When illness changes your life

Since working full-time blogging has unfortunately, fallen by the wayside. Although I’ve often worked alongside blogging since I started back in 2010, I find it much harder to juggle now than I used to. The main reason being that I get tired and drained much easier than before and can’t always fit everything (and sadly, everyone) in. I just haven’t been the same since I fell ill at the end of 2014 and although by medical standards I’ve recovered; theres no serious threat to my health anymore, I’m no longer on medication and I’m not in as much pain as I used to be, I often feel like an old woman who needs plenty of rest and sleep and gets tired easily.

If you’re interested you can read about my illness here  but essentially, I had a blood clot in a vein in my brain which blocked the blood flowing away from the exit of my brain and caused haemorrhaging which led to seizures. It built up over time and I was getting headaches but had no idea how ill I was until the headaches became very severe and I had a seizure and went to hospital. I feel like maybe people are bored of hearing me talk about it now as it happened 2 1/2 years ago and according to my last scan the clot has dispersed but I’m still in pain most days and I can’t push myself too hard. I went from rushing around, doing loads of things in one day and burning the candle at both ends to spending most of my time at home. Nowadays I have a good balance but I do have to look after myself, otherwise I end up in really bad pain. Most days it’s bearable but if I don’t drink enough water, eat regularly or get enough sleep or if I’m stressed it can become unbearable and affect my day to day life.

I feel like not everyone understands and thinks I’m exaggerating or using it as an excuse not to to things but if only that was the case! I completely sympathise with those with any kind of health condition that leaves them in pain or lethargic. Although most of the time my pain is manageable I can definitely relate to what they are going through, especially when people question why you can’t go out for most of the day to and event or catch up with friends then follow it up with a party in the evening without feeling exhausted or in too much pain to enjoy it.

Another issue is alcohol. Before falling ill I’d go out pretty much every weekend and have a few drinks (sometimes too many) and was able to enjoy and join in celebrating occasions such as weddings and birthdays. Nowadays I pick my occasions when I choose to drink and more often than not I’ll only have a couple. I’ve probably only been drunk or tipsy 3 times since I recovered from my illness and I really have to be in the mood to drink. Most of the time I’m not in the mood to drink. luckily, family and close friends understand but I’m paranoid people who don’t know me that well think I’m boring. I used to be the life and soul of the party but nowadays I like to get there early, show my face and be home by 12 at the latest! Sometimes there are exceptions but this is very rare and I have to be feeling well, not at all tired and have no other plans for the entire weekend to give me time to recover. I’m going on a girls holiday to Ibiza in August and I am worried about how I’ll cope with the lack of sleep so I may have to miss out on some of the nights out or go back to the room early some nights if I’m in too much pain.

I’m hoping that in time my pain will improve and maybe one day I’ll be back to normal (here’s hoping) but the neurologists can’t predict whether this will be the case as my condition is so rare and according to them I should be fine now as the scan isn’t showing anything sinister. It’s very frustrating as I don’t feel like anyone can help me and I have to pretty much put up with the pain or take a type of medication, traditionally used to treat depression that has too many side effects for my liking so it’s a road I’ve chosen not to go down. When the pain is unbearable I take paracetamol which usually works. I’m lucky that the clot was in a place where it hasn’t caused damage and that I survived it so I just have to concentrate on that and hope that things do improve eventually.

Taking Pictures of Myself

I’m slightly ashamed to say it but I do love the odd selfie, especially when the lighting is good and my hair and make up actually look decent. I don’t like to pollute the feed of my followers with too many of them though so I only post them every so often. Instead, outfit pictures are my favourite thing to post on Instagram and to occasionally blog about.

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As I live quite far away from my boyfriend and most of my close friends, more often than not there isn’t anyone around to take a photo of my outfit when I’m all dressed up for an occasion. (before travelling crumples my outfit and messes up my hair and make-up) A few weeks ago I had this situation and really wanted to get some pics of my outfit before travelling to London so I decided to use my Mooni which was a present and is a small remote control shutter that allows you to remotely take photos up to 30 feet away. I propped my phone up in the box that the device comes in and rested it on a bookcase and my mum’s car roof! I then stood a few feet away from it and once I was in position I pressed the button and took a some pictures. It does take a few attempts and obviously doesn’t come out as well as it would if somebody else took the picture of me but it’s not a bad alternative.

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The most obvious downside is the lighting which I’m hoping can be improved with practice and may work better on less sunny days. I did try to edit them but it didn’t make much difference. I’ve never been great at photography so any tips would be welcome!

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I think the picture inside looks better lighting wise than the outside ones, it’s just a shame about the background. However, the Mooni is perfect for taking closer up pictures such as selfies without getting an awkward arm in shot. In case you’re wondering my whole outfit is from Zara which I’m obsessed with at the moment. Have you every tried to take outfit pictures of yourself?

Friday Fever

Until around February time I hadn’t had the Friday feeling for a good few months due to being unemployed, so it’s nice to have that feeling most Fridays now. It’s even stronger on a sunny day like today so this past week or so I’ve been making the most of the sun and got my long suffering boyfriend to take a few outfit photos. I’m limited as he is only usually here at weekends and the weather doesn’t always play ball but we managed to get quite a few shots last weekend. He is far more interested in the background than what I look like but he’s not a bad photographer so hopefully they’re up to standard.

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The outfit was a slightly rushed decision, mostly based around one of my favourite new pairs of trousers from asos which were a bargain £25 and are super comfortable. I like khaki and orange together so teamed I it with this bardot top from New Look and every summer outfit needs a pop of metallic so these H&M sliders are perfect. Can you believe they were only £8? They’d be ideal to wear on holiday too

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Gaga for Gingham

Gingham is so prevalent this season it’s practically a neutral. Never has looking like a tablecloth been so en vogue but I love it! My obsession started with with a pair of trousers from Primark, escalated into buying about 5 gingham tops (they’re all different, I promise) and now I’m even looking at gingham shoes. I have to remind myself that once summer is over, all items will be resigned to the back of the wardrobe so I shouldn’t go too mad but I just can’t resist. Here are a couple of my favourite recent outfits featuring this popular print.

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This checked, embroidered beauty is from Zara which is my fashion mecca at the moment and it’s so comfortable. The jeans are an old Urban Outfitters pair but ripped jeans are everywhere right now and the mac is from Topshop last year. The espadrilles (another fave of mine) are also from Zara.

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This cold shoulder top doesn’t translate as well on camera but looks better in real life. (photo editing tips are welcome!) It’s from H&M which is good for gingham on a budget. Another one of my favourite recent buys are these pink culottes from New Look which have the added bonus of not needing to be ironed. They also have an elasticated waist and plenty of room for an expanding gut after a big meal. What more could you want? These espadrilles were from River Island last summer but New Look have a wide selection at the moment.

The Struggle between Insta-Perfect Life & Reality

I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve always found it difficult to keep my Instagram content balanced between decent quality blog worthy images and more personal ones with family, friends and on nights out. I did touch on this in a previous post but I feel like things have got worse rather than better. When people unfollow me I can’t help but take it personally and feel like my content is at fault and isn’t always at a ridiculously high quality or similar enough to the successful bloggers or influencers. It’s easy to beat myself up about not putting more work into all of my posts, even though I have a full time job and want to do other things with my free time aswell as working on my blog and social media presence.

However, without wanting to sound like Ali G, I’ve always been one to keep it real and for my social media to reflect my real life, warts and all as it were. Also, to be honest I rarely have somebody around who can take good quality outfit pictures for me when I’m out and about. It seems to be a case of real life getting in the way of capturing the type of images I feel that would get the most engagement. Sadly, I don’t just happen to be BFFs with a professional photographer and most of my weekends are spent rushing around to wherever I need to be (on trains mostly) or resting as everyone needs a break sometimes. I don’t look like a model, I can’t wear body con and I have down days and times when I struggle to face the World so my life may not be ‘Goals’ but I prefer to be completely relatable.

It’s like a large amount of fellow bloggers, influencers or young people have a certain checklist for following people and if you don’t meet that criteria they hit the unfollow button. Without wanting to offend those who post the stereotypical blogger type content listed on the tongue-in-cheek checklist I’ve compiled below, it seems that if most of your pictures don’t follow these particular descriptions then it can be difficult to retain followers. It’s pretty brutal but it won’t stop me staying true to myself.

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I’ll admit I occasionally post images like these myself when I’m in the position to take them or have them taken (minus the Victoria’s Secret one of course) but it seems that if every single photo isn’t like this it’s a turn off for some people. This actual blog post doesn’t look perfect either and this sums up what I’m trying to say really. (in a roundabout way) Real life isn’t perfect and what really matters can’t always be captured in a Instagram post. I want to enjoy life the best I can in the moment, rather than being a slave to my feed and agonising over what I do and don’t post because of what image it may project to others.

Review of Too Faced Sweet Peach Eyeshadow Palette

I’ve been wanting to treat myself to a new eyeshadow palette to join the ranks alongside my Urban Decay Naked 3 and various Make Up Revolution palettes for some time. Having been impressed with Too Faced products, such as the Better Than Sex mascara previously, I had a look in my local Debenhams to see what was on offer. There were about 3 palettes to choose from but the wearability and prettiness of the shades in the Sweet Peach palette sold it for me, along with the addictive peachy smell!

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The packaging is really cute and I love the magnetic clasp, which makes a satisfying sound when closing the palette. I’ve used four of the shades so far and I’m impressed with the silky smooth texture and the pigmentation. Some of the lighter shades show up better when using an eyeshadow primer but you can build up and blend the colour pretty easily. The smell is probably the best part as I could just sniff the palette all day!

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Here, I am wearing a mixture of Just Peachy and Candied Peach in the crease and Georgia on the lid. Even the shade names sound good enough to eat! Apologies, this isn’t the best picture and my work makeup is usually rushed but I plan to add more to the post in a week or so. I just couldn’t wait to share how much I love it!

Beside the Seaside

I’ve lived in the Southend area for nearly 6 months now and I can now honestly say that I love where I live. Nowhere is perfect or without its issues but I’m much happier and more relaxed here than I was living in London. As I said before I’m in London often enough anyway but it’s nice to come home to somewhere which is usually pretty quiet. Today probably isn’t the best example though as I hear people outside the local pub getting into the bank holiday spirit(s) but hopefully it’ll quieten down tonight.

Last weekend we jumped on the train and went to Leigh-on-sea which is a lovely place to go on the hottest day of the year. There was a great atmosphere as everyone was outside enjoying the weather and the seaside is so picturesque. When I lived in London everyone flocked to the limited parks on a sunny day which never did my hayfever any favours and there was never any space as everyone had the same idea. Although Leigh was busy it wasn’t unpleasant.

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We had reserved a table at The Boatyard restaurant and arranged to meet up with my mum and her partner’s friends and their two children, who enjoyed an eye cream and paddling in the sea after our meal. I ordered the fish of the day which was a tasty tuna steak with salad. For dessert I chose the panna cotta which is one of my favourites.

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It was such a lovely day and I’m looking forward to more Summer days beside the sea.

Cocktails & Lunch at Olivia’s La Cala

From the end of March to the beginning of April I spent a week in Spain visiting my grandparents which also coincided with mine and my boyfriend’s 7 year anniversary. To mark the occasion we decided to try TOWIE star Elliott Wright’s restaurant in La Cala which isn’t far from where my grandparents live. After watching a show about the opening and running of the restaurant on a programme called Playa in Marbella we were excited to try it.

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We first went there on the Thursday for cocktails and it was such a nice, chilled atmosphere and not at all pretentious. The staff we really friendly and helpful and I enjoyed my cocktails. My favourite was a tropical concoction called Blue Hawaiian (below)

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We then returned on Monday for our anniversary lunch and the food did not disappoint. I chose the tempura sole with straw potato which was really tasty but there were a decent amount of options for mains along with a selection of Tapas dishes. My boyfriend and grandparents were also really impressed with their meals and although the prices aren’t the cheapest, you definitely get what you pay for.

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The restaurant has a lovely sea view which adds to the relaxed atmosphere. My outfit of choice for the occasion was a gingham top from Matalan with cropped flares from Topshop and Clarks sandals. I went for a bit of a Spanish theme to fit in with the location!

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As we were leaving, Elliott was outside on the phone so once he’d finished his call my grandad, bless him asked if he would have a picture taken with me as I was too embarrassed to ask. Elliott was happy to oblige and seemed really friendly and down to Earth. Overall, we were really impressed and will definitely return next time we’re in Spain. Its somewhere I would recommend a visit to, even for cocktails and maybe some Tapas.

A Spring in my Step

So the clocks have gone forward, the sun shines most days and the breeze isn’t quite as bitter as it was a week or so ago. It seems that Spring has sprung. I’ve seen people out and about wearing shorts which is a bit too far, especially for someone who feels the cold like me but it’s definitely time to wear lighter clothes on those days when the weather is decent. I’m obsessed with embroidery at the moment, specifically of the floral variety so I’m glad I picked up these rose detail jeans in the Missguided shop last year. I also can’t get enough of gingham and this cotton top was a bargain at £12 from Matalan. Espadrilles are a good carry over trend from last summer and these Zara ones were only £20.

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I still need to wear a jacket with this look but on sunny days a black faux leather would do. I’m looking forward to when it’s warm enough not to need one though.

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BlogConLDN 2017

I’ve only been to a couple of Scarlett London events before but they never disappoint and the latest BlogCon was no exception. Hundreds of bloggers descended on the QEII centre in Westminster, a location which has sadly become quite poignant since the terrible events that unfolded on the 22nd March but that’s a whole other story.

The space was open plan and had some decent views as you can see below.

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There was plenty of space to walk around, chat to fellow bloggers, meet the brands and have a look at some of their items and to listen to talks given by established bloggers, with tips on how to boost your blog. Unfortunately, I was too caught up visiting the brands to stop and listen which is a shame. It was a really enjoyable event and I had a great time discovering different brands and catching up with friends but the only downside for me was the 12pm start time. It takes me quite a bit of time to travel into central London now and if the event was slightly later I would’ve had time to grab some lunch beforehand. I ended up having to leave early as hunger called and my regular head pains are worse if I don’t eat properly. Here are some of the brands I spoke to at the event

 

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I remember Johnny Loves Rosie from when I was a teenager but I must say, they have really upped their game! I love the slogan clutch bags and gorgeous sparkly drop earrings that would be great for a night out or special occasion. They even have watches which are practically an essential.

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Skincare brand Exuviance exhibited at a previous event but I hadn’t tried any of their face products, only a body cream. After sharing my skin woes and kindly being given the Purifying cleansing gel and Skinrise bionic tonic exfoliating pads to try I felt hopeful that my skin would improve and after trying them at the weekend this was definitely the case. My skin looked so bright and clear and has never felt so clean! The products also have a really pleasant smell. I did break out in a couple of spots after 2 days but I imagine it’s bringing all the toxins and rubbish to the surface as face masks do so I definitely plan to stick with it.

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Chi Chi London make such pretty dresses that are perfect for weddings and other special occasions. It was so hard to choose a favourite from the rails of fairytale frocks on display but the plain pink, high necked sleeveless maxi dress just clinches it for me as it’s classic yet modern and so feminine.

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Rose is one of my favourite scents and it seems that Lola’s Apothecary agree as it features in quite a few of their products! I love a pamper and I’m very tempted to try their bath milk and beautifully scented candles and bath oils

I also spoke to a few other brands such as Trek America, sexy hair, Natural World and Lipivir and I’ll be featuring some of their products on either my blog or social media soon.