August Reading Wrap Up

Monday, 31 August 2015
August was supposed to be a great reading month for me. In a way, it was but just not as great as I’d expected it to be. I think I just need to accept that gone are my days of reading a book a day. I read 6 books this month which I think is pretty good. One of the books took me ages so if I hadn't read that then I probably would have read a lot more! I'm halfway through a few books at the moment so I'm hoping that I will finish those ones in September. I’ll also have the #sassybooks book to read. I'm really excited for that as I've heard great things about it. If you’d  like to learn more about the book club and how you can get involved you can read my last post about it here.

Darkmere by Helen Maslin*
This is a young adult novel about a young girl who gets into a private school on a scholarship. She has a crush on the popular rich boy and he invites her to stay at the castle he has inherited with him and his friends. When they arrive they discover that the first woman who lived in the house killed herself but before she did she cursed the castle and all the male heirs. So it may not be as fun a holiday as they expected. This was a fun, easy to read book. It was good but not really anything special which is why I've rated it 3/5 stars.

Loralli by Laura Drockill*
I was quite excited to read this one as it is about mermaids. A young mermaid washes up on the coast and is found by a teenage boy on his 16th birthday. The remaining mermaids are searching for her but so are some pirates who want to hunt her for her scales. I was expecting big things from this book but felt a bit let down. It was really confusing at times and that made me not enjoy it as much. Some of the chapters were narrated by the sea, this was quite unique but not very well executed. Those were the chapters I found most confusing. I gave it 3/5 stars but I think it’s more of a 2.5 if I'm honest!

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham*
I’ve read Before I Die by Jenny Downham and it was absolutely amazing. So I was really excited to read this one. It’s about a girl who has never met her grandmother. The grandmother, Mary, shows up one day but she has severe dementia and doesn’t really understand what’s going on. It’s about Katie’s journey with learning about her grandmother, dealing with her illness and discovering herself in the meantime. This book was really beautiful. Downham has a way with taking difficult subjects and writing beautiful books about them. I gave it 4/5 stars as it could be a little slow at times.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I've been waiting for this book to be released in the UK paperback edition for so long and I'm so glad that I did because it is gorgeous! Rainbow Rowell is one of my favourite writers because her books are so addictive but relatable at the same time. This book is about a woman who has to work over Christmas. Her husband takes her young kids to his mum’s house on the other side of the country. It looks like they may be splitting up. Georgie goes to stay at her own mum’s house and tries to phone her husband on the old land line and realises that it is going through to his teenage self. Like all of her books, this was wonderful. 5/5 stars!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This was the sassy books book of the month and you can read my full post on it here. There were mixed opinions on this but I quite enjoyed it. However I did find it to be a bit slow. If I hadn't read this I probably would have read more books this month as it took me about 10 days to read! This is a world war 2 historical fiction novel about a French little girl and a German boy during the war. It kind of reminded me of The Book Thief because the writing style was quite snappy but lyrical and poetic. I gave it 4/5 stars. If it had maybe been a bit shorter or faster paced I probably would have given it 5/5 stars.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page
In this book another girl is transported to Oz where she realises that Dorothy isn't the hero any more. She’s gone crazy with the power and now her, the tinman, scarecrow and lion are running a dictatorship. She is recruited by a secret group and her mission is to kill Dorothy. I thought that this book would be absolutely amazing. But it was so lacking. The writing style was awkward and the story really far-fetched and felt rushed at times. The only characters that were in the book were Dorothy, the scarecrow, the tinman, the lion, Glinda and the wizard. If there more original characters it maybe would have been a bit more interesting. And they added a romance to this that was awkward, clunky and just didn't fit in at all. Honestly I feel so disappointed by this book and gave it 1/2 stars. Would not recommend!

So those are the books I read this month. What was the best book that you read this month? I would love some recommendations!

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

Student Sundays: Fresher's Week Survival Guide

Sunday, 30 August 2015
Fresher's Week is a funny time. For some people it's the best week of university and for others it's the worst. And it's fast approaching. I really enjoyed Fresher's week. I went to things every day but sometimes I wish I had pushed myself to do a little more. That being said, I still had lots of fun and I did lots of cool things during Fresher's Week. You'll speak to so many people and meet a lot of good friends. You'll probably also meet some people that you'll chat to and then never talk to again. You'll see them around campus, smile at them awkwardly and then move on. Welcome to uni. Fresher's week is fast approaching so I thought it was about time I wrote this blog post. This is my Fresher's Week Survival Guide.

Try to go to as much as possible but know your own limits - A lot of the time people feel very pressured into going to as much as possible during Fresher's week. And whilst I think you should go to as much as possible I still don't think you should do anything that you don't feel comfortable with doing. If you don't want to go out on a massive bender then you don't have to. Know your own limits. Go to the things that you really want to go to and you'll have a good time. If you want to have a night off then take a night off!

Go to some events that don't revolve around drinking - The big nights out in Fresher's week are fun but there are also lots of amazing events going on that don't include drinking. One night I went to the comedy society's first show of the year. It was free and they had several stand up acts on throughout the night. It was probably one of the best nights of Fresher's week for me. The acts were hilarious and I had a good laugh with the people that I went with.

Take the opportunity to learn more about your new city - Unless you're going to university in a city that you  live in you probably don't know it very well. I grew up right next to Edinburgh so I knew my way around fairly well but there were still a lot of areas I didn't really know. See if the university is offering any tours of the city and go on one if you have the opportunity to. Most cities have lots of free museums so go some of these. Just explore the city in general. You probably won't have the time to do that again for a while.

Decorate your room a bit to help you feel more at home - My room felt pretty bare during Fresher's week which made me feel a little lonely. To combat this I went to the poster sale and hung up some posters and a load of photos. I also went to Primark and bought some cushions for my bed which actually made quite a difference(even though I never use throw cushions at home). I would also recommend buying some fairy lights as they really help your room seem nice and cosy!

Don't sign up for a gym membership before you've seen your timetable - I signed up for a gym membership during Fresher's week and then after the first week of class I knew I probably wouldn't use it very much. During the second semester I got really into swimming but it would have been cheaper if I'd paid as I went. I would recommend waiting until your classes actually start before you sign up for anything!

Don't sign up for email updates from societies you aren't really interested in - When I went to the societies fair I signed up to a ton of societies. In reality I never went to any of their meetings. I did try to go to knitting society but it clashed with my time table. But most societies send weekly updates and once you sign up it's actually quite hard to get off their mailing list so you will be demented with emails! I would say pick 2 or 3 societies that you really want to join and sign up to those. And if you join any societies later on you can always get put on their mailing list then.

If you're 17 you can probably still get into the union and people will buy you drinks if you ask them to - I didn't turn 18 until half way through my first year of uni. And to be honest I did feel like I missed out a lot on some things because of that. But during Fresher's week you can get into most events anyway. You won't be able to buy drink yourself but people will buy them for you if you ask. No one really cares!

So those are my tips for surviving Fresher's week. Just relax, enjoy yourself and try not to feel too homesick! I don't have many more Student Sundays before the semester starts so if there are any topics I haven't covered that you'd like to see then leave me a suggestion!

Previous Student Sundays posts: 
IntroGetting StartedAccommodationCooking For YourselfMaking Halls HomeWhat To Pack For UniversityFriends & FlatmatesWhat's In My Uni BagSaving Money On FoodFresher's Week Survival Guide, What To Expect From Classes

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

Lets Laugh At My Old Emo Photos

Saturday, 29 August 2015
Hello everyone! I was recently looking through all my old Facebook photos and I discovered some real corkers. When I was about 11-13 I went through a real emo phase and whilst not many photos survive, there are still some absolute gems. I laugh so hard when I look back at these. If I saw my younger self out on the street now I would cringe but at the time I thought I was so cool and unique. I feel like being able to laugh at yourself is definitely an important part fo being confident in yourself. My self confidence has increased a lot since I started my blog. I never would have shared these photos in the beginning but now I'm quite happy to share them for a laugh!

So this photo was taken on a day out in Edinburgh. These are the steps that lead down to Cockburn Street. If you've ever been to Edinburgh then you've probably looked at these steps and thought 'yeah I'd really rather not climb those' and then done it anyway just so you could say you did. Cockburn Street was(and still kind of is) every emo kid's heaven. This is where I used to go so that I could buy lots of printed skinny jeans and kawaii jewellery. Hate to think how much money I spend on it all. Sob.  

This photo is from a visit to my Dad's house. For those of you who don't know, my dad used to live in Telford. On that day we had climbed The Wrekin with my dad's partner's brother and his children. And then we stopped off at the local pub. As you will notice: my fringe is blue. I can't really explain why I did this but I thought that it looked awesome at the time AT THE TIME.

Ninja Buns, Edinburgh

Friday, 28 August 2015

Hello everyone! On Monday night I went through to Edinburgh after work so that I could go for a meal out with some of my friends. We headed along to Paradise Palms which is just by Edinburgh University in the Old Town. It's food is presented by a pop up kitchen - Ninja Buns. I've walked past it a few times but to be honest I've always found it's decor to be very tacky and thought that I wouldn't enjoy their food. Until I saw one of my Edinburgh blogging chums, Leanne, Instagramed a photo of her food here! It looked amazing and I knew I wanted to check it out. When me and my friends were discussing going for food in Edinburgh I suggested it and everyone was game!We arrived at about 7 and got a table, I was quite surprised as August is the festival month and usually places are really busy. Some of the decor is incredibly tacky but a lot of it is very cool: disco balls, Hawaiian print shirts hanging from the roof, a typewriter on the wall etc. Certainly a mixture. It's definitely a bit of a hipster joint but I actually quite liked the eclectic decor and it was a good concersation point. 

Anyway, onto the food! The restaurant specialises in 'Ninja Buns' which are a take on steamed Taiwanese bao buns. I ordered myself a pork one and a portion of chilli garlic fries. We all had slightly different things but I tried some of my friend's vegetable spring rolls and Asian slaw too. I love having friends that are happy to share food! Everything was absolutely delicious. The buns were soft and the fillings were really tasty. The meats were really tender and the sauces added a nice flavour whilst the vegetables added that needed crunch. The chilli garlic fries were so hot so I wouldn't recommend them if you can't handle your spice. I love spicy food so was really happy with them. But the game changer for me was the Asain slaw. Coleslaw is generally something that I can take or leave so I wouldn't normally order it as a side. But this coleslaw had peanut through out. It basically tasted like coleslaw made with peanut butter and not mayo. It was delicious. If I go back(or more likely when because I definitely want to go again) I will definitely be ordering this. Delicious! 

I don't normally order dessert unless I'm eating with my family because they're normally paying. But when I saw this deep fried ice cream sandwich I couldn't say no. A sliced and fried ninja bun with an ice cream flavour of you choice. I went for raspberry ripple and I'm glad I did. I was tempted by chocolate ginger but I think that would have been too rich. This was again, delicious. My friend had the triple scoop of ice cream and went for mint choc chip, rocky road and raspberry ripple. I tried out her flavours too and they were all so good. There wasn't anything that wasn't amazing actually. The restaurant was an all round gold star. And for a city centre restaurant it was really cheap as well. The cocktails were about £7-8 so I imagine that's how they make their money. My main meal cost £6.50 and my dessert £4.95. I probably wouldn't get dessert again but because  it was quite pricey but I'll definitely be back for pork buns and Asian slaw!

Have you ever been to Paradise Palms? What's your favourite Edinburgh restaurant?

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

NOTE: As Ninja Buns is a pop up - it is no longer at Paradise Palms. Paradise Palms now has a fully vegan menu. Ninja Buns can be found at a bar called Bourbon. 

Sassy Books: All The Light We Cannot See

Tuesday, 25 August 2015
I have a confession to make: I haven't actually finished this month's book. All The Light We Cannot See is actually quite a big book and I thought I had given myself enough time to read it but evidently I haven't. The book is just over 500 pages long and I'm finding it to be quite slow. I am over half way through though at 360 pages so I'm going to write a little review of the book so far. But please don't take this as a solid review as my opinion could still change by the time I reach the end. I won't be giving it a star rating and if you want to see how I got on for definite you'll have to wait for my August Reading Wrap Up. I definitely think I'll have finished this book by the end of the month as I'll have no wifi for the weekend!

So this book features the lives of two very different children during WW2. First off we have Marie-Laure who is a young blind girl who lives in Paris. Despite being blind she has quite a cosy life and her father is always working hard to provide the best for her. He also creates lots of activities so that she knows how to get around by herself and what not. On the other hand we have Werner who was raised in an orphanage in Germany with his younger sister. He is facing a lifetime working in mines until his talent for repairing radios gets him promoted through the Hitler Youth. You can tell throughout the book that he is quite moral and definitely doesn't agree with what is going on around him but he has to pretend he does. I know that their paths are going to cross but I still don't know how. Although the more I read I am beginning to get an idea and I'm maybe not so happy about it! 

I couldn't help but compare this book to The Book Thief. They have very different plots so I'm not exactly sure why but I think if you liked The Book Thief then you will enjoy this book too. Or maybe it's the really strong father-daughter relationship between Marie-Laure and her dad that reminds me of Liesel. I'm not sure! Despite finding this book really slow I am actually quite enjoying it. I've only been reading a few chapters at a time and have found that I'm really savouring it. The book is written in quite small chapters and the writing style is very lyrical and quite poetic at times so it's ok to only read a short amount at once. The sentences are really short and so are the chapters which gives it a very fast and choppy pace. 

So in conclusion despite not finishing this book I am really enjoying it and am finding it quite nice to actually take my time with it. Some other bloggers who have reviewed the book as part of the book club are: Colours and Carousels, Shy Strange Manic, Momentarily Dreaming, Life In Ginger.

So what about next month? September's book will be The Opposite Of Loneliness by Marina Keegan(buy on Amazon, Waterstones, The Book Depository). This is a non fiction novel and consists of a collection of essays. Marina had just graduated university and had a career in the writing industry laid out in front of her. But unfortunately she died in a car accident. This collection of her essays was published after her death and I'm expecting it to be a really interesting and good read. We have only had non fiction books in the book club so far so hopefully this will make a nice change.

If you'd like to join in then all you have to do is read the book! We publish our reviews on the last Tuesday of the month. In September this will be the 29th of September. If you write a review then I will include it in the link up at the bottom of my post. Please tweet using the hashtag #sassybooks if you plan on joining in!

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

Student Sunday: Saving Money On Food

Sunday, 23 August 2015
When I was in my last year of high school we had a financial advisor come round to talk to us about budgeting at uni. She told us that we would spend on average £7 a day on food or £49 a week. This absolutely terrified me. There was no way that I was going to be able to spend £50 a week on food. I remember thinking it was ridiculous at the time. Now a year later, I'm still adamant that she was wrong. I'm sure it's quite easy to get carried away food shopping and before you know it, spend a ton, but if you're careful then it's also really easy to eat cheaply without compromising on things you like! I spend on average between £10-£20 on food every week. It really depends on what I'm buying/how much I've got left over in the cupboard/freezer. I could probably spend less and I could probably spend more but I like what I'm eating and that fits in well with my budget so it's the way I'm going to carry on. These are my tips on how to save money on food. I'd rather spend a bit less on food every week so that I can afford to do other fun things or treat myself to something I really want to buy!

Shop at places like Lidl and Aldi over 'the big four' supermarkets - This is probably the most obvious thing that I will say in this post but seriously. You'll dramatically decrease your food cost if you shop at budget supermarkets and I'm sure there will be at least one near your campus. Things like fruit, veg, milk, cheese and meats taste absolutely no different from places like these so what's the point in spending extra. There are some things I don't like to buy out of these shops because I don't think they're as good but if I save money shopping in Lidl that means I can also afford to go to Tesco and pick up some things there too. 

Learn when the shops put out their reduced stock - Supermarkets will mark down stock on the day it goes out of date or the day before. But as you will learn as a student, most things are ok for a while after they go out of date. So learn when your local supermarkets put out their reduced stock(or ask the staff) to pick yourself up some bargains. I would recommend using meats that day or freezing them though! I've saved myself so much money buying reduced bread/bagels and seeing as I put them straight in the freezer when I get home they're still fresh when I actually get round to using them. 

Utilise your first shop - If your parents are dropping you off at uni then they will likely take you for a big food shop before they leave. Take advantage of this! This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on any branded food you want and things that have long shelf lifes. For your cupboard pick up things like pasta, noodles, spices, canned food, stock cubes, dried fruit, jam, cereal, snack foods and bread. In terms of fresh food I would also recommend buying things like fresh fruit and veg, meats, cheese, milk, fruit juice and butter. If you have your own drawer in the freezer then buy some things to put in there too before someone else fills it with their stuff!

5 Tips For Pinterest Success

Saturday, 22 August 2015
I recently got to attend a workshop with Pinterest UK via Google Hang Out. It lasted for about half an hour but got me so motivated. I've really been trying with Pinterest lately and was noticing the benefits but after attending this workshop I now have so many tips and tricks under my belt to help me! I thought I'd write a blog post about what I learnt during the workshop. Some of these things are things I already new but a few of them are new tips that I found really helpful. It's so inspiring to here the people from Pinterest talk about it. They're obviously so passionate about it!

I actually have a whole board on Pinterest that's dedicated to blogging tips and advice and I'm always pinning posts like this as I love to read through them when I'm feeling demotivated. Thought it was about time that I write my own! This is a very lengthy post so you may want to get yourself some snacks or something.

1. Be specific.

Your pins are more likely to gain more traffic if you are specific with your pin descriptions, board names and board descriptions. For example: I had a Pinterest board called 'stuff' and this is where I pinned random things that didn't fit in with any of my other boards. But because these images were mostly funny memes I've changed it to 'funny pictures'. No one is going to search 'stuff' on Pinterest whilst people will search for 'funny pictures' or 'make me laugh' or 'giggle' etc. Maybe not the best example but you get what I'm saying. Another example could be a board about boots. Naming the board 'these boots are made for walking' seems like a good idea because it's a good pun and will look great on your home screen. But people are more likely to search things like 'cute boots for winter', 'fashionable winter boots', 'stylish afforable boots for autumn' etc. So these would work better as effective board titles.

I didn't actually have board descriptions on most of my boards on Pinterest. So this is something that I'm slowly working on. Take two or three boards a day and write rich, descriptions on what people can find on the board and where your inspiration for the board comes from. For example I've just updated the description on my travel inspiration board to this:

Travel inspiration from a girl with big dreams and a head full of wanderlust. Pinning photos of beautiful cities, stunning architecture, dream like beaches, white sands and tourist attractions. Dream destinations: Berlin, Amsterdam, Moscow, New York, Montana, Sydney, Rome, Zurich, Tallin and London. Also including photos of my beautiful home town Edinburgh and the rest of Bonnie Scotland.

For the sake of this post I've put the keywords that I think people will search for on Pinterest in bold. And I've listed the cities that I want to go to because people may also be searching for those too. So someone searching 'travel inspiration Berlin' is more likely to find my board when Berlin is in the description. If someone was searching for 'travel inspiration Berlin' they may still find pins of Berlin that I had put on my board but they probably wouldn't show as high up in the feed.

2. Move your most popular and seasonally appropriate boards towards the top of your profile.

If you have a blog or a website you can convert your Pintererst account to a business account here. I would seriously recommend you do this as it allows you to get great analytics of your Pinterest account. Using these analytics you can see which of your boards are the most popular. My most popular board is my crochet board which I found really surprising. My Pinterest account has 2'400 ish followers but my crochet board only has around 300. This means that the pins in that board must perform much better in the search feature than any of my other boards. So this board is right at the top of my page. And then the rest of the boards are in order of popularity, with my group boards at the bottom. 

You'll then see that I have a 'Spring/Summer Fashion' board. I like to keep this at the top of my account during spring/summer because it's seasonally relevant. But when we start to get into Autumn I will replace this with boards like 'Halloween Decor Ideas', 'Autumn Landscapes', 'Autumn/ Winter Fashion', 'Beautiful Christmas Trees'. Think about what holidays people celebrate and have a board for each one. But only keep them near the top of your account when they're seasonally appropriate. If you look at the bottom of my Pinterest account then you'll find boards like 'Valentines', 'Autumn and Halloween', 'Winter/Christmas'. I'll leave those boards there for just now and update them when it's closer to the times.

Christmas is one of the biggest events on Pinterest so don't be afraid to start early. Your pins are more likely to get noticed when not every one is pinning Christmas pins. Start in late September/early October!

3. Make sure your pins are optimised for mobile devices by pinning vertical images and making sure that they lead to sites that are mobile responsive.

80% of all Pinterest usage is done on smart phones or tablets. So it makes sense that you should be appealing to people who are using these. Try to pin as many vertical images as possible. Generally most blogs are easily viewed on mobiles so pinning images from amazing blogs is a good way to make sure that your pins are reliable. Think about it. If you're scrolling through your phone whilst in bed, on the tube, waiting on a doctor's appointment etc and you click on a link, if it takes ages to load you'll probably exit the page without even reading the article. I would recommend going through your Pinterest account on a mobile/tablet and clicking through some of the links and making sure that they are ok to view on this style of device. Also if you plan on pinning a lot from your own site, be that your website or our blog, then make sure that it works well on mobiles. 

Vertical images are something that I really need to work on. My blog is optimised for horizontal images so I mostly forget to take vertical photos. I need to edit the settings on my blog so that vertical images sit in with the post width more effectively. Hopefully I will work this out sometime soon and I can report to you whether it made a difference or not.

4. Bring fresh content to Pinterest.

I don't want to put you off scrolling down your Pinterest feed and repinning the images that you like. We all do this and it's how most people use Pinterest. But your pins are more likely to get noticed and gain more traffic if you are the original pinner. So take some time to go through some of your favourite blogs and pin some of the really good photos they have onto Pinterest. Or look through your book marked pages, is there anything here that you could pin onto one of your boards? Try doing this regularly to introduce some fresh and new content to Pinterest and you should see an increase in your statistics.

I would say that the best way to do this is to install the Chrome Extension if you use Google Chrome as your browser(you should definitely be using Chrome because it's the best!). This means that a pin it button hovers above any pictures I look at on the internet. I have a pin it button installed on all my blog images anyway but it helps to have the browser extension in case another blog/website doesn't have the pin it button.

5. Make it really obvious that you have Pinterest.

People who follow your blog will probably want to follow you on Pinterest too! Same goes for the rest of your social media. So schedule posts to these platforms linking your Pinterest. I've always found directly asking people to follow you never works well but saying something like 'check out my Pinterest' or 'have just had a pinning session, come join me' will work better. If you have a blog then I would definitely recommend having a Pinterest social media button in your sidebar. And if you're running any giveaways then list that as an entry in the Rafflecopter widget.

If you have a personal Facebook page it might also be worthwhile posting a link on there too. It may actually surprise you how many of your IRL friends actually use it and they're much more likely to follow you just because they actually know you! Followers aren't as big a deal on Pinterest as most of the time it works like a search engine but having more followers definitely helps more of your posts get seen.

So those are some of my tips for running a successful Pinterest account. My username on Pinterest is honestlyrussell and can follow me here. Feel free to leave a link to your profile in the comments and share any other Pinterest tips that you have!

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


Should You Put Your Blog On Your CV?

Friday, 21 August 2015
I'm only 18 but I'm currently on my third job. I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I'm pretty good at getting hired. I started working when I was 15 with a weekend job in a local aquairum/aquatic pet shop. After two years I left that job when I moved to Edinburgh and started working in McDonald's. I can't pretend that I enjoyed working at McDonald's. It was a very stressful job and my measly £4.65 an hour didn't quite cut it. So in December I quit my job and started working at a pharmacy in January. I've been working in that pharmacy for almost 9 months now and I've been internally promoted to a dispensing position! So that's my job history! I think I have been very lucky but I also think that I write a pretty a pretty good CV. I've been asked to write a blog post about job vacancies with City Calling and so today I'm going to be talking about your CV. I think whether you're applying for part time jobs or your dream job that you should be keeping your CV fresh, professional and clear. But what about your blog?

Should you put your blog on you CV? It's something that I think all bloggers should consider. I've always had my blog on my CV and I think that it has given me something to talk about in interviews that is very unique. Blogging has given me lots of transferable skills and shows that I am very determined and will stick with something. It may not be the most common hobby but that doesn't mean that it isn't still valid! I have my blog mentioned under my hobbies and interests section on my CV. I also have the URL on my blog underneath my email address at the top of my CV. I've found it to be really helpful but I know that there are a lot of pros and cons to including your blog onyour CV so that's what I'm going to be discussing in this post!

  • It shows lots of skills that an employer may be looking for. Writing skills, creativity,  social media skills, initiative, commitment, planning, organisation etc.
  • It's something unique! The majority of applicants will have similar qualifications/experience but I can guarantee that not every applicant for a job will have a blog.
  • If you've worked with companies before then it is kind of like experience with sales. When a company sends you a product for review and you write a positive review then it is essentially a sales pitch. So if you're applying for some sort of retail job then this is perfect!
  • If you're applying for a job in fashion then you can say that you follow new and upcoming fashion blogs to keep up with the latest trends. It sounds pretty fancy!
  • All your new colleagues will probably know about your blog already if you get the job. Then you don't have to go around with the whole 'so I write this blog' conversation which, lets face it, is always awkward. I didn't actually mention my blog on the cv I handed into the pharmacy as it's a job that requires a lot of confidentially so I didn't think 'I put a ridiculous amount of my life on the internet' stood very well for that job. But everyone found out about it last month and it was weird. They all think it's pretty cool(I think).

  • Not everyone will understand your blog. Blogging is a relatively new hobby and if you don't explain it properly it may come across as a bit weird. Especially if your prospective new boss is of the older generation or doesn't spend a lot of time online.
  • Your blog probably directly links to you social media. Meaning that potential employers can very easily have a look at your Twitter and Instagram. Make sure that you keep it down on any swearing, moaning and do not complain about your current job or coworkers. That's a good guideline to stick to, blog or no blog, but showing a potential employer your blog is almost like inviting them to check out your social media!
  • Everyone at your new job will know about it. If you're someone who's quite private about their blog and doesn't discuss it with your family and friends then it may be quite difficult for you to talk about it. I'm very open with my blog as I've found that generally people find it quite cool! 
What do you  guys think?

It seems like pretty much everyone sees your blog as a really positive thing to put on your CV. Although I would make sure that you are prepared to talk about it during an interview. You will most likely be asked about it so you need to be confident enough to talk about your blog is the way that makes it sound really good an interesting!

What do you think? Do you have your blog on your CV? If not would you ever consider it?

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

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

New Flat Home Ware Wishlist

Thursday, 20 August 2015

It's nearly September and that means it's nearly time to go back to uni. And what does that mean? NEW FLAT. That's what! I was challenged by the team from George @ ASDA to show how I would transform my home using their George Home furniture. They;'re running a campaign(#tranfautumn) to help people brighten up their homes a bit for the coming autumn. We all spend a lot more time inside during the winter months so I think it's important to be happy with your decor. My student flat is actually very nice but there are still some things that need done to make it 100% my own.

The main thing that I need is a desk. Unfortunately my new accomodation doesn't come with a desk(like seriously who furnishes a student flat and doesn't put desks in it?!) which means I have to provide my own. I really like the look of the Alton Double Pedestal Desk as I like that it has drawers down one side and a cupboard on the other. I'm not allowed to hang shelves or anything so storage is very important to me. I can use one drawer for uni work, one for beauty products and one for tech and cables and stuff. Then I might use the other one for my crocheting stuff. I'll probably keep my books in the cupboard too! Moving around the bedroom I really like ASDA's bedding. I've already bought a set of their bedsheets so I'm pretty sorted for bedding. This bear pillow is far too cute to resist though isn't it! We have brown leather sofas in the flat and I just think this would look so cute on them! Even though I'm not really supposed to use pins or blue-tack to put things on my wall I'm going to anyway. The people who had the room before me obviously have! I thought this wall hanging with the quote 'the darkest nights produce the brightest stars'. I think it's a great quote for students as sometimes it's easy to loose motivation with your degree. This is a nice reminder that if you put all the hard work in you'll reap the benefits. 

I have my own en suite this year which is fantastic. I had a shared bathroom last year and whilst it was ok if someone offers you an en suite room for the same amount of rent you can't say no can you? These triangle print bathroom accessories are super cute! My towels are a kind of aqua blue colour so I think these will match very well! Another boring thing that you can't really live without is more storage. I have a cupboard in my room that I'll be using as a wardrobe and there's enough space in the bottom of it for a set of these plastic drawers which will do the trick. They aren't the prettiest but they'll be out of sight and are only £15. Heating will also be something on my mind this year. I'm going to try to use as little as possible to save on the bills. I was really attracted to this letter throw as I thought it was really simple and would go with all my bedding. I could crochet myself one to be fair but it would take an awfully long time to make one for a double bed and in all honesty I can't be bothered!

The last few things on my wishlist are actually things that I'd like because I think they'd look great in blog posts! Hey hey hey, a girl gotta accessorise right? I think this chalkboard jar is really adorable and would look great in a flat lay. I'm really trying to improve my blog photography at the moment and I think that investing in some trinkets for the photos is a good idea. That's also what attracted me to his gold spotted dish. It would look great in blog photos for beauty products or even recipe posts for little biscuits or cakes. It might even be nice to sit on my desk and hold all my jewellery. 

So that's me on the homeware front. It's officially one month and one day until the semester starts and I cannot wait to get back into the city.

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This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

How To Save Money When Buying Books

Tuesday, 18 August 2015
I don't really want to think about how much money I spend on books. But at the same time, I love reading. And thanks to this blog I also get sent books for review which is really awesome. But sometimes I want to spend so much money on books and I just can't justify it. I've gotten pretty thrifty when it comes to buying books and I very rarely buy books at full price any more. Here are my tips for people who want to read lots of new books but don't always want to splash the cash.

Head to the charity shops - Charity shops are pretty much the main way to grab a bargain when it comes to buying books. The only thing is it's unlikely that you'll actually find titles that you're looking for. So charity shop book shopping is good for when you're going in with an open mind and not looking for any book in particular. Although very popular books do make their rounds of the charity shops quite often. Plus all the money you spend on books is going to charity so you're actually doing some good! 

Borrow and swap books with friends - If you have a lot of friends who read then swapping books with them is a great way to read more books without actually spending any money! Always be respectful of people's books, don't go dog earing anyone's pages or scuffing up their books otherwise they probably won't lend you any again! I've read some amazing books that I've borrowed from friends but also some really bad ones too. It's good because if you like the book then you can invest in your own copy and if not then you haven't wasted money on something you don't enjoy!

Check out supermarkets for bargains - Larger supermarkets will often have book aisles and these hold some pretty great bargains. My local ASDA often has books on a 2 for £7 offer which is amazing considering most books are £7-8 at places like Waterstones and WH Smith. These often tend to be the more popular books so things like Gone Girl and Fifty Shades. Good if you want to pick up the latest book that everyone's been talking about.

Use loyalty cards - If you want to support book stores then I would recommend looking into loyalty cards. Waterstones and The Works both offer points cards where you can earn points when you spend that build up! Waterstones also have stamp cards where if you spend £10 you get one stamp and then when you get 10 stamps they give you a gift card. Yes you do have to spend a bit of money to get these rewards but if you're spending that money already then in for a penny in for a pound!

Amazon - Everyone acts like Amazon are the big badies but there's no denying that they're a great go to if you want to get books on the cheap, especially if you have a Kindle.  Yes it is better to support an independent bookstore or even a chain bookstore but sometimes you just want something cheap and that's ok too. 

Don't buy them! Go to the library! - Don't be put off by your local library, they may actually surprise you! I used mine for a while but because I lived so far away I eventually stopped going. But if you live close by then it's definitely worth a visit. If your library doesn't have a book you want they'll probably order it in for you from a different library in the area. Most libraries now allow you to borrow ebooks as well which is awesome as once you've got it set up you don't even need to leave the house.

What are your favourite ways to save money on books?

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Lush Livingston: A Perfume Soiree

Monday, 17 August 2015

Hello everyone! On Friday night I headed to my local Lush store in Livingston to attend their perfume event. A Perfume Soiree! I've been to a lot of events in my three years of blogging but I've never been to one in my home town so this was a pretty awesome opportunity. Lush is one of my favourite brands. Not only do they make amazing products but they also have really good values as a company. I stopped using make up and beauty products that are tested on animals about a year and a half ago. Lush are my go to as they're one of the few brands that I actually trust not to test on animals!

So I headed down the event on Friday night, not quite sure what to expect but very excited none the less! The event was quite small, I think there were 8 of us there. I got to see the lovely Ema from Is It Vintage again who is such a lovely blogger! We started off the event by playing a game. We were all given perfumes and were asked to describe them. But we didn't know which one we had. It was so interesting to see how we all reacted so differently to the same perfumes in the way we thought they smelt and the way they made us feel. This was really interesting. I was given a sniff of Kerbside Violet which I thought smelt very strongly of flowers where another girl thought it smelt like cucumber! 

We then listened to some talks about the perfumes and their back stories. The staff at the store had picked songs to match each scent and also had some food on hand. For example: we ate some retro sweets whilst smelling karma which is inspired by 60s/70s London. This was really fun and really helped add some depth and understanding. Lush obviously put so much thought into all of their perfumes and they are very personal to the person who made them. We learnt about the backstory of a trilogy of perfumes made by one of the Lush founders that were inspired by his journey of finding and losing his dad. What an emotional story! The whole event made me really think about perfume: not as something just to spray on to make you smell nice but as a way to express your personality. I think my favourite perfume of the night was one called Lust(oerrr) which was such a bold fragrance that made me feel really confident. 

As a thank you for coming along we were gifted a lovely little set of some of the perfumes. I can't wait to try these out and discover my favourite! As this was the first time I'd visited a Lush store since they launched their new collection I also treated myself to some new products. I will be blogging about these soon so keep your eyes peeled! Lush's Gorilla Perfumes can be bought online here or in store.

Have you tried any Lush perfumes? What did you think of them?

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

Student Sundays: What's In My Uni Bag

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Hey guys! This wasn't actually a topic that I was considering covering in my Student Sundays series but someone actually asked me to cover this specifically and the more I thought about it the better it sounded. So I was asked to share what I take in my bag with me to uni every day and what sort of bag I'd recommend getting. When I was in high school all the girls used handbag style bags or satchels. And I was the same. But after my first day of uni I knew that my handbag was in no way going to cut it. I needed a bag pack/rucksack! I started uni on the 15th of September. When I went home to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum(September 18th) I picked up an old bag pack from my house and I'm so glad I did. I've never used a handbag at uni since. Yes I do know a few people who use them and they get by fine but a bag pack is just so much more convenient. Plus people don't really care about 'style' at uni as much as they did in high school. So who cares?

This one is from Accessorize. I really like their bags and I've had a few. The designs are always really nice and unique and I find that the bags are really well made and are very durable. I've had one before which was one of the Mi Pac brand ones. It was nice but was slightly smaller than this one! I also see a lot of people around uni with East Pak or Fjallraven ones but I think they're quick expensive. Basically when selecting a bag for uni I'd recommend getting one that feels good quality, is slightly larger than A4 size and is a colour/design that you really like. 

But what do I actually carry around with me every day?

Everyday Essentials

Notepad/Paper - For going to class you're going to need something to write your notes in, or some sort of laptop/tablet to type them up on. Personally I prefer paper as I know that I'd get distracted on my laptop whilst in a lecture! I use the one notepad and I write all my notes in there and at the end of the day I will rip the notes out and sort them into appropriate folders. I have one ring binder folder per module. This system really works for me but having something like a multi subject notepad may suit you better otherwise. 

Pencil case - I definitely don't think you need to take a pencil case with you but I just prefer to. I use different coloured pens when I write notes as I feel it sticks things into my head better. So I have a selection of black and coloured pens in my pencil case alongside highlighters because who can resist a good highlighter? Not me! Because I do a science course with maths modules I also keep my calculator in there as well. 

Purse - I always have my purse on me in case I need to buy anything. I'll quite often do food shopping when I'm on my way home from uni as well. Although I would recommend taking your lunch with you as if you eat lunch out every day it very quickly gets very expensive. Thankfully, my timetable allowed me to go home for lunch every day which saved me a lot of cash!

Student ID & Keys - To get into the Edinburgh Uni library you have to have a student card with you that you scan in at their doors. So I always keep mine on me. During Fresher's week I got this handy lanyard which has space for an ID card on it. The security guys hand them out from a stall in the library so keep an eye out for them if you want to get your hands on a set!

Water Bottle - If there's one thing that I'd say is a seriously good investment it's a good reusable water bottle. My gran bought me this one for my Christmas and it's been a lifesaver. At one litre it's pretty massive but I drink a lot of water during the day so I like having it on me. Now if I don't take water with me I get a headache and can't concentrate!

Academic Diary -  I like to have somewhere to write down all my to do lists and something like an academic diary is perfect for this. It was weekly views in it so I can easily see what I need to get done for that week. I have a lot of weekly assignments like online quizzes and lab reports. Sometimes it's hard to keep on top of them. Seeing them all written out really helps me keep track of everything. I've just ordered one for 15/16 and I'm so excited for it to arrive. Hopefully it should arrive Monday/Tuesday and like always, I'll probably blog about it once it's up.

 Added Extras!

Sometimes I have to take in certain things depending on what sort of classes I have that day. For example: on a Tuesday I have to take in my lab coat and lab goggles. Not going to lie, I LOVE wearing these! I normally keep them in a separate bag because I don't want them touching the other stuff in my bag. We don't work with dangerous stuff often in the labs at uni but a lot of the chemicals are coloured and I'd hate for them to stain all my notes! For the labs we also have a lab manual which contains all the info for the experiments and the instructions. 

I also have a few textbooks that I take with me from time to time. On Wednesdays I have the absolute joy of lugging my extremely heavily maths textbook about with me. We use it in our tutorial so I need to bring it with me. Luckily I don't need to do maths next year so this one can stay in my cupboard instead. I also have a German textbook that I need on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm quite glad to report that this one is a lot lighter!

So after all that I'm sure you can understand why I'd recommend a larger, stronger bag! Hope this helps someone and if you have any questions as always, leave me a comment!

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Dr Organic Manuka Honey Rescue Cream

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Hello everyone! I bought this Dr Organic Manuka Honey Rescue Cream from one of the Holland and Barrett stores in Glasgow a few weeks ago now. I've been using it a lot recently and I've been pretty impressed with it. Dr Organic got pretty famous as a brand due to their Snail Gel collection containing well, you guessed it, actual snail gel. But they're one of very few well known cruelty free brands which is why I wanted to try out their products. Holland and Barrett had such a wide range of their products on sale so I was really spoilt for choice. I was drawn towards this as I have quite a few moisturisers that are really thin and good for when my skin is feeling oily but I didn't really have anything for when my skin is feeling dry. The packaging on this says 'as a rich and restoring emollient this bioactive organic manuka honey cream is safe to use on: dry skin, sun exposed skin, sensitive skin, irritated skin and allergic skin'. So it sounded like an alround great product. Unfortunately, I'm not quite ready to try the Snail Gel set.

My skin type is generally quite good, I don't have any major problems, but it often shifts between oily and dry. I've found this moisturiser to be really great when my skin is dry, especially as a night cream. When my skin is feeling more normal-oily then this is way too thick. But that can be expected, seeing as this is called the 'rescue cream'! This cream contains manuka honey which has a lot of great properties. It's even used in some sorts of bandages and dressings as it had antibacterial and anti inflammatory qualities. When used in facial products it can reduce spots, red marks and balance out the skin. This definitely isn't an everyday skincare product for me, it's exactly what it claims to be: a rescue cream! I've found that this really helps moisturising my skin whilst also reducing any redness.

The Dr Organic Manuka Honey Rescue Cream is £8.99 and can be bought from Holland and Barrett instore or online here.

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