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Monday, October 16, 2017

I've had a few thoughts on algorithms over the last few months.

Mostly, it's been that they suck. A lot.

Social media is a huge part part of our daily lives, and for a lot of us, a huge part of our jobs. It's great to shop, search, connect, share, and be able to create big things out of the smallest moments, but for a large percentage of people it's only become a source of complaint for the last few months.

What was once a varied range of platforms where everything you posted was visible has now become contorted over time and restricted, taking our ownership and fun with it.

It's difficult to face that after years of visible success, hard work, and in some cases, excessive amounts of time spent perfecting themes and engagement to grow, but on the other hand it's made me realise more than ever that I'm not giving up my power and fun for no one - and that includes apps.

I love Instagram, YouTube, blogging, but the more people find fault in platforms the less I want to try. It shows how easy it is, how easily we get caught up in the algorithms, lack of engagement, the fact a new post hasn't performed well, or that we don't have the time to produce quality consistently.

But I've finally come to an agreement with my ego, to shrug off the inconvenience' of 'Social Media Guilt when Underperforming'. I'm done with annoying pangs of shame and embarrassment, the hours spent trying to plan and perfect, and accepted the situation for what it is - an opportunity to be okay with myself.

Because it all stems down to self-worth at the end of the day doesn't it? Can we still feel happy in ourselves whether a post gets 100 or 10,000 likes? Can we still feel proud if a post gets 50 or 500 hits in a day?

I totally understand that engagement numbers mean so much more than 'these people like me', it's work and job opportunities for a lot of us, but the bottom line is that this isn't our fault, this all happened because someone got greedy or wanted to only showcase certain media to appease others.

I'm not going to beg, I'm not going to pay, and I'm certainly not going to let it stop me from sharing. Sure, I can identify what performs better and that might not include the fun in-the-moment shot I want to upload to my grid, but I'll do it anyway.

I won't get worked up about it, but I certainly won't appease it either - from creators being penalised for discussing important topics to Instagram forcing you to pay for a service it should already be providing, we can make those at the top and developing listen whilst keeping our own happiness and worth in check.

It's one of many things within social media that add to a growing negativity in our self-worth, and it's something we need to change the mindset of - Hannah's post is great for pinpointing the little changes we can make to feel better overall - and until the day comes where we go all Braveheart and rise up against the non-chronological feed, I'm going to keep in mind that these algorithms don't define me, my work, or my worth, and they never will.

What are your thoughts on the algorithm changes over the last few years? Do you find yourself using them less and less or are you striving to keep them afloat?


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

In the past I've been quite the product hoarder, and whilst my lipstick collection is still a little on the large side, I feel I've gotten better at knowing what to buy and try when it comes to beauty. I've used my fair share of products - some haven't worked out, some were temporary loves, and some have been a raving success, and it got me thinking about the ones that I do love, and whether it's an 'I love this so much I wish I could have an unlimited free supply' or if it's 'I love this so much that I would actually go pay for it myself'.

It's taken so long for me to get to a point where I feel confident in what I'm buying, and I'm grateful for all the samples that have led me to a point where I understand skincare more and value the products, the science, and the brand, so here are a few of the best products I've tried that are definitely get my money's worth...

This is technically a repurchase already, but I adore Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser; it's so soft and soothing, and throughout the year it's kept my skin hydrated and gets every scrap of makeup out my pores. It's vegan, cruelty-free, and I've seen a huge improvement in the overall softness and clarity of my skin - a great daily cleanser everyone should try!

Now Oskia CityLife Facial Mist* may have been a recent addition but I already love it long time - the smell of Neroli and Basil is really refreshing, provides invisible protection over the skin to prevent pollution getting into the pores, and again has made a huge difference in clarity - I never realised we were exposed to such pollutants on varying levels, and by preventing free-radicals from entering at a higher level it decreases inflammation, sensitivity, and hyper-pigmentation, leaving you with clear happy skin!

Speaking of clear happy skin, a combination of Medik8 Hydra8 B5 Serum* and Sunday Riley Saturn* has done me wonders lately! My skin has got a lot drier since moving and I've found using Medik8 twice a day has really boosted the hydration on the surface and deeper down, even plumping up my skin which has made my cheeks look nice and firm for the first time in while.

Saturn has also made my skin feel incredibly soft and clear, thanks to the sulphur drawing out and removing all the excess gunk and sebum from my pores, plus reducing the size and pressure of larger spots. It's a bit of a miracle wonder for those with acne, and using this as a spot treatment every night as well as a twice weekly mask has meant an even faster 'bye-bye' for those annoying under skin bumps - result!

Makeup wise, there's a lot of Too Faced going on - Born This Way Foundation* is the perfect natural matte skin formula that lasts all day, with fab coverage and colour range to match. I usually mix two shades together or add a bit into my Becca foundation for extra coverage, but it's a fab staple I can't see myself without.

Similarly, the Hangover Primer* really adds the last bit of glow and hydration before makeup, plus it smells really fresh too with the coconut water and really helps keeps makeup in place all day whilst allowing natural oils to appear slowly. The Chocolate Soleil Bronzer* is also another great smelling product - I mean, who doesn't want a chocolate scented face? - that I've found the best multi-tasker for contour and bronzer, using Light for a sweep of colour on the cheeks and Medium in the hollows, and it isn't overly orange or grey, just a great neutral for natural warmth.

One last thing - I did photograph the Natural Matte palette below, which I originally thought was vegan but turns out contains carmine which is a bit pants as I love the colour range, so if you have any vegan shadow recs leave them below!

Pai and Oskia are my main skincare brand staples, and since trying more of the range I've ended up loving more and more - Oskia Restoration Oil* is deliciously light and smells like chocolate orange, plus it does treat your skin pretty well too ;) The oil really sinks deep into the skin, improves the tone and elasticity, and is a lovely day friendly light retinol that helps to repair through the day and prep the skin for makeup - did I mention it smells of chocolate orange?

Topping off the oil is Pai Geranium and Thistle Day Cream* which balances the skin and seals in all my morning skincare products, adding the right amount of nourishment you'd want from a day moisturiser, and thanks to all the natural and certified organic ingredients, it's guaranteed to keep your skin calm and soothed all day long which means it's fab for those with sensitive skin.

Speaking of, if sensitive skin is the name, Pai Gentle Genius Body Wash* is the game! The body wash is Pai's most recent release and it is a dream at moisturising and calming irritated skin - I get eczema on my arms sometimes or irritated patches on my upper body, and this very gently washes and soothes all over, plus because it moisturises your body as you wash so you don't have to after ;)

The final product to wash off this post is Noughty Haircare* which is probably one of the best vegan/cruelty-free brands I've found in terms of hair - I love the Care Taker Shampoo and Wave Hello Conditioner, great if you have dandruff or a greasy scalp but need to nourish and define natural curls, plus it's SLS, paraben, and silicone free among other nasties, so it protects your hair in the long run and I have to say my hair is definitely in much better condition since switching - in fact this is another cheeky repurchase because I've loved using it that much!

Whilst you won't be seeing me in a skincare aisle near you, I'm so glad I've finally nailed down those few great samples as 'forever' staples, as is my bank account, just don't tell it about the Glossier order I just made...


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Perfect with a side of Bake Off...

Despite baking more in the last month than I have all year, I'm not really a sweet tooth kinda gal - back in the day I could've easily tackled a large slice of fudge cake and hot chocolate in one sitting, but in recent years I've moved over to the carb side of life.

Also I definitely felt a spot grow purely from writing about chocolate, that's another reason why I don't have a lot of sugar.

But craving needs are must and one thing I was really wanting as a sweet treat/something to get me through Bake Off was a tart - rich and decadent, but also smooth and a bit fancy. Turns out making a vegan tart is quite easy despite some conflicting recipes, and excuse the pun but sometimes it's good to go with your gut - just whip up a ganache, grab some ready roll, and top it all off with honeycomb that's chewy and crunchy and a treat in itself ;)


For the tart:
200g of Dark Chocolate (70% or higher)
Ready Roll Shortcrust (sweet shortcrust if possible)
50ml Oatly Oat Cream (or to desired consistency, it should be firm enough to set but soft enough to cut)
50g Butter
2 Tsp Sugar

For the honeycomb:
2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
100g Caster Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180Âșc. Roll out pastry and line a 23cm greased tin (if smaller, just trim the edges!). Cover with baking paper and blind bake for 10-15 minutes, remove beans, and then bake for a further 15 minutes until golden.

2. Whilst it bakes, melt the chocolate on a medium heat in a bain marie before stirring in the butter, sugar, and cream until combined into a ganache. Take off the heat and allow to combine and rest before pouring into the tart case.

3. For the honeycomb, mix together the golden syrup and sugar off the heat in a pan. Transfer to a medium heat and allow the two to melt together for 3 minutes, stirring only if there's some burning. Once melted and smelling sweet, remove from heat and immediately stir in the bicarb, letting the mixture buff up and carbonate, and then pour quickly onto a sheet of baking paper. Allow this to set for 15 minutes before nibbling ;)

4. Whilst the tart is setting, break up some chunks of honeycomb and arrange on top of the ganache. Add any other topping you'd like, and allow to set further.

Note - as the cream is dairy free, you may get a weird set liquid on the outside of the ganache (as seen in the top image) this is perfectly fine, it just means the cream may not have combined properly or it was heated too much, but still perfectly edible!

Now grab a slice, sit back, and enjoy a slice of sweetness whilst the bakers sweat it out for your entertainment...


Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest


Monday, October 09, 2017

Despite being a cold-blooded lizard, I really love autumn - you still get those warm bright days, with just enough chill to wear a jumper and scarf, and it's also instant cosiness wherever you look thanks to the warmth of the turning leaves and variety of syrups in your hot chocolate.

To make Monday a bit easier, and get fully into the spirit of autumn, here are a few things I love about the season...

Nothing screams autumn more than lighting at least 10 scented candles around the house and basking in spiced goodness. My personal faves include Yankee Candle Cinnamon Stick, Gingerbread and Pumpkin Pie from Lindsay Lucas Candles, and White Company Winter, which I know is 'winter' but it's definitely an overall festive season smell (that's what I tell myself anyway).

Warm drinks
Obviously hot drinks aren't exclusive to autumn, but I certainly drink a lot more of them once the temperature drops! I'm not into coffee so a lot of the time it's hot chocolate and tea, with my current warming and spicy faves being Pukka Original Chai and Vanilla Chai - both packed with my bae cinnamon and his warm pals ginger and cardamom - and if I'm really fancy then I go full blow chai latte (although I'm still having difficulty trying to nail the tea to milk ratio at home, Pret's coconut chai is incredible). There's also hot chocolate, and speaking of...

Flavoured Syrups
Why have straight up chocolate when you can flavour it?! When it's in season, I ask for a PSHC - that's Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate, which is incredible, but all Starbucks baristas malfunction when you ask for it - because again, what is better than warming spices in your drink?! Cinnamon and caramel are also good shouts, but I've been experimenting with a mix of Chai syrup and Pumpkin Caramel syrup, which is sweet enough to give you a filling but very very delicious!

A classic fave, there's nothing a jumper can't solve! Jeans, skirts, trousers, they're easy to throw on and style, so when the weather dips I know I've got my wardrobe 80% nailed on a daily basis (thanks to my 80% wardrobe of jumpers!)

Blankets, lots of blankets
I never used to 'get' blankets, why did people love them so much? Fast forward a few years and now I can't get enough of them - I've got blankets for decoration, for cosy toes, in colours for all the seasons, and I recently picked up two very seasonal pieces for photos and extra toe layering (because of the cold blood) from Homesense. Now all I need is a movie and a roaring fire and I'm all set!

Thick socks and boots
Maybe it's the classic Brit thing of wanting to jump all into the cold weather fast, but I love nothing more than cosy toes and fluffy socks. If I can crack my thermal socks out and Uggs, then it's going to be one comfy day of walking ;)

Not having to shave my legs all the time
Don't tell me you haven't fist-pumped the air a little when you realise it's that time of year when you don't really have to whip a razor out every other day. It's joyous, and I don't blame you for being so, it's another layer and as if I'm getting my ankles out for anything under 20 degrees ;)

All the red and orange makeup
As well as the warm tones in the trees, I love how we all start to add a bit more red and orange into our beauty routines - a darker burgundy lip, some terracotta eyeshadow, and a dusty rose manicure? Sounds like perfection! My fave shades include NYX Lip Lingerie in Exotic, Smashbox Lipstick in Wrap Party, PUR Liquid Lipstick in Addiction, and for the eyes I'm all about Too Faced Natural Matte Palette.

More roast dinners
Roasts are a Sunday classic, but come autumn they're at least a twice weekly (sometimes thrice) staple. The more potato the better, carb me up to Christmas!

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

Website | Flickr | Tumblr | Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram | Pinterest

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