JANUARY IN REVIEW

29 Jan 2019

While I know some have felt like January has been a long month, I actually feel that it's flown by. This month's focus was "RENEW" as I tried to reengage with the things that I love such as art and reading while also making time for blogging and also uni work. Today, I thought I'd share with you my thoughts on this month and whether or not I've managed to reach the goals I set myself. 

THE BAD

This month didn't exactly start off well. I was reluctant to return after Christmas to face exams. For the first time since first year, I didn't want to leave home and be back at uni. I was actually feeling rather more drained than renewed at the start of the month. 

This month didn't come without it's hiccups; there were days I still felt overwhelmed with the work I needed to finish and didn't always have time to do something I wanted to spend my free time doing. 

As I mentioned in my "LET"S TALK NEW YEAR" post, thinking about jobs and life after uni is a common topic of conversation amongst my friends and can get not just me, but many others down thinking about the uncertainty of what's to come after university.  

THE GOOD

It was my 21st birthday just last week. I'm planning on writing a full post on my thoughts on turning 21 but what I will say now is I had one of the best birthday's I've had in a while. I was surrounded by friends that I felt wanted to be there rather than feeling obligated and was happy to see they enjoyed my birthday as much as I did. 

My parents also came to visit last weekend and, after my mum dropped me off and had to leave me in tears as I didn't want to come back this term, it was nice to spend some time with both her and my dad now that I was in a much happier mood. While they were only in York for the afternoon, it was nice to spend a few hours with them. Also, mum brought a fabulous cake down for me and my house to enjoy so that was a plus!

WHAT I'VE ACCOMPLISHED

I'd say one of my biggest (yet still small) accomplishments of this month was getting my blog back up and running. While not completely consistent, I have focussed on trying to publish as close to my old schedule as I can and posting what, I think, are unique and slightly different posts. With this, I've found myself more engaged on Twitter and I've been loving been back in the twitter world; interacting with people I follow and other bloggers; discovering some new blogs to follow. I think this month, I've really fallen back in love with blogging and all the little extras that come with it. 

I'd say my other accomplishment, which was more one for last year but I only recently managed to get my hands on a copy, was that an interview I did with Brit Awards Critic's Choice Winner Sam Fender back last year was published in the music magazine that we have on campus. I didn't expect the full article to be included so I was shocked to see it crossed over to two pages in the latest issue.

IN PROGRESS...

While this may sound like January has been mainly negative, I've already had some good times and made the right steps to reaching some self-related goals. While not much, I've already made a dent in my reading challenge for the year and have found reading shorter books as a better way for me to get back into reading during busier periods. I've already got the books for next month lined up and ready to open.

I've been planning a few art pieces for the first time in a long time and, while I'm worried about the outcome, I'm looking forward to making more progress in the next month. 

Writing. A hobby I love but constantly struggle with finding inspiration. I did what I always do when I hit this point and bought a new notebook; hoping that this fresh book will bring some fresh ideas. While only two pages have been filled so far, I'm hoping to keep reaching for it as we head into February. 

While I mentioned the daunting start of job hunting and working out what I want to do, while a clear plan is yet to be formed, I've started to explore a few options after speaking to some people. I'm slowly working towards really knowing what I want to do after university.


So there's a round up of what I've been up to this month including the good and the bad among other updates. I've already thought about what I want to accomplish next month and to focus on other aspects of my life as well progressing on what I have done so far. I'll be posting my February Focus of the Month later this week so stay tuned!

What are some of the positives and negatives of your January? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

READ, WATCH, LISTEN

24 Jan 2019


Feel like it's about time I share with you some of my favourites in the world of books, music and TV...


READ

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
As I slowly get back into reading this year, this was the first book I picked up. It follows a lady who works at a convenience store while her friends and people around her get married and settle down she carries on working there. With the pressures that she must follow suit, she tries to come to an arrangement that will make help her live this "normal life".

This is definitely not one that everyone will like but as a short read I did enjoy it and finished it quickly. I felt it had a similar tone to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; one of my favourite books from last year. For a short book, it definitely also has levels relating to society's ideas of what women should be doing as well as what everyone should be up to at certain stages in their lives.  However, these norms aren't for everyone. It was a quick read and I'm not sure I got everything out of it that I could so I think I'll be giving this a re-read later this year. It's actually also my first ever (I think) translated book and it's encouraged me to pick up other translated work this year. 

I'm currently reading "13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl" and "The Last Children of Tokyo". If you want to keep up with more bookish things, follow my goodreads. 

WATCH

YOU 
Everyone's been raving about this but I went into it with quite low expectations thinking it was quite over hyped. However, I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. The way you end up actually liking the bad guy is quite worrying almost and I felt guilty for doing so. It was a really well filmed and written series. While the end hinted at a second season and as much I enjoyed the first season, I almost feel like it might spoil the impact of the first. Having said that, if a second season was to happen, of course I'd give it a watch. 

Sex Education
I feel like we've been missing a show like this. If you like anything like My Mad Fat Diary, I would give this ago. It includes topics in a way that I think many shows have been afraid to in the past. I haven't laughed out loud at a TV show in quite a while but I couldn't stop myself at points throughout this; the characters were likeable and the British humour made it a great watch. As well as making me burst out laughing, it had me close to tears in parts and, to me, if a show can do both it's a great show that's worth the watch. 

LISTEN

RM // Mono

This mixtape or, what he calls "playlist" has got me through my revision. Such chilled music that has been great in the background. RM, or Kim Namjoon, is a rapper in the KPOP band BTS. Now, before you dismiss it right here and now, I suggest going away giving it a listen and look at the translated lyrics. It's such a beautifully written mixtape that he wrote and produced himself. This man's got so much talent and I still can't stop listening to his mixtape. 

LAUV

This is another artist that have been listening to repeatedly. Such easy going songs with a range of more upbeat and slower ones, the music is great to have on in the background as I walk or listen to as I walk to lectures. 

Orange Playlist

Of course, I have to plug my Spotify Playlist. My Orange Playlist is basically my current playlist of songs I find myself listening to regularly. It's constantly updated and changed so if you want a taste of the varied taste I have, go give it a listen! 


So, there's a little update of what I've read, watched and been listening to! Do you have any recommendations of what I should check out next? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

5 SKINCARE PRODUCTS I'M LOVING

21 Jan 2019



After a pretty hectic breakout at the end of last year, my skin has finally cleared and it was from the help of these following products. All of these were great at rehydrating my skin, helping with texture as well as combatting my breakout. 

I'll start by saying, I don't really agree that a scrub should be used daily. I tend to really only pick it up when I feel my skin really needs a good cleanse. I'd say this is pretty similar to most scrubs I've used in the past but this is just the one that I've been using over the past few months and found it really helps smooth out my skin (as well as having a great scent which is a nice bonus!). It creates a great base for applying foundation once I've put my moisturiser on. It's also really helped bring out the impurities in my face as well as helping reduce them over time. This is a scrub that isn't too abrasive but does get the job done. If I'm in need of a good staple scrub in the future, I'll be highly considering repurchasing this. 

This has been one more for my dry skin days- perfect for the current winter weather. It reminds me a great deal of the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish; not just in its packaging, but the consistency of the product and how great it leaves my skin feeling after. What I sometimes find with products labelled "hydrating" is that they tend to break my skin out. However, this thankfully hasn't happened with this. Whether it's this or the combination of products I've been using, I'm unsure. But this is definitely a calming and soothing cleanser that I'm so happy I picked up. 

I bought this, along with the cleanser, in a set from HomeSense and, from looking at the full price, I got an absolute steal! I think this is one of the products I have to really thank for the way my skin has been feeling recently. It's feeling a lot more hydrated all day round as well as a little brighter. I'd be wary to pay the full price of this but after trying it, I definitely understand the higher price point. 

What's a skincare post without the mention of The Ordinary. I've already included this toner in my "EVENING SKINCARE ROUTINE" back last year. This is one I'll definitely be repurchasing. There was news that The Ordinary was shutting for business. however, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. So, if you have problems with textured skin or hyper pigmentation, I'd definitely give this ago. Also, if you've been thinking of getting the Pixi Glow Tonic, I'd definitely try this one first as it's very similar in its properties and claims while being a fraction of the price and, I can vouch, that it's great. 

Whenever I've had big breakouts in the past I've panicked and used anything and everything I could to get rid of it. However, this time round I decided to draw things back, let the breakout run it's course with the help of these products and only use Tea Tree oil directly on the spots. I actually found this worked better than piling on treatments and creams as it was a more natural treatment for the blemishes. It also meant that, by just targeting certain areas, it didn't cause my whole face to dry  out. This little oil of goodness is definitely something I'm going to be reaching for when I next breakout as well as just when I have a little pimple problem pop up in the future. 


So there's a quick run down of the products that my skin and I have been loving lately. Have you tried any of these? Do you have any recommendations for texturised skin that I should try out? 

Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, as always, my opinions remain my own*


WAYS TO LOVE MONDAYS

15 Jan 2019


Everyone tends to have quite the vendetta against a Monday. For most people it means the weekend's over and it's back to work/school/college. For me, it's straight back into lectures at university. However, this past term at uni I've actually found myself less resentful about getting out of bed in the morning to start the week and have actually, dare I say it, started to like them.
For some people this new year, they be looking to stop, as many do, hating on Monday's and instead looking at how you can learn to love Mondays. So, today I thought I'd share with you some positives about Mondays and a few things you could do to make the most out of the start of the week and to make them a little bit easier.

MAKE THE MOST OF SUNDAY

For me, the process starts the night before. Sitting down and writing a to-do list that I will start to tackle the next wee allows me to get my head in order. Any appointments, lectures, deadlines I might have that week I make sure are in my diary. I was thinking of doing a post about my Sunday Routine in more detail but it's very similar to the points I made in my "HOW I RESET" post so maybe give that one a read first. 

I make sure that everything is ready for tomorrow. Bag packed, lunch prepped. This means there's less rushing around and stress for the dreaded early morning that most have on a Monday. 

NEW WEEK, NEW START

Treat Monday as a refresh. If you had a hard week last week, thinking more positively of all you want to accomplish can really help you love Mondays and realise the potential it has to set yourself up for a successful week and beyond. Monday is the perfect time to go "Right, let's get this done this week" and can be a great chance to start something new you may want to introduce into your routine or something extra you want prioritise. 

EARLY NIGHT, EARLY MORNING

For many, you probably don't have a choice if you have to be in work for 9 or even earlier. If you don't have to wake up early it doesn't mean you shouldn't. Starting the week off early may seem annoying but I find it really sets the tone for the rest of the week. Being up and ready at a reasonable time gives you the day to be productive whether at work, uni or at home. I find it really gets me in the right frame of mind and gives me enough time to properly wake up before I have to get the jobs I need to do done for the day. 

If you are one that does have to get up early for work, I think making sure you a good night's sleep makes Monday morning a little more bearable. I find, while I may not seem it as soon as I wake up, give it an hour and happier and more energised than if I'd not gone to bed earlier and even if I'd chosen to stay in bed the extra few hours. 

EAT WELL

I tend to plan my meals along with my week on a Sunday and I make sure that Monday's especially, I take care in what I eat and make sure I'm not just rushing around in trying to get a meal together but making sure each meal is something I enjoy. Most importantly, I make sure to have time for a good breakfast; making time to sit down and enjoy it instead of running out the house with a bit of toast in of my mouth makes me feel a lot calmer and prepared for the rest of the day. 


These are just a few simple I think make Monday's that little bit easier and would love to know if you agree! Are you a fan of Monday's or are there any positives about Monday's that make them a little better for you? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x 

WORD OF THE MONTH: RENEW

7 Jan 2019


So I've seen a similar idea floating round the blogging world. Specifically, I saw Emma at "NotCopperArmour" talk about how she has a "Word of The Year". I thought this sounded like a really cool concept but, as indecisive as I am, I thought I'd do a Word of The Month/Focus Of The Month instead. This will be something that will mean tackling a part of my life that I want to improve and making sure that I plan ahead to make sure I get the most out of each month. As I give this new idea a go I thought I'd bring you along for the journey and share with you what each focus of each month will be and also share how well it goes. I have a few ideas for certain months already but if you have any ideas for things you think would be good to focus on over the next 12 months let me know. I'd love to hear!

As it's the start of a new year, I thought it was only right to have January's focus as"RENEW". If you saw my previous post "LET'S TALK NEW YEAR" I touched upon how people put a lot of pressure on themselves to completely transform and set big goals in January and isn't always beneficial. With that, I do see the benefits of using January to reset and get your life planned and organised. That's why I think the word "Renew" really fits with how I want to use this next month.  

WHAT I WANT TO FOCUS ON THIS MONTH. 

University
The first port of call this month is exams. As I post this, I'll have entered exam week so will be in full stress mode but hopefully will be getting close to it all being over. I want to start this term a fresh. After putting too much pressure on myself and not really giving myself a proper break over Christmas, I want to take things steady but making sure I'm still putting the effort into trying my best. As my time at university will soon draw to a close, I want to make the most of the time I've got while I'm still here and try and get involved even more over this next term. 

Blogging
This has to be one of the main reasons I thought of starting this Word Of The Month Challenge. I think it will really help me focus on aspects of blogging that I'd like to improve. Sticking with this months theme, after being intermittently in and out of blogging, I want to enter back into this online world as much as I can. 
I want to focus on planning blog posts in advance and making sure I'm putting out the best content I can. 

Reading
This is similar to blogging. It was really something that was put on the back burner last year but this won't be happening in 2019. After I was under my reading challenge by an embarrassing amount this year, I am determined to not only read at least 20 books but also complete a few extra reading challenges I've set myself along the way. These will help me expand the book choices I make and dip into genres I've never tried before and read authors I've never read before. I want to focus on reengaging with reading and reinstating my love for it over January. If you want to keep more up to date with all the books I'm reading and the challenges I've set myself, I recommending heading to my goodreads.

Art. 
Another one that was neglected in 2018 and probably since high school and one that I always regret not doing more of. I have so many ideas I want to get down on paper both with pencils and paint brushes. I feel re-inspired to get creative and I'm going to make sure I find time to do this too. 

So with my word of the month being "RENEW" and my focuses set out, I guess it's time I go away and see how well this goes. 


What do you think of this idea? Do you have any suggestions of words I should use as a focus for the next 11 months? 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x



LET'S TALK NEW YEAR

3 Jan 2019



It was on the radio the other day when the presenter said that New Year is the biggest party night on the calendar and, for so many, that is exactly what it is. However, I've never been one to care too much about it. I would always spend it with friends and family, would count down to midnight and have a few drinks, let off some fireworks and I loved that. But, every year I've always thought I've been doing it wrong; everyone seems to have a better new year than me and maybe it's almost like a bad omen; this bad start throughout the rest of the year. 
So, when my sister asked if I wanted to join her and a few of her friends to go to Ireland I thought "Why not?". I hadn't been away all year and what better way to start a new one but in a different country experiencing something new with new people. 
We were there over new year and had a lovely time visiting some bars, looking around the city, laughing in copious amounts and, of course, being together at midnight. All in all, it was a really nice break to escape the reality of university for just a few days. 

However, one thing that always gets me about new year is the notion of "New Year, New Me". I get it; I too will make resolutions (that I will most likely not keep to) and embrace the new year as a fresh start. But, I think it's easy to get caught up in this idea and forget what happened before that stroke of midnight and take too literally what the start of the new year represents.

"This is it. This is when things change"

It's something we all do; wait until a defining point in time before making a change and it's something that almost baffles me that we're all so used to doing. 

As I head into 2019, yes, with some vague resolutions, I don't want to forget the progress I've made in 2018 as, while it may not seem like much now, just because something didn't finish in 2018 doesn't mean it can't carry on. Your troubles from 2018 are still with you and should not just be brushed off in a way that later down the line could effect you even more. But it's also worth remembering that as you utter to yourself and those around you "This will be my year!" to not put pressure to live up to your resolutions and high expectations if you, later down the line change your mind or things don't go exactly as planned.  We're human and shit happens. 

What I'm trying to says is, yes, it's good to take the start of a new year as a time to make some changes as well as using it as a time of reflection. However,  that doesn't mean your fresh start has to be in January, hell, you don't even have to start a fresh. Just because 2018 is over doesn't mean some of the stories created in that year are done and they can still continue and that the book doesn't have to end.  Progression is important just as much as resolutions. 

So what's happening in 2019? 

With what I said above, I wasn't going to make any real resolutions for 2019. However, I'm human and it seems like a wasted opportunity not to encourage myself to make some changes in my life, little or big; to take the time to plan what's to come in the next 12 months and beyond. 


TO UNIVERSITY AND BEYOND

As shocking as it is to say, I will be finishing my degree in Psychology in June. Whenever anyone had asked me what I was doing after I finish, I would be telling them I would be applying to do a masters in something Psychology-related. However, over the past years of endless testing of knowledge, essays, reports and continued stress I feel I've almost fallen out of love with the subject and instead think a break is necessary. 

A lot of my friends and most students look at grad jobs and, while I have pondered doing the same, there hasn't been anything I've seen that really sticks out to me. Instead, I think, when uni ends, I will be looking to stay in York where I've been loving to live these past years and find any job that will pass the time. I'll take those 6-12 months after graduating to look for something more permanent, maybe reconsider a masters but also try and get back in touch with the hobbies I have been neglectful of for many years now. Maybe from this, something will spark an interest or I will have a light bulb epiphany of realising what it is I really want to do. 

MY LITTLE BLOG

One of the hobbies I've been neglectful of is my blog. It's something that I think I've finally started to find my feet and my passion for again. I'm hoping to try and put out content as often as possible but, in doing so, not forcing myself to share posts and writing that I am not 100% happy with. 
I think building a more positive relationship with blogging again could be really beneficial looking into the future and I'm excited to see what I can produce from now on. 

I should take this opportunity, if anyone would like to, to ask if you have any blog posts of mine that you enjoyed reading and would like to see more of.  I'm continuously trying to evolve my "voice" on my blog and bring something new to the table but, it'd be nice to know that people are enjoying it too and would like to read more! 


SOME MORE PERSONAL CHANGES

I think this is the biggy. I've already mention leaving university and life changes related to finding a new place to live in York as well as a job. 

I've had a rocky relationship with self-love and, like many, it's a bit of a rollercoaster. At the start of 2018 I felt as though I was in a good place with my confidence and it's only recently that I've hit a bit of a bump in the road. I want to continue to focus in growing an appreciation of myself. How I'll do this is still undetermined but it's one of those that is a continued progression over many years and won't just be starting in 2019. What maybe starting in 2019 maybe being more openly honest about this subject to my friends and others close to me. 

My creativity is waiting to be put to use and I have already so many ideas I just need to put in place  in 2019. I want share these ideas with as many people as I can. Once my January exams are over, it's definitely the first resolution I want to tackle. 

Lastly, self-care is something I am putting at the forefront of my mind moving through 2019. Not just a face mask (while that may help) but talking about my problems to people who want to listen, and seeking help if or when necessary. Also, not pressuring myself to do anything I don't feel comfortable doing and all around focussing on myself. 

This may seem like a little all-over-the-place-post but I wanted to get a little message across as we enter 2019 and also share with you some of the changes I'd like to make and any progression in previous resolutions I want to implement. 

How do you feel with the start of 2019? Are there any changes you're thinking of making over this next year? 
Happy New Year!
Sarah x

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