Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Happiness Is...


I got to thinking the other day about how it's always those little things and moments in life that often make us feel the happiest; like a good book, a certain smell, a comforting home-cooked meal or a favourite place to go to for a bit of calm and reflection. So I decided to put together a short post, in pictures, of a few little things in my life that, no-matter how negative, or overwhelmed, or down I'm feeling about something, never fail to comfort me and put a smile on my face. 
Making unexpected new friends
Simple, home-cooked food
Fresh-cut Flowers (Tulips for me)
A sunny walk in Hyde Park with a dear friend

Daddy
Vegan Cupcakes at Greenwich Market
Afternoon Tea with an Inspiring Read*
This little nose in my face every morning
A subtle waft of something gorgeous
I loved putting these images together. Just compiling this post was therapeutic in itself. It'll also give me something to refer back to if I ever need a smile. One of the funny things I feel about life is that, even when it feels like you're being challenged or put through the ringer, there are always these little, beautiful things to help you along and make the struggles worthwhile. Now I'm definitely feeling inspired to go about the rest of my day.

Tell me your simple pleasures in the comments and let's spread the happiness...


*Affiliate Link
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Monday, 22 June 2015

Unboxing The Vegan Kind TVK20


Recently, I've taken to posting my The Vegan Kind* reviews on my other blog, Bananas For Breakfast, which is solely dedicated to all things vegan. However, I thought it was about time I offered my readers here a fresh dose of TVK deliciousness. For anyone unfamiliar with TVK, they were the first to offer a 100% vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle subscription box in the UK and, in my opinion, are still the best. They also offer a quarterly Beauty Box packed full of bunny-friendly toiletries and beauty finds. June marks their 20th lifestyle box: Here's what's in it...

Choc Shot Coconut - TVK20Roots Vegetable Crisps

The first thing to jump out at me when I opened this box was the glorious Coconut Choc Shot liquid chocolate and I was so delighted that I may have cradled it in my arms for a moment. The first TVK box I ever had contained the original Choc Shot and I've been a fan ever since. Despite my rocky love/hate relationship with coconut, I'm happy to report that this stuff is like a liquid Bounty bar. I'll be using this in milkshakes and ice cream sundaes galore over the summer! 
I already love Roots Vegetable Crisps so I was pleased to see them included in this month's box. They are a combo of carrot, parsnip and beetroot with a pinch of sea salt. The Pip & Nut Almond Butter is a completely new product to me and I look forward to trying it out. I'm not a big user of nut butters so I'll have to get my thinking cap on as to how I'm going to use it. I can imagine it would be fantastic for smoothies or baking.

Elements for Life Yummy Scrummy Brownie
Because the brownie deserved a photo all of its own
This box really hit the mark with its sweet offerings. This Elements For Life Yummy Scrummy Brownie was seriously special. It's a gloriously decadent product, yet contains wholesome ingredients such as goji berries, coconut and lashings of raw cacao. It's practically a superfood salad! Guilt? What guilt? 

Friendly Soap - Peppermint and Poppy Seed

I'm not much of a fan of bar soaps, to be honest (or peppermint). I much prefer a liquid with a pump top, but I will definitely use this Friendly Peppermint and Poppy Seed Soap with essential oils. I love that it's SLS, paraben and palm oil free and there's always room in my heart for any handmade, cruelty-free product. I think it's really important to support natural, handmade companies and increase the demand for ethical, sustainable products. TVK do a fantastic job of introducing more and more people to these options.

All in all, this box is another resounding hit for The Vegan Kind. They pull it out of the bag every time with their product selections and I've never had a disappointing box from them (which I can't always say about other beauty/lifestyle boxes I've subscribed to in the past). The highlights of TVK20, for me, have to be the sweet offerings. The featured charity for June is Rabbit Run-Away Orphanage, who will receive 10p from every box sold.

The TVK lifestyle box is £10 per month (plus P&P) 

For more information on The Vegan Kind and to subscribe to any of their boxes, check them out at
www.thevegankind.com

You can also connect with TVK via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram 

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

So, What Now? Life After University

Adjusting to life as a freelancer

Life just got real again. After 4 years, 2 Universities and approximately 1.5 degrees I am now officially done with University and back in the real world again. It's scary. It's unfamiliar. What the heck am I supposed to do now? Granted, it should be pretty simple; apply for all of the jobs and start the daily 9-5 grind along with every other graduate who's ever graduated. For me... not so much. 

As someone who suffers from chronic illness, I'm very aware of my limitations when it comes to work. My last 40-50hr-a-week job is the reason I'm in this mess. I worked myself into the ground. It was my inability to continue working like that that led me back into education at the age of 29. I wanted to do something productive again and better myself. I suppose it was the best thing that could have happened, really. I wasn't happy working dodgy, hectic shifts in the service industry and it ended up breaking me (literally). 

So, what's the plan?

University of Greenwich Queen Mary's Court
University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus
The first step is coming to terms with the fact that I won't get to visit my gorgeous campus at Greenwich University every day from now on. In fact, I'm probably going to have to leave London entirely and move back to Derbyshire for a while after my graduation ceremony is done. Greenwich University isn't perfect but boy, is it a beautiful and inspiring environment to study in (if it's good enough for Jack Sparrow, it's good enough for me). 

To cut a long, rambly story short, I'm going to give the freelancing life a try. Whilst studying for my PR and Communications degree, I undertook freelance social media management roles part-time and I really loved it. I got some amazing feedback from clients and it's really made me think that perhaps I can do it full time. Given my circumstances, it seems like the best option. I get to do work I enjoy whilst also being able to work to my own schedule. I'll also have more opportunities to work on the blog. Sounds great, but it's also kinda terrifying. I need to learn how to sell myself, which doesn't come naturally to me. I need to get my head around the fact that I am allowed to call myself an expert now. I have the qualifications and experience, so why wouldn't anyone want to work with me? 
Image Credit - WeHeartIt
While I figure all this out, I'm going to be retreating back to The Shire, spending time with all of my loved ones (who I do miss when I'm in London), doing lots of writing and building up a freelance portfolio to be proud of. Don't get me wrong, if an amazing opportunity comes along in the meantime, I'd jump at the chance to stay in London. I'm completely in love with this city. Is it weird that I find all the hustle and bustle to be peaceful? My decision to leave for now is purely financial, plus the fact that I could probably benefit from a hefty dose of Derbyshire countryside while I work things out. 

So, while all this is terrifying and unknown, I definitely feel like I'm up to the challenge. I just need to get my positivity hat on and put myself out there. I think the universe owes me a bit of good luck. Hopefully, there won't be too much disruption to my blogs while I'm moving and getting resettled, but I hope you'll all stick with me. 

How did you adjust to life after graduation? What are your top tips for getting started as a freelancer? 
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Saturday, 6 June 2015

A Few Daily Beauty Essentials

Essential skincare and makeup items I couldn't live without

Happy Weekend Everyone! 
Whilst I was streamlining my makeup bag the other day I got to considering what my absolute essential beauty items are and which products I am constantly pulling out every day, regardless of where I'm going. I must admit, I don't wear makeup every single day. Now that I'm self-employed and working mostly from home, I'm not constantly showing my face off to the world. Still, when I do venture out I definitely have my favourite go-to products, so I thought I'd share them with you. 

Superdrug B. Pure Micellar Water 

I first reviewed this product last year (check it out) and it's become an essential part of my daily routine. It freshens my face in the morning and does a great job of removing makeup at night. At night I'll use it alongside another, more intensive, cleanser such as my beloved Elemis Lime Blossom Cleanser or, more recently, Superdrug Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser (more on that in a future post.) It's reasonably priced and super-handy and it's always on special offer.

Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner*

I never used to understand the purpose of toners, but I wouldn't be without one now, especially as we move into summer. It's been a revelation! I'm currently using this multi-active toner by Dermalogica and I love how it enhances the performance of my moisturiser. I'm not going to say too much as I'd really like to do a full review of this at some point. I also adore Elemis' Lavender Toner, but this one definitely gives it a run for its money. 

Amie Skincare Hydrating Daily Moisturiser

I cannot praise this product enough. At the moment I'm using it day and night, despite it being a day cream. As a rule, I have combination skin, however, I have hydration issues in some areas and this cream offers instant relief. I love it under makeup and it leaves my skin feeling so smooth. I'm a huge fan of Amie products as they are BUAV approved cruelty-free and almost all of their products are free of animal ingredients. 

Illamasqua Skinbase Foundation - Shade 9

I tend to use high-end foundations sparingly due to budget issues (sigh) but, during the summertime, I find that a lot of drugstore foundations just can't stand the heat so I have repurchased this old favourite. I love Skinbase because you can get an exact match due to the extensive shade range. It also has similar properties to a BB cream so you get a lovely coverage without having to use a lot of product. Exactly what I need now that the weather is hotting up a bit. I've also gone a shade darker, because tan. 

Superdrug B. Blusher - Golden Peach

I think it's pretty obvious (despite it being out of focus - fail) that I've got a crush on this product - I've hit pan! You'll find this on my cheeks most days at the moment, whether it be nipping to the shops or on a night out. I find it very similar to my old favourite MAC Melba (but with a touch of added sparkle). I need to try more from the B. makeup range. I'm a huge fan of their skincare. 

OCC Lip Tars - Interlace and Hush

I'll confess something to you now... I am still using up a lot of my old, pre-vegan lipsticks. I refuse to waste makeup and I have enough to open a store. However, for daily wear I prefer to use something that is 100% cruelty-free and OCC Lip Tars are the best around in my opinion. They last all day with minimal retouches. On the surface these shades may look identical but Hush (bottom) has a lovely, dusky pink hue to it, whereas Interlace (top) is just a great all-round peachy nude. I'm developing a Lip-Tar habit. I get mine from cutECOsmetics.co.uk.

MUA Cosmetics Matte Palette

I praised this palette in my previous post. Luckily the one pictured here was a more recent repurchase (my previous palette was too 'loved' to be photographed.) It's just the most perfect palette for neutral, everyday looks, but also gives a decent smokey eye should the need arise. I keep a spare at my parents house as well in case of emergencies. At £4 it's an absolute essential for me. 

GOSH Amazing Length & Build Mascara

Y'know, it's pretty difficult to come by a decent, cruelty-free drugstore mascara, mainly because there are only a few to choose from. This is the only one in the GOSH range that is suitable for vegans. Luckily I really rather love it. Most of the time I don't go for liner if it's just a normal day but, if I'm feeling fancy or have somewhere to go, I'll team this with my Illamasqua Precision Ink. 

Those are my most-loved, can't-live-without products. Don't get me wrong, I love to switch it up depending on my outfit or where I'm going on a particular day, but everyone has those fail-safe products that they fall back on time and time again. I will probably follow this post up with an everyday FOTD-type post (once I grow a pair and get my eyebrows sorted out). 

What are your everyday beauty essentials? 
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Monday, 1 June 2015

MUA Cosmetics Spring Break Palette

MUA Spring Break Review and Swatches

The irony is not lost on me that I'm writing a blog post about Spring/Summer makeup shades whilst huddled under a blanket listening to the wind howl outside my window but I've been desperate for ages to share this pretty Spring eyeshadow palette by MUA Cosmetics* with you. I've had it for a little while but wanted to wait until I was done with all the stress of my final year of Uni so that I could give it my full attention. So, without further ado, here's my thoughts on the MUA Spring Break Palette....

Spring Collection by MUA Cosmetics

MUA have delivered us safely away from Winter with this shimmering mix of neutrals, pinks and soft greens. Normally I would be a little wary of an all-shimmer palette (shimmer just isn't my bag for day-to-day wear) but these shades are all extremely wearable. My go-to palette at the moment is MUA's Matte Palette. I absolutely swear by it. However, when the sun finally decides to put it's hat on and keep it on I'm definitely going to incorporate more of these colours. 

Spring Makeup Shades by MUA Cosmetics

As regular readers might have gathered, I'm a sucker for neutral shades so this palette was always going to be a winner for me. In some ways it's not dissimilar from MUA classics such as the Heaven & Earth palette, but the additional pink hues, pastels and purples definitely justify having both. Surprisingly though, it is the golds, pinks and shimmering khakis in this palette that have got me the most excited. Looks like I'm going to be easing out of my comfort zone. I'm definitely going to make the effort to try the pastel green shades in the palette. 

My top 3 shades from the palette are Amber (a shimmering gold/bronze), Posy (a slightly deeper dusky pink with a hint of shimmer) and Gold Khaki (exactly how it sounds). The texture and finish of these shades is exactly what I've come to expect from MUA over the years; soft and easily blended. For a budget palette it really is a pleasure to use. 

Image Credit - MUA Cosmetics


Thought I'd include this new-season 'Barely There' lipstick by MUA for a good measure, although it really was a bit of a disaster on me. I think you'd have to be pretty porcelain-skinned for this to be flattering. It's a shame though as it's so beautiful in the tube. It also contains beeswax, making it a no-no for me, as a vegan. At £1 though, it may be well worth a try for others, especially paler ladies. 

I will probably attempt an eye look post featuring this palette over the Summer, once I'm a bit more tan and can pull off a little extra shimmer. Now that I'm getting myself organised and planning more posts in advance I hope to do a full range of Summer beauty posts over the coming weeks. 

The Spring Break palette retails for £4. 
MUA products are available in Superdrug stores or online at


What are your go-to shades for Spring? 
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