Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Edit: Over The Knee Boots

Ah, autumn, why you so pretty? The falling golden leaves, the twinkling Christmas lights, the cosy nights in, it's the prettiest of the four seasons by far. There's a huge tree outside my bedroom window and one of my favourite things is watching the leaves turn from crisp green to deep amber then fall from the branches. It reminds me of this quote, "The trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let dead things go". I see it as an annual reminder to that what's gone is gone and to stop looking back. 

Pretty leaves and deep meanings aside, one of my favourite signs of autumn are over the knee boots. After fashion week has gone, I secretly wish for the temperature to drop just a little so I can justify wearing my OTK boots. They're a relatively recent addition to my winter arsenal, I bought a pair of pink satin over the knee boots last year and followed this up with a show-stopping sequin pair. I also wrote about the downside to wearing OTK boots on the blog too. Spoiler: The only downside is men's inability to act like a normal, respectful human being around a woman who wears over the knee boots! 

Despite the catcalling and unwanted male attention, I still love OTK boots. I bought this snakeskin pair a couple of months ago from Mango and I've worn them to death. I always feel powerful, sassy and confident when I wear OTK boots. They're real "fuck you boots". It's amazing how a simple pair of boots can transform your whole attitude. Also...I prefer to style my boots with something oversized and comfy which is ideal for this time of year. I have a huge collection of jumper dresses which I just throw on with the boots. Easy! 

Cardigan - Lasula | Dress - LNA | Boots - Mango

Photography by Kylie Eyra

I wanted to share an edit of my favourite OTK from the high street. As much as I love designer boots from the likes of Stuart Weitzman, my winter boots always get wrecked due to the weather so I think the high street is your best bet. *contains affiliate links*


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Five Shopping Hacks for Black Friday 2018

Unless you've been unplugged and put in rice for the last few days, you'll know that Black Friday is fast approaching. This year, retailers have really doubled down on their adoption of the American custom. Black Friday is traditionally celebrated a day after Thanksgiving, retailers kick off the Christmas shopping season with a day of discounts to encourage people to get spending. This year, UK retailers are starting early and extending discounts for a couple of days...which means you should absolutely NOT shop until your favourite shops are on sale.

The words 'Black Friday' conjure up scrum-like images of shoppers clambering over each other for a bargain and fist fights over a flatscreen tv. It all seems very uncivilised, the best way to make the most of Black Friday is with a cup of tea in front of your laptop. I'm sharing my five shopping hacks to help you get the most out of Black Friday, without missing out on what you really need:

1. Make a list
It's so easy to get carried away during the sales and end up with things that you will never wear or use. I can hold my hands up to that, I once bought a pink sequin skirt in a flurry of sale shopping! Whether you're getting a headstart on Christmas gifts or treating yourself, it's best to make a list. I prefer to keep it quite broad to start with. For example, I know that I want to buy a book and some grooming products for my brother, but I'll find the exact products as I browse.

If you're treating yourself, give my wardrobe a once-over to see if there is anything that you're missing. I'm keeping my eye out for black cowboy boots, lightweight oversized jumpers and dresses for wearing with OTK boots. Having a broad idea helps to narrow down what you're looking for without completely restricting you.

2. Have a reccy
Once you have a list in mind, have a reccy to find the exact products ahead of Black Friday. This way, you can get straight down to business as soon as the sale goes live. You can add products to your wishlist, add it to your bookmarks or save to your Pinterest board.

3. Set a budget
Ok I'm in 'mum mode' but it's important to set a budget so you don't go too crazy. Find a 20% off code for that Saint Laurent bag that you've had your eye on all season might seem like a sign from the shopping Gods but do you want to blow your budget on one piece when Christmas is just around the corner. I set a budget for each person I'm buying a Christmas gift for as well as myself! This will also help to stop you from getting swept up into 'sale mania' and buying just because something has been reduced.

4. Stalk your faves
Now that you have a list of what you're after, some products that you must have and a budget, all you need to know is when the sales are starting. If you haven't already, sign up to email newsletters and follow them on social media so you don't miss the sale announcement.

5. Block out some time
This might seem a little extreme but I usually block out some shopping time in my diary to make sure I can go through my list and pick up the items I really need. Ok...want. Whether it's an early morning scout over a cuppa, a quick lunchtime peruse or an evening browse, set some time aside to check whether the pieces you're after are on sale and snap them up before it's too late!

Oh the cardinal rule of sale shopping - if you didn't want it full price, it's not a bargain. Don't let the sales trick you into buying something unnecessarily just because it's cheap!

Here are a list of retailers and their discounts:

Selfridges - up to 20% off

French Connection - up to 50% off - ends Monday 26th Nov

Topshop - up to 50% off everything - ends Monday 26th Nov

Miss Pap - up to 50% off - Friday 23rd Nov/Monday 26th Nov

Boohoo - up to 50% off everything - Thursday 22nd Nov to Monday 26th Nov

Nastygal - 50% off everything excl. sale - ends Monday 26th Nov. Enter OHSNAP at checkout.

NA-KD - 25% off everything - ends Monday 26th Nov

Beauty Bay - up to 30% off - ends Monday 26th Nov

Monica Vinader - 30% off everything - ends Monday 26th Nov

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Happy #WorldKindnessDay

Did you know today is World Kindness Day? Celebrated annually on 13th November, World Kindness Day seeks to make the world a better place by promoting good deeds, pledging acts of kindness and focusing on positive power. In a world that seems to be ruled by division with an increase in racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and general hate, it's more important than ever to practice kindness to yourself and others. Love trumps hate and all of that.

Global politics aside, kindness is also necessary on a macro level. In a world ruled by instant gratification through social media likes and expendable human interactions via a series of never-ending left and right swipes, kindness and compassion often take a backseat. We all become hardened by pain and suffering, both our own and what we see in the world. The thing is, humans are made for love, community and connection. Love, kindness and compassion are what will heal us individually and collectively.

I really believe in being kind to others. love that warm, glowy feeling that you get from being kind to someone else, whether that's buying someone a cup of tea, offering my seat to someone who looks like they need it on the tube or buying a random gift for someone for no reason. Being kind keeps me humble and makes me feel more connected to the world by putting someone else's needs and happiness above my own.

I'm also a huge advocate of being kind to yourself, also known as self-care. I love that this concept has become mainstream and the guilt associated with putting your needs first have been dispelled. Every time I feel pangs of guilt for prioritising my needs, I remind myself that "you cannot pour from an empty cup". If you look after yourself, you're able to look after many others. I wrote about resilience and self-care earlier this year and shared some tips for coping with hard times.

But today is all about being kind to others so I wanted to share five quick and easy ways to be kind:

1. Compliment someone

You know that warm, fuzzy glow you get when you receive a genuine compliment? It feels just as good to give compliments too. I feel like this is something Brits don't do often enough. I've been making more of an effort to give compliments to friends, colleagues and even strangers and it feels so nice to bring a little happiness to someone - it could make all the difference, especially if someone is having a bad day or feeling down.

2. Say thank you

I'm sure that you've seen that social media post about expressing gratitude instead of apologising - saying 'thank you for waiting' if you're late to meet someone instead of apologising for being late. This is a really simple, powerful way of reframing your mind to seek out the positives in life. Saying thank you shows someone that you acknowledge them and value their time and effort. 

3. Give a gift

Giving a little gift is such a lovely way of showing someone you appreciate someone. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, picking up their favourite chocolate or a little token of appreciation.

4. Buy a hot drink, meal or space in a shelter for a homeless person

Simply stopping to buy a hot drink, something to eat or offering to pay for a night or two in a shelter can make a huge difference to someone in need. You can also contract Street Link who may be able to offer assistance.

5. Donate to charity

A super quick and easy way to be kind no matter where you are is to donate to a charity.  I always donate to Cancer Research as my mum has cancer but there are so many deserving charities like NSPCC and DEC, who are currently collecting for the Indonesia tsunami appeal.

I'd love to hear how you practised kindness today so let me know in the comments section.

Cardigan - Nasty Gal | Jeans - GRLFRND | Heels - Reserved | Bag- Chloe | Hat and belt - vintage

Shot by Kylie Eyra

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

How To Run A Blog While Working Full Time

I always describe blogging while working full-time as a rollercoaster. When it's good, I feel like superwoman for bossing my day job while pursuing my passion. But when it's bad, I feel overwhelmed and like my side hustle is a burden rather than a passion project that brings me fulfilment. 

Last September, I was definitely going through a bad patch. Between launching a global brand during the day and trying to plan for London Fashion Week, writing and shoot blog content during the evenings and weekends, I was utterly exhausted. Nevermind trying to keep in touch with friends, remembering to eat, wanting to exercise and needing to sleep too! I had too many plates spinning in the air and I felt like I wasn't spinning any of them well.

I tweeted about how I felt and was overwhelmed by the number of people who shared similar experiences. After some reassuring Twitter chats and realising that I was far from alone, I planned to write a blog post about the challenges of working full-time and blogging as a side hustle...but it's taken a whole year to finally put pen to paper. Ah, the joys of having too much to do and too little time to do it in! 

I've been working full-time whilst blogging for a decade. There was a time when I used to blog every single day after finishing work, after attending events, after meeting friends for dinner. I was averaging about four hours sleep a night, it was utterly exhausting and not rewarding in the slightest. Sometimes I was simply writing words for the sake of writing words. I was uninspired and grew to resent blogging. The crazy thing is, no one put this pressure on me. I put it on myself. 

Kenzie from Lemonade Lies can sympathise with the effect of putting too much pressure on yourself, stating "there are so many ways you can do both [working full-time and blogging] efficiently, just don't burn the wick at both ends because it can make you resent things. If push came to shove most would give up their blog over employment so make sure you keep your love and passion for it and do what works for you". 

I soon realised blogging daily while working full-time was completely unsustainable and stopped putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Actually, I took the pressure off completely by taking a little haitus from blogging. I felt so demotivated and needed time to figure out whether I still loved blogging and what I was doing it for.

Jazmine from Jazzabelle's Diary also admitted that motivation is something she struggles with, as she works in social media and marketing for her job, the last thing she wants to do in her downtime media, writing and marketing! She told me "lacking motivation can be frustrating, as I would love to post more, however right now the most important thing in my life is maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and if that means spending less time on my blog, then that's something I'm happy to do." 

After taking a little sabbatical, I  came to the realisation that I really love blogging - the creativity, writing, connecting with people around the world and sharing my perspective. I just didn't like putting myself under a ton of pressure and losing my passion and motivation. This was a real lightbulb moment for me. I decided to figure out how to pursue my passion without killing myself in the process.

Over the last couple of years, I've reached a happy medium where I aim to blog once a week. If I don't manage to find the time, I'm ok with that - and hope you are too! Sometimes I still struggle to find a balance but 80% of the time I have it down. The key has been being smart with my time and realistic with what I promise myself I will deliver. 

Laura from Lelore also struggles with finding the time to manage working and blogging side-by-side but she maximises her commuting time to "keep on top of emails and social media, and also to schedule tweets. I tend to do the majority of my writing and photo editing at the weekend so that if work gets a bit hectic during the week my content is still ready to go".

After finding a healthy work/blog balance and renewing my passion for my side hustle, I wanted to share five tips which have really helped me. 

1. Create an achievable plan
When I was blogging every day, I had no one to blame but myself. When I took a step back and looked at what I wanted to achieve through blogging, it was storytelling and communicating. My goal was not to be a one-woman content factory! I cut down to blogging once a week as I felt it was achievable but still pushed me to create blog content with a regular schedule. I also set boundaries for Instagram content, aiming to post once a day. 

2. Embrace the power of lists
Now that you have a plan, it's easier to figure out how and when you're going to create your content. Sarah from Sarah Jayne Potter's top tip for managing her time efficiently is "a lot of lists!! I also now don't promise coverage or blogs asap. I set dates and deadlines and give myself enough breathing space to be able to take photos, do the write-up and still manage to have a social life! If I get ideas on the go, I make sure I document it on my phone so I don't forget." 

3. Become a time management ninja
With a plan in hand and a list of tasks to whizz through, the next step is finding the time. After working all day, I protect my evenings as my sacred time - to catch up with friends, work out or just potter around my flat. I would rather carve out some time at the weekend to do my blog-work and allow myself some time to decompress in the evenings. 

I shoot my blog images once a month, packing a little suitcase of outfits to shoot all in one go rather than trying to shoot weekly. This really helps me plan ahead as my images must have cohesion with my written content. Planning a month in advance helps to capture all of my ideas so that when I sit down to write, I have a rough outline of what I want to cover. 

Instagram content is much trickier. I'm just not very interesting Monday-Friday and it's dark by the time I finish work so I can't capture any content during the week. To remedy this, I create content during the weekend that I can post throughout the week. In the depths of winter, it's easier to shoot IG content on Saturday and Sunday morning and write blog content in the evening. 

4. Automate as much as possible
I'm a huge advocate of scheduling content. Being a blogger is more than just writing and posting to a blog, you have to think about Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest too. Wordpress and Blogger both have in-product scheduling which makes queuing up blog content super easy, though I rarely have more than the next blog post ready to go. 

There are a number of different tools available to schedule tweets on Twitter but I prefer Hootsuite. I first started using it years ago when I managed social media for brands so it feels intuitive to use. I use it to schedule tweets promoting my blog posts throughout the day but I prefer using the app to actually use Twitter and engage with my community. 

I personally don't like or trust the in-product scheduling on Instagram. On more than a couple of occasions, I've been logged out of the app and all of my scheduled posts have disappeared. I have recently started using Planoly to schedule IG posts. It's an official Instagram partner and you can add a location and tag accounts in your image. It allows you to save groups of hashtags to upload to your images. You can also drag and drop images to see how your feed looks to make sure you're happy with your grid. 

Now, I know Pinterest is a tricky platform for some bloggers but I really love it both for inspiration and driving traffic to my blog. I only have 3k followers but my monthly views are currently 85k! I've achieved this by pinning little and often, that's the key to seeing growth. I use Tailwind to schedule my Pins however, they have recently launched an in-product scheduler which I'm going to use now. 

5. Blog support system
Last but not least, I find it super important to have a blog support system. This is a mixture of blogger and non-blogger friends who I can vent to or turn to for comfort. With all the planning and will in the world, it's still very difficult to manage to blog alongside a full-time job. Blogging is a graft and a hell of a lot goes on behind the scenes. Make sure you have plenty of people to both cheer you on and pick you up when you're down. This is true of life as much as it's true of blogging. 

And there you go, my top tips to balance your work/blog/life balance. I'd love to hear your tips so leave a comment below! 

Suit - River Island, top - Mango, heels - No.21

Photography by Adorngirl

Friday, 2 November 2018

Afternoon Tea at Corinthia Hotel, London

My experience was gifted by Hotels. com, but all views are my own.

One of my favourite things about living in London is afternoon tea. There is something deliciously indulgent about spending an entire afternoon nibbling on little finger sandwiches, scones and cakes while sipping a beautiful tea. And last Sunday, I did just that at Corinthia Hotel, one of the most beautiful hotels in Westminster.

The setting

Situated in Westminster, Corinthia Hotel is just a hop and a skip away from Trafalgar Square and Embankment. The Afternoon Tea is held in the aptly-named Crystal Moon Lounge, complete with an exquisite Baccarat chandelier illuminating the room. The atmosphere feels chilled and intimate. I loved the mellow music being played on a Steinway piano.

The Tea

As a non-coffee drinker, I feel like I'm somewhat of a tea connoisseur so I was pleased to see an extensive tea menu, ranging from exclusive blends and classic black teas through to green and white teas. I opted for the Formosa oolong, which has a rich flavour and a soft orchid scent.

The Sandwiches

Although I have a huge sweet tooth, I absolutely adore the savoury segment of afternoon tea. There is something incredibly British about cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off! Alongside cucumber, radish and cream cheese and the egg mayo with truffle and watercress, alongside two additional vegetarian sandwiches especially for me.

The Sweets

Next up were the scones. Both plain and sultana scones were served in smart, white boxes to keep them toasty warm. They were accompanied by Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam and rhubarb and tonka bean jam, which had a delicate cinnamon flavour.

Just as I was starting to feel a little full, a stunning antique champagne trolley pulled up to our table, laden with the prettiest pastries and cakes. I felt it was my duty to try as many as possible, my favourites were the lemon yuzu and coconut eclair and the 72% Araguani chocolate cassis & fig pot. Oh and the lemon drizzle cake. And the raspberry and elderflower tartlet. Ok, fine, it was all delicious!

The Verdict

This is definitely one of my favourite afternoon teas in London. The Crystal Moon Lounge is the perfect spot to while away a couple of hours underneath a twinkling Baccarat chandelier, feasting on a delectable spread.

The afternoon tea at Corinthia Hotel is priced at £45 per person (or £55 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne, and £65 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne). 
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