to such an extent that mothers can't feed their own children in public lies at the fault of those individuals who choose to sexualise it. It isn't anyone else's fault if your thoughts are sexual - that doesn't override the female body's functionality (or at least that is what I would shout from the rooftops but as Free the Nipple and similar movements exist, it's obviously not a point that is being accepted).

Movements such as Free the Nipple but also #saggyboobsmatter are not just some stint for feminism that's asking for equality. It's helping to educate so many females that we should love our bodies and that they're all beautiful in their vast array. We've all been swept along in what is "acceptable" in the realm of the beauty standard, but there's only one kind of beauty standard so for the majority of bodies that don't fit the very specific criteria, they are alienated. Self love should be practiced boldly, unashamedly, and regularly and accepting your body and knowing it's a perfectly good and happy body should be the mission of all society. Not only are these movements helping to educate females about self love, but it's helping show males that the female body is rich and varied too and is 100% a womans. Ownership lies with the individual and no one can or should take that away from them.

I've probably ranted for long enough here but it's so important to keep fighting for what's right. For equality, for slut shaming to end, for bodies to be accepted, and for full autonomy to be where it should always be: with us.




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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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