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

#LetsTalkAnxiety: My Story

Tuesday, 27 October 2015
When the lovely Robyn started her #LetsTalkAnxiety campaign, I was over the moon. Mental health is such an important topic to me and I don't think it can be talked about too much. In the world that we live in now, it seems so bizarre that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is only just starting to be broken down, and too many people are still ignorant to illnesses that affect so many.

I've been desperate to do my own post for #LetsTalkAnxiety, but I've put it off until now because I wasn't sure if I was ready to talk so personally. But I've decided to just bite the bullet and go for it. Here it goes...

Anxiety, coupled with depression, came knocking at my door in October 2013, when I was in my second year at university. It took hold of me quickly, and very nearly destroyed my life. Then family problems and the breakdown of my relationship acted as a catalyst, and anxiety's grip grew tighter.

Every single day became a struggle. The mundane things were the hardest. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, going out to uni or work. On good days, the panic attacks wouldn't start until I got to my front door. On my worst days, I couldn't even get out of bed.

For anyone who's never had a panic attack before, it's a horrible feeling, and often different for each person. I'd often feel like my front door was bricked up, I was trapped. My whole body would start to shake, my breathing would accelerate and my heartbeat would skyrocket. My legs would go so weak that I couldn't stand, and I would cry uncontrollably. My thoughts would race around my brain so quickly that I would go dizzy, and couldn't decipher anything that I was feeling or how I could make it stop. The only thing that stood out was "I can't. I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't. I can't."

At my lowest, I would spend hours curled up in bed, or in the corner of my room, unable to move or even think rationally. Weeks became months, uni became non-existent and my life disintegrated before my eyes. Anxiety had warped me into a person that I didn't recognise. The girl who was once sociable and outgoing had shrunk into herself, become withdrawn and only felt safe in bed or at her mum's house. Every time I tried to rebuild what I was losing, the anxiety would tear it down again.

For seven months, I suffered in silence. Not telling anyone what I was going through was the absolute worst thing that I could have done for myself. If you take nothing else away from this post, please take away this- do not keep your anxiety to yourself. Tell someone, anyone. You are not mentally strong enough to handle the intensity of anxiety on your own, and that's okay, because no one is.

My hand was forced. The end of the academic year was fast approaching and none of my assessments were done. Everything that I had worked for since I was 11 years old was about to come crashing down around my ears and I didn't know what to do.

I dragged myself to see my personal tutor and told her everything. It was such a relief to finally get everything that I'd bottled up for so long out in the open. She was absolutely fantastic and arranged for me to take a leave of absence and catch up on what I'd missed the next year.

I then had to go home and tell my mum everything. That was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. I was terrified of letting her down. She was heartbroken that I'd gone through this on my own, but she just hugged me, told me she loved me and that we would sort this out. She held my hand at the doctor's while I was prescribed anti-depressants and was referred for counselling. She called every day to see how I was, and talked things through with me when I was struggling. She's been my absolute rock.

Fast-forward 18 months and I'm in a much better place. I went through 10 months of counselling (which I've done a separate post on here), and that helped me come to terms with my past and taught me how to move forward. I got through last year at uni (I even got a first in one of my modules!) and I'm now in my final year. My boyfriend is so supportive, he's helped me through my worst and is still brilliant at calming me down when anxiety hits.

I still have panic attacks and find social situations scary. Busy clubs and bars are my worst enemy at the minute and there are still days where I have to force myself out of the door. But recovery is a long process and I'm so grateful for how far I've come in the last year. I'm finally recognising myself in the mirror again, and now I'm that little bit stronger.

This post wasn't easy for me to write, but if it helps just one person to know that they're not alone, or inspires someone to seek help, it'll be completely worth it.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need to talk. Don't suffer alone. Your feelings are valid and you will get through it, no matter how hopeless it seems. I promise.

Sian Kathrine xo

For Robyn's post on the #LetsTalkAnxiety campaign, have a look here.

Blogging: Six Months On

Friday, 23 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

Happy half-birthday to my little blog! I can't believe how fast six months have gone by and how much I've come on as a blogger since April.

When I first set up this blog, I never would have thought that blogging would become such a big part of my life, and how much I'd love doing it! There have been ups and downs, and periods where I've just disappeared from blogging but now I feel like I've hit my stride and I can't wait to see where my blog takes me.

Here are six things that I've learned in the last six months;

1. Success is relative.
In early September, I hit 1000 views on my blog and I was absolutely ecstatic. Amongst the excitement, a little voice in my head told me that there were bloggers out there who get 1000 views a week, or maybe even a day and I should probably calm down. But I quickly realised that comparing myself to others was probably the worst thing I could do. To me, a blog is successful when you achieve what you set out to do. For me, that was getting my voice out there, writing about things that I love and meeting new people, and in the last six months, I've achieved all of those goals. And if my goals are different to those of another blogger, or I achieve them differently, that doesn't make my blog any less successful.

2. The blogging community is the best.
You'd never think that the blogging community would be such a lovely bunch of people! Everyone I've spoken to has been incredibly supportive, they've encouraged me to develop my blog and they've made me laugh so much! I can't wait to carry on getting to know people, and who knows, in the next six months I might even make it to a few meet-ups!

3. It isn't all about the numbers.
Your views statistics are a good way to look at your following, but it can be all too easy to get weighed down by the numbers. I deliberately haven't set myself goals based on views or followers because it's so disappointing if you don't achieve them. My goals are based on building confidence and producing content that I'm proud of, which is way more important to me than statistics.

4. Inspiration is everywhere.
Ever since I started blogging, I've been terrified of running out of post ideas. But I've learned that sometimes really simple ideas make fab blog posts. Cooked something yummy? Share the recipe with us. Watched a film? Review it. Been on a day out? Tell us about it. You can make a blog post out of pretty much anything, you just have to keep your eyes open for inspiration!

5. Write about what's important to you.
As much as I love blogging about beauty and fashion, I really wanted to write about things that are important to me. Mental health is a topic which is close to my heart, but for a long time I was too scared to post about it, because it would mean making myself vulnerable to a load of people on the internet. After a lot of thought and a lot of worrying, my first mental health post went up in September, which is now one of my most-read posts, which is so encouraging. If you don't write about what matters to you, your blog won't fulfil you. It might be scary, but you just have to be brave and go for it.

6. Be YOU.
I've worked out recently that your blog is a little piece of your personality. At the minute, I'm working on making my blog reflect me more, both in writing style and how it looks. My favourite bloggers are the ones who let their personality shine through their blog, and that's now what I'm aiming for too.

In the next six months, I have so much that I want to achieve. I'll be giving my blog a shiny new layout, the lovely Jemma will soon be designing a fab new header for me, and I'm working on my writing and photography all the time. Who knows where my blog will be by April!

What are the biggest lessons that you've learned from blogging?

Sian Kathrine xo

Autumn Loveliness: OOTD

Thursday, 22 October 2015
Dress: New Look
Jacket: TK Maxx
Belt: New Look
Boots: New Look

Hello lovelies!

Now that Autumn is in full swing I've been loving scouring the shops for autumnal pieces. I've definitely found plenty, and spent way too much money in the process!

I picked up this beautiful swing dress online from New Look's mid season sale, and it's one of my favourite Autumn pieces. The colours and print are perfect for this season and it's just so effortless to wear.

The shape is quite boxy, which doesn't tend to suit me (yay for being a really weird body shape) but pair it with a thin belt and hey presto, a waist appears!

My favourite combination with this dress right now is a leather jacket and chunky boots. As it gets colder, I'll add a scarf to keep me cosy!

What do you think of the outfit?

Sian Kathrine xo

Photos taken by Fii.

Andrew's Tea Room Sheffield

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

One of my favourite things to do is sip tea or coffee in a coffee shop or cute tea room. There's just something about it that I find really relaxing and after a stressful day, an hour in Starbucks with a caramel latte soon puts me back in my happy place.

Finding ourselves free on a Sunday afternoon, Fii and I decided to look for somewhere lovely in Sheffield city centre to have tea and cake. We both wanted to find somewhere a little bit off the beaten track, a little bit different to our usual Starbucks or Nero, in an effort to explore and experience more of Sheffield.

You can find Andrew's Tea Room down Chapel Walk, a little side street in the city centre which doesn't look like much at first glance, but is home to a couple of little delis, a tattoo studio, an independent art gallery, amongst others. Andrew's catches your eye with the incredible array of cakes displayed in the window. Once you get inside, you're greeted by a cosy little tea room with an adorable old-fashioned feel.

After spending a good five minutes looking at the menu, I ordered a pot of Yorkshire Tea and Fii ordered one of the many herbal teas they had on offer (after getting over the horror of discovering that her first choice had been discontinued.)

We had to ask the waitress to come back because we really couldn't decide what cake to go for. In the end though, Fii asked for carrot cake and I couldn't resist a slice of the chocolate cake.

Yes, it tasted as good as it looks! I can honestly say it was one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever had. The icing was especially yummy, and it satisfied my sweet tooth without being too sickly.

And I've never seen Fii scoff anything so quickly, so I'm guessing her carrot cake was pretty good too!

If you're ever in Sheffield, Andrew's Tea Room is well worth a visit. With its relaxed atmosphere, lovely staff and a menu offering everything from bacon butties to afternoon tea, it's now on my list of favourite tea rooms ever.

Where are your favourite places for tea and cake?

Sian Kathrine xo

October Glossybox

Monday, 19 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

You know that feeling when you get home to one of those red Royal Mail cards to tell you that you've missed your parcel?

The heart-sinking thought of trekking all the way to the collection office, in the rain, just because you were a good student and went to uni, so no one was at home.

Yep, that.

Luckily, this month's Glossybox was totally worth it. The lovely people over at Glossybox have sent out five products, specially picked to help our complexions survive the drab winter months. And for me, that couldn't have been more welcome.

Let's start with my favourite product, Talika's Photo-Hydra Day Cream, which has swiftly become my all-time favourite moisturiser. It went on so smoothly, and instantly hydrated and brightened my skin. I even felt like I didn't need to put any primer on because my skin felt so smooth.

(May or may not have told one or two people to feel my face and appreciate how soft it was. It's okay though, I know them. They're used to it.)

Next up is the Airbrush FX Blending Sponge, which was probably the most surprising product from this month's box. I was pretty sure that nothing would make me stray from my ever-faithful Real Techniques brush, but I absolutely adore this sponge! It blends my foundation so beautifully and left my skin with a gorgeous, airbrushed finish.

So Susan's Highlighting Pencil was also included in this month's Glossybox, in a stunning, flattering peach colour. You can use it in a million and one different ways to highlight and brighten your complexion, but I haven't yet had much chance to experiment with it yet. But I love to use it just underneath the lower lash line to make my eyes pop!

For the lips, I was sent a Lanolips lip gloss, with a gorgeous, glossy formula. It was a lovely colour, but it didn't seem to last very long and I had to reapply it quite a few times throughout the day, although I guess that it sometimes the norm with lip gloss!

The final product in my little box of loveliness is Jelly Pong Pong's Play Paint in Rhubarb, which is a lip and cheek tint with a luxurious velvety texture. It promises to deliver ten hours of moisture and colour and it's true that it lasts all day. Play Paint is really highly pigmented so you only need the tiniest amount to provide rich colour and hydration. I'm not 100% sure that the colour is for me, it's quite bright but I absolutely love it as a moisturiser!

Hope you enjoyed my review of October's Glossybox! I already can't wait to see what lands on my doorstep in November!

Sian Kathrine xo

How to Save Money on Your Food Shop

Saturday, 17 October 2015
Hello lovelies!

Over the summer, money was really tight. Despite working all the hours that I possibly could, after paying my rent, I found that there wasn't much money left over for luxuries. Even when my boyfriend and I went food shopping, we had to be careful what we spent.

Whether you're a student at university, someone waiting for a payrise, or just had to put new tyres on your car and need to tighten your belt a bit, here are my top tips for cutting down on how much you spend at the supermarket.

1. Go shopping at the right time of day.
Hey, there's nothing wrong with having a rummage through the reduced to clear section! You can grab some real bargains and significantly cut your total at the checkout! Going to the supermarket fairly late is usually your best bet because that's when the put all the reduced stock out. (At our local Asda it's between 6pm and 7pm but yours might vary.) Obviously just check your use-by dates before purchasing too!

2. Plan ahead. 
I know it's all too easy to potter up and down the aisles, scooping anything into the trolley that takes your fancy at the time. But trust me, you probably spend double on your food shop that way. Plan your meals for the week, including any snacks, make a list and stick to it. This means you'll only buy what you need and save money!

3. Think about what you're buying.
£4 on a tub of Ben and Jerry's may be fine as a treat, but probably a little unnecessary on a regular basis. Similarly, having steak night every week definitely isn't a necessity either, especially if you're trying to cut down on your outgoings. But you can still eat food you love without overspending! Think about what branded foods you can swap for supermarket own-label, and moderate your spending on things like meat, cheese and alcohol. If you watch what you're buying each week, you might be able to afford to treat yourself once in a while!

Hope you find the tips helpful! If you have any of your own that you'd like to share, leave a comment below or you can find me on Twitter @SianKathrine.

Sian Kathrine xo

Garnier Micellar Water

Friday, 16 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

I'm about to make a confession that no beauty blogger ever wants to make. Don't judge me, okay? Here goes...

For a while now, I've been using face wipes to take my make-up off.

I know, it's bad. Face wipes are bad. For anyone who may not know, face wipes generally aren't brilliant for your skin because they only cleanse the top layer of your skin. They don't get right into the deep layers of the skin so in the long run can cause problems.

BUT they're just so quick and easy, especially when it comes to removing eye make-up after a long day. I always used a foaming face cleanser afterwards so I told myself that my secret use of face wipes was okay. No one ever had to know, right?

Wrong. So wrong. As it sometimes does, my skin decided to start rebelling. Spots popped up all of a sudden, there were dry patches all over my face, and my face began to sting whenever I put anything on it.

I wasn't a happy bunny, and when your skin's in that kind of state, it's such a confidence killer. I wasn't sure what had triggered it, so I tried switching up my routine to see what the problem was.

I picked up Garnier's Micellar Water mostly because it was on offer in Boots. I'd heard good things about Micellar Water already and wanted something Auber-light to try not to aggravate my skin.

This is the first product I've ever used that gets rid of every little bit of eye make-up, which I definitely wasn't expecting. But at the same time it's really gentle on the skin and leaves it feeling light, fresh and thoroughly cleansed. It's such an amazing alternative to face wipes as you simply put a little bit on a cotton pad and sweep it across the face, and so much more effective!

Best of all, within a couple of days of using it, my dry patches disappeared and my skin is now back to normal! I definitely won't be going back to face wipes any time soon!

I'd definitely recommend Garnier Micellar Water to anyone who needs a light cleanser which is kind to sensitive skin, especially as an alternative to face wipes.

Have you tried this product before, or any other micellar water? Let me know what you think!

Sian Kathrine xo

How I Take Care of My Hair

Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Hello lovelies!

Who isn't lusting after the perfect hair?! I know I definitely am. I've probably tried every hair care brand you can think of, every lotion and potion to keep my hair gorgeous.

No-one yell, but I put my hair through a hell of a lot. I curl it all the time and blow-dry it on a pretty regular basis too. (I know I shouldn't, but I just can't embrace my natural hair). So when I look for hair care, the main thing for me is finding products that help to minimise heat damage, as well as keep my blonde as radiant as possible. After a lot of trial and error, I think I've finally got myself into a routine that works for me.

I like to start with Organic Argan Oil of Morocco shampoo and conditioner. Argan oil has been everywhere over the last couple of years, promising to be the long-awaited antedote for dry, damaged hair. I bought the shampoo and conditioner on a whim last month, wanting to find out for myself what all the fuss was about. It's an absolutely amazing range, right from the first use it made my hair feel so much smoother and healthier!

Every so often, your hair needs a little bit of intensive treatment. My favourite product was sent to me in my September Glossybox, Maria Nila's Luminous Colour Masque. I tend to use it twice a week to keep my colour-treated hair as fresh as possible and add an extra boost of moisture.

Before I start any sort of styling, I give my hair a generous spritz of Aussie's Take the Heat Conditioning Spray to protect my hair against all the torture I inflict upon it. When dry, I use a little bit of Organix's Coconut Oil Hydrating Mist. This stuff smells absolutely incredible, and it's brilliant for adding shine and smoothing pesky flyaways. It's also the perfect size for popping in your handbag if you need a top-up during the day!

What are your favourite haircare products?

Sian Kathrine xo

When There Aren't Enough Hours In The Day

Friday, 9 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

I don't know about any of you, but for the last few weeks, I've found myself saying "There aren't enough hours in the day" more and more. Between full-time study, part-time work, having a relationship, seeing friends... I literally have no idea how I've even had time to sleep! As I'm getting back into the swing of uni after a long summer, tutors are telling me "This will need a lot of time outside contact hours" or "You're expected to spend 8-12 hours a week of your own time on this module" and I'm finding my diary is getting more and more crammed, with barely enough time to stop!

Sound familiar?

I imagine a lot of you are feeling the pressure of having a million and one different commitments and having to spread yourself incredibly thin across all of them.

I'm always wondering if I've taken on too much. Maybe I'm trying to have it all and should give something up. I desperately want to get a 2.1 in my degree, but I need to work to pay for driving lessons. I live with my boyfriend but we rarely get time together. At the same time, I don't want my friends to think I never make time for them because I'm spending all my spare time with my him. And in between all of that, I realise I haven't called my mum in almost two weeks and should probably let her know that I'm still alive.

The optimistic part of me is confident that I will be able to get through to graduation juggling everything if I just do a few (seemingly) simple things...

1. Planning. Is. Everything.
Buying a diary was probably the best thing I could have possibly done for myself this year. Everything goes in the diary, from lectures to blog posts to a lunch date with a friend. I feel so much better knowing what's happening and when, and putting it all on paper makes it seem much more manageable.

2. Learn to say no!
This is probably the most difficult one for me. No one wants to be the one to say no to an extra shift, or a night out, but taking up every offer that comes your way will leave you absolutely exhausted.

Set out your priorities and stick to them. If you want to get a good result in your university/college/school work, don't take on so many hours at your part time job that you have no time to get your assessments done. Or if you haven't spent any time with your family in ages, skip the night out and have a family movie night instead. It may suck at the time, but in the long-term, it'll be worth it!

3. Take time to relax.
This can literally be ANYTHING. For me, it can be as simple as a soak in the bath after a stressful day, and I feel instantly calmer. I refuse to take on anything on a Sunday evening, and make sure my to-do list is complete by then. Nothing gets in the way of Salsa Sunday! It's my time to socialise and do something I love, which sets me up for another week.

I can't stress how important it is to keep hold of things you enjoy and take time out for yourself. If you don't look after yourself, everything else will seem a thousand times more overwhelming.

How do you cope with all the stress that life throws at you?

Sian Kathrine xo

University Make-Up Look

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

Since having three 9am starts a week (cheers uni), I've started to see some seriously ungodly times of the morning. So I want my make-up routine to be as quick and easy as possible so that I can spend that extra fifteen minutes tucked up in bed, but still turn up for lectures looking bright-eyed and glowing (ish!)

Before I put my make-up on, I like to start with Benefit's That Gal primer, which I featured in my July Benefit Haul post. I absolutely love this because it not only helps my make-up to go on easier, but it also brightens my skin and gives me a gorgeous pinky glow, which is perfect for when I'm going a bit more natural with my make-up.

For my base, I use MAC's Face and Body Tint in NC1. This is my go-to foundation, it gives fantastic coverage but at the same time is very sheer- not a bit of cakiness in sight! This foundation is perfect for MAC fans who are looking for something a little lighter than Studio Fix.

To set I use MAC powder, which is an amazing product and lasts forever! I bought mine in New York 18 months ago now, and I still have loads left, even with using it every day.

Keeping it nice and simple on the eyes, a bit of Benefit's Roller Lash mascara is all I need for a wide-eyed pretty look. I always thought that I'd be a die-hard They're Real! fan, but Roller Lash is a fab day-to-day mascara which gives a slightly more natural finish.

To finish, it's one of my new favourite lip products, Soap & Glory's Sexy Mother Pucker in Pink-a-Boo. I usually can't be bothered with lipstick for a day at uni, but the glossy formula of Sexy Mother Pucker is super-moisturising and gives just a tiny hint of colour. I'll definitely be grabbing some more colours from this range soon!

I hope you all like the look! Tell me about your favourite products for your more natural make-up days!

Sian Kathrine xo

September Glossybox

Monday, 5 October 2015

Hello lovelies!

I've been looking at subscribing to a monthly beauty box for a while now, partly because I love getting parcels, I could potentially reduce how much I spend on beauty products (although that is unlikely) and it's regular blog content for when the dreaded writer's block inevitably strikes!

A friend recommended Glossybox to me so I decided to give it a go. I was like a kid at Christmas when the postwoman delivered it to my door last week!

For anyone who doesn't know, you can subscribe to Glossybox for £10 a month, and they send you out five full-sized beauty goodies from some amazing brands. This month's box was worth around £62, so I've made a killer saving!

The box itself was absolutely gorgeous. If they're all this pretty I'm just going to end up with stacks of boxes all over the house because I can't bear to throw any of them away!

One of the amazing products in the September Glossybox was a Nails Inc. nail polish in Battersea Park. This muted grey shade is perfect for Autumn/Winter and I've always loved Nails. Inc because it's just so long-wearing.

I was also sent Maria Nila's Luminous Colour Masque, an intense hair treatment which promises to keep coloured hair glossy and gorgeous. As someone who uses quite a lot of heat on their hair, any intensive conditioner is very welcome with me! I've only used it once so far but afterwards I definitely felt noticed that my hair was softer and my colour-treated blonde was a little bit brighter. So  hopefully the more I use it the better my hair will feel!

Next up is Bella Pierre's eyeshadow in Whesek. It's been described as "greige" (grey/beige) but I'd call it more of a greyish blue. It comes as a loose powder, but it blends beautifully and is perfect for creating an Autumnal smoky eye. I struggle to find eyeshadows that last but I applied this in the morning and it was still pretty much in tact by the time I got home in the evening.

The eyeshadow was paired with the Marsk eyeshadow brush. It's a lovely brush to use with super soft bristles and it works really well with the eyeshadow.

The final item in this month's Glossybox is a set of three Invisibobbles, which claim to hold your hair securely in place, without causing the breakage that regular bobbles do. I'll be honest, I look ridiculous with my hair up, so I think I'll be gifting these to my sister, she'll appreciate them way more than I will!

Have you tried any of these products? Are you a Glossybox fan?

Sian Kathrine xo