Beauty | Sleek 'A New Day' Eyeshadow Palette

Without a doubt I consider my best facial feature to be my eyes. I'm proud of my dark brown eyes and love to accentuate them with snazzy eye-makeup looks. 

One of the latest additions to my eyeshadow collection is the Sleek 'A New Day' palette, a dreamy collection of nude shades.

Sleek is one of my favourite brands at the moment. Every time I purchase a new palette I'm completely blown away by their pigmentation and longevity, they honestly surpass every other brand I've tried. They're also really easy to blend and work together really well.

 This palette is full of gorgeous warm-toned neutral shades, making it perfect for a daytime look. It features twelve different shades, a selection of nudes, golds and taupes, in an array of both matte and shimmer finishes; the perfect way to add something special to your everyday makeup. 

It's common for me to find a shade or two within a palette which most likely won't be touched for the rest of eternity but that honestly isn't the case with this palette. There's a number of beautiful lighter shades that would be perfect for the inner corners of your eye, some gorgeous colours for your lid and some darker colours should you fancy a smoky eye look.

The Sleek 'A New Day' palette retails at £8.99 and is available online here.

What is your favourite eyeshadow palette at the moment?

Happy Mind | 10 Ways to Practise Self-Care This Christmas

The blogging world always takes a really positive turn come December, focusing on the highs of the Christmas period. And this is cool, I love Christmas just as much as the next person. But today I want to take a moment or two to cover a more serious yet really important topic: mental health during the festive season.

It is important to remember that mental health problems don't just switch off when the Christmas lights are switched on. Many, if not all, people who have an ongoing (or previous) battle with mental health still struggle and have bad days over the holiday period. On top of this, when Christmas comes around daily routines can be thrown all over the place which can have a huge impact.

Way too often at Christmas people think "but it's Christmas, I should be happy". Yes it's Christmas, but at the end of the day it's just another day; don't pressure yourself.

Christmas is portrayed as a time of giving; a time to focus on others. And by all means do that - personally giving gifts and spreading joy really boosts my mood - but don't forget about yourself. It is important to still make time during the festive period for self-care, so I've compiled a list of twelve ways to practice self-care this Christmas.

1. Take a walk.
It's well known that exercise can improve your mood but we're not just talking 5k runs and hours upon end in the gym. Simply wrapping up warm and taking yourself out for a brisk walk can really contribute to a clearer happier mind. Create a playlist of your favourite songs and go and explore your local area at your own pace. There's something really special for me about winter walks; it's my favourite thing to do when the hustle and bustle of the festive period is getting a bit much.

2. Read a new book.
Reading is a wonderful way to practise self-care as it can work in a manner of ways - as a distraction; as a source of comfort; the list is endless. Find a genre or author that you really feel a connection with and settle down to read. I'm really into YA fiction (young adult fiction to all you non-bookworms) as it obviously has a younger target age than myself so it is a much easier read that is a perfect fit for those times when you can't really get your head in gear. One of my current favourite stories to sink my teeth into is Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt.

3. Light a candle.
During the winter months one of my favourite self-care practices is lighting a festive candle in my bedroom. I find it gives my room a lovely comforting and homely feel which really helps to make me feel better. Last week I published a post featuring my favourite festive candles, which you can find here.

4. Have a bath.
I live in line with the moto that 'a good bath solves everything'. There is nothing better than relaxing in a warm bath, especially when there's a lovely scented bath product involved. I like to stockpile some of the Lush festive products during December, ready for those moments where I just need to give myself a little bit of TLC. You could even light a christmas candle and put on some relaxing festive music to really extenuate the peaceful vibe.

5. Organise your wardrobe.
This is especially handy if within your Christmas presents you were lucky enough to receive new additions to your wardrobe. I like to remember the moto 'a clear space creates a clear mind'. Not only does a bit of organising distract your mind from itself, it also enables you to create a clean safe haven that can be really helpful when you're not at your best. I sometimes find myself retreating to my bedroom for a short while when things get too much over the Christmas period (and this is ok, people do understand) and it definitely helps if my room is a clutter-free environment. 

6. Do some colouring in.
Mindfulness colouring is all the range at the moment and it can be so helpful. I actually find myself often using the media of wax crayons when colouring. This is simply because I find that when I'm particularly anxious the noise of a pencil can be rather harsh and unwanted. It's definitely something to try if you yourself like using art as a form of self-care.

7. Write a list.
When life is getting a bit overwhelming it can be really helpful to write a to-do list (I find making it pretty always helps). Life can be busy and overwhelming as we rush towards the end of the year, but list writing can make everything a little more manageable. It's worth putting things on the list in little steps, such as breaking down a big job such as a blog post into little steps for example; plan, photograph, write, edit. Little steps means that you cross things off a little bit quicker which is really satisfying and really drums in the fact that you've got this.

8. Cozy up in a blanket.
Nothing beats snuggling up in a big cozy blanket when you're not 100%. I've been doing lots of research recently into weighted blankets, which can really contribute to you feeling safe and secure. These can be a little expensive however so don't forget that even your run of the mill fluffy blanket can do the trick. 

9. Listen to some music.
Be it your favourite artist, album or a compilation playlist; the choice is yours. Obviously at this time a year a good choice would be something Christmassy. Festive album-wise I personally love 'Christmas, With Love' by Leona Lewis, 'Wrapped In Red' by Kelly Clarkson and both Elvis Presley Christmas albums -  "Elvis' Christmas Album" and "Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas". All of these albums tend to leave me really relaxed.

10. Scroll through pinterest.
I know most people tend to promote self-care activities which are completely screen-less, but personally I find pinterest to be a really valuable self-care tool for me. There's something magical about scrolling through endless aesthetically pleasing pictures and quotes, it almost always brightens up my mood. 

Christmas is a time for kindness, and the most important person to be kind to is yourself. Even during this hectic time of year remember to make time for self-care.

How do you practise self-care during the festive season?

Festive | Unwinding for Christmas

In the run up to Christmas, life has become ever so hectic. I've been spending my life up to my eyeballs in uni work, at festive get-togethers with friends, Christmas shopping and at work; I feel like I've been constantly on the go. Now that the festive period is upon us and I've been able to wave goodbye to the joy that is uni for a couple of weeks, it's time for me to schedule in a time to really unwind. Today I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite tips and tricks for relaxing ready for Christmas.

Light A Candle
Even the smallest of touches can make a world of difference. As soon as the weather begins to get slightly chilly one more, out pops the Christmassy candles and there they stay for a good while. My current go-to scented delight is "Salted Caramel" by the beauties at Yankee Candles. It will not disappoint you, I promise. Although please be warned, it smells so stunningly sweet it may leave you slightly peckish and craving a cake or two.

Treat Yourself
You've worked hard all year long, you can definitely justify spoiling yourself at least a little bit. I know everyone is fairly strapped for cash at this time of year having splurged on gifts galore, but if you've got a few pennies to spare why don't you treat yourself to a festive manicure or a new snazzy outfit to sparkle at the Christmas parties?

Have A Good Ol' Pamper
I'm a strong believer in the idea that a bath, a hot chocolate and a chick flick will cure, or at least better, even the worst of situations. So if last minute Christmas shopping is unleashing your inner stressed Susan, have a little bit of a break and a breather; it'll do you the world of good.

Get Yourself In A Festive Mood With A Christmassy Film
In keeping with my last point, a good film is always the perfect way to unwind. My personal preference is always Love Actually (in fact, it may or may not be currently on my TV as I type away) but there's a thousand and one for you to choose from. Why don't you treat yourself to an early night and watch a film or two all snuggled up in bed?

Take Yourself On A Wintery Walk
Whether alone or with a friend (furry or human; the choice is yours), a good walk in the wintery fresh-air can be so refreshing and stress-relieving whilst providing you with a good dose of exercise. If that doesn't motivate you enough, think of the potential wintery Instagram snaps you can take and I'm sure that will persuade you.

Create Something Beautiful
I must admit, I find crafting to be ever so therapeutic. Christmas is one of the best times to start a new project (whether it be sewing, card making, scrapbooking or whatever floats your boat) as there are so many quick and easy festive tutorials floating about the internet. Pinterest is definitely your best friend if you're unsure as to in what direction to go in.

I hope you all reap in the benefits of having a few days away from your usual hectic schedules.

What's your favourite way to unwind during this festive period?

Beauty | Lush 'Ultrabland' Cleanser

What's this? The return of the beauty post here on Yours, Chloe. You bet. 

Now that we're well into the winter months, good skincare is more important than ever. Your skin can get a proper battering from the winter wind so it's well due some proper TLC. Enter my new favourite skincare product: the Ultrabland cleanser from our good friends at Lush.

Ultrabland is not a new product to my skincare routine, it's an old friend that I've recently reunited with (and boy does it feel good). It's based on the old-school beauty staple of cold cream - ask your nan - and it's known to be a bit of a miracle product for blemish-prone skin. Ultrabland also works really well for hydrating the skin, leaving it glowing.

One of the key ingredients in Ultrabland is beeswax, known for its antiseptic and magical moisturising powers. The beeswax is the key ingredient in removing the days makeup as it works to melt the waxes found in makeup, leaving your face slap-free and squeaky clean. Ultrabland also includes Rose Water - which will calm and soothe your skin - and Almond Oil which will hydrate it like there's no tomorrow.

As with many Lush products it's best to play about with them a bit and discover the way of using them that works best for you. Personally, I like to take a 50p sized amount and dot it around my face. I then rub it in really well for several minutes before washing it off with a warm damp flannel. Depending on how much makeup I'm wearing that particular day, I sometimes will need to repeat this before my face is completely bare and ready for the next step of my skincare routine. As a balm cleanser, Ultrabland does have a rather thick consistency but this is something you get used to with time. I always find it works best if you warm it up slightly in your hands before applying to your face.

In terms of how effective it is, Ultrabland does exactly what it says on the tin. It's gentle but still works really well at getting rid of the days makeup, dirt and grime. Just a few days use of the product will leave your skin feeling soft and supple; enough for my boyfriend to notice, yes it's that good even a bloke can tell! It also works wonders on tackling those pesky blemishes, as my skin has had a considerable transformation after just two weeks use.

If you're looking to revamp your skincare routine or to add a new beauty product to your list for Santa then I'd definitely recommend Ultrabland. It's returned to its place as a staple in my skincare routine and I think it's going to be staying put for a long time.

Ultrabland is priced at £7.95 for a 45g pot.

Have you ever tried Ultrabland?

Festive | Winter Woolies With Debenhams*

You can't beat a jazzy jumper during the festive season. At this time of year I'm all about fairisle and alpine prints and jumpers which feature an abundance of sequins; you can't beat a bit of sparkle at Christmas. I like to pair my winter woolies with a pair of skinny jeans, my ugg boots and a big winter coat, finishing the look with a bobble hat of course.

Today I'm going to give you a round up of my personal favourite Christmas jumpers from Debenhams. They never fail to impress with their festive knitwear collection and this year is no exception. Well done Debenhams; I'm sure you'll all be on Santa's nice list this year.

My personal favourite piece in their Christmas jumper collection is this Black 'Jingle ladies' slogan Christmas jumper. It features a super festive sequinned motif in the centre, embellished with your very own bells so you can jingle the night away. And you can't beat a good Christmas pun. 

This jumper retails at £32.00 but is currently on sale at £22.40. Grab yourself a festive bargain.


Another one of their winter woolies which caught my eye was their Green intarsia robin pattern jumper by Yumi. This is a more traditional Christmas jumper which is right up my street. It's a fitted jumper which makes a nice change to your typically baggy festive knits and boasts a beautiful embroidered robin print. 

This jumper retails at £50.00 but is currently on sale half-price at £25.00. 


I have also fallen head over heels for their Grey all you want for christmas knit top by Joe Browns. This is a festive tunic, perfect if you are more of a dresses kind of girl but still want to embrace your inner Mrs Claus this holiday season. It features a traditionally festive alpine print and even has pockets to keep your hands toasty and warm in the winters cold. 

This product retails at £49.95. 


It wouldn't be right to not mention a Christmas jumper which features the man himself, would it? This is their Red santa claus jumper by Yumi in your traditional festive red. It's more of a novelty Christmas jumper than the others I've featured within this post, boasting a pom pom hat and his signature fluffy beard.

This jumper retails at £45.00 but is currently on sale at £31.00.


The final jumper which I'd put on my letter to Santa is this Grey sequin penguin Christmas jumper. It features a 'twirling penguin embellished with festive sequins'. I especially love the addition of the pom poms on his scarf and the fact he's wearing a little sparkly hat; how cute. This is very much a jumper you could wear all winter season. 

This jumper retails at £32.00 but is currently on sale for £22.40.


On the topic of winter woolies, don't forget that it is Christmas Jumper Day this coming Friday (15th December). So stick on your best festive knitwear and donate to Save The Children.

Have you invested in a Christmas jumper this year?
*Disclaimer: This post is a paid sponsored collaboration with Debenhams All views and opinions shared on Yours, Chloe x are always honest and unbiased regardless of whether or not the content is sponsored. For further details please refer to my full disclaimer.

Festive | Christmas With Yankee Candle

Now would it be December without a post dedicated to the wonders of Christmas candles? I think not. Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite candles come from good ol' Yankee Candle. Buy me a Yankee Candle and I'll make sure you get on Santa's nice list.

I'm yet to delve into some of the newer festive Yankee candles, so unfortunately there aren't any  Christmas candles from this year in my collection. Even though I wandered around the Yankee Candle store for rather a long while admiring them all, I decided to stick with the festive scents I know and love.

Personally I always tend to get the votive size candles first to give the scent a little try before I commit to purchasing a jar candle. I like to burn the candle and see if it jingles my christmas bells before splashing out, as it would be awful to buy a large candle for the scent when burnt to then be too overwhelming or simply not what I imagined. Votives are also good if you can't quite decide which scent you like the most; you can just buy them all! And even though votives look small, they're pretty mighty and have a burning time of 15 hours. 

Sparkling Cinnamon
Find me a more festive scent than cinnamon, I challenge you. The spicy warm scent of cinnamon and cloves is just perfect for the winter months. I tend to find cinnamon scents rather overpowering but that really isn't the case with this candle; it fills the room with fragrance but is not too over the top.

Christmas Memories
Christmas Memories is a stunning blend of sweets and spices which just transports you back to the comforting memories of festive baking in granny's kitchen. The warm tones of this candle remind me of the smell of freshly baked gingerbread; perfect for Christmas.  

Christmas Cookie
Christmas Cookie is one of my all time favourite festive scents and a true staple in my Christmas candle collection. This candle has a top note of buttery rich vanilla which is then combined with hints of Christmas spices; it leaves your house smelling like freshly baked cookies. I found this particular scent to really linger after it's burnt out, which is truly wonderful.

Spiced Orange
Spiced Orange is a gorgeous blend of rich orange and festive spices. This scent makes me think of Christmas celebrations from my childhood, when I would partake in Christingle services with my primary school. I still remember how hard it was sitting through a whole church service without being able to eat the dolly mixtures that were stuck in the Christingle; pure torture when you're six.

Winter Glow
Winter Glow embodies the scent of snow-covered trees on crisp frosty mornings with a hint of Christmassy citrus fruits. It's very different to your typical festive spiced scents, much fresher, which is what I love about it. It also blends very well with other Yankee Candles for a extra festive feel.

Snowflake Cookie
Snowflake Cookie is without a doubt up there in my top festive candles. It's a perfect mix of buttercream and vanilla, with hints of marshmallow and spice. The scent is more subtle than Christmas Cookie but equally as delicious which is why it is my favourite festive candle to pair with a festive pamper evening.

Season of Peace
Season of Peace is a subtle sweet white musk scent which has a really fresh feel to it; just like taking a walk on a crisp winters morning. It's much lighter than most festive scents which makes it perfect for use all season. Can we also talk about how beautiful the photo is on the front?

Sparkling Snow
Sparkling Snow is a gorgeous blend of all of your favourite festive scents. It smells just like a crisp snow covered forest, with hints of mint and festive orange. This candle, like Season of Peace, has a very clean and fresh feel to it, making it perfect for use all winter (not just over Christmas).

Have you got a favourite festive candle?

Festive | Five Things To Binge Watch This December*

I don't know about you but Christmas is my favourite time of year to watch the telly, especially with all the festive films and TV specials that bless our screens at this time of year. There's nothing better than the whole family snuggled around the TV - with a box of Quality Street - watching something festive and sharing the yuletide cheer. And what better to watch it on than the Panasonic HDR 4K TV.

Is there really anything more binge-worthy than Friends? Episodes of Friends are something I'll never tire of, especially the holiday specials. And you have nine christmassy episodes to jingle your bells to; aren't you lucky. So put your feet up and watch Joey sell Christmas trees, Phoebe write festive songs and Ross dress up as the Holiday Armadillo.

Gavin and Stacey
Proper British telly. The Gavin and Stacey Christmas specials are without a doubt one of my favourite things to watch during the festive season. Can you really beat the scene where Gavin and Smithy sing 'Do They Know It's Christmas'? I bet you the last mince pie you can't.

Doctor Who
As a true geek at heart, Doctor Who is one of my favourite TV shows of all time. At this time of year I like to stick my netflix on and watch through the various Christmas specials we've had over the years. In my opinion Doctor Who always smash their holiday episodes and it would be a tough call to pick my favourite.

The Nativity! Series
I don't care if I'm a grown up, Nativity! and it's sequels are some of the best Christmas films ever. As a trainee teacher I can definitely relate to the trials and tribulations of putting on a children's nativity, but no doubt it would be an easier task if I was as cool of a 'teacher' as Mr Poppy. Not only do these films star children who each have more talent than I could ever dream of but the songs are also absolutely addictive; you have been warned.

Love Actually
So Love Actually might not be the best Christmas film to watch with your nan - what with the many sex scenes and Bill Nighy's less than festive language - but it's still a good'un. Not only is it an amazing film with an all-star cast, brilliant interlinking plots and almost as much Christmas spirit as Santa's workshop, it also embodies what I believe to be what Christmas is all about; spreading love.

What are you going to be binge-watching this festive season?

*Disclaimer: This post is a paid sponsored collaboration with Spot Digital on behalf of Panasonic.  All views and opinions shared on Yours, Chloe x are always honest and unbiased regardless of whether or not the content is sponsored. For further details please refer to my full disclaimer.

Books | Reading My Way Through December

My inner book worm definitely makes more of an appearance when the winter months come around once more; there truly is nothing better than cosying up on a cold winters eve with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in one hand and a fabulous book in the other. There's such an emphasis in current culture on 'summer reading lists', most likely due to the endless chill time widely associated with the summer months, but for me its the back end of the year that welcomes me more into the world of literature.

In prep for the last part of twenty-seventeen I've collected an array of titles - most of the YA lit variety, the genre that truly holds a place in my heart - which have been sprawled throughout my room, eagerly awaiting the day that they make the journey onto my nightstand. Fancy a peek into a handful of them?

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
Will - Maybe I'm too late. Maybe Zoe's dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I'll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I'm any kind of example, but we can learn together. When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can't run fast enough.
Zoe -  Maybe it'll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it'll take forever. I'll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don't always leave, don't always give up on you.
The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain
Dear Anna,
What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry—

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle—her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family—described a woman who embraced life.

Yet there was so much they didn't know.

With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.


The End Of Everything by Megan Abbott
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hood and her next-door neighbor, Evie Verver, are inseparable, best friends who swap clothes, bathing suits, and field-hockey sticks and between whom, presumably, there are no secrets. Then one afternoon, Evie disappears, and as a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the balmy suburban community, everyone turns to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, or upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?

Compelled by curiosity, Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power as the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secret after secret and begins to wonder if she knew anything at all about her best friend.

Two Blue Lines by S C Montgomery
His fear . . . Her secrets . . . Their choice.

What if the only girl you’ve ever loved lied to you? Lied to everyone?
Those two blue lines changed everything for Reed Young and Melissa Summers. In more ways than one.
And now, he must decide for himself . . . Man up or walk away?

Right Of Way by Lauren Barnholdt
Here are Peyton and Jace, meeting on vacation. Click! It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s romantic. This is the real deal.

Unless it isn’t. Because when you’re in love, you don’t just stop calling one day. And you don’t keep secrets. Or lie. And when your life starts falling apart, you’re supposed to have the other person to lean on.

Here are Peyton and Jace again, broken up but thrown together on a road trip. One of them is lying about the destination. One of them is pretending not to be leaving something behind. And neither of them is prepared for what’s coming on the road ahead…

What are you reading this December?

Lifestyle | Twenty before Twenty

As much as I don't want to admit it, in a matter of months I'll be twenty. Six months to be exact. The prospect of no longer being a teenager is a tad on the scary side. I know age is just a number and I'll feel no different aged twenty to how I currently feel aged nineteen but simply entering my twenties feels like a step into (proper) adulthood. I'll be honest, it's a change I'm not quite ready to fully acknowledge nor accept just yet. 

I've had a little think about the fact that I'm approaching the end of my teenage years and come to the conclusion that there's a selection of things I'd like to do/accomplish in the next six months. Twenty things before I turn twenty.

I consulted my trusty 101 in 1001 to collate this list, picking off elements of my short-term bucket list which not only I'd like to do in the next six months but also which will be realistically possible for me to fit in. I've also picked a number of just general goals I'd like to also include.

1. Read fifty new books.
Ok so maybe fifty is a bit of an impossible total but I'm going to do my best. I absolutely adore reading and one of my happy places is curled up on the sofa with a blanket, a hot chocolate and a book. There's a number of books on my bookshelf which I can't wait to get my teeth into and don't you fret, I'll make sure to feature them on here.

2. Get back into card making.
When I was younger I was really into card making and actually sold my cards at a local craft fair once. I still find crafting really therapeutic so would like to break back into it. All of my crafting supplies are just gathering dust under my bed so I might as well put them to use.

3. Drink six glasses of water a day.
My water drinking is very up and down; some days I'll drink practically a swimming pools worth, some days I won't drink any. Awful I know. But I am determined to change that and would like to set a goal of at least six glasses of water a day.

4. Shop at a vintage fair.
Oh boy do I love me a good vintage fair, but I haven't been to one in far too long. I'm going to start searching facebook for vintage fairs in Yorkshire and get myself there to browse the vintage goodness.

5. Arrange a surprise day out for someone.
Not naming names of course, just on the off chance they have a nosey through my blog, but I'd like to treat someone special to a lovely day out. I'm not talking a ten course meal or a 5* hotel, something cheap and cheerful would be just lovely. Whatever it is I want to plan plan plan to tailor the day to be right up their street and bring a smile to someone I love.

6. Complete five pinterest-inspired craft projects.
We're all guilty of repinning DIY projects that we're realistically never actually going to make and I'm a bit fed up of it. Next time I see a crafty project I'm a fan of, I'm going to set aside time to get making.

7. Stick to a blogging routine.
Life has been very in the way recently and as a result blogging has had to take a back seat. I'm getting back to it though and returning to the 'proper blogger routine' of writing, photographing, sharing on social media etc. By the time my birthday comes I hope I'll have stuck to this routine and will be giving my blog a good go again.

8. Volunteer for a cause I'm passionate about.
Even if it's just a one-off volunteering opportunity I'd like to dedicate some of my time to supporting a cause in my local area.

9. Try new independent coffee shops and restaurants. 
I'm definitely the kind of person who sticks to what they know in terms of places to eat. I'll sometimes be adventurous when I get there and order something new (woah calm down Chloe) but I very much like eating in an environment that I know well, especially chain restaurants. My anxiety is to blame unfortunately. I do love trying new food though so in the last six months of my teenage years I'd like to dine or drink at more independent locations.

10. Put together a scrapbook (or start).
As I've mentioned before, I do love me a good craft project. I made a scrapbook covering most of my gap year (although it's yet to be finished - oops) and I'd like to do the same for 2018. I love looking through my parents photo albums and I'd love to have some of my own to look at.

11. Take my camera out with me more.
I love taking photos but tend to be limited by the capabilities of my iPhone. I'd like to start taking my camera out on adventures with me so I can capture the memories that are being made. Lifestyle 'follow me around' blog posts are some of my favourites to write (and also read) and more photos means more blog post material. Win win.

12. Have a sleepover.
It does make me sad that it's not common practise in the world of grown-ups to still have sleepovers with your friends. You know the pj party, takeaway, films, sweets and gossip till 3am kind of sleepovers; I'm bringing them back.

13. Complete a colouring book.
Yes I know, I did start this post blabbering on about becoming a grown up to then include a rather childish activity on my list, but bear with me. At the moment I'm really into mindfulness colouring as a self-care practise and I'm keen to fit it more into my daily routine.

14. Get active!
Let's be clear, I'm not talking doing marathons or attending two fitness classes everyday, but I'd like to increase my heart rate a little more than I do at the moment. It will be really good for not only my physical health but also my mental health. I'm lucky enough to have free gym access in my student accommodation so there really is no excuse.

15. Attend a blogging event.
Boy do I miss blogging events. I'd love to start attending more meet ups and events in the new year. There seems to be a fair bit going on in the blogging world now I live up in Sheffield and I'm excited to get involved with it all.

16. Try some new recipes. 
I love cooking but sometimes struggle to find the motivation to try new recipes, in fear that they will go wrong. But I'd like to get the cookbooks out, my chefs hat on, and try some new dishes.

17. Remember to take vitamins.
My mum's always reminding me to take my vitamins and it's about time I started listening to her. With any luck it'll start to help the never-ending cold university life has given me.

18. Have more 'day dates' with my boyfriend.
Whilst we're at university, my boyfriend and I live in two different cities. We're lucky that they're not too far apart - just different parts of Yorkshire - so we get to see each other every weekend, alternating who visits who. As a couple we've always been very into chilling (i.e lying in bed watching films and eating food all weekend) and whilst that is lovely, I'd like to make the most of the time we have together and go on more day dates. They don't have to be fancy pants expensive dates, simply a lovely walk or trip to a coffee shop will do.

19. Start swimming more.
I love swimming, I really do, and I used to do it at least once a week. But as I got older and my skin became far from perfect I began to avoid swimming so I wouldn't have to face the world bare-faced. I have got better at this as I've got older; I don't mind swimming when I'm at a hotel now which is better than it would be. But I'd like to find the courage to start swimming more regularly at my local pool. I'm sure it won't take much to persuade my ex-swimmer boyfriend to come along.

20. Watch more films.
I love a good film night and there are so many films on my to-watch list. All of my current film watching time is taken up by watching Star Wars ahead of the new release but after Christmas I'd like to start working through my netflix queue.

Have you got any goals you'd like to achieve before your next birthday?

Festive | Festive Bucket List 2017

It's December; let the Christmas countdown begin as the holidays are well and truly on their way. It's officially time to go 100% crazy for fairy lights, tinsel, Christmas cards and Michael Buble. How jolly exciting.

Christmas is by far my favourite time of the year. The traditions, the family time, the decorations; I'm all for it. I'm also a self-confessed list addict so it seemed only fitting I comprise a christmassy list of all of the festivities I want to get involved with this holiday season.

1. Visit a Christmas market.
In my Christmas-loving opinion, at least one trip to a Christmas market is a necessity during the festive season. My home town puts on a bit of a poor effort on the whole Christmas market front unfortunately but I have now moved to Sheffield who, or so I'm told, go all out with their festive market. I'm really looking forward to piling on the woolies and exploring the festive delights.

2. Matching Christmas PJ's.
Within my family we have a Christmas Eve tradition of my sister and I wearing matching festive pjs. Even though I'm now an adult, it is still something I love doing every year. Not only is the tradition itself special but I also adore the trip we take into town to carefully choose our festive attire for that year. Primark tends to be our go-to shop as they have so many gorgeous mix and match nightwear pieces that are also lovely and affordable, leaving more money for present shopping or even a festive  Costa treat.

3. Burn a Christmas candle.
Christmas candles are one of my favourite things about the festive period; I get a bit giddy over them. I'll put my tinsel-laden hands up and admit, I actually burn them all year round to ensure that my room constantly embodies that gorgeous festive scent. As always, Yankee Candle are killing it with their Christmas candles this year and it's fair to say I have more than a few on my list to Santa.

4. Drive around to see the festive lights.
Ever since I was a little girl I've absolutely adored seeing festive lights. I remember driving home from my grandparents house every year on Christmas eve, through lots of quaint little villages, and gazing in wonder at the houses all lit up with twinkling lights. Even now I'm an adult I'll take any opportunity over the festive season to visit places I might get to see some beautifully decorated houses. I know some people can find outdoor lights tacky but personally they're one of my favourite things about Christmas.

5. Christmas film night.
What kind of a festive bucket list would this be if I didn't mention Christmas movies. It's definite that a good festive film is a staple feature of the build up to Christmas, and I've already started working my way through my favourites. I'm very much into your festive rom-coms like Love Actually and the Holiday, but I do have a special place in my heart for family films such as Nativity. Now, unpopular opinion alert, I must admit that one of my ultimate favourite Christmas films is Die Hard. It might be a less than traditional festive film, but it is set on Christmas eve after all.

6. Buy a gift for a child in need.
One of the main reasons why Christmas is my favourite holiday is the fact that it is centered around giving. But it is important to also look beyond your loved ones at who else you can share the Christmas spirit with. Queensgate Shopping Centre, in my hometown of Peterborough, is home each year to a 'giving tree'. On the tree is a wealth of gift labels, each detailing the name, age and gender of a local underprivileged child. The concept is simple; you pick a tag off the tree, buy a present suitable for them whilst you're doing the rest of your Christmas shopping and pop it back under the tree ready to be wrapped up by the Christmas elves and taken to brighten up a child's Christmas. It's a really simple but lovely concept that I love getting involved with each year. I don't know if these campaigns happen in other cities but I do urge you to do a bit of research about ways  you can bring Christmas to those in your local area who are less fortunate.

7. Spend time with loved ones.
Christmas is the holiday which brings people together and provides lots of opportunity for festive get togethers with family and friends. My diary is already getting full of Christmas dos here, there and everywhere and I can't wait. From work Christmas evenings to a Christmas Eve Star Wars cinema trip with my boyfriends family, this year is going to be busy busy busy. 

8. Track Santa on Christmas Eve.
Yes I'm nearly twenty; yes I still track Santa on Christmas Eve. Despite nearly a decade of being all clued up on the whole Santa debacle, I still find there's something so magical about 'tracking' Santa online on Christmas Eve. We used to do it as children so it doesn't really feel like Christmas without it. I'll just keep up the pretense that it's perfectly acceptable behavior for a fully grown adult until I have children myself to share it with. 

9. Try some new festive foods.
So it dawned on me a few days ago that I'd never eaten a mince pie. Why, you may ask? Simply because as a child I convinced myself I wouldn't like them and for some reason I've stuck with that into my adult life. It's the same for Christmas cake and mulled wine. But this year is going to be the year I branch out a bit and try all of those common festive foods I'm yet to taste. Hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised.  Side note - this pact does not extend to the likes of brussel sprouts. We're not going that far.

Which festive activities are going to be jingling your bells this Christmas?

Books | Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Long-term readers of my ramblings will know that I'm a sucker for a good YA (young adult) novel and my latest read definitely fits right into that genre: 'Sometimes It Happens' by Lauren Barnholdt. I should also note that quick-read books (i.e. books that I find myself flying through and finishing in a mere handful of sittings) hold a special place in my heart, which partially explains my love affair with this particular novel.

Lauren Barnholdt takes authorship for this novel and this is another book that confirms my ever-growing love for her literary works. I adored her novels Two-Way Street and One Night That Changes Everything and I'm hoping to get my hands on a fair few more of her titles in the coming weeks.

'Sometimes It Happens' follows a single summer in the life of Hannah and is centred around (as the title suggests) the repercussions and regrets of a single night. To lay it out simply; Hannah has a rather awful breakup and, just when she needs her the most, her best friend Ava runs off to spend the whole summer working at a holiday camp. In her pit of despair Hannah ends up running for comfort into the arms of Noah, Ava's boyfriend. Although they have a relatively platonic relationship throughout the vast majority of the novel (which runs the course of their summer break and into the start of the new school year), one night one thing leads to another and everything changes. As someone whose current relationship did indeed begin as a friendship and evolve, this concept was something that I could definitely relate to on a strong level; minus the cheating element of the novel of course as we were both indeed single, don't you worry.

Typically a book that has cheating at the heart of its plot would leave me and my morals running for the hills, but for some reason this story got me hooked. I do believe it has something to do with Barnholdt's impeccable characterisation skills, presenting every single character with a layer of depth that you don't often come across within YA literature. I grew very quickly to despise the character of Ava, a character who quite clearly held the belief that the entire world revolved around her. I also loved Hannah's narration of the events as she was incredibly honest about the reality of the situation, there was no sugar-coating to make herself look or feel better.

I just adore the structure of this book. It's told in alternating timelines: one depicting the events of the first day of Hannah's senior year, and one featuring flashbacks to the summer just gone. With each flashback Barnholdt reveals more and more of the secrets of the summer, providing an explanation for the unravelling events of the first day of school. Using such a structural technique adds such a wonderful element of suspense to the tale and leaves you practically begging Barnholdt to let you know more, which definitely contributes to this novel's status as a particularly quick-read; you're bound to read it ever so quickly if you simply can't put it down.

Overall Lauren Barnholdt has written a wonderfully gripping, humorous tale that would be just perfect if you're after a simple, easy read covering those typically-teenage topics such as sex, relationships, heart break and friendships. 

Have you been getting your nose into any good titles lately?

Lifestyle | Gap Year Advice

I decided I was taking a gap year shortly after submitting my UCAS application. It was motivated by a number of things; health, money, wanting a bit of time out from education etc. I've now been at university for nearly two months and loving every second. And I'll be honest, I reap the benefits of taking a gap year every day. Two of my flatmates also took a gap year and in most cases the difference between us and the fresh out of school freshers is considerable.

I will admit it is hard seeing your school friends off on adventures at uni while you're staying put. Of a Saturday evening you'll go on snapchat to see people getting all glammed up ready for a night out and you'll be sitting at home watching Strictly with your mum. But I had my own amazing experiences throughout the year, meeting new people and trying new things along the way.

If you are considering taking a gap year, I'd suggest you consider a number of these tips. They are all based on my own gap year experience.

What are you going to do in your gap year? Stay at home or see the world. There's no 'right answer' it's just whatever suits you best. Personally I stayed at home and worked for a year but still had an amazing time. And I know people who have lived abroad and travelled for a year, which of course also sounds amazing. Think about what you're going to get the most out of and once you've made a decision, get planning.

Think ahead.
One of the particularly valuable things about taking a gap year is the fact that it gives you a whole 365 extra days to get ready for university. If you're working during your time out of education, make sure you're putting at least a little bit of cash aside every month ready to support you when you're at uni. Don't just think about money, take the time throughout the year to sort key bits and pieces like your accommodation, student bank account and also buying all the necessities for your flat.

Think about your course.
If like me you deferred a place at uni before commencing your gap year (rather than applying for uni during your time out) you have a wonderful opportunity to get ahead. It sounds geeky but get reading books around your chosen subject and get some work experience where possible. I've spent the past year working in a school - before I start my teacher training at university - and the experience has put me in such good stead for starting my course.

Learn life skills.
A definite benefit of a gap year is the extra year it gives you to mature a little bit and learn some valuable life skills. Boring I know, but stay with me here. Through my gap year I learnt some good skills in terms of cooking, food shopping, cleaning and budgeting. All those important grown up things you need to know when living by yourself for the first time. 

Take some time to chill. A Levels/College can be so stressful, as will uni when you get there. Although you don't want to be sitting around and doing nothing for your whole gap year, make sure you give yourself some time to relax and have a proper break. Get yourself on holiday if you funds are in line.

Taking a year out before uni is something I don't regret at all. I've had an extra year to grow as a person and live a little before taking on the responsibility of a degree and living away from home. Now that I am here at uni I don't regret taking a gap year at all and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Did you take a gap year?

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