March Happiness Journal

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

I could have sworn I was only writing up my February Happiness Journal last week?!

March seems to have been the month where everyone has been hanging on to the promise of Spring, warmer weather and blossoms. Instead? We've had Beasts from the East, freezing cold winds and absolute downpours. I won't be packing away my winter coat for a little while yet.

It's been a bit of a tricky month for me in all honesty, with ongoing family issues, the death of someone who meant a lot to me and other things I wouldn't want to bore you all to tears with. But I think when you're going through a little bit of a rubbish time it's more important than ever to remember things that have made you smile, so here is what had made my happy recently!

1. Getting back to the gym.

Okay, maybe I was dragged kicking and screaming for the first session. If we're being completely honest, up until recently the thought of being in a gym has filled me with so much anxiety that I avoided it even for the entire year that I worked there. With a bit (a lot) of coaxing though, I went to my first session and the anxiety has slowly but surely been broken down. Since then, Dan and I have been in the gym three times a week, and honestly, I feel so much better for it. My energy levels have increased, my migraines and dizziness are a lot less frequent, and my mental health is SO much better for it. I'm even starting to lose the podge around my tummy. 

2. A weekend with my 'family you choose.'

I have a little group of family, not by blood, but we call each other the 'family you choose', because we are as good as family! I've spent this last weekend with them in Grimsby and sometimes it's so nice to get away from your own world and sit and drink wine, giggle uncontrollably over silly things and play with a two year old in a toy kitchen, because she just says that you have to.

3. Family time on Mother's Day.

My siblings and I always make a point of spoiling my mum on Mother's Day as much as possible - mostly because it's one of the only days of the year that she will let us! All four of us love family time, and this year's choice of lunch and the cinema kept all of us happy! (Black Panther is awesome by the way!)

4. Snow days.

Okay, yes the snow was a bit of a nuisance by the end and I was glad to see the back of it. But having the time off work for a few days couldn't have come at a better time, because I was absolutely exhausted! I spent three days napping, writing blog posts and eating pancakes, not a bad life, eh?

5. Getting my hair done.

There's just something about a fresh cut and colour which makes me feel like a new person (and a sassier person at that, too). Plus, it's always nice to have a couple of hours being pampered in a salon!

What has made you happy this month?

Sian xo

My Top 10 Cheer Up Films

Sunday, 25 March 2018

One of my favourite ways to deal with a bad day is to get snuggled under my duvet with a cuppa and watch a film (or four). It's just a certain way of clearing whatever it is that's been going on in my head that day, escaping to another world and hopefully, making me laugh a little along the way. So, I thought I'd put together a little list of my ultimate 'Cheer Up' films, the films I rely on to make me feel better when I'm not feeling myself.

1. The Lion King

If you know me at all, you'd probably guess that this would be on here as it's my all-time favourite. And yes, I cry when Mufasa dies every time but even when I'm low, sometimes a good cry helps, even if it is over a fictional character!

2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

I challenge anyone to watch this film and not wiggle just a little bit when Ferris Bueller is dancing to Twist and Shout on top of a carnival float. For anyone who hasn't heard of this absolute classic, it follows the adventures of three teenagers around Chicago when they decide to skip school for the day, and it is guaranteed to make you smile. 

3. Tangled

My second favourite Disney film, there's just something about belting out the soundtrack the whole way through which makes me really happy! Rapunzel is also probably the funniest Disney princess out there, in my opinion.

4. The Full Monty

This film is an absolute classic, and if you've never seen it, please just get it watched! I think a bit part of why I love it so much though is because it is set in Sheffield, and is complete with shots of the city which just remind me of home (as well as the Yorkshire accents!) Plus, if a load of middle-aged men thrusting to Hot Stuff in a queue doesn't make you smile, nothing will!

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Don't get me wrong, I love the entire Harry Potter series, but there's something about the first film which just cheers me up whenever I feel rubbish. It's probably the innocence of Harry and his friends, when you're just laying eyes on Hogwarts and everything the magical world is capable of which excites me every time!

6. Love Actually

(Yes I am very aware that this is a Christmas film, but I watch it all year round with no regrets.) When you're feeling a bit sad, there's nothing like being reminded that 'love, actually is all around' to warm your heart. Plus Hugh Grant dancing is bloody hilarious.

7. Beauty & the Beast

I'm referring to the 2017 version here. I've always loved the animated classic, but the soundtrack on the new version and the visuals just give the film a little something extra which makes me happy every time. Not to mention the cast is incredible.

8. Four Weddings & A Funeral 

Can you tell I'm a fan of 80s/90s films? I love a good wedding anyway and this film obviously is full of them, plus anything with a young Hugh Grant in with his big geeky glasses and I am here for it!

9. Mean Girls

The most quotable film of all time, even if you're not even watching it, just shouting out the script by heart is guaranteed to make you giggle! 'I WANT MY PINK SHIRT BACK!'

10. The Greatest Showman

Okay, I've only seen this once, but I know that the soundtrack is currently helping to make me smile on a daily basis. And once it's out on DVD I will probably have it on on repeat. 

What are your favourite cheer up films?

Sian xo

Benefit Ka-Brow

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

For me, it's only Benefit when it comes to brow products. I've loved every brow product that I have tried from them, the packaging is swoon-worthy and thanks to the lovely girls at my local Benefit Brow Bar, I've FINALLY learned how to tame my wild eyebrows (took long enough!)

Up until recently though, I've been defaulting to a soft and natural brow look, just because the thought of doing anything more complicated was a bit scary to me, and I was also worried about my brows looking 'too bold' or 'too much'.

After a chat with one of the consultants at my local Benefit, I decided to try something a bit new - I fancied having a go at giving myself more defined, darker brows and she recommended Ka-Brow was the product I needed in my life.

And she was so right. 

The biggest thing for me when it comes to brow products is that they need to be easy to use. I really can't cope with an overly time-consuming brow routine, or anything that takes too much creative flair because in all honesty, I just don't have it in me. But I picked up on the technique of using Ka-Brow pretty much straight away, so if I can manage it, anyone can!

Ka-Brow is a creme-gel product, which comes in six shades ranging from fair to dark. I went for a shade 4, as I would normally have gone for a 3 to get a softer look, but I wanted to try something a bit darker so I went a shade up. The formula itself is very rich and workable, and a little bit does go a long way which means the actual product will last you ages (making the £20+ price tag a little more bearable!) The product glides on so easily and blends like an absolute dream if you do want to soften your look a little. The result? Defined eyebrows which last all day, just what I wanted!

I usually start with Benefit's Goof Proof Brow Pencil in a shade 4 to use as a base, and comb my brows through to get them into shape. I then apply Ka-Brow and set with their Ready, Set, Brow! to ensure that they last all day.

I honestly couldn't recommend Ka-Brow enough to anyone, especially if you want to give a defined look a go but don't like a complicated product. I've now worked it into a daily essential and I will definitely be repurchasing!

What are your favourite brow products?

Sian xo

March Glossybox

Sunday, 18 March 2018

I always love March Glossyboxes. With Spring around the corner (it's snowing as I'm typing this but there you go), it's the perfect time to blow off the winter cobwebs, spring clean your beauty routines and refresh. Glossyboxes around this time of year always seem to fit that idea perfectly, and this month's was no exception. Ready to dive in?

First up are these beautiful Illamasqua lashes. I've never used any of Illamasqua's products before, but I have heard some of my favourite bloggers absolutely rave about it, so I'm so excited to give these lashes a go! I personally don't like false lashes which are too bold, but these look absolutely perfect for a fanned out, pretty look which is right up my street. I'm saving these for a night out or some kind of special occasion but I'll definitely be keeping you posted on what I think of them!

Next is the Mudmasky Sleep Repair Renewal Nourishing Mask, a cruelty-free overnight mask designed to hydrate, smooth and rejuvenate your skin while you sleep. In all honesty, I wasn't sold on the idea of wearing a face mask overnight, mostly because I was worried about getting it all over my bedding and whether or not it would be too heavy and leave a sticky residue on my face in the morning. While the former was true (I would use an old pillowcase if you're trying it out for yourself), the latter certainly wasn't. After rinsing the product off in the morning, my skin certainly felt smoother and more hydrated without weighing it down.

I also received Figs & Rouge Soft Focus Pore Perfect Veil, a light cream which helps to reduce the appearance of pores and imperfections. I love the packaging on this and the formula was just as lovely. It was incredibly lightweight and applied like an absolute dream. I've been using it before I apply my foundation and it is perfect for smoothing out your skin, evening out skin tone and my foundation definitely went on that little bit better after using it.

Everyone knows that I'm a sucker for a nude lipstick, especially once the sun starts to come out! So I was really thrilled to find a lipstick from Oryza Beauty in shade Arwa in my Glossybox. It's a beautiful barely-there pink shade, with a satin finish which I also love during the Spring. Perfect for everyday wear and goes with everything - winner!

Finally, I got a itty-bitty bottle of MorrocanOil Treatment, which I was SO happy to find. I've used this product before and loved it, but with it being a little more on the pricey side, I never got around to repurchasing. But my poor, head-damaged, bleached-and-blow-dried-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life-hair absolutely loves it, and just a little bit of the oil goes a long way, even with super thick hair like mine.

Have you ever tried any of these products?

Sian xo

I'm (Still) A Little Bit Lost

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

I'm at that age, around your mid-twenties, where half of my friends are getting mortgages, getting engaged and having babies, and the other half are getting drunk every other night, losing their phones (and dignities) in completely random incidents on a Saturday night with no responsibilities.

As for me, I don't fit into either of those categories.

You might remember my post in which I opened up about feeling a little bit lost, just about to finish university with no clue as to what the hell I was going to do next. Well, it's been almost two years and I still feel just as lost.

I've always been the kind of person to dream big. I've known exactly what I've wanted, how I'm going to get there and believed in my own ability, especially as a writer. But as I've got older, my dreams have shrunk, responsibilities have taken over and I've been wondering whether I really am good enough to pursue the one thing I love the most.

Is this the realities of living in the adult world, or just me losing faith in myself?

Either way, I'm at a little bit of a stalemate. And while I know how incredibly lucky I am in comparison to others, I can't help but feel like everything is just okay. I like my job, and the company I work for is great, but what happened to my dreams of writing all day every day? Lincoln is a nice enough place to live, but I know I'm a city girl at heart. I'm very close to my family, which I love but I remember being a child and promising my mum that I was going to be successful and as soon as I was, she'd get a big house and a beautiful car and I'd take her on holiday because she deserves it. I feel like I haven't made good on that promise and in turn, I've let her down.

And as someone with big dreams, I'm really struggling with things just being okay. 

I think it can be difficult to balance pursuing your dreams and making sure you are keeping to your adult responsibilities. And as you grow up, your realise that big ambitions need to work practically, and the world may get in the way of what you want.

So, how do I get myself out of this stalemate? 

I genuinely don't have an answer for this one. I guess if I did, I wouldn't feel the need to write this post. Right now, I'm just going to keep writing as much as I can, take everything as it comes, have faith in myself & wing it. It's got me along so far.

Have you ever felt like this?

Sian xo

Barry M Liquid Chrome Highlighter

Sunday, 11 March 2018

You know when you're browsing the aisles in Superdrug, a product catches your eye and you fall in love instantly? That was exactly what happened when I first spotted Barry M's Liquid Chrome highlighters. I absolutely couldn't resist picking one up (among many other things).

This product comes in a few shades but I chose At First Light, mostly because I loved the radiant pink tone and it reminded me a lot of Benefit's High Beam, which is my all-time favourite highlighter!

I am a bit of a sucker for a good highlighter, but I love liquid highlighters because they're just so versatile. I've tried Liquid Chrome a few different ways, and I love how easy it is to create different looks with it! I've used it on its own over the top of my foundation, over my cheekbones, browbone and on my nose, and the glow that it gives is incredible. The formula is very rich and pigmented, so you only need a couple of drops to get your desired effect, the only thing I would say is that I am normally used to just blending it with my fingers, but this didn't blend out so easily that way. A good brush or sponge does the trick, though.

When I fancy something a little more subtle, I often wear Liquid Chrome another way, mixing it in with my usual foundation to create an all-over glow, which I love for when I want my skin to look healthy and dewy without making it obvious that I'm wearing highlighter. The formula gives a little bit of a shimmer which looks very pretty once applied all over!

I have to say Barry M, you guys have outdone yourselves with this one. I am obsessed with this highlighter, to the point where I now use it every day without fail. If anyone is looking for a dupe for High Beam, or just wants a highlighter with a stunning finish, I can wholeheartedly recommend Liquid Chrome!

What are your favourite highlighters?

Sian xo

You know what? I kinda do care about the numbers

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

'Blogging isn't about the numbers.'
'If all you're worried about is your page views, you're blogging for the wrong reasons.'
'You should be loving the content you create, that's more important than chasing numbers.'

The thing is with bloggers (me included), we love a good bandwagon. Whether that's going wild over a new product, or backing a cause, or spreading an idea like wildfire. Once you see one blogger doing it, you start to see it everywhere.

And don't get me wrong, that's absolutely okay. We're a community after all, we share a passion and a lot of us share interests, that's bound to happen, and that's why we have as much influence as we do. 

One thing that has been troubling me a little though, is the statements similar to the ones that I started this post with, which I have seen all over the blogosphere over the last couple of months, promoting the idea that the numbers are irrelevant, or less important anyway. 

Yes, in theory, this notion is brilliant. Yes, blogging is a passion, and at the heart of it should be just that, not how many page views you bring in on a daily basis, or how many followers you have on Instagram. And of course there is more to your success as a blogger than the numbers. It's about your grit, your determination, your voice, your vulnerabilities, and so much more.

But you know what? I kinda do care about the numbers too.

I completely agree that you are no less a blogger by having 100 followers as opposed to 10k. By getting 20 views a day, it doesn't mean you work any less hard than a blogger pulling in 100 or 1000 views a day. Your worth isn't defined by the numbers, but my point is that I've seen too many statements which try to tell you that by caring about the numbers, you're in it for the wrong reasons, or your priorities as a blogger are skewed.

I've seen a lot of people bloggers to artists. If you're an artist, surely you don't just say 'I create for me and for me only. I don't care if no one pays attention to my work.' Or if you're a journalist, you don't say 'I'm not bothered if no one reads my articles or buys my newspaper.' Of course you're bothered! As bloggers, why else would we join Instagram pods, or comment pods, or showcase all of our latest posts on our social media?! Because we want people to view it, engage with it and enjoy it. Whether you're writing about beauty, or about your life, or about an issue you feel fiercely passionate about, we want to be able to see that our content is being enjoyed and not idly sitting in a little corner of the internet. And how do we see that? Numbers.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, I completely agree that getting obsessed with the numbers is dangerous. All I'm trying to say is, it's also dangerous to try to imply that you're not allowed to care in order to be deemed a genuine blogger.

It's okay to admit that you check your blog views multiple times a day. It's okay to celebrate when you hit a follower milestone. It's okay to wonder why your social media followers are stagnating. And it's absolutely okay to feel a little disheartened when a post that you spent hours crafting isn't getting the kind of attention you'd hoped for.

Because we work damn hard on our blogs, and it's okay to want to showcase our work as much as we want to.

It's okay to kinda care about the numbers. I do too.

Sian xo

Getting My Life Together in 2018

Sunday, 4 March 2018

I spent a good chunk of 2017, especially the latter parts, feeling like I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was working two jobs, one of which was brand new, and neither seemed to be going quite right, and I ended up feeling deflated and inadequate a lot of the time. I was stressed up to my eyeballs, and all the while I felt like I'd lost myself.

I'm not usually one for fresh starts when it comes to a New Year. For me, the turning over of a calendar doesn't equal a sudden change. (If that works for you then, fab but it just doesn't for me.) But, I decided to make 2018 the year that I got my shit together. And I'm not saying I'd get a promotion, buy a house and have 10k on Insta by the time Christmas rolls around (although that would be great). I just mean I'd have a better handle on my life as it is now. I wanted to start a hobby that I loved again, learn to manage my time better and ease this feeling of constant inadequacy that I had underlying in my brain.

But I didn't just turn it around overnight. I started making little changes in December so that I could go hell for leather in 2018. I started scouring Etsy for new blog themes, drawing up a list of ideas and plans, bought new stationary, anything that helped me to feel more organised. I started to prepare myself in any way that I could for what was going to be a really busy time, even if that meant giving myself a little bit of a talking to in my head about how I can do this and I am good enough.

An old work colleague always used to tell me that mindset was everything, and I often used to roll my eyes, never quite sure how much I believed them. Two months into 2018 and okay, they were right (annoyingly). I seem to be, slowly but surely, getting my life together, just by getting my head around exactly what I wanted to achieve this year and how I was going to go about it.

Don't get me wrong, juggling two jobs and running a blog isn't easy. I have to write everything down otherwise something gets forgotten. Lazy weekends are a thing of the past and I'm always, always tired. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. That's the beauty of loving what you do.

Sian xo