How I Source A Gorgeous Secondhand Wardrobe On eBay

There's a big push on 'slow fashion' at the moment and it's one of the only fashion things I can actually say I got to the party first with. If you're not clued up, slow fashion goes against the fast fashion industry and it's cheap, mass produced items, commonly designed to imitate the designs we're seeing on the runway. Slow fashion focuses on shopping consciously with a focus on the sustainability of our wardrobes. One aspect of slow fashion encourages the recycling, up-cycling and re-purposing of pre-loved clothes and this is what I want to focus on today.

I'm a bit of an eBay fanatic; I can't get enough of it. I use it to create a wardrobe full of second-hand clothes which suit my style and personality. And I often get compliments about the piece's I'm wearing which turn into surprise when I say 'oh thank you, I got it on eBay'. For some reason I think my generation on the whole tend to turn their nose up at secondhand clothing but I'm so passionate about it.

My wardrobe is largely sourced secondhand and this is for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's a heck of a lot cheaper! I very rarely spend more than £5 on an item on eBay; if truth be told, I manage to nab most of the items I buy for around the £1 mark. When you think about how much these items would cost new in the shops, I'm saving yourself tonnes of cash. Secondly, it helps to make my wardrobe stand out a little bit more. When you shop secondhand, you can source gorgeous pieces that are no longer on the market and through that your outfits can become more unique. Forget the latest Spring 2020 Topshop pieces that everyone and their mum is wearing; shop secondhand from seasons gone by and you're so much less likely to walk down the street past 3 girls also rocking the same skirt as you. And thirdly, it's a more sustainable and eco-friendly way to shop.

I recently nabbed this beautiful Next jumper for less than a fiver, which I am rather chuffed with. It was new with the tags so I saved a pretty penny on it. Today I styled it with my New Look burgundy mini skirt and black Accessorize ankle boots.

Today I thought I'd share five of my best tips for sourcing a truly gorgeous wardrobe on eBay, full of pre-loved clothing which still has a whole lot of life left in it.

1. Think outside the box with your searches.
Don't just search 'Size 10 top' or 'Size 14 dress' and keep it at that, eBay is a big place and there are tonnes of gems to be found if you know what to search for. Search brand names you love, specific styles (like 'peter pan collar' or 'tea dress') or occasion names (such as 'casual', 'work' or 'races'). The search 'blogger' also pulls up some fantastic pieces as worn by style bloggers.

2. Don't limit your searches by size.
When you search eBay you're searching through a mountain of different brands, all of which have different sizing so it's best to not limit your searches by only looking at one size. Select a range of sizes surrounding your dress size, for example I'll include size 6-12 and S-M in my searches to make sure I'm not limiting my potential findings.

3. Save your favourite searches.
With eBay it is really simple to save your favourite searches or sellers and have the links to new listings emailed to you each day. I have picked a handful of my favourite fashion brands and have alerts set up so that all of the new listings related to that brand come up in a notification on my phone. It means that you never miss a gorgeous new item and often get a head start when it comes to watching and starting to bid on the piece. To do this on the eBay app, just type in the search you want and then hit the little heart button on the top left hand corner, where it says 'Save'. You can also do this for your favourite sellers so you never miss an item.

4. Try misspelling your searches.
We all know that eBay is a big place so it's unsurprising that some fantastic items can get lost in it's depths. When sellers are uploading lots of items one after the other it's easy for a misspelling to slip through unseen. By simply altering the spelling of your much loved brands you can discover listings nobody else has spotted and nab yourself a true bargain. For example, I managed to secure a beautiful Joanie top for just 99p simply by adding another n when I typed it into the search bar.

5. Don't bid unless it's special.
I've saved my most important tip for last because it's an important one. When you scroll through the app and find so many gorgeous fashion bargains peeping back at you, it's easy to go a bit click crazy and bid left, right and centre. But it's important to step back and really consider before you bid. Do I really love this piece? What will I wear it with? When will I wear it? Is the cost worth it? I like to go through listings and watch them to give me time to contemplate the purchase before I commit and only about 10% of my watched items actually end up in my wardrobe.

Do you tend to shop on eBay? Do you have any tips?
I'd love to hear about your best eBay bargain too!

April's Happy Things

Well here we are... it's May. The past two months seemed to have lasted about a year in themselves so boy am I glad to welcome May into the lockdown party. Not only is it my birth month, it's also typically the sign that Summer is well and truly on the way.

But before we give May all the attention, I want to look back on the month just gone and reflect.

I decided to start doing month in review posts again a little while back but it's all gone tits up, quite frankly, as I don't know how I can really make 'today I stayed at home... and today I stayed at home again... and today you guessed it I stayed at home' exciting enough for a read-worthy blog post. So I've decided to do my monthly review posts a little differently for the time being and focus on sharing the things that have been keeping me entertained this past month. A glimpse into my lock-down life, if you will.

So, without further ado, are some of the things which have kept me busy and fueled my happy in April:

During the lock down I've tried to smash out my ever growing to-read list and it's going rather well, if I do say so myself. I've been loving historical fiction lately and really enjoyed Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein and One Day In Oradour by Helen Watts. As always, I'm also a sucker for a bit of YA fiction and have just finished Birthday by Meredith Russo. Boy is that book incredible! Next on my to-read list is Call Me Evie by J.P Pomare. It's been sat on my to-read pile for a little while now and I can't wait to sink my teeth into it.

Boy have I watched a lot of telly during this lockdown! It's been a great opportunity to get through some of the programs I've been wanting to watch for a while. 

Killing Eve is back with a vengeance and I'm loving it; although not loving having to wait a week between episodes! April also play host to the last ever episodes of Criminal Minds. Although I needed a good few days to process saying goodbye to the BAU, I've now settled in to watching it again from the very beginning. There's nothing like a bit of Agent Derek Morgan to cure the lockdown blues! I also loved the latest series of Our Girl. I was initially unsure about the new series - and still a firm member of the #WeMissElvis club - but by this point I'm loving it.

This month I've also been loving re-watching some of my favourite examples of classic British telly. I've introduced Johnny to the Vicar of Dibley and Four In A Bed and have been watching Outnumbered on Netflix. We've also been watching Doctor Who (surprise surprise) and thoroughly enjoying the #SubwaveNetwork goings on on twitter. If you're not clued up, people are watching past doctor who episodes at the same time across the globe and live tweeting them. They've also had cast and crew members (including David Tennant, Matt Smith and some of their best companions) sharing their thoughts/feelings/memories live on twitter as they watch along too. Totally geeky but totally fantastic!

Listening To
I've found lockdown to be the perfect time to catch up on all of the podcasts I've been missing. I'm subscribed to so many fantastic ones but find I rarely have the time to properly sit down and give them the attention they deserve so now is perfect. My current go-to is the Off Menu podcast, hosted by the briliantly funny James Acaster and Ed Gamble. If you're not clued up on the setup, each episode they welcome in a guest (often a fellow comedian or 'celeb' but there are also sometimes people from the food industry) into a 'dream restaurant' where they can choose their dream meal (we're talking starter, main, side dish, dessert and drink - the whole shebang). It's such an easy listen that always has me giggling away so it's become the perfect bedtime companion for me.

We've been trying to make the most of our slow cooker whilst we've been at home. A personal favourite was the slow cooked pork in apple juice I cooked over Easter weekend. Simply threw in a pork joint, some chopped apple, carrots, chopped onions and then a hefty amount of apple juice. Served with mash and veg, it was truly delicious. If anyone has any personal favourite slow cooker recipes, I'd love to hear them!

To get cracking with my last two university assignments! There's something about being stuck at home all day everyday that is just making it difficult to settle down and put my 'productive student' hat on. I normally like to do lots of my work sat within my uni buildings or in a coffee shop so adjusting to getting it all done at home has proven tricky. I'm starting to get there though! I've set up a nice desk space and have started to get into a good daily routine. I find that having 'slow' mornings (filled with lie ins, hot drinks, yummy breakfasts, reading and yoga) help me to get my head into the right mind-space to have a truly productive afternoon.

Obsessed With
Animal TikToks! I'll admit that I'm slightly uncool when it comes to TikTok and don't quite 'get' the obsession with all of the little dances people do but boy am I here for all of the quality animal content we've been blessed with. My personal favourites are @OliviaVanFoxFace, @_mochafrappe_, @SealRescueIreland and @HollyandHazelnut.

What have you been loving this past month?

Why It's Ok If You're Not Being 'Productive' During The Lockdown

There has been so much talk about things you can do during the lockdown. Articles on ‘Ways to keep productive’ and ‘10 things you can do to keep busy’ have been flying off the virtual shelves. But this creates this immense pressure that we need to be keeping constantly busy. Social media has made us believe that we need to be baking from scratch, spring cleaning our entire homes, starting 6 online courses and crafting a whole jewellery collection, and all before 1pm. And boy, if I had a pound for the number of tweets about banana bread I've seen in the past fortnight, I would be laughing.

And for some people this is great. If you are one of those people who thrives when keeping busy then brilliant. Enjoy your baking, crafting, cleaning and home workouts. If that’s what keeps you content and sane during this uncertain times, do it. In such a new and challenging time we need to find a lifestyle which works well for us as individuals and run with it. If you’re a bit of a ‘Keep Busy Karen’ (as I’ve named them - how creative of me), keep doing what you’re doing and it all looks fantastic.

But I want to write an ode to those of us who have taken on more of a ‘Relaxed Rachel’ lifestyle in recent weeks. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been remotely productive recently. I’ve kept myself occupied with lie-ins, reading, TV binge watching and more bubble baths than my water bill will appreciate. I have written a daily to-do list to add structure to my day but it’s mainly consisted of self care tasks and the necessary uni and blogging odd jobs that needed doing. And do you know what? This approach to life at the moment is ok too. If you’re going to feel better during this time taking a calmer approach and spending most of your time relaxing, do it. You’re not being ‘lazy’, you are looking after yourself in the way that suits you best. And that’s what we should all be doing right now.

Ultimately, it’s just so important to just listen to what your mind and body are telling you they need right now. Don’t feel the need to replicate the ways other people are coping with isolation, you are under no pressure to do or ‘achieve’ anything at the moment.

We find ourselves in a situation we’ve never been in before. It’s new, it’s uncertain, it’s challenging and it’s honestly terrifying, so we are all handling it in different ways. Some people like to keep busy and find that it keeps their mind at ease, whilst others prefer being calm. And wherever you find yourself on this scale, it’s ok.

The only thing that truly needs to be on our to-do lists at this time is to keep healthy and safe; that is the one thing we all need to achieve and that is why the lockdown is in place. Stay safe and look after yourself and one another.
Disclaimer - I feel the need to make a note that these photos were taken a year ago so no lock-down rules were breached, don't you worry. The 'Busy Doing Nothing' jumper just seemed ever so fitting.

20 Spring Self Care Ideas

Well here are, reunited with my good friend Spring. I love the spring months and all they bring; they are a welcome sight after the dark months of winter.

The beginning of a new season is the perfect time to change up your self care routine. This is especially the case with Spring, as it is a season which embodies the ideas of new beginnings and growth. If you're not clued up with what I mean by self care, it is simply the things you do as part of your lifestyle to maintain and improve your mental health and wellbeing; the ways you take care of yourself.

Here are twenty ideas for self care practices you can add to your routine in Spring:

1. Create a playlist of upbeat music to motivate you through the season.

2. Take yourself out for a walk in nature. You could take photos of some of the beautiful spring flowers or just use the walk as a chance to think deeply.

3. Change your bed sheets for something clean, light and spring-themed. I'm a sucker for a good floral duvet cover!

4. Make a fresh fruit smoothie or juice.

5. Book in a yoga session.

6. Write a gratitude list. The regular practise of gratitude can foster positivity in your life. I share my weekly Wednesday gratitude lists on my instagram (yourschloex) if you fancy a peek.

7. Sit outside and do some mindfulness colouring.

8. Give your home a little spring clean. A clean space is a clean mind.

9. Unplug and have a digital detox day.

10. Buy yourself some flowers or a new plant to brighten up your living space.

11. Cook a nourishing meal from scratch.

12. Do something creative. Craft projects can work wonderfully at calming the mind.

13. Wake up early and let yourself have a slow morning.

14. Drink lots of water. It's a simplistic practise but an important one.

15. Diffuse some essential oils. Lavender and citrus aromas such as lemon and grapefruit are perfect for the spring months.

16. Listen to a new self-development or wellness podcast. I shared five of my current favourites in a post back in November, you can read it here.

17. Create a vision board.

18. Read a book, be it an old favourite or something from your to-read list. I love a good romance novel in the spring months.

19. Sit outside for a while, listen to the birdsong and practise some deep breathing. 

20. Open up your windows and air out your home.

Let Spring be the month you truly look after yourself and let yourself bloom.

How do you practise self care in the spring months?

5 Apps I Use To Support My Mental Health

We are a society all-consumed by technology; our screens barely leave our side. There are countless articles damning this over use of technology, calling for a return to a more 'switched off' lifestyle and noting all the potential harmful effects, but with the way society is evolving this seems unlikely to come any time soon.

Rather than 'switching off' completely I think it is important to alter how we use technology; to start to use technology in a positive way and harness our screen time to make our lives better.

We're lucky enough to have some pretty fantastic mental health and wellness resources in the palm of our hands - quite literally. There are apps which encourage healthy habits, support self-care, encourage productivity and just generally nurture your mental wellbeing. Although no app can fully replace genuine therapy and medication, they can support treatment and nurture you mental wellbeing on a day to day basis.

Today I thought I'd share just five of the apps I use on a regular basis to look after my mind, in the hope that you find something which you can download to support you and your mental wellbeing.

Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app which has become my new best friend as of late. It can provide a fantastic introduction to the world of meditation, if you're new to the meditation game, guiding you through the process and getting you used to clearing your mind and taking a few minutes out of the hustle and bustle of life.

They have a whole range of meditation courses available to you, starting with an introduction into medication and then branching out into lots of different categories of meditation focus such as  personal growth, student life, productivity and parenting. You can choose if you want your meditation to be lead by a female voice or a male voice and they also have a whole section dedicated to 'sleepcasts' which are fantastic if you're someone who struggles to fall asleep because they're mind is working overtime.

I was a little unsure of whether or not the cost of the subscription (£9.99 a month) would be worth it but I've been using Headspace daily and the benefits it has had on my mental wellbeing are worth way more than a tenner. I've also done by research and found out that if you have Spotify premium you can nab the Headspace subscription for half price!

Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is another guided meditation app run by a non-for-profit organisation which aims to make mindfulness meditation accessible for all.

The app actually asks you how you feel (in terms of happiness, contentedness and alertness) before you start your guided meditation and after you finish it, which is a real positive element that I haven't seen before in guided meditation apps as it allows you to see how the meditation effects your mood in the moment.

My Water
My Water is a fantastic app for logging your water intake throughout the day. Whilst this may not seem like the most obvious mental-health app, I find that drinking lots of water is a really good self-care practise for me personally. Tracking my water in-take in this way helps to encourage me to drink water regularly as the app sends your phone regular notifications to encourage and remind you. I also like to use calming natural 'rescue remedy' drops in my water on particularly anxious days and logging my water helps me to make sure that I'm using these drops to their full potential.

MyTherapy is a brilliant tool which is designed to remind you to take any daily medication you're on. I'm prescribed a couple of different medications to support my mental health and I won't lie I'm quote prone to forgetting whether or not I've taken my tablet for the day. This can turn into an unnecessary anxiety trigger so I like to have an app in which I can track when I have or haven't taken my tablets.

You can set the app to remind you at a set time each day to take your medication and you can then 'tick' it off when you've taken it. MyTherapy also allows you to log when you start a new packet of tablets so it can let you know when you're running low and need a new prescription.  

One of my favourite features of the MyTherapy app is the wellbeing tracker. You can set the app to ask you how you're feeling at certain intervals throughout the day and each time it'll ask you to rank your mood out of 5. This is then logged and it's a handy tool for recording 'bad days', especially if you want something to help you show the patterns in your mental health to a professional such a doctor.

Pixel Thoughts
Pixel Thoughts is one of my new favourite apps as it's just perfect for calming incessant mind chatter and persistent negative thoughts. You simply type your thoughts into a star, send it off and watch it slowly get smaller and smaller until it disappears completely into the night sky. This process takes place whilst calming music is played (you have a choice of five tracks, each with a different calming vibe) and you're encouraged to breathe deeply as you watch your worries melt away and read some supportive lines which help you feel calmer and more connected.

Do you have any apps you use to support your mental health?

How To Bring Self Care Into University Life

As we're now well into the new uni semester I thought it would be a good idea to reaffirm the importance of self care for students. Uni can be a really stressful time, especially when you reach your last year (anyone else in this joyous club?) and it's so vitally important that you look after yourself.

Whilst I'm writing this post with students in mind, I don't wish to alienate from the post anyone who isn't currently a student. Self care is of course important for all, no matter what you're currently doing in your life, and all of these practices can be translated into the lives of working people also.

Bring Your Home Comforts To Uni
Student accommodation has a tendency for be very plain; very beige, bare and boring. And I don't know about you, but to me that kind of environment makes me feel quite on edge and uncomfortable. Moving away from home can be a really difficult experience, so it's important to create an environment that makes you feel calm and comforted. One key way to do this is to bring some home touches to personalise your uni room. We're talking photos, trinkets, pillows, blankets; anything that will make you feel at home.

Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and students are a bit of an iffy mix. We either find ourselves getting far too much sleep (ah what blasphemy; surely too much sleep is a myth) or resembling someone from the walking-dead on the way to 9am lectures. Our anxieties seem to have an ability to notice a moment of weakness in us (such as a lack of sleep) and that's when the bad mental health moments pounce, so getting enough shut eye to keep your body in tip-top condition is so important.

Create A Positive, Inspiring and Clutter-Free Work Space
The nature of uni life means you spend an awful lot of time behind a desk, so it's important to make this desk a lovely and positive place to be. Keep it organised (yes this is an excuse to go out and buy trays and magazine files galore) as a clutter-free space helps to create a clutter-free and focused mind. You can also decorate the wall-space around the desk area with motivational quotes and pictures, to keep you going when you reach a mental block.

Learn That It's Ok To Say No
As a university student there's an unspoken pressure to 'live your best life'; to always be out partying, experiencing new things and meeting new people. But this isn't realistic and succumbing to this pressure can do more harm than good. Don't feel like you have to scream yes at every invitation or be at the heart of every social circle going. And don't feel you need to agree to drinking if it isn't something you feel happy with. It's ok to say no; to have a day off. Be it because you just need a break, because it's a situation you don't feel comfortable with or just because you don't fancy it; it's ok. I don't mean this just in terms of not always feeling under pressure to join in with the drinking culture at uni, it applies in all aspects of life. You can expect yourself to be on top form all the time and sometimes we just need to recognise that our body needs a break and a bit of 'me time'. So it's ok to say no, nobody is going to think badly of you.

Schedule In Relaxation Time
Uni can bring a whole heap of academic pressure you have never experienced before and boy can that be a stressful experience. It's nothing to fear, as it simply takes time to adjust to degree level work just like it would have taken time to adjust to starting your GCSEs or A Levels. But this new stress and anxiety means it's especially important for you to schedule in me time; time to relax and de-stress. The kinds of activity which will bring you to a calmer state of being are going to specific to you and it's important to find something which suits you as a person. For me, it's reading, swimming and long bubble baths, so I try to schedule time for these activities every week. Try to find a physical activity which relaxes you, such as yoga, pilates or jogging, as this exercise will also work to support your physical and emotional health.

Have you got any self care advice for university students?

My Affirmation For The Year Ahead

And just like that it's 2020.

The first few days of a brand new year always play host to a flurry of new years resolutions and exclamations of 'new year, new me'. And I often find that this can cause us to feel pressure to self-scrutinise and make all sorts of changes in our lives. But who says the turn of a new year needs to be given so much significance?

Whilst new year goal setting may be a fab practise for some people, personally I know for me they won't be all that positive. I don't want to enter 2020 with a whole heap unreachable goals and quests which may create a lifestyle that feels a little bit like a pressure cooker.

So I've decided this year to take a more positive stance to new year goal setting and focus my efforts on creating an affirmation I want to shape my year around.

In the latter end of 2019 I began to grow my awareness of affirmations and the power they can have in creating positive thoughts and an overall positive lifestyle. If you're not clued up on the whole affirmation malarkey, it's simply an empowering phrase or sentence we repeat to ourselves over and over again throughout the day. Repeating your affirmation regularly works to alter your mentality and trains your brain into believing the statement. It can be anything, from something simple like "today is going to be a good day" to something more significant to you and your current priorities. 

So I've decided to create my own empowering affirmation to set the tone for the year ahead, in line with my continued focus on creating a positive lifestyle that supports my mental wellbeing. 

So what's my affirmation for 2020?

My affirmation for the year ahead is 'I can just let it be'.

This affirmation is one whose roots lie within one of my favourite songs of all time; a song where the lyrics really resonate with me and hold significant meaning in my life. That song? Let It Be by The Beatles.

Basing an affirmation around musical lyrics may seem trivial to some but it is a song which has spoken to me since I was a child and ultimately I believe we should look for a deeper meaning behind music and lyrics and use them to inspire and motivate us in our daily lives.

For those unfamiliar with the history of the song, the lyrics stem from a dream Paul McCartney had, in which his late mother appeared to him and told him that "it will be alright, just let it be".

I have chosen an affirmation to combat this and clear my mind of thoughts which have no positive purpose in my life. Instead of letting myself overthink and dwell on things, I'm going to consciously choose to repeat the affirmation 'I can just let it be' and fill my mind with positive thoughts which can rewrite my mindset.

I am someone who is prone to overthinking; prone to letting my anxieties consume my thoughts. Often the situations we overthink are ones we have zero control over which means that allowing these thoughts to control our mind is a completely futile practise. The affirmation of 'I can just let it be' aims to let me focus my mind on the fact that I can't control these events and that's ok, as sometimes in life we just need to let things be and see how they play themselves out.

Have you decided on an affirmation for 2020?