Monday, March 30, 2015

My top Blogger apps

If you missed the #lbloggers chat on Sunday night, well then you did miss out. Hosted by Lynsey Macdonald, the focus was on how to balance blogging with other commitments. As someone who is currently tripping, sometimes unsuccessfully, to manage their blog around a 9-5 job, regular exercise regime and getting ready to move house, this topic was right up my street.

The conversation quickly turned to which are best blogging apps to use, and I've compiled an overview of these below; 

Wunderlist 

Wunderlist is one app that emerged as being particularly popular among bloggers. Having not used it previously, I was quick to head over to the App Store to check out the description. 

Basically, Wunderlist enables users to compartmentalise their to do list into a number of categories and tick them off as they're completed. You can also attach pictures, PDFs and presentations - very snazzy.

Voted 'Mac App of the Year 2013', it's unique in the sense you are also able to share your lists with other people in your life and delegate tasks to them (when you buy the additional add-on for approx £4.99). No more excuses for your boyfriend to forget to put a load of washing on. 

Verdict

While in theory, this is a great idea, it's not the app for me. I'd much prefer to scribble down my jobs on a notepad if anywhere, rather than storing it in an app which - let's face it - I'm likely to completely forget about. 

Considering I only ever use the built in iPhone reminders app when I'm tracking  fivlthe plates I've had at Yo Sushi all you can eat, I can't see me using this one much.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of my favourites. It allows users to schedule tweets, across multiple accounts, keeping in touch with followers whatever they're doing. You can manually choose to when to post or set the app to post your message at popular times.

You are able to choose times at five minute intervals, and there doesn't appear to be a limit to how many tweets you can line up. 

Verdict

The best app for a busy blogger! Hootsuite is perfect for coinciding with scheduled blog posts - so even when I'm stuck in a two hour meeting, I can let my followers know when they can expect some new material. It's also really user friendly, which is a bonus.

TakeOff

When I listed this as one of my favourite apps, a lot of bloggers hadn't heard of it. Linked with Crowdfire, the TakeOff app allows you to schedule Instagram posts - which seemed to me to be a rare find.

You choose a photo and write your option description as you would on Instagram, and then rather than click post, you schedule it. Once it hits the scheduled time, you'll get a reminder to post you picture - and you get taken through Instagram and given the chance to add filters etc.

Verdict

While it's great in theory, you are only reminded to post at the scheduled time - it's not done for you. As such, if you miss the notification that it's time, you post will staying hanging in the drafts section. 

TakeOff isn't quite so self sufficient as Hootsuite, but it's still a handy tool and worth giving a try. 

Last but not least....

Blogger!

The app which allows me to blog on the go wherever I may be - and brings you this blog post.

Happy reading guys!

What are your favourite blog apps? Drop me a line in the comments below.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Unorthodox Blogging Zone

I'm moving house in 36 days (not that I'm counting!), and in the run up to the big day I seem to have been doing a considerable amount of visual furniture arranging planning exactly where everything is going to go.

One area in my new home I've been picturing in particular is my blogging space - which got me thinking about where I currently get into 'blog mode'.  And since my space is a little more unusual that just tapping away at my desk I thought I'd share it - and hopefully get some feedback on the weirdest places you've conjured up a blog post.

When I first started blogging, I had so much I wanted to say I thought I would be able to be able to write wherever whenever. What I hadn't accounted for was 'bloggers block'. I actually found that when I sat down at my desk laptop in hand, all ready to get cracking, I struggled to get the words out.

Instead, I found that it was much easier to write on the go. Specifically, on the train.



Presumably, this has something to do with the fact that I plug in my headphones, zone out from the other noise and can write all but completely uninterrupted. While I'm travelling, there's nothing else I should be doing; it's much easier to knuckle down when I'm not thinking about putting on another load of washing. How fun do I sound right now...

It feels more laid back to type up a post on my phone, and for me this makes the words flow a little bit more easily. There's also a whole train of people who can proof read my ramblings.

Ok, that last bit was a complete joke. 

In all seriousness, it is really important to find the thing that's right for you. Whether that be what you're posting, when you're posting or where you're posting. If you find yourself struggling to get out what you want to say, try experimenting writing in other environments. The results may be better than you expect!

Where is the strangest place you've written a blog post? Where is your perfect blogging space? 

Let me know in the comments :) 
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brightening up with a Barry M mani!

Nail varnish is my thing. After throwing away all my polishes as a young teenager as I decided I hated the smell, I've since acquired an impressive collection which extends into the hundreds. One for every occasion and everything...



Lately I've been neglected my nails/letting them recover/doing too many things to be impeded by wet nails - this leaving my talons bare. 

However, with the onset of spring, I thought it was time to inject a pop of colour into my manicure with a little help from Barry M. A vast number of my polishes are Barry M, to the extent that there's only a few now I can buy - because I have most of them! 

Barry M polishes are really affordable, with prices starting from just £2.99, and the quality is great. Their most recent addition is the Speedy Dry collection, so you can nail that manicure super fast - and their Gelly collection offers super shine and extra protection against chipping.

For this look, I went with two Gelly nail varnishes. 

Normally orange isn't for me, but Papaya is more of a coral shade. It always makes me feel summery and I think it looks great against my pale skin.  I applied two coats to all apart from my ring finger.

Coconut is a slightly off white shade. I tend to use this more for accent nails or underneath glitter polishes, as I think you have to be really really meticulous when applying whites neatly - and I never have time! This is two coats.

To cover Coconut, I used one of the glitter polishes from the Aquarium collection. Treasure Chest is made up of gold glitter flecks of all different shapes and sizes - rather than teeny tiny spots that you layer up for a really glittery nail. I love this effect.


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Monday, March 23, 2015

Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream Review

So while I am running the risk of boring you all with moisturiser talk, I couldn't keep this one to myself.



If you've been following my blog, you'll know that a couple of weeks ago I had a little splurge in Benefit and picked up a full sized Rollerlash and Puff Off. It turns out I was buying at the right time, as I also received a lovely gift bag (as well as £5 worth of Boots points - bingo!). As well as samples of Puff Off and POREfessional, I also received a pot of Total Moisture Facial Cream. I've never used any Benefit skin care products before, so I was excited to find one of these.



The cream comes in a little glass pot with bobbles down the side, with a sweet little beige top. I love Benefit packaging, as every little thing looks like it belongs in a grown up sweet shop - and this one is no exception. The cream is described on the Benefit website as providing 'concentrated immediate and long-term hydration for a radiantly refreshed complexion'. Phew!



What also drew me in, was that Benefit are so sure that this product is a winner, they offer a money back guarantee if you don't see a difference in your skin after 28 days. Not many brands would put themselves out there with such bold claims, so it only made more confident in the product and keen to try it out.

When I first opened the pot, it did strike me that it was quite small and I wondered just how long this was going to last. After applying it, I realised I really needn't have worried. The smallest amount covered my whole face, and my skin immediately felt super hydrated. The formula is designed to reinforce the skin's moisture barrier, I could certainly see a visible difference in my skin afterwards.

The cream is specifically for normal to dry skin, but it drenches your skin with so much moisture that I think it would be really well suited to very dry skin. It contains mango butter, which is a natural emollient, and so the formula feels really kind against skin as well. After moisturising, I applied my makeup base and the moisture really helped to give me a nice dewy look which is always a winner.

Total Moisture Facial Cream retails at £28.50, although if you have some Boots points you would be able to save on this. While this is a pricier moisturiser, I am really liking the results. If you are someone who is prone to having greasier skin, this isn't the product that I would recommend.

I am really thrilled to have picked up this little gem, and I will definitely be trying out some other products from the Benefit skin care range in future.

Have you tried this product before? Let me know in the comments.





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Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream Review

So while I am running the risk of boring you all with moisturiser talk, I couldn't keep this one to myself.




If you've been following my blog, you'll know that a couple of weeks ago I had a little splurge in Benefit and picked up a full sized Rollerlashand Puff Off. It turns out I was buying at the right time, as I also received a lovely gift bag (as well as £5 worth of Boots points - bingo!). As well as samples of Puff Off and POREfessional, I also received a pot of Total Moisture Facial Cream. I've never used any Benefit skin care products before, so I was excited to find one of these.



The cream comes in a little glass pot with bobbles down the side, with a sweet little beige top. I love Benefit packaging, as every little thing looks like it belongs in a grown up sweet shop - and this one is no exception. The cream is described on the Benefit website as providing 'concentrated immediate and long-term hydration for a radiantly refreshed complexion'. Phew!



What also drew me in, was that Benefit are sosure that this product is a winner, they offer a money back guarantee if you don't see a difference in your skin after 28 days. Not many brands would put themselves out there with such bold claims, so it only made more confident in the product and keen to try it out.

When I first opened the pot, it did strike me that it was quite small and I wondered just how long this was going to last. After applying it, I realised I really needn't have worried. The smallest amount covered my whole face, and my skin immediately felt super hydrated. The formula is designed to reinforce the skin's moisture barrier, I could certainly see a visible difference in my skin afterwards.

The cream is specifically for normal to dry skin, but it drenches your skin with so much moisture that I think it would be really well suited to very dry skin. It contains mango butter, which is a natural emollient, and so the formula feels really kind against skin as well. After moisturising, I applied my makeup base and the moisture really helped to give me a nice dewy look which is always a winner.

Total Moisture Facial Cream retails at £28.50, although if you have some Boots points you would be able to save on this. While this is a pricier moisturiser, I am really liking the results. If you are someone who is prone to having greasier skin, this isn't the product that I would recommend.

I am really thrilled to have picked up this little gem, and I will definitely be trying out some other products from the Benefit skin care range in future.

Have you tried this product before? Let me know in the comments.




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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hydraluron Moisture Jelly Review*

A few months ago, I received a cute little pot of Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Jelly. I hadn't used anything from the brand before, so I was keen to give it a try.



When I first opened the package, I was struck by the packaging. Contrary to your average moisturising products, this one comes in a little tub where the top acts as a pump. I really liked this design, as it's so much easier to portion out the amount you want and avoid any wastage.

The Mousture Jelly is the third piece in the Hydraluron range, following a serum and mask. Formulated with hydraluronic acid, which is naturally found in the body, it absorbs mind boggling quantities of water which helps leave skin super smooth. This is combined with PatchH2O and Fucogel, which work together to suck in moisture and provide a protective film for the skin.

When I first used the product, I was pleased to find it's much less jellified than it's name suggests. It was easy to rub in, and I found I was a little overzealous with it as I definitely squeezed out more than I needed. 



Having applied the jelly, it really just felt like I'd put some water on my face given that has a really light consistency. It absorbed reasonably quickly too, which is a bonus if you're putting makeup on straight after. 

Personally, I found the product to be quite refreshing and subtly hydrating. While I did really like the product it didn't quite knock my favourite Clinique moisturiser off the top spot. My skin did feel plumped and pepped up and I would use it again. This is currently retailing at £19.99 at Boots, which is cheaper than normal, so get down and buy one now!

*received as part of a Review Panel. 
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Loreal Elvive Nutri-Gloss Crystal Sparkling Range

I bought this for two reasons; it was pink and glittery. I've tried and loved Loreal Elvive hair products before (you can find my review here), and I'm a sucker for a well dressed product - so it was a no brainer.



The Loreal Elvive Nutri-Gloss Crystal Sparkling range has been specifically formulated for long,thin hair and is enriched with Micro Crystals that are designed to revitalise dullness and bring back shine - or sparkle (to be completely precise).

Initially, before I had even got to reading this part, I was taken in by the fact my new shampoo had little flecks of glitter. This immediately conjured up images in my head of having glistening princess hair that visibly twinkled and shimmered.



While, the result wasn't quite the fairytale style hair ending I imagined, for real life it wasn't far off. I have the shampoo and conditioner from the range; there is also 60 Second Saviour Intense Conditioner which I definitely think is worth purchasing. They have a great floral scent, and left my hair feeling great.

The shampoo lathers really well, so a little bit goes a long way. The formula was thoroughly cleansing, and my hair felt especially clean afterwards. My hair stayed shinier for longer, and really smelled great.

I'm a big fan of the Loreal Elvive Collection, and it's such great quality - for such a sweet price! The shampoo and conditioner is just £1.99 so you can't go wrong.

Have you tried this before? Let me know what you think in the comments below...

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Current Favourite - My 'Go To' Lip Combo!

If you follow me on social media, you'll know I've developed a love air with MAC makeup which shows no signs of wavering any time soon (poor bank balance).



It all started with Velvet Teddy, and while that's still a favourite, it may just have been knocked off the top spot by my new nude Blankety. It's one of their Amplified lipsticks, so it has a really creamy texture. It's subtle and chic and makes for a perfect day time lippy.



I've only recently discovered the merits of a good lip liner (thank you to Kylie Jenner), and I'm wondering what took me so long. I try not to go too overboard with overlining my lips, and focus more on just highlighting my cupid's bow.



With Blankety, I've been using Revlon's ColorStay Lip Liner in Nude. Originally I bought it for Velvet Teddy, but I found it also works with Blankety. While the colour isn't an absolutely perfect match, it works well to highlight my best bits. Pouty perfection!

Blankety is available for £15.50 at MAC Cosmetics, but you are definitely paying for quality with their products - and the lipsticks are really long lasting. The ColorStay on the other hand is a steal at £6.29. Grab yours now!
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Couch to 5k - Week 4!

I'm a little late on my week four post, but I fell out of my pattern of running on alternate days dye to having loads on. No excuse, I know!

Anyway, if you read my post for week 3, you'll know that the runs were still quite short - switching between 90 seconds and 3 minutes in length, with equal walks in between to break it up. In the last week however, 90 seconds are cut out completely and its all about picking up the pace.

Week 4 consists of the standard five minute warm up, 3 minute run, 90 second walk. Then, the runs are extended to 5 minutes, followed by 2 and a half minute walk, 3 minute run, a little 90 second break - and finishing off with a 5 minute run again.

The first run was, admittedly a bit of a shock to the system. That said, I can't determine whether that was on account of it being a few days since I'd run, or because it was slightly harder than it had been before. Either way, and gross as it sounds, I was pretty sweaty finishing and ready to just collapse into bed.

While the first run was a bit of a struggle, the subsequent ones I actually found really enjoyable. While it may just be the sign of improvement, I think this probably also has something to do with the way that I've been mixing up my running locations. I'm nervous about running in the dark, so where I haven't been able to get out before nightfall, I've headed to the gym instead. For some reason, I run considerably better on a treadmill as I can control my pace so much better. While it may also be my preference, I think it's been good to mix that up with outside running - given that's what I'll be doing come race day!

Having completed the fourth round, I was feeling pretty proud of my progress. The jump was more of a shock this week, but it was doable and it really showed me what I could achieve when I put my mind to it.

All in all, another success and so far I'm enjoying week 5 too. Bring on race day!
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Monday, March 09, 2015

Say Puff Off to under eye blemishes with Benefit's new wonder product!




I am a big fan of the Benefit brand, and when they recently launched Puff Off a couple of weeks ago I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Described as an instant eye gel, it aims to iron out under eye puffiness and fine lines - leaving them looking 'satiny smooth'. So, when I went to Boots last weekend I made a beeline for the counter to pick some up, and after getting the opportunity to trial it first, I knew this was definitely something I wanted in my own makeup bag.



The first thing I noticed about Puff Off is it's fantastic packaging. Of all the makeup brands I buy, I definitely think Benefit dress their products up the best - which just possibly makes them that bit more enjoyable. Puff Off is probably one of the cutest Benefit products, following a bit of pastel peachy theme.

When I got inside the box, I found that the gel was a similar shade. At this point, take note that the lid does not screw off as I thought - its a pull (blonde moment!). To assist with the ironing, there is a custom ironing tip. You're recommended to squeeze a little of the gel out, dot it under the eyes and then use the iron to glide it across your under eye area.





Initially, I was completely struck by how cooling the gel was. The combination of the formulation of the gel as well as the cold metal iron left me feeling like I'd been sat for ten minutes with cucumbers over my eyes, which was really refreshing. I felt that my eyes appeared wider and brighter (a sentiment that my boyfriend also shared), any puffiness had gone down and the tired look I'd been rocking for the last few weeks was visibly reduced. If you want a little pick me up in the mornings, this is a product I would wholeheartedly recommend.

The cooling effect lasted for some time afterwards, and once the gel had dried the skin under my eyes felt silky soft. While it does say you could wear under or over makeup, I would personally recommend putting this on before you apply your makeup base, as the gel obviously does cause foundation to disperse a little bit.

It terms of the promise of reduced fine lines, I am probably not the best candidate to test. Being in my early twenties, thankfully this isn't too much of a problem for me. For my age group, I think the advantage of this product is the way it acts as a little pick me up to 'tone down the tired.'

The product retails at £22.50 for 10ml, but I was lucky enough to buy it at a particularly fortunate time. Boots were doing a deal where if you picked up Rollerlash, and another full size Benefit product you also got a little gift bag containing some face cream and samples. Plus, if that wasn't good enough, I also received 500 points on my advantage card - equating to five glorious pounds! If you don't happen to stumble up to the Benefit counter at such an opportune time, I would still recommend picking this up. A little goes a long way, and personally as this isn't something I would need everyday, I think it will really last me well.



Have you tried Puff Off? Let me know what you think!
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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The Couch to 5k - Week 3!

On Friday, I completed Week 3 of NHS Choices' Couch to 5k programme. Much as the girly night I had planned was beckoning, I felt like I really had to get my run done before I could truly enjoy my weekend.

As I have said before, I found week 1 and 2 of the programme to be quite enjoyable and thankfully not too taxing. In Week 3, you build on what you have already achieved as the runs become slightly longer. Instead of the 90 second runs followed by 2 and a half minute walks in Week 2, the third week involves two repetitions of 90 second runs, 90 second walks, 3 minute runs and 3 minute walks.

I found this to be quite a nice little jump, pushing me a little bit harder but by no means exhausting me. Initially, I did feel a flick of panic that my runs would be that bit longer, but I knew I could manage it. When I was younger, I used to run three times a week and I still jump on the treadmill from time to time in the gym. For me the Couch to 5k was about maintaining consistency, and not flaking out when I got a bit out of breath.

This week, I found the runs went much more quickly. The three minutes flew by, and it was easy to keep going, because I knew I had a good break between sets if I got tired. I did one of the runs with my boyfriend, and we were quite surprised at how quickly we actually completed it. This week, the new tip was to try not to waste too much energy by letting your head bob around to much. It was quite handy having another head to watch, and I got weirdly competitive in trying to keep mine more still than his!

All in all, Week 3 was a success, and it will be interesting to see what Week 4 brings!


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Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Will of Iron Triathlon - Are you ready to take on the challenge?!

Hi guys!

A couple of week's ago, I came across a tweet from Beth over at Beauty in Beta asking for help to promote a charity event. As a blogger, I think it's really great where possible to use our little portions of the internet to publicise what is important, and so I contacted her to find out a bit more info. 

Beth recently started volunteering with the Willow Foundation. They are the only charity within the UK who provide unforgettable Special Days for young adults between the age of 16 and 40, who are seriously ill. Willow was established in 1999 and in the 16 years since, they have fulfilled more than 11,000 Special Days - which is a truly incredible feat! 

Special Days are centred around an activity of the young adult's choosing, and primarily, are an opportunity for them to regain some normality while spending quality time creating new memories with their families. 



In the near future, they have an event coming up which is called the Wall of Iron Triathlon. If you've been following my blog, you'll know that despite severely lacking athleticism, I recently set myself the task of training and completing a 5K run. And, honestly, having read the overview of what this war of wills entails - my little challenge looks like nothing more than a walk in a park! As Beth herself puts it, this isn't for the faint hearted...

The triathlon involves completing three different activities; a 26.2 mile run, 112 mile cycle and a 2.4 mile swim. Are you out of breath just reading that?

The good news is that you can take part as an individual or as part of team. Your team can be from 2 to 200 people - so rounding up more people can take the pressure off that bit more too. You have a whole week to complete it, either in the gym or the great outdoors, and until May to train. The official Will of Iron week is 2nd to 8th May. 

The event is £25 to enter, and the money raised will go towards organising Special Days for around 100,00 people in the UK. 

If you think you'd like to get involved, you can find more information on the Will of Iron website here
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