I always find it fun to discover new blogs to follow and read. If I'm honest, I find it more and more difficult to find unique bloggers that I enjoy reading but recently I've been overwhelmed with how many fabulous blogs there are out there. I've shared some favourite blogs in the past but I thought it was time to share with you a few new blogs I've been loving to read.

Sammyetc

Sammy's blog is probably the most recent I've discovered but one I have loved to read. I love the mix of beauty and skincare posts as well as the more chatty lifestyle articles. Her photography and theme are also super clean and pretty, which I love. I particularly love her "Shy Girl Guides" posts - can definitely relate! 

JadeMarie

Jade has been the blogger I've gone to when I'm in search of some inspiration - her posts are always really unique, thoughtful and helpful. I also love the posts she shares about improving your blog and I actually subscribe to her newsletter - I love the content she shares on there! She is also fabulous of twitter which is a plus. 

The Curvacious Vegan 

I see Amie's content pop up on my Twitter fairly often and I always pop over to her blog to see what she's been up to. Again, the unique chatty posts I adore and love to read. I just get the feeling that Amie is a great person from her blog and is super lovely. Amie's blog is definitely worth the read! 

The Cozie

Sofia's blog is another more recent find but makes me feel all warm inside when I give the posts a read. If you're wanting some more easy-to-read, friendly posts then this blog is for you. It's another great source of inspiration. 
I may have only discovered this blog the other day but I spent an hour browsing the pages of Rebeca's blog. I love her photography and the way she structures her post. I particularly loved "Finding beauty in the uncomfortable: London". I've recently moved to London so this one definitely resonated with me. 


I haven't seen many bloggers really sharing the love of other blogs for a while - it was something a few years ago everyone was doing! - so I thought I'd bring it back and hopefully help you discover a new blog to read! 

What blogs do you enjoy reading at the moment?  
Hope you're great, 
Sarah x
This isn’t the usual thing I post on here but something I did want to share. If you don’t know Sam Fender, by the end of this I hope you will take some time to give his music a listen, especially his newly-released debut album Hypersonic Missiles.

I was in my final year of uni last year when I decided to join the on-campus music magazine’s writing pool. I’d already got my tickets for Sam’s gig in York and just a week before the date, the chance to interview Sam Fender came about. I’d interviewed one band before this - a local band basically unknown at the time -  so you could say I was bricking it. But, before I could talk my shy, nervous self out of it, I said I’d do it.

I can't say the interview went off without a hitch. My interview technique was far from perfect and was laced with slight silences as I tried to remember what I wanted to ask without accidentally spurting out “what’s your favourite colour?”. But, I survived and while I spent the next few weeks cringing at little comments I made, I was still proud of myself.

As I mentioned, Sam has just released his first album and I thought now would be the perfect time to share this story as, while I don’t have the ability to interview him again, I still wanted to share with you my experience. While only small compared to many, this was one of my biggest accomplishments of last year. The original write-up was published in the campus magazine but never online so I wanted to share a newly edited version here with a few extra bits that didn’t make it into the original write-up.


The Interview "In Conversation with Sam Fender" - 30/08/18

This past year has seen Sam Fender's career soar and if you've not heard of him, now is the time to give him a listen. 

With his UK tour just starting, Fender dropped into York for his second date. The hidden upper-floor of Fibbers, a popular spot for students for a night out, was where we spoke. It resembled an illicit speakeasy, juxtaposing with the hazy, stifling venue below. 

It was almost a year to the date I'd seen Sam support VANT here, his impressive vocals leaving a lasting impression. "Touring is an invaluable and an amazing way to build a fan base", he acknowledged. After supporting the likes of Hozier and George Ezra, his popularity has risen considerably, with all six of his consecutive London dates sold out. Appearances at summer festivals similarly boosted his fan base. 

Unsurprisingly, this proved a hectic experience: "It was a mad, relentless crusade but done with a world of good" he described his summer as. The never-ending tours and continuous release of new tracks has paid off: Fender is quickly becoming recognised as one of the country's most exciting artists. 

Sam's tour started after the release of the latest single 'That Sound'. The track was debuted in anticipation for the soon-to-be-released EP Dead Boys, out on 20th of November, 2018. Interestingly, Sam has decided to opt-out of CD released. Instead, the EP will only be available on vinyl, cassette and the usual streaming platforms. 

"Why vinyl and cassette?" I asked. 
"Only people who buy CD's tend to be, like, my auntie and she wouldn't buy my CD. She buys like..."
"Michael Bublé?"
"Yeah! Or like the guy off the Chase... What's the point of a CD when everyone is just going to download it anyway? Vinyl, if you love an artist, it's like you actually own something of theirs. It's a physical thing; all the artwork and extras that you wouldn't get with a download or CD. I think it's more dedication to the cause. If you like an artist, you should buy their stuff. Vinyl has it's a place still - put a download code on top of it and it's great. And cassettes? They're a piece of piss - they're cheap and a bit of fun." 

Sam went on to express his own love for vinyl and owning Donny Hathaway's second self-titled album: 
"He's such a great soul singer and I have his vinyl up on my wall."
"Has he influenced you as an artist?"
"He doesn't influence my writing, but he influences me in the way he's one of the best singers of all time... He was a singer I was brought up listening to." 

I went on to ask if there were any songs he was particularly looking forward to releasing. "Poundshop Kardashians seems to be one that's caught a lot of attention... I'm sure it'll get me into trouble, hopefully" he joked. "No, I don't want that. People just get excited by something that's provocative but it's essentially just a rant". He also mentioned he was excited for people to hear "Spice" as well. 

We took some time to speak about the title track on his EP, "Dead Boys", a song that caused traction across major radio stations and UK TV. It's a track that deals with the topic of male suicide - a subject that is close to him and relates to events in his hometown. Fender really shows the power that music can have and it's a positive influence and ability to send a message. 

It may have been a while before the release but I had to ask. 
"And how is the album going then?" 
"The album is already written. We're starting to record it this week. It's going to be a grander sounding thing." 
He described it as a mix of familiar material and songs with a sound completely alien to fans. "One song has a sax, glockenspiel, piano, twenty-six guitars, bass, drums, even choirs of voices. I wanted a Phil Spector Wall of Sound thing that just hits you in the face." 

It was getting to the end of the interview and I was already run out of questions to ask, I felt so underprepared. I ended up panicking and asking "For people who haven't listened to you before, what would you say to them?" 

Sam paused and kind of took a minute to think. He started to reply what seemed like a more formulated answer before shrugging his shoulders, a slight shake of the head and changing his answer "You know, I'm not really that bothered about convincing people to like me." The way he said this shouldn't be taken the wrong way; it was in no means the way that may come across as narcissistic, thinking he's so good. But more, he's happy with the listeners he already has and doesn't feel the need to persuade people with his words to give him a listen but more, as he says, "If you hear and you like it then great." 

The interview soon came to an end and we headed back downstairs where we followed the sound of the bass undertones from the rehearsal. As we walked near the stage, I said something but I don't think he caught it; the rehearsal was too loud to really hear and he already seemed immersed in listening to the support warm-up, so I quietly left to join my friends waiting outside. 

Since then, Sam has accomplished so much more, going from sold-out show to sold-out tours for this year and next. Bigger venues, bigger releases and more. Doing this interview is still one of my biggest accomplishments and I'm so glad I took the chance to do it. 

Throughout the interview, Sam came across as a humble and modest guy who was in awe of his achievements so far. 
"I can't talk about everything without throwing a load of platitudes at you because it's all dream-level stuff. It's all completely off the wall and I'm overwhelmed by it all. How the fuck has this even happened?" This was after the release of his EP. I'd love to know how he's feeling now after the release of his album. 

I'm kind of hoping me sharing this, if you weren't convinced already, will persuade you to give Sam Fender a listen and, if anything more, buy his album available on vinyl and CD now. 

This was something a little different from my usual posts but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. 
Sarah x 
A Mindful Journal and Self-Care apps to improve your wellbeing and mental health

I shared recently why self-care is productive and how you shouldn't feel guilty for taking time for yourself, to help you destress and put yourself first. For students, life can quickly become stressful. You're thrown into a new environment where you have to adjust, navigate your way around a new environment and new friendships as well as managing the workload. Even maybe you have a part-time job on top of that. Things can feel overwhelming.

I for sure neglected self-care in the first year or so of uni, but by the end, I feel I really found a balance between enjoying student life while making sure I was comfortable with the stress levels I faced and found time for self-care that worked for me. With a new set of students heading off to uni and others returning for another year, I felt now was the perfect time to share some ways to practice self-care as a student as well as a few things to keep in mind. So, here are some tips and ideas for students to practice self-care. 

Self Care Tip #1 Find something you love

Whether it's joining a society, a gym, volunteering or making sure you take some time each week to do something you enjoy, it's a great way to take your mind off things for an hour. I remember in the third year I joined the aerobics society; having that once a week, no matter if I'd had a bad day, I'd go and always came out of it feeling so much happier and more energised. I also realised that I loved to draw and doodle and how much of a destresser it was for me. This was something I did less often but still, when I did find time for this, I found it very therapeutic. I feel if you find something separate from uni work to focus on, it can really help.

Self Care Tip #2"There's an app for that" 

Something I wish I'd had at uni was the abundance of apps that can actually really help your wellbeing and also act as self-care. Something I spoke out in my happy habits post was the app daylio - this is an app to track your mood, what you've been doing and can help you see when you're happiest and when you're not your best. 

Another app I used at the end of uni after it's release was Sayana. This was such an interesting app and it was kind of a journalling app in the layout of texts - you would answer questions and their responses differ depending on your answers. Sayana also gave you advice of mindful tips based on how you're feeling and you could look back on these methods after. If you're struggling to find someone to talk to, maybe try this to help speak through your problems. 

There is also an abundance of daily journalling apps out there right now. I prefer a prompted journal format but there are so many different app options to explore to help you find the right one. 

While this recommendation may be old news to you, Headspace is so relaxing - I tried it in some sessions run during my internship and I wish I'd used it back in uni so, here's me telling you to give it a go! Also, if you have Spotify, with unidays it is no extra cost to have Headspace as well as Spotify - which is great. I would definitely recommend checking that out. 

Self Care Tip #3 Cut the screen time 

Slight contradiction to my last recommendations of self-care apps, but this is more aimed at unproductive, endless scrolling of social media. I found the days I had the highest screen time were those that I also tended to feel run down and a little low. Since cutting my screen time and doing something different that I enjoy, like reading, I have felt a lot better. As a student, I know it's hard to step away from everything going on on social media but taking some time away did me the world of good. 

Self Care Tip #4 Stay Healthy 

You may have moved to uni with only a small (if any) repertoire of recipes you can cook and so you're stuck in the same constant spaghetti bolognese and beans on toast cycle. I found cooking different and healthy meals was a really good way to boost my mood. Not just from taking some time to cook but also enjoying meals that were a little different every so often and also a little better for me - it helped me sleep better, feel more energised and just overall happier.

Self Care Tip #5 Speak Out

At my uni, we were constantly reminded about the services on offer for students who are struggling so, if you're starting university soon, I would definitely find out where you can get information about what services they offer for people struggling with stress, mental health and anything else. Knowing where to access this information will help you out a lot later on. 

While they may be new to you, you're all in the same boat so if you're struggling, speak to one of your housemates. If not them, maybe a friend from home? Try and check in on your family as well - it can be quite relaxing to hear from your close ones if you're stressed or down. 


Did you take time for self-care as a student? If did, what did you do? If didn't, what do you wish you did? 

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x

It's been a while since I've shared some of my favourites. I have shared some beauty favourites not too long ago as well as some great TV, book and music picks. Today, I wanted to share some more miscellaneous staples that I've been using and loving day-to-day. 

Iced Coffee

It may be nearing the end of summer and, honestly, I'm ready to embrace the cosy cold weather, but that hasn't stopped me loving iced coffee or I guess my more 'bootleg', a homemade concoction that I like to call an iced coffee. I mean, hey, it still tastes like a Starbucks to me! If I'm reading, I make one. Blogging, yes I'll have one. Cleaning? Another one, please! I think I've become extremely basic for loving this and I guess my Starbucks glass does not help the cause but for how good it tastes, I'm not mad about it. 

If you're interested in making your own at-home iced coffee, be sure to check my COFFEE Insta story highlight for a lil' tutorial - no fancy espresso machine is needed! 

M&S Cotton Straight Jeans

I really owe this love to Becc4 after she shared this fab pick over on Instagram. I never thought I'd be someone who went in for light white or cream jeans as well as something in this super straight style, but here I am! I loved the fact that they were responsibly sourced cotton, not bank-breaking at £19.50 and also came in short, regular and long fits - of course, 5ft 4 (ok, 5ft 3) me got the short fit. 

For a style like this, you can find similar in Urban Outfitters and Topshop for £40+ so why not go for cheaper, more sustainable and just fabulous looking jeans? I never thought M&S would be a place I'd find my favourite jeans but I'm so glad I found these. While I don't think they will, if M&S did decide to expand their colour range to include a light pink pair, I'll be waiting at the shop doors ready to pay!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This year in reading hasn't been the best for me - so many books that leave me feeling unsatisfied, so when I read this book, my faith in reading was restored instantly! I was so tempted to do a full review of this book like I used to but that's just encouraging me to ramble on about this book in a likely incohesive manner so, let me try and summarise. I had already read Mr Salary (a short story by Sally Rooney) so I knew her writing style was one I could get behind and enjoy. Not just the writing style but the story was one I was fully engrossed in; it follows two teenagers from opposite backgrounds that become connected in high school and onto college. This isn't the young adult book I may have made it sound, but a story you think has been done 1000x before in such a different way.

You know how a book can feel warm and fuzzy but something happens to leave you crying at the end? This is the complete opposite - it gives a dull heartwrenching feeling throughout the whole book. You're rooting for the characters while simultaneously having your heart broken slowly. I devoured this book and I think you will too. I am already excited to read her other book Conversations with Friends very soon.

Sony Headphones

When my last pair of earphones broke, it was time to say goodbye to the love of Happy Plugs and I  switch it up with some headphones. I bought my dad the same headphones for Christmas a few years ago and he loves them, so I thought I'd pick the same up for myself. They're nothing groundbreaking - no Bluetooth, volume control, noise cancellation - but for me, they do the job. They are actually the perfect headphones for my commute and I love that they fold down really compact to make them the perfect size to fit in my bag. 

Brent by Jeremy Zucker & Chelsea Cutler

"What have you been using your new headphones to listen to, Sarah?" I hear you ask. Well, not long ago I discovered Jeremy Zucker who I have already shared my love of in a previous post. When this new EP with Chelsea Cutler appeared on my Spotify I had to give it a listen. They have such a melancholic sound with these slow songs that are easy to listen to. I've found it the perfect soundtrack while I'm reading as well as in the evening when I'm settling down. If you're looking for some new tracks to add to your chill, easy-listen playlist, I'd check this out. 

So there are a few more lifestyle favourites I've been loving lately. I find myself reaching for these every day and so I had to share them! 

What have you been loving lately? I'd love to hear any and all recommendations! 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah  x 
Working from home tips to improve productivity
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It's been a while since I worked from home, but whenever I do there are a few things I bear in mind. Here, I share some more general tips for you freelancers, students and bloggers who struggle to keep productive when working at home.

1. Get dressed & ready

I for sure have had those days working from home when I've opted to stay in my pjs because who wants to get out of those comfy clothes?! However, I hate to be a pyjama party pooper but I always found I feel sluggish during the day if I do this - my motivation to work just isn't as it would be if I got myself up and dressed. When I realised that having a morning routine like that of going out of the house for work made me more productive, I found my productivity, especially in the morning, increased. 

2. Create work-life boundaries

This is one of the main things I touched on in my post about creating a productive workspace - having boundaries from where you work and where you don't is one of my keys to keeping productive. Create an office space - a desk is probably best but if you don't have that then create an area that is just for working. Whether it's a seat at your kitchen counter or a specific spot on your sofa that you dedicate to working. This just makes you feel like when you're in that spot, you're working. 

Working from home comes with its perks; being in close proximity to the fridge, being able to do laundry in between emails. But, I also think it's useful to try and treat it like you are actually in an office. I tried to work the hours 9-5 to help split up my time and not tempt me from working from my bed too often or working later into the evening when I should be switching off. 

By having these boundaries, I found not only could I switch off more easily in the evening but I was productive during my working hours as I knew that I could only work during these hours and so needed to get as much done as possible. 

3. Know when you're most productive

This is a slight contradiction on my last point of having hours similar to office hours but, if you have more control over the time you have to work when you're at home, then knowing when you are most productive can really help schedule around this. 

I find I'm most productive first thing in the morning, so I try and it's now that I  tackle my bigger tasks. Then, mid-morning I tend to hit a lull. Here, I decide to do the more mindless tasks that don't require too much concentration. I also try and plan my lunchtime around my productive times. If I know I tend to flag around 12:30, I'll try and have my lunch then before starting again later when I know I'm more productive again in the afternoon. 

4. Don't be overly ambitious

This was something I always failed to do. Even though I didn't even finish my to-do list that day, I would somehow think that tomorrow I'd be able to double that - not going to happen! Instead, having a priority list of maybe 3-5 big tasks that need to get done every day (depending on how big they were) and a few extras that if I get round to them, then great! 

I find this helps not only stop me from becoming demotivated when I don't achieve all my daily goals but also stop me from working into the evening to try and get the rest of my to-dos done. 


5. Have a killer playlist

Some people choose to work in silence but, even now when I work in an office, having background music just helps me to get into the rhythm of working. I find it especially helpful to keep me productive when tackling the smaller jobs like replying to emails, filling in spreadsheets etc. 

If you're looking for some good work recommendations to help motivate you while not being too distracting, check out my new COFFEE playlist on Spotify. 

6. Try to leave the house each day

I think this is super important to be able to take a real break away from the stress of sitting and working all day. Maybe take some time to meet your friends for a coffee take a walk or just nip to the shop. 

I found when I worked from home, spending days on end inside when I had a lot of work actually left me feeling unhappy with myself as well as in my work. So, I can definitely vouch for the positives on your happiness and productivity for taking some time to get out of the house to switch off from your work for a little while. 

Is there anything I missed? Leave how you stay motivated to work in the comments! 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x