Week In Photos #42

Sunday, 28 April 2013
You've Been Mangoed / Phoenix Rising / Boots freebies
Boots points! / Selfie / Jumping clay butterfly
Cinnamon swirls at work / Dog freaking out in the hail / New laptop

Apologies for my Week In Photos posts being very sparse lately, I seem to have gotten myself into a bit of a photo taking rut lately and I just don't have enough photos to do a post every week.

I've been up to quite a bit recently. I won £200 of Boots points so that has been a major highlight for me over the last few weeks. And when I went to receive them they gave me a lot of freebies so I can't wait to try out all the samples! I've also got an appointment on the 31st of May(the date of my last exam) to get my make up done at No7. It was also a good friend of mine's 18th. She had a house party and it was really good. Normally at house parties at least one of my friends gets too drunk and I spend half the night looking after them but this time everyone seemed to be behaving themselves(at least a little bit!). I've also gone back to school so I'm basically just studying 24/7 until the end of May. Fun! You can also check out all of the Paperbacks And Beauty Facts videos from this week on this playlist, would love to have some comments!

You may have noticed that I've been blogging everyday in April! What have you thought of this? Do you like having a post everyday or would you rather I went back to having a 3/4 posts a week schedule?

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Book Review: Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick is a collection of stories from people that have escaped from North Korea. Demick has focused on one city, Chongjin, an industrial city in the north of the county. It's part fiction but mostly based on the people she interviewed. There are six main 'characters' who are all very different. For example one of the North Koreans used to be a very big believer in the regime and was a model housewife, another was a doctor. I found this to be a particularly interesting read. As North Korea is such a secretive state, it's very hard to find out information about life there apart from stories told by the defectors, I think that was what really drew me to this novel. This won a BBC Samuel Jackson prize for non fiction and I can understand why. I learnt so many interesting things from reading this book. I had always assumed that the people in North Korea knew that their country was a lot different to everyone else's. But in this all of the people said that they were told that North Korea was actually the best off country, whilst they were hungry they believed they were lucky because as far as they were concerned everyone else was starving to death. It was a very interesting insight into the lies of North Korea's governments. I would thoroughly recommend this book, especially if you have an interest in politics or human rights. For me, this has started a fascination with North Korea and I'm now looking at some other books on the same subject.

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Instantprint Business Cards

Saturday, 20 April 2013

I entered a giveaway on Lizzie's blog to win 1000 business cards from Instantprint. I won! I was quite excited and set out to designing my card straight away. I got sent a range of templates, from Photoshop to Microsoft Publisher. This made it really easy to design the card, and I can imagine it would be no matter what operating system you use or what programs you have installed. I wanted mine to look pretty simple so I just used the illustration that Robyn done as my sidebar image and then my links etc. I was also asked whether I wanted a matte or gloss finish and I went with matte. If you are ordering from the website you also have the option of a velvet finish, although I'm not too sure what that will look like.

I sent away my design on the Wednesday night and they came on the Friday, I was very impressed at the speed of the delivery especially as the package was really heavy and the cards needed to be printed etc. The cards come in these great little plastic boxes which I think is a great added extra, say you were going to some sort of event and you wanted to take a whole load, this would stop them getting all scuffed and horrible in your bag. It hadn't actually hit me how many 1000 is until they came. So far I've given them out to friends but the general reaction so far has been "awww these are so cute". I also took these to the event at Zen Lifestyle, they were really handy and everyone thought I was dead posh. The quality of the cards themselves is great. They're quite thick and feel of really great quality. 1000 of these cost £39 which may seem expensive, but my mum has spent over £50 on less business cards for her hair dressing business and they were no where as good quality as these ones. I think these would be a pretty great thing to have if you have a blog, especially if you attend a lot of events. I don't, so I know that these are going to last me for ages. Thank you to Lizzie and Instantprint for these! You can order your own if you wish to here.

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Review: No7 Hot Cloth Cleanser

Monday, 15 April 2013

The first hot cloth cleanser I'd ever heard of was the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, it's a bit of a cult skincare item among the online beauty community. The thing is, my skin isn't all that bad. There are things about my skin that I dislike but overall I have pretty good skin for a teenager. The Liz Earle cleanser sounds really good but at nearly £15 I don't think it would be beneficial enough for me to justify the price. Not long after seeing the Liz Earle one I found this, the No7 alternative. This is £9.50 and I had a voucher, so all in all I spent £4.50 on this. I'm really glad that I got this, it's a really good cleanser.

I have pretty oily skin and this is very moisturising so I use this sparingly, once every three days or so. When I first started using this I found that it kind of broke me out, this annoyed me and I stopped using it completely. Then I read in a review that if you keep going with it then the breakouts will clear up and you'll start to notice it improving your skin instead. So back I went, carried on and what do you know? It worked. To use this you massage some onto your face(which you keep dry) and then leave the muslin cloth that comes with it in hot water. Then you press the cloth to your face and wash off the cleanser in circular motions(I want to say polish it off but that's a bit too punny considering the title of the LE one).  My skin is left absolutely glowing after using this, it makes me look so fresh and healthy, it's also a real saviour when my skin goes through dry spells. This is targeted at 'all skin types' and I can totally see this being true. I have oily skin but when my skin is feeling dry it works really well too. Wonder product! I've heard some complains that the cloth isn't smooth enough but I myself like a little bit of exfolitation and muslin cloths aren't expensive to replace if you don't like the one provided.

I'd fully recommend this cleanser, you can buy this in a Boots store or online here.

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Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Ever since The Hunger Games really took off, young adult dystopian novels have been everywhere. The one that I kept on hearing about again and again is Veronica Roth's Divergent, so when I has a voucher after my birthday I picked it up from Waterstones. When I was buying it the woman on the till said she liked it more than The Hunger Games so I was really excited.

You follow the character Beatrice, or Tris, through her life in a modern dystopian world. The city has been split into five 'factions', where they all have their own rules. Tris is an abnegation. The abnegation faction is kind of the crappy one to be in, they all wear plain clothes, eat boring food, are supposed to always take the stairs so others can use the elevators and are only allowed mirrors when getting hair cuts. There is a ceremony where young members must choose, after doing a quiz, to pick between their own faction and another. Tris chooses another faction and the novel follows her life in the new faction until it is turned upside down when a 'revolution' occurs. I really liked this book, it was well paced and I was able to read it in a few days. It's not an amazing novel but it was a good quick read that captivated me a lot more than I thought it would. I've read quite a few dystopian novels and this one was quite unique, sometimes when I'm reading them I feel like I already know the story but I didn't get that with this. I really love the romance that develops in it, don't want to spoil it too much the guy sounds soooo hot! There is another book in the series and a third on the way, I read the second book in three days. It's even better than this and I am so excited for the release of the third novel.

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Banana Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

Friday, 12 April 2013
I'm a good old fan of banana loaf, there's nothing like the smell of the kitchen when it's cooking. But when I seen this recipe for banana bars on Lovin' From The Oven I knew that I'd have to try it out. These are so tasty, just like a thin banana loaf but with frosting? Who doesn't love frosting?Mean people and the lactose intolerant. To prove just how good they are, my stepdad liked them! He normally avoids my baking because he doesn't trust me to bake(this is coming from the man who left the polystyrene on the bottom of the pizza before cooking it).Lovin' From The Oven is one of my favourite food blogs, would fully recommend that you go check out the blog and try some of the recipes.

Ingredients for base:
1 cup of plain flour
1cup of sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil(I used sunflower oil and it was fine)
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease your pan.
2. Mash the bananas.
3. Mix the oil, egg and sugar in with your bananas.
4. Then stir in the flour, baking soda and powder and the cinnamon. Don't use an electric whisk, just use a wooden spoon as you don't want to over do it.
5. Pour into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Ingedients for frosting:
5 oz cream cheese
2oz softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups of icing sugar 

1. Wait until your bars are cool and then cream the butter and cheese together.
2. Then add the vanilla essence and, bit by bit, the sugar.
3. Spread over the bars, cut up and enjoy.

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Tips For New Bloggers

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I by no means regard myself as some sort of blogging expert. But I have been blogging for over a year now and there are quite a few things that I've learnt of the course of my blog's life that I would have found useful to know when I was just starting off in the blogging world. These are just built on my personal experiences, these are just suggestions, if there's something that you don't agree with then that's fine! I think the most important this is to run your blog how you want it!

Image from WeHeartIt

1. Make your photos as large as you can- I can put the photos on my blog to extra large without them going pixelated and looking bad. You might not be able to and that's fine, you don't need a ridiculously expensive camera to run a blog. But having your photos as big as possible will make it easier to read your blog. When I started making my photos larger, my follower number went up and up!

2. Talk to other bloggers- Quite simple this one really. If you want to get comments on your posts, comment on other blogs. I like to comment on every post I read, you don't have to do this but it is a good way to build up a friendship with another blogger. Also make sure that you have word verification on your comments off. It's the default setting so if you haven't done anything to it then it'll be on, you can change it on the settings section on the blogger dashboard. There are also blogger chats on twitter. Use the #bbloggers hastag 8pm-9pm on a Wednesday and a Sunday. 

3. Network, network, network!- If you want to get more readers on your blog, you've got to take your blog to them. The easiest way to do so is tweet links to your blog posts. There are hastags to help you out here. #bbloggers(beauty bloggers), #lbloggers(lifesyle bloggers) and #fbloggers(fashion bloggers). I'm sure there are more but you get the idea, if you don't want to tweet because your friends follow you then make a separate account just for that. Sign up to sites like BlogLovin' and add your posts to sites like StumbleUpon. Also make sure that your blog can be found using search engines.

4. Write like you speak and be yourself- Most people prefer blogs where they can sense the personality of the writer through the posts. We're on your blog to read your posts and get to know you. Don't get formulaic with your writing, just chill out and type like you would if you were just chatting to your friends. Also keep true to yourself. It can be tempting to change aspects of your blog and it's content to make other people happy but at the end of the day it's your blog. If you aren't 100% happy with doing something, then don't.

5. Don't ask people to follow for follow- This is the most annoying thing ever, it's just rude. Feel free to leave your link at the end of a comment or whatever but don't ask 'maybe we could follow each other?xxxxxxxxxxxx'. This isn't going to help your blog, you want people to be following your blog because they liked it and not because you followed theirs and they feel like they owe you one.

I hope these tips are helpful to some of you! As I've said, these are just guidelines and ideas so don't take anything as concrete. Happy blogging!

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Week In Photos #41

Sunday, 7 April 2013
Snow / Patch / Getting creative / Krispy Kreme
OOTN / Nandos / More snow / Pretty chemicals
OOTD / Mama's pizza / Zen Lifestyle event / Shellac nails

Hello everyone, it's been so long since I last done a week in photos! My apologies. I think the most important thing that has happened since I last updated you is that my mum got me a dog. His name is Sam, he is a 9 month old chocolate labrador! It was a complete surprise, I came home from work and he was just sitting there in my kitchen. It's been a week today since we got him and he's settling in really well. His old owners worked 12 hour shifts and he's definitely enjoying all the walks he's getting here. Also on Thursday I went to an event at the Zen Lifestyle salon on Teviot Place in Edinburgh with Charlotte. It was a great night and I'll write a full post on it later. I've also been blogging everyday in April, did you notice? Oh and we started a YouTube channel, check it out here!

What have you been up to recently?

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Review: Soap and Glory Hand Food

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Hello everyone. Next up for review on my little blog is Soap and Glory's Hand Food. I've never been much of a hand cream person. I always found that they made my hands really greasy and I didn't feel that my hands really needed moisturising either. But I started working in an aquarium this summer, and as any of you who work around water will know, this seriously dried out my hands. I picked this up in the hope that it would help me out. This has Soap and Glory's signature 'pink smell', I can't really describe this but if you're a Soap and Glory fan then you'll know what I'm talking about. At first I found that this was able to moisturise my hands well enough, sunk in without feeling greasy and the smell stayed on my hands for ages. I would apply this when I left the house in the morning and providing I didn't go to the toilet and wash my hands I could still smell it from my hands during third period classes. But seven months on, the aquarium water is still beating up my hands. It's gotten to the point where they are permanently wrinkled and sometimes they get so dry that they crack and sometimes bleed(this is really gross, sorry). Now I find that if I use this then I need to reapply it within four hours or so. I still think that this is a good hand cream, but if you need something that's a little more heavy duty then this isn't the product for you.

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Book Review: Wonder by R J Palacio

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

I received this book as a present for my birthday from my friend Rachel(thank you Rachel!) and I'm so glad I did, this isn't a book that I would usually pick out for myself but I absolutely loved it. Wonder is a young adult fiction book about a boy called August from New York who was born with severe facial deformities. You follow August, members of his family and his friends as he attends school for the first time after being home schooled for his whole life. As you can expect, starting school isn't exactly easy for him. He gets picked on a lot, some parts of this literally had me sitting going 'hit him Auggie, oh please just get one good punch in'. But this book also goes into the positives of his life, August is a really lovable kid. He has so much compassion in him and I found myself getting so attached. I really enjoyed reading this book and getting to see how he progressed through out it. I don't want to give away any spoilers but I'm really happy with how this book ended. I definitely think this book is aimed at younger readers but a swift look on Goodreads shows that a lot of adults have read it too any really enjoyed it so I guess this is just ones of those 'for everyone' books. Also if you would like to add me as a friend on Goodreads, you can click here for my account.

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