Lifestyle | Current Cravings: Home Decor

In September, Johnny and I will be moving into our first flat together. Moving in with a fella; does this mean I'm a proper grown up now? 

We've just got a studio flat for the time being. It's definitely going to be cosy and we're already looking at potential bigger places but for the time being it'll do us just fine. We're actually still going to be living within my current student accommodation for a number of reasons, so of course there are those frustrating regulations regarding what we can and can't do to make it our own. But don't you worry, I've popped my interior design hat on and I'm ready to make it work.

You know the drill with student accommodation decor; very beige and boring. But on the bright side I've got a blank canvas to work with, which is exciting. Like always, I've been browsing eBay like there's no tomorrow, tracking down bits and pieces that will help to make a flat our home without costing us a pretty penny. But whilst buying secondhand is something I love doing, it's always nice to kit your home out with some new pieces too. I have several go-to sites and stores for homey bits and bobs, and I thought I'd share some of the best pieces which have caught my eye and left me craving them.

1. 'Thank You Have A Nice Day' Cushion - Urban Outfitters 
I'm a sucker for a good cushion, especially when it is adorned with a cute little quote. Whilst I don't necessarily need another cushion, this one's too lovely to resist. Johnny has banned the vast majority of my cushions from our bed because they "take up too much room" but I'm hoping I'll be able to sneak a couple on there to jazz things up a little. If not, they'll make a lovely addition to our sofa.

This cushion is only available online here and retails at £20.00, but is currently on sale for £8.00.

2. Set of 2 Beauty & Beast Stacking Mugs - Sass & Belle
When browsing the haven that is the Sass & Belle website I came across these gems and I fell in love. I'm imagining cosy Sunday mornings in bed with his and hers mugs and a good bit of telly; sound's lush. And they stack, is there anything more satisfying?

This set of two mugs is available online here and retails at £7.50.

3. Set of 4 Rich Tea Biscuit Coasters - Sass & Belle
How gorgeous are these rich tea biscuit coasters? Definitely a sentence I never thought I'd say but hey ho. They're made from sustainable mango wood and resemble what are arguably the best biccies going. The perfect addition to any coffee table.

This set of coasters is available online here and retails at £13.00, but is currently on sale for £4.60

4. Kiss Me Goodnight Nautical Sign - Not On The High Street
I live by the rule that you should always kiss your partner goodnight and tell them you love them, especially if you've not been the best of friends that particular day. This sign embodies that idea, so as you can imagine I've fallen in love with it. It would look really lovely on one of our bedside tables,

This sign is available online here and retails at £8.00

5. The Spirit Of Christmas Metallic Lantern - Sports Direct
Put your hands up if you didn't know Sports Direct sold homeware? I definitely didn't, but it was a pleasant surprise as there are some real gems on their website. I've fallen weirdly in love with this metallic latern from The Spirit Of Christmas. The gold glitter finish is a tad on the tacky side but I actually love it even more because of that. The lantern features a flame-less candle which tackles the no-candles rule in our new flat; fantastic.

This lantern is available online here and retails at £3.00.

6. Get Naked Retro Wall Plaque - Sass & Belle
What a cheeky little plaque, I'm in love. I think this would be a great decorative touch to our en-suite. The ornate and retro look is exactly to my tastes also, so what more could I ask for?

This wall plaque is available online here and retails at £7.50.

7. Linens and Lace Shimmer Rug in Duck Egg - Sports Direct
There's nothing better than the feeling of sliding your feet out of bed in the morning and them landing on a super soft rug. I'm a sucker for anything in the colour 'duck egg' - the colour scheme for several rooms in my family home, including my bedroom - so I couldn't resist adding this rug to my new flat wishlist.

This rug is available online here and retails at £37.99

8. Ministry Of Magic Sign - Primark
Johnny and I are both super Harry Potter nerds so it would only be right that our first home together was kitted out with at least a little bit of magical merchandise. I've been so tempted to buy this sign since I first saw it in Primark stores. I want to pop it above the toilet in our en-suite for the pure reason of the fact it'll make me giggle every time I go in there.

This sign is available in store and retails at £4.00

Are there any home decor items you're craving at the moment?

Blogging | 4 Things To Do When You're In A Blogging Slump

We're all know what it's like to be in a blogging slump. Been there; done that; got the T-Shirt.

In my mind, the term 'blogging slump' simply refers to that rut you sometimes find yourself in where you're completely unmotivated and uninspired to open your laptop and do anything blog related. This rut often comes with feelings that your content is not good enough, and it truly sucks.

I've experienced more blogging slumps than I could keep count of, so today I thought I'd share four things I do to help me pick myself back up following the blogger blues.

1. Give Your Blog A Little Refresh
I find a good spring clean always helps me to refresh my mind and get my blogging booty back into gear. You could keep things simple and just give your about page a little spruce up, or rejig your tabs. Or if you feel like going the whole hog you could consider giving your whole blog design a makeover. 'New design, new me' and all that jazz.

2. Read Other Blogs
Forget about your blog for a moment and get your nose into other peoples. Get reading blogs you've loved for years and get discovering new beauties to follow. Seeing the fabulous content other bloggers are creating will help to inspire you and fill you heart with love for the blogging world again. 

3. Switch Off Your Laptop
One of the best ways I've found for getting out of a blogging slump is to, quite literally, switch off. Let your laptop have a little snooze, pop your phone away and enjoy some freedom away from the world of social media. Bloggers brains are often trying to do 101 things at once, as blogging really is a lot of work to take on especially if you already work full time/study/are a parent etc. Stepping away from the blogging world and having a bit of a chill, whilst also getting your other affairs organised, will help you to feel refreshed and ready to start again. I've also found that time away helps me to find the motivation to blog as I find myself missing it immensely. 

It's important not to set a time frame on this technology-free time; don't rush your recharge. It may last an hour; a day; a week; a month; maybe more. But that's ok, don't engage back into the blogging world until you feel revived and rejuvenated.

4. Make a List of Ideas For Posts 
Sometimes you'll find yourself in a blogging slump with a billion ideas but no idea how to move forward with them. So get brainstorming: write a list; make a moodboard; draft a mindmap; whatever floats your boat. You can consult the likes of pinterest for post ideas or dreamy photo inspiration, and read all your typical lifestyle magazines to track down articles which might light an inspiration spark in your mind.

What do you do when you're in a blogging slump?

Thoughts | Is There A 'Right Age' To Get Married?

The average age for a woman in the UK to marry is 30 (for fellas it's 32), but if you were to ask most 'millenials' they will express a preference to marry in their twenties. When I consulted twitter, I found that 41% of people considered 22-25 being the prime age to tie the knot. 

I'm just about to enter my twenties and it's baffling how much our lives - in terms of relationships - can vary from one another during this decade. When I consider my peers from school there is so much variation in regards to which 'life stage' we're at as we approach our twentieth birthdays. A few are married; some engaged; some parents.  A fair few of us (myself included) are in long-term relationships - within which the prospect of 'putting a ring on it' has been discussed - and a percentage of people are still playing the field, if you will. 

But is there a 'right age' to get married? 

Personally, I've always aspired to get married in my mid-twenties. My parents married at twenty-three and are about to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary, so the potential joy of 'growing up together' as well as growing old together is something I've subconsciously been aware of for a long time.

 Many of our ideas on the right age to marry will have been shaped by the ages that our parents and other family members walked down the aisle; we'll expect ourselves to follow suit and follow a similar timeline in our own love lives. We must however consider the change of societies expectations regarding relationships and it's effect on the age of marriage. Now we're in an era where pre-marital sex and cohabitation is accepted, almost as the norm, there's less of a rush to tie the knot. So do we really need to marry as young as we're expecting ourselves to?

A persons aspirations are also likely to impact on their readiness to marry. I know people who chose to spend their twenties exploring the world solo, before they settled down; people who wanted to do the education thing or the career thing before they head in the direction of wedding bells. But equally there are people who wanted to do all of these things with their partner by their side; people who have already found their best friend and want to enjoy the adventures of life alongside them.

Of course it goes without saying that the age we move from Miss to Mrs will depend on when you meet that right person. If you find them when you're still young you'll be more likely to tie the knot early, but if you take a little longer to find the other half of you it might be a later wedding. But it's a fact that some people just aren't looking for anyone to settle down with just yet, so may not find themselves open to the idea of meeting a long term partner. It's all down to personal preference and what stage of life you're currently in. 

Whilst many people would say it's important to learn who you are yourself before committing your life to another human being, I want to bring to the conversation the fact that you can also grow and develop as a person within marriage/a long term relationship. I don't think there's a real magic number for getting married, it's all dependent on personal timelines and preferences. 

Whilst researching for this post I came across the most fascinating article on the topic - written by a wonderful journalist - which states something I believe best summarises my conclusion about the 'right age to get married'; that it is entirely dependent on the couple themselves.

 "I want to add to this conversation by saying that the perfect age to get married has nothing to do with the years you’ve lived, and everything to do with how you’ve lived them. Call me crazy, but I don’t think you can quantify a person’s preparedness for marriage simply based on how many years they’ve been alive."

Do you believe that there's a right age to get married?

Beauty | My Five Favourite Lush Skincare Products

It's no secret that I'm a Lush fan; my skin lives and breathes Lush products. With their super duper natural ingredients, to die for scents and fantastic results, its a tricky task to pick which one of the Lush lotions and potions is your can't-live-without gem. 

I'd thought I'd share some of my favourite beauties from the gods over at the Lush Kitchen. This is just a handful of the products I'll never hesitate to buy over and over.

Mask of Magnaminty Face and Body Mask
This little skin saviour is my favourite of the Lush masks. Its gentle yet effective ingredients are a dream come true for someone with acne prone skin. I use this mask to give my skin a little bit of TLC three or so times a week and it works wonders at calming and rebalancing skin, whilst attacking any breakouts.

Mask of Magnaminty retails is priced at £12.50 for 315g.

Celestial Facial Mosturiser
Celestial is my holy grail moisturiser. It's perfect for keeping your skin in tip top condition, even in the horrible weather conditions we've been facing lately. It has a gorgeous vanilla scent, thanks to soothing vanilla water, and truly moisturises your skin like its nobody's business. This is definitely one of the pricier items within the haven that is the Lush skincare range but a little definitely goes a long way with this product and it's moisturising super powers are definitely worth the pennies.

Celestial retails at £15.95 for 45g.

Ultrabland Facial Cleanser
I've already given this product a lot of love here on my blog. This skin-improving potion is a real gem for removing the days makeup, as it contains beeswax which works to melt the waxes found in makeup leaving your face slap-free and squeaky clean. I've found Ultrabland to be really quick at getting down to business; just a few days of use leaves your skin feeling soft and supple whilst tackling any pesky blemishes and really transforming your skin.

Ultrabland retails at £7.95 for 45g.

Ro's Argan Body Conditioner
So maybe this isn't a skincare product as such, but it works wonders on your skin so I thought it only fair to give it a mention. It has a beautiful rose fragrance and really pampers your skin, leaving it feeling soft and nourished. It's a brilliant way to really jazz up your shower routine, giving your skin a little bit of a luxury treat.

Ro's Argan retails at £16.95 for 225g.

Ultrabalm All Purpose Balm
This little pot of joy works wonders on your dry bits and bobs. You can pop it anywhere that's feeling a little on the dry side, but I find it works best on your lips and on harder bits of skin such as your elbows, knees and heels. I actually own two pots of this little gem, one is kept in my bathroom and one in my makeup bag for taming lashes and eyebrows when needed.

Ultrabalm retails at £10.50 for 45g.

What are your holy grail lush products? Am I missing out on any gems?

Thoughts | A More Mindful Approach To Social Media

I recently went for coffee with one of my closest friends and remembered to ask her about the sudden disappearance of her Instagram account. Her response? She had deleted it because she wasn't enjoying having it anymore; it wasn't healthy for her. Hearing this has made me consider the impact social media usage has on my life, and the ways I can change this for the better.

The most significant effect I believe social media has on us as a population is in terms of comparison; comparing yourself and your life to those which you see on your feeds. One click onto a social media site and your eyes are greeted by the highlight reels of peoples lives. Instagram in particular can lead you to believe that each morning girls are jumping out of fairy-light adorned beds wearing satin pj's and heading downstairs to eat avocado on toast against a white marble background. The reality? They're practically rolling out of bed wearing an over-sized tee with toothpaste stains and are going to eat coco-pops in a messy kitchen. But of course we don't see that aspect of peoples lives, we only see the perfect 'Instagram lifestyle'. 

We also strive for unattainable perfection. There is such a pressure for our lives to be 'Instagram worthy' in order to impress people who are, let's be honest, a bunch of strangers. If I'm completely honest, there have been a number of blog photo sessions which have left me in tears because I've been unable to attain the perfection that we see across social media. Youtube is at a significant level of fault for continuing this idea of perfection, in my mind. It's full to the brim of 'What I Eat In A Day' or 'My Morning Routine' videos where the lifestyles being shown are so primed and polished, in order to make them worthy of social media, they barely resemble the persons actual life. 

So what am I going to do to change the way social media ideals consume my life? 

As harsh at it sounds, I have unfollowed those who have feeds which - no matter how gorgeous - bring me down and followed those who build me up mentally. I'm a fan of instagram feeds that may not follow a theme; the more higglidy piggldy the better for me. I like instagram feeds that show personality, those that don't just show polished flatlays and perfect selfies. As a
blogger, unfollowing people is not something I enjoy doing at all but it's important to identify when you need to put yourself first even if it does seem 'rude'. Twitter is a much easier one to tackle thanks to the mute button. 

I'm also striving to continue to make my own social media accounts, and my blog,  realistic and honest. There's a lot of pressure for bloggers to put on the perfection charade in order to be 'successful'. After all, the vast majority of hugely influential content creators are those who share their 'perfect' lives on social media. It's become the done thing to have flat lays coming out of your ears and to have every photo as brightened as Simon Cowell's teeth. But blogging is about sharing personal experiences, views and reflections based on our actual lifestyles, not our lifestyles when you look through rose-tinted glasses. 

In the past few days, when accessing social media sites, I've made an effort to be more mindful of my usage of social media. My new mantra for when I'm scrolling through my phone is "these are merely appearances, nothing more". 

What is your view on the impact social media can have on us?

Thoughts | Why It's Ok To Cut Out Toxic People

In Autumn of last year I found myself in a bit of a rut with my mental health. I had just started university and, of course, society sees university as a time where you should be making tonnes of new friends everyday, and that puts a real pressure on introverts like me. I didn't gel with anyone really straight away but found myself forcing myself to spend time with people because it was the done thing. This unfortunately did have a negative impact on me as these people were rather toxic and impacted on my mental health considerably. When I was recovering from period of being rather mentally unwell I reflected on what had led to me getting to that point and one of the triggers was without doubt who I had surrounded myself with. The people I surround myself with should lessen my stress rather than be a source of it, and this really wasn't the case. I've come to the conclusion that yes university is a time to meet new people you get on well with but that'll happen eventually and you know what, it's better to spend time alone than to spend it surrounded by negative and toxic people. 

It's a fact that the people in your life can have a rather powerful impact on you. Therefore it's important to fill your world with people who do nothing but bring you up, and wave goodbye to those who tear you down.

Identifying when a relationship is toxic can be tricky, especially if like me you're one to give people second, third and forth chances after they hurt you. A key identifier is how you feel following interactions with them, if you feel drained then that's a clear sign you should step away for a while. More often than not, however, toxic people can identify themselves to you through their behaviours. For example, a clear cut sign of a toxic person would be someone who never comes through for you regardless of what you do for them. We've all experienced people like this.

People who disrupt and threaten your happiness do not deserve to be a part of your life, so give your contact list a spring clean (well winter when you consider the current UK weather but you get my drift) and get rid of any toxicity. Fill your life only with those who bring you peace, rather than conflict and stress; those who love you rather than hurt you.

It's important to spend time only with those who are good for your mental health. Priortise your well-being and silently step away from anyone that isn't a positive soul. It's not selfish or bad to put yourself first, don't think that for a second. Negative people will stunt your own growth as a person and therefore it is completely ok to wave goodbye to them. Let's leave toxic people behind.

Lifestyle | Treating Your Mamma When On A Budget

On Sunday 11th March it is Mother's Day. You're welcome for the reminder. 

My mamma is a real gem, and she deserves to be treated as such. Unfortunately though, my purse strings are a little tight at the moment and therefore the extravagant gifts she deserves are definitely out of my reach. Mother's Day seems even more significant this year as it is my first since moving away from home; even more reason to shower my mum with love when Sunday arrives.

I've had a ramble through the masses of online shopping havens to track down some budget friendly pressies you could treat your mum to; or any other mother figure in your life for that matter, be it grandma, auntie, friend or other loved one.

1. For The Tea Lover... 
Modern Monochrome Mum Time Teapot For One - Sass and Belle
I've never met a mum who doesn't like a good cuppa, so a teapot is the perfect gift. Mum's are always here, there and everywhere so this makes a great gift if you want to encourage your mamma to take a little time for herself. To jazz up this gift I'd be tempted to make a small little hamper of tea bags, biscuits etc to go with it. Just to add a little personal touch.

This teapot is available online here and retails for £14.00.

2. For The Sweet Tooth
Thorntons Personalised Pudding Box - John Lewis
Would it be a Mother's Day gift guide without chocolate getting at least a little mention? Thorntons do some of the best chocolate going (in my humble chocolate loving opinion) and the personalised nature of their boxes really adds a bit of sparkle.

This box is available online here and retails at £8.50.

3. For The Sentimental...
Petal Heart Photo Frame - John Lewis
Mum's love putting photos up here there and everywhere, and this frame would make a beautiful addition to any mantelpiece. To make the gift extra special you could have a photo printed you know your mum loves and pop it in there before you wrap it up. 

This frame is available online here and retails at £8.00.

4. For The Green Thumb...
Personalised Enamel Planter - Not On The High Street
If you're mum's one with a green thumb then this personalised planter would make the perfect gift. You could even pick her up a little plant for them to pop in it, if you know your daffodils from your daisies. 

This planter is available online here and retails at £12.00.

5. For The Phone Addict...
Ted Baker Rakisha Kyoto Gardens iPhone Case - John Lewis
If your mum is a social media star then why not treat her to something new to jazz up her pride and joy. Ted Baker make the most beautiful phone cases, a gift your mum is guaranteed to love.

This case is available online here and is currently on sale for £15.00 (reduced from £30.00).

6. For The Book Worm...
Roald Dahl Matilda Mug - Truffle Shuffle
If your mum is a bit of a book worm then - firstly give her a high five from me - why don't you treat her to an appropriately themed mug to keep her company when she's got her nose in a new title. 

This mug is available online here and retails for £9.99.

7. For The House Proud...
LED Lit 'Home Is Where The Heart Is' Sign - Find Me A Gift
Does anyone else have a mum to loves to fill the house to the brim with things adorned with quotes? The wooden look of this sign has a real rustic vibe but the LED lights mean that it would add a real homely touch to any Mamma's living room.

This sign is available online here and is currently on sale for £5.99 (reduced from £7.99). What a bargain!

What are you planning on getting your mum for Mother's Day?

Thoughts | Life As A TwentySomething Grandma

'Are you actually nearly 20 or are you secretly an old person?'

A conversation with my boyfriend a few weeks back sparked a thought in my brain about how I really am old-at-heart.

I wear knitted over-sized cardigans most days and pop my slippers on as soon as I reach my front door. I have an affinity for mugs and fruit tea and crafting. I buy most of my clothes in charity shops and on eBay rather than in the likes of Topshop and River Island. One of my perfect days in would be spent with my grandmother (who's in her mid 80's might I add), hot drink in hand and a quiz show on the telly. 

Whilst most people my age are on nights out, I'd rather stay home on a Saturday in my pyjamas with a hot drink and a board game. My peers may be planning nights out to raves and clubs but, on the rare occasion I do go out, I'm buying tickets for Northern Soul all nighters. And I'd rather listen to the Beatles than Beyonce or Stevie Wonder over Stormzy. 

In the eyes of many people my age, my lifestyle is 'boring'. But I don't feel boring at all so I won't let people tell me otherwise. I'd rather live a quiet, meaningful and 'boring' life doing things which make me happy, than spend my days conforming to the expectations of me as a student in her twenties. Yes I don't fit into the student profile - or really the profile of anyone under the age of sixty - but I'm ok with that.

Monday Motivation | 3 Reasons To Love Mondays

Hello Monday!

It's a weekly occurrence: come Sunday evening social media will be full to the brim of posts damning the fact that the weekend is coming to a close and Monday is nearly upon us again.

In 2018 I'm making an effort to learn to love Mondays; to create a life in which I don't dread the start of a new week. So I'm welcoming a new series on Yours, Chloe: Monday Motivation. This series aims to share the way I'm motivating myself to kick start the week with a bang and to share my journey towards embracing Mondays as welcome occasions. This won't be a every Monday kind of series, just a here and there type of thing.

Let's kick off with my main message for this series: there are lots of reasons to love Mondays. Today I'm going to share three of them.

1. It's A Chance To Start Afresh. 
Consider how motivated society gets come the start of a new year; new year, new me and all that jazz. Now why don't we instill that mentality when it comes to the start of a new week? Monday marks the welcome of seven new days during which you can start afresh from the previous week; leaving anything negative when you turn over the new page on your calendar. 

2. Monday Is A Day Of Productivity.
Monday's are proven to be our most productive day. They're the best day to start a new habit; to get into a new routine. Be it you want to start healthy eating, or you've set a new goal at work, or maybe you're wanting to get cracking on a fitness regime... Monday is the best day to do it. So what's not to love about a day that gives you the opportunity to better yourself?

3. You Feel Refreshed.
If you've spent your weekend wisely by having a well-needed chill and recharging your batteries, you'll feel refreshed come Monday morning. Now I don't know about you, but if I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the week, I feel a million bucks (is there an English version of this phrase?). 

Let's give Mondays a chance.

Do you love Mondays? Let me know why. 

Lifestyle | Printing Memories With Printiki*

I've always loved photographs; they can speak a thousand words. Just taking a glimpse at a photo can bring back a wave of memories and help you to remember the little, but lovely, details which otherwise may have been lost to time.

Whilst I love the ease of being able to instantly snap a photo and view it to my hearts content wherever I am, it does seem a shame to keep all these lovely snapshots of life trapped in a phone. Enter Printiki, a fantastic way of insuring that your treasured photographs

I've had a dabble on a number of other photo-printing websites in the past and I have to say that Printiki has the most user-friendly site I've come across. Uploading your chosen snaps is really easy and there's lots of tools you can use to jazz your photos up a little. You can conjure up a border, add on a filter and even pop on a little caption to make note of significant dates, places or even quotes to go alongside your photo.

As we've just celebrated the day of love, I decided to be one of 'those girls' and print a selection of photos of my boyfriend and I. When scouting out photos I fancied seeing in the printed form, I realised just how little I'm able to persuade Johnny to actually smile in a photo of us. Anyone else managed to end up with a fella who doesn't like having his photo taken? At least I can definitely say that all of our 'loved up' photos show character.

I'm not too sure as of yet what the destiny of these particular prints will be. I've got so many potential DIY ideas swirling around in my head for ways to display them for the world to see. Johnny and I are moving into our first flat together in September so it would be lovely to put them up there to make the place feel homely and ours. If anyone has any ideas for ways of displaying printed photos in jazzy ways please send them my way.

Are you a fellow lover of printed photos? How do you display them?

*Disclaimer: These products were kindly gifted by Printiki, for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions shared on Yours, Chloe x are always honest and unbiased regardless of whether or not the product has been gifted to me. For further details please refer to my full disclaimer.

Happy Mind | Forgive Yourself

"Make peace with your broken pieces"

I focus too much on my mistakes. I sit and regret mistakes I made a week ago; a month ago; a year ago. It's like there's a tiny little goblin inside of my head that reminds me that I should have known better or made better decisions. How could I possibly have stupid enough to do x or to think y is a good idea? How would my life be different if z had happened instead?

But regretting your mistakes won't change the past and it definitely won't improve the future. If you waste your days kicking yourself over one little mistake you made way back when, life is going to pass you by. You might miss incredible opportunities just because you weren't willing to make a fresh start.You'd be much better off getting back up, dusting yourself off and starting again.

Self-forgiveness can be seen as a weakness but I think it's a strength. When it all comes down to it, forgiving yourself for your mistakes is considerably harder than forgiving others for their mistakes.The ability to get rid of any baggage that's preventing you from living the fabulous life you deserve, is something to be damn proud of.

Books | Why I Buy Books Secondhand

I've always bought books secondhand. I love spending my free moments browsing through charity shops, car boot sales, secondhand book shops and even the likes of eBay, to find new titles to get my nose into. Don't get me wrong, I do love the smell of a new book; there's nothing like it. But there's something so special to me about buying a pre-loved book that just beats it.

In your typical bookshop, books are organised by genre, whereas when buying second hand you're faced with a free for all of genres, with books all higgledy piggledy among each-other. Let's consider a charity shop, for example, where there's no way of predicting what you may find: a romance title may be next to a sci-fi title, a thriller next to a mystery. When browsing, you often find yourself looking at genres which are new to you, as the cover or title or synopsis catches your eye. In allowing yourself this opportunity to explore new genres,  you'll open yourself up to a world of fantasy you never normally would have ventured into.

There's also something so special about falling in love with a novel you bought secondhand. Often you will not recognise the titles you come across, and maybe not even the author, so you have to cross your fingers and toes that you'll get on with it. Then when you do connect with the story, it feels like fate brought you and this little paperback piece of magic together.

For me there is something so magical about reading a copy of a book which was once read by someone else. Chances are you'll never know who that person was but you're connected with a stranger through the written fictional word. I have a love affair with thinking about those who have read that same book before me and considering what they may have thought: will our opinions on the plot differ? Do they connect with the main character in the same way I do? These questions will of course never be answered but it allows me to consider the book from a different angle, which I find deeply interesting.

The other, less deep and meaningful but important all the same, reason as to why I prefer to buy secondhand books is the financial factor. For the price of one brand new book you can often buy two or three (or more if you're lucky) pre-loved books. That's three new worlds for you to dive into instead of just one. Seems like a simple decision to me.

Do you buy books secondhand? Where is your favourite place to buy books?

Happy Mind | Happiness Is...

Happiness can come from simplistic, seemingly meaningless moments which create a sense of joy inside of you, even when you just think about them. It's easy to get bogged down thinking about the not so fantastic things that you can face in life, but that makes it even more important to remember and focus on the lovely little things that bring you happiness.

To me, happiness is...

r Sharing funny YouTube videos with my boyfriend and belly laughing together.
r When someone says 'I saw this and thought of you'.
r Buying a magazine.
r The feeling of someone playing with my hair.
r Being in the arms of a loved one.
r A fresh manicure.
r Late night drives with my headphones in.
r Being hugged from behind.
r Long phone calls with loved ones.
r Unexpected compliments.
r The feeling of having freshly washed hair.
r Christmas music.
r Nights in with my family, with a takeaway and a film.
r Inside jokes.
r Scrolling through pinterest
r Looking down on the world out of a plane window.
r Sleeping in fresh sheets.
r When you find a new book you just can't put down.
r Unexpected discounts at the till.
r Finding that perfect spotify playlist.
r Having a nosey at houses I could never afford for sale/rent online.
r Seeing family and friends after a long time apart.
r Going for a pint in the pub with my Dad.
r Warm bubble baths.
r The feeling of cuddling a teddy bear, even when you're a fully grown adult.
r Seeing snow for the first time that year.
r Wearing a new outfit for the first time.
r The smell outside after it rains.
r Having my hair played with.
r When someone remembers seemingly unimportant things you've said.
r Having a nosey around a bookstore.
r Getting into bed after a long day.
r Seeing streets lit up with Christmas lights.
r Creating a blog post I'm particularly proud of.
r Making plans for the future.
r Seeing an engagement/baby announcement.
r Watching trashy reality TV.
r Jumping into a warm swimming pool.
r Waking up early and being the only one awake.
r Eating out at restaurants with loved ones.
r Listening to thunderstorms.
r Hearing the words 'I Love You'.
r Seeing people reunited with loved ones at the station/airport.
r Looking back through old photo albums.
r Songs which instantly boost your mood.
r Starting a brand new notebook.

Let's all find joy in the ordinary.

What simplistic things bring you happiness?

Thoughts | 10 Things I'd Do If I Were A Boy

So I'd thought I'd unleash my inner BeyoncĂ© and give my take on what I'd do had the fates decreed to make me a boy. This isn't going to be a massive rant against the male species because I'm not going to lie, they are mostly rather lovely aren't they? It's just a girls take on the life of a boy. Simple.

If I were a boy I'd do the following:
Be thankful every single day that society hasn't told guys they need makeup. Enough said.

Be a gentleman. Little gestures like opening doors, holding bags. Manners win you lots of good points with us girls.

Unleash my inner James Bond and wear a suit at every opportunity. Just because.

Avoid lying to women at all times. Us girls can spot a lie a mile away and we will find out the truth quicker than you can come up with the lie in the first place. 

Always shower and use lovely aftershave. That's a given really isn't it?

Drop the macho act. We all know most guys aren't anywhere near as tough as they make out. You can forget the 'I never cry, I'm a bloke' pantomime and just not be afraid to show a bit of emotion every once in a while.

Over use the man flu excuse. Considering boys see it as their prerogative, I might as well make the most of it.

Take my top off when out and about on hot days. Boys don't know how lucky they are do they? Us girls are melting away whilst they get to breathe free.

Actually show some level of affection towards younger siblings/family members. Not only is it a lovely thing to do, us girls love it. This also includes pets, might I add, there's nothing better than seeing your other half cuddling your dog.

Not get so worked up over whether or not a girl know silly little things like the offside rule. (which many of us do; girls can like football too you know). In the grand scheme of things, just appreciate that we want to enjoy the things you do, even if we don't necessarily understand everything that's going on.

Take notes chaps.

What would you do if you were the opposite gender for the day?

Happy Mind | 3 Tips For Battling The January Blues

I don't know about you, but in my mind January is a bit of a pants month. It's likely that this opinion has come from my love of Christmas; as it's my favourite time of year, it's always a bit of a low point when the decorations go away and we're back to living our un-festive lives. We spend the best part of the month grieving the year just gone in a bit of a post-Christmas slump. 

But I'm determined that this year is going to be different. I am, in general, in a much better place mentally than I was this time last year and I want to stay like this. I want to kick the new year off to a good start and therefore I am determined to not be moping around for the whole month.

Today I thought I'd share with you some of the ways I'm going to be battling the January blues this year; three simple ways of working towards a brighter month. 

New Year, New Me
You know those new years resolutions you make every January 1st and then don't think about for the next three hundred and sixty four days? It's time to get your booty into gear and get cracking on them. New year, new me and all that jazz. Maybe you want to get into the gym and get back into shape post-mince pie season. Maybe you want to reconnect with old friends or start saving money. Whatever you want to do, get cracking on it now; it'll be a great distraction from the January Blues.

Spend Time Outside
The darkest months of the year are well known to bring on the blues, so try getting yourself outside and enjoying the natural light we do get. Decreased sun exposure (which is a given during the short winter days) leads to a decrease in serotonin, aka the 'happy chemical'. Popping yourself out into the fresh air and having a good wander will help to boost your mood dramatically.

Make Plans
The Christmas period is one rife with reunions with loved ones, but why does that need to stop come January? Have friends over for a film night; go out for a meal; plan a date night. I know we generally have to tighten our belts in January to recover from the Christmas present splurges but you can do some wonderful things with loved ones on the cheap, or even for free. Not only will seeing your nearest and dearest help to boost your mood, future plans will give you something to look forward to through the darker days.

What will you be doing to guarantee a brighter January?

Books | Reading My Way Through January

Due to 2017 being a rather hectic and all over the place year, my inner bookworm had to be buried for a while towards the winter months. This means that my poor bookshelf is practically crying out for love and attention. Even though I haven't been reading anything for a little while, I've still been book shopping like there's no tomorrow, so my "to-read" pile is now over-spilling with gorgeous novels. I've picked five titles which I'd like to read throughout January; although fingers crossed I''ll  manage to find the time to get my nose into even more titles.

About a month back I wrote my Twenty Before Twenty post, one point of which was to read fifty books. Considering I now only have less than five months left I better get my bookworm booty in gear, and these books are a great way to start. 

The first book on my to-read pile is Fractured by Ruth Dee. Fractured tells the story of a woman suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, coming as a result of being abused as a child. It describes how her life was torn apart by abuse and how she built it back together again, leading to her helping other people also facing Multiple Personality Disorder. I've never read a novel highlighting complex issues such as these before, but I'm looking forward to educating myself on the topics through a personal account.

Next I'm looking forward to reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I've been wanting to read this novel for a little while now as the concept of a writing-loving introvert navigating the world of university is rather familiar. Fangirl is written by an author I've heard lots of positive comments about so I can't wait to give it a read. 

The next book I've recently added to my to-read pile is This Raging Light by Estelle Laure. This novel was described with a single sentence - Can you fall in love when everything is falling apart? - which intrigued me greatly and made me super keen to get my nose into it. This Raging Light features the protagonist suddenly seeing her friends brother in a new light; "How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?" . It's nice to see a novel featuring a relationship which progressed from friendship, rather than your typical love at first sight kind of scenario. It's how my boyfriend and I ended up together so I'm looking forward to seeing how the author explores it.

The book I'm currently reading is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This book has rather dark tone to it; the protagonist (in whose voice the story is narrated) is a fourteen year old girl who has just been murdered and is looking down on earth as her family grieve. Despite the dark themes, I am absolutely hooked. I'm only two chapters in but the way the author describes the events of murder and also the grief being experienced is incredible. I'm completely in awe of the ideas and descriptions of heaven, and can't wait to see where the rest of the story goes.

The last book on my to-read pile is If I Stay by Gayle Forman; by far the most well-known novel out of the five. If I Stay tells the story of Mia whose family are in a fatal car accident. Mia is left in a coma and has an out-of-body experience where she has to ultimately decide whether she wants to stay in the living world without her family, or pass on. I started to read this novel when I was younger but never really got into it. The story line has always intrigued me though so I'm going to give it another go. 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you got any recommendations for me?

Beauty | Lush Boxing Day Buys

Would it be boxing day without making a few Lush purchases? This year Lush didn't hold an online sale - cue twitter loosing their marbles - so I had to take a trip into my local Lush the day after boxing day to get my fill of the sale goodness.

The mammoth Lush 2017 Christmas collection was just as decadent as it is every year. There were so many gorgeous bath bombs which caught my eye, so I was delighted to see them available in the sale.  Since making these purchases I've had many a soak in the bath, which has been a perfect way to spend the cold winter nights.

First to reach my basket was the Snow Fairy Jelly Bomb. The jelly bombs are some of the latest things they've been cooking up in the Lush kitchen and boy am I a fan. This one is in the staple festive scent of 'Snow Fairy', the epitome of pink sweet candy-floss goodness. The jelly bombs are lovely and moisturising, perfect for a winter pamper.

My next purchase was the Butterbear Bath Bomb. I just couldn't resist this little guy. It's got a super moisturising formula and does not have an overwhelming scent.

Next I picked up the Christmas Sweater Bath Bomb. This is my favourite festive bath bomb, it's scent just embodies Christmas as its full of spicy and warm clove scents. This bath bomb turns the water into a pinky red colour before letting off a gorgeous golden wonder.

Finally I went for the Sherbet Dip Bath Bomb. The scent is lovely and uplifting for the dark and dreary winter days. It's like putting a ginormous lemon sherbet sweet into your bath, so get the bath running and reminise of childhood sweeties.

Did you make any purchases in the Lush boxing day sale?

Happy Mind | The Power Of The Great Outdoors

There's just something special about being in the great outdoors. The crinkle of leaves underfoot; the whistle of the gentle breeze; the smell of wet grass after a rain storm. Just a matter of minutes spent exploring the outdoors can sweep aside any negativity that is consuming your mind.

Now that I live in a big city I do find myself craving the serenity of the countryside I was blessed to grow up around. My family home lies on the edge of a small city, close enough to the centre to reap the benefits of city life but also a stone throw away from the tranquility of the Fens.

At times when my head is restless and consumed with anxious thoughts, I like to wander off into nature and enjoy the sense of freedom and tranquility that comes with it. You should never doubt the restorative power of a long walk in the wilderness. There's something about being surrounded by nature that encourages you to be mindful; to take a moment to breathe during the hectic schedule of life.

Fresh air can be liberating for a cluttered mind. I love feeling the overall sense of calm that being outside brings to you, as you amble through forests and fields; admiring the flora and fauna that changes with the passing of each season. It leaves you feeling quite disconnected with the outside world, something which - in an era consumed by technology, pressure and fast pace - can feel like a, quite literal, breath of fresh air.

(Wouldn't be a forest walk without candid photos of the other half) 

As we wave hello to the new year I want to encourage you to take a break from life every now and again, and enjoy the tranquility of the outdoors; it'll  do you the world of good.

Beauty | January 2018 Evening Skincare Routine

After much chopping and changing I've finally settled on an evening skincare routine I really adore, so I thought I'd pop my beauty blogger hat on and share it with you all. As someone with acne-prone skin, I follow my skincare routine religiously in order to keep it under-control and these products have been a god sent. 

First things first it's time to remove the days makeup. My holy grail cleanser is the Ultrabland Cleanser by Lush. It's a beautiful beeswax-based concoction which melts away the waxes found in makeup to leave your face slap free and squeaky clean. Ultrabland also includes Rose Water - which calms and soothes the skin - and Almond Oil which hydrates it like there's no tomorrow. I have recently written a whole review on the product which you can find here.

To remove my eye makeup I like to keep things simple and just use the Boots Cucumber Eye Makeup Remover Gel. I won't beat around the bush, it's not the best eye makeup remover I've ever used due to it's rather annoying gel consistency but it does the job and at £1.50 I can't really complain; Student budget and all that.

 The next step in my evening skincare routine comes in the form of the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. This is a fairly new addition to my routine but I've very quickly fallen head over heels with it. It's very gentle and doesn't strip the skin of moisture, which has been perfect during these winter months. I'm also finding my acne-prone skin to be rather fond of it, as overall my skin has been increasingly clearer since Cetaphil entered my life.

 One of my desert island beauty products is the Tea Tree Water Toner Water from Lush. It helps to refresh my skin post-cleansing routine, leaving my skin feeling tighter and cleaner. Tea Tree Water also helps to fight any breakouts from the outset with its antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial ingredients. It works wonders for blemish prone skin, it really does.

I also wanted to give a mention to the Yes To Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Wipes. I like to use these in the morning primarily to wake my skin up, but do also use them of an evening when I've had a heavier-makeup day and want to give my skin a little more attention post-cleansing routine. As with all of Yes To's tomato range, the wipes help to tackle acne and blemishes which makes them perfect for my skin.

Now this isn't an everyday step, but I regularly use the Teen-Skin Actives Clearing Skin Scrub* to gently exfoliate my skin. This scrub uses bamboo beads and helps to combat blocked pores and blackheads.

Before I jump into bed I pop on the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo. It helps to calm my skin, correct and unclog any imperfections and tackle pesky leftover marks from previous blemishes. I've recently switched to using this every night from sudocrem and I've seen a really positive change. It's a pricier product and doesn't promise the world but it has definitely forged a place in my staple beauty products.

Which products are you currently using in your evening skincare routine? 
*Disclaimer: A few products in this post have been very kindly gifted to me in the past as PR samples. All views and opinions shared on Yours, Chloe x are always honest and unbiased regardless of whether or not the product has been gifted to me.