THE SUNDAY POST #21 | FIVE THINGS TO DO ON SUNDAY

Hello Giggles
Seeing as I really haven't done anything this week except revise, I thought I'd share with you five things I like to do on a Sunday. 

001. Make a plan for the week. Fill in your diary, plan out your revision and make a huge to-do list. Clean your desk and reply to any emails from last week. Come Monday morning, you'll know exactly what your goals for the week are and be able to get off to a much more productive start

002. Head outside and explore. It's all too easy to let another Sunday pass where all you've done is binge-watch netflix in bed. Whilst those kinda days are necessary once in a while, it's also great to do something. Grab a friend and have a picnic in your local park, hit up a market or car boot sale or have a wander around a new area of town. Now that the weather is getting nicer, there's nothing stopping you from taking your lazy Sunday outside.

003. Meal prep. Have a look around the kitchen, see what needs using up and plan out your meals for the week. You could do a grocery order or head to the shops, but having a list will mean you're less likely to throw in the 3 for 2 jaffa cakes.. I often roast a chicken to use in salads and light lunches during the week. Why not try baking breakfast muffins or making smoothie bags for quick and healthy weekday breakfasts

004. Wash your makeup brushes. This one is self-explanatory, I know it's a chore but it also needs to be done if you want to keep spots and bacteria at bay. Pop on some YouTube, get some baby shampoo or Dr Bronners and get going. Nothing beats fresh brushes on a Monday morning. 

005. Have a Sunday Pamper Sesh. As often as possible, I try and reserve Sunday evenings for running a hot bath, giving my self a deep cleansing facial and painting my nails. There's nothing better than taking a few hours for yourself, pampering yourself and getting yourself ready to take on the week ahead.

What do you like to do on Sunday's?

THE SUNDAY POST #20


001. My highlight of the week was definitely #ThePressTentEvent It was a lovely chance to catch up with a bunch of lovely bloggers, have a few cocktails and discover lots of new brands. I was so impressed with Rock on Ruby's summer collection, Twinface had some beautiful jewellery and I also met the lovely Sejal and Divya, who weren't showing at the event but they were both wearing some beautiful statement necklaces from their brand Fashion Killa.

002. So what did everyone think of the Bad Blood video? I loved it, but it really could have been a lot longer. There were so many amazing people involved and it would have been nice to see them for more than a few seconds at a time. I'm also loving the Feeling Myself video, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce are both absolute queens.. But my favourite music video comes from another queen this week: Rastafarian Targaryen for Comic Relief.. If you're a Game of Thrones fan go and check it out, I guarantee you'll be humming it all week! 

003. I've been compiling a huge list of things to do as soon as exams are over, top of the list is go for brunch. Federal and Moose are two of my favourite places in the city, so I'll be heading back to both of those for pancakes, bacon, eggs, avocado toast and more! I'm also going to have a huge wardrobe and makeup clearout and put a load of stuff on depop.. So watch this space for new and unused beauty items, and a whole bunch of barely worn high street clothes in sizes 10/12/14. 

004. At the moment I'm trying out some new products from the Vitamin C range* at The Body Shop. The moisturiser and glow enhancer are perfect to use in the morning, as they leave skin looking dewy and bright. For me, the scent is overpoweringly fruity, but it is an uplifting scent that some people might love to use in the mornings. Overall I'm enjoying the products though, so expect to see a review soon. 

005. I have two exams this week, so I won't be posting again until the weekend, but why don't you check out my revision posts if you're looking for some tips. After exams I'm hoping to have a bit of a blog switch up, with lots of new posts, an improved layout and more consistent branding. Is there anything you'd like to see more, or less of on HIW?

REVISION: TIDY DESK, TIDY MIND

You know the old saying 'tidy desk, tidy mind', well it really does make a difference to the way you work. Clearing your desk won't automatically make you smarter, but you will work more productively. When everything has a place, it won't take you ten minutes to find a highlighter, and you'll never lose those important forms again. 
I'm not a minimal person; there's no way I'd be able to work on an empty desk like this one, but I do like having all my clutter organised or styled in a certain way. Changing the way your workspace looks doesn't have to cost a penny, or take up the whole day, and it's also a great form of productive procrastination, so let's get going:

001. Clear everything off your desk, clean the surfaces and bin anything you don't need. Go through your things and place everything that you really use everyday back, for example, laptop, textbooks and stationery.

002. Find a place for everything, and organise it in a way that will be easy to maintain. Keep your most used items near your chair on your dominant side. Create a space for incoming mail or current projects. Look around your house, what can you re-purpose to organise your stuff? You could use a pretty mug for pens, or a storage basket for staplers and hole punches. 

003. Add a lamp if the room isn't well lit, and pop a waste paper basket underneath your desk so that you can keep things tidy. A plant, such as my lucky bamboo, gives the space some life and greenery. Cacti and succulents are much easier to maintain than fresh flowers. If you don't love your office chair, try covering it with a throw and adding a cushion for a pop of colour.

004. Now it's time to add some personal touches. I love having an uplifting candle to burn whilst I work, diffusers look great too. Print out some inspirational quotes, feel-good pictures or your revision timetable and stick them on the wall using washi tape. It won't damage the walls at all, so it's perfect if you rent. Maybe you have some awards or certificates, display those or your favourite books and magazines. You can add whatever you like as long it makes you happy and you still leave enough space to work. 
005. Before you go to bed, make a start on the next day's to-do list, tidy all your papers away and set out what you need for tomorrow. Getting into this habit will mean that your desk will always be tidy, and you'll come to it the next day feeling ready to work. This is also a great habit to get into before starting a graduate job, as lots of offices operate strict clean desk policies.

If I wasn't renting on a student budget, I'd have this desk in white, and add in a tall copper lamp such as this one. If you're looking for some more workspace inspiration, check out this Pinterest board. What do you think of my workspace?

THE SUNDAY POST #19

001. How excited is everyone for the Bad Blood music video? I don't normally mention music on here as I don't listen to anything particularly *cool* but the video looks so freaking cool. I love so many of the people that will be starring, especially Ellen Pompeo and Cara Delevingne.

002. I bought an epilator this week after watching this Lily Pebbles video. It arrived the next day and I really wanted to try it out but it only had a two pin plug. Check before you buy one as they are usually made for shaver sockets, and if you don't have one you'll need to buy an adaptor. The epilator I bought was the Braun Silk-Epil 7 and I'll pop up a blog post letting you know how I get on. 

003.  Me and L have kept up with the couch to 5K app, but we've also added in a squat, arm and core challenge. We've had a few days where we've both been feeling really sore, but managed to power through and get a workout in with lots of stretching. Today my back is killing me.. I don't know if I slept funny, hunched over my laptop for too long or if I'm running/ squatting incorrectly? Any tips from you runners out there?

004. Every revision break so far has seen me hit up Pinterest and pin loads of recipes, diys and beauty looks that I'm planning on trying out this summer. I'm loving this pom pom wall hanging and these unusal BBQ ideas. If you're on Pinterest let me know your links as I'd love some more people to follow.

005. Most of this week has been spent at home revising, I see posting people on twitter and facebook about their nights out/ spontaneous shopping trips and I have no idea how they do it. I have to go on serious lockdown otherwise I never get anything done. Good luck to everyone with exams, and lucky you if they're all done by now! I've got a little revision post coming up on Tuesday, and you can check out all my old revision tips posts here.

FIVE STEPS FOR BETTER SLEEP

Sleep doesn't always come easy, particularly for those in a stressful job, studying for exams or looking after children. If you're anything like me, you feel tired during the day and can't wait for bedtime, yet the moment your head hits the pillow you're wide awake. Thoughts of unfinished work, dirty dishes and family problems keeping you from nodding off night after night. Having suffered with insomnia but never wanting to try sleeping pills, I've found five simple methods that have worked for me.
HOW TO SLEEP BETTER
Read a book. I'm currently reading 'The Children Act' by Ian McEwan, one of my favourite authors. If you don't usually read, try flicking through a magazine or a lifestyle book with plenty of good photography. The important thing is to stay away from your phone, TV and laptop for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light they emit can disrupt sleep cycles. 

Invest in your bedroom. If you want to sleep well, invest in good quality bedding and blackout curtains. Even if you're on a budget, you can still find affordable high-end products at places like Homesense and Dunelm Mill. Buy a relaxing candle, some fairy lights and plump cushions that support your spine, and make your bed a place you look forward to resting in.

Get into a routine. It's not always possible, but try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Even if you don't feel tired, getting into bed at ten pm and reading until you fall asleep is more beneficial than watching TV until you knock out on the sofa. Stick to routines that you associate with sleep, such as taking a warm bath, having a glass of milk or massaging in a night cream. 

Use sleepy scents. I like to spritz a little of The Body Shop's Deep Sleep Dreamy Body Mist around my neck, and on to my pyjama top and pillow as I'm getting into bed. It's formulated with date extract, as well as lavender and camomile essential oils to help you sleep. You could also try burning a lavender candle or drinking a cup of strong camomile tea at bedtime. 

Write it down. If you're a worrier like me, it might be helpful to write down whatever's on your mind before bed. Scribble down tomorrows to-do list, or any ideas for blog posts in a notebook and pop it to one side. It's easier said than done, but if you can learn to leave those thoughts in that notebook until tomorrow, you will find it much easier to get to sleep. 
What do you do to help yourself sleep better?

THE SUNDAY POST #18

THE BODY SHOP DROPS OF YOUTH CONCENTRATE
001. I've started using the couch to 5k app this week. It works by alternating jogging with walking; at the moment it's mostly walking but the time you run for increases each week until you can run the full 5k. I've never been much of a runner, and it's clear that although I'm pretty strong, my general fitness and stamina needs a lot of work. I've been getting stitch and shortness of breath but this time I'm determined to keep going, and be able to run for longer than 30 seconds!

002. This week we ordered a Gousto box as I had a half price code. L loved the pork and cabbage stir fry, whilst I didn't really enjoy it. The second meal was a Lebanese dish, Halloumi with rice and puy lentils. Whilst we liked it, there were too many spices and flavours and the taste was overwhelming. Despite looking forward to the lamb curry, neither of us were feeling it last night so we used the ingredients to make lamb kebabs, which were delicious. We have one more meal left to make tonight, hopefully this one will be delicious! It was fun to try out, but it's not worth getting every week. The portion sizes are far too big for two people, and there's no guarantee you'll enjoy the dishes. Even if you're short on time there are healthier meals that can be bought and prepared quickly and cheaply.

003. On Thursday I headed down to The Body Shop in the Arndale to check out some of their new products and meet up with lots of lovely local bloggers. They had some great discounts on the night so I picked up the Drops of Youth Concentrate and a new lipstick in the shade 110. I'm loving the serum already, I've used it the past few nights and my skin looks smooth and much less dull in the mornings.

004. I've been trying to take more pictures in bulk recently. Some days I'm so happy with my photography and I can take pictures for four or five blog posts within an hour. Other days, like today, it just goes awfully wrong. I've been trying to shoot on manual settings a lot more, which can have some great results, but also many overexposed and blurry shots. I'd love it if you shared your DSLR photography tips with me in the comments?

005. Today I have a to-do list as long as my arm. First comes all the boring stuff, cleaning the house, laundry, and emails. If the light improves I'll probably take some blog pictures and then it'll be time to work on my essay. If I can avoid my nemesis, procrastination, I'll have time for a Sunday pamper session later. Fingers crossed. What are you guys all up to today?

#LFBEAUTYBOX: MAY*

When May's #LFBEAUTYBOX landed in my postbox I was really excited to try out all the products, as it's supposed to be one of the best beauty boxes around. In the past I've had Birchbox and Glossybox subscriptions, but ended up cancelling both as I found the brands and products provided to be very same-y, and a lot of the samples ended up unused. The Look Fantastic box is great as you can just order one box at a time, but also order them on a 3, 6 or 9 month plan to save money on each box. Here are the products I received in my May box:
The Tanworx Self-Tanning Lotion isn't a product I'd personally use, but as it's a large 100ml sample it'll be re-homed to one of my tan loving friends. I don't usually wear false eyelashes either, but these Eyelure Pre-Glued Lashes look very natural, and pre-glued lashes are meant to be very simple to apply. Perfect for a newbie like me. 
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is a product I've used before and loved, so I'll be throwing this sample in my travel bag for my holiday. It's a great multi-use oil that softens dry skin and hair, and the light golden shimmer running through it looks great on tanned skin. One use of this Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask has already left my hair feeling sleek and shiny. It doesn't contain any nasties like parabens and colourants, and the key ingredient, prickly pear seed oil, is packed with vitamin E to leave hair feeling soft and repaired. 
I haven't heard of the Erno Laszlo Transphuse before; it's an overnight anti-ageing serum that claims to plump up skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. A tiny sample like this won't make any long term difference, but it's always nice to try a new brand. Similarly, I would have loved a larger sample of the Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm, but it was lovely to use. It contains clay and mud, which are both rich in calcium and magnesium to remove makeup and impurities, and almond oil to hydrate and soften skin. The hard balm melts into a oil to remove every scrap of makeup, and leaves skin feeling clean and smooth. 
If you're looking for a new beauty box I'd definitely recommend this one, you can pick them up from Look Fantastic here

SCENT TO MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD

Scent is one of the most powerful senses, and has the power to change your emotional state. Filling your home with calming and uplifting scents, such as neroli, lemon and geranium, can have a huge effect on your wellbeing. As some of you may know, I've been struggling to cope since my dad passed away, and I've found that little things like trying to keep the house tidy, or lighting my favourite candle can help me get through each day. Freshly washed bedding, a hot, fragrant bath; these are just some of the things we take for granted but they can have an impact on how you go about your day to day life. 
NEOM-ORGANICS-HAPPINESS-CANDLE
So how do you want to feel today? I believe that the key to happiness is a positive state of mind, and in order to achieve this you need to create a positive environment. Surrounding yourself with the right scents can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and grief, and improve your physical and mental health. Here are my top three products to help you do just that:
NEOM Organics Happiness Candle.* This beautiful three wick candle is one of NEOM's 'Treatment Candles' which work to change your mood as they scent the air around you. The 'Happiness' candle made up of white neroli, mimosa and lemon and mixed with fresh grass notes. The smell is so fresh and reminds me of spring evenings; it's hard not to feel positive with this candle around. The candles are all made with pure, natural vegetable wax and natural fragrance, and each one contains 30-40ml of pure essential oils. This means that the scent is very powerful, and can be detected even when the candle is not burning. 
Dr Salts Relax Therapy Bath Salts with Rose. These 100% natural Dead Sea Salts contain pure essential oils, including rose, geranium and frankincense to relax your mind and body. They have a strong scent; to me it evokes the feeling of being in a spa, and so helps put me in a good place mentally. I like to add two handfuls to a hot bath, this really helps ease my stiff back and neck from too much laptop time. The scent lingers throughout a hot bath and after on your skin and in the bathroom, aiding the spa-like feel, and easing stress. 
Caudalie Divine Oil. This multi purpose oil can be used to nourish dry skin and hair, add a bit of luxury to a bath or applied as a massage oil. Made with grape, hibiscus, sesame and argan oils, it works to hydrate the body and absorbs quickly. I love this travel size version as I can use it when I'm away to relax myself. I can't quite put my finger on the scent, it's sweet and woody at the same time, and very uplifting. Now, if only they made a Caudalie candle.

THE SUNDAY POST #17


001. My life right now is a whirlwind of coursework, revision, essay writing and work experience applications. It's hard to believe that after three years this is my final exam season of university, and of course it's harder than ever. This year I've been really proud of myself as I've committed to blogging three times a week, but for now I'm definitely cutting down to focus on my studies. I've also ditched the 'Monthly Roundup' feature as I felt there was no place for it alongside 'The Sunday Post' which you guys seem to enjoy.

002. Artisan is now one of my favourite places for a meal or a few drinks in Manchester. I've only ever heard good things about it, so we decided to try it this week, and safe to say we were not disappointed. The cocktails are fantastic and both me and L loved our dishes (wood fired pizza and pork ribs with kimchee). We've made a mental note to go back for pudding as they do some childhood classics like Arctic roll and jam roly poly with custard. 

003. I finally saw Cinderella, and I thought it was one of the best live-action Disney movies I've seen in a while. Lily James was fantastic, and I loved the romance between her and Robb Stark Richard Madden. Helena Bonham Carter played the fairy Godmother, and she did it so well. I was swept away by the magic and the romance of this film, and when I saw this cute little postcard in paperchase I knew it had to go on my wall to remind me of the fairytale.

004. This week I read Shopaholic to the Stars. I love Sophie Kinsella, she's the ultimate chick lit author and I've followed the Shopaholic series from when I was around ten; I used to borrow the books from my older cousin and imagine that my grown up life would be a world of credit cards, cocktails in London and designer handbags. How wrong was I? This book was laugh out loud funny in parts, and I highly recommend the whole series for some light holiday reading. 

005. I've been struggling to get back into a workout and clean eating routine. When you study for a full day it's so easy to order a takeaway from the comfort of your sofa, rather than spend time whipping up a healthy meal or doing any exercise. I'm thinking of booking in for a few personal training sessions, just to get me back into a more regular workout routine. Has anyone ever tried personal training? How did you find it?