Friday, 31 July 2015

July Reading Wrap Up

Hello everyone. I started July feeling really motivated to read as many books as possible this month. I didn't read as many as I would have liked to but I still read 8 books this month which is the most I've read any month this year. So overall a success. If you have a look at last July's reading wrap up I read 20 books! I definitely do not have the time or dedication to do that any more. August is the last whole month of the summer for reading so I really must get on it. My TBR pile currently consists of 10 books and I have another book in the post. This month also features the BookTube-A-Thon readathon which is normally when I get a lot of my summer reading done. If you want to find out more about the readathon then here is the Twitter account for it!

Life With A Sprinkle of Glitter by Louise Pentland - Oh no, 'another YouTuber book' you say. Well actually, this one is pretty decent. This book is set out like a little guide and there are a ton of chapters on different things like friendship, travel, crafting etc. Louise actually started out as a blogger and I've read her blog for a very long time so I feel pretty confident saying that she wrote this herself, no ghost writers involved. This book is actually quite short as it contains a lot of pictures which is kind of dissappointing. It did feel like I was just reading a collection of blog posts. That being said I still did enjoy reading it and can see myself reading through it from time to time. I gave this one 3/5 stars, it was good but didn't blow me away. If you want to read my full review of this book then you can do so here

The Periodic Table by Paul Parsons and Gail Dixon - If you've read my blog for a while then you will know that I am a total chemistry geek. So how could I not love a book that gives an in depth analysis of the periodic table? This book gives an element by element run down of the periodic table along with absolutely stunning pictures. It has quite a nice, chatty writing style which is quite nice when reading non fiction. I have to admit I think I would have gotten bored if this book was just fact after fact after fact. The sort of information it gives are things like when and where an element was discovered, who discovered it, where does the name come from, is it toxic to humans, what are its uses etc. I found this book totally fascinating and gave it 5/5 stars. I would totally recommend this book to any chemistry/science fans. I'm sure you'd love it just as much as I do. 

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison* - AHHHH. THIS BOOK! Ok if you've read my Wee Reviews post then you'll know that I absolutely loved this book. It's a pretty soppy YA romance novel so if that isn't your thing then be warned. Personally I love a good mushy YA novel every now and then so this book just came to me at the perfect moment. I read it in a day. This book is about two teenagers who meet at a part before they start university. They are both really stressed out as they don't think they've made the grades to get into the unis they want to go to. I feel like this book totally captures that restless summer feeling you get when you get fed up with the summer and want to get back into being productive and studying again. Just me? Obviously not. This book does contain some adult content as virginity is quite a big topic here. So this book probably isn't the best one to read if you're younger or just really easily offended. But I loved it and rated it 5/5 stars. 

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald - This is an absolutely beautifully written book. A young boy goes missing and everyone is presuming he is dead apart from his best friend and his younger brother. So the friend and the brother go on a mission to find him. The writing style is very beautiful. This is kind of like the children's version of The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared. So if you enjoyed that book then I would definitely recommend this one. I think this book is aimed at younger teenagers but as an 18 year old I have no shame in admitting that I absolutely loved this book! I gave it 4/5 stars as it was a bit too short for my liking. I don't want to talk about this too much in case I ruin it but I still really recommend it!

Paperweight by Meg Haston* - This book is about a girl who wakes up and realises that her family have sent her to a rehabilitation programme for people with eating disorders. She is also struggling with a drinking problem as well. I really enjoy books set in this sort of setting, as bad as that sounds, as I find things like that really interested. Stevie's brother had died a wee while before she was admitted and she blames herself for it and so this book also has an element of dealing with grief. This wasn't an easy read but it was quite a quick read. I found it to be really fast paced but that did not sacrifice character or plot development. I gave this one 5/5 stars and would recommend it(although maybe not if you have an eating disorder). Meg Haston is definitely an author I want to see more from. 

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill - This was the book of the month for the #sassybooks book club that I run with Charlotte from Colours and Carousels. If you haven't already seen my blog post about this book then you can read that here. This is a really dark novel set in a world where women are created by men and raised to be good companions or concubines. The novel is set through the eyes of Freida, who is one of the girls in her final year of school. It explores what happens when women are seen as objects and how it effects them mentally. The girls in the school all compete with each other to be the prettiest and the skinniest and that is also really hard to read about. I couldn't really find the words that I wanted to say whilst reviewing this book as it is so unlike anything else I've ever read before. I would definitely recommend this book and I gave it 5/5 stars but I would be cautious as it is very dark and could be potentially triggering. 

Motherland by Jo McMillan* - This is about a young girl whose mother is a communist. Her mother gets the opportunity to go and teach in East Germany and this book switches between their life in England and their life in the German Democratic Republic. I wanted to like this book so much. And I tried so hard to like it. But it was really, really boring and the characters were all really, really annoying. I wanted to slap this child's mother so many times whilst reading this book! I lost interest at around page 80 and finished it because I felt obligated to finish it. I'm not saying that this book is bad and that you shouldn't read it but I just didn't enjoy it at all. Definitely not for me. 1/5 stars. 

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - This one is about a girl who writes love letters to boys she has a crush on but never sends them. One day she comes home to find that her dad has donated the box she kept them in to a charity shop and someone has sent all the letters out. So this book is about how she deals with the aftermath of that! That definitely isn't something I would ever want happening to me! I enjoyed this book as it was a nice and easy read but there are a few things that annoyed me about it. Can we just take a moment to talk about how it's not ok for high school and college age characters to still call their dad 'daddy'. It just seemed so weird and misplaced and gave me the boke every time I read it(that's Scottish slang for; it made me want to puke). And the main character seemed really naive and soppy at times. And whilst it does get a bit boring with that leading trend at the moment where female YA characters are always brutal, strong and fearless, it's not nice to read about the other extreme either. This book was ok and I don't regret reading it but it didn't blow me a way. I probably will still pick up the sequel on Kindle though! I gave this one 3/5 stars. 

What is your favourite book that you've read this month?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Thursday, 30 July 2015

My Top 5 Cruelty Free Brands

It's been over a year since I stopped using make up and beauty products that are tested on animals. And I have to admit that it's been really hard. When you look into it, almost all brands are associated with animal testing in some way. And brands that claim they are cruelty free are constantly being 'outed'. Like for example, when I first went CF Bourjois were considered to be a cruelty free brand but it has since been discovered that they actually sell in China and cannot be considered so. With things constantly changing it can be hard to keep on top of knowing who to trust and who not to trust. I'm beginning to settle down now and I feel a lot more confident about who to buy from. I've discovered that I have some firm favourites that I keep going back to for products. So I thought it would be good to showcase my favourite cruelty free brands. Going cruelty free can feel restrictive at times so it's been good to remind myself of how many great products are still available to me.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Calton Hill At Sunset

On Thursday I got the train through to Edinburgh after work. Last week me and my friends from university made the impromptu decision to all meet up in Edinburgh again. I hadn't seen any of them since we moved out of  our university halls in May and I've missed them a lot. I wasn't a very socially confident person in high school and I never had a ton of friends. After starting university I really came into my own and I now have a really great group of friends. We've even booked a holiday to Switzerland at the start of September. Because we all live in different parts of the UK I wasn't expecting to see them until our trip. It's been about three weeks since my break up and whilst I don't regret my decision I still have been feeling kind of down and like I really needed my friends. So this meet up could not have come at a better time for me. 

We arrived in Edinburgh just before 4 o'clock and went sight seeing to one of our favourite places in Edinburgh: the Nicholson Street Lidl. The heart and soul of all student cooking. Like seriously. We went straight there from the train station so that I could buy soap for the bathroom in my new flat. Then we went onto Tesco for booze and went to see another one of my friend's new flat and then went back to mine(which has wifi!) where we ordered Chinese food. To be honest it wasn't the best Chinese food I've ever had which was pretty disappointing seeing as I've ordered from that one before and it was lovely! But Chinese food is Chinese food and we still had a nice dinner. We had bought some ciders so we decided to take these and climb Calton Hill which is a small hill just at the East end of Princes Street. It's not too tall and you can get a good view of the city from the top. I haven't climbed it in about 4 years and I had forgotten just how beautiful the view was. We went up just as the sun was setting and I'm so glad that I had brought my camera with me so that I could capture it.

I'm not going to lie, I've not been having the best summer. In fact, I never really have good summers. There seems to be this big pressure that everyone in the summer is having an amazing time. The reality of it is that I enjoy the first few weeks and then in all honesty I get bored. Structure is something that I cope well with and I much prefer being at uni and knowing what I'm doing each day, even if I do have less free time. I've been working full time this summer so it hasn't been as bad but recently I have found myself slipping into those summer time blues. But, sitting on top of that hill with my friends I felt really, really happy. Tipsy. But happy. And I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The last year has been hard but when I look back at where I was last year, I wouldn't change it for the world. I've lost friends that needed losing but met so many amazing people. I've also ended a relationship that I wasn't happy in any more, it was a hard decision but I don't regret it. Sometimes you just need a night with your friends to put everything into perspective.

So here's to the bloody summer. Here's to friendship. Here's to ciders on Calton Hill. Here's to being a lightweight. Here's to tipsy train rides home. Here's to forgetting it was Thursday night and here's to wishing for September.

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sassy Books: Only Ever Yours

A big hello to all the sassy readers out there. It's that time of the month again where we are are all reviewing the #sassybooks book of the month. This month's book was Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neil which was a dark but interesting read. Last month we read I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson which was beautifully written but didn't quite cut it for me. This month was the total opposite as this book totally blew me away I was totally hooked and I couldn't stop thinking about it. So today's post will be a review of Only Ever Yours and we will be announcing August's book at the end of the post. I can't believe the summer has gone so quickly! Remember that this book club is cohosted by myself and Charlotte from Colours and Carousels so be sure to head on over to her awesome blog to check out her post as well. 

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year. But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.
Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

I've only heard good things about this book so I was expecting it to be a good read even if it would be a little difficult at times because of the subject. The story is told by Freida who is one of the higher rates 'eves' as she starts her final year of school. At the end of the school year the boys of the zone will be selecting their companions. Everyone wants to be a companion but there are 30 eves and 10 boys. So what we have is a very fierce competition to be on top. Freida thinks she has everything sorted but as her ranking starts to drop she will do everything she can to climb back up. Another notable thing is that in the book all of the female character's names don't start with capital letters whilst the male character's names are capitalised. It's done to show that the eves have less worth than the men. Also the eves are all named after famous models, it took me a long time to realise this!

This book was really, really dark at times. The girls are taught that being skinny is everything, that they should always be willing to pleasure their husbands and that they should be ashamed of menstruation. What was so terrifying is that these ideals are just the over exaggerated social norms of today. For example they are taught that people are fat because they are lazy and that's quite a common opinion in the western world at the moment. They also are taught to heavily criticise other women and they even have classes on this! Personally I thought that book contained a lot of adult content for what is considered to be a young adult novel. I would definitely recommend this for older/more mature teenagers as it is very harsh at times. It also contains content that could be quite triggering in a lot of different ways, so bear that in mind before reading this book!

In the end I gave 5/5 stars to Only Ever Yours and I think it's the best book I've read all year. It proposes some really interesting questions. I also liked that not everything worked out in the end, it left us questioning so much and left my mind racing all night. Here are some more reviews written by other bloggers participating in #sassybooks: Shy Strange Manic, Bethan Likes, Pixie Bebe, Life In Ginger, This Northern Gal, Momentarily Dreaming.

And next month's book? All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This book is set during the second world war which I personally love reading about in books. It follows a young French girl who is blind and a young German boy who is getting promoted up the ranks of the Hitler Young due to his engineering skills. This is an adult fiction novel that's working it's way up the charts at the moment. I've heard lots of good things about it from other book bloggers and booktubers. So I have high hopes for this novel! And seeing as the last two books were YA it seems like a good idea to try out some adult fiction. You can buy the book from Amazon here but I also noticed that it's on buy one get half price in Waterstones.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the book club this month, I hope you enjoyed reading the book. I would love to encourage as many of you as possible to participate this month. If you want to join in all you have to do is read the book and write a review. We post our reviews on the last Tuesday of the month so if you send me a link to your blog post before then I can include the link in my wrap up!

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Monday, 27 July 2015

Outfit Of The Day, Literally

Shirt - Primark // Jeans - Next // Necklace & Shoes - Topshop // Bag - ASOS // Nails - Barry M 

Hello everyone! Another week, another OOTD! I managed to persuade my sister into taking a bunch of OOTD photos for me all in one go which means I'm extra prepared for the next few weeks. They're all outfits I actually wear but taking the photos in bulk means that I'm an extra organised blogger for the next wee while, and I haven't been feeling like that a lot lately! I saw this top when I was in the Glasgow Primark when I went to meet up with Charlotte last month. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to buy it! It was £6 which seems a bit expensive for a Primark top but then also seems like a real bargain compared to the price you'd pay in Topshop for something like this! It is such a blogger top! I have one of the 'I'm kind of a big deal on my blog' shirts from Next as well so I seem to be building up a collection of blogging related clothing. NO COMPLAINTS.

So what have I been up to since I last did a chatty post? On Thursday I went through to Edinburgh and met up with some of my friends from uni. It was one of my favourite days from the summer so far and we had such a lovely time. We got Chinese food, had some drinks and then climbed Calton Hill for sunset and cider. I took some lovely photos on Calton Hill so I'll publish a full post on that later in the week. We had some good laughs and it was exactly what I needed. And on friday night I went bowling with some people from work. I haven't gone bowling in ages. Still really bad at it! But it was good fun and a laugh! I mentioned in my OOTD last week that my gran had had an opertaion. She is recovering well and has been moved out of the high dependancy unit and into a regular ward. This means that I can finally go and see her which is nice. Its still hard to see her in the hospital but it's good to know that she's in good hands and on the mend. I don't have many plans for this week but I'm seeing my dad tonight and I'm planning on making some plans for the weekend too!

Hope you are all having a great week! What do you think of my blogging tee?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Student Sundays: What To Pack For University

Hello everyone! Today's Student Sunday post is a guide to packing for university. I spent a load of time reading lists like this before going to university and they were so handy. They help highlight the things you may have forgotten about or the things that you think you need but you really don't. You should write your own list so that you have a clear idea of exactly what you will need and then if you see any great deals on anything you need you can catch yourself a bargain. I would recommend waiting until around mid August before you start properly buying things though as this is when a lot of stores bring out sections specifically for students!


Bedding: Duvet, pillows, fitted sheets, duvet set, a mattress protector and maybe a blanket too. I would recommend getting two sets of bed sheets so that you have one set that you can put on whilst you wash the other set. I would really recommend Primark, Wilkos, ASDA and IKEA for sheets. I've bought from all of those places before and the sheets are nice quality whilst not being overly expensive. 

Practical items: Alarm clock, waste bin(may be already included so best to check), a washing basket, a hair dryer and brush, a small mirror, a calendar or some form of academic diary, an extension lead(the longer the better normally), clothes hangers, an umbrella, plasters, batteries, paracetamol and any prescription medications you will need. I brought a bin with me to university thinking one wasn't included in my room when it actually was. I quite liked having two as it meant that I could use one for general waste and one for recycling. When bringing clothes think about what the weather will be like in the city you are moving to and if you will need any special clothes for sports etc. Make sure that you bring some really comfy shoes as you will probably be doing a lot of walking.

Personal items: photos and posters to decorate with, any make up or hair products you use, sanitary products, condoms(even if you don't think you'll need them), nail polish and remover, air freshner and any ornaments/trinkets you have in your room at home. Most university accomodations have a pin board so I would bring some drawing pins so that you can stick up things to help decorate the room. Most accomodations ban the use of candles but a reed diffuser or something similar can help your room smell a bit nicer, my accommodation smelt a bit stale when we first moved in but was alright after a few days.


General: larger plates, smaller plates, bowls, cups, pint glasses, mugs, spoons, knives, forks and teaspoons(teaspoons will go missing so bring a lot), at least one sharp knife, scissors, chopping boards, can opener/bottle opener, wooden spoon, spatula, pots, pans, a baking tray/dish, oven glove, colander/sieve, tongs, cheese grater, vegetable peeler, freezer bags, tupperware, tin foil, cling film, bag clips, washing up liquid, scourer sponges and tea towels.

Food: pasta, rice, noodles, tinned tomatoes, pasta/sitrfry sauces, seasonings, salt, pepper, stock cubes, tea/coffee/hot chocolate, snacks etc. I would recommend brining some dried or tinned food alongside you and then going and doing a big food shop after you've moved in and can properly assess the storage that you have. In your first food shop I would really recommend stocking up on fresh fruit and veg, bread/rolls that you can freeze, meats and things for breakfasts and lunches. Things like fajitas kits are also great.


Shower: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, a shower puff/loofah, shaving gel, razor(s), any body scrubs/body butters you normally use and face wash. I brought a little caddy style thing with me so that I could take all my stuff out the shower and back to my room with me but I actually never used it!

Sink: Toothbrush, toothpaste and hand soap. I would recommend buying liquid soap as a bar of soap will get quite messy and require cleaning!

General: Bath towels, hand towels, face cloths and a bath mat if you think you'll need one. I would recommend having at least two of each type of towel so that you have one to use whilst you wash the others. I would also recommend bringing lots of toilet roll with you so that you have some to last you for a while before you and your flatmates sort that sort of stuff out for yourself. And remember to bring some things to clean your bath room with. Some wipes or sprays will be enough!


First of all I would really recommend stocking up on the large refillable notepads if you see any on offer. I arrived at university with one 250 page pukka pad and finished it in three weeks! Generally you will need all the things you needed in school for studying: pens. highlighers, folders, a hole punch, stapler, extra staples, post it notes etc.  If you are interested in getting a job whilst at university you should probably bring a few copies of your CV as well.

I had considered buying a printer before going to university but didn't and got by ok. There were times that I really could have done with a printer seeing as my flat was a 20 minute walk from the library and it's not fun to make the walk there and back in the rain for a two page lab report. I would think a lot about what sort of degree you are doing and how much printing that will require before making the decision on whether to buy a printer or not and what sort of printer you should buy. 


Fairy lights! These are by no means an essential item but they can really help brighten up a room. You probably don't have to pay electricity bills in your first year so you can buy ones with a plug and not really worry about it. I bought battery operated fairy lights from Sainsbury's and the batteries that came with them have lasted the whole year.

Mattress topper. I bought a memory foam mattress topper from Aldi for about £20 and it was the best investment ever. It made the bed in my halls so comfy. Many a nap was had on that bed. I'm hoping that they bring them back this year as I would love a double one for my second year flat.

Cook books. In all honesty I haven't used these as much as I had hoped to but I was already a pretty competent cook before leaving home anyway. I still like having them and would recommend that every student has at least one. If you don't fancy buying one then it might be nice to buy a plain notepad and ask members of your family/friends to add their favourite recipe to it.

Under bed storage bins. Another great Aldi find. 3 under bed storage containers for £10. Bargain if you ask me. You probably don't need these but they can be very handy  and a good way to keep everything organised. You can also double them up as boxes for when you are packing. Then they stack easily in the boot of your car. 

A blender. Soup is one of my favourite things to eat so having a small hand blender was really handy(see what I did there). Mine was the Sainsbury's basics one and it is actually really good and easy to clean. I can make a big batch of soup up and freeze it and it's perfect to just take out the freezer and defrost if I need an easy meal. I never normally make smoothies or anything but this style of blender can also make those!

So that's my list of things to take with you when moving out for university. Obviously this post is aimed at people who will be driving to university! If you are an international student it's probably best to pack the essentials in your suitcase and just buy everything else upon arrival! I hope this list was helpful and if you have anything else to add to it then leave a comment below!

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Saturday, 25 July 2015

2000 Follower Giveaway

Hello everyone! I recently hit the big 2000 followers on BlogLovin which was a totally amazing feeling. I've been blogging for about three and a half years now and it's always nice to hit those milestones. It's easy to get demotivated with blogging but hitting follower milestones is definitely a great reminder of why I still blog. I knew that I wanted to do a giveaway for this but I was kind of unsure what to pick. I thought about books, make up, stationery etc but I've decided that I'm actually going to give away one of my elephants in a colour of the winner's choice. It may not seem like much but these elephants take me about 6 hour to make and I put a lot of effort, skill and love into each one. I usually sell these on my

I also have a few different types of fabrics that you can choose for the ears. I have a few florals, polka dots in lots of colours and a range of prints in baby blue. There's also plain white or you can opt for plain ears without any fabric at all. I will customise the elephant to whatever the winner wants(within reason)!  Whenever I post photos of these on Instagram people always go nuts for them so I'm hoping that this is something that you will all be interested in! You can read my original blog post about them here. That's pretty much all I want to say apart from thanks for following my blog and supporting me and good luck!


UK & Ireland only - sorry but international postage is expensive!
You must follow my blog via BlogLovin' and my Instagram. These are the only mandatory entries.
If you win but do not reply to my email within a week I will select another winner.
You can only pick one colour for the elephant(ie I  can't do stripes or anything).
This giveaway will run for 10 days.
Please use your actual account to enter. Entries from accounts designed specifically for entering competitions will not be counted.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Friday, 24 July 2015

What I've Learnt From Blogging

Recently I hit 2000 followers. Which was a really weird feeling. When I started this blog three and a half years ago I didn't think anyone would read it. Never mind 2000 people. It may not seem like a lot when some bloggers have hundreds of thousands of followers but to me it seems insane. When I picture 2000 people all standing together in one room it seems like an awful lot of people. Blogging is my main hobby and I love it. Some times it's hard to explain to people and not everyone will understand why I spend so much time doing this but I love it and do it anyway. When I look back over the last three years I have came so far. I've been to all sorts of cool events, met amazing people, been sent some awesome PR samples and best of all get so much support and so many comments from the lovely people who follow my blog. Whilst it's been difficult at times and I've considered throwing in the towel, I haven't just yet and I am so happy with my progress. Tomorrow as an extra special thank you I will be launching by 2000 followers giveaway and I think you will all love the prize. So be sure to come back tomorrow at 10am.

You can make the best friends blogging - I have met soooooo many amazing people through blogging. It's weird to think back to my first blogging event where I was so worried about going and speaking to other bloggers at the event. I can't even remember the last time that I went to a blogging event where I didn't know anyone there. The Edinburgh/Glasgow blogging communities are so amazing and I love getting the chance to hang out with such an amazing bunch of ladies. I've also got a lot of blogging friends that I've never met but chat to a lot. This year I got to meet both Beth from Alphabeth and Jess from Gingerly Pale as they both visited Edinburgh. Nothing is confirmed yet but I've been looking at flights to go and visit Beth as she is working in Spain this year!

Blogging is not always easy and it takes a lot more time than you would think - I have a few IRL friends that have tried to start their own blogs. And none of them have stuck with it. Do you know why? It's a lot of work. I think a lot of people see my blog now and assume that its always been this way. I'm lucky to have quite a high following and get sent lots of amazing PR samples etc. But the reality is that I was blogging for over a year before anyone ever offered me any 'freebies' and I probably spend a minimum of about 15 hours a week working on my blog. It is in itself a part time job. In fact, keeping on top of my inbox is hassle enough. I don't want to seem like I'm complaining because I do love it and I wouldn't do it otherwise but I think some people think that blogging is really quick and easy and fun.

There is no snowball effect - For some reason I thought that there would be a snowball effect with blogging. I thought that when I hit a certain number of followers that my blog would suddenly start to grow much more and that I would have to put a lot less effort into promoting my blog as people would find it on their own etc. I could not have been more wrong! I thought that it would happen when I hit 1000 followers which is actually laughable. If this number exists then I still haven't hit it. I've actually found that the bigger my blog has gotten the more I have to promote it to gain new followers etc as you have to constantly push to increase the audience you're reaching. It's still worth all the work though!

Generally, people who complain about blogging drama, attract the blogging drama - I've been blogging for 3 and a half years and I've gotten into an arguement with a blogger on Twitter once. And you know what? I don't regret it because she was being homophobic and I can't ignore it. I've seen a lot of blogging drama in my days(jeez I sound old) from Twitter spats to the big Guru Gossip fiasco. And even more now I see a lot of people moaning during the Twitter chats. I know it sounds harsh but after a while you begin to notice that it's the people who complain constantly about drama that attract it to themselves. If you want to start a blog but are put off because of the 'catty' element to it then I wouldn't worry at all because the best way to avoid blogger drama is to stop starting it! Yes sometimes other bloggers aren't very nice or do things that annoy me but I keep my thoughts to myself and I get on just fine.

People won't always understand what my blog's about or why I blog. But that's ok! - When people I know in real life find out about my blog they normally have a ton of questions. Mainly what is your blog about and why do you blog? And to be honest I find it really difficult to answer these questions, especially when the person that I'm talking to doesn't really understand how blogs work or just how big the UK's blogging community actually is. I've never had anyone say anything particularily nasty about my blog but sometimes it's obvious that people find it a bit weird. And that's ok! Everyone has their hobbies. Like for example, I have no idea what compels people to watch football matches because I find it really boring but I would never try and tell someone who loves football that their hobby is invalid. Everyone enjoys different things and it's ok to have hobbies that aren't as common.

How long have you been following my blog for? And what have you learnt from blogging if you write a blog yourself?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Library of Fragrance

Hello everyone! Just a little note from Hayley to introduce my guest blogger. The lovely Heather from Of Beauty And Nothingness has ever so kindly written me a guest post. I haven't shared a guest post on my blog in what seems like the longest time but it feels really good to get back into that. If you would be interested in seeing more guest posts then please let me know. Heather is blogging about some amazing fragrances from The Library of Fragrance. 

The Library of Fragrance has quickly become one of my favourite current brands for unique, inexpensive fragrances. I have the Mountain Air, Four Leaf Clover, Dark Chocolate, Lavender and Fireplace fragrances as full sizes and I love them all. I recently used up the Lavender cologne and I need to buy another! I completed the Boots Fragrance survey a couple of months ago and as a thank you I was sent two 15ml Library of Fragrance colognes.

First up I have the *The Library of Fragrance Baby Powder Cologne (15ml) which was listed in the Boots fragrance survey as one of the nominations for best female fragrance. The cologne smells heavenly, like sweet talc/baby powder which I personally love as it smells so clean and fresh to me. I've been using it as a linen spray (as you will know if you read my April beauty favourites post as this fragrance was included, here) and after I exercise as it makes me so cleaner and fresher, if that makes sense! It can become a little cloying if I use it too much but overall I love it and for some reason the longevity of these mini colognes is much better than the full size bottles.

The second fragrance is the *The Library of Fragrance Thunderstorm Cologne (15ml) which was listed in the Boots fragrance survey as one of the nominations for best male fragrance but I personally think it is a very unisex scent. I have been reaching for this fragrance more over the past couple of weeks rather than the baby powder scent. It is so fresh, clean and spring like; it smells like freshly cut grass and rain - basically an english summer! Again as with the baby powder cologne, this one is so long lasting.

Overall, I adore both fragrances, especially these perfect handbag/travel sizes. I think they should definitely make these smaller sizes within the full range! Both are fantastic not only as fragrances but also linen sprays. I would recommend both although the longevity may not be as good with the full size bottle. Colognes aren't the most long lasting fragrance format which is something to consider when purchasing; however the price is so reasonable.

Have you tried any colognes from The Library of Fragrance, if so which are your faves? What are your favourite fragrances for summer?


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Getting Nakd

Eating healthy is something that I'm sure we are all striving to do more of. I used to be a really picky eater but I am trying my hardest to change that! Generally I'm really good with fruit(can't think of any that I don't like) but have a big a downfall with vegetables. This summer I've been trying to try more vegetables and forcing myself to eat them even if they aren't my favourite. So far I've discovered that I actually really love aubergine and courgette! And I've always known that I liked sweet potato but have been eating it a lot more recently. But despite all this I'm always looking for more ways that I can sneak more of my five a day into my diet. Thankfully Natural Balance Foods have came to the rescue with their healthy cereal bars*. These bars from Nakd all contain one of your five a day. They're all made entirely of fruit, nuts and some of them contain natural flavourings. They're really tasty and taste exactly like they say they do!

They very kindly send me a mixed box of Nakd bars which meant that I got to try out so many amazing flavours. I had tried a few before but my local store only stocks about 4 flavours so I really went to down on these! The flavours included in this box are: pecan pie, cashew cookie, cocoa orange, cocoa delight, ginger bread, bakewell tart, berry delight, rhubarb and custard, cocoa mint and caffe mocha. I was already a big fan of the cocoa orange and ginger bread flavours. They taste exactly like a chocolate orange and gingerbread. It's completely mind boggling that they're pretty much entirely made of fruits and nuts! I also really discovered a love for the pecan pie flavour which I wasn't actually expecting to like! I wasn't overly keen on cashew cookie or caffe mocha but seeing as I don't like cashews or coffee that's not exactly a massive surprise!

These bars are all gluten, wheat and dairy free meaning that they're a great alternative to chocolate bars/snacks if you have allergies. I'm slightly lactose intolerant but I can still some dairy just not a lot! They are also vegan/vegetarian which is great. So when you eat these you feel like you are doing something good for yourself and for the animals! Yay. Obviously as these contain mostly fruit they are quite high in sugar but it's natural sugar so is a lot better for you than the processed sugars you will find in your standard cereal bar. These are great for popping in my bag before I go to work. Normally by the time my break comes around I'm quite hungry. A Nakd bar will give me the energy boost that I'm needing without making me feel bloated or icky like some foods do. The only thing that put me off buying these bars more often was the price but Natural Balance Foods sell this mixed box of 18 for £14.99 with free UK delivery is pretty great. I think the bars are normally about a pound each if you buy them individually!

Have you ever tried a Nakd bar? If so what do you think?

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

An Honest OOTD

Shirt & Jeans - Topshop // Bag - Accessorize // Shoes - Schuh // Watch - Olivia Burton // Nails - Barry M Papaya

When I share outfits on my blog they tend to be ones that I'm really happy with. Ones that I want to show off. And that's ok, its ok to feel nice in an outfit and want people to see it. But I don't dress like that all the time. More often than not I just find myself throwing on jeans and a t shirt. And that's also another side to me. This is what I'll wear for lectures, labs, lazy days around the house, when I visit my dad/grandparents etc. I used to be really into wearing dresses almost every day but I just don't feel like that's me anymore. I feel really comfortable with my friends from uni and I think its really helped me feel more confident about myself. I don't feel like I need to be dressed really nicely around them all the time. Heck when we're hanging out I could show up in my pyjamas and a lab coat and it would be congratulated. So here is an honest outfit of the day. Nerding out in my NASA shirt and my wrinkly old Joni jeans. And the pigtails? I sleep in them because it stops my hair form getting as tuggy. If I'm having a lazy day then generally I'll keep them in for the next day too. Yes, I look like a bit of an idiot. No, I don't care. 

So a little bit of an update on what I've been up to recently. My gran had her big operation yesterday which was a big relief for my family as she has been waiting for it since January. I'm not allowed to go and see her just yet because of hospital regulations and stuff but I can't wait to go and see her when she is moved wards. Very stressful but we are just glad that it's over! But I do have some good news. I've been struggling to deal with my recent break up. I don't regret it but it has still been very hard for me. And it's been making me really miss my friends from uni. So I am very glad to say that I'm meeting up with them in Edinburgh on Thursday. I'm getting the train in straight after my shift finishes at 3 and I cannot be more excited. I thought I wasn't going to get to see them until my trip to Geneva in September so this was such a lovely surprise! I think we are going to  go for dinner and then maybe have some drinks afterwards. I am working at 12 on Friday so I am debating whether I should come home that night or stay in Edinburgh but I'm sure that we will have an amazing time regardless!

What have you been up to recently. And what would your honest OOTD look like?

PS: Should it be a honest ootd or an honest ootd? Grammar is not my strong point!
PS PS: I'm going to be doing a 2'000 follower giveaway soon and was wondering what sort of thing you guys would be interested in me giving away. I was thinking about an elephant in a colour of the winner's choice but not sure if people would be interested in that or if that would be 'enough'. Please let me know in the comments what sort of thing you would like to win. Make up? Stationery? Books? Elephants?

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Dreaming of Pay Day

Payday Wishlist

MacBook Air // Jeans // Camera // Bracelets // MacBook Sleeve // Shoes

The summer is flying by and I can't believe that it's almost payday again. Not that I'm complaining. This Friday is my pay day. At least I think it is. I used to think that pay day was on the last Thursday of every month until someone I work with told me that it was actually on the 26th of every month. But the 26th this month is a Sunday and pay day can't be a Sunday right? So then it should be Friday? Or Monday? I'm hoping Friday! Oh man, I really don't know how to adult! My pay check last month was amazing as I've been working much more over the summer. I've almost quadrupled my hours and had a pay rise so I am rolling the dollar. Obviously I don't want to go too crazy but I do think I deserve to treat myself. I just need to keep some money saved for rent and for my trip to Switzerland in September.

This is a bit of a tech wishlist as I have been looking at MacBooks and bridge cameras. I've really been wanting to up my blogging game and I think I want to invest in some technology to help me do that. I know a MacBook isn't essential but I've wanted one for ages and I can finally afford one so why not. Everyone who doesn't have one says they aren't worth the money but everyone who has one says they totally are so I think I'll trust the people who have actually used them. I'm stuck between a MacBook Pro and an Air although I am leaning towards the Air. If you are tech savvy then leave me a comment letting me know what you'd recommend! As for cameras I'm really looking to either get a new one or invest in a new lense for my current one. I just feel like my photo quality isn't as great as it could be and it's the one thing that's really getting me down about my blog right now. Panasonic have some really great models. I've always felt like the choice was between Canon and Nikon but now I'm realising that I can branch out a bit between the two.

If I'm stepping up my laptop game and getting a MacBook then obviously I'll need some form of case for it. I love this pineapple sleeve, it is so cute. My current laptop is way too heavy to lug around the place but a MacBook Air is half its weight so hopefully will be a lot more portable. And then some clothes because who can resist some retail therapy? I am in love with these red t-bar shoes from Schuh and they are currently in the sale. My feet are kind of funny shaped(TMI) so I can't wear open shoes or they slide off so t-bar shoes are perfect for me. I have a pair of dark wash Joni jeans from Topshop and I'm only just realising how awful they are. The material is so thin and stretchy and they go all wrinkly when I wear them. But these New Look jeans look amazing. In actual fact New Look is like my all time favourite shop. And just some pretty bangles thrown in there for some good measure. I'm trying to wear more jewellery and I don't have a lot of bracelets. These one also match the Olivia Burton watch I got for my birthday!

Obviously I won't be buying all of these come pay day but a girl can dream. Let me know what your favourite items are!

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This post contains sponsored content. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Student Sundays: Making Halls Home

Hello everyone! I missed out on last week's Student Sundays post because I just really wasn't in the mood to write one but I'm back this week with another one! This week's post is about making your halls feel like home. I remember being really pleased with my flat when I moved in, it was much nicer than it looked on the photos online! But it still took a while for me to properly adjust to living there and for it to feel like home. I actually cried when I was moving out because I loved our little flat and felt like I really got on well with my flatmates. I had an amazing first year. These are just some tips for people who may feel a little bit home sick. Remember that its perfectly natural to feel home sick but if you can push past it you will have an amazing time at uni. Try not to let it get you down!

Go to the poster sale: When I was researching what to take to uni with me loads of websites were saying that you should go to the poster sale to buy things for your room to make it feel more homey. And I remember scoffing at it. I was no longer in my emo days and I did not need a ton of posters cluttering up my wall thank you very much. And then I got to uni. And my room felt bare and I found myself going to the poster sale with my flat mate. No regrets. Do not think you are above the poster sale. No one is above the poster sale! So bring some posters with you from home or head along to the poster sale and buy some new ones. Take blue tac or white tac with you to uni because it's not cheap if you buy it at the sale. I learnt that the hard way!

Take some nice bed sheets and pillows: Buying some pretty bed sheets and throw pillows will help brighten up your room a bit and make it feel more homey. I tend to feel a lot better and happier if my room is clean, tidy and looks pretty. Its something that's pretty superficial but its something that really makes a difference. Throw pillows serve absolutely no purpose but I still like having them. All the ones in that photo are from Primark so were fairly inexpensive!

Make up a little first aid kit: Fresher's flu is a thing. It didn't actually hit me until the third week of the semester but I got sent home from my chemistry lab and slept for about a day. I don't even really remember much apart from feeling really delirious when walking home and just going and drinking loads of cold water as my throat was so sore. So make life a little easier for yourself by making a first aid kit. With things like paracetamol, throat sweets, plasters etc. Basically anything you use at home when you aren't feeling well. If you get ill then you'll probably miss having someone to look after you like you do at home. So make it easier for yourself and be prepared.

Bring your favourite books and movies: Sometimes it feels like there's a ton of pressure to be going out and socialising every night when you're a student. Whilst it's important to go out and have a good time with your friends, doing this every night is probably going to burn you out. Especially if you're a bit of an introvert like me. Some times it's just nice to have a night in to yourself. So bring some of your favourite books/movies so that you can spend some time chilling by yourself. I used to read a ton but I definitely didn't read as much when I started university so I really did value the time that I did have to read. 

Print off photos of friends and family from home: I really found that having photos of good memories in my room really helped me deal with home sickness. I printed my photos off from the Boots website but if you have a good printer then you could easily do it at home. I also think that it's a good idea to print off more photos as the year goes on and add in photos of your friends from uni. Its not healthy if a few months in and you're still really sad and missing everyone to be sitting surrounded by photos for them. Get some photos of the good memories you've made since starting uni to and remind yourself why you're there. 

How did you make your uni accommodation feel like home? 

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