Five Unique, Independent Business’ to Fall in Love With and Why Supporting Small Shops is Vital

Lets picture a creative, young entrepreneur, who started up her own business alongside her full time job and wants to eventually turn her side hustle in to her full time job because it is what she’s truly passionate about… lets support her!! This is a simplified version of why we should all support independent business’.

Shopping through small business’ can give you more unique items that often have an interesting story behind both the product and the brand. I have also found that it is easy to make purchases that are ethical and that have minimal environmental impacts when shopping independently. None of the products bought through any of the companies in this post used any plastic or excessive packaging materials, and the ethics of the brands is made exceptionally clear on their websites. I think supporting business’ such as these is particularly important right now where both the pandemic and recession are taking a huge toll on people’s incomes who run small business’.

Sevenoaks Bookshop

I have previously bought a lot of books from Amazon, both new and second hand from their book sellers as they come at very affordable prices. However upon learning more information on the ethics and working conditions at Amazon, I am trying not to use the website anymore. I would rather pay a little bit more money my books and support an independent business. I realise this is unfortunately not a privilege that everyone can exercise.

I came across Sevenoaks Bookshop by simply searching for independent stores delivering books during lockdown. Delivery was second class and arrived within a few days. The books were well packaged in cardboard with no plastic. Their website was easy to navigate and their genre sections were helpful as I was specifically looking for fiction and books on the topic of racism, both of which have designated sections on their site.

 

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web are a sustainable jewelry brand who work with small family run business’ and communities in Rajasthan, India to hand make their uniqe jewellery designs. For an ethical brand with such beautiful pieces, I believe their work is very fairly priced compared to other larger jewelry companies. For every purchase in their ‘spinning jewelry’ range (which is a stunning collection), £5 is donated to Donatekart which is a donation platform in India. £5 provides one grocery pack for an impoverished family in India. I would highly recommend checking out their pieces, they would make a fabulous gift.

Art by Lena

Lena’s online shop is filled with vibrant, hand painted watercolor prints, stationary and bookmarks.  I’ve ordered a few of Lena’s prints, a gorgeous bookmark, and also some wooden decorations. All of them are of very high quality and were extremely affordable. The orders are well packaged with ‘fragile’ written on them to prevent them from damage. Lena’s shop is ideal if you are looking for a unique gift, my previous orders have arrived wrapped in colourful tissue paper and a hand painted thank you note. I only paid £1 for postage and for both orders I have placed, and they arrived two days after I placed my order. I would also recommend following Lena on Twitter as she regularly posts shop updates and new work she has painted, her handle is: @lenasnotebook

 

Bubble Trouble

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Bubble Trouble is an exciting new business venture, founded by Lauren, whose blog I have followed for a while now (check it out here). I am hugely on board with the fact that Lauren’s ingredients are ethically sourced, cruelty free, and vegan. The packaging is also biodegradable (which can’t be said for a lot of larger cosmetic brands…) No parabens or harsh ingredients are used in any products from Bubble Trouble, and with the bath bombs being £3.50 each, Lauren’s lovely creations are incredibly affordable for the impressive quality that you receive. Shipping costs £2.95 or is free if you spend £20!

(The photo below is of ‘Under the Sea’)

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Studio Bloom Accessory Designs

Studio Bloom Accessory Designs is an Etsy shop, where Steph makes and sells brilliant, colourful jewelry made of polymer clay. Delivery to the UK is free which made my purchase only £11! The quality of the earrings is superb, they are comfortable and secure to wear and they came beautifully wrapped in matching blue tissue paper with a lovely thank you note.

Please leave below any independent business’ you love, I would love to know of more!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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How to Stay Organised and Productive as a University Student

I am about to go in to my final year of studying BA English Language at the University of Birmingham. I’ve found that certain habits and choices certainly make me much more motivated to get my work done and help me to do it in less time. Here are my top tips for being productive and organised as a uni student!

Create a Weekly Plan and Daily Plans

I create a list at the beginning of the week with all the things I need to get done and commitments that I need to attend. It might also be helpful to include social time on here if you struggle with time management. This then lets see you how much you have to fit in to one week and a rough idea of what days can be allocated to what tasks. I then create a daily plan each day so you can change anything that needs adding/you’ve done early. It also helps as this daily one can be more specific, which I find helps me stay focused. Writing tasks such as ‘Finish paragraph three and four of essay’ is easier to stick to and achieve than ‘do uni work’.

Having an academic planner is a new thing for me this year, but so far I am finding it really helpful for remembering events and things I need to complete week to week. Mine is from ‘Ink Outside the Box’ and is a lovely design and also has a great layout inside.

Download the App ‘Forest’ to Avoid Your Phone Distracting You

I absolutely love the concept of the Forest app, and I use it frequently when working. The app allows you to set a timer for how long you’d like to focus for (it can range from 10 minutes up to 2 hours). The app shows a tree growing for the amount of time you have chosen, and if you leave the app then the tree ‘dies’ and indicates that you’ve broken your focus. I usually set it for an hour at a time, and have a 15 minute break between if I have a lot of work to get done. It’s also great because each time you grow a tree, you earn tokens. Once you have 2500 tokens, you can choose to put that towards the app planting a real tree for you. So the app not only helps you concentrate but also helps with reforestation!

Use Study Playlists for Working

I find it very difficult to work for any length of time doing notes or essay planning without having some quiet music on in the background. I find playing classical music or film scores really help me to concentrate and help me stay motivated whilst working.

Have a Folder for Each Module on Your Course

At the start of each term, I use a different ring binder for each module. So for my final year I have five folders; one for my dissertation and the others for the four modules I am taking this year. This means that all the work for one module is one place, whether it’s lecture material, essay feedback or seminar notes. This means you are also unlikely to forget anything if you have something on like a seminar discussion, because everything is in the one folder that you can just pop in your bag. It might also help to have each folder look a bit different so you can easily identify them and not get them mixed up. I try to use different coloured ring binders so you know which one is which. You can also label the spine of them if that helps too. Dividers are another great addition to your folders if you are wanting to separate your work out in to sections.

Use Colour Coding in Your Notes/Essay Plans

I find that using highlighters for specific things in my notes not only makes them look better visually, but also helps me find information for essays. For example, I use an orange highlighter for key words and turquoise for the names of scholars/references. This then makes it much easier if you are planning an essay and are skimming through pages of notes to find a specific scholar or key word.

Use the Bookmarks Bar on Your Internet Browser

I have a folder for each year at university stored on my browser, the modules in each year, and then also additional folders for specific essays within those modules. This is helpful when trying to find and refer back to scholarship so you don’t lose all the links that you are using for a piece of work.

I hope these tips were useful if you are about to head in to another academic year!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Easy and Affordable Ways to Create a More Sustainable and Eco Friendly Beauty Routine

Welcome back folks! I’m becoming more and more interested in making sustainable swaps wherever I can. I’ve found that cosmetic products are some of the easiest items to start swapping for more sustainable ones. The fab fact is that this is very cheap and easy to do! A win win. None of these items are expensive or hard to source either. It makes me realise that making the effort to research more sustainable products really is worth it. These small and easy changes can make such an impact. LUSH estimate that selling their shampoo bars alone saves 6 million plastic bottles globally.

Reusable Cotton Pads

Reusable cotton pads not only save a huge amount of disposable cotton pads but also the plastic packaging they come in. Here is the link on Amazon to the ones that I purchased and love using. They come in a laundry bag which you can wash them in. This also means that they do not come in any plastic packaging, it’s a win win! The pads are made of bamboo and are very soft and gentle to use, they are also a decent enough size, about the same as a large cotton pad. They come out of the washing machine completely clean which I was very impressed by, even if I’ve used them to remove a lot of mascara. Considering I use cotton pads every day, it’s a very simple solution that prevents a large amount of waste.

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Muslin cloths are another great product to use for removing cleansers and face masks etc. as they are another re-usable product that you could use instead of cotton pads.

Makeup Remover Cloths

If you also aware of the single use plastic that makeup remover bottles is using, then you may also want to try out a makeup remover cloth, this saves both cotton pads and plastic bottles, a win win. If you are looking for a cheap one, you can pick them up in Primark for about £1.50. You can also buy them in packs which is great value and means you are fully stocked up in case one is in the wash when you need it.

Non-plastic Cotton Buds

I make sure I buy cotton buds that do not have a plastic stem. Brands such as Johnson’s, Superdrug and Boots all stock paper stemmed cotton buds, just make sure to check the box if you aren’t sure if they are paper or plastic. They are no more expensive than plastic cotton buds which is brilliant. Amazon also stocks a lot of bamboo cotton buds if this is something you are interested in. I use cotton buds a lot in my skincare and makeup routine so again it’s another easy change to make that saves a lot single use plastic.

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Bamboo Toothbrushes

There are many brands and types of non plastic toothbrushes out there, but Bamboogaloo are certainly the game changing brand in the industry. The bamboo used to make the brushes is sustainably sourced as it is Moso bamboo, meaning that it is not the type that pandas rely on to eat! The company are also certified by FSC and ensure fair wages are paid to employees. The charcoal infused bristles are very soft. I also think it’s incredibly innovative that the the packaging is made from recycled cardboard and the brushes are wrapped in ‘bio-wrapper’. The wrappers look like plastic but are actually composed of plant cellulose, meaning they are biodegradable and plant based! They are the only company to be doing this so I think it’s important to support this funky and waste saving design. The toothbrushes also come with 100 free bamboo cotton buds which is a fab deal.

Here is the link to the Bamboogaloo toothbrushes I use, they are £7.49 for a pack of five and the cotton buds which is a brilliant deal considering the sustainability of the brand.

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LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars

One shampoo bar can give you around 100+ washes, and is the equivelant to around three plastic shampoo bottles. Therefore not only can they save you money but also a large amount of plastic. The Montalbano shampoo bar is my top pick, it’s bright yellow and is made with lemon juice, green olives and rosemary so it has a gorgeous citrus scent. Also it takes me months to get through just one of these, so for £7.50 you are getting a hell of a lot of uses for your money. I also purchased the LUSH ‘Round Tin’, which is a little metal tin that you can keep your shampoo bar in. It makes it so easy to travel with it, and stops it getting too damp in the shower between uses. My fave conditioner bar is the scent ‘BIG’ from LUSH, which has a beautiful coconut scent and contains extra virgin coconut oil, organic lemon juice, seaweed and vetivert oil. I have long, thick curly hair and I find this product detangles my curls but also hydrates my hair so my curls fall nicely.

Buy from Brands Utilising Recycled Packaging

Using brands such as LUSH who are doing their best to use recycled packaging is another great way to purchase cosmetics more sustainably. LUSH also take back their pots in store and even the black plastic ones are sent to a green hub where they are washed and used for future packaging. Soaper Duper are also using a large amount of semi-skimmed milk bottles to create their handwash and bodywash bottles. Their products in tubes are 55% PCR and their bodywash is 50% PCR (post-consumer recycled). They have saved around 22 tonnes of plastic since they launched which is remarkable. Ecotools are also using recycled aluminium in their brush handles and the brushes are made from bamboo.

There are so many other swaps that I am still yet to make, I don’t want to recommend products that I have not tried myself. But here are a few more things I would like to start using in the near future:

Metal razor- This means you simply replace the razor heads and the actual razor is long lasting and none of the product is made of plastic.

Menstrual cup- The amount of sanitary product waste from one woman alone is a large amount, but by using a re-usable menstrual cup you can limit this.

Even if you make one sustainable swap, it is a fab start! If you start making changes very slowly it will be far easier and more of an enjoyable process. If you have tried any of thes swaps or have any recommendations for other sustainable brands or products then please let me know!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Cruelty Free Skincare and Body Care Saviours

Hello pals, hope everybody had a fantastic Easter break in the glorious weather!

Today’s post is a collection of all my favourite cruelty free skincare and body care products. Since 2018 I have been gradually transitioning my cosmetic products to being cruelty free. Whenever something runs out, if it’s not cruelty free, then I replace it with a product that is. I’ve found this has been a really easy way of doing it, and I have been surprised to find that I’ve not felt restricted in what products I can buy. Luckily, some of my favourite brands such as The Body Shop are cruelty free anyway!

The Body Shop

The Body Shop is my favourite brand to buy from when it comes to body care. Their ethics on aiming to ban animal testing and also providing great and effective products really sets them apart from other brands. I have been buying their products for years, and especially enjoy stocking up in the summer, their fruit ranges are my absolute favourite.

Coconut Exfoliating Cream Body Scrub

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I’ve tried several of the Body Shop’s body scrubs, I love all of them but the gorgeous scent of the coconut one really stands out. You get 250ml for £15, which is worth it because I find the product lasts a good amount of time. You can also buy a 50ml version for £6, they are fab for travelling as they are compact, and have enough product in to last you a good couple of weeks. I also love this product in the mango and pink grapefruit ranges, if you need a summer holiday travel treat this year then definitely check these gorgeous scents out.

Mango Body Butter

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A lot of people know and love the iconic Body Shop body butters. They are extremely hydrating, but don’t leave the skin feeling sticky. They also smell great, and the scent lasts throughout the day which is an added bonus. They are £15 for 200ml, and again they last for AGES. The 50ml travel size is £6. The other great thing about the body butters and scrubs is they regularly have sales or deals on if you buy a few products so look out for these if you are wanting to save your coins!

Mango Body Mist

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The mango body mist is my go to perfume, and they are only £8! For how long this product lasts and how good it smells, this one of my all time favourite beauty products. Also, if you pair a body butter with a body mist over the top, the scent lasts an incredibly long time. You really can’t go wrong with The Body Shop.

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Liz Earle

Liz Earle is a naturally active skincare brand, whose products are created to suit all skin types. Their use of great botanical ingredients, and simple and light packaging makes their products exceptional.

Cleanse and Polish

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This is hands down the best skincare product that I have ever used. I have normal to oily skin, and since using Liz Earle products, my skin has never looked as radiant or clear. I just simply wet my face before I put the product on my face, then remove it with a muslin cloth. It has a very light scent of chamomile, which I really love. The product is £27 for 200ml, which I am happy to pay considering the results that it gives. You can also buy an 100ml size which comes in a pump, or a 30ml which is brilliant for travelling. I have included a picture below, this is the only cleanser I have used for over a year and I have no makeup on my skin here.

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Gentle Face Exfoliator

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If you’re looking for a an exfoliator which isn’t too abrasive but also still does a good job then I would highly recommend this one. It has quite a creamy consistency and looks very like the cleanser, which is why it feels so hydrating. My skin always feels incredibly smooth after using this, but not red and sensitive like my skin has felt after using some other exfoliators. Again, it has a very light scent, but I think eucalyptus is a very gentle scent so it’s not too noticeable. The brand do suggest that if you have sensitive skin then you should be careful when using this product.

Skin Repair Moisturiser- Normal/Combination

This is a very light but hydrating moisturiser. Paired with the other products above, it’s a winning combo. I have the 50ml jar, you can also buy it in a tube, or the 15ml travel size. They also have a ‘Dry and Sensitive’ version of this product if that fits your skin type.

 

Yes To

Yes To are another fab brand which I’d love to try more products from. All of their products are at least 95% natural, and they are also very affordable. I also love how their ranges are divided in to skin types, for example the tomatoes range is aimed at combination prone skin, and the coconut range is aimed at dry skin.

Tomatoes Mud Mask

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This is a fab mud mask. I am very prone to blackheads around my nose and using this product just once a week makes a noticeable difference to this issue. It also leaves my skin feeling very smooth, but not stripped of all it’s natural oils. It’s priced at around £11.99 from Boots.

I have also tried the Cucumbers Calming Micellar Water from Yes to which was an extremely refreshing product, and it was really good for removing makeup, especially mascara. I’ve struggled to find cruelty free and affordable micellar waters but this seems to be the best pick so far!

The Ordinary

Niacinimide 10% + Zinc 1%

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This serum is a high vitamin and mineral blemish formula. It’s aim is to reduce the look of congestion and blemishes. I have been using this product for about two months, and saw a difference in my skin after only three days of using it. the congestion and texture of my nose has definitely settled more. I also have some scarring on my forehead from previous blemishes and these have become noticeably smaller too. I use this after the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish and before my Liz Earle moisturiser. I am amazed that this product is just £5. This is the only product I have tried from The Ordinary but I am keen to try out some more. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

I hope this post was helpful if you are looking to get in to buying more cruelty free cosmetics!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Book Lover’s Gift Guide 2018

It’s now a month until Christmas,  woohoo!

Are you a book lover in need of a new book, or some new and dazzling suggestions? Or in need of buying a book for someone who already has a fully stacked book shelf of works they have already read? Hopefully this guide will give you some inspiration and a new book idea to buy for someone, or to simply read yourself! It’s split in to a range of genres and ages so there should be something for everyone.

Romance: Me Before You- Jojo Moyes

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A phenomenally touching story. Lou Clark, a small town girl who loses her job and realises her boyfriend is not a man that she in in love with anymore. Her new job introduces her to Will Traynor, who since his motorbike accident, has had no desire to stick around to see what life has to offer. A story of the ups and downs of life and every emotion along the way, Jojo Moyes is a fantastic writer, and really knows how to make you feel a real empathy for the characters and the bittersweet story of how these two characters impact each other’s lives.

Young Adult: Paper Towns- John Green and All the Bright Places- Jennifer Niven

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Both of these books are aimed at young adults but I think anybody of any age would thoroughly enjoy these two!

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All the Bright Places introduces Theodore Finch- a boy who wants to take his own life, and Violet Markey, a girl still grieving over her sister’s death. They meet in an unlikely scenario, on the ledge of the bell tower. A story of two people who can only truly be themselves when they are together, two troubled teenagers who simply need a way to escape the burdens of being alive. Violet soon realises Finch and his feelings are far heavier for him than she ever realised, the story encompasses how far we go for the people we love when they are struggling, it is a deeply sad but incredible book, another one that might make you shed a tear!

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What’s a book post without a classic John Green eh? Paper Towns is another story surrounding two teenagers, Quentin Jacobsen, who has always admired the mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman from a distance. However after an adventurous night of sneaking out together and gallivanting on an all-night road trip, Margo is missing the next day. Who really is the real Margo?

A very interesting and unpredictable book that you won’t want to put down, another great work by John Green.

Older Children: Running Wild by Micheal Morpurgo and Winterbringers- Gill Arbuthnott

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Michael Morpurgo was my favourite author growing up, you really can’t go wrong with his books. Running Wild entails Will and his family on holiday in Indonesia, that’s when the tsunami hits.  Will is simply enjoying his holiday and experiencing what it’s like to ride an elephant, when the natural disaster occurs, the elephant just keeps running. A beautiful book which is as striking as its cover, very easy to read too if you are buying for children.

Winterbringers, a tale from the town of St Andrews, where a permanent winter is threatened from the Winterbringers, ice creatures and the Winter King and his witches. Josh and Callie must try and stop the Winterbringers for good. A great book for children who want an adventurous plot and a bit of a fantasy element mixed in.

Educational: Prisoners of Geography- Tim Marshall

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An incredibly interesting book if you are interested in countries of the world and the many interesting facts and features they have to offer, most of the facts in here were new to me and I learnt a great deal from this book. A lot of geographical and historical information that makes the political content accessible and much easier to understand and enjoy. It’s divided up in to sections, such as Russia, China, and Western Europe, the maps throughout are also a great and interesting feature of the book.

 

Fiction Based on True Events: Remembrance- Theresa Breslin, Rubies in the Snow- Kate Hubbard, And the Band Played on- Christopher Ward

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Remembrance begins at the start of the First World War, and follows Charlotte, her family, and her friends as they navigate growing up during a time of severe loss and conflict during the war. It’s extremely interesting to hear about the tough nature of nursing the wounded soldiers, and the battles of the Western Front.

Rubies in the Snow, is a fictionalised diary of Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov, the daughter of the last Tsar of Russia.  In June, 1911, we see a ten year old girl who is enjoying a highly privileged life of dances, eloquent food and ice skating on the lake. We then see a change as Russia falls in to turmoil and her family and their position of power gradually starts to crumble. This book offers a particularly interesting perspective on the last Imperial family of Russia.

And the Band Played On, is an account of the long term impacts of the sinking of the Titanic, a story that goes beyond the loss of the one night tragedy hit. It follows the story of Jock Hume, the 21 year old violinist on the Titanic, and the family he leaves behind whose lives have changed for ever. I highly recommend this book if you are interested not only in the sinking of the Titanic, but how it impacted the every day lives of hundreds of people for many years to come.

Classics

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If you have a serious book lover in your life then why not get them a beautifully covered copy of their favourite classic?  This is my copy of The English Patient, given to me by my English teachers when I finished my A Levels, with a signed message inside which is a lovely touch to a gift if you want to make it extra special. The copies of all the classics in Waterstones have some beautiful covers, they make very classy and special presents if you are looking to spend a little bit more on someone.

Books with a Physical/Mental Health Theme: The Fault in Our Starts- John Green, The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filer

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Firstly can we appreciate how beautiful the cover is on this book? The Shock of the Fall is a hilarious and yet heart breaking book, Nathan Filer is a qualified mental health nurse and gives a very real and unique account of living with a mental health condition. I won’t give too much away as it is a very unpredictable and shocking read, but I would thoroughly recommend it.

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The No.1 New York Times Best Seller, The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is terminally ill, and meets the beautiful and sensational Augustus Waters at Cancer Kid Support Group. A journey of love, heart break, and how to be a teenager when you feel like you can’t do anything that other teenagers are doing. A book that will warm your heart as well as breaking it in two.

I hope you found a new book idea you would like for yourself or somebody else!

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Hope you’re having a great day wherever you are in the world,

Mol x

Christmas Gift Guide: Beauty Edition, Festive Gifts for Less than £20!

It’s one of the best times of the year, but I know a lot of people can find the shopping and splurging side of Christmas a bit of a stress. From bath and body, to makeup, this gift guide has got you covered, and most of the gifts are significantly under £20!

HAND CREAM

Cowshed ‘Cow Pat’ Moisturising Hand Cream– (300ml) £17.10

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Hand cream is a fab present idea, great for these colder months of the year. This is a slightly more pricey gift, but if you are looking to treat someone then a very elegant present. I love the Cowshed packaging, it really does make a beautiful present from the neutral design. Grapefruit is the main scent I get from this, I can’t smell the coriander in it so don’t let that put you off if you are not a fan! I’ve actually found this also makes a brilliant body lotion, you get a lot of product too so this may make you feel better about the price!

Shea Butter Hand Cream- Morris & Co.– (100ml) £10

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This one is a good amount of product, but is also not too big if you like carrying hand cream in your bag like I do. The shea butter scent of this is gorgeous, but not too overpowering. The product also comes in a beautiful box with the same print as the product packaging, these small touches make gifts that extra bit more special.

MAKEUP

Gloss Eye palette£8.50 (28 shades)

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With the majority of the shades being shimmers, this palette is perfect for the festive season, there is also a good mixture of warm and cool tones. The pigmentation is fab, and they blend very well. The sleek black packaging with the big mirror is also a bonus.

Sleek Highlighter Palette in ‘Solstice’– £9.99 (four shades)

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Who doesn’t love a good highlight to give you a holiday glow? This palette comes with three powders and one cream formula (the top left in the photograph above). Again, the pigmentation is great, they give you a stunning glow. But if you blend them out (I use a real techniques contour brush or a beauty blender), you can also achieve a more natural look. There is a range of pearly tones, and also a cooler and slightly more rosy tone, I have very pale skin and these all work great for me.  The other shade of this palette ‘Cleopatra’s Kiss’, may may be better if you are buying for someone with darker skin.

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SOAP

Highland Soap Company- Mini Guest Soaps– (35g) £1.95 each (Full sizes are £4.95-100g)

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If you are looking for more of a unique gift, the Highland Soap Company are one of my favourite bath and body brands. My Mum is a huge fan of all their products so stocking up on these each Christmas is an essential! The ranges of scents are extremely unique, such as ‘Scottish Bog Myrtle’, many of them having a Scottish theme due to being a family run business based in the Highlands.

These mini soaps make great stocking fillers, their full sized soaps also last ages and smell divine. Their raspberry lip balm and lemongrass body lotion are also favourites of mine. Their natural soya wax candles also create a fabulous scent for any room.

If ethics and the environment are important to you or who you are buying for then this brand is a great fit. All their products and raw ingredients are cruelty free, vegetarian, and are free of SLS and paraben preservatives. Additionally, materials used are simple and recyclable, even ones used in transit are biodegradable, they use fab objects such as corn husks for this!

Bath House- Pomegranate and Blackberry Soap Bar– (100g) £5

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For the low price of this product, you get a beautifully scented product and extremely luxurious and high quality packaging. The blackberry scent in the soap makes a great warm and winter like fragrance, this would make a great stocking filler too.

NAIL POLISH

Maybelline Color Show Nail Polish– ‘White Splatter’  and ‘Downtown Red’-£3.99

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If you can’t embrace glitter at Christmas then when can you?! This glitter top coat works well over any shade, especially dark berry and forest green colours.  ‘Downtown Red’ is a deep red colour and is also very festive, the two actually go well together too if you want to pair them up! I find these last a while before chipping so these are a great purchase for such a low price.

I hope this gift guide was helpful and gave you some festive inspo, let me know if it did!

Hope you are having a great day wherever you are in the world,

Mol x

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How to Make a Rented Space Feel Like Your Own Home

Going in to my second year of university, I am now living in a furnished, rented house for the upcoming year in the city of Birmingham. It can be tricky to make a rented property feel homely and personal to you, when you are unable to make changes that you may make if you owned the property. For example, not being able to put nails in the walls and changing the paintwork and the furniture. After organising and personalising my space in my university halls last year, and having just done it again in our new house, I’ve found some helpful tricks, both in terms of practical things and more personal things, that can make a rented space feel like your own. Many of these tips are also for rooms that are fairly small, so whether you are just renting, living in a small place, or are a student on a budget, then I hope this is helpful!

Need some practical help?  Command Hooks and Strips

Putting prints, frames or pin boards up on the walls will also make your property more personal to you and your interior style. Command strips are great for putting prints or posters up on the wall if you can’t use nails. Last year in my halls I used Blu Tak to display all my photos, and have again this year. As long as you don’t use loads of it, it shouldn’t leave marks on the wall so this is a good method if you want to do something similar.

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Additionally, even getting some photos or artwork to have similar colours in can make your room look very coordinated. The post cards on the wall above are from Paperchase!

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Command hooks are so handy if you can’t put in hooks or nails and need a fixture to hang things that won’t damage the walls. I have one on the back of my door that hangs my dressing gown and my shoe rack and ones for my jewellery. You can also buy clear ones if you want them to be a very subtle part of the room, they are also handy if you need to string fairly lights through them if you want them.

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Want your home to look put together?  Colour and Furnishings

Getting some of the things in a room to coordinate in colour can really make a space feel put together. The two bedding sets I have are blue and white, I then have a throw and cushions in various shades of blue. On this note getting some cosy soft furnishing like blankets, throws, and cushions for your bed can also make your room look and feel more comfortable, which again will make it seem more homely to you.

In a furnished property with furniture you don’t love?

Put throws and cushions on sofas or arm chairs, get a rug to go under that ghastly coffee table, and a pretty table cloth to cover that dining room table that you would never pick yourself. Get a vase with some flowers in it to put in the kitchen (as a student fake ones will do!). These tips will again make items that you did not pick yourself look like they belong to you, and might make everything match a bit more, as opposed to looking like a house with lots of miscellaneous items.

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The map of the world, displayed above my bed is also predominantly blue to match my bedding, so having one main colour theme makes my bedroom look like everything matches, just as if you owned the property and designed it how you want. This poster was just £3 from Paperchase, they sell a lot of great ones! Even just getting a couple of items in a similar colour palette can make a huge difference. This can also be really cheap and easy to do, for example my makeup brush holders and pen pot are matching with the blue theme, so even just get some of your basic smaller items to match and this will work too.

Need something practical but also aesthetically pleasing? Use light

Again, the lights in some of the rooms in your rented home may not be to your taste. The only light in my room is a bit dingy, if you have this problem try and buy a new light bulb, you could always get a warm coloured one if you want a cosy vibe, or a brighter and cooler toned one if you need it for more practical reasons.

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We are not allowed candles in our house, but definitely get some if you can use them in your property. Alternatively, I have quite a few fake tea lights in my bedroom that I use in the evenings to make my room look a bit more cosy and they do the trick! Fairy lights are also fab for making a room feel a bit more homey, I have some draped them along my bed frame, and along the top of my wardrobe

I also have a desk lamp which makes the room a bit brighter as well. If you work at a desk late in the evening or like to read in the evenings then this is a life saver.

Hope some of these tips were helpful on how to make a rented property feel like your own home!

Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a fab day where ever you are,

Mol x

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The Ultimate University Guide: Advice on Moving into Student Accommodation

All those of you who are starting university this year will be moving into your student accommodation in a few weeks’ time so I thought this would be the perfect time to start my university series here on my blog, as I was in the same position a year ago! I am now going in to my second year at the University of Birmingham, where I study English Language.

It seems like a good idea to start with the first main part of the ‘uni experience’ now that you have got your place confirmed, and this is moving in! Looking back now, it is actually quite a strange concept, moving to a brand new city, into a flat you’ve never seen before, with several people you have never met before, so it’s perfectly normal to feel like this is a very daunting experience!

I’ve put together 5 tips for moving in that ensure your moving in experience will be as easy and enjoyable as possible…

1.Get the move in date in your diary NOW

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This was the view from my room!

Firstly, make sure your move in day is in your calendar and that whoever is taking you and all your stuff up to university has it in their calendar too. Your university accommodation should have emailed you to say what day you can move in from, there may be a specific time frame too as this makes it easier so not everyone moves in at the exact same time! If you are anything like me, and who ever is taking you does not always work in the country or on a 9-5 schedule, then make sure as soon as you know your move in date, you tell them when they need to be around! You want to make this process as stress free as possible and you don’t want to realise at the last minute that you have enough stuff to fill a large 4×4 car (lol I did) and nobody to help you get there! Most people I know didn’t take their cars up in first year, if you are near the centre of a large city like I was, then it’s probably more of a burden than a help, but consider this before you go.

2. Pack your stuff up as logically as you can

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We split up all the stuff I was taking into the different rooms it would be going in: kitchen, bedroom and bathroom (I was lucky enough to have an en-suite). This just makes it a lot easier, as you won’t be having to go between rooms with loads of bags and wondering why you packed your toothbrush in with your fairy liquid, and your salt and pepper in with your pyjamas. Laundry bags or Ikea bags were what we used to bag it all up, would 10/10 recommend you use these! They are big enough that you can fit lots in them, but don’t fill them so full that you can’t lift them. My flat was on the second floor of my student accommodation and because this is student halls we’re talking about, there isn’t a lift so bear this in mind in case you have a trek up a lot of stairs. Your halls should have parking very nearby so it shouldn’t be too far a distance to carry everything.

3. Bring the personal stuff as well as the practical stuff

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Obviously you do need to bring all the practical things for your student survival, the pots and pans and laundry detergent and stationary galore. But also remember that this little space is going to be your home for an academic year (I say academic year as we know it’s not an actual year, because uni holidays are long WOOHOO). I printed off so many photos, and luckily there was a big pin board in my room when I got there which I filled entirely, throughout the year I also ended up sticking them on my walls and I also had a lot of postcards up on another wall, so take anything like this that you think will make the space feel like yours!

If you are also in two minds about taking too many little bits and bobs for your room, for example I took picture frames, my mini cactus’s and various other trinkets, take them! I took a few too many as my room was very small (don’t expect your room to be big!) and my parents just took them back home again in the car after we had unpacked. It’s better taking too much than not taking enough and then feeling like your room is bare and not your own.

4. Socialise!

You are likely to be moving in on the same day as your flatmates so make sure you speak to them and introduce yourself! Everyone will be busy unpacking and saying goodbye to people but you can all chat and start getting to know each other once you feel like you’ve got yourself organised. If you are nervous about meeting your flatmates, just remember that everyone else is in exactly the same boat! It will make you feel a lot better if you start introducing yourselves as it will make you start feeling a lot more comfortable after your parents (or whoever has dropped you off) leave, as you’ll know a little bit more about who you are living with. Even if you are feeling nervous, be polite and friendly and it might help to tell people that you feel a bit anxious, it is likely they’ll be feeling it too! Also it sounds a bit odd, but if you leave your room door open, when people are walking past or arriving it shows that you’re not shutting yourself away in your room and means people will tend to look in and it’s a very easy way to start chatting to people!

5. Familiarise yourself with the area you will be living in

After I had unpacked everything, before my parents drove home we decided to go for a little drive around the area. We drove from my accommodation to my uni and back again, which was about a 10 minute drive each way, this was so helpful because it meant that I knew how to get to uni and also where the bus stops were, both for getting to the university and to the city centre. Also, something I found helpful was that when we did this drive, I filmed a time lapse of where we were going on my phone so that if I forgot the first couple of times where I was meant to get off the bus, or if I was walking the right way, I could just look back at the video and check! Luckily there was an Aldi a couple of minutes walk away, and a few other shops opposite our halls, but if you want to do the same for seeing where your closest shop or doctor is etc. then go for a little explore! Feeling a bit more familiar with the area you are can make you feel so much better. I know for me, moving from a village to one of the UK’s biggest cities, it felt very overwhelming but familiarising the area makes it somehow feel a little smaller and a lot more manageable.

Thanks for reading, if you are heading off to university then good luck, I hope this was helpful!

Hope you are having a fab day wherever you are,

Mol x

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Travel Essentials: What’s on my Summer Holiday Packing List

In just two days time I am flying out to Bergerac in the South of France for a ten day trip, so I have been starting to round up all the products that I am loving at the moment in preparation for the holiday pack.

These are products that I have been summer lovin’, are easy to travel with, and will be fab even in the heat of the Dordogne summer.

1. Fragrance and Nail Polish…

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Fragrance-  Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay // £45

This is my all time favourite perfume. It’s such a fresh scent, made up of blackberries, bay leaves and cedar wood, and it lasts all day so what more do you want! The bottle is also so beautifully minimal, this is the 30 ml size which does surprisingly last me a long time, but is so slim and easy to travel with.

Nail Polish Gelly Hi Shine in the shade Damson // £3.99

I love having bright nails in the summer and this electric blue comes out exactly how it looks in the bottle, if you use a base coat and top coat it usually lasts me a few days too or a bit longer on my toes, which suits me as I like to change up my nail colour pretty often on holiday.

 

2. Accessories…

Phone case- Coconut Lane palm print phone case // £14

I am in love with this print and due to it being my first order with Coconut Lane they gave me 50% OFF! My order arrived in a gorgeous pink metallic parcel, a really lovely touch and this would make a fab gift. The case is so lightweight and does not take away from the sleek look of your phone. There are also lots of other products like makeup bags and travel tags in this beautiful print if you are a traveller who loves matching accessories, then head on over to their website boys and girls, because they got ya covered.

Coconut Lane, Pretty Little Thing, ASOS

Jewellery- Pretty Little Thing gold necklace // £8

This came in a layered set with two other necklaces which are also lovely but I do not wear them as often as this one. The length is adjustable and I have been wearing this almost everyday so I know I will certainly get the wear of it with my holiday outfits. Pretty Little Thing have loads of different layered necklace sets, I definitely want to order a few more for my jewellery stash.

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Sunglasses- ASOS round sunglasses in tort // £10

They feel a lot more expensive than £10, they’re great at blocking out the sun and are also great at keeping your hair out of your face. I love the combination of the mirrored blue and the beautiful tortoise pattern, something a lil’ different.

 

3. Skincare…

Travel skincare

Face mist- Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, cucumber and green tea // £7

I simply use this on my face if I feel a need a bit of a refresh so I think I’ll use this a lot on holiday. It has a very fresh scent and it makes my skin feel cooler, but also makes your makeup look a bit fresher so is ideal for on the go. I’ve also been using this before and after I do my makeup and it’s been great for that too, it definitely makes my skin look more dewy.

The Body Shop, cruelty free bodycare

Body Lotion- The Body Shop Fijian water lotus body lotion // £10

This is a very light cream so it sinks in quickly to the skin. The scent is tricky to describe if you can’t imagine what water lotus smells like, but is fresh and fairly subtle, definitely give this a go if you are in The Body Shop.

 

4. Sun Protection…

Sun Protection for the Face- Garnier UV water protection spray // £8

This is the only sun cream I will use on my face, it’s light, non-greasy and doesn’t break me out like most others do.  You also can’t see it on your face so you don’y have to worry about getting that ghost like face that lets be honest, nobody wants!

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Body sun cream- Nivea Moisturising Sun Spray // £6

Not much to say about this other than it’s a high factor and does the job for protecting my skin, it doesn’t make me feel greasy and it’s water resistant which is great as I’m going to be swimming a lot when we’re in France.

5. Hair care…

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Hair oil- Garnier Ultimate Blends coconut hair oil // £6.65

Having thick curly hair in the summer can be a slight challenge, also known as a frizzy nightmare so if you have similar hair to me, I feel your pain folks. Most of the time I just stick it up in a bun and hope for the best. But on the days where I would like to wear it down and make myself look slightly presentable, this product saves my hair. It makes it look shiny and defines the curls which means there is less frizz, it also smells DIVINE. I use the shampoo and conditioner in this range also (which are working wonders for my hair) and it leaves my hair with a subtle coconut scent which I think is a great holiday scent.

Hairbrush- Tangle Teezer wet detangler brush in lilac and mint // £11

I now use this on both wet and dry hair and it makes brushing my hair so much easier! The brush glides through wet hair so easily and I was also surprised at how shiny it maes my hair when I use it on dry hair too! Also the pastel colour is lush for the summer, wish I’d discovered this years ago!

Please let me know if you have any products that are a must when you are travelling or on your holidays!

(All paintings used as backgrounds are painted by me)

Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a fab day wherever you are,

Mol x

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Why We Need to Stop Apologising for Being Pale

This is not a post to tell you to ditch the St Tropez and for everyone to start sporting the porcelain look. Don’t get me wrong, being tanned is a huge confidence boost and having a natural skin tone that is not pale or white is fab also. But for us pale ones, when in the summer especially, it feels like you shouldn’t show any part of your body if it’s looking a bit white and isn’t tanned, then it can be tricky to be confident embracing pale skin.

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If you are as pale as I am, aka. always the palest foundation shade, and if not paler, you will understand why this pressure we seem to have created to have a glowing tan, is quite frankly a struggle at its best. The ‘Kardashian look’ seems to be one that more and more people are striving for and idolising, especially young females. But is this realistic? Is having the goal of perfection, in any aspect of body image, whether it be your teeth, figure, hair, or skin tone, something people feel they have to attempt just because it has become trendy to do so?

Speaking for myself, and being a redhead, it is impossible for me to achieve a natural tan. I burn, I freckle, and I peel, and no matter how long I sit in the sun hoping that these will magically turn into a lovely golden shade, shock horror, it never does.

A question I get asked frequently in the summer is why don’t you fake tan? This is something I have tried, but due to the contrast between fake tan and my actual skin tone being a whole spectrum apart, it requires you to cover every single part of your body for it not to look stupid, and as a result any patches or missed areas look completely ridiculous. Quite frankly, I can’t be bothered.

However, having a tanned body and orange locks may make me resemble a carrot, not a look I tend to go for, so why did I still used to feel it was a bad thing to be pale? And why did I used to worry about changing the natural shade of my skin to one of a darker and more bronzed tone? The answer is, not because I wanted to, but because I felt I should.

Platforms such as Instagram give us the impression that everyone looks as if they’ve been lying on an Australian beach for six months, covered in tanning oil, and that therefore we should be striving towards this look all year round too. But what we forget, is that people on social media are more likely to post pictures of themselves when they are tanned, and on a beach holiday sipping on an exotic cocktail, than if they are pale and are at home doing nothing but the household chores. Additionally, looking at fashion and beauty campaigns, you just have to look at brands doing the current 2018 summer campaigns for makeup, sun cream or clothing, to notice everybody here also looks like they’ve been on that Australian beach along with the people on the explore page of your Instagram feed. This is only one of the few types of aesthetic that is under represented though, I understand there are so many other types of people that are under represented also, whether that be gender, sexuality, race or shape and size, but that could be a whole separate post.

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As someone with two fully Scottish parents and a long line of Scottish heritage, I am often told that I couldn’t look any more Celtic if I tried with my pale skin, freckles, blue eyes, and red hair. My heritage and this aesthetic are something I am proud of, why should I or anyone else change this just because society and the media is giving us the impression that we have to look a certain way?

My freckles are not something I should cover up just because other people round me, and people on social media are not necessarily showing them off as much as people are showing their tans off. But additionally, if you like making yourself tanned because it makes you feel good, and healthy and happy, then that is equally as great. But I have learnt that you do not have to make yourself look like anybody else, just because of societal pressure, we are all unique and diversity is something that everybody should be appreciating.

The same goes for any other feature of you as well, whether this be stretch marks, cellulite, veins or anything that we tend to feel self conscious about, because we have been conditioned to think we should hide these things, that not everyone has these too. BUT THEY DO! If they are on a part of your body that you love then why should we feel we have to hide them? It’s great that we are gradually starting to see more of a variety. Seeing current campaigns such as Missguided’s #InYourOwnSkin is incredible, with campaigns like this, we are starting to head in the right direction.

So if you’re a redhead, someone covered in freckles, or someone who wants to embrace their pale skin, or any feature of your body, even just for some of the time, then go for it! But equally as much, if tanning, either naturally or using a fake tan makes you feel even better in your own skin then keep bronzin’. But don’t apologise for looking the way you want to look.

Pale skin is beautiful, dark skin is beautiful, and every shade on the spectrum is as incredible as each other.

Thanks for reading,

Mol x

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