Popping my WordCamp cherry

I’ve been using WordPress for my blog for the past 2 1/2 years now but I never really thought to attend a WordCamp. I decided to accompany my boyfriend to WordCamp Brighton to see what it was all about. I thought it would be mostly full of developers with knowledge far greater than my own and that I would feel a little bit inadequate and alienated but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whilst many of the attendees and of course the speakers and organisers have a great deal of knowledge and expertise, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.

img_4203.jpg

I went on the Friday after travelling to Brighton Thursday evening after work. There were various talks and workshops going on throughout the day and you could choose which ones you wanted to attend. I found the workshop ‘Finding the Words to Press’ hosted by Tess from Mind Doodle very useful and enjoyable. It got me thinking about how to come up with ideas for blog posts and also what I’m planning to achieve with my blog.

IMG_4199

The venue was in the centre of Brighton which is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for some time. For me, Brighton is almost an amalgamation of London and Southend on sea. Its vibrant, lively and cosmopolitan like London but also has the seaside town vibes of Southend where I currently live, only on a grander scale. For example, there are arcades and rides in Southend but in Brighton they’re all on the vast Palace pier which we enjoyed strolling along on the Thursday night not long after we arrived. It’s a place I’d definitely like to go back to.

IMG_4196

I’ll admit, there were some talks and conversations throughout the day where I didn’t fully understand what was going on but its made me want to learn more and also engage with the community. It may have been my first WordCamp but I have a feeling that it won’t be my last. I’d definitely recommend it to fellow bloggers who use WordPress as you’ll gain an insight into how it works, get inspiration for your blog and also meet some lovely people.

Advertisements

From Blogger to Influencer: How the Blogging Landscape has transformed since 2010

When I first started blogging at the end of 2010 there were far fewer bloggers and it was only just starting to become popular. I used my blog as a place to showcase my writing and share my life aswell as any bargains I’d found, within a space that didn’t have a character limit. Over the years blogging gained momentum quite rapidly and fast forward to 2018 and every other person seems to be blogging. This coincided with the rise of social media and its eventual takeover and spawned a new type of blogger: the influencer. The influencer typically looks a certain way, travels to exotic locations various times per year, often wears expensive designer clothes or accessories, looks Kardashian level flawless with rarely a hair out of place, regularly visits cafes, bars etc that provide the prettiest backgrounds for their images and portrays a life that most can only dream of. (Life goals if you will)

Blogs used to be a backlash against the glossy magazines with their picture perfect aspirational lifestyles. I enjoyed reading blogs because I could often relate to the voice of the person writing and could see myself going to the same places, wearing the same kind of outfits and living a similar life. The world they blogged about was attainable for the everyday person and it was refreshing for the stories of ‘normal’ people to be out there in the public domain. There are still bloggers out there keeping it real and posting relatable content but they aren’t getting the recognition they deserve and are becoming further few and far between. The cookie cutter influencer takeover seems to be drowning out the voices of many other bloggers who need to be heard.

It’s as if most of the successful, mainstream bloggers have become just like the people in the glossy magazines who I struggled to relate to. The blogosphere in a sense has almost become what it originally set out to challenge. The painstakingly set up and professionally photographed and edited photos wouldn’t look out of place in a high end magazine and as aesthetically pleasing as they are, I just can’t fully relate to them. I understand that some blogs are a brand and they need to portray a certain image in order to sell the products they are promoting and I also appreciate the level of work and skill that has gone into these posts but I feel like things have gone slightly too far. It makes me feel like my blog and social media posts, featuring pictures taken by my boyfriend of high street outfits (most of which aren’t brand new) or about me living day to day life just don’t cut it in comparison. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

For me, part of the appeal of blogs was reading about the ‘girl next door’ and giving a voice to ordinary people with ordinary lives. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost sight of this. There is room for all types of bloggers and I’d like to see more reality, diversity, everyday locations, pared back beauty and just variety in general. This isn’t a pop at the bloggers who have made a successful business out of their blog or social media. it’s more a plea to give everyone a chance. Try to make sure your feed is a mixture of different types of content. If more people followed smaller bloggers who post varied content then everyone is more likely to get the airtime and recognition that they deserve.

P.S. I’ve purposely left any pictures out of this post. If you read until the end then thank you for your time 🙂

 

Fashion recycling & style on a budget

In the past, once the new season looks land on the high street I pick a particular trend (or 2) and purchase various items that fit under that umbrella. Last summer the trend of choice was gingham so I promptly stocked up on dresses, tops and trousers featuring that small, distinctive style of check. This summer though things are changing. I’m trying to save money for boring but important adult things so I can’t spend as much on clothes as I usually do. I’ve still bought some new pieces but most of them are from Primark or were under £25 in the sales. I usually wear these with items that I’ve had in my wardrobe for at least a year, often a few years, to bring those pieces up to date. The Miss Selfridge skirt below is something that’s been in my wardrobe for 3 years but when worn with the blue, floral tie hem top from Primark it becomes a pretty current outfit.

IMG_4066

Sometimes I do a Kate Middleton and recycle a full outfit, especially for work where there aren’t usually any photo opportunities. My colleagues often comment on how many different outfits I have so cutting down on buying any more is probably a good idea! The orange dress below was a Topshop buy around 3 years ago but I still wear it every summer, especially on holiday. I love the colour and it’s a classic shape. Dressing for this crazy heatwave has been a struggle though. We’ve just had air conditioning fitted in work but as I walk to and from work I don’t want to wear anything too warm or heavy.

IMG_3702

I also should mention the fact that this is my first blog post in about two months. I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired as of late and not always like my usual self. Its also easier to just post the odd outfit pic on Instagram rather than thinking about and writing a full post but I have missed it. Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed so maybe making an effort to do it more often will make me feel more like myself.

The outfit below is one of my favourites, mainly because I love the bright print on the Zara top (only £19.99 as part of their beachwear range and probably even cheaper now in the sale) and the yellow sandals were a bargain £4 in the H&M sale! Worn with a simple white vest and skirt which have been in my wardrobe for years creates an on trend look with a bit of an edge.  Have you bought many new pieces this summer?

IMG_4014

 

A Taste of Paradise at Now Garden, Punta Cana

It’s not everyday that me and my boyfriend go on Exotic holidays but this year we decided to push the boat out and book our last big, long haul holiday before we start saving for a house. Initially we wanted to go to Barbados but it was way over our budget so we picked Dominican Republic as we could get the type of hotel we wanted at an affordable price for us. After trawling Trip Advisor and the deals in the British Airways sale we chose the Now Garden hotel in Punta Cana.

After a pleasant 8 1/2 hour flight, during which I watched films such as The Greatest Showman and Black Panther we landed in Punta Cana. At the airport there was quite a bit of queuing to pay entry tax and hand over customs forms but I suppose this is to be expected outside Europe. I would definitely advise anyone travelling to the Caribbean to take a pen or 2 with you to fill in the forms as we had to borrow one on both our inward and outward journeys which can be an issue if there are none available. We arrived at the hotel quite late UK time and was greeted by friendly, helpful members of staff and a cold drink. After sorting out our room and unpacking some of our stuff we ate in the Carnival buffet restaurant at the sister hotel Now Larimar (a short, golf buggy ride away) then went to bed. The next morning we woke up to amazing views outside our room and a tasty breakfast. Most days I had toast and exotic fruit but I sometimes had bacon and yummy pastries (not together obviously!)

09581715-1EA8-4FC8-B533-7C103A12652B

02AE174E-7891-4DEE-817F-F9C41FC8C250

The hotel grounds are immaculately maintained and there’s a real sense of luxury and indulgence. It was the ideal place to relax in the sun for 10 days after a busy (and cold) few months at work and home and I had such a lovely, relaxing time. The pool is a horseshoe shape with a lazy river either side and it was so inviting. The swim up bar and pool bar serve a variety of drinks, including cocktails and mocktails and a BBQ lunch was served every day which was very moreish!

6C575C68-E0E9-4576-9006-6ABC4E9C3D8F005E9234-D5DE-4BB6-AEEA-45B463BC078C

The first couple of days were cloudy and it rained on and off but the rest of the time we enjoyed clear, blue skies and bright sunshine which was a departure from what we’re used to in the UK. There was a choice of 6 restaurants to eat in at night, most of which were in the Now Larimar hotel. We tried all of them but my favourites were the French, the Japanese and Carnival buffet. The good thing about the restaurants and entertainment being in the other hotel meant that our hotel was fairly quiet at night. The hotel room was very clean and comfortable and decked out with essentials such as a hairdryer and even a iron. One day we retuned to the room to see that the maid had left a lovely display made from towels, a blanket and pretty flowers which was a really nice touch.

9C85A871-79FD-4353-BDDC-A16342D3BC21

Ah, the beach… For me, turquoise sea and white sand are what dreams are made of and paddling in the surf, looking out to sea really did feel like paradise. The only downside to the beach was being constantly approached by vendors trying to sell excursions and souvenirs but they were always friendly and they have to make a living somehow so it’s understandable why they do it. I did buy a pair of flip flops from one of them on our first day as mine broke and they were actually really comfortable.

6D8ED340-CFFE-4AC3-B939-B1344E1B3A4A

IMG_3662

I would definitely recommend the Now Garden hotel and the Dominican Republic to anyone looking to go on a long-haul beach holiday. It’s a beautiful place and the people were so friendly and helpful. It was so nice to relax, enjoy the sun and surroundings, spend time with my boyfriend and switch off from the pressures of life for 10 days. I just wish we were still there now!

If you are thinking of going to the Dominican Republic or anywhere else in the Caribbean here are some tips:

  1. Make sure you take some dollars with you for entry tax, tips, items from the hotel shop, any souvenirs you may want or excursions
  2. Factor 50 sunscreen is pretty essential, especially if you burn easily like I do
  3. Mosquito repellent is also essential. I recommend the Boots 50% Deet spray as I only got bitten once in the whole time we were there
  4. Bring a pen for filling in customs forms
  5. Take as many photos as possible when you’re there as when you return they will help reinforce the amazing memories

Spring Style; It’s in the Bag

We may be into April but I don’t think mother nature got the memo as Spring still hasn’t sprung. My lighter clothes are still hibernating in plastic bags in at the top of my wardrobe and in various other locations around the house (is it just me who does this?!) but you can always rely on pastel accessories to evoke that much needed Spring spirit.

BD780777-54B7-4723-8A25-413237331B64

This gorgeous baby pink Florence bag from Boutique of Molly is perfect to add a touch of the joys of Spring to any outfit. It’s just the right size for my purse, phone, lipstick and even a small umbrella for those April showers. The strap is also detachable so it makes a great clutch for a night out.

E8727A7F-C031-479D-B246-F47CD5941680

Monochrome makes a fab backdrop for pastels so I wore my Boohoo polka dot dress to compliment the pretty pink of the bag. The gold chain detailing is a nice touch and it’s a designer dupe but a fraction of the price at £30.

FullSizeRender

The bag has various different sized compartments that are ideal for your phone and things like make-up and travel cards. It would be a good bag to take on holiday as it’s pretty flat so won’t take up too much room in your case.

If you like the look of Florence or anything else on the Boutique of Molly site you can get 20% off with the code CHELSEYP20

Comparison in the Social media Age

Social media is pretty inescapable for most of us and I’m in the camp who checks in regularly as I like to keep up with what people are doing and I get a high from the interaction it can bring. However, it can be both a blessing and a curse.

Sometimes, more often than I’d like, scrolling through apps and looking at other people’s lives can make me feel insecure about my own. Instagram is probably the worst for this because the images can give a perfect snapshot of the best part of someone’s life and make you want that dream body, job, house, car, holiday, Chanel bag or Gucci belt. I could write a very long post about the beauty ideals that are often presented and seem to get all the likes but that’s for another time. To be honest, I mostly follow people and bloggers that I can relate to but that doesn’t stop unfavourable comparison from rearing its ugly head occasionally.

DA60104B-D9B3-4DC3-98C6-5E288C0AA9E3

What I try to remember though is that many images on Instagram are often heavily edited and staged, taking many attempts to get the perfect shot.  For these people their brand is usually their full time job or if not, it takes up a lot of their time and they have resources available to them that I don’t have such as a professional camera and/or someone on hand to patiently take all of the photos that they need. I currently use my phone for photography and feel bad pestering my boyfriend or family members to take pictures of me so I don’t get decent outfit shots as often as I’d like.

Even the un-staged shots posted by people who I know who aren’t bloggers can sometimes make me feel inadequate. This also applies to achievement posts on Facebook. You know the ones; ‘Just got the keys to our new house! HashtagHomeowners.’ Although I’m pleased for people when they buy a house or pass their driving test etc it reminds me of my own failures. I tell myself that everyone reaches different milestones at their own pace and that it will be me one day but it is hard when I see people up 10 years younger than me with their sh*t together when I’m miles away from getting there myself! The only positive is it helps spur me on to put more money away each month and spend less to help me reach my goal of buying a house in the future.

3E067994-5D36-4227-A4A4-DB6035BE2A49

When it comes to people who blog for a living (the dream) or those lucky enough to be doing a job they love, the posts that relate to this can get me down sometimes. There is a lot to say about career expectations versus reality but I will save that for another post. The truth is for various reasons, we aren’t all doing our dream jobs and some of us may never experience the joy of loving what we do but if you decide or have little choice to stay put, the key is learning as much as you can from the experience and making the most of it. What you do day to day may be far from fun but you can find passion in your role and the people you work with may make your time at work more enjoyable. Just take pride in your job and remember that everything you do is making a difference to someone. That’s what I try to tell myself anyway!

E34AB29D-7DF4-46A3-BE81-A2156E0A63CD

Despite everything I’ve said, social media does have its pros and I wouldn’t want to tar all site or apps with the same brush. Twitter for instance, usually leaves me feeling positive rather than negative. I find that there is a community of supportive people, providing you follow the right accounts and interact with others regularly and it is probably the most entertaining of all social media. It’s definitely the best place to see stranger’s opinions on everything from politics to the latest reality TV show. How we react to social media is up to us and although there are bad days where it can make you look on your life unfavourably it’s best to take it with a pinch of salt and use it to connect with friends, family and like-minded people.

Ideas to keep the Winter Blues at Bay

I’m not going to lie, this weather gets me down. The novelty of the snow has completely worn off, I’m bored of putting on multiple items of clothing before leaving the house and I’ve practically been in hibernation since late December so I don’t have much to even post on Instagram, let alone blog about. I’m impatiently waiting for sunshine and a warm, pleasant breeze which makes the 20 minute walk to the nearest train station enjoyable rather than a chore and actually encourages me to leave the house at the weekend. Once Spring arrives I can hopefully get my social life back but until then I have some tips if, like me you aren’t a fan of the depths of winter once Christmas is over.

image2-7

Music cheers me up whatever the weather so if the cold snap is getting you down have a listen to some upbeat songs. They can be in the current charts or older songs that remind you of your childhood or happy times. I love music from the 80s, 90s and 00s, especially a bit of garage. I find that Spotify is a good app to discover new music and is ideal to listen to playlists when you’re doing something mundane like ironing.

Enjoy some quiet me time and self care. If like me, your social life has pretty much ground to a halt, it’s a good time to take stock, get some rest, pamper yourself and do things you enjoy doing at home such as reading, being creative or catching up on your favourite shows. As a child I used to enjoy drawing outfit sketches so last night I decided to draw and colour in a Cher from Clueless inspired outfit. If only I had her wardrobe…

image3-3

Winter warmers such as a sweet coffee, hot chocolate or good old cup of tea help keep you warm and toasty when it’s cold outside. My office has been like a fridge this week so I went out with a colleague at lunch yesterday and treated us to a hot drink each. I went for a Latte which certainly warmed my cockles. Also, with all the extra calories your body is burning to keep warm you can afford an extra treat. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

There’s something really comforting about a hot water bottle. I stopped using them for years then tried one again last year and wondered why I’d waited so long! They’re great for keeping you warm and cosy and heating up cold hands. I keep one in work which was a godsend last week during the big freeze. I also recommend blankets as wrapping yourself up in one feels like being a carefree baby again. Just make sure you don’t doze off in work!

image1-9

Embracing the layers isn’t always easy when you feel the cold and need to wear thermals, a jumper, a cardigan, a coat, scarf, gloves and earmuffs or a hat but there are some pretty cute knitwear and accessory options available that you can match to your outfit. I like to wear my tartan scarf with tartan trousers, despite comments from my work colleagues about me looking like a member of the Bay City Rollers. You can also use a hat to hide a bad hair day and just sort it out once you get to work.

The cold may not be comfortable and snow may be dangerous but there is something quite beautiful about the winter. It’s a time when the old is discarded, ready for the new to emerge come Spring. Use this time wisely to recharge your batteries and emerge, feeling renewed once nature awakens again.

Comedy Dining: You’d be a Fool to miss out

Only Fools & Horses is one of the programmes I grew up watching with my grandparents and I still enjoy watching it today, especially around Christmas. It’s the sort of show that always cheers you up so when my friend suggested an evening of Only Fools and Horses style entertainment with an accompanying 3 course meal it sounded like something fun and different to do. Comedy dining certainly provide an entertaining night to remember.

The actors portray the characters really well and also interact with the audience. The actress who played Marlene took a shine to my boyfriend and was pretending he was her son Tyler! They re-enacted some of the classic scenes, such as the iconic Batman and Robin fancy dress episode but put their own twist on it to make it relevant to the evening and audience.

IMG_3302

The food was enjoyable and there was a choice of 3 dishes for each course, most of which had some relation to Only Fools. I opted for tomato soup to start, followed by fish and chips then chocolate torte to finish. We were also offered a complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival. At about £39 per ticket it was great value for money. The show I went to was at Cliffs Pavillion in Southend but they tour around the country. I’d definitely recommend it as a fun night out. Lovely Jubbly!

BC2F116E-1E32-453D-8095-3E901CD2C621

0775C683-EF6D-499F-9B8D-CBED1A23913D

Outfit wise I went for monochrome with a pop of red. These M&S boots are so comfortable so I made the most of the dry weather and teamed them with a grey velvet blazer from Topshop, velvet skinny jeans also from Topshop and a T-shirt from MCQ. I don’t get out as often as I used to so any excuse to get dressed up.

January Gems

It may be the month of cold weather, darkness and feeling the pinch but January also represents a new start and although I’m not one for resolutions, it’s a great time to try out new products. (Any excuse) I was lucky enough to have a bit of Christmas money to spend so I treated myself to some beauty pick me ups to help get me through this grim time of year.

81880FD0-C374-421B-A5F8-C2AACB89AD8C

There’s been such a buzz about Glossier products now being shipped to the UK that I had to see what all the fuss was about. As someone who always has dry lips no matter what time of year it is, I decided to try the balm dotcom and I picked the birthday flavour because it sounded tasty! I’m yet to try any other Glossier products but this beauty of a balm certainly lives up to the hype. The smell, like vanilla cake is actually addictive, I love the smooth texture, the subtle glittery finish and it relieves my dry lips. The taste is reminiscent of lip balms from the 90s that I used as a child and young teenager and anything that gets my nostalgic juices flowing is a yes from me. If you try anything from Glossier I would definitely recommend this. I need to try the cherry one next…

B1ACC7AB-7BAA-43D2-8BA9-A79B1E9BB365

Now I’m in my early 30s I need to wear foundation more often to smooth things out a bit and make my skin look insta-ready. I’ve tried the Chanel foundation samples that you get in the glossy magazines and every time I’d get compliments on my skin, so I took the plunge and bought a bottle of Vitalumiere. I’ve only used it once so far as I don’t get out much in January but I was pretty pleased with the result. I would say the coverage is on the lighter side of medium but you can build it up to cover a multitude of sins. I love the fresh smell and it does make me look more glowing than usual. Keep an eye on my instagram when I post any selfies or weekend outfit pics as I’m sure to be wearing it then

88795725-CC01-48B3-9B72-69F499C3D225

Urban Decay are my favourite brand for all things eyeshadow related and their eye primers are no exception. I went for the anti-aging option in the hope that it will help keep my eyelids as youthful as possible (I can only hope) and make my eyeshadow pop. I’m definitely an eyeshadow person, if that’s even a thing and I love putting a transition shade in my crease and wearing different shades on the rest of my eye. This primer does make the pigment more vivid and also makes the shadow last longer. I’m getting used to the wand applicator as the only other time I used this product was from a sample that I got with one of the Naked palettes. I do love a sample

F8B710C5-F15A-443D-80CE-D6A737AF75DB

Most of us can only dream of being a Victoria’s Secret angel, but we can have the next best thing (almost) by wearing a VS fragrance. My teenage love of body spray has been revived recently and there are some decent scents available in their range of body mists. Two of my favourites are Bombshell and Pure Seduction which are great for every day. Pure Seduction has quite a summery vibe with notes of plum and smells exotic but without the use of coconut traditionally associated with summery scents. Bombshell has a hint of musk and is quite fruity and fresh. They’re both great for freshening up and to spritz when you want a bit of a mood lift.

We are heading towards the end of January and hopefully the start of slightly warmer weather and lighter nights but if you need a pick me up, I’d recommend all of these products to beat the January blues.

Review of Lush Naked Shower Gels

Around a week before Christmas, we had a problem with the pipe under our bath and had to have it taken out. We will be getting a new one, hopefully in mid February but I’ve really missed soaking in the bath. Of course for Christmas, I got quite a lot of bath products such as bath bombs which I’ve had to stash away to try once we get a new bath. In the meantime though, I get to have fun with a couple of Naked shower gels from Lush. I received the Snow Fairy and Twilight versions as part of a gift set and I was really intrigued by the sweet-smelling, soap-looking, bottle-shaped bars.

A08930A3-795D-496F-86B5-E435EE467C6E

They may look like soap but that’s where the similarities end. Soap can be really drying on your skin and leave that squeaky feeling but these beauties, containing most of the same ingredients as the liquid shower gels, leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. The formula is slightly less solid than soap and you use it by rubbing the bar directly onto your skin or creating a lather with it between your hands. They are quite addictive and add an element of fun to a mundane shower. Twilight and Snow Fairy are two of my favourite Lush scents and they do pack a decent punch, leaving a subtle trail of fragrance on your skin.

0387D7D8-8251-4A68-9584-D9A59D1822E5

When it comes to storing Naked Shower gels it’s probably best to use a soap dish but I store mine in a zipped PVC bag which I keep outside the shower to stop them from getting wet when they’re not in use. Naked shower gels were released as part of the Lush Christmas range and are no longer available but if you weren’t lucky enough to pick one up here’s hoping that Lush introduce them permanently very soon…

BF671764-888A-40F3-8FEC-7023E0EA3C35