5 Years Of Blogging: A Giveaway

Sunday, 29 January 2017
The 29th of January is my blog's 'birthday'. This year marks my 5 year anniversary of writing my first blog post (cringe city). It's a weirdly nostalgic day because whilst it doesn't seem like much, I really can't imagine what my life would be like if I'd never started my blog. Blogging has brought so many wonderful people and opportunities into my life that it's really weird to think about how different things would be without it. I've not done a giveaway in such a long time and my blogging birthday seems like a great time to give something back. I don't say it enough but I have some wonderful readers and I'm so grateful for each and every one of you and the comments you leave me.

I picked up a selection of things from a few shops that stood out to me. It's mainly a mixture of cute stationery and cruelty free/vegan beauty products. 

  • Postcard and post it note box from Paperchase.
  • Notepad from Tiger.
  • Cute motivational slogan pencils and pens. 
  • BarryM Gelly Hi-Shine nail varnish in Greenberry.
  • Nyx Extra Creamy Lipstick in Shade b52.
Entry to the giveaway is outlined in the Rafflecopter widget below. 

I'll be running the giveaway for a week and postage is UK and Ireland only. Winner will be contacted by email/Twitter and will have a week to respond before another winner is selected.

Good luck to everyone who enters. I've also launched a smaller giveaway on Twitter so come on over there are check out that giveaway in my pinned tweet here

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

University FAQ

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Now that the UCAS deadline has come and gone (scary I know) students everywhere will be faced with the choice of where to accept and begin the process of applying for accommodation. I get questions about university a lot from readers (especially in the run up to September) so I've assembled my most frequently asked questions here in one handy place. Obviously everyone's university experience will be difference but it's useful to hear from as many people as possible.

What are you studying?

I'm currently studying the Masters of Chemistry with Industrial Experience degree program at the University of Edinburgh. 

It's a 5-year long undergraduate degree in which the 4th year is spent completing a year of work for a company.

Sunday Spiel

Sunday, 22 January 2017
It feels like months since I just sat down and wrote a blog post about what I've been up to. I used to write a little catch up every week as part of my Week In Photos series when I first started blogging. I really miss doing that and whilst I don't want to do it every week it's been far too long since I did something to that extent. Two months ago I found out that I would be moving to the US this year and I can't believe I haven't really spoken about it! So here's an old school ramble about what I've been up to.

Feel like I never post photos of myself on my blog anymore - so here's what I look like these days. 

I've hit the halfway mark of my 5-year degree which is both a relief and also totally terrifying. University is going well but as always it is extremely time-consuming. This is the first time in four years that I'm not working around academia after leaving my job at the pharmacy in September. I'm very lucky that I'm financially ok with doing this (read lucky as I've worked for a very long time so have the savings to do this). At first, it felt weird but I'm appreciating the free time that I have to commit to uni work instead.


101 Things in 1001 Days - Round 2

Wednesday, 18 January 2017
One of my very first blog posts was my 101 Things in 1001 Days page. I loved writing this and enjoyed setting myself lots of challenges for the years to come. That run out a long time ago and I've finally gotten around to writing another. I took some inspiration from Becky who organises her goals by categories that will hopefully make it easier to keep track of things. I've set some pretty big goals (especially for travel) but I'm hopeful that I can complete as many of these goals as possible and if not at least have fun in the process! The next few years will be a big deal for me, I'll be moving abroad and graduating but it will be exciting!

Start date: 15th January 2017
End Date: 13th October 2019


1. Visit Washington, D.C.
2. Visit Chicago.
3. Visit New Haven.
4. Visit Philadelphia. 
5. Visit Germany.
6. Visit Croatia.
7. Visit Belgium.
8. Visit Ireland. 
9. Visit London.
10. Visit York.
11. Visit 10 new US states. (11/10)
12. Visit Inverness.
13. Visit the Isle of Skye. 
14. Travel to a new continent.
15. Return to Boston.
16. Return to Toronto.
17. Take a train from one country to another (Scotland to England doesn't count).
18. Take a road trip with friends.
19. Try a really authentic, local dish that I wouldn't normally eat.
20. Write a blog post about my favourite places in New York.


Humanities vs Sciences. Who Gives a Shit?

Sunday, 15 January 2017
Recently I've read a lot of articles floating around on various student newspaper websites. The articles talk about the divide between humanities students and science students, normally arguing why one is intrinsically superior to the other. They are immature, bitchy and extremely closed minded. And I have a problem with them.

Pinning humanities students against science students is a waste of our time. It doesn't add any value and when we allow ourselves to believe that we are better than others it creates an inflated ego. Who wants that really?

Humanities students are fed up of being told that their degrees are useless and won't get them jobs.

Science students are fed up of being told we have no social skills, are boring and are in it for the money.

So why are we as students continuing to contribute to this weird ongoing fight about who is best?

I'm a big believer that you shouldn't have to tear down someone else's work to give value to your own. I'll fiercely defend my fellow scientists. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't be reading this blog post because computers, the internet etc wouldn't exist and you'd probably have died of cholera. But I can also respect the humanities and their importance in the quality of human life.


The Huxley, Edinburgh

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Do you ever walk past somewhere frequently but never go in? For me, that was The Huxley. Located in a beautiful building on the west end of Princes Street I always thought that it looked way out of my budget. Fortunately, I recently found out that it was much less expensive that I had thought and arranged to meet there for a mate date. As we walked in, we were really impressed by how beautiful the decor of the bar/restaurant was. Despite having an affordable menu The Huxley offers a more boutique dining experience and feels very classy. 

It took me so long to decide on what to order as the menu is so good! I literally would have been happy to eat anything off the list. In the end, I opted for the bbq wings as I wasn't sure I was hungry enough for a sandwich or a burger. Despite thinking I was going for a smaller option I really wasn't! The portion size was 10 wings so a pretty big serving! They were absolutely delicious. The meat was really tender and the seasoning/sauce was super tasty. The size makes a perfect main course with a side or would even be great to share between two as a starter. 

December Reading Wrap Up

Sunday, 8 January 2017
Another year of reading has come to an end. I managed to scrape my goal of 52 books and finished the year on 53. December was, as always, a good reading month for me. I always try to finish as many books as possible before Christmas as I know I'll get a few new ones and want to read them straight away. After I finished my exams I spent a good few evenings cosied up with a book which was just what I needed!

My Blogging Secrets by Amber McNaught - Forever Amber is an amazing blog that I've been a fan of for a long time now. So when I saw that Amber has released a book I knew I wanted to read it a) just to support Amber and b) because I love reading books about blogging. I love Amber's writing style already and her book follows a similar chatty flow whilst not being afraid to discuss some harsh realities. I'd recommend it if you're a fan of Amber's blog but like most blogging books I don't think there's anything wildly new in here. 


The Most Popular Posts of 2016

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

My blog has changed a lot over the last year so I guess I have to start off by thanking those of you who have stuck around! This year I totally changed my blog design (which I love) and cut down considerably on the frequency of my blog posts. I used to love daily posting but the reality of daily posting is that it just isn't manageable around university so I cut back to posting once a week during the semester. A move for quality over quantity. 

One of the oddest things I've found about my blog is that it's always the posts I think are going to be amazing that crash and burn whilst the ones I think are just ok end up doing the best. I found it really interesting when I looked back at my most popular posts of the year as a lot of the time they were quite unexpected! 


In January I shared some goals that I wanted to complete before my 20th birthday. If I'm honest I thought I'd done terribly but now that I look back on the list I've actually completed a lot more than I thought I had done. I don't turn 20 until the 20th of January so I may be able to tick off a few more before then!


Self-Confidence & Other Stories

Sunday, 1 January 2017
Recently I went for a coffee date with another blogger. I met Anastasia from Nat Bees and we had some tea at Southpour, an old favourite of mine before we walked her dog through the meadows. We stopped in George Square, part of my university's campus, where I took some photos for Anastasia and she did the same for me.

And when I looked at the photos afterwards?

Well in all honestly I hate the way that I look in them.

And when I looked at them I said to myself 'it's fine I don't need to put them on my blog, no one needs to see me like this'.

But the thing is.

That's what I look like. That is my face. That is my hair. That's me. 

I don't think that I'd be being the sort of person that I wish to be if I didn't publish something because I think my hair is frizzy and that my roots are awful. Like everyone, I have good and bad days and sometimes I just have to roll with the punches. My appearance is often at the root of issues with my self-confidence. When I'm poking holes in my personality that's in a much darker frame of mind.