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