I'm planning a big year in 2020. I feel like I have spent much of 2019 recovering from a rocky 2018, finding my feet and settling into who 'grown up-ish Sian' is. I've been getting stuck into work, a new house, family life has been going through a big change. Now that I feel reasonably grounded, there's a lot that I want to achieve in 2020, in terms of my own personal growth, blog stuff, changing habits and everything else in between. I'm not setting 'resolutions' as such but more like a bucket list or a target list for the year, filled with everything I'd like to get done in the next 12 months. Let me tell you all about it.

1. Go to America
A close friend of mine is currently living in California as an au pair, so one of my biggest plans for this year is to head out for a week or so for a visit. She's not far from San Francisco, which has been on my travel bucket list for years, so I am super excited!

2. FINALLY get my house sorted
We've been living in this house for just over year, but I still go in my spare bedroom and it looks like I've just moved in. While other rooms are getting there, but still in need of some organisation and a few more homely touches to make them truly ours. So one of my goals for this year is definitely to get organised, finish off decorating and finally have matching furniture in every room!

3. Get a new car
I've had my first little car (Francesco the Fiesta) for about 18 months now, and while it still runs really well, I'm a confident enough driver now that I think it's time for something a bit newer and nicer! I'm going car shopping in early 2020 to see what kind of thing I might like/could afford and then it's going to be time to save like crazy!

4. Go to at least 3 blogger events/meet ups
There have been so many blogger events that I've wanted to go to this year but have missed out on because of work or other commitments. Next year though, I want to make it to a few, and I think 3 is a pretty realistic target considering that events are often in London and I work full-time which can sometimes make it difficult to travel down.

5. One date night/day per month
Dan & I went to Leeds in December to do some Christmas shopping. It was when we were sitting having some lunch that I realised how we hadn't done anything like this, just the two of us, for months and months. Between how busy I am, his shift work and doing all of the overtime that god sends, time together is pretty rare and when we do have the occasional day off together, it's often visiting friends and family or running errands, not actual quality time together. So, that's something I want to change in 2020, making sure we actually make time for each other. And I don't mean fancy or expensive days out, even if it's just going bowling or a drive out to the coast.

6. Five brand collaborations
I really want to up my blogging game next year and take it to a whole new level. There's a plan in place for how I'm going to do that, but I'm aiming for five collaborations as a realistic target, big brands or small. But it'll be brands that I love, and that I think you will love reading about. If it ends up being three over the course of the year, but three that I'm proud to be associated with, and the content is killer, I'm totally cool with that.

7. Go through the 'Grow & Glow' course
I joined the Grow & Glow network a couple of months ago, and I've found it's been so helpful in grounding my thoughts where my blog and social media are concerned, and so far I'm only on the first bundle! Next year I want to really crack on with it as I've only done bits and pieces on it when I get five minutes, but I want to make it a real focus so I can get closer to my other blogging-related goals!

8. Take Eloise & George on loads of fun days out
I've spoken about my best friend's little girl Eloise on my blog and social media a fair few times. Over the last couple of years I've been taking her out for the day for Christmas & her birthday instead of going crazy on buying 'stuff' for her, as she gets so many toys anyway, her parents always appreciate a child-free day and (the best part), we love making memories together! Now she's got a baby brother, it's a tradition I definitely want to make more out of with both of them, and now I get twice the opportunity to be a big kid!

9. Get myself to my 'happy body'
In 2019, I had a span of about six months where I was in a really good place with my body. This was down to good habits more than anything. I was working out three or four times a week, eating home-cooked, balanced meals, drinking two litres of water a day, all while allowing myself to indulge a little at the weekend. Yes I lost weight, but there were so many other benefits. I slept better, I didn't feel bloated all of the time, my anxiety levels went down. So rather than a New Years Resolution of 'I want to lose x amount of weight', I want to get myself back to my 'happy body', not defined by what my scales say or the dress size I am wearing, but by how I'm feeling.

10. Read 25 books
I got back into reading in 2019, and I read about 19 books over the course of the year. In 2020 I want to do better and read 25, so if anyone has recommendations, send them my way!

11. Get in control of my money and start saving
Pretty self-explanatory, but I have spent a long time living paycheque to paycheque. Not because I'm on a bad wage particularly, but because I'm not all that savvy with money. I have some big plans for the next 5 years, which are going to require some savings. So I need to cut back on the Starbucks and impulse buys, get in control, open a savings account and work bloody hard to make my plans happen.

12. Meet local bloggers
I often whinge that there aren't any bloggers near me in little old Lincoln. But in recent months, I've realised that there are a few of us around, I just need to look for them! So in 2020, I want to push myself to reach out to bloggers near me, get to know them and try to make some new friends!

13. Get environmentally-friendly
You may have seen me talk about this about in my last post about being a better person in 2020, but I've come to the realisation that I really haven't been doing enough to help the planet. I'll be starting with small changes, like getting a bamboo toothbrush, reusable cotton wool pads and trying to leave the car at home more. But it's all about small steps, right?

What would you like to achieve next year?

Sian xo

The recent General Election has given me a lot of food for thought. The problem with being very active on social media during an election campaign, especially one which has been so divisive, is that you've got the opinions of thousands of people - many wildly varied - thrown at you in a matter of minutes. That can get pretty overwhelming, and for me, it made it all the more difficult to make an informed decision about where my vote should be placed.

So, I researched. I read manifestos. I looked at statistics. I took the quizzes based on policy. While I did the researching and reading, I closed down Twitter and skipped past Insta stories that voiced political views. Just temporarily, while I figured it out for myself. I then went back to social media later, and I looked at people's stories and experiences as I scrolled. I ended up with so much to think about, I found myself completely struck by the stories of those who have relied on food banks, or those who have struggled to feed their kids, or those who have had their disability benefits cut.

I completely appreciate that I'm late to the party, and I am potentially opening myself to be told how ignorant I have been. But it has put everything in rather harsh perspective. And while I don't agree with the General Election results even the tiniest bit, I woke up the morning after we went to the polls, checked the results on my phone and immediately went to Twitter. And as I scrolled, my heart broke for those who had posted about how fearful they were for their livelihoods and the futures of their children.

I can't change the result, but what I can do is play a small part in helping those who are vulnerable. In recent weeks I have realised that, in my position of relative privilege, I haven't been doing enough. So I'll be making it a focal point in 2020 and beyond to do more, and generally be a better person. Here's how I plan to do it.

1. Give to charity. 
My charity donations have fallen by the wayside over the last year or so, but it's something I definitely want to set up again. A fiver coming out of my wages each month is nothing, and I'm pretty certain I can cut back on one Starbucks over the course of the month to make up for it. BUT I'm going to be really mindful on which ones I set up direct debits for - I'm currently thinking of ones which help children living below the breadline or a homelessness charity, but it's something I'll be researching over the next couple of weeks.

2. Donating to food banks.
This one is such a simple habit to start but makes such a difference to so many people. Every time I visit the supermarket, I'm going to pick up a couple of extra tins or packets of pasta or tube of toothpaste or shower gel, and drop it in to the food bank box at the tills. Easy, done. Where the supermarket doesn't have a donation box, I'll bring it home and start a stash, and when I have a bag full or two of things, I'll drop them off at a local food bank.

3. Thinking more environmentally friendly.
This will be another where I'm going to try to make small changes. Things like getting reusable cotton pads and a bamboo toothbrush and try to leave the car at home more and walk/get the train places. I've become such a slave to my car since passing my test, so it’s going to be a tough habit to break but I’m going to make a real effort!

4. Find a way to help causes for homelessness.
Homelessness is a real issue where I live in Lincoln, and I know that homelessness has been on the rise across the country. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do this yet, as I know people are actively told not to give people money, but I'm going to start looking into charities/causes that I can support who tackle homelessness locally. Again, something I need to do some research on but it is definitely on my radar!

Again, they're all small changes. But I think if lots of people make small changes, there could be a big impact. So that's what I'm going to do.

Sian xo

I remember when Glossier first launched in the UK. The blogosphere went mental... I didn't get it. I read a few reviews when various influencers had got their hands on the products, and it was such a mixed bag. Some reported that the skincare and make up was just the best thing ever, while others said that it was completely over-hyped. For me, that sealed Glossier's fate as a brand which probably wasn't worth my time or my hard-earned pennies.

I'm not 100% sure what made me think about giving it a try earlier this year. I think it was a mixture of Hannah Gale's reviews (Hannah Gale influences many of my purchases, if I'm being honest), and part of it was the fact that Glossier kept popping up all over my Facebook ads.

It was the website that made me add a few bits to my basket and checkout - with its promise of easy-to-wear, fuss-free products that work seamlessly into your routine. I bloody loved that idea as life had become hectic and simplifying my routine a little was just what I needed.

My first order consisted of the Milky Jelly Cleanser, Cloud Paint cream blusher and Birthday Balm Dotcom. I almost died at the idea of paying £10 for a lip balm, but I stuck with it. And do you know what, I'd do it again. Best-tasting lip balm I've ever used.

Cream blusher has been nothing short of a revelation for me. SO PIGMENTED. SO EASY. Two seconds, dab it on and you've got the perfect flush of colour, no effort required. I've got the shades Puff (a cool pink) and Dusk (a nude) and I'm obsessed with both and building up to owning every shade.

Since my first order, my obsession with the brand has only grown, and I've been adding more and more products to my collection. Generation G lipstick is a firm favourite already - cute shades, just-the-right-side-of-matte, and no need to constantly top up all day? Yes please.

I've been testing out the Lash Slick mascara over recent months, and I think that's going to be a staple in my make-up bag too. I'm so fussy with mascara but this is perfect for day-to-day wear, the wand is so easy to use and gives fluffy, fluttery lashes with no clumps at all.

My most recent Glossier purchase has been the Futuredew oil + serum hybrid. I bagged it in the Black Friday sale, totally sold on the promise of the use of it giving a dewy glow which lasts all day, either on its own or under make-up. I've only been testing it for a few days so the jury is still out on that one, I'll keep you posted.

I'll be honest, I was pretty sceptical of Glossier as a brand but it is so worth the hype. I never realised how much their products would change my routines, I'm obsessed with how much easier it has made getting ready in the morning. I could probably do a full face of Glossier in under 10 minutes, which is perfect for mid-week after hitting snooze once too many times, for when you're popping out so don't want anything too fussy, or for when you want the 'I just woke up like this' look. So thank you, Glossier, for being the brand that I never knew I needed.

Have you ever tried Glossier?

Sian xo

I love Christmas as much as anyone. I really do. It's one of my favourite times of year. My tree is up, I've had Christmas songs playing for about a week now. I'm feeling full-on festive.

While it'll always be one of my favourite times of the year, I know that for some, myself included, Christmas comes with a lot of pressure. Pressure which I haven't really felt until this year. And although I'm loving putting all of my Christmas content on Instagram, decorating the house and eating my body weight in mince pies and chocolate oranges, I think it's also important to serve up a bit of festive realness about how I'm feeling this year. If for no other reason than hoping someone else who might be feeling the same way knows that they're not alone.

Let's start with one of the most obvious pressures: financial. Wanting to spoilt the people you love rotten but not necessarily having the budget to do so. And feeling far too embarrassed to say anything about it. For several reasons, money is much tighter for me this year than it has been previously and I just can't spend the same amount of money on my family as usual. While I know that they probably won't notice or even care, I'm finding myself putting all of this pressure on myself and putting the idea in my head that I'm letting them down by not showering them in lovely gifts like I want to be able to do.

You hear of people getting in loads of debt to be able to afford Christmas, and while it sucks that I can't go mad on presents for them like I want to, I'm just having to keep it in mind that life still goes on around Christmas. I still need to be able to feed myself and not be completely skint for the next six months once the tree is back in the loft and the Quality Street are gone.

Every year I ask my godmother what she'd like for Christmas, and every year she tells me 'time, that's more valuable than a present.' I usually roll my eyes and say 'okay, but what do you want as an actual present?' but this year, I think I'll finally be taking her up on that offer!

But that brings me on to the financial pressures that go beyond the present. There's putting petrol in my car to go all over the place visiting family and friends. There's finding the money for an outfit for the office Christmas party, drinks at the Christmas party, festive meals with mates... it goes on and on and so do the list of expenses. Not to mention the FOMO.

While I think it's going to be a worry for the entire festive season, I'm doing a few things to try to ease the stress. I'm buying smaller, more thoughtful gifts rather than thinking of spending an 'acceptable' amount of money first. Trying to remember that it's okay to wear clothes that I've worn before and using that money for fuel so I can spend time with people instead. Inviting people over for dinner where we can cook rather than spending money on expensive meals. Because in the end, it's about spending time with people rather than the setting.

Then there's Instagram. My feed is full of gorgeous festive content; people going to Christmas markets all over the country, drinking mulled wine in a different city every weekend and generally getting festive all over the place. Meanwhile, I'm still sitting in my office with a mince pie and a brew, worrying that I'm not making the most of the season. Then I have to give myself a talking to, because it might be Christmas, but life still goes on. A girl's still gotta work!

I also find the whole 'who-goes-where' during the significant days of the season is an issue. Not so much as Christmas, but certainly New Year. I'm not a huge fan of New Year anyway as it holds a lot of bad memories for me, but I try to do something to keep my mind off it. But it always has to be low-key otherwise I just struggle. But every bloody year, I have family members or friends inviting me to their gatherings or parties, and then getting offended when I say I want a quiet one.
"Oh but you can't have a quiet one, that's so boring!' Erm, actually, yeah I can. And it's taken me ages to learn to say no but I'll do what makes me happy, thanks very much. The festive season is too short not to.

So, to anyone who is maybe struggling a little with the pressures of Christmas and all that comes with it, I hope you can take a little bit of comfort in my jumbled, brain-dump of a post, because trust me, I'm feeling it too.

Sian xo

I'm definitely someone who is non-stop most of the time. I have a lot of stuff I need to do day-to-day. My working day doesn't always end when I leave the office at 6pm, not to mention keeping up with my blog, and generally keep up with 'adulting' - cooking, keeping up with housework(ish) and everything else in between. Rare 'free' days get booked up so quickly with various things, whether it's helping my mum with her wedding planning, visiting Dan's family, seeing friends... the list goes on. The bottom line is that I seem to spend a good chunk of my life rushing around like a blue-arsed fly.

Which would be totally fine, except that I'm not very good at recognising when I need some time out. So I carry on in this fashion until it's too late and I'm totally frazzled, crying in a heap on the floor because I'm just so bloody tired and can't cope with living life at 100 miles per hour any more.

Sound like you?

In the last couple of months, I've been making a really conscious effort to make self-care more of a priority. And by bringing the idea of taking time out to the forefront of my mind, I've come up with a few ways to help work it into my routine so that I can still be 'non-stop'.

1. Little & often
I think little & often is one of the most valuable lessons I have taught myself about self-care recently. I often struggle to take an entire day off as I feel like I have to be productive all of the time, but by practicing some self-care in short bursts, I still feel like I'm giving myself a bit of a break. (Although don't get me wrong, sometimes a full day is necessary!) Even just taking a couple of hours off to watch a film with Dan during a work-from-home-day, or stopping off on the way home from the office for a Starbucks and a browse around TK Maxx works just as well!

2. Set yourself boundaries
For me, self-care isn't just about making time to do something relaxing. It's also about prioritising my basic needs rather than trying to get everything done, at any cost. Setting myself boundaries has been the most effective way to do that. So setting myself a deadline of 9pm to get everything done, and sticking to it. Whatever is left over can wait until the next day. I then have a good hour or so to wind down before bed, and I can actually relax properly, have a bath, read a book, whatever, without guilt that I should be trying to cram in as much as possible. Because let's face it, I'm no good to anyone deprived of sleep.

3. Setting aside a day for you
Let's see if anyone else can relate with this. I'm busy working all week. Weekends get booked up three or four weeks in advance with family, errands, plans with mates and general life rubbish. It gets to 8 or 9 weeks in, I've not had a day or even half a day to myself in that whole time, I'm on the brink of being totally burned out. I'm bloody knackered and crying out for a day to just chill.
So, I've started to set aside one day a month, where I take time out just for me. I try to plan this for a day where Dan's working so that the day is totally mine and I don't have to consider anyone else. Where I can stay in my pjs all day, have a nap, binge on everything on Netflix that I don't usually get time to watch. Just generally recharge my batteries. Yes, I may pick up my notebook or my laptop and do some writing, but that's because I'm feeling creative and generally want to, rather than feeling like I need to use my day productively. And I'll tell you, these days have become absolutely precious.

4. Check in with yourself regularly
When you're non-stop all the time, it's so easy to not realise how you're feeling. I do it so often where I run and run and run and run (not literally run because I wouldn't even run for the ice-cream van), working extra hours, spending hours and hours on my blog, meetings, babysitting, wedding planning, going, going, going... Then all of a sudden I'm on empty and I crash... and I had no idea I was even getting there.
I now make a conscious effort to check in with myself regularly, and by regularly I mean probably every other day. How am I feeling? How has my mood been? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I getting breakouts on my skin? Basically asking myself all of the questions that I know will give me an indicator of my stress levels and if/how urgently I need to take some remedial action. I've spoken before about taking up bullet journaling, and this has helped me so much with checking in with myself. Because I track things like mood, sleep, anxiety levels etc. every day, it's made me so much more aware of how I'm feeling.

What are your tips for making self-care a priority? Is it something you have nailed, or are you still a work in progress like me?

Sian xo

I've always been someone who has had a pretty solid circle of friends around her. There's always been someone just down the road, or a group chat for me to unload all of my life's woes. Especially during my time at uni, there was always someone I could call on for a spontaneous night out, for a shopping buddy or to simply watch telly and eat biscuits with.

Since moving away from those friends though, I feel like I've become a lot more introverted. My social life isn't anywhere near as busy as it once was, and I rarely seem to have plans with friends. Part of that is probably because I work full-time now as opposed to a few hours at uni per week and 16 hours working. Part of it is the fact that going out all night doesn't really appeal to me any more.

But, if we're being honest, a lot of my new, introverted life is due to the fact that making friends in your 20s is bloody difficult.

The thing is about this stage of life, everyone has made their friends already. People have got their mates from school, from college, childhood friends, family friends, whatever. And once those groups have already formed, they're pretty solid. Which is obviously great for them, not so great when you've just moved to a city, are feeling a bit isolated and trying to make friends of your own.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of it may be down to where I live, and the fact that there isn't all that much going on. Bloggers events are pretty much non-existent in Lincoln, I used to love going salsa dancing every week when I lived in Sheffield, but there are no classes near me. My opportunities to meet new people are so limited due to my geographical location, so I end up in a loop of going to work, going home, repeat. And I just have no idea where to start looking to meet people in such a little city.

Another huge issue for me is the fact that I'm in my mid-20s but still have all of the insecurities of a teenager. And this holds me back so much because I've either shirked opportunities to put myself out there, or I've let myself fade into the background because I'm bloody terrified of what people think of me, or of coming across as a bit weird. It was like high-school Sian was stood on my shoulder going 'you're definitely not cool enough for this, abort mission!' And I've coming away kicking myself, thinking I missed another chance to start breaking down all of the loneliness that I've felt since moving here.

Yep, I'm really struggling if I'm being honest. While I still have friends who I know I can call upon, a lot of them are hundreds of miles away and I only see them every few months, so the day-to-day loneliness doesn't get any easier. And it's getting really embarrassing every weekend when I'm asked if I have plans for the weekend and I have to say no! Applications for a best mate on a postcard, please.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Sian xo

In the last year or so, my skincare obsession has grown, to the point where now I think I love skincare more than make up (bold statement, indeed.) I just find that when my skin is good, everything else follows and nailing my skincare routine has become so important to me.

I've changed a few things up in my skincare routine recently, so I thought I would share what else is now, what I think to it and what I'll definitely be repurchasing.

Nip + Fab Vitamin C Cleanser
I picked this little cleanser on a whim in Boots a few months ago. I love vitamin C products, especially as a morning cleanse as you feel like something a little bit refreshing on your skin might wake you up a bit (I don't think it does, but a gal can hope). While this isn't my favourite cleanser in the world, it does the trick as a light morning cleanse, but I wouldn't say it's doing anything spectacular for my skin. Will I repurchase? Perhaps if it was on offer, yes. But I have a couple of new cleansers currently on their way to test out, which I'm super excited about!

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
I'd heard so many good things about this toner, and I just had to see what all of the fuss was about. I'll be honest, if you have really sensitive skin, it probably isn't for you because it's quite 'harsh' (hence the word acid I'd imagine!) I only use it in the evening, and sparingly because if I go a bit OTT on it, I find that my skin reacts badly. But used properly, it has really helped to reduce my pores and make my skin look smoother and even out skin tone. It's taken me a bit of time to get used to, but it's now such a staple!

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Total. Holy. Grail. I don't know what I would do without this little bottle now. I talk all the time about how dry my skin can be and how it can be such a struggle, but regular use of Hyaluronic Acid has made SUCH a difference. It only takes a couple of drops am and pm to sort out the dry patches and make my skin super soft. I will 100% be keeping this one on my bathroom shelf for the foreseeable.

Dr Botanicals Pomegranate Sleeping Face Mask
I'm an absolute sucker for a good face mask, and sleeping face masks have become an absolute god-send for me, for evenings where I just haven't stopped and don't have time to sit for 10 minutes with a face mask on. I'm loving the Pomegranate mask from Dr Botanicals right now, I've been using it 2-3 nights a week, popping on a thin layer before I go to bed and when I wake up my skin is so much softer and brighter, as if I'd just put a normal mask on!

Glossier Bubblewrap Eye & Lip Cream
That's right, people. I'm at that age where I've purchased an eye cream. In all seriousness though, I'm all of a sudden very concerned about getting wrinkles so I thought it was about time I invested. I decided to give the offering from Glossier a go and I am super impressed so far! While I don't know too much how it's doing on the wrinkle front (although I haven't seen any yet. Yet.) It's so good for my puffy eye bags when I'm feeling a bit run down and sleep-deprived (so all the time). It's a little bit more pricey at £23 but so worth it in my opinion!

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Face Mask 
Normally I avoid charcoal products as I don't think they'd suit my skin type, but when I asked for recommendations to sort out breakout-prone skin and large pores, this was by far the most popular answer so I had to give it a go! And I haven't looked back since. It's bloody potent when you put it on, to the point where my eyes often water. But it's so good at dragging all of the crap out of your skin and leaving it detoxed, cleansed and soft. I love it especially for when I've had a few glasses of vino the night before (as my skin often plays up after drinking), or for that time of the month when my skin is misbehaving. This has definitely got a permanent spot on my bathroom shelf, I don't think I could ever be without it again!

Have you tried any of these products?

Sian xo

I find that being in your mid-20s comes with a certain amount of pressure. Indeed, any stage in life will have its pressures, but I think your 20s is a particularly 'awkward' time, with a level of expectation that you should have pretty decent grasp on the direction your life is going in, and a plethora of interesting things to tell vaguely distant relatives about just how well you're doing.

But, then come the questions. You know the type. The ones that make you roll your eyes, laugh nervously and give your pre-prepared answer that you conjured up in the car on the way to the family gathering, because you just know that your opinionated and slightly abrasive uncle will ask you the same thing he asks every time.

Let's start with a classic example, shall we?

1. 'Sooooooo, has he proposed yet??'
Ahh, the dreaded question for anyone in their 20s (or maybe 30s or 40s) who has been in a relationship for more than six months.
After a response of awkward laughter and shaking your head, I often find that the initial question is followed up with 'Well, you want to be telling him that he needs to put a ring on it!'
Well maybe, just maybe, I don't want him to yet??

2. 'Do you think you'll have kids one day... Soon?'
How is it possible that one tiny, four-lettered word can change what is seemingly a really casual question into somewhat more of a 'reminder' that kids is really something you should be thinking about now that you're 25 and your ovaries are on an inevitable ticking time bomb which could implode at any moment? (I of course mean this in jest, but you get the idea of the amount of pressure adding the word 'soon' creates). When I feel like voluntarily growing to the house of the house and going through childbirth (which soz, sounds like a hell that I am not ready to put myself through), I'll let you know, kay?

3. 'Aren't you a bit young to be settling down? Shouldn't you be going out and enjoying life?'
JFC I can't win. And why doesn't being in bed at 8pm with snacks and a good box set qualify as 'enjoying life'??

4. 'Are you EVER going to use that journalism degree?'
Why no, vaguely distant family member who has no bearing on my life whatsoever, I probably won't. I'm an estate agent now and I like it. Is that cool with you?

5. 'What's your long term career goal?'
Bloody hell, I don't know. Not getting sacked by next week? Making it through to Friday without guzzling down a bottle of wine per night? Don't say I don't dream big.

Please tell me someone else can relate??

Sian xo

Real talk: I am not a particularly well-organised person. Which is an absolute disaster for someone who is so busy all the time. Being absolutely on top of my to-do list (and in fact, actually having a to-do list) doesn't really come all that naturally to me.

And while it may look to the outside world that I'm completely organised, with my pretty stationary and constant calm demeanour over my workload, I'm actually much better at pretending to have my shit together than at actually having my shit together. So when someone approaches me to add one more thing to my to-do list, or asks me to take on one more commitment, I'll smile sweetly and say of course, but in reality, I'm giving them an incredibly shaky and reluctant thumbs-up while I'm drowning in everything I need to get done.

Perhaps a large part of my issue is being unable to say no, but that's a topic for another post, I think.

After having a pretty big break down a couple of months ago about how I just can't do this, I made a resolution to myself to pull myself together, and put a plan in place to help myself keep on top of things. While I wasn't expecting miracles, or to have a complete overhaul in my organisation levels, I've found that implementing a few little changes has much such a difference in my productivity and made me feel so much more together.

For anyone feeling the same, I thought I would share with you how I got this disorganised girl, organised (sort of).

Bullet Journalling

I've been using a bullet journal on and off for about a year or so now, but since I've started using it properly it's made such a difference to my organisation levels. I started one purely because I couldn't ever find a diary that had everything that I needed, so I decided to make my own! Keeping everything in one place: dates to remember, to-do lists, tasks, birthdays, budgeting is SO much easier. I even put in a cleaning tracker so I can keep on top of housework better, as well as pages to brainstorm blog post ideas, and gratitude pages so that I can reflect on and record things that have made me happy to look back on! It's also really lovely to have another creative outlet, I'm not the most artistic in the world but I enjoy it nonetheless!

Timetabling My Week
It sounds so obvious, but it isn't something I have ever done that much before! Because I work such long hours, free time is rare and when I do have some spare time, I find that I have so much that I could be doing, I just procrastinate until it's time to be somewhere again.

When I say timetabling, I really do mean it in the simplest sense. I've simply allocated a broad task for each evening during the week, assuming that I will have a couple of hours to sit down and get stuff done between getting home from work and in between cooking dinner, watching some TV and going to bed. For example, I have set aside Tuesdays and Sundays as 'writing days', where I aim to focus on writing posts and nothing else. Wednesdays and Thursdays are for admin, and Saturdays are generally for taking photos and tying up any loose ends from the week before. Any specific tasks under those broad headings are up to me, but I find I'm so much more focussed now that I at least have that baseline for my week. And if I have something else going on so I can't do any work at all, that's okay! Because generally, I'm now ahead enough that I can take a break and not feel guilty, which is pretty unheard of for me!

Not Leaving Everything Until the Last Minute!
Okay, this one is still very much a work in progress. Maybe I'll always be a last-minute kinda gal and I need to make my peace with that. But I really am finding that if I plan ahead and stay focussed, the last-minute rush around just before a deadline is less of a frequent occurrence. Fingers crossed I can keep it up, eh?!

How do you like to keep yourself organised? Are you a super-organised person or are you like me, a work in progress? Let me know in the comments!

Sian xo

Now don't get me wrong, I love an elaborate make-up routine. I love a smokey eye and a perfect winged liner, and when I get the opportunity to go to town on the highlighter, I do.

But, let's face it. I work long hours, and I'm not much of a morning person. So a simple, fuss-free routine during the week is an absolute must for me. Those extra ten minutes in bed are precious.

With the darker mornings rolling in and making it even more tempting to snooze the alarm, I thought I would share my holy grail products for a simple routine which will get me out of the door on time and not looking like a total zombie.

The Body Shop Dewy Rose Facial Mist
You've probably seen me rave about this already in previous posts and on my Instagram. I honestly can't get enough of it, just because it's so versatile. It's a perfect primer, and brilliant on no-foundations days to even out the skin and give a dewy glow, so I can just spritz and go, without having to worry too much about a base. I've also got the Hydrating Mandarin version, which is perfect for topping up with throughout the day.

Lush Charisma Skin Tint
I get so many compliments when I use this product! It's pretty new to my make-up bag, but I am obsessed. Another really versatile, easy to use product, especially for using a little bit all over my face for a bronzed glow, no fake tanning or bronzer required! I also use it as a highlighter when I feel like it, but it's especially perfect for a quick base and a more glam look, minimal effort required.

Benefit Gimme Brow
As much as I love being able to take my time perfecting my brows when I can, most mornings my routine (and by routine I mean pressing snooze 100000000 times) just doesn't allow for it. Gimme Brow has been a staple in my routine for a good few years now, it tames brows with just a couple of swipes, as well as making them look fuller and lasting all day.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Minor Sin
Another long-time favourite! This product has been an absolute game-changer for me for the last few years for getting my eye make up to stay all day, but I use it even for days where I don't have the time or inclination to do an elaborate look. I always get the shade Minor Sin as it's a beautiful shimmery bronze colour, and giving it a swipe along my lids gives them just a pop of colour without the effort. Just a bit of mascara and you're good to go.

Glossier Cloud Paint
I never knew how much I would fall in love with cream blushes. But oh my goodness, Glossier have knocked it out of the park with this product. I'm now starting a collection and have two shades: Puff & Dusk. The formula is absolutely dreamy, so lightweight and buildable, adding seamless colour to your cheeks in seconds. Perfect for the days that you just can't be bothered with blending and contouring. Puff is a beautiful cool pink shade, which is always my go-to, but I got Dusk as a sample with a Glossier order and I fell in love. I never though neutral shades would be for me, but I love this one, especially when I fancy something a bit more natural-looking.

Glossier balm dotcom
Before I get talking about this one, let's get real. Yes, £10 for a lip balm is ridiculous. But do you know what? I have no regrets, and I'd do it again. I'm obsessed with balm dotcom, especially for the winter when my lips get ridiculously dry, and normal lipstick just looks rubbish. I've got the 'birthday' flavour, which gives a subtle shimmer and tastes amazing. They do loads of other flavours, which I know I'll be purchasing at some point but I think birthday cake will always be my favourite.

Have you ever tried these products? What are your go-tos for days where you're a bit short on time?

Sian xo

Okay, before you start chuckling, hear me out. This is very serious business.

This year, I hit the ripe old age of 25. I am officially in my mid-twenties. Which is a little bit of a scary prospect when I cast my mind back to the eve of my 20th birthday when I was full on freaking out at the thought of not being a teenager any more. The fact that I am now mid-way through a decade which I was dreading, and 30 is equidistant to 20... yikes.

I'm now at that funny time of life where an engagement ring is gracing my Facebook feed pretty much once every couple of weeks, and if it isn't engagement rings, it's baby photos or pregnancy announcements. If it isn't that, it's someone who is going off on their travels or someone who has just had an offer accepted on their first house. That age where everyone seems to be hitting milestones of one form or another, sometimes going in wildly varying directions and here I am in the middle somewhere, in the midst of the 'I SAID YES TO THE DRESS' posts & time-lapses of far off countries and hearing my mother comment 'you know that girl you went to school with...?', slogging away at my 9-5, getting excited about my Saturday night takeaway and living a thoroughly unextraordinary life, wondering if I'm getting it all wrong.

Welcome, my friends, to the quarter-life crisis.

Don't get me wrong, in a lot of ways I'm very lucky. I'm just the right side of having my shit sort-of together. I have a good job, I'm living independently, I'm in a long-term relationship, I earn enough money to pay my bills and have my nails done and go on days out. I'm not quite a hot mess (although there is still time.) But, all of a sudden, I seem to have realised that life is in fact short, and my biggest fear is looking back and regretting choices I've made or at what time of life I hit these milestones. And while in reality, I know it's probably a result of comparing myself to what I see on social media but bloody hell it's knocked me for six.

Let's take a classic example. I know that I am in no way ready for children. Not a chance. The thought of getting no sleep, having to change nappies and bodily fluids become a normal part of my day-to-day routine, it just does not appeal to me right now. And don't even get me started on pregnancy. I know I want to be a mum one day, but one day is very far into the future, potentially even past 30. Plus the fact that I'm a little bit old fashioned and want to get married before I have kids, and am I ready to get engaged? No sir.

But the issue of having a lot of friends and colleagues who are 5-10 years older than you, is that they all start weighing in on the issue. That's without factoring in family members who are just dying to know your entire life plan...

'No, you're young, you have plenty of time for marriage and babies. 25 is no age'

'Why bother getting married first? It doesn't change anything. Wasted money to be honest'

'Well, having kids younger is better. Then you aren't old when they're 18 and you get your life back. Really, you need to be thinking about having them now'

'You're 25 now Sian, your biological clock will be starting to tick'

Yep, I have genuinely been told every single one of these. Biological clock is ticking! The problem is, when you hear this stuff, you internalise it and it makes you question yourself. Everyone loves to tell you the 'perfect age' to do x,y and z, and it just makes you want to ask for the link to this rulebook on Amazon because maybe you missed it?!

I've made it no secret on my blog that my career pathway hasn't exactly gone to plan over recent years. And while I try not to let that bother me, especially now that I'm almost a year into a job which I love (for the most part) and could really see myself carving a career out of, but there's always this little niggling voice in the back of my brain saying Yeah but it isn't journalism though is it, hun? And sometimes, it's a voice that's actually being spoken out loud by a no-holds-barred family member. And no, it isn't journalism and whilst I do sometimes feel guilty that those I went to uni or school with are already being promoted with salaries that would make my eyes water, I'm doing okay right? Right?

The best way I can describe it is thinking back to my 19 year old self. The girl with big dreams, full of confidence. If that girl saw me now, what would she think?

I'll be honest, I think her first thought would be What the f**k happened? 19 year old me wanted me to have gone on adventures, moved to London and be working on a magazine by now. Hah.

Instead, I'm living just a stone's throw away from my home town, working as an estate agent, in my pyjamas by 8pm, living away from most of my friends and nights out tend to be the last thing on my mind.

I wonder if I've let my 19 year old self down by the life that I'm living now. And then I remember how naive 19 year old me was. She didn't understand the responsibilities of having to pay bills. She didn't know how difficult it would be to save money for a big city move. She didn't count on one of the worst periods of her life making it almost unbearable to be too far away from her family. The thing is, life gets in the way. And I'd hope that 19 year old me will understand that 25 year old me is just trying to muddle through as best she can.

And muddling through is exactly how I'm planning on getting through this quarter-life crisis, and hope it all falls into place. And it will. Right?

I can't promise I won't keep feeling half-jealous and mildly irritated with the engagement posts though. I'm only human!

Sian xo

Hey gang!

It's been a while, hasn't it?!

I wish I had a really valid, solid reason for being away from the blogosphere for so long. I wish I could tell you that I've been doing something really fun and interesting with my life which explains my absence.

Truth is, I just got a bit lazy.

In all honesty, I can't even put my finger on what's kept me away for the last few months. I suppose I just temporarily fell out of love with blogging. It was starting to become such a chore to schedule tweets, write posts and take photos. I felt like my time could be better spent doing other things, and if I'm being completely truthful, I just needed a rest. I have a habit of living my life at a million miles an hour and feeling the need to spend every minute of every day productively, and in the end, instead of slowing down a little bit, I just ground to a halt.

Good news is though, I'll always come back to blogging, because I love writing so much. I love being creative and interacting with other bloggers. I'll never be away for too long.

So, what's been happening in my little world recently? To be honest, not a lot. I've been stuck in that 'adulting' cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat.

Dan has started working shifts recently, and works ridiculously long hours. Which has been bloody tough, but it's also been a bit of a blessing in disguise. With us both working so much, it's forced us to actually prioritise each other when we're both free and spend some quality time together, even if it's just taking a walk to the pub.

I'd say probably the most exciting news I have at the moment is the fact that my mum's getting married! She met her partner at the end of last year and it's been a bit of a whirlwind romance, but she's so happy! Which is lovely to see after everything she's been through in the last year or so (more on that in a future post). The wedding is next year, and she's given my sister and I an awful lot of creative control, so you better believe I got my Pinterest board set up almost immediately!

Blog-wise, I'm going to start slowly getting back into writing posts, engaging across social media again and just generally being more present. I've bloody missed it.

Sian xo

I can't believe my little blog turns four years old this year. FOUR. Four whole years of creating my own little corner of the internet.

I kind of feel like my blog has grown with me, and when I look back at everything I've done, it is almost literally a diary of my life between the ages of 21-25.

Despite me being a weathered blogger by now, there are a lot of things that I wish I'd known back then when I started out all that time ago. So if you're someone who's thinking about starting a blog and looking for a little advice, or an experienced blogger who fancies reading a post which will make you involuntarily nod all the way through, read on...

1. Blogging is in no way just about getting to write, which in my case, was the whole reason for starting. There's so much more, taking photos, editing photos, scheduling promo tweets, being active on every social media platform going, engaging with other bloggers... it goes on and on...

2. Instagram will be the bane of your life. Follower count goes up but engagement goes down, photos you put loads of effort into will do poorly... such a headache.
It'll always be my favourite social media platform though. It's a vicious cycle.

3. Comparing yourself to other bloggers is so damaging. Just don't do it.

4. Your expenditure will skyrocket and your blog will be the main reason to justify it.

5. The blogging community can be clique-y, empowering, bitchy, supportive, uplifting, drama-filled and wonderful all at the same time. Confused? Me too.

6. Don't be afraid to have an opinion, even if it is a little controversial. That may well be what makes you stand out. (But also make sure you can respect other opinions and have intelligent conversations)

7. You HAVE to take breaks when you feel the need to. Don't worry, your blog will still be there when you're ready to come back to it.

8. But when you do take breaks, you'll miss it more than you realise.

9. Make sure you hold onto the bloggers who show you endless support. They're invaluable.

10. Your blog will go from something you rarely talk about and try to keep on the down-low, to one of your proudest achievements.

Fellow bloggers! What do you wish that someone had told you when you first started out? Let me know in the comments!

Sian xo

I've set myself a challenge to read 50 books in 2019. I think I might have been a little ambitious on that target, but I've been really enjoying getting stuck into books again! It's been so good to be able to take a little bit of time out before bed, put my phone away and bury my nose in a book.

I'm pretty fussy with books usually, and if a book hasn't grabbed me within the first chapter or two, I just get fed up and ditch it. But I've been reading some really good books recently, so I thought I would share with you what I've been loving!

Billy & Me - Giovanna Fletcher
I'll be honest, I first started reading Giovanna's books because I follow her on Instagram and just think her and Tom are total family goals... but actually, I love her writing style, her relatable characters and heartwarming storylines.

'Billy & Me' follows the story of Sophie, an ordinary girl from a tiny Kent village who just so happens to fall in love with one of the biggest Hollywood actors ever. She finds herself thrown into Billy's heady, glitzy world, out of her comfort zone and with some pretty tough decisions to make...

I had this book basically glued to my hand right the way to the final page. The story was totally charming, it was so so easy to read and I fell in love with the characters from the get-go. (Despite finding myself simultaneously loving Sophie and wanting to punch her in the face, even if the latter was mostly because I know I'd behave in exactly the same way, not for the right reasons).

Always With Love - Giovanna Fletcher
As soon as I'd closed 'Billy & Me', I was straight on Amazon to order the sequel, 'Always With Love'. I was desperate to know how Billy & Sophie's story continued! If I'm being totally honest, I definitely preferred the first book out of the two but I still loved getting stuck into the second one, which is largely set in sunny LA!

The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson
Lily and Ted meet in an airport bar. After one too many drinks, Ted confesses his secret desire to kill his wife after discovering her infidelity. Lily offers to help. It's about to get very dark...

My favourite book genre is definitely a thriller, and after reading the synopsis of 'The Kind Worth Killing', I knew I had to delve deeper. I was hooked. The story has so many twists that I just didn't see coming, it was one of those that I'd lose track of time whilst reading. Which is a sign of a very good book to me. If you loved 'Gone Girl' and 'Girl on the Train', this is definitely something you need to read.

Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson
Christine has a rare form of amnesia which means she loses twenty years of her life as soon as she falls asleep. The only person she can trust is her husband. Or can she?

I'd heard of this film before, but never the book. And I'm one of those people who has to read the book before watching the film adaptation. Whilst reading, I thought I would be able to predict the ending, but I was totally wrong. The story is really clever, the ending leaves you with so many questions and trust me, it'll stay with you. I can definitely recommend this one!

What books have you been loving recently?

Sian xo

Dan and I have been 'officially' living together for a couple of months now. I didn't think being in a place of our own would change our relationship, but it has. Not a negative impact, but there are certain elements that are different.

So in celebration of the fact that we're stuck with each other for the foreseeable future (or at least until December when our tenancy is due for renewal), here is a (not exhaustive) list of the realities of living with your boyfriend. The good, the bad, and the gross.

1. Only having to do half of the cooking and the cleaning (which is great for me seeing as my mashed potato is rubbish and his is amazing).

2. Always having him there. On the other hand, he's. Always. There.

3. Mornings where you're brought a cup of tea in bed are just the best.

4. Being a real, grown-up couple and having our other couple friends over for dinner. So fancy.

5. Being able to slam the bedroom door shut when he's being a total shit is pretty satisfying.

6. Telling me that I can decorate however I want, then wrinkling his nose when I bring home tealight holders that he doesn't like.

7. Genuinely fearing for my life when I use the bathroom immediately after him.

He's alright, though. I won't trade him in just yet.

Sian xo

I don't know about you, but I hate how much the Winter months play havoc with my skin. I'm prone to dry skin as it is, but the harsh winds and freezing temperatures at this time of year just seems to make it a hundred times worse, and it's hard bloody work trying to keep my skin hydrated and refreshed.

Saying that though, my skin is currently looking pretty good despite the harsh conditions, and seeing as there's no sign of Spring yet, I thought I'd share some tips for anyone who is struggling at this time of year!

1. Find a good moisturiser
Sounds obvious, but it's probably amazing how many people miss out this step! Finding the right moisturiser for your skin is essential, and I always find that switching up your moisturiser for the seasons is really important. I tend to use a thicker, more robust moisturiser during the Winter because I know my skin is much more prone to dryness during this time of year, and then switch back to something more lightweight during the summer months. I was kindly gifted the Intensive Moisture Balance from Dermalogica recently, and I absolutely swear by it at this time of year!

2. Double-cleanse
Double-cleansing is probably the single most important skincare lesson I have heard in the last six months. Since putting in a bit of extra time to double-cleanse, my skin has improved dramatically, after all, no good putting loads of lotions and potions on if you're not cleansing properly first!

3. Invest in a facial oil
Nope, didn't make much sense to me either at first. I steered clear of facial oils for such a long time because adding oil to skin that was already dry just seemed like adding to my problems. But I couldn't have been more wrong. Facial oils actually give the skin a little boost of extra nourishment and lock in the moisture, no added oiliness! I swear by the Dr. Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Oil - it has quite a hefty price tag but so worth it!

4. Face masks twice a week
Not only have using face masks on a regular basis made a huge difference to my skin, I've been able to use them as an excuse to have 15 minutes of me-time a couple of times a week. There's nothing like being able to pop on a mask and taking yourself off with a book. There are so many good masks out there that keep skin healthy and sort out any dryness caused by the winter conditions, but my personal favourites are the Garnier Tissue Sheet Masks (which are perfect for a no-mess, no-hassle solution) and L'Oreal Clay Masks. My advice though would be to do your research and find the products that will work the best with your skin.

What are your favourite Winter skincare products?

Sian xo

*This post contains gifted items, but all opinions are my own!

Look at that angelic little face...

The first time my little niece came to my new house was her first sleepover. She dropped her bags, ran a lap around the place and then came running up to me shouting 'Bop Bop, this is amaaaaazing!' What a little sweetheart.

Moving into somewhere that wasn't shared housing for the first time since she was a year old has meant that babysitting duties soon kicked in. Not that I was complaining though, I love spending quality time with my Little Star, and it was the first time I'd had her overnight solo.

I'll tell you what, being responsible for a tiny human, even just overnight is a bit of an eye-opener. And, even though I already knew it, I realised I am in no way ready to be a parent yet.

Don't get me wrong, she was good as gold. She went to bed when we asked her to, she went straight to sleep and slept all the way through the night. There were no strops, no temper tantrums and I came out of the whole experience with my sanity still in tact. Winner, right?

But oh my goodness, was it chaotic.

Eloise might have slept the through the night, but Aunty Bop Bop certainly didn't. After being told she sometimes gets up once or twice in the night, I couldn't sleep because I was so worried she'd wake up and I wouldn't hear her. I was then running through every possible scenario in my head. What if she gets up, forgets where she is and walks into the bedroom door? Or falls down the stairs? What if she finds her way to the bathroom for a wee but falls down the toilet? (All unlikely, but stressful nonetheless!) Is this just a parent's life, constantly worrying about the child injuring themselves?!

The next morning, we had to be up and out of the door to get the little one to her Nativity play on time. She was Mary, so obviously integral to the plot of the production and not being late was essential. 

Ha. Ha ha ha.

Bath time was interesting. The first part was fun. We splashed, we sang songs, I eventually got round to washing her. I then realised the time and told her it was time to get out. Now, Eloise is only three, but she can already negotiate. 'No Bop Bop, two more minutes. I'm being a mermaid!' All whilst proceeding to slide up and down the bath on her tummy, being a mermaid. Five minutes later, and I'm still trying to negotiate getting her out of the bath while she continues, 'pllleeeeeeaaaaaassssseeee, two more minutes, pppplllllllleeeeeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeeeee?' I don't get how her mum and dad ever say no to those big blue eyes and that cheeky grin, to be honest.

I made the fatal mistake of putting Paw Patrol on for her to eat her breakfast in front of, thinking it would give me chance to get sorted. Rookie error. A spoonful of Weetabix went in per half an episode, I reckon. And trying to explain to a three year old the reasons why you need them to eat faster... Well, you work out how that one went down.

Meanwhile, I'm running around getting her costume for the play together, having a three second long shower, shouting at Dan, putting on as much concealer on my under-eye bags as possible, and trying to throw a coffee down my throat... How do parents do this every day?!

We did eventually get out of the door. And she got to her Nativity on time. And I grinned like an idiot as she clung onto baby Jesus as if her life depended on it. But I got an insight into the chaos of having children, and I am not ready. Nope. Nada.

I like taking a good couple of hours to get ready in a morning, doing my hair and carefully applying a full face of make up. I like taking my time with my morning cup of tea. I like getting a full night's sleep.

I love spending time with Eloise though, so I suppose I'll babysit again.

Sian xo

I turn 25 in a few short days. Twenty-five. A quarter of a century, as my little sister likes to keep telling me. It sounds so grown-up, doesn't it?

Whether or not I feel like a grown-up tends to vary day by day. I do know though, that I've learned an awful lot in the last year since my 24th birthday post. So here, at 25 Truths, most of them from the last year.

1. It's perfectly fine if you've barely ticked anything off the list of goals you set yourself at your 24th birthday.

2. Going out and getting trollied every weekend has definitely lost its appeal. And I am fine with being the old lady who's in her PJs by 8pm on a Friday night.

3. There's no feeling quite like the realisation that you might have finally found your career.

4. It's completely fine if you have no urge to sell everything, put your entire life in a backpack and travel the world. It isn't for everyone.

5. It's always the ones you least expect who step up and are there for you when you need them most.

6. You owe nothing to those who treat you badly. Blood relation or not.

7. What doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

8. You'll never please everyone, so you may as well do what makes you happy.

9. All of a sudden, the age of 30 seems terribly close and it's terrifying.

10. Everyone has an opinion on when the 'right time' for you to have children is. Or whether or not you should bother getting married, and when. Tune that shit out.

11. If you're not careful, quality time with your other half becomes non-existent. You'll always have to put in effort.

12. It's easy to feel like a failure, or a pang of jealousy when you see people on social media securing their dream jobs, becoming homeowners or getting engaged. Don't. You're doing fine. It isn't a race.

13. 1999 was 20 years ago. I'll let that sink in.

14. I'll probably never start consistently eating healthily and exercising, no matter how much I tell myself I will.

15. I'll never be able to walk gracefully in heels.

16. I tell my family I love them every time I see them, and I think it's so important to do so.

17. It's okay to want to help people you love. It's also okay to let them go if they don't want your help. You are not responsible for someone else's happiness.

18. Don't waste energy being angry and bitter. Life's too short.

19. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you're too old for Disney.

20. Don't feel bad for wearing a lot of make up. Don't feel bad for wearing none at all. Do you.

21. People will always have an opinion on your relationship, but remember that the only ones in it are you.

22. Always find time to do the things you love. Don't let adulting get in the way.

23. Positive mental attitude really does make a difference. But it is okay to wallow from time to time if you need to.

24. Stop comparing yourself to everyone on Instagram. It's just a highlights reel.

25. Take joy in the little things. Even if it's just the excitement of using a new bath bomb, or getting your nails done, or putting fresh bed sheets on.

Sian xo

I don't know about you, but the January blues have been very real for me this year. After a lovely, relaxed Christmas period, a bit of time of work and quality time with my favourite people, the 2nd of January came, I went back to work and came down to Earth with a bit of a bump.

Winter blues are so common at this time of year, once the festive period is over and all of the excitement of Christmas has dissolved. The dark nights just seem that little bit darker (probably because of having to take down all the fairy lights), it's (probably) no longer acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast and spring seems like a million years away.

At this time of year, it's so important to have ways to cheer yourself up when the winter blues hit. So for anyone struggling, here are the little things I'm doing to keep myself smiling when I'm feeling a little bit glum. (Disclaimer: I am not in any way referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in this post. This is not something I have ever experienced or have any knowledge on, and I am aware that this mental health issue is something else entirely.)

1. Put the fairy lights back up!
Some people like putting their living room back together after Christmas and putting the decorations firmly back in their box. I personally get a little bit sad, but I've found that putting fairy lights up around the house just makes it look that little bit more cosy and more inviting when the nights are dark. Plus they look so pretty!

2. Get stuck into a good book
I've set myself a challenge to read 50 books this year. Maybe I am being a little ambitious what with everything else I need to squeeze into my day! But recently I've been loving getting all snuggly under a blanket in an evening and getting lost in a book. There's nothing like escaping to someone else's world when you're not feeling yourself!

3. Go for a walk!
One I've only really tried recently, but I've found that there's nothing quite like a long wintery walk to blow away the January cobwebs. After such a lazy December filled with sausage rolls and chocolate, it feels amazing to be getting some fresh air in my lungs and getting moving again. Once you get to a bit of a pace, you don't even feel the cold anymore!

4. A hot bath
It sounds obvious, and it's probably one of the first things someone mentions when discussing self-care or cheer up tactics, but for me, it really works. When I'm feeling low, stressed or tense, shutting myself away for an hour to have a bath just gives me a little bit of breathing space and does so much for my mindset. I always come out feeling so much more relaxed and positive.

5. Being around people who make you laugh
When you're feeling blue, it's difficult to lift your thoughts yourself. But being around people who make you smile is one of the best tactics around!

What do you do to banish the winter blues?

Sian xo

It's been no secret that, even as a beauty blogger, I've really struggled with my skincare routine. Whether that's been finding a routine that I can stick to, finding products that don't make my sensitive skin flare up, or getting into a routine and then all of a sudden the products I'm using just stop working.

But then, Dermalogica came into my life.

I was approached a few months ago to join the Dermalogica Skinfluencer programme. I'd never tried any of their products before, and by this point I was so fed up of my skin, I figured it was definitely worth a go.

I started with using just one or two products from the new Clear Start range, including the Fizzing Mask which is amazing at clearing breakouts in just a few minutes (although it sounds like Rice Crispies popping on your face, very strange at first!) but the more products I've incorporated into my routine, the more I've fallen in love with the brand.

I've spoken about two of my holy-grail products, the Precleanse oil and the Daily Microfoliant, on the blog previously, I can't get enough of them. I've also been loving the Special Cleansing Gel, which has been a recent discovery, the lather it creates is just heavenly and leaves my skin feeling ridiculously soft.

I've found that on the whole, Dermalogica products are of a really high quality, and gave me almost instant results. I've struggled with dry, acne-prone skin for such a long time but I've seen a huge difference since using Dermalogica, and I've finally fallen into a routine that I can stick to!

Have you ever tried Dermalogica?

Sian xo

*these products were gifted to me, but all opinions are my own.

One of my biggest achievements of 2018 was passing my driving test. In all honesty, after two failed tests, I didn't think it was ever going to happen for me! I've now been a fully-fledged, pink-license driver for nearly eight months now, and I can tell you I haven't stopped learning even since trading in my L-plates. So, what driving lessons have I learned since passing my test?

1. Your scariest drive ever will be the first one you do by yourself.
My first ever solo drive was 3 miles between where I picked my car up from and home. And I had to sing to myself REALLY loudly the whole way to keep my nerves under control!

2. You'll stall the car just as much in the first few months of driving as you did when you were a learner.
Doesn't get any less embarrassing, though.

3. You'll forget the Highway Code approximately six minutes after passing your test.
And don't even get me started on street signs. No idea.

4. It's all fun and games being able to drive until you're the designated driver and can't drink.
Although the urge to ditch the car and get a taxi so that I can have wine still tempts me every time.

5. No matter how much you deny it, you'll definitely pick up bad driving habits. 
And cringe every time you think of what your driving instructor would say if they saw you.

6. You'll swear SO much more behind the wheel.
Well, it's not your fault that no one else can drive properly!

7. You'll lose all ability to parallel park once you pass your test.
And you'll actively avoid any situation where you may have to try.

8. There's no better feeling than getting in your car, putting your music on and singing at the top of your lungs.

Tell me in the comments, what lessons have you learned since passing your tests?

Sian xo