Ninety Days of Summer: Focus, Plan and Get Things Done

Sunday, 21 June 2015
euhnella | Ninety Days of Summer - 90 Days To Focus, Plan and Get Things Done

Remember when I made a vow to get my sh*t together?  Me neither, it was quite a long time ago, and after that post the subject was never brought up again on the blog. At the time, I had become acutely aware that my life wasn't as together as I wanted it to be, but I hadn't quite reached the part where I knew how to go about doing that. How does one go about getting their life together? I continued to float along in my unsatisfied uncertainty until I became so frustrated with my lack of progress that I sat down one evening and came up with a solution: I would only focus on 75 days at a time.


Exactly 65 days ago, as I poured my heart out into my journal, I realised that I was frustrated, overwhelmed and reaching worrying levels of anxiety because I was trying to focus on too many things at one time. I'd just come to the realisation that I needed to stop envisioning a future here in Belgium when deep down I had my heart set on moving back to England, exams were beginning to feel menacingly imminent and I was squaring my shoulders to spend hours studying a subject that I was far from passionate about (Belgian Law and I do not get on), I wasn't happy with my blog and I was still nursing a broken heart back (though luckily I had reached a bearable level of heartache and only belted out 'Someone Like You' on a weekly rather daily basis). 

It felt like there was so much to do and I didn't know where to start unraveling it all. 

So I decided to focus. Looking at my calendar, I picked the 1st July as the figurative date for the start of the Next Chapter of My Life. This gave me 75 days to focus on the things that I needed to do right now to close the Current Chapter of My Life. I wouldn't be moving until after that date, so there was no need to send myself into a spiral of unnecessary worry over whether David Cameron would even let me back into the country or if I'd find a job or a place to stay or if now was really the right time to move out. Since I wasn't planning on getting married and settled down in the next 75 days, my heart ache took a backseat and I promised myself I could go back to binge-watching Pretty Little Liars with a tub of ice cream after the 1st July if that's what I really wanted. 

I had no idea what I wanted to achieve or do when I made this decision, but I knew that I wanted to do my best and I wanted to persist until I reached the end

So I picked out a notebook I had in my ever-growing stash and dedicated myself to writing in that every day. A new page would signal a new day, and at the top I would write the date and how many days were left to go. As the days went along I figured out the areas I wanted to focus on, my daily priorities and the short-term goals I wanted to achieve. I'd write out a schedule for myself nearly every day, and even though most days I failed to stick to it, I still made one for the next day because all that mattered was that I gave my all each day. 

I wasn't after a specific result: I just wanted to stop feeling so aimless, feeling so overwhelmed and feeling like I wasn't giving my all to a life that I had come to realise I am truly blessed to have in the first place.

And 65 days down the line I can say that this is a method that has worked for me. Therefore I wanted to refine it, not only for myself but to be able to share it with others who might benefit from it. 


euhnella | "For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven."

"For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven." 
- Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

When I came across this quote, what I was doing seemed to make more sense. You don't have to be a Christian to appreciate the idea that everything we do in life has a time for it. There are times when your studies will take priorities, there are times when your work has to be a priority, times when your friends and family require your undivided attention and other times when you have to make yourself a priority above everything else. The way your priorities are arranged will always come to change, as surely as the seasons

This inspired me to stop my 75 days just a little bit earlier, and to use the actual seasons as markers for different phases in my life. A season is roughly 90 days long and this appealed to me because:
  • 90 days is three times the time it's said to take to build a habit so any changes I made and stuck to would definitely end up becoming habits.
  • 90 days is long enough to see if something is or isn't working but it's short enough not to feel like an overwhelmingly long time to plan for.
  • Using the seasons means that I can use the weather or certain events to shape my days, so I'm not always lost or unprepared for upcoming events. For example, summer is the time for outdoor activities, autumn has Halloween and things like National Novel Writing Month and winter (obviously) has Christmas. This would be great not only for my personal life, but for my blogging life. 
So how exactly am I planning to go about focusing, planning and getting things done throughout these next 90 days?


Got My Exam Face On

Thursday, 11 June 2015

I don't know about you, but I attend a university where there has to be some unwritten rule that everyone always has to look good. I am definitely not at a "wear leggings and Uggs to your lectures" kind of campus, but at a "I woke up like this - flawless" kind of uni, and this rule extends to exams. Currently in my final exams, I think I've mastered the art of looking relatively good without putting on my usual face of make up.

The Flawless Base

For my base I use what I have dubbed: The Body Shop Flawless Trio. After my morning cleanse, I use the Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser SPF 30 which ensures that my skin is bright and protected; I then go in with the Vitamin C Skin Boost a lovely silicone-based serum with tiny flecks light reflecting particles which leaves my skin smooth and glowing; then I finish up with the All-In-One Instablur to smooth out any large pores and the look of my 'I was up all night going over my notes' under eye bags. 

This gets me throughout the entire day and I don't have to worry about signing of my exam paper with foundation fingerprints (I tend to scratch my face during exams for some reason). When my skin begins to look a little shiny throughout the day I just use the Kleenex Shine Absorbing Sheets to dab away any excess shine and I'm good to go. 

The Eyes & Brows

As a glasses-wearer, filling in my eyebrows is definitely the best way to define my face. I'm currently using the Eyelure Ink Brow in Dark Brown, and despite having a love-hate relationship with it, it's definitely looking well loved. I keep those in place with the e.l.f. Essential Wet Gloss Clear Brow & Lash and it's a good thing it does its job well because scratching my brows seems to be another one of my nervous ticks. Mascara also helps to make me look a little more awake, and I love my Yves Rocher Volume Elixer Mascara as it adds both volume and length for pretty, natural looking lashes. As you can never know when late spring showers are going to hit, I then seal it in with the Kiko False Lashes Concentrate Waterproof Top Coat Mascara, which is a clear gel-like mascara that makes any mascara you own waterproof.

The Lips

Nerves seem to leave me with dehydrated lips (I must subconsciously chew them) so I need all the moisture I can get. My current go-to lip balm is the Carmex Cherry Lip Tube which tastes like cherry drops and has a cooling menthol zing to it. I also find that lipglosses keep my lips moisturised for longer whilst adding some colour to my lips so I'm currently loving wearing my Yves Rocher Sexy Pulp Volume Gloss in Coral. I love the colour pay off of this, as well as the smooth texture and it'll definitely last through a three hour paper. Alternatively I like these e.l.f Luscious Liquid Lipsticks in the shades Brownie Points (a pretty nude) and Cherry Tart (more on the berry side) though they are more on the sticky side, or this Hema Pretty Lips Lipgloss SPf 15 in Spicy Brown. 

The Nails

Having my nails done makes me feel that much more put together, but experience has taught me that dark nail colours are a bad idea as I've yet to find a top coat that stops them from leaving a dark crayon-like line across my exam paper if I accidentally scratch my nail across it. That's why during exam time I prefer to stick to neutral shades such as the Nails Inc Bleinhem Terrace, a pretty pale coral with slight shimmers, Nails Inc. Oakley Street which is a gorgeous mustard tone that really complements my skin tone or Maybelline Color Show Love This Sweater which sold me on the name alone but also happens to be a really pretty pale nude. 

Do you wear makeup during exams?

Stop Doing Things Because You Should

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Growing up the phrase 'I can't' got a lot of hate. I think "There is no such thing as can't" was the never-ending refrain of my primary school teachers. I'm not saying they were wrong, especially when faced with a pouty seven-year old who just doesn't want to figure out her fractions and lumps it into the category of Can't. By the time I reached the end of my secondary school education, their words had evolved to more philosophical phrases such as "Where there is a will, there's a way" or "the only obstacle to success is the one in your mind" but the gist of it was the same: stop saying you can't and just do your bloody work. 

I wish the concept of "should" would have gotten the same hate.

I've already taken issues with the concept of "try" in a previous Thoughts on Sunday where I agreed with Master Yoda (despite never having seen Star Wars): do or do not, there is no try.  Similarly, you want to or you don't - there is no should. Should is some weird in-between concept that is often ladened with guilt, loaded with expectations and doesn't actually do anyone any good. 

If you should be doing it, why aren't you doing it?

More often than not, when you start thinking that you "should" be doing something, it's because someone other than yourself thinks it's a good idea, but deep down you don't actually really agree and you don't want to do it. Sitting for hours contemplating that thing you should be doing, or doing the things you feel you should be doing whilst remaining unsatisfied (and usually unhappy) seems like an odd way to live. Yet we all do it.

Yes, there are things that we technically "should" be doing like paying the bills, keeping our surroundings clean, gaining some sort of education or life experience to prepare us for life within our respective societies and being decent human beings, but my argument is that all these things? Wanting to do them feels so much better.

Do it because you want to do it.

Over the past year, I've been delving deeper into personal development, and one of the common consensus amongst the authors I've come across is that life is better when you are proactive. Carpe diem isn't all about living a typically adventurous life, backpacking across Europe and jumping from buildings or what have you - it's also about making a conscious decision about the little things you do throughout the day.

You wake up early because there are tasks that you want to get done during the day. You exercise regularly because you want to feel healthier from within, and you change your eating habits to help with that. You study because you want to learn more about a subject or because you want to work in a field that requires that knowledge. You pay the bills because you want to live in a house that has electricity and running water. You vote because you want a say in which politicians make seemingly terrible decisions. You are a decent human being because you want the world to be filled with decent human beings so you're going to start by being the change in the world.

And all of that feels much better because you're doing it because you want to, not because you should. Wanting to do all those things gives you control over your life, gives you power over how you experience your life. You're doing things because you want to do them, and you know why you want to do them. You're not doing them because someone or some standard somewhere has decided you should.

Should is just one massive guilt-trip. Let's stop saying it.

Should implies so many things, and none of them, to me, seem positive. Should implies that there is something out there that other people who are clearly better than you are doing but you aren't doing it. Should implies that you aren't living up to some standard. Should implies that what you do or don't want to do is not as valid as whatever what you "should" be doing. Should places the responsibility elsewhere and allows you to never stop and seriously contemplate why you do things because hey - you're doing what you should be doing so you must be doing it right...right? Should is not pro-active. Should is not the key to carpe diem-ing the crap out of your life.

I think it'd be beneficial to erase "should" from our daily vocabulary just as much as "I can't" and "I'll try". Do things because you want to do them and acknowledge when you simply don't want to do something. Interrogate yourself on the why behind your actions. Don't do things simply because you feel you "should". Do things because you want to.

What do you think of the concept of should?

Empties #1

Thursday, 4 June 2015
Since I started beauty blogging I've noticed that I have a tendency to hold on to empties longer than the average person would with the good intention of putting together a good old 'Empties' post at the end of the month. I currently average at holding on to empties for 3-5 months or so before I realise that it's either time to throw everything out or write the post. I chose to write the post. 

B. Energised Eye Cream: I liked this. It's a gel eye cream that feels cooling and after a few weeks of use I noticed that my under eye area seemed brighter, smooth and so much less puffy. It was a sad moment when I squeezed out the last drop as it's from Superdrug and they don't do international delivery. This was the eye cream that made me fall in love with using eye creams. Recommend.

Philip Kingsley Daily Damage Defense Conditioning Spray: I used to be the type of person to scoff at the idea of 'you get what you pay for' until I learned the hard way with my skincare, and have also since realised that it's the same with hair care. After using this, leave-in conditioning sprays are one product I'll definitely be willing to splurge on. This smells gorgeous and leaves my hair super soft (and protected). Highly recommend.

The Body Shop Almond Hand & Nail Cream (full review here); This has been my favourite hand cream to use to date, and I really need to pick up another tube. I loved the style of the tube (reminded me of Aesop), the cream itself was lightweight yet moisturising and I saw an improvement in the condition of both my hands and nails. I definitely had less hang nails thanks to this. Highly recommend.

Yves Rocher Cocoa & Orange Moisturising Hand Cream: I believe this is one of their signature winter scents, and I was expecting great things from the scent combination, but it just didn't deliver. The cream itself was quite thin and too lightweight to feel very moisturising. 

Yves Rocher Sébo Vegetal Purifying Cleansing Gel (full review of the entire range here): I really like the products from this range, and having used their cleansers from other ranges, I can tell you that Yves Rocher knows how to do gel cleansers. This keeps my oiliness under control and gives that nice "cleansed but not stripped" feeling all cleansers strive for. This was a repurchase, and the only reason I'm not currently going through another tube is because I fell for The Body Shop Aloe Vera Foaming Cleanser instead. I can't resist the foam. Recommend

Evoluderm Rose Water Hydrating Toner: I like my toners to be natural - I use either rose or camomile toners (camomile more in the summer when my skin is freaking out that the sun has come out). This particular toner isn't quite as natural as I'd have liked it to be, but at 500ml it was great value for money and has lasted me absolute ages (I picked it up in October according to this post!)

Kiko Milano Make Up Fixer (full review here): I absolutely loved this product - I was quite sad when it gave its last spritz. This really showed me what a difference a setting spray can do to your make up (and that Youtubers aren't just trying to sell us Mac Prep + Prime Fix + for the lulz) and did the job nicely (and for a decent price too!). I do think that with some powder products it can give a bit of a cakey finish, but that could be my heavy-handed powdering and/or Collection 2000 Sheer Loose Powder not being as great as I think it is. Recommend

Sanex Natur Protect Deodorant for Sensitive Skin: Before I switched from shaving to epilating, my underarms were really sensitive and reacted badly to most deodorants. This was the first one where they didn't, and it probably has to do with the fact that it's free from a lot of the chemical elements in deodorants that can irritate your skin. As great as it was for my sensitive skin, I wasn't entirely convinced by its capacity as a deodorant. It smells great though. 

Bourjois Extreme Protection Deodorant - Waterproof formula: I really enjoyed this. It has a nice fresh scent to it, and provided excellent protection. Not so great for sensitive pits but I really like the Bourjois range of deodorants in general. I'm currently using Bourjois Tenderness Deodorant which was formulated for sensitive skin and have had no problems with it so far. Recommend

Corine De Farme Micellar Purity Water: This was my first foray into micellar waters. I don't think it removed make up effectively and my skin most definitely was not a fan (surprising since it's aimed at people with sensitive skin). I really think I should just shell out for Bioderma, and if that doesn't work for me, accept that I'm not a micellar water kinda person. 

The Body Shop Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream: I love this during the winter, even as a day cream, as I find it puts up a really good fight against the harsh winter weather. I usually prefer this as a night cream though alternating it with the Vitamin E oil when that gets a little too heavy for my skin. Recommend (especially in winter)

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter: I liked this but I didn't like this. I think I enjoyed the act of using a cloth to remove my makeup rather than using the product its and I didn't feel it could tackle my eye make up (which The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil can). It just irritated them. Some people love this product, others don't. I'm in the second category. 

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil: I love this. This is my second bottle, and I'll be repurchasing. I have oily skin and I feel that this balances out the stripping effect of some of the mattifying products I use without clogging up my pores. I wake up with clear, smooth and surprisingly matte skin. Until I can afford to get my hands on the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery this will be my go-to oil. Highly recommend.

The Body Shop Vitamin E SP15 Moisture Lotion: This was the first SPF face cream that I used religiously and this is my third tube...? Would be on my fourth if I hadn't decided to try the Vitamin C SPF 30 one from The Body Shop. They say it's a good idea to use SPF all year round, and I feel like this is a product that can carry you through all the season as it's so lightweight yet deep moisturising. Definitely suitable for all skin tones. Highly recommend

Have you used any of these products? Did you have a different experience than I did? 

Protect, Brighten and Smooth

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

If you've been reading my blog over the past couple of weeks, you might have noticed these two products cropping up time and time again so I thought it was about time that they got their own post. 

Protect & Brighten

The Body Shop Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser SPF 30 has become my daily moisturiser. I think that if I had to choose between this and the Vitamin E Daily SPF15 Moisturiser, I'd be more inclined to go with the Vitamin E one, purely because the texture is lighter on my oil-prone skin. Otherwise, the Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser does its job: it leaves my skin with visibly hydrated, slightly brighter and I know that I'm protected by a higher SPF whenever head out of the door. Depending on the day, the scent can be a little too tangy for me, and I have to be really careful not to apply too generously or I end up looking like a lovely little ball of shine, but if you have dry/normal skin that is in need of a little brightening boost then definitely give this a try. I can't say for sure if my skin looks much brighter than usual, but it's certainly never dull these days.

Brighten & Smooth

The piece de resistance in this duo is definite The Body Shop Skin Boost (or Skin Reviver, depending on what's available in your local BS). The difference in my skin when I use or don't use this is instantly noticeable. There are no words as to how much I love this. On its own, it instantly smooths my skin, giving it that perfect dewy glow that most of us are after this time of year thanks to light-reflective particles (basically tiny bits of glitter) and the smoothing silicone-elements which is really handy for keeping me more on the matte side. Paired with The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur and I no longer need foundation: I have smooth, matte(ish), bright skin that stays that way for a surprisingly long time - especially with a fixing spray. Great for those summer days where the thought of your foundation melting off your face by the end of the day gives you nightmares ha.

The New Additions

I couldn't finish this post without raving about the new additions to The Body Shop Vitamin C range. Of course they've been added to my rapidly growing The Body Shop wishlist because from a purely aesthetic point of view, the orange and black packaging would look great on my bathroom shelf! 

Even though I prefer something with an SPF this time of year The Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser has me intrigued for one reason: it's a gel cream. Gel creams always promise to be lighter on the skin which is great, if like me, you have oily sensitive-prone skin, as gel creams are less likely to clog your pores and more likely to soothe any irritations all whilst restoring any moisture that oil-balancing products may suck out of. For example, if you use the The Body Shop Tea Tree Facial Wash, I'd recommend using this to keep your face moisturised and matte rather than combining it with the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion which might end up stripping your skin (I know it does mine).

I'm intrigued by The Vitamin C Glow Enhancer as it sounds like the Skin Boost but...with a bit of colour? I'm yet to try this in-store but I'm definitely intrigued by what a "fresh, rosy tint" will look like on my skin tone. Reviews of this seem to suggest that the hint of colour is more on the orange side which would complement my warm undertones, but we'll see!

Have you tried anything from The Body Shop Vitamin C range? 

You Are Not Your Negative Label

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Do you ever decide that you're just too lazy to go running every day? That you're a bonafide couch potato and nothing is ever going to change that? That you're too unorganised to ever use a planner, and that productivity is something that other people possess but most definitely not you? That you're too shy to ever go out on your own and try that class that catches your eye every time it's advertised, too reserved to ever be that person who makes new friends easily? That you're a natural pessimist who could never in a million years be considered to be positive?

Do you ever take a negative quality, whether it's truly negative or perceived to be that way (by yourself or others) and decide that it's your identity? 

I did that for a long time.

At first it was a subconscious thing - parents and teachers mean well but often they don't realise that after being told you are a certain way enough times you begin to believe it. The young me wasn't a fan of cleaning her room or being interrupted during her Saturday morning cartoons (or after-school cartoons, or any time Dragonball Z was on) so I was considered messy and lazy. During parent-teacher meetings, the terms 'shy', 'quiet' and 'slow' were regularly thrown around. I quickly figured out that I could change those labels if I wanted to. I especially wasn't a fan of being labelled slow.

So I decided to work hard to get to the top of the class: I don't think I was ever labelled slow again by another teacher (except maybe my P.E. teacher). At home, I stepped up my efforts and became neater so that messy was no longer my identifying label. I'd figured out that I could change the perceptions others had of me that I perceived to be negative. But then something strange happened. As I hit my teenage years, I got it into my head that it was "cool" to be lazy, unambitious, unorganised, unpunctual, etc. I called myself an "underachieving overachiever" like it was something to be proud of. It was an...odd time in my life.

Unfortunately this habit of identifying myself by my negative qualities led me to forget that they weren't all I was about. They became a source of comfort because I had all the excuses in the world to never reach outside my comfort zone: I was too lazy to ever get into shape, I was too shy to go to this party or that event, I was too pessimistic to ever look on the bright side of life.

I remember getting really annoyed at a friend who turned around and said "You are not lazy. That's just your favourite excuse." Those words stuck with me for a long time after that. I remember I was so angry with him. I mean - how dare he tell me that I'm not lazy? Of course I'm lazy! Then one morning I woke up and realised how absurd I was being. I was fighting tooth and nail to keep my glass half empty, but why

I can be lazy. I can be shy. I can be pessimistic and prone to negative disaster-type thinking. I can miss the mark and not do my best. I can have days where I exhibit all of the negative qualities a person can have all at once - but that's not all I'm about. Just like I'd missed the memo about learning involving actual learning, it hadn't occurred to me that it wasn't "cool" at all to identify by my negative labels - and it was definitely time I stopped. Little eight-year-old me had figured it out once, but hey - what do kids know? So I've since started focusing on all my positive aspects and identifying and working on those, and it has made an extraordinarily difference.

If you'd told me this time last year that I would be voluntarily waking up at five a.m. in order to make sure I have time during the day to blog, exercise and journal, that I'd be volunteering at festivals and enjoying myself and that I'd have a generally positive outlook on life and a 'can do' attitude, I would have laughed in your face. Even blogging seemed inconceivable because I'd branded myself "the type of person who starts things and never finishes them". That's why it was so important for me that my word of the year be 'persistence'. My goal this year was for that to be one of the many positive qualities I can be identified by; my New Year's Resolution was to become the type of girl who keeps going, no matter what.

If you do the same, it's time to turn over a new leaf. You are not your negative qualities - you are so much more than that. You are also kind, trustworthy, loyal, fun, funny, hard working, or whatever other positive quality you also possess alongside your negative ones. Highlight those. Or if there's a quality that you admire in someone else and don't currently possess, then slowly begin to adopt that into your life. When it comes to who you are as a person, our parents were right about one thing: you can be whoever you want to be

The Monthly Round Up #2

Thursday, 28 May 2015

This month has been a really fun month blogging-wise. I got to work with a brand for the first time which I think is an exciting milestone for all bloggers! If you haven't already, definitely check out my The Staycation & The Dress post, a mix of summer plans and the £10/€15 dress from George@Asda you can wear pretty much everywhere. I was a little apprehensive of doing the post at first, because I would say I'm far from a fashion blogger, but I really enjoyed doing it (though it took me quite a few takes!), and the reception the post received was so much better than anything I'd hope for! 

It got me to thinking about mixing in more fashion-orientated pieces into my blog, because fashion is a part of life - we wear clothes no matter what we're doing, and it'd be fun to share with you all my love of lounge wear and pyjamas! But first, I think it's about time that I got a new camera, as I've been really frustrated with the qualities of my pictures of late. Once exams are over, the hunt for a new camera (hopefully my first DSLR! ) will begin. 

I also started setting aside time every day to spend at least half an hour commenting on blogs on my 'Bloglovin feed - and I'm really glad I did. Reading other blogs is a great source of inspiration (and a sure way to make your wishlists longer than they already are!) but I also feel like I'm getting much more out of the blogging experience by slowly becoming more involved in the community. I've also been spending a little more time on Twitter, and make an effort to schedule my tweets. I think once exams are over, I can really find a way to get into the whole social media thing. 

If you have a favourite Twitter chat you love to participate in, let me know! I'd love to join in. 

If you hadn't guessed by this post, and this post, and this post...aaaaand this post, I've been busy revising this month as my exam session begins on the 1st June. In the spirit of doing things differently than I've done before, I made sure not to centre my entire life around revision: I'm aiming for my best this time around, not perfection (which, f.i.y. is not an attainable goal).

Other than making time for blogging and leaving the house for regular bouts of fresh air, last weekend I also attended The Cover Festival, Seneffe a local cover festival that is a pretty big deal to us locals. It's a two day festival, and the first day I was just your average attendee. Mister Cover confirmed that I do not like U2 (like, at all), Majestic Mojo & The Old Bananas taught me that swing covers are awesome and the double bass is sexier than the guitar, and Cookies & Cream made me realise that I love David Guetta and all things pop and there is nothing to be ashamed of. On the second day, I was a volunteer and I spent the day working at the entrance: I was in charge of VIP tickets and it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. VIP attendees can be quite cheeky, especially after they've already drunk someone else's drink tokens and come to claim they never got theirs! Overall it was a good two days, and I'm already planning on coming back next year and maybe volunteering at bigger festivals. Or attending them. Or both. 

I've been keeping up with exercise and I love Joanna Soh's workout videos to the point where they've actually become a reward for studying. Nothing like good intense interval cardio to make you feel alive. I also finished the Forza Multivitamins "for dieters". I wasn't impressed - but that's for another post. 

I've not really been sitting down to watch television shows - I plan to binge on everything post-exams. I finish my exams on the 15th but I've been telling everyone the 17th because I don't plan on doing anything but hibernating, eating copious amounts of junk food and catching up on my favourites during those two days. (I'm not even watching Game of Thrones - can you believe it??) 

I did, however, get a Spotify Premium subscription in place of my Netflix one so I could have music to study along to and have been loving their playlists especially 'Have A Great Day' which gets me out of bed with songs and belting out 'Respect' by Aretha Franklin even if I'm half asleep or feeling cheerful about my perpetual singledom with The Supremes 'You Can't Hurry Love'. Similarly 'The Ultimate Throwback Party' has been great for in-shower listening with classics such as J-Kwon's 'Tipsy' and Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me'. You might have noticed in my Staycation post that the 90s are having a revival in Ornella Land. 

I've not really been reading anything other than my textbooks and blog posts this month. Susan Jeffers 'Feel The Fear...And Do It Anyway' has been relegated to toilet book status (before we scrolled on Twitter during that time, there were books) but it does mean that I have been getting daily doses of encouragement, however short they are. I doubt I'd have taken the opportunity to work with George or gone to the Cover Festival if I wasn't in the frame of mind to move past my fears and do them because I wanted to.

Here are the blog posts I really enjoyed this month:

Autumn Leaves | Find Your Voice 
Alzgalz | Lush Shampoo Bars 
Avec Danielle | Current Favorite Blogs 
Ana Celine Labod | The Best of French Pharmacy

What about you? What have you been up to this month? 

Also, I'd love any recommendations for first time DSLRs or on which are the best Twitter chats to join!

This Month's Beauty Favs | May 2015

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Another month, another monthly beauty favourites post composed mainly of The Body Shop products, ha. With exams approaching rapidly, and my revision picking up the heat I've been dialing back my make up wear and going out with a (relatively) bare face. I've been loving the flawless base that The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost and The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur give when combined: the first brightens up the skin and leaves a smooth and even base, whilst the Instablur minimises the pores along my nose, and gives my under eyes a more forgiving look without the need for concealer. 

I've just been adding two layers of the Yves Rocher's Volume Elixir Mascara which has become my favourite mascara as it provides both length and volume without looking clunky for long, pretty lashes. It also contains Hibiscus peptides which is meant to reinforce and repair lashes, and I can honestly say that after using this regularly over the past couple of months I have noticed a difference (though I think it also helps to use an eye makeup remover that is gentle on the lashes). For that, I have been really loving the Garnier Express 2-in-1 Eye Make-Up Remover because it's less oily than some of the make up removers out there, doesn't sting my eyes and does the job.

To add a bit more colour to my cheeks, I've been loving the Makeup Revolution Blush Palette - All About Cream. You get eight fabulous shades which means you can switch up your make up routine without really switching up your make up routine. They're highly pigmented and glide on effortlessly, especially when you have a smooth base thanks to products like Skin Boost or The Instablur. I tend to use the first two darker shades the most as they're more complementary to my skintone but I have been known to go for the light pink, on the tops of my cheeks as a subtle highlighter.

I'm still more of a shower person than a bath person, but The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Bath Bombs have won me over (full review here) - they smell amazing and are perfect for those evening when you want to relax but you don't necessarily want to go to be straight after because you still have things to do. I've also been really enjoying the Ciaté Speed Coat Top Coat - I doubt anywhere near as fast as something like the Seche Vite, but it does try whilst leaving a nice shiny finish that helps my nails last at least five days, which is great since I'm struggling to find time to just sit and do my nails.

What products have you been loving this month?

The Staycation & The Dress

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sometimes when all the helpful tips on getting through your revision session fail (such as these and these), you have to find other incentives to get you out bed, alert and motivated and in front of those books. Usually that incentive is a bit of (ahem, a lot of) retail therapy, but this time round, I got to thinking about what my post-exams 'I'm finally freeeee' summer activities would consist of. With a long beachy holiday not an option this year, my thoughts turned instead to the staycation: exploring and making the most of the activities my local area has to offer. It's a shame to say that I'm fairly sure the average tourist has seen more of Belgium than me and I live here. 

So I had this in mind when I got invited to participate in a campaign with British high street brand George at ASDA. I got the chance to peruse through their summer categories and pick one item which stood out to me the most, and despite the lovely array of summer brights and florals amongst their dresses, it was this black Cut-out Shoulder Dress*: it captured my heart upon sight and refused to let it go. I just knew that it would be my go to dress for the summer, and once it was in my possession, all my thoughts were confirmed and more.

While I was terrified that the light-weight stretchy fabric would cling to my pear-shaped curves in all the wrong places, it skimmed over them instead, drawing attention instead to my shoulders - which I have now come to realise are one of my best features and should be accentuated, like, all the time - and coming to a stop at a perfect wind-defying length. Plus, it fit in with all my holiday plans.


Dress* | Sandals* | Watch* | Sunglasses*

Belgium may be best known for it's chocolate and waffles, but it also knows how to do music festivals. There are the big ones such as Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland, Pukkelpop and Dour, but after heading to Cover Festival, my local festival and having an absolute blast, any size will do (though next year, someone is coming with me to Dour!). 

This dress is just the right canvas for bright accessories: I can flower crown all I want, and wear these gorgeous bright floral sandals* without fear of anything clashing with anything. Sunglasses are also a must for when the sun decides to be generous and come out to play, and I loved the look of these cat-eye metal-detail pair*. I like how versatile this dress is: I can choose to go for flowy, hippy chic with this dress and wear it nice and loose or cinch it up at the waist with a pastel belt for a more structured look. 


Dress* | Shirt | Plimsolls* | Watch* |

With my final exams over, I will have absolutely no excuse not to explore all that the Belgian cities have to offer: whether it's hitting the capital and checking out an exhibition at the Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts or rubbing shoulders with tourists and locals alike at the Grand Place or heading out to the likes of Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges to drool over the beautiful medieval architecture. 

Walking around for hours calls for comfort, and these black and white plimsolls* do just the trick. A red checked shirt acts as the perfect cover up, because when it gets too hot for comfort, you can just take it off, wrap it around your waist and showcase those shoulders all whilst channelling effortless 90s chic (or so I like to think).


Dress* | Cardigan* | Flats* | Bag* | Watch

If I've seen little of Belgium, I'm much more familiar with the national cuisine, and there's nothing nicer in the summer than heading out for dinner with friends and family, and enjoying a delicious meal out on a terrasse. Summer in Belgium means moules-frites (mussels and fries), though I'm more inclined to go with something stodgier like boulettes à la sauce Liégoise (meatballs in a delicious, slightly sweet sauce also served with chips) or some chicken or salmon vol-au-vent. I'm also curious about waterzooi and carbonnade flamande, apparently staple dishes that I have yet to try (and I've tried snails).

It's always nice to get a little more dressed up for dinner, and this dress is elegant on its own, especially when cinched at the waist with a simple belt and paired with simple pointed black flats* (which have gorgeous crochet detailing which the pictures don't do any justice). It often gets chillier in the evenings, especially if you're sitting outside, so this jacquard fringe cardigan* is great for that, warm but not too warm, with little details that add a little something to the outfit. You can also add a snood* (as in the top picture) for a pretty and practical look. I'm never without a watch, so I love that this rose lens watch* looks good in every outfit, but looks especially classy when paired with this large tote bag*.

I honestly never understood the true power of a LBD until now: one dress, a couple of cover ups, a few accessories here and there, and my summer staycation wardrobe is sorted. 

What are your summer plans? Vacationing or staycationing? Would you pick this dress from George or would you be more inclined to go for something else

PS: if you're a fellow European, be sure to check out George's International Delivery page and see if they don't deliver to you as well!

*Items marked with an asterix were kindly sent to me as part of the campaign. 

Relaxing With The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Bath Bombs

Thursday, 21 May 2015

In my post on ways to mentally prepare for exams, I suggest taking a long bath as a way to keep the stresses of exams at bay. In the spirit of making more of an effort to follow my own advice, I have been making good use of The Body Shop Smoky Poppy Bath Bombs

The 'Smoky Poppy' range came out around Valentine's Day, and I was intrigued from day one by the black and red packaging and the promise of a deep, mysterious, heavily-romantic sort of smell. I am a massive fan of fresh, fruity and/or zesty sort of scents, but at the end of a long day I want something a little more...relaxing without it necessarily being lavender or camomile. These bath bombs have what I can only describe as a sensual mix of woody, earthy and spicy notes that linger on the skin long after you get out in the most beautiful way.

The smell is so enticing I couldn't follow beauty blogger protocol and take snaps of the products before I used it - I've already used up half! I really like that they decided to break down three bath bombs in half so that it's entirely up to you whether you get three or six uses out of them. I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. 

Only thing I'm not too keen is that the poppy seeds which these bath bombs are made from end up sitting at the bottom of the bath, an entirely minor inconvenience when you consider the benefits of the long, languorous bath you've just experienced. Though I would say that if you're planning on spending a good while in there, and you have a darker complexion like mine, because the bath bomb turns the water white, you might end up with a slightly greyish tint to your skin. This doesn't really matter if you're headed straight to bed but it's worth bearing in mind if you've got something planned afterwards! (It's nothing a quick rinse with clean water won't get rid of.)

All-in-all, I've had a lovely experience with this product, and would love to get my hands on more The Body Shop bath products. If you're looking for inspiration, here's my current wishlist:

Have you tried any products from The Body Shop Smoky Poppy range? Which products from the bath range have you tried or would love to get your hands on? 

I've Been Learning All Wrong

Sunday, 17 May 2015

My course has a Facebook group where we all come together to discuss relevant topics, share relatively important news and ask pertinent questions in regards to the course material. As the exam heat slowly cranks up (I'll let you know when we reach boiling point), the posts to the group now fit into two distinct categories: "Did we see this in class? I wasn't there/was asleep/had to scroll my Facebook feed instead of paying attention/I can't seem to be able to read my notes" and "Can you explain ____ to me?"

The answers given to the second category often makes me heart-clenchingly anxious because those who are generous enough to take the time to answer seem to know the answer. I don't just mean they give a verbatim reproduction of the textbook or what the lecturer said in class, but they know their material. They understand. They're really into the course. And they're probably going to make fine lawyers. 

Rather than leading me down my all-too-travelled road of wondering whether Law is for me (I know Belgian Law most definitely is not), this observation lead me to question my learning style. No, not whether I am a visual or auditory learner, or if I'm more creatively or scientifically inclined, or whether flashcards would be my friend if I started using them early enough or if I would remember my course material better if highlighted in peach as opposed to mint green. It lead me to ask myself whether all these years I haven't been going about the whole learning thing all wrong, and I came to the conclusion that I have. 

I've realised that throughout my entire academic career, I have learned to pass and get the grade, but I haven't actually learned to, you know - learn

When it came to studies, my focus has always been results-orientated. It's been a nasty case of "Yes, I will happily take in all the course material and show you how well I've retained it and in exchange you had better provide me with a shiny piece of paper telling the whole world how spectacular my grades are". I could cite a whole host of reasons why this came to be my mentality, though I would be quick to blame the way the majority of mainstream education systems are set up, parental expectations and the use of academic success as a means of teenage self-validation as I struggled to figure out who I was. I also think I just didn't know any better. 

I'd never sat down to really think about it. The answer to the question of why you should study, especially when you're from a first-generation immigrant family, was always going to be 'to get a good job, to be successful in life and because you should be lucky you can even attend school - and for free!'. The higher the grade, the better my life was (theoretically) going to be. It wasn't until I begun to really question what I was passionate about in life and why I never seemed to like my course as much as my coursemate that I realised the limits of results-orientated learning. 

When all you care about is getting the top grades, you are focused on knowing the course material as best as you can - not exploring the actual subject you're being taught. Extra-curricular activities feel pointless unless they're enhancing your CV in some way or will help you get better grades in the long run. Results-orientated learning is a hollow sort of learning that will never allow you to take your academics beyond the walls of the institution you're in. The real world, unfortunately, is not structured like a syllabus, and life does not hand out diplomas for overcoming the obstacles it'll regularly throw at you.

Up until now I was quick to blame the school system: I was convinced that I didn't enjoy my English classes because analysing my favourite books sucked enjoyment out of them, or that I couldn't study something more vocational or creative with no "guaranteed" job prospects because then I'd struggle to get into university and such a shame that would be. I was so sure that school was sucking the fun and enjoyment out of everything without realising that I was the culprit. By taking all the subjects that I was good at or was passionate about, and heaping on the pressures of results-orientated learning, I was the one turning myself against them. If I wasn't going to be the best, no matter how much I enjoyed it, then it wasn't worth investing the time in it.

I completely missed the point of learning, which is to learn; to deepen your knowledge about a topic, to understand it, to add it to your skill set. It's really not about the grades (though they're not unimportant)

With my final exams imminent, it's a tad too late to apply this newfound discovery to my course, but I can apply to other areas of my life: such as blogging. There is so much to learn about blogging, which is what makes it such an exciting and passionate creative outlet with so much potential. I know that if I go about learning more about blogging from a results-orientated perspective, by this time next year, I'll hate it. It's not about stats, or follower counts or eventual awards, and there's no test you can take on blogging that you can pass with flying colours. Learning in hopes of understanding, of improving, of growing, however, that sounds more like something that can help you grow not only as a blogger but as a person. 

I've been learning all wrong but at least I learned that I was. Now I can change it. 

Are you a (former) results-orientated learner as well? What's more important to you - getting high grades or the knowledge you acquire?