2015 Highlights

Thursday, 31 December 2015
It's unbelievable how quickly this year has flown by! It only seems like two minutes ago since I was sipping a glass of rose on my mum's sofa, seeing in 2015.

When I first started planning this post, I thought I might struggle to find highlights of the year that I wanted to share. Not because it's been a terrible year, just because it wasn't an overwhelmingly amazing one. But as I started looking through photos from January up until now, I found I was spoilt for choice! Some pretty amazing things have happened in 2015, and it's posts like this that remind me of how lucky I am.

My 21st birthday
I didn't have all that much planned for my birthday this year, but it turned out to be one of the vest ever. I had pre-birthday drinks with my uni friends (which turned into pre-birthday Sambuca shots... somehow), and then spent my actual birthday with Luke and my family. It snowed like crazy on my birthday, but he still took me out for lunch and a couple of glasses of wine, just the two of us. I then had a yummy Chinese for dinner with my family, and they made me an incredible Frozen birthday cake!

Valentine's Day
My first Valentine's Day with Luke! We spent an evening doing what we do best, stuffing our faces with food and drinking cocktails! Now that work/uni is so crazy for both of us, time together can be quite rare, so lovely evenings like Valentine's Day are now extra special.

Ross' birthday night out
This was probably the night which started my friendship with all of my work colleagues. A huge group of us went on a night out with Sheffield for Ross' birthday, and we had such a fun night, featuring a few too many tequila shots, lots of dancing and somehow stumbling out of a taxi at 6am! I guess to me, this is when some of my closest friends were cemented, and that's why this is such a special night for me.

On the 9th May this year, little Eloise Grace was born, my god sister. (Before anyone says a god sister isn't a thing, she's my godmother's little girl, so yes, it is a thing.) A god sister is one of the best jobs you can have because it's basically like a cool auntie and sister rolled into one! I can honestly say I haven't adored a little one so much since my sister was born. She's now seven months old, and one of the most beautiful, clever little girls you could ever meet, and full of personality! We've had so many amazing memories so far and I've loved watching her grow up.

My friend Mollie first dragged me to salsa at the end of July, and I couldn't have been more dubious. The thought of dancing, and potentially falling over in front of strangers put my stomach in knots. But, I quickly fell in love with it! I've seen myself improve, grown in confidence, and made some new friends, plus it gives me some real quality time with Mollie. I can't wait to see how much better I can get next year!

York is one of my favourite cities in the whole world. I love how it is steeped in history, and full of beautiful architecture and cute little shops. I spent a day there over the summer with Mollie and her friend Britni, who was visiting from America, and we had the best girly day, drinking coffee in cute tea rooms and going around on an open-top bus seeing the sights!

After a stressful semester at uni, a family holiday was just what I needed. My family and I travelled down to Devon for a week, which has been our favourite holiday spot all through our childhood and remains so up until now. This year, we stayed in a beautiful lodge on a golf course, and spent the week relaxing on our little patio in the sunshine or visiting beautiful seaside towns. It was so lovely to unwind and spend some time with my family.

Beckie's birthday weekend
Beckie is one of those friends that you can go a good couple of years without seeing but when you do, you pick exactly where you left off, as if no time has passed at all. I managed to get the whole weekend off for her superhero-themed birthday celebrations back in September, involving a garden party and a night out in Lincoln. I loved catching up with Beckie and meeting some of her friends, and we all got on as if we'd known each other for years. (This was also the first night out in about six months where I'd been in a busy club and not had a panic attack, yay!)

Meadowhall Retail Awards
Anyone who knows me fairly well will know how stressful my little part-time job can be. But this night made it all worth it. I went along with my managers and Ross, where we got dressed up, took full advantage of the free wine, and won the award for Best Home Department! It was such a proud moment, just because we all work so hard and the department often gets a tough time for being a bit rubbish or boring. (Clearly Meadowhall shoppers don't think so!)

Manchester Fashion Industry Autumn/Winter Fashion Show
My very first event as a blogger! I've done a separate post on this, but any day where I get to spend a bit of quality time with Fii is always fab. Despite being ridiculously nervous, I soon settled into it and actually really enjoyed myself, and even got chatting to a brand! Which I would never have been confident enough to do this time last year. Now my plan for 2016 is to go to a lot more events, and maybe even meet some of the bloggers that I've been chatting to on Twitter for the last eight months!

I actually really struggled to narrow this post down to ten highlights! It's really made me realise what a fantastic year I've had. I've started my blog, my confidence has grown, I've met new people and I've improved my mental health enormously. Not bad going!

What have been your highlights for 2015?

Sian Kathrine xo

Counting Hope

Sunday, 20 December 2015

I've only been blogging for eight months, but it's already opened a lot of doors for me and enabled me to get involved in some awesome projects and collaborations. But I never anticipated such an amazing opportunity as Counting Hope when an email came flying into my inbox recently.

The email came from a young man named Andy Green, who was looking for my help with the non-profit organisation called Counting Hope. He'd found me through Twitter, had a look at my blog and decided that I was the right person to work with.

Counting Hope is in its infancy at the minute, but has an incredible vision. It all started when Andy was on a family holiday on Sal Island in Cape Verde. Although a beautiful island, the people there live in absolute poverty, with families barely scraping by, next to no medical care and schools with crumbling walls and no where to safely store food for the children to eat.

The devastating poverty that Andy saw inspired him to start Counting Hope, with a mission to empower people through education. For me, education is one of the most powerful tools in the world, so when Andy told me this, it really struck a chord with me.

What makes Counting Hope different is that the idea is to make Sal Island self-sufficient rather than simply throwing money at them. The end goal is for the people of the island to say "hey, thank you very much for your help, but we're okay now, we can take care of ourselves!" The island relies heavily on tourism, but only a tiny proportion of the profit from the tourism industry goes back into the community of itself. But, Andy wants to help to provide people with the tools they need to source exports and build safer, more efficient schools and hospitals.

After exchanging a few emails, Andy and I met to talk a bit more about Counting Hope and where he wanted to go with it. We had a really good two hour chat and I was so inspired by his vision. The kind of work that he wants to do is so important, and it was so refreshing to hear about someone who wanted to make a real change rather than just sending a cheque and forgetting about it.

So where do I come into it all? My job for the time being is to get the word out, starting with this post. The more people who hear about Counting Hope, the more it will grow and we want to achieve as much as we possibly can. In the next couple of months, I'm going to be getting in touch with newspapers, radio stations and anyone who can help us raise awareness of Counting Hope and its goals.

In the New Year, Counting Hope's first event will be happening in Grimsby, which will be an amazing opportunity to start raising some funds and get people on board. In the meantime though, a bank account has just been opened and the first committee meeting has just taken place, and I'm so excited for the project to hit the ground running!

Now, my lovely readers, what I would love for you to do is help me spread the word. Andy is a remarkable guy, he's started this project at just 18 years old, and Counting Hope is one of the most refreshing and inspirational projects I've ever come across. I'd love nothing more than to see it get off the ground. If you could simply pay the website a visit (countinghope.org), and retweet or share this post. I'm going to be getting more content out there as soon as I possibly can, so keep your eyes peeled for that, and pretty soon you'll be able to donate and help us raise some money to send some resources over to Sal Island.

I really hope you can all get on board and support Counting Hope in any way that you can.

Sian Kathrine xo

Gothic Romance

Saturday, 19 December 2015

As far as fashion events go, Manchester Fashion Industry's Autumn Winter Show is a pretty big deal. And when it's your very first event as a blogger... Cue the panic.

Luckily, I had Fii on hand to stop me from melting into a puddle of nerves.

For those who don't know, Manchester Fashion Industry put on two shows a year, striving to put the city, and the north as a whole on the fashion map. They invite people from across the industry, including bloggers to their events, and this season, the theme was Gothic Romance.

After running for our train (seriously though, why would you put Platform 2C before Platforms 2A and 2B?!), Fii and I spent a lovely, but very windy and rainy day in exploring Manchester, checking out the Christmas markets and drinking a lot of coffee!

When your cup of green tea is bigger than you are...

 The event itself was held at a beautiful restaurant and bar in Manchester city centre. When we arrived, we were greeted with a welcome cocktail (in which the ratio of vodka to mixer was definitely leaning more towards vodka. Which was by no means a bad thing.)

This is where I apologise for having no photos of the fashion show itself, I had really tall people stood in front of me for the whole thing! But the clothes that were showcased were absolutely stunning, from beautiful dresses to elegant jumpsuits and tailored suits for the guys.

After seeing the incredible outfits that everyone had turned up in, I felt so underdressed! But I adore this little lace dress that I picked up from H&M especially for the night. I've already got so much wear out of it since because it's so easy to dress up or down!

Thanks to having a 9am workshop on Monday morning, we couldn't go to the After Party at the Milton Club, but judging by the pictures, it was an incredible night!

But I loved meeting new people and soaking up the whole atmosphere. Manchester Fashion Industry sure know how to put on an elegant night! Thank you for having us! I can't wait to start going to more events!

Sian Kathrine xo

Coconut Lane

Thursday, 17 December 2015

I love shopping on websites that sell cute, quirky bits and pieces. Hunting down things that I wouldn't necessarily find on the High Street is a lot of fun, especially when it comes to looking for Christmas presents (and it's a brilliant way to procrastinate from doing coursework!)

When the lovely Charlotte at Coconut Lane got in touch asking me to do a post for them, I checked out their website and instantly fell in love! They have a whole array of fab pieces, from prints to go on your wall to phone cases to jewellery. And I'm a sucker for pretty things, so I just had to get myself some jewellery from their range!

I went for the Heart and Wing ring and Moon & Star necklace, and when the parcel came through my letterbox I was so excited to see what I'd ordered! I adore how dainty and adorable they both are, I've never been one for statement jewellery so this style suits me perfectly! The ring looks lovely alongside the Pandora rings I already wear every day, and I've had so many compliments on the necklace!

Whether you're a jewellery fan like me, need a new phone case or fancy treating yourself to some quirky accessories for your home, I couldn't recomment Coconut Lane highly enough! The products are of brilliant quality and so reasonably priced!

The fab people at Coconut Lane have been kind enough to give me a discount code to share with my lovely readers! Just head on over to coconut-lane.com and if anything takes your fancy, pop in sian20 at the till to get 20% off EVERYTHING! You lucky lot!

Have you ever bought anything from Coconut Lane? What do you think of the website?

Sian Kathrine xo

Oh Christmas Tree

Sunday, 13 December 2015

This year, I have been so ridiculously excited to put my Christmas tree up. Ever since I moved out of my mum's house, I've been living in student housing, so I've only had enough space for a tiny tabletop tree and DIY paper snowflakes. Cute, yes, but I've always wanted to have a full-size Christmas tree.

Well, now I've moved into what I call my "grown-up house", it's been the first year ever that I can have a proper tree, with baubles and fairy lights and everything! My friend Ross and I spent an afternoon shopping for the tree and the perfect baubles to decorate it, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you!

I went for a gold colour scheme with a hint of light purple/mauve, I just think it looks so classy and fits the theme that's already in my living room perfectly! The tree itself came from the Range, it's a slimline one because I only had a narrow space to put it in, and is a bargain at £24.99! I got for warm white fairy lights to go around it to fit with the theme of the tree, I didn't want to go for anything too blindingly bright! The lights also came from the Range at £9.99.

Most of my baubles came from Next, their Christmas range is just stunning this season (plus staff discount hollaaaaaaa)! I picked up a pack of 20 in different shades of champagne and mauve colours, which are a steal at £6! The heart shaped bauble pictured above is part of a pack of 12, all gold, which were absolutely perfect for padding out the decorations a little bit.

I also grabbed the gold bell hearts from Next, as well as the chandelier decorations and feather baubles. They're absolutely beautiful statement pieces for the tree, the chandelier really stands out and I just love how simply elegant the feather ones are!

I wasn't sure how much I'd find in the Range in terms of baubles and decorations, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how many pretty things they had in there! I couldn't resist this glass bauble, it was only £1.39 (so naturally I bought four), and the glitter pattern is just gorgeous. I love how it looks against the fairy lights. I also had to have a couple of these gold drop bows on my tree, they were also really really super cheap but look so pretty on my tree!

Our last stop was Asda Living, which had this amazing glass bauble! I love the effect on the inside, it looks fab when the light shines through it! The tree topper I chose was a statement gold star at only £1, and I also picked up this gold butterfly clip as a bonus... Just because I thought it was cute!

Hope you like my tree! What colours and styles have you gone for this Christmas?

Sian Kathrine xo

Lincoln Christmas Market

Friday, 11 December 2015

In between working long shifts, getting ready for our huge Boxing Day sale and university deadlines, I don't get very much time to get festive. I actually just get Christmas Day off and that's my lot. Ah, retail life. But the hardest part of my one-day Christmas is that I get very little time to be with my family.

That's why a family day at the Lincoln Christmas Market is so important. Every year, we all get wrapped up and brave the cold on the hunt for Christmas presents and yummy food!

Lincoln Christmas Market opens on the first weekend of December, from the Thursday-Sunday, one of the biggest and most popular Christmas Markets in the country. We usually go in the evenings, I just love the atmosphere of the market at night, but work rotas this year meant we ended up making the trip on Sunday afternoon. But I loved it just as much in the day!

After a quick coffee and cake stop, we ventured in to the market. Starting in the grounds of the castle, which is just such a pretty setting. The little wooden stalls were adorned with fairy lights and a lot of the staff had dressed in Victorian costumes, which was just adorable!

The market then led us out of the castle and into the Bailgate area of the city and the cathedral, which is all cobbled streets and old-fashioned shops. Although there didn't seem to be as many stalls as previous years, I thought that what was on offer was of a better quality, and I actually managed to tick off a lot of my Christmas list! There was still a little bit of everything though, from jewellery, to speciality cheeses and wines to handmade soaps to decorations.

Little sister & I
After exploring all of the stores and spending a little bit too much money, a Bailey's hot chocolate to warm up was an absolute must!

Year on year, the Lincoln Christmas Market makes me feel so lucky to have grown up in the area. It's one of the highlights of my Christmas and I definitely feel more festive having been! If you ever get the chance to visit, seize it, you won't regret it!

Where's your favourite Christmas Market?

Sian Kathrine xo

Christmas Traditions

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Every family will have those little traditions that they uphold year in, year out. Whether it's the Queen's Speech, a particular cheesy song that you just HAVE to have playing on Christmas Day, or the board games that you play. And I bet as you're reading this, you're smiling at the thought of another year of Christmas traditions that you just can't bear to break.

Well, I thought I'd share with you our little Christmas traditions, from the beginning of December right through to Boxing Day, and maybe you'll get a little insight into how we celebrate.

Lincoln Christmas Market
Always the first weekend in December, this is when Christmas really starts for us. We've been going on family visits to the Lincoln Christmas Market for years, and we love getting wrapped up and braving the cold to have a look around! We always come home feeling really festive and looking forward to the rest of the season! I don't want to give too much away about it because I'm going to do a separate post about this year's visit, but our little traditions tend to include hot pork sandwiches while we're there and a Bailey's hot chocolate halfway round to warm our chilly hands!

The Tree
At mum's house, the tree doesn't go up before 14th of December, and it comes down on the 6th of January. Twelve days before Christmas, twelve days after Christmas. It's just the way she does it. And apparently my Nanna was a stickler for it too. While my brother wrestles with the ceiling decorations (at 6'4", it's clearly the perfect job for him. Much to his dismay.) my sister and I put on our pre-selected Christmas playlist as loud as we can, wrap tinsel round our heads and waists, and dance around the house as we decorate the tree. It takes much longer than is probably necessary, but we love it!

Christmas Baking
My mum, sister and I always spend an afternoon baking mince pies and maids of honour in the run up to Christmas. Again, usually with cheesy Christmas tunes on in the background! We all have our own little workstations, Mum's in charge of pastry (she let me try it one year. I was rubbish.) I've been relegated to greasing baking trays and filling pastry, and Isabelle pops the lids on and puts them in the oven. We usually get so carried away that we end up baking way too many and I'm sent back to uni with a huge tupperware box crammed full of mince pies... But I'm okay with that.

Christmas Eve
Usually Christmas Eve is very chilled out for us. Mum puts on a buffet of crusty bread, crackers, meats and cheeses for us to nibble on while we watch some sort of Christmas film in our PJs.

When we were younger, my dad accidentally let slip to me and my brother about the truth behind Santa. My little sister was only three at the time, so my parents swore us to secrecy about what we knew. So every year, we kept up the charade of putting out a glass of milk and a mince pie for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph. My sister is now 15, but we still put out the snacks every year before bed on Christmas Eve. You might think it's sad, but it's tradition, and if you can't be a little kid at Christmas, when can you?! (Maybe it's just that I don't want to accept the fact that my little sister's a grown up. Yep. That's probably it.)

Christmas Day
We still get up pretty early on Christmas Day, usually about 7am and run downstairs to open all our presents. Our usual Christmas morning film is Nativity, we all sit together with a cup of tea and tin of Celebrations (because chocolate for breakfast is always acceptable at Christmas). The day is generally spent eating, playing board games, and watching films, one of which usually being Harry Potter!

Boxing Day
Again, I've started having to work Boxing Day (bleh) but prior to that, Boxing Day was always pyjama day! Mum always makes bubble and squeak for lunch, and we have a really lazy day full of food and films... Basically the same as Christmas Day, really!

Christmas tends to happen the same way every year in our household. Sometimes I wonder if we should mix it up a bit, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Sian Kathrine xo

Christmas Wishlist

Saturday, 5 December 2015
First Row: Lipstick- Wingwoman by Benefit, Watch- Radley, Cushion- Next
Second Row: Charm- Pandora, Ring- Pandora, Eyeshadow Palette, Naked 3 by Urban Decay
Third Row: Bracelet- Pandora, Tea Set- Cath Kidston 


... Not that I'm excited or anything.

So I've put together this little wishlist mostly so that I can point my mum in the direction of this post when she inevitably rings me despairing because I STILL haven't told her what I want for Christmas. Well, Mum, here you go!

I've asked Luke for a Radley watch this year as my Christmas/birthday present. I saw this one as I passed the jewellers' on my way to work and instantly fell in love! I adore how dainty it is and it'd look so cute alongside my Pandora bracelets!

Urban Decay's Naked 3 Palette has been on my wishlist forever, and I'm hoping that this year Santa will leave one in my stocking. The colours are just so stunning and suit me down to the ground. I could spend hours testing out different combinations and creating different looks.

As well as the usual make-up and Pandora bits and pieces, I couldn't resist a couple of homeware items! Now that I'm a grown up with a grown up's house, homeware seems to be popping up more and more on my wish lists! I'd love to own a little floral tea set, not just the teapot, but the cups, saucers, milk jug, sugar pot, the whole schbang. Even if I don't use it that often, just to have it sitting on my kitchen side looking adorable would be ace.

Working in a shop surrounded by gorgeous homeware is pretty bloody difficult, I can tell you! You end up lusting after everything, but this mauve glitter cushion has to be one of my favourite Next items ever. I've had my eye on it ever since it came out, and I think it would look fab on my dark grey sofa, bringing a bit of sparkle to the room!

What's on your Christmas list?

Sian Kathrine xo

Recipe: Pea and Prawn Risotto

Monday, 30 November 2015

My cooking skills don't really stretch very far, but I've got pretty bloody good at making risotto. I can't really cook much else to be honest! People seem to assume that risotto is a really fancy and complicated dish, but it's actually ridiculously easy to make. It's also really versatile and can be adapted to suit your tastebuds! You can swap the prawns for tofu or veggies if you're not a meat-eater, pop in a dollop of soft cheese to make it extra creamy, or throw in a tin of tomatoes to give it a completely different flavour.

My favourite risotto ever is pea and prawn, it's perfect for a cosy night in with my other half. He loves it (he's started buying risotto rice on a weekly basis as a subtle hint, either that I should cook more or maybe he really does like it that much!), and we usually have plenty left over for lunch the next day- winner!

Ingredients (Serves four)
900ml vegetable stock
300g arborio risotto rice
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100ml dry white wine
1 tin petits pois peas
1 pack ready-to-eat king prawns
Salt and pepper to season

How it's done 
1. Make up the stock and leave to simmer on a low heat.
2. Heat a little oil in a large pan. Over a high heat, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Tip in the risotto rice and coat in the onion and garlic. Turn down the heat.
4. Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes until almost evaporated.
5. Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, only adding more when the stock has almost evaporated. This should take around 25 minutes in total, until the rice is soft and the risotto is creamy. Ensure you are stirring frequently.
6. Five minutes before the rice is ready, add the peas and king prawns and allow them to cook gently.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve!

It's as simple as that! And it tastes absolutely divine! If you try the recipe, I'd love to see your photos and hear your thoughts! You can comment below or tweet me @SianKathrine!

What's your favourite dish to cook?

Sian Kathrine xo


Saturday, 28 November 2015

My younger sister and I have quite a few little traditions. Every Christmas, we decorate the tree at my mum's house together, drape ourselves in tinsel and dance around the house to Christmas songs. Whenever she comes to visit me, we have to go and get our nails done. And whenever I take a trip back home, we have to go to Cupcakes. It's just the rules.

Cupcakes is a super cute little coffee shop, tucked away in the corner of the retail park in Gainsborough town centre. Decorated in bright magenta, Cupcakes it warm and welcoming and serves every kind of cupcake you can think of, from Vanilla to Chocolate Orange, from Red Velvet to Sherbert. All home-made, all incredibly yummy!

My sister and I first started visiting Cupcakes about four years ago, when I was still living at home. We'd meet up after school/sixth form every Tuesday, have a walk into town and go to Cupcakes before heading to the youth group where she was a member and I was a volunteer. We'd spend a good hour in there, staying out of the cold and we'd talk, laugh, swap icing from our chosen cakes and chat about things that we wouldn't really talk about at home. It became our little sanctuary, where we could spent time just the two of us, sisters and best friends.

Even now, whenever I go home, we have to have a trip to Cupcakes. I have so many fully stamped loyalty cards that they probably owe me a year's supply of free drinks!

My favourite cupcake ever has to be the Cookie Dough (pictured), the icing is just incredible! I try to branch out and get different ones but I end up going back to Cookie Dough every time.

It may be little, but Cupcakes remains one of my favourite places ever. Not just for its amazing cake and yummy hot chocolates, but because I get such lovely times there with my baby sister.

Do you have any special places you love to go to?

Sian Kathrine xo

OOTD: Boutique of Molly

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

 Dress: Boutique of Molly
Cape: New Look
Boots: Next

I do love a cute dress and boot combination. Especially in Winter, when it's so cold that all you want to do is hide behind big baggy jumpers, it's so good to go out wearing a pretty outfit.

When Boutique of Molly approached me and asked me to review one of their pieces, I couldn't resist the Dora lace-up dress. The very next day, the pink parcel landed on my doorstep and I was super excited to style it.

I was a bit worried about the shape of the dress not really suiting me, because I usually need something which brings me in at the waist. But it was actually super flattering, perfect for days when you're feeling not-so body confident, and I adore the lace up detail.

I've been looking at investing in a cute, knitted cape for a little while now and this striped one from New Look is just so cosy. It's amazing for keeping warm on cold winter days, and goes with so many different outfits!

The perfect finishing touch to the Dora dress is a fab pair of over-the-knee boots. I picked up this pair from Next last winter, they're so comfy and really slim my legs down, bonus!

What do you think of the outfit? What's your favourite outfit for looking cute on cold days?

Sian Kathrine xo

Refined Finish

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

It can be pretty tricky to get into a good skincare routine. And for me, remembering to exfoliate on a regular basis... Well, it just doesn't really happen. But thanks to Benefit skincare, I'm finally starting to get in a properly maintained routine.

I picked up Refined Finish Facial Polish as a payday treat, the latest addition to my Benefit skincare collection. The pretty packaging promises to gently exfoliate and soften the skin, giving you a dewy glow.

I use Refined Finish twice a week and right from the very first use, I saw an instant difference in my skin. You can feel the little exfoliating beads working through the dead skin, without the abrasiveness that I've found some exfoliators can have on my sensitive skin.

After I've used it, my skin feels super-soft, even before moisturising. I'll never neglect exfoliating again!

Although Benefit skincare is a little more expensive, with Refined Finish retailing at £18.50, it's definitely worth the investment. Especially if, like me, you have sensitive skin, because the whole range is so powerful but very gentle on the skin at the same time.

Have you tried any Benefit skincare products? What's your favourite exfoliator?

Sian Kathrine xo

When I Grow Up

Monday, 23 November 2015

I was basically born with a notebook and pen in my hand. Ever since I can remember, my favourite thing to do was colour, or read, or write a story. When I was five, I was bought a PlayStation One (retro) for Christmas, but my brother played on it far more than I did. (Unless the game was Harry Potter, then the arguments would start.) I was happier with a pretty notebook and colourful set of pens.

At school, I was giddy when the teacher would tell us that we'd be writing stories in lesson. At Parents' Evening, they told my mum that my writing skills were way above where they should be.

By the time I turned six, after I'd got over the whole "I want to be a princess" thing, I knew I wanted to write when I grew up. And that was it. I'd go to university, and spend my life writing books. That was my plan.

At fourteen, having done a bit more research, I decided that writing books was probably a lonely occupation. I wanted to write, but I also wanted to work around other people, getting out there, talking to the public and making a difference. I looked into journalism and it was the perfect fit. So, new plan. But the hard work had to begin. After my GCSEs, I picked out my dream university, spent hours on my UCAS application and worked so hard to get the grades I needed.

Fast-forward three years, and I'm sitting in on an inquest, part of my module on court reporting. The course was harder than I'd anticipated, but I was determined to get through it. Including finishing this assignment of six stories.

This was story number four. It was a straightforward, open and close inquest. 24 year old man, long history of mental health problems. After an argument with his girlfriend, he went for a walk to clear his head. They didn't find him until the following evening. He had taken his own life.

The whole inquest lasted under an hour. After scribbling down as many notes as I could, I gathered up my things and made my way towards the door. I was worrying about whether such a straightforward case would make a compelling enough story, and considering coming back the next day to try and get something else. I couldn't afford to not do well in this module.

I happened to glance up from my notebook and caught sight of the parents. They were holding each other, the mother was in floods of tears, and the father had a look of anguish on his face that I'll never forget. They'd lost their son, who wasn't much older than I was, and there was nothing that they could have done to save him from himself. And there I was, stressing about whether or not my tutor would deem his death newsworthy. I couldn't have felt more ashamed of myself.

I went home and thought everything over. We'd talked in seminars so many times about the need to be objective and not letting your emotion get in the way of reporting, but it hadn't been put into perspective until that moment.

How could I report on such heartbreaking stories, death, crime, the anguish of a family, and be completely emotionless about it? How could I go into a courtroom or an interview, get what I need and leave without doing anything to help those who have been hurt? I didn't want to end up like that. I'd seen the ugly side of my dream job and I didn't know if I could deal with it.

There is a point I'm getting at. Since the age of five, I'd always had a plan. I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then all of a sudden, I was 21, almost a grown up, and my plan had been completely thrown into question. Since then, I've felt so lost and unsure of myself. My whole life has revolved around becoming a journalist and now, I just don't know what I'm aiming for.

But what I'm starting to realise is that not knowing is okay. Maybe I'm not supposed to have my shit completely together by 21 years old. Or even 22, 23, 24 or 25 years old. I don't need to have my life mapped out. Now is the time to enjoy the rest of my degree (despite the stress), go on a million work placements, make mistakes, change my mind or just go back to the drawing board. As long as I work hard and keep an open mind, I'm pretty confident that the rest will fall into place.

For now, my aim is to get through to graduation. After that, who knows. But I'm trying not to worry too much about that yet. And if you're in a similar position to me, you shouldn't worry either. You've got this. You'll be okay.

Sian Kathrine xo

An Open Letter To Retail Customers

Saturday, 21 November 2015
Dear Retail Customers,

We love you, we really do. Without you lot, our jobs would be pretty pointless. But, there's some things you do that get on our nerves a little bit. And I don't want to whinge, but maybe it's time you were made aware of what makes us mad.

First, if we don't look particularly happy-smiley, telling us to "cheer up", or saying "she's got a right face on her" isn't going to help. Bear in mind that we spend our whole days pretending to be happy. We're probably just tired, we've been stood up for the last six hours, the manager's breathing down our neck and the last place we want to be on a Saturday afternoon is here. Give us a break.

You might not realise, but we spend hours merchandising and tidying our displays. And watching you obliterate the section that we had just straightened out makes us cry a little bit inside. Please, just be a little bit considerate. If you take something out of a box to look at, put it back when you're done, don't leave it all over the place for one of us to deal with. Leave displays as you found and you'll avoid not-so-subtle glares from us.

Hey, we can't magically summon up items that are out of stock! We're not personally attacking you, so please don't go on at us as if we are, or mutter about how it's a joke when we apologise and suggest that you try ordering online.

Please don't take it out on us when you forget your own carrier bag and have to pay 5p for another one. Despite the fact that you find the charges "ridiculous", no we can't just give you one. Have a problem, take it up with Mr. Cameron.

If we're carrying armfuls of stuff and ask you to hang on for two minutes before we look in the back for a different size, please don't tut as if it's the biggest inconvenience in the world. We're not superhuman. We were clearly in the middle of something, and whilst we're happy to put that on hold to help you, let us unload all of the crap that we're carrying first.

It's Saturday afternoon and it's busy. We're trying to get through the queue at the till as fast as we can, but seeing you huffing and puffing, tapping your foot and muttering about how unbelievable it is that there aren't more staff isn't going to make us go any faster.

And while we're at it, when you're at the till, don't stand there chatting on your phone while I'm trying to serve you. It's just rude and difficult for me to signal to ask whether or not you'd like a gift receipt.

It's a common misconception that retail workers actually live in the stores, but I can tell you now that is a myth. So when you duck under the shutter just as we're closing and ask a million and one awkward questions, it delays us from getting home on time. And that really annoys us.

Don't get me wrong, most of you are lovely. But remember, working in retail can be much harder than you think. Be kind, please. You'll get much happier, smilier service. Promise.

Retail Workers Everywhere

November Glossybox

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Words genuinely can't describe how excited I've been for November's Glossybox. Like, I squealed at the postman when he dropped it off level of excited.

The fabulous people at Glossybox have put together this month's box of goodies to get us prepared for the party season, for when your make-up needs that little bit of extra drama, and your skin needs that little bit of extra glow. And it has certainly delivered.

For the first time ever, Glossybox subscribers could choose one of four shades from Revlon's Super Lustrous lipstick collection. I went for Fire & Ice, a rich red colour, and I absolutely love it! The formula of the lipstick is a little bit more matte than I would usually go for but I was pleasantly surprised about how much I liked it. It has some serious staying power, and I found that one application lasted pretty much all day. These lipsticks retail for just £7.99, which is brilliant value for money and I will definitely be trying more shades!

Wearing Fire & Ice
Next up is the MUA eyeshadow palette, which I've heard quite a few bloggers rave about as a fab product which doesn't cost the earth, with this palette costing just £4. The colours are just gorgeous, with shimmery nudes for day-to-day to bold metallic hues, perfect for nights out. They blend really well, but the only thing I would say is that once applied, it can crease fairly quickly, but I guess for £4, you sort of expect that! Maybe I just need to invest in an eye primer!

To finish off the eyes, the Glossybox includes a pair of Eyelure false eyelashes. I've used Eyelure many times before and I adore them! This pair is the "natural" look, which is perfect for me because I don't like my eyelashes to look too extravagant or obviously fake. These are perfect to add length to your natural lashes and give them a little lift, and an overall pretty, flirty finish.

Emite's Diamond Heart Primer is one of my new favourites, hands-down. It's such a beautifully lightweight formula, and is amazing at evening out skin tone. After using it, I feel like I don't need to put on as much foundation because Diamond Heart has already taken my skin halfway to flawless!

My final goodie is a body lotion from Royal Apothic. It's a lovely, thick moisturiser and smells gorgeous! I tend to use it just after a bath and it makes my skin SO soft, and the effect lasts for absolutely ages!

Each Glossybox gets better and better, I'm already excited for the next one!

Have you tried any of these products?

Sian Kathrine xo

Review: Even Now, Philippa Hanna

Monday, 16 November 2015

Fans of Philippa Hanna (me included) have been waiting for what feels like forever for her newest single. After jetting off to Nashville and completing a sell-out tour with Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro, the Sheffield singer's career is going from strength-to-strength.

'Even Now' is very different to what we usually hear from Philippa, but still embodies everything that we know and love about her as an artist. While previous songs have had a strong folksy vibe, 'Even Now' features a much more contemporary sound. But I love that the focus remains on Philippa's vocal, which sounds as amazing as ever.

Philippa is known as a songwriter with Christian influences and themes within her music of faith and self-love. However, she always executes these beliefs in a way which everyone can relate to. 'Even Now' is no exception, with lyrics telling of having faith, whether that faith be in God, karma, the universe, or simply those you love to get you through the times when we are broken, hurt, or lost.

When I first listened to 'Even Now', I felt incredibly uplifted, inspired and reminded of something which is so easy to forget when life throws difficulties in your way. 'Even Now' has made it very quickly on to my 'Cheer Up Playlist' (yes, I have one!) and I know that it will soon become my go-to song when I need a little lift.

Philippa, this one was definitely worth the wait.

'Even Now' is out on 20th November 2015. Have a look at the video here.

You can find out more about Philippa on her website or she's on Twitter @Philippahanna.

Have you heard this single? What do you think?

Sian Kathrine xo

50 Day Goals

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Two minutes ago, I was curled up on my mum's sofa with a glass of wine, seeing in 2015. Then I blinked and all of a sudden there's only fifty days of this year left!

Everyone will soon be thinking about their New Year's Resolutions, but I'm not finished with 2015 yet. Fifty days isn't a long time, but I'd love to make them count. I've set myself a few little goals which I'm planning to achieve before Big Ben strikes midnight to bring in the New Year.

1. Get through all of my university deadlines
This one is without a doubt my biggest and most important goal. My ongoing battle with my mental health can often make getting motivated to do work incredibly difficult, but I'm determined to end this term on a high. If I could hit all my deadlines, and know that against all the odds, I've put forward my best work, I will be a very happy girl.

2. Reach 800 Twitter followers
I know it isn't all about the numbers, but you can't deny that hitting a follower milestone before 2016 wouldn't be amazing, right? As it stands I'm on 724, so I think 800 as a goal is realistic. 800 people seeing my tweets means 800 people that my blog could reach, and as I start to write more mental health, student help and general advice posts, that's more people that I could help, and that's a pretty amazing idea!

3. Finish decorating my living room
I've FINALLY decided on the colour scheme that I'm going for! Ever since I moved into my house in May I've kept changing my mind about what I want and continually run out of funds! But I'd love to start the New Year with a beautiful, freshly decorated living room!

4. Get into a proper healthy eating routine
My schedule's been so hectic recently that my eating pattern is completely messed up. I'm just eating whatever I can grab when I have a spare half an hour, I'm not actually eating proper meals half of the time, and after late finishes at work I'm starving and snacking at 11pm. I really want to try to get back into the habit of eating regular meals and eating more healthily. But, the Christmas rush at work is coming so we'll see!

5. Start saving for driving lessons
Having to rely on public transport is really starting to get to me now, and more than ever I want to be able to drive. Even if I can put away £20 for one lesson between now and New Year, that'll at least be a start.

Do you have any goals for the next fifty days?

Sian Kathrine xo

The Bluebell Inn, Gringley

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Pub food is one of the best kinds of food. There's something about it which is so comforting... So much hearty, carb-filled goodness.

The Bluebell Inn is very much off the beaten track, tucked away in Gringley-on-the-Hill, Nottinghamshire. Which, as the name suggests, is literally a tiny village on a hill. Very quaint, with lots of cute houses, a tiny chapel and cobbled streets. The Bluebell is nestled amongst the little houses and you open the doors into a gorgeous, cosy pub with traditional decor and a warm atmosphere.

After deciding that cooking just wasn't an option, and getting a huge craving for pie and mash, my mum, my boyfriend and I took a little drive in search of a country pub for tea. Mum suggested the Bluebell, having been before and as luck would have it, they had a spare table on a busy Saturday night.

The menu had everything from fish and chips to risotto, which made deciding what to order almost impossible! In the end though, I just had to have the Bo Peep pie with mash, mushy peas and gravy. Proper northern scran right there! (Scran is Yorkshire for food)

The Bo Peep pie was lamb and mint in puff pastry, and it was so yummy. I'm usually a bit picky with lamb but this was really tender and the mash was lovely and creamy. By the end I was stuffed, but the fatty in me could have eaten more, it was that good!

Mum also went for the Bo Peep pie, and Luke ordered the surf and turf skewer, which looked amazing! It had steak, prawns, tomatoes and peppers, and the skewer literally hung above his plate. (There was a little bit of food envy going on, if I'm being honest.)

You can tell by his face that he loved it!

If you ever find yourself in the Gainsborough/Bawtry area (although, why would you?) The Bluebell Inn is definitely worth a visit, especially if you're a fan of pub grub. The staff were lovely and the food was delicious, I'll definitely be revisiting!

Sian Kathrine xo

Park Life: OOTD

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dress: Apricot
Scarf: York Market
Boots: Next
Jewellery: Pandora

Scarf weather is back and I am ecstatic! I adore scarves, they’re the ultimate Autumn/Winter accessory for me. I have so many that a whole drawer dedicated to them is necessary.

This scarf is one of my all-time favourites, it’s just such a beautiful colour! I’m currently on the hunt for big cosy knitted scarves for winter, so expect plenty of scarf-related posts to be coming your way this season!

I fell in love with this gorgeous little dress as soon as I saw it. The fabric is so soft and I can layer it up and add all kinds of accessories to create cute outfits to see me through the winter.

(Plus, I seem to be wearing grey constantly at the minute. Constantly.)

My obsession for ankle boots has grown year on year to the point where I hardly wear any other shoe! This super-cute pair is REALLY comfortable and perfect for day-to-day wear. (And they’re comfy enough for work, yay!)

Let me know what you think of the outfit! What are your key pieces for Autumn/Winter?


Sian Kathrine xo

Photos taken by my lovely friend Fii <3

Winter Coat Wishlist

Friday, 30 October 2015
Top row, L-R: New Look, Topshop, H&M
Bottom row, L-R: H&M, Next, H&M

The days are getting colder and the nights are drawing in… Yep, winter is well and truly on the way. The most important purchase of the season (apart from your Halloween costume and Christmas jumper)? The winter coat.

It’s so important to get your winter coat right, mainly because you’re going to be pretty much living in it until February. (Or March. Or April. Maybe even May. It is Britain after all.)

For that reason, I’m so unbelievably picky when it comes to choosing my perfect coat. I’ve been on the hunt since September but I still can’t seem to make a decision.

If only I was rich and could buy all six.

I’m a sucker for navy duffel coats, so the navy peacoat from Next was always going to make it onto my wishlist. But I have tried to branch out and have a look at other colours and styles, and surprisingly, H&M has been absolutely on point, with some gorgeous options. I especially adore the grey textured coat in the bottom right. It’s effortlessly sleek but at the same time looks so cosy!

I’m going to need your help with this one! Which coat should I go for?


Sian Kathrine xo