JANUARY ROUNDUP

This month I...
  • Celebrated the end of my exams with a night out at the Ruby Lounge
  • Bought the Game of Thrones boxset
  • Watched Call the Midwife and Mr Selfridge
  • Exercised at home with the help of Yoga with Adrienne 
  • Meditated before bed to help unwind and de-stress
What have you been up to this month?

WINTER SKIN SOS: BEAUTY BALM*

Cold winter air, central heating and skipping the moisturiser step (because it's far too cold to stand around naked) can all lead to dry and cracked skin, lips and cuticles. I like to use multi purpose beauty balms for an intense hit of hydration. Here are the three I've been testing this winter.
One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm is a sample I got from Birchbox and is mainly marketed as a cleansing balm. I rub this over my face, concentrating on my eyes and then wipe off with a muslin cloth. It removes makeup really well, even eye makeup, and doesn't sting at all. However, it smells very sweet, a bit like sweets, so I prefer to use only a little bit, maybe mixed in with foundation to give a dewy finish or as a lip balm.
Boots Botanics 93% Organic Super Balm is my personal favourite of the three. It has a lovely floral smell, and absorbs into the skin well. It contains shea butter, almond and argan oil as well as beeswax and rosehip for a lovely soothing effect. I love to rub this into my cuticles before bed, and always wake up with moisturised hands.
Superdrug Vitamin E Superbalm is an even more affordable option, but it certainly compromises on quality. The texture is gritty and hard to rub in, and the product smells more artificial than the Botanics offering. However, it contains coconut oil, shea butter and avocado oil and is just as moisturising as the others.
Have you ever tried a beauty balm? Are there any other brands you'd recommend? 

THE SUNDAY POST #3

001. I ate out for the first time since before Christmas, which is a huge thing for me as I usually eat out at least twice a week. We went to wagamama's, and although I usually get the same thing I challenged myself to try something new. In comes 'Firecracker Chicken'; this is seriously hot, but delicious! We also really enjoyed the Chilli Squid and Duck Gyozas.
002. My last exam is on Wednesday, and I really don't feel prepared for it. Looks like I'll be doing a lot of cramming over the next few days. 
003. This week I felt like trying something new workout wise, so I've been doing a lot of blogilates cardio, dance-y type vids, and even had a go at a belly dance one.. Safe to say I wasn't very good!
004. I just wanted to mention my friend Jenny, who blogs at Penned by Jenny. She's been blogging for 5 months now and writes a really unique and interesting life advice blog. Some of my favourite posts are her blogging tips, and she also provides beautiful free graphics and custom designs. Go and check her out, I'm sure you'll love her!
005. Saving the best news til last - I became an aunty for the second time, to a beautiful (and as yet unnamed) baby girl 

REVISION: 3 PRODUCT FACE

When revision gets intense, you don't always want to bother with a full face of makeup. Winter skin can can be dull and tired looking; combine this with a few stress spots, and you'll most likely feel naked without a little bit of coverage. In comes the 3 product face; it takes less than 3 minutes to apply, lasts throughout the day and gives you just enough coverage to be able to brave the outside world. 

Stila One Step Correct is a serum, primer and colour correcter in one. The green counteracts redness, the lilac balances out sallow undertones and the peach acts as a brightener. I rub this on over my moisturiser and my skin is left smooth and glowing. 

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer is a lightweight, barely there, but just there enough concealer. A few dots of this and a quick blend with a Real Techniques setting brush is all it takes to conceal dark circles or red bumps, I never have to reapply this during the day, and it's much less cake-face-y than it's drugstore dupe. 

Maybelline Baby Lips Electro in Pink Shock is the perfect swipe on, low maintenance lip colour. With a long lasting hit of hydration and pop of colour, this hardly ever needs reapplying. I also like to take a little of this on my fingers and blend it out over my cheekbones, for a subtle flush of colour. 

Do you wear makeup when you're studying, or do you just go barefaced?

RAZORS EDGE ROYAL EXCHANGE REVIEW


Just before Christmas my cousins were coming up to visit and I realised I really needed a haircut. I hadn't been to the hairdressers in six months, my bob had grown out into a mid length mess. I realised that I'd been wearing it up a lot, because it looked so shapeless down. Time for a change.

I'd heard good things about The Razors Edge and with them being the cheapest city centre salon I found, I made an appointment for that afternoon. They're located in the Royal Exchange but also have an older (and slightly cheaper) salon on Oxford Road. 

Upon walking in I was impressed with the large space and inviting feel of the salon. The staff were all warm and friendly. I had a brief consultation with the lady who was going to be cutting my hair, and then headed off to have it washed. My favourite part of a haircut is getting it washed so I was pleased when they talked me through all the products used (kerastase nutritive range) and spent time giving me a good head massage. 

When I headed back to my chair there was a cup of tea ready for me.. My stylist was friendly and instantly made me feel at ease, she cut my hair exactly the way I pictured it, and really knew what products were right for my hair type. The only thing I was a little disappointed by was how my hair felt later on; by the evening my hair was flat and a little greasy and wanted to wash it again, probably just a product overload. However, I was really happy with the style and the price. A wash cut and blow dry comes to £44 but with 25% student discount Mon- Fri and £5 of your first visit when you download the app I only paid £28! 

What salon do you go to in Manchester? Would you try The Razors Edge?

THE SUNDAY POST #2

001. Popcorn is the ultimate revision snack. The only problem is that you will probably have to type one handed because your other hand will be permanently in that bowl.
002. This week I contacted Phil from Pipdig for some help with my blog design. He went out of his way to help me promptly despite being very busy after the holiday period. If you're looking for a new design I couldn't recommend pipdig enough. They have a huge range of reasonably priced blogger and wordpress templates and can also work with you on custom or semi-custom designs. Not to mention their customer service is on point.

003. So apart from a one visit to the library and one trip to the shop, I haven't left the house since Tuesday. Bliss. Well it would be if it didn't feel like study camp. To keep myself from turning into a sloth, I've been doing this Davina fitness DVD which is great as you can combine the different workouts to create something harder. I've also been loving Yoga with Adriene, especially the bedtime yoga to wind down after revision.
004. Don't leave your essays to the last minute people. Just don't!
005. Healthy eating update: I've stuck pretty rigidly to my clean eating meal plan and really gotten back into the habit of drinking hot water with lemon. However, that open box of maltesers and jar of chocolate coins/ Santas really isn't helping things.

5 BLOGS TO WATCH IN 2015

001. Laura from Style and Sushi Laura's outfit posts are consistently chic; she shoots everyday casual but stylish outfits, usually monochrome and featuring sunglasses. Since venturing into more beauty and lifestyle-y posts I can see her blog growing even more this year.

002. Laura from Smile at Style A very recent find (I'm talking past week) but I am hooked on yet another Laura's blog, and the girl herself is lovely! Her outfit posts are fun, usually featuring a statement piece, pops of colour and a huge smile. Go and follow her, you won't regret it!

003. Natalie from Maisie Ivy I head to Natalie's blog whenever I need some photography inspiration. Set against a clean, minimal blog design, her large, crisp shots always standout, whether she be posting a outfit or insta-diary her photograhy is always on point.

004. Natalie from Thunderlove Blogging about a mix of beauty and lifestyle, Natalie's posts are always well written. I love her film and music posts, it's always nice to see a bit of personality behind the blogger and this really comes across in her YouTube channel too. Definitely one to follow this year.

005. Amy from Amy Elizabeth Amy is one of the loveliest people I have met through blogging, and this comes across as she writes. Having only been blogging less than a year she has had some amazing success, such as being shortlisted for the Cosmo Blog Awards. Her beauty posts are great but what I really love are her more personal posts, things like gluten-free recipes and dealing with anxiety and stress.

PERFUME 005 | BOSS NUIT POUR FEMME

"BOSS NUIT pour femme was inspired by the Little Black Dress and what it stands for. Just like the LBD complements every woman, NUIT pour femme is a wonderful compliment to women."

I've been reaching for this perfume a lot on days where I have to do something out of my comfort zone, be that an interview or a blogger event. I don't know what it is but this perfume just makes me feel like I can do anything, it makes me feel grown up, and maybe even a little important. I love the idea behind the fragrance, the idea that it makes you feel as good as an LBD does. With top notes of peach, the initial spritz is a little overpowering for me, but the fragrance then dries down into a heavier sandalwood and jasmine scent, with notes of violet and crystalline moss too. BOSS NUIT is slightly fruity but not overpoweringly so, I think it's a classic fragrance that works well for day or night. 

The packaging is beautiful, very clean and elegant looking. It's great for chucking in your suitcase too as the glass is thick and sturdy. The only disappointing thing is the lasting power, at £50 for 50ml I would hope that I wouldn't have to reapply throughout the day. However, I've really gone off my old perfume, so I repurchased this for Christmas.. I might make it my signature scent, at least for now! Have you tried any Boss perfumes? What did you think?

THE SUNDAY POST #1

001. This week has been a totally non-crazy, sat at home in my pajamas studying kind of week. I haven't been at home for New Years Eve for many years now, but as the first one without Dad I wanted to spend it with Mum. We had some family over to stay, ate some good food and played a lot of monopoly. It was nothing like the past few years spent partying Manchester with my girls, but it was nice to see the family, especially my beautiful nephew, Dilan. 
002. Friends is now on Netflix. Life ruined. 
003. The other day I stumbled across Helen from The Lovecats Inc and fell clean in love with her blog. Expect a clean layout, large, crisp photography and well written posts. Helen blogs about a mix of fashion and beauty, with the occasional recipe thrown in too. Her tips and tricks series for blogging is great too.
004. I'm a bit late to the party but I just bought my first ever bag of Quinoa, and made this one pan Mexican quinoa. I swapped the black beans for a tin of mixed beans and it was delicious, really quick and simple to make, and would taste good cold in a packed lunch. Follow me on Pinterest for more healthy eating ideas.
005. I'm heading back to Manchester on Tuesday.. can't wait!

MY YEAR IN BLOGGING AND RESOLUTIONS FOR 2015

2014 started off really well; my page views and followers were on the rise and I started to get a lot more reader interaction. I celebrated HIW's 1st birthday in April with a beauty giveaway. And then I didn't blog for three whole months. You can read why here. When I got back into the swing of things I found that I wasn't really getting a lot of interaction and some posts were getting no views at all. 
At the same time, I started receiving invites for Manchester based blogger events, which enabled me to meet a lovely new community. So whilst feeling disheartened with my blog's growth (or lack of), I was being reminded at every event why I loved blogging so much. I had started to feel that blogging was a chore, but meeting girls who shared the same interests as me and reading their blogs reminded me that I love to write, to take pictures of products and chat about them all day on twitter. I never again want to feel like creating for my blog is a chore, and I definitely need to set myself some goals to keep me and my blog on track.
Plans and resolutions for 2015:
  • Take more outfit photos | I started my blog to document my personal style and do the occasional review of products I loved. However feeling self conscious in front of the camera, and having no one patient enough to take photos for me just meant that I let ootd's become a rare sight on HIW, something I definitely will change this year
  • Work on blog photography | So far I've only used an iPhone/ point and shoot for my blog photos, but as a very visual person I really want to invest in a bridge camera and up my photography game. If anyone has any recommendations for cameras then please let me know.
  • Scrap 'The Weekly Want' feature | Let's face it was never 'weekly' anyway! Wishlists are my least favourite kind of post to read and to write and honestly, I only kept this feature going because having regular wishlist posts is such a 'typical blogger' thing to do. 
  • Introduce a 'Weekend' or 'Sunday' post | I love lifestyle posts, and whilst I do a monthly roundup I'd love to share what I've been up to on a more regular basis. I'd love to round up my favourite blogs, pins, places to eat, TV shows etc. 
  • Organise a Manchester Bloggers meet up | I've been to some brilliant Manchester blog events recently, and I'd love to have a go at organising my own event. As president of UoM BlogSoc and through tweeting for Manchester Bloggers I've made some great contacts, and it would be great to use these platforms to organise a meet up.

What do you think of my ideas for 2015? Is there anything else you'd love to see more (or less) of on HIW?