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Monday, 31 October 2016

In Retrospect | October 2016

Happy Hallowe'en! At risk of sounding like the biggest cliché going, October has absolutely flown by, and I can't believe that tomorrow will be November (and my Mum's birthday)! There's been so much going on that I haven't known whether I was coming or going for a majority of the month...
October In Retrospect
It's not been a bad month for empties; I'm on a bit of a mission at the moment, trying to use up as many of my products as I can, as my parents are having the bathroom replaced imminently... So I've been trying to use up anything that's half-finished, and haven't been stocking up quite so much.
October Empties
Will Repurchase: L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay Clay-To-Spray Dry Shampoo | I mentioned this in my Three Dry Shampoos That Are Better Than Batiste post; it works really well for me to absorb excess oils in my roots, and has a lovely fresh scent.
Might Repurchase: Soft & Gentle Wild Rose & Vanilla Anti-Perspirant | This didn't smell as nice as I'd hoped (I couldn't detect the vanilla at all!) but was pleasant nonetheless. It's not one I'd depend on, but I like to have a spray deodorant to just freshen up. // Crazy Rumors Lemonade Lip Balm | This smells so good and worked really nicely to keep my lips smooth and hydrated. I have a ridiculous stash of lipbalms, though... // Supergoop! CC Cream | I did quite like this; it gave a good coverage and a nice finish, although the shade was a little too dark for my skin. I do think it's quite pricey for what it is, though. // Boots Botanics Microdermabrasion Polish | I really like the super-fine texture of this; it's perfect to use just a couple of times a week to keep my skin soft and smooth. I couldn't find this last time I looked in Boots so I fear it may have been discontinued, but if I can get my hands on it I'll probably buy a new tube. // Shaveworks The Cool Fix Targeted Gel Lotion | I was so bad at remembering to use this after shaving so I'm not 100% sure whether it made much difference, but I think it helped to reduce itchiness and ingrowers. I'll certainly think about repurchasing!
Won't Repurchase: Amie Morning Clear Purifying Face Wash | I've really liked the Amie products I've tried in the past, but I was pretty underwhelmed by this - it was alright, but not the sort of product I'd be in a hurry to use again. // Dove Maximum Protection Anti-Perspirant | I didn't mean to buy this, I accidentally picked it up instead of the Sure version which looks very similar, and didn't find it nearly as effective. // Naked Shine Hydrating Conditioner | I did like this conditioner, it worked really well to keep the ends of my hair smooth and hydrated, but unfortunately Naked are no longer and this was my last tube.

Samples Sachets.
Again, I've only managed two sample sachets this month, although two is better than none!
October Sample Sachets
L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil Nourishing Shampoo | This is far too rich for my oily hair, and the SLS in it is no good for my eczema, so I won't be buying this. It does smell lovely though! (£2/400ml here) // Cattier Paris Masque Argile Rose | This actually reminded me of Origins Original Skin Mask, although I don't like this as much - the effects just weren't as noticeable for me, so I don't think I'd buy the full-size. (£15.25/100ml here)

October Goals.
• Apply for clinical training. Erm. This is still in progress..! I've filled in the easy bits of the form like my name and my qualifications, but I'm struggling with the slightly more involved questions... I'll be carrying this one over for November, as the deadline is at the end of the month.
• See friends at least twice. A Hallowe'en night out, a walk in the woods with my best friend, a spin class with the same friend (don't ask...) and a night at Pizza Express with two of my new colleagues... October has felt very busy! I'd have liked to have done more but just haven't had time.
• Join the gym. I left this til kind of last-minute, but I had my induction at the weekend (with a rather attractive personal trainer...!) and am now all signed up to my new gym which is exciting! I went yesterday and really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to getting back into working out regularly.
• Get my hair cut shorter. Check out my New Hair post to see how this ended up! I had about 7 or 8 inches cut off in all, so I'd say I've achieved this one. I'm really pleased I didn't bottle it, my hair looks so much nicer now!
• Look into savings accounts. I did this! I've set up a second savings account with a better interest rate - it's a fixed term account which means I can't withdraw any money for a year, so I don't want to put everything in there, but it makes sense to put a little bit in there each month and earn a little bit more in interest where I can. How adult of me!
• Finish the month no more than £750 into my overdraft. I actually managed the whole month without going back into my overdraft all which I'm super happy about! This is mainly because my old job have cocked up my wages and are still paying me, so I'll have to give it back at some point, but y'know... It's currently saving me my overdraft fees, so I don't mind too much that apparently no-one is capable of sorting that out for me.
So five out of six goals achieved this month - I'm pretty happy with that!

October Loves.
Salted Caramel Honeycomb Cheesecake
How incredible does Beth's Chocolate Honeycomb Salted Caramel Cheesecake look?! Cheesecake is one of my favourite things in the world and I'm pretty sure salted caramel cheesecake is the sort of divine foodstuff that would be accompanied by angel-song and harps. Or something.
Here on The Indigo Hours, I've posted about why I'm not a fan of Autumn, and a gorgeous budget dupe for Benefit's High Beam highlighter, so do check those out if you missed them!
Matilda The Cat
October In Summary.
There's been a whole lot going on in October and I've generally found it all pretty exhausting; my boyfriend met my brother and his girlfriend for the first time a couple of weeks ago, we went for a walk up Catbells and then out for lunch in Keswick, which was lovely.
Derwent Water From Catbells
I've finally started seeing patients at work (although not on my own just yet - I've done a few assessments with my supervisor so far!) which I'm loving, a cat has moved in with us - we've named her Matilda - and I've spent the last couple of weeks with a real shortage of energy and motivation. I'm struggling with the dark days and the rain and cold - Spring can't come quick enough for me!
What have you been up to in October? Did you set yourself any goals this month? Are you celebrating Hallowe'en?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Review | Born Pretty Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadow*

The lovely folk over at Born Pretty recently sent me a little selection of goodies, one of which was the catchily-named "Light Skin Shimmer Powder Natural Eyeshadow Glitter"... Although when it arrived, I discovered this is actually a cream shadow. That revelation aside, let's have a look at how I've been getting on with it...
Born Pretty Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadow
The packaging is quite nothing special; I'm not a fan of the brand logo printed on - it looks quite 90s to me and I think it makes the product look cheap. Aside from that, though, the clear plastic means it's easy to see the shade within, and the lid slides open and clicks shut, so there shouldn't be any issues around it coming open in your make-up bag or similar. There's also a little mirror in the back of the packaging, which I love - super handy for applying on the go, or for touch-ups.
Born Pretty Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadow
Born Pretty Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadow
I was sent Shade 3, which looks a pretty silvery-blue shade in the pan but actually swatches and applies as more of a pure silver, which I was slightly disappointed to begin with; don't get me wrong, it's still a pretty shade, but not as unusual as I was hoping for. The formula is smooth and creamy, making it easy to apply and blend on the eyelids, and the pigmentation is okay. It's not the strongest I've seen and can be a little patchy if not blended quite carefully, but it's more than workable and shows up easily on my skin. Despite the product's name, there isn't any visible chunks of glitter in this - it's definitely a smoother, shimmery texture.
Born Pretty Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadow Swatch
On the eyes, it's a striking shade, working really well to brighten the eye area and really drawing attention to my eyes. I've found this to be pretty average in terms of wear-time - my skin is quite oily, but I've found it starts to crease after around six hours of wear - so it's not terrible, but neither is it brilliant. I like to use cream eyeshadows as a base for powder shadows (I find it intensifies the colour and helps with wear time) but unfortunately I had the same creasing issues - nothing that can't be fixed with a gentle blend-out, but there are better products for me if I want my eyeshadow to last for more than 5-6 hours (which I usually do!).
Born Pretty Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadow
Midnight Angel Cream Eyeshadows are available in six shades, priced at just £2.10, here. I'm actually quite tempted to try this as a highlighter as well, although I imagine that could end up with me looking a bit like a robot if I'm not careful... Either way, this is a nice shadow and for the money you could do far worse. It's smooth, creamy and well-pigmented, even if the wear time isn't mindblowing. Do you like the look of this shade? What's your favourite cream eyeshadow?

[*Product provided for consideration. Prices correct at time of writing but may change with fluctuations in exchange rates.]

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Introducing | James Viana Jewellery*

It's getting to that time of year where, as much as I hate to admit it, it's time to start thinking about Christmas. I reckon I can put it off for a couple more weeks, but there's already talk of team Christmas meals at work, and Secret Santa gift exchanges amongst my friends... As well as the obvious considerations of gift shopping (What do men want for Christmas!? It's beyond me!) there are party outfits to think about. Hibernation is becoming more attractive by the day!
I've got one box ticked, however; James Viana very kindly sent me this gorgeous pair of 0.86 carat Blue Topaz Earrings*, which will be the perfect way to add a little sparkle to just about any outfit for party season! Made from rhodium-plated .925 Sterling Silver, each stud has a tiny dangly gemstone which shimmers as you move; these are perfect for those who want something a little more than plain studs, but don't wish to wear big, dangly earrings.
Of course, you might be thinking about presents as well (though I don't want to hear about it - you're far too organised!), in which case James Viana are well worth a look! When it comes to gifting jewellery, the presentation is almost as important as the jewels themselves, and James Viana won't let you down. My earrings came beautifully presented in a white branded box, within a white branded drawstring bag, in a super-luxe black branded gift bag - all ready to pop straight under the tree!
James Viana Blue Topaz EarringsJames-Viana-London-Earrings
The Blue Topaz Earrings are priced at just £21, available here, and James Viana have plenty of other jewellery on offer - from rings to pendants, bracelets and more earrings, with a range of gemstones to choose from. Their prices are reasonable and you're purchasing double the gift, as James Viana also donate 10% of their profits to charities supporting women - find out more on their Feel Beautiful mission page. Will you be gifting any jewellery this year? Have you started thinking about party season yet?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

New Hair | feat. Ojon & Irresistible Me

I had my hair cut a couple of weeks ago for the first time in about a year (seriously, can I get a round of applause here? I hate having my hair cut!) and it looks so much better for a good trim! I ended up having about eight inches taken off it, which has made all the difference - my hair is still long but all the horrible dry, split ends are gone and it feels so much smoother, thicker and generally nicer.
As well as a good trim, I've been using a new product which has made a huge difference for me; I bought Ojon's Damage Reverse ThickeningStyling Mist after reading Adrienne's rave review, and it was pretty much love at first spritz for me, too! This little bottle of joy basically acts as a leave-in treatment, hydrating and caring for your locks whilst also adding volume and bounce. I love it! My hair is quite fine but there's a lot of it, so it weighs itself down and tends to look quite flat and lank - not so with this bad boy! I simply spritz this through damp hair, from root to tip, and comb through, then style as I usually would.
Now, let be honest, more often than not "style as I usually would" means "let it air-dry and maybe brush it the next morning if I'm doing really well", but even then my hair looks smoother, healthier and bouncier than usual. Every now and then, though, I'll run my Irresistible Me Diamond Styling Iron through my hair, which brings things to a whole new level of smooth, shiny swishy-ness.
I've just realised I hadn't actually done the best job of straightening my lovely new 'do when I took this photo, which is why it looks a bit uneven - whoops! It was early... Hopefully you can still kind of tell that my ends are much less tatty and fried-looking now, and my hair generally looks thicker, as well as holding volume better.
The Ojon Damage Reverse Styling Mist is currently sold out on Look Fantastic, but it has an RRP of £20 for 110ml; I won't try to pretend it's cheap, but it's a damn good product and for me, it does exactly what it claims! The Irresistible Me Diamond Styling Iron, meanwhile, is currently on sale for just $104 here. What are your must-have hair styling products and tools? Are there any products that have changed your (hair-styling) life?


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Review | Dusty Girls Eyeshadow*

Dusty Girls isn't a brand I've heard a lot about in the blog-o-sphere, but they're an Australian make-up company, an off-shoot of MooGoo Skincare, with a focus on using natural clays and minerals to produce "healthy" make-up. Now, I'm always very dubious about "natural" claims when it comes to cosmetic products and I can't abide by the term "chemical-free" (YOU ARE MADE OF CHEMICALS. WATER IS A CHEMICAL. NOTHING IS CHEMICAL-FREE.) but I can get on board with being mindful about what we put in and on our bodies - particularly coming from a brand whose number one beauty tip is to smile!
I was very kindly sent one of their Eyeshadows to try out, and I went for the shade 'Going Buff'*, which is described online as follows: "This velvety smooth shade is cream in colour and pressed with a blend of soft pink and subtle golden pigments that will lift and enhance the appearance of your eyes and natural beauty." I'm always a bit unsure about mineral make-up that comes as a loose powder (I'm messy enough, trust me!) so I was pleased to see that this comes in a pressed format. The packaging is simple but pretty, and it does the job - it feels sturdy, and the clear plastic lid allows you to see the shade at a glance.
I'd say the product I received matches the description pretty well! The eyeshadow has a lovely buttery-smooth texture which applies evenly on the skin, though there is a little bit of fall-out. 'Going Buff' is the perfect shade to highlight the eyes, as it really does have a beautiful pinky-gold glow when it catches the light, which doesn't show at all well in the swatches below - sad times! I've been using it daily on my browbone and it's equally pretty as an inner-corner highlight. I wouldn't use this as a lid shade as I like something a bit more dramatic from my eyeshadow, but that's not what I chose the shade for -it's a really gorgeous highlight shade and it's just perfect for that!
You can kind of see it on my browbone there, right under the arch of my brow, right!? It's subtle but super-pretty. Dusty Girls eyeshadows are available in four shades in total, priced at £9.50 each for 2g of product, which I do think is at the higher end of what I'd pay for an eyeshadow (although you can get 15% off your order when you sign up for their newsletter) - especially considering that postage within the UK is another £5 on top of that. So whilst I do think this is a lovely eyeshadow and I like the ethos of the brand, I have to admit the price would put me off ordering from them in the future. There are a few UK stockists, however, so I would consider purchasing in store, and postage is free on orders over £60 (which can include both MooGoo and Dusty Girls products). What are your thoughts on "natural" cosmetics? Have you heard of Dusty Girls before?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Thursday, 20 October 2016

High Beam vs. George Highlight & Define

I received a sample-sized bottle of Benefit's High Beam in a Birchbox (I think!) around two years ago now and, despite hoping that I wouldn't be keen because expense, I fell head over heels for it. It's the perfect easy highlight to dab on and blend, brightening up my complexion within seconds, without looking glittery or over-the-top. My tiny bottle is, as you can see, all but empty, and I've been mournfully considering whether I can justify parting with £19.50 of my hard-earned cash to replace it... And then I discovered George at Asda's Highlight & Define, and decided it was worth the £3.50 to see if it came close to High Beam.
The packaging is probably the biggest difference between the two products; the full-sized version of High Beam comes in a little 10ml glass bottle, much like a nail polish bottle, with a screw-cap containing a little brush for easy application, whilst George's Highlight & Define comes in a concealer-style tube with a doe-foot applicator. Application-wise, though, I don't think there's much in it; it's as easy to dab on product from the doe-foot as it is from the brush, and I blend both out with my fingertips anyway.
In terms of shade, there isn't much to choose between the two - both are a super-pale silvery-pink and when I swatched them side-by-side, I was amazed at how similar they are:
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

So as you can see - they're very similar! High Beam is on the left above, whilst Highlight & Define is on the right. There's not much difference in formula, with both being smooth, creamy and easy to blend, and when it comes to lasting power, again there isn't much to choose between the two; both will easily wear a full day for me, without sliding or fading, even on my oily skin. I do always set cream products such as foundation and highlight with a loose powder, so that's worth bearing in mind.
Benefit High Beam is priced at £19.50 for 10ml of product, available from Debenhams here, whilst George Highlight & Define is just £3.50 for 12ml - get it here. My money is firmly on George's offering - I can't tell the difference in terms of formula, shade and application, and for the £16 saving I'm happy to take the more travel-friendly plastic tube over the glass bottle! Which would you go for? What's your favourite liquid highlight?
Oh, and if you're interested in George make-up, check out my thoughts on their Super Boost Concealer here!

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

My Experiences On The Pill

I'm aware that this sort of post isn't up everyone's street, but a couple of people have asked if I'll write about my experiences on the Pill, so I've tried to put together a brief outline - bearing in mind I was on the pill for around seven years, and tried five different ones. The pill has been getting some bad press lately in relation to links with depression, and I have to say it hasn't been a happy journey for me for a number of reasons, but let's start with why I went on the pill in the first place...
My experiences on the contraceptive pill
I first went to the doctor about going on the pill a few months before my 18th birthday; I was in my first long-term relationship and didn't want to depend on condoms. I was also hoping that going on the pill could help with my horrendously heavy, irregular periods and the accompanying migraines that I got - I started my period at 11 and six years later, my "cycle" varied from about 21 days up to about 90 - which was as inconvenient as it sounds. Anyway, long story short, I ended up on my first pill, Microgynon, and around a month later I moved away to uni.

Microgynon was an unmitigated disaster for me; I was sent away with a three-month supply and told to go back for a review once I'd almost finished my three months... So that was what I did. Unfortunately, the migraines that I'd previously suffered once or twice a month became almost daily, and at my review the nurse checked my blood pressure and was horrified - she took me straight off Microgynon, told me I couldn't use the combined pill as it was putting me at risk of a stroke, and put me on Cerazette instead.

A Progestogen-only Pill (POP, or the Mini-Pill), Cerazette suited me much better for the first few months; whilst I'd had to take a break once a month on Microgynon (in which I'd had a period which was every bit as bad as they'd ever been) with Cerazette I was period-free, and therefore migraine-free, which was brilliant... At first. After about six months (I think - this was about six years ago now so forgive me if my memory is a little fuzzy on the finer details!), I started a period - which was fine, I didn't mind occasional periods if I could have six months between them! Only, I'd started to bleed... And I just didn't stop. It wasn't heavy or painful, but it was definitely a period rather than spotting, and it went on and on and on. I went back to the doctors after a few weeks and they decided that the solution was to take twice the usual dose of Cerazette - one in the morning and one in the evening. This seemed dubious to me, but I did as I was told, and sure enough, the bleeding stopped... For a few weeks. And then it started again and, after nine months of pretty much constant bleeding save a few weeks in the middle, I went back to the doctors and put my foot down.
Experience of the contraceptive pill
Enter Micronor - another Progestogen-only Pill, I loved this one for about 18 months. I had occasional periods which, whilst still quite heavy and painful, were nothing compared to what I'd suffered before starting taking the pill. And then, the inevitable happened - my body had had enough of Micronor, and once again I started bleeding and just didn't stop. Back to the doctors I went, where I was referred for an ultrasound which showed up a big fat nothing. So the doctor switched me onto another pill - Femulen. For a while, I thought all my issues were fixed. Except when I went back for a review and to get a repeat prescription after three months, I was told that Femulen was no longer available on the NHS, and so I was switched back to Micronor. Hurrah. [/sarcasm]

Thankfully, the break seemed to have done the trick, and I managed another couple of years on Micronor before I started bleeding again. As I wasn't in a relationship at the time, I thought I'd just take a few months break and see what happened - and so I did. Typically, I started seeing my current boyfriend about three weeks after coming off the pill... But anyway, a couple of months later I started taking it again, and a couple of months after that, I started bleeding again. Hurrah. [/sarcasm]
Experiences on the contraceptive pill
Soooo back to the doctors I went, where I asked to try a different POP - they always seem keen for me to have the implant, but given that it uses the same hormones as the pill, I don't want something that permanent in my arm, thank you very much. So this time I was prescribed Norgeston. I gave up on that before the first month was out as, once again, I was bleeding constantly, and so I just stopped taking them. That was about two months ago and I've just finished my first period since coming off it... Which wasn't as bad as I remember them being, so we'll have to see how I go on. Thankfully my boyfriend has been really understanding about my reasons for coming off the pill, and is happy to use condoms instead.

Since coming off the pill, I've also noticed that my mood is a lot more stable; it wasn't something I'd noticed as a side-effect at the time, but looking back my mental health really suffered as a consequence of being on the pill. Essentially it was like PMS month-round - I'd have horrendous mood-swings where I'd be fine one minute and the next I'd be tetchy and tearful, as well as completely paranoid at times, and whilst I'd always struggled with my mood (since around the age of 13 or 14), looking back now I can see how much of an effect the pill had, although I didn't link the two at the time. I've never been formally diagnosed with any mental health problems, and I'm not trying to self-diagnose or say The Pill gave me depression or anything like that - but for me, there was a definite impact on my mood which I do strongly suspect would be clinically significant - basing this off several years of studying and working in Psychology.
[Photo credit: Ivorymix.]
Wow, this post got long! So I hope you've found this interesting - although remember, I'm just one person, and I'm apparently absurdly sensitive to hormones, so please don't let my experience put you off if you're considering going on the pill! I consider myself very lucky to live in a country where the contraceptive pill is freely available, and for many, many women it's a brilliant option. There are plenty of women out there who are perfectly suited to hormonal contraception and never have any issues with it, so it may be worth a try for you - I'd say, just bear in mind and be conscious of any possible side-effects, including those on your mental as well as physical health. If you have any questions do feel free to ask either in the comments, on Twitter or by email, I'll do my best to answer! Have you ever been on the pill? What has your experience been like?


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Review | Born Pretty Hearts Blusher*

I was recently sent this adorable Barbie-pink blusher* from Born Pretty; housed in a metallic-pink compact and embossed with hearts, this is almost too pretty to use, and easily one of the cutest blushers I own. But is it any good...?
The blusher has a clear plastic lid so it's easy to see the shade within; the pan containing the blusher lifts up to reveal a little brush and a mirror - the brush I received was quite mis-shapen and not really big enough to successfully apply blusher with, but it's a nice thought!
Of the ten shades available, I have #6, which is a bright cool-toned pink with just the slightest hint of shimmer; this isn't noticeable at all once it's on the skin. The embossed design puts me in mind of Physician's Formula, although I've never tried their blushers so I'm not in a position to compare.
I apply using my usual ELF Studio Blusher Brush; the blusher is quite pigmented so you need to use a light hand, but it does blend out really nicely to give a natural flush of colour to the skin. I've also found that it lasts really well on my skin without fading, easily lasting from 8am when I apply my make-up, through a full day at work, and into the evening if I need it to.
This super-cute blusher is an absolute steal at just £3.50 for 7g of product here, and with ten shades to choose from, I'm sure there'll be one to suit you! And if you like the sound of heart-shaped make-up, check out my post on Born Pretty's Heart-Shaped Lipstick... What do you think of this product? Would you use a Born Pretty blusher? What's the cutest make-up product you own?

[*Product provided for consideration. Prices correct at time of writing but may fluctuate with exchange rates.]

Monday, 10 October 2016

Here's Why You're Wrong About Autumn

Apparently, everyone loves Autumn. I'm a summer person through and through and yet here I am, surrounded by people who seem to think Autumn is the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread. Frankly I think you're all mad. I'm not usually a whinger unless you ask my boyfriend but that's different but I just cannot get on board with Autumn. Here's why:
[Photo: Ivory Mix. Text added by me.]
It's cold.
And when you're cold-blooded like me, that's a problem. I'm the kind of person who has the heater on in my car year-round because my feet are always freezing. I do not cope well with cold.
It's dark.
Dark mornings and dark evenings. I'm not sure what's to like here? I like daylight! There's nothing worse than going to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark. A girl needs her Vitamin D y'know! And that's before we even start to think about blog photos...
It's wet.
As if England needs an excuse for more rain! Even on those days where it looks like it might be sunny (for a few hours. Even thought it's still cold.) there are probably puddles everywhere and you'll end up with wet feet. Orrr it'll change its mind and rain anyway, and then you'll have wet feet and frizzy hair and runny make-up. Ugh.
Ice-cream ceases to be a food group.
I mean I guess you could still eat ice-cream in Autumn... But it's cold (see first point) so why would you? To make things worse, people seem to think custard is an acceptable alternative to have with puddings? Erm, no. Custard is vile.
Pumpkin spice lattes.
I drink my coffee black so this is mostly just because I feel like I'm missing out on the ol' PSL hype... But I can't stomach coffee with milk in and pumpkin spice Americano just wouldn't be the same now would it?
My eczema hates it.
To be fair my eczema hates most things but I can pretty much guarantee I'll have dry, sore, cracked hands between the end of September and about the beginning of May.
Yes, yes, alright, they're pretty when they're going red and orange on the trees, and they're pretty when they first fall off - and there's nothing quite like stepping on the perfect crunchy leaf! - but then it rains and they go all soggy and disgusting and become the kind of death-trap I can almost guarantee I'll slip on at least once before Autumn is over.
Soon I'll have to de-frost my car in the mornings.
And that's the worst! It also means icy roads and icy pavements which means slipping and falling over on a regular basis because I'm the clumsiest person ever. And it's cold. Ugh.
Sniffles & sneezes.
I rarely get "properly" ill, thankfully, because I'm terrible at being ill! But I do tend to have pretty much a constant cold throughout late Autumn and Winter. Coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose gets old pretty quickly... and it means I always have a sore nose. Sad times.
Christmas. Christmas everywhere.
Christmas shouldn't be allowed until December. Ideally until around the 15th of December. A fortnight's worth Christmas should be enough for any sane being. I really don't see why we need to drag it out for three months? Ugh.

I guess Autumn does have some redeeming features, though; Autumn candle smell the best, Halloween is pretty cool, we can light the fire, and it's a good excuse for hot chocolate - if only I hadn't given up chocolate... What do you think? Are you with me in thinking Autumn is totally over-rated, or are you an Autumn-lover?


Thursday, 6 October 2016

25 Things I've Learnt in 25 Years

It was my birthday at the end of last month! Having reached the ripe old age of 25, half of me feels like I've got my shit together, and the other half kinda feels like I'm not "adulting" quite as well as I should be - I keep thinking back to, say, 10 years ago - I kind of thought I'd have settled down by now, you know? Husband/long-term partner, kid(s), house, dog... HAHAHA.
I mean, I know 25 isn't that old in the grand scheme of things, but actually it's a pretty big milestone - I've moved out of the 16-24 age bracket (sob!) and I'm at that stage where I feel like I'm expected to have my life together... And yet here I am, still living with my parents, desperately trying to get out of overdraft, with no realistic prospect of owning my own home before the age of 30. And you know what? That's okay.
Anyway, that got a bit rambly. The point of this post was to share 25 things I've learnt about life so far. I'm quite sure I've got plenty more to learn (I bloody hope so!) but 25 feels like a good start, so here we go.
#1 Things probably won't go to plan. The ability to wing it is a talent worth developing because life, it turns out, is a pretty big fan of the ol' curveball. Just when you think you've got it sussed... PLOT TWIST!
#2  My brother isn't actually that bad. Yes, he's horrible to live with, but when we're in separate houses (and, ideally, separate counties!) we actually get on pretty well. The problem is we're too similar, so when we spend too long together we tend to clash.
#3 You can't please everyone. And that doesn't matter; as long as you're not hurting anyone and you're doing what you think is best, it'll all work out.
#4 My Mum is pretty much always right. Thankfully, I inherited this trait from her.
#5 There are more important things in life than ironing. I don't believe in ironing. I don't even iron my dress before interviews. I'm only gonna wear it! I guess if you're a man wearing shirts, it's a bit different, but as a woman I see no need to iron anything. Ever.
#6 Learning to drive was just as terrifying as I thought, but well worth it. I delayed learning to drive for almost six years and now I've done it, I really, really wish I'd just grown a pair and done it when I was 17 like everyone else. Yes the first few lessons were hideous. Yes, I still swear loudly and frequently whilst driving. But it's bloody useful to be able to do! I actually posted a few months ago about why I'm so glad I finally got round to driving lessons.
#7 Running isn't as awful as I always thought it would be. When we were younger, running was my brother's "thing"; I hated it on principle without ever really trying it. Fast forward a few years and I'm currently still sulking about my shin splints and the fact I've not run properly in a month. I quite enjoy it! Who knew?
#8 Washing up will never grow on me. I'd rather cook and dry than wash up. I really, really, really hate washing up.
#9 Choosing to study Psychology instead of Maths at A Level was a great idea. The exception to #4. For some reason my Mum really wanted me to do Maths and really didn't want me to do Psychology. So did my head-teacher, come to that. 15-year-old-me's idea of rebellion was ignoring them and doing Psychology anyway. Thanks, 15-year-old-me.
#10 I can function without chocolate. This has been quite a recently-acquired piece of wisdom, as evidenced in my post about what I learnt when I gave up chocolate for Lent earlier this year. I actually stopped eating chocolate again at the end of August with the aim of cutting it out til Christmas!
#11 Me and high heels probably aren't meant to be. I just don't have the balance for them. I also have really big feet so most heels look kinda silly on me anyway.
#12 Boys are dumb. There's not much more to be said there... They're certainly not worth getting upset over, let's leave it at that.
#13 The novelty of learning something new doesn't wear off. Learning new things is actually what I miss most about uni, and why I'm loving my new job so much - it's so good to be learning things again!
#14 A cup of tea makes most things better. And a biscuit to dunk doubles your odds.
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

#15 You never know unless you try. Something I've got pretty good at lately is asking myself, "What's the worst that can happen?" and then giving things a go. I'm of the opinion that great things are not in my comfort zone; I need to push myself.
#16 A leather jacket is an excellent investment. I won a Hobbs gift card a couple of years ago and treated myself to a gorgeous leather jacket. It was such a good buy as I wear it pretty much everywhere! It's great for work, nights out and everything in between.
#17 Never depend on my sense of direction. Because I don't have one. And that's putting it nicely.
#18 I'm not someone who regrets things. Or at least, not yet! I tend to take the viewpoint of, if I did what I thought was best at the time, there's nothing I'd change. (Regarding tattoos, I did what made me happy at the time, so ditto.)
#19 I'm utterly tone deaf. Actually, this didn't take anything close to 25 years. I think about three weeks of violin lessons cleared this one up - although I soldiered on for a good four years, without success.
#20 Swimming really helps me clear my head. It's also great for soothing general aches, pains and stiff muscles. And it means cake doesn't count. Everyone's a winner!
#21 Sometimes, the little things in life are the best. Clean sheets. Your favourite biscuits. A new candle. Oranges that peel perfectly. You know the things I mean!
#22 I need to force myself to be organised. I hate mess but I still have this awful habit of letting stuff pile up until it's just ridiculous. I really need to force myself to keep on top of things like filing credit card bills and suchlike.
#23 I should listen to my body. I've got a post coming up on my experiences on the Pill, but basically - I spent seven years on it in misery, one way or another. I should have listened to my body a long time ago. It doesn't work for me. End of.
#24 There's never enough time. This is more because I have a tendency towards letting things expand to fill the available time, than because I actually have too much to do. I'm the worst procrastinator! However it does seem to mean that if I plan more, I get shit done more quickly and therefore can do more...
#25 I can do anything I put my mind to. I'm a pretty determined person, it turns out! It may have taken me three years after graduating to find the job that was "right" for me, but I got there. I've got my Mum to thank for teaching me this from a young age - if you want it bad enough, work hard and you'll get there in the end.

What pearls of wisdom have you picked up over the years? Do you think there's anything missing from my list?


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Magazine Freebies | November 2016

Another month, another round of magazine freebies to peruse and pick up as per your whims! I've only seen a couple so far this month, but they're good ones... Read on to find out what goodies you can get your mitts on with your reading material this month.
InStyle (£3.99) comes with a 10ml deluxe sample of This Works In Transit Camera Close-Up, a three-in-one moisturiser, mask and primer which claims to be... "A portable pick-me-up that evens, plumps and brightens instantly. Bio Boost, our unique blend of precious plant oils combined with Hyaluronic Acid and Caffeine, revitalises the skin for a naturally radiant complexion. Rapidly erases signs of fatigue and boosts hydration to be ready for that 'close-up' in seconds." which sounds pretty good to me! This is £30 for the full-size 40ml, which makes this sample worth about £7.50.
Marie Claire (£3.99) comes with one of two Balance Me hand creams - choose between 50ml tubes of their original Super Moisturising Hand Cream, or the gorgeously-scented Rose Otto Hand Cream. Both retail at £10 for this size of tube. I've been really impressed with the Super Moisturising cream in the past, so I decided to try something new this time and went for the Rose Otto!
Have you picked up any of this month's magazine freebies yet? Have you spotted any other gems on the newsagent's stands?


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Hello October!

We're now officially into the final quarter of 2016 which is more than just a little bit terrifying; I honestly don't know where this year has gone, it doesn't feel like five minutes since I was sat in the park watching the fireworks at midnight on New Year's Eve... Yet before we know it, it'll be time to do it again! Aaaanyway, let's not get too carried away - there's three months between then and now, so plenty of time to achieve lots of things hopefully! You can catch up with my goals from last month in my September In Retrospect post, and here are my goals for October:
Apply for clinical training. Becoming a Psychologist requires you to do a doctorate, which is a very competitive course to get onto - I've never applied before and on average, it takes three applications to get onto, so I'm not holding out too much hope for this year... I'm basically viewing it as getting the first application out of the way. The deadline isn't until the end of November but I'd like to get it out of the way sooner rather than later so that I don't have to worry about it.
See friends at least twice. This has become a standard monthly goal for me, but I enjoy including it as it does mean I make the effort to catch up with friends when I might otherwise put it off - it's all too easy to let months slip by without seeing the people who matter!
Join the gym. This was on my list last month and I just didn't get round to it, so I need to make time this month to get on with it!
Get my hair cut shorter. I've got a haircut booked in a couple of days and I'm planning to have quite a bit taken off (you can see how long it is currently in my post about my Irresistible Me Diamond Hair Styler), so my goal here is basically not to bottle it! I hate having my hair cut so I'm going to have to be brave.
Look into savings accounts. Gosh, what a boring, adult goal! I've got into the habit of putting away a bit of money each month, but the interest rate on the account it's in is, for want of a better word, shite, so I need to see if I can find anything better - I know interest rates have dropped since Brexit (don't get me started on that) but I still think it's worth having a browse and comparing accounts. Every little helps!
Finish the month no more than £750 into my overdraft. If you read these goals posts regularly, you'll see that I'm getting there with this overdraft thing! Considering I was right at the bottom (-£2000!!!!) at the beginning of the year, I'm really proud of my progress, and I'm hoping to be able to pay it off completely, without having to dip into it at all, next year.
I don't really have any major plans this month but I'm hoping to make it quite productive nonetheless! Do you have anything nice planned for October? What are your goals for the month?

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