Wednesday, 3 February 2016

My Monthly Challenge - January (DONE!)

WOOHOO! It's finally February which means that January is well and truly over! As you will know if you read my post 'New Year & My Monthly Challenge - January', the challenge I picked out for January was no TV, Movies or Youtube for the entire month. Here's how I got on...




It was pretty tough to begin with and that's just because I am so used to having Youtube videos or the TV on in the background. It is actually crazy to think about how much I have the TV on for no reason whatsoever and how easily I am distracted by programmes/videos  that I'm not really that interested in. Talk about force of habit?

Yeah I missed watching my favourite Youtubers and oh, how I counted down the days until I could watch Making a Murderer (which interestingly enough, I haven't watched properly yet. Well...I watched the first ten minutes and then fell asleep because I was exhausted).But other than that, I've found it rather enjoyable! Here are my pros, cons and overall thoughts:

THE PROS


  • Spending time with Mr Blues. (Boyfriend loves Blues music but he's a cheery guy - honest!). We usually watch TV or movies together but during this challenge we've spent hours talking, listening to music and it was just nice to give each other undivided attention with no distractions. I learned so many things about him I didn't already know and we've agreed to only have TV/movie nights once or twice a month now (although he has got an endless list of conspiracy theory programmes that he is excited for us to watch!).
  • Pamper Evenings. Pamper evenings were always somewhat of a 'treat' for me, usually on a weekly basis. I'd make a nice cocktail, run a bubble bath and lay out an array of hair and face masks to choose from. During this challenge, I was having proper pamper evenings almost every night!
  • Getting Stuff Done. I'm definitely a list-maker and there's nothing more satisfying that putting a tick against every single item on that to-do list. Sadly, this didn't always happen as I ended up  watching the most bizarre, pointless videos on Youtube! Throughout January, I definitely got more done and that was really satisfying. 
  • Podcasts & Books. Listening to podcasts and catching up on my reading definitely got me through the month. One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is Serial - go and check it out!

THE CONS


  • Kicking the Habit. It was difficult to begin with, I'm not going to lie. I never realised how much of going into the living room and picking up the remote, or just playing a Youtube playlist, was a force of habit. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't allowed to watch anything for the first few days!
  • Weekend Woes. The weekends were the worst, particularly if I didn't have plans and it was a Friday/Saturday night home alone because curling up with a hot cup of tea, biscuits and a good movie is just the done thing! At times it really did annoy me because I just wanted to switch off and be entertained in the most effortless way.  Sunday mornings were a nightmare too because that's usually when I binge on Youtube videos. I really missed watching Lily Pebbles and ViviannaDoesMakeup who are my two favourite Youtubers. 
  • Missing Documentaries. Perhaps it's as a result of my law degree, but I love murder and death row documentaries. As wrong as that might sound, I've always watched them, trying to guess who the killer is. When I heard about Making a Murderer, I was so annoyed because it is right up my street! So yeah, missing out on these programmes made this challenge extremely difficult.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I'd definitely do this challenge again and I would recommend it to anyone. It really made me consider whether I use my time effectively and I now realise I don't always do that. I'm definitely now making a conscious effort not to have the TV or Youtube on as much (movies were never really one of my weaknesses!) so that I can have proper time to myself focusing on reading, writing, pampering or whatever takes my fancy! And when I have conversations with anyone in my house, the TV is going off - far too distracting! 

FEBRUARY'S CHALLENGE

'Do one thing a day that scares or challenges you' - excited but nervous about this one!

How have you been getting on with your personal challenges/New Years resolutions? It's never too late to start. Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves. All encouragement is appreciated!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Aimee Recommends: 'A Street Cat Named Bob'


Aimee has become such a good friend of mine so when we decided we wanted to do a series of collaboration posts, I was really excited to see what we came up with.  We are both book lovers but in all honesty, one of my worst habits is that I stick to authors and genres that I know and love. So we decided to give each other a selection of books to read and we'll be posting our reviews along the way! Aimee is a great friend and her blog, Aimee Raindrops Writes, is definitely worth a visit. 

I'm the first to admit: I'm not a cat person. It all started when I was five years old, running around in my gran's garden trying to offer the neighbour's cat one of my chocolate digestives. In hindsight, I realise how terrified the poor little kitty must have been! Although the scratches on my hands and arms healed, my fear of cats has lived with me to this very day. So when I noticed that the first book I would be reading was 'A Street Cat Named Bob'  by James Bowen, I was far from excited. I really don't like cats...



Why did Aimee choose this book for me? Here's what she had to say: 

“A Street Cat Named Bob,” by James Bowen, is one of my favourite books. And I only picked it up because my boyfriend kept urging me to read it. (He’d never read it, by the way, he just thought the cat on the cover was cute!) When I eventually succumbed and read the book, I was so glad I did because it is such a heart-warming and lovely story. I decided that “A Street Cat Named Bob” had to be one of the books I suggested Sarah read. She’s such a brave, incredible woman, who has been through so much already (seriously, read her transplant posts!), and I felt she needed a little reminder of everything good in the world. I wanted her to read a book that, I hoped, would leave her with a lovely, warm feeling inside when she’d turned the final page. So, how’d I do Sarah?!

James is recovering from a drug addiction and although he has a love for cats, he isn't really in a position to take on the responsibility of a pet given that he is struggling to make ends meet and can barely afford to feed himself. But when he meets a ginger cat going up the stairs to the front door of his flat, there is immediately a connection between them. James tries to hunt down the owner of a few days but it doesn't take long before Bob has moved in.  From this moment, both of their lives change forever.

The book follows their journey through the streets of London and highlights the overwhelming impact a simple man and his cat have on each other. They change each others lives (thankfully for the better) and never leave each other's side, regardless of the situation they find themselves in. Their bond is effortless and for me, that's what brought a tear to my eye. It really is the simple things in life. It definitely gave me 'food for thought'; making me think about all the stupid things I worry, moan and stress about because the truth is: none of it really matters.

I honestly think that we can learn a lot from Bob. Before Bob entered his life, James was invisible; ignored by so many people every day, rushing around to get to their next appointment, meet friends or go home to their families. When Bob was by his side, people stopped to speak to him and his takings grew as a result. Had it not been for Bob giving James a chance and not judging him, would this have happened? Probably not. That's a really sad thought..

If you are looking for an easy, heart warming read then I strongly recommend getting a copy of A Street Cat named Bob' because I honestly couldn't put the book down and I've been telling everyone about it.  Thanks so much Aimee for suggesting I read such a wonderful book - really made me smile (with a few tears along the way).  And I definitely feel differently about cats now too! Maybe this has helped overcome my fear?!

I've almost finished the next book Aimee has recommended and be sure to go and check what she thought of my first selection, 'Bag of Bones' by Stephen King

Have you ever read A Street Cat Named Bob? Do you have other book recommendations for me? Please leave a comment below or tweet me @thingsarahloves. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

My New Zealand Beauty Box Swap!

I've been looking forward to writing this post for months! I love watching unboxing videos on Youtube and I was really excited to start doing Beauty Box Swaps to get my hands on some goodies that I might not be able to get in the UK (or if i can, to get them at a better price!). I've been planning this particular swap with a girl in New Zealand for months and my goodies finally arrived over the festive season! I'm really excited to share what I got with you!

I put a post in a Box Swap group on Facebook (there are plenty of them) and that's where I met my swapping buddy. We agreed to set a budget of about £70 but it ended up slightly over.  It's a lot of money so communication is definitely key. We also sent each other photos of our goodies wrapped and boxes coming together over the months as well as sending photos of the finished parcels ready for posting and postage receipts. I was nervous to be honest but the girl I swapped with was lovely and had a great reputation in the group (something I look for when doing swaps)

Anyway, we agreed on two high end products and the rest drugstore! We told each other what kind of shades we liked and items we were particularly keen to try (I can never have enough lip products) so here is what I was lucky enough to get. I know some of these I could get in the UK but during our chats they were brands/products I mentioned I had my eye on I was completely and utterly spoiled.


Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette & Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush
Jordana Lipstick in 011 Cabaret, Jordana Lipstick in 64 Fruity Punch, L.A Girls Matte Pigment Gloss in Playful, Fifth Avenue Gloss Stick in Mistress & Australis Velourlips Matte Lip Cream in Noo-d Fighters

L.A Girl Eyeshadow Collection Nudes, Chi Chi Eyeshadow (Baby Blue, Blue Steel, Caribbean Lover, Sugar Daddy), NV Chunky Crayon - Purple & L.A Colours 16 Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Sweet

L.A Girl Eyeshadow Collection Nudes & L.A Colours 16 Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Sweet


Top: L.A Girl Blush Collection, W7 Multi Bronzing Face Powder in Africa, Blush QXX & Australis Paparazzi Perfect High Definition Blush in Shoot to Thrill

Nude by Nature Double Ended Face Brush, Avon Face Brush & W7 Power Puff

Goodness Every Morning Moisturiser, Eos Lip Balm in Tangerine & Creamy Vanilla Body Scrub

There was also a large selection of sweets (Note: Salted Caramel Tim Tams are amazing) and a range of skin, hair and make up samples which I'm looking forward to trying. More importantly, I've made a lovely new friend and I'm looking forward to doing our next swap soon! In the meantime, I am doing other swaps with girls in France, USA and Australia - swapping addict!

Have you ever taken part in a box swap? Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves.






Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Wander Through My Festive Weeks

It's been so long since I've written one of these posts but they are back! Every Sunday, I'll be giving a kind of summary of my week (the good, the bad and the ugly!) which I really like doing as it acts like a diary for me and is something I can look back on. It's been a fun week(ish - I've added a few days on since it was Christmas & New Year!). I've really loved Christmas this year and I'm going to do a separate post showing you the amazing teas/tea accessories that I was so lucky to get this year. I think my Tea of the Month posts are about to get very interesting indeed...

Boxing Day Lush Haul (and then I went back on the 27th...)



Boxing Day for me is all about Lush and I'm on a mission: to get as many of the Christmas items that I love into my basket!The weather was awful (not sure what I was expecting) when I woke up at half 7 so I decided to wait until the 9am sale started online; both my ipad and laptop were at the ready! Although it didn't start at 9am and the page was exactly the same - GRR! I threw on my coat, grabbed my bag and keys. Destination: Lush!

I got there just after half 9 and it was INSANE! I could barely move and the queue had doubled around the entire store. I managed to get a couple of the little gift sets that I wanted and then stocked up on so many bath bombs and bubble bars! Then I braved the queue to the till which I stood in for about 45 minutes - crazy! I visited a smaller Lush store the next day and picked up two bottles of Rose Jam which is by far my favourite shower gel just now. It smells of rose (obviously) but it's not too overpowering and yep, I'm beyond happy with my purchases. 

And my room literally smells like a Lush shop now - another benefit of having an en suite!

Please, No More Sweets!!

I am sick of looking at sweets and my body is craving yummy green veggies - it needs a bit of a rest after the festive season. I hate to even think about how many Quality Street and Ferrero Rocher have passed my lips and somehow telling myself 'It's Christmas!' is meant to make everything okay. I still have tubs of sweets, boxes of biscuits and full cakes left! Why?! Who the hell did I think I was feeding?! Some of them were gifts which I will enjoy, but definitely with other people because honestly, I can't take any more! Pass me the broccoli!

My Challenge for January 

In my last post, My 12 Monthly Challenges, I mentioned the fact that making New Years Resolutions don't really work for me at all and I never stick to them for long. In the post, I mention the fact I have set myself 12 challenges for 2016 and January's is no tv, movies or Youtube; so far so good! I've been listening to podcasts (Serial is amazing, everyone should listen to it), reading more and writing letters I have been meaning to for some time. 

I'm not saying it is easy (a Saturday night in not having the TV on isn't exactly a world of fun) but I am starting to realise how much I have a TV on as a force of habit and just for background noise that I don't really pay that much attention to weirdly enough. I do miss Youtube though and I still have a long way to go. Oh dear..

I really want to know what you've been up over Christmas & New Year! Please leave a comment below or tweet me @thingsarahloves. Hope you all have a wonderful 2016!!

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year & My Monthly Challenge - January


You have no idea how good it feels to sit down and write a blog post. I've really missed this feeling. I'm so sorry for the break but I actually really needed it. A lot has been happening  (I won't bore you by going on but there was a bit of eye drama. You would think I would be used to it by now). It's hard to believe that 2016 is finally here but I'm excited about the year ahead. Usually every year I make New Years Resolutions that to be honest, don't survive until the end of January, nevermind making it to December! This year, I decided to do something a little different..

I sat and thought about ways that I could challenge myself and I created 12 Monthly Challenges, all folded up and placed in a jar; waiting for their month in the spotlight. The challenges range from learning to knit, to becoming vegan and doing an act of kindness every single day. Some are tougher than others but they all mean something to me in one way or another.  I'm excited to get started!

When I picked out my challenge for January, to be honest I wanted to throw it back into the jar and redraw! But that would be cheating and although I know some of these (if not all) are going to be difficult, that's the whole point isn't it? And I'm not going to cheat (more for myself than anything else)



For January, I'm giving up TV, Movies and watching Youtube videos. A few people have asked why I'm torturing myself and to be honest, I ask myself the same thing. Isn't life too short not to be doing things you enjoy? was one line that I used repeatedly to try and convince myself this was a bad challenge to set. What about watching your favourite vloggers? How will you cope without WWE and Roman Reigns for a month?! What about your favourite WWE Pay Per View of them all - THE ROYAL RUMBLE?!

And initially, asking myself those questions made me a little sad and well, pissed off at myself for setting such a ridiculous challenge in the first place (Why couldn't I have picked out knitting which I could have done from the comfort of my bed binging on Netflix?!). But then I thought about the reasons I set this task: What would I do with the extra time? What about all those books I've meaning to read or letters that I need to write? Does TV really play such a vital role in my life?

So this is January's challenge and my family/close friends have all been informed! I'm not going to lie and say I'm looking forward to it because I'm not exactly jumping for joy but I'm interested to see how the month goes!t I have a feeling January is going to be one hell of a long month...

I'll be blogging about my challenges each month and would love to know your thoughts! Have you set yourself any Resolutions or thought about doing 12 Monthly Challenges? Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves. I hope you all have a wonderful 2016!!


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Blog Post of the Month - October 2015

Hey guys!

If you're new to my blog - welcome! This post is dedicated to my favourite blog post of the month: a post which has inspired and touched me that I want to share on my blog. I've been doing this series for a couple of months now and it is fast becoming one of my favourite posts to write. I love being part of the blogging community!



As I've had some 'eye drama' this month, I haven't had the chance to read as many blogs as I would normally. Nevertheless, there was one blog post that stood out from the rest: Can We Be Modern Day Suffragettes? by Teri-May over at A Cup of T. Being a history tutor myself, I teach a lot of pupils about the Suffragettes and Teri-May's post truly captures how much these brave women did for us (which sadly, I think we are all too quick to forget but that's another story!). I wholeheartedly agree that we have to keep on fighting as these women did. 

I first 'met' Teri- May during an #ltbloggers chat and I her tweets never fail to make me smile! I hope she won't mind but I'll be sharing her post with the pupils I tutor. So many of my pupils believe that this is 'old, forgotten news' and what I love is that Teri-May's post highlights exactly what I am trying to teach them: it is very much relevant today! It's one of those posts that I thought, 'Damn, I wish I had thought of that first' but that's okay, haha!

Let me know in the comments below which blog posts you have been loving this month and why! Or you can tweet me @thingsarahloves. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

More #BloggerSnailMail!

Hey!

How are we all? I've not been feeling very well so I decided that a few days away from life was in order! I literally locked myself away from the world, made lots of cups of tea, wrapped myself in a huge blanket and watched horror movies. I feel a lot better now that the headache is gone! Hope you all had a better week than I did! 

Do you remember the last #bloggersnailmail I took part in with Julie from Jewels Wondering? I had such a great experience first time round that I decided to take part again! Like last time, it is run by the lovely Gemma from Lipsticks and Lashes who pairs you up with another blogger! Over the weeks you get to know each other and then send each other goodies to the value of £5.00 (oops!). It is a great way to meet new bloggers and runs quarterly. If you fancy joining in - look out for the hashtag on Twitter!

This time round I was paired with Rachel from Sunshine, Smiles & Fairy Dust and I couldn't wait to have a nosey at her blog! Her blog is so adorable (I love her header!). Rachel writes lots of beauty reviews that are not only helpful, but add a little sparkle to my day! Her blog is definitely worth a read.




As I mentioned, the budget was £5.00 but we both kind of went over that, haha. But wow...did this girl spoil me! Honestly Rachel you got me far too much stuff! It was lovely because the parcel arrived at a time I was feeling really down so it was the perfect pick-me-up! I love everything but I especially love the eyeshadow palette, the nail polish and the body wash! I love face and hair masks too so I'm really looking forward to trying these. There was some chocolate but I may have eaten that....haha! Oh, and there was some gorgeous Satsuma Shower Gel from The Body Shop too which is gorgeous and is currently on it's way to Belfast with me! I would never have picked it up for myself but I love the smell so much so it might just be included in a review or favourites soon! Thanks so much Rachel! 

As much as I love all the goodies, I'm so glad that I 'met' Rachel. She is such a nice person and it's been lovely getting to know her better over the weeks.. She's always there if I need to talk and from the goodies I got...this girl has great taste in make up so I know where I'll be going now for make up advice! You've been warned lovely!

Thank you so much to Rachel (and Gemma!) for making this another awesome #bloggerssnailmail experience for me. I'm already excited about the next one!