Friday, 22 July 2016

25 things to do before 25 | UPDATE 5/25

Last year, I created a '25 things to do before 25' post, sharing all the things I would love to do and try before I reach 25. Fast forward many months and I have finally ticked off five of those things. I want to document everything I manage to do from the list, so I am going to update you all of my latest adventures every time I cross five off. Maybe this will inspire you to create your own bucket list?

Make my own Afternoon Tea - This is one of the first things I ticked off the list and the funnest thing to do! Going out for Afternoon Tea can be expensive, but if you create it yourself it can be a lot cheaper. I love to bake, so I thoroughly enjoyed picking out the recipes and planning and baking each and every delicious treat. I also got to make full use out of my cute, ditsy rose Cath Kidston tea set, which made the afternoon tea I made look even more beautiful. There's nothing better than baking all day, sitting down at the end of it, and eating everything you made with a salted caramel hot chocolate and the best company, Jonny. My favourite thing I made was the fancy Victoria sponge cake. It was so light and airy, filled with cream and strawberries.... the perfect cake to bake in summer. I need to make this again! I really want to make another Afternoon Tea soon. I think I may do a themed one later in the year, perhaps a Christmas related one with fruity scones, little gingerbread men and mulled wine.

Be in a magazine - I honestly thought this would be the hardest one to achieve, so when I pitched my idea to Blogosphere Magazine and they loved what I wrote, I was SO happy! I hope all who read it enjoyed it and felt inspired in some way. My article (which starts at pg. 75) is about how to improve your blog photography on a budget and I shared how to cheaply and effectively edit photos, where to pick up the best blogging props, as well as teach you some of the tips and tricks I have learnt a long the way. You can still grab yourself the latest copy here or subscribe and receive each issue before it hits the shelves here. It's well worth getting if you're a blogger looking for inspiration and advice and it's also a great source to find new blogs (read my review of the magazine here.) I am so pleased with how my article turned out, I'd love to write another feature or two in the future.

Buy a DSLR camera - This is the first thing I ticked off the list. My lovely boyfriend treated me to my first ever DSLR camera for my 22nd birthday (a Canon 750D if you wondered what camera I used!) and I have loved it every day since. This is what I use to take all of my blog photos. I still haven't figured out all of the settings, I tend to stick the automatic setting (which I find to be totally amazing), but maybe I should actually learn the ins and outs of ISO, aperture and shutter speed to improve my photos even more. My favourite mode is definitely the close-up one, I love how the lens picks up on every intricate detail, whilst creating a nice and dreamy blurred background. I think this camera will see me through many more years and I hope to capture many more memories with it! If you have any questions about this camera or would like to see a review then please let me know and I'll try and help.

Get a different haircut - I know I'll never get anything really drastic, so I'm going to tick this one off! I had rather long hair for a quite some time and about a year ago I decided to have a few inches cut off and I think my hair looks so much better and is much more easy to manage! Last week I also dyed my hair for the first time (well my boyfriend did... we were both so scared that it would turn green haha). The colour is not that much different to my natural shade, but it is slightly darker and has more of a chocolate brown tone. It's also a lot more shiny which is what I was what I wanted - yay! I love how it turned out, maybe I'll try out a different shade next time but who knows! I definitely don't think I'm brave enough to try something extreme though. I'm also growing my fringe out, which is taking sooo long. Basically, what I truly want, and I'm sure most girls do want, is princessy hair like Kate Middleton. 

Go strawberry picking - When I was little, I loved going to pick strawberries with my family. Last weekend, Jonny and I went to a local farm and picked strawberries and raspberries and it was so much fun. It wasn't the hottest day, but the weather was still lovely and we picked lots of delicious and fresh fruit in a beautiful location - I have know idea where we really were, but it was somewhere in the countryside in Derbyshire (I think)! Who agrees that strawberries taste better when you pick or grow them yourself? I'll definitely be doing this again next year.

The next things I would love to tick off my list are going rock-climbing, feeding penguins at the zoo and going on a safari! Have you got a 25 things to do before 25 list?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Yankee Candle | Warm Summer Nights

Yankee Candle is one of my favourite places to go for candles. Whether I'm treating myself to a candle or two, or buying a set for a friend's birthday, I trust and know that the longevity and the quality of the fragrance is going to be excellent. Yankee Candle have recently launched their brand new collection called 'Warm Summer Nights'. The collection is both fragrantly and visually stunning and consists of Flowers in the Sun, Passion Fruit Martini, Dreamy Summer Nights and Sunset Breeze. Prices start from just £1.80 per sampler. Samplers are a great way to test a bunch of candles and for such a small price why not try the summer collection before investing in your favourite?

Passion Fruit Martini
It's really hard for me to establish a favourite from the collection, but I think this one just about gets first place. Passion fruit Martini is one of my favourite cocktails so I knew before trying it that I would love it. Out of the three, this is definitely the strongest scent. I could smell the passion fruit through the envelope as I was opening it! When lit, the aroma quickly fills the the room with the yummy cocktail scent. Imagine being on a sunny beach abroad, having many giggles with the girls, soaking up the scorching sun, big sunglasses on, hair waving in the slight breeze and a passion fruit martini in each hand. This is exactly how the candle smells to me. The fragrance is very strong, but not in an overpowering way. It's almost mouthwatering with how juicy and fruity it smells with a tropical mix of passion fruit, mango and zesty oranges. If you like fruity scents, this is the one for you.

Dreamy Summer Nights
This for me is more of an evening scent. You can imagine lighting this late one summer's night whilst sitting on your balcony overlooking the city, reflecting on your day and staring into the beautiful moonlit sky covered in a blanket of bright and twinkling stars searching for constellations. It's a really calming, perhaps slightly masculine scent with hints of vanilla, soft flowers and slight woodiness. When lit, the fragrance creates a a nice, light and relaxing atmosphere so would be the perfect candle to light whilst getting ready for bed. With regards to aesthetic, this is my least favourite as I prefer the look of the brighter coloured candles as they bring a pop of colour to my flat, but the image does match with the tone of the fragrance. If you like relaxing scents, this is the one for you.

Sunset Breeze
Sunset Breeze, the candle that smells like a holiday! Imagine reading your favourite romantic novel whilst tanning and soaking up the sun overlooking the crystal blue ocean. Scents of tropical fruits move back and forth with the slight warm breeze which makes you crave the fruitiest cocktail and ultimately, you cave for that refreshing drink. This candle, like the passion fruit martini candle, is very refreshing and fruity. The thing I love most about Yankee Candles are that the fragrances are fairly strong so when one is lit, the room is is quickly filled with a gorgeous aroma. From the collection, sunset breeze is my favourite in terms of design; I love the vibrant sandy colour and the photo of the sunset looks beautiful against the golden outline. If you like fresh scents, this is the one for you.

What is your favourite Yankee Candle? Are you excited to try the new summer collection?

*gifted items

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

My Top 5 Budget Blog Photography tips

Blogging can be expensive. This has been particularly noticeable over the past couple of years where photography has become one of the most important aspects of a blog. We feel the pressure to improve our blog's aesthetic, so immediately go and buy a fancy new layout, save for the DSLR camera and break our bank balances to get our hands on the latest and ever so pretty limited lipstick collection. All of this would be lovely to have... but do we need it?

Use your living space as inspiration
Going to the shops and buying new blogging props is fun, but is it necessary? If you have the money to spare then yes! But if not, do not worry... you can create equally as beautiful photos for your blog by rummaging around your home and finding the perfect props for the product your photographing. When deciding what props to use, think about the context or the story you want the reader to envisage. If it's a baking post, head straight to the kitchen and find sprinkles, cookbooks and pretty bake-ware. If it's a skincare product, think about delicate flowers or objects that correlate to the fragrance of the product. There are many things you can use such as your pretty floral bedding, the fresh flowers out of your mum's vase, the sparkly dress you feel like a princess in - the list of things you can use is pretty much endless. By using a little imagination, you can create stunning blog photos to suit your tight budget.

No need for expensive gadgets
DSLR cameras are a great investment and I couldn't be without mine, but they are not necessary if you cannot afford them. Plenty of phones nowadays have high quality cameras that can produce clear and bright images. A great way to improve your photos is by investing in a light box and reflector; both of which can be found both new and second hand for bargain prices on Ebay or Amazon. Those on a tighter budget should make the most of natural lighting by taking photos in the brightest room, near a window, or outside if it's not raining! Having good lighting makes such a big difference in the overall aesthetic of your photos whether you're using a fancy DSLR camera or not.

Make use of free editing apps
Editing apps are able to transform a dull image into a bright and beautiful one. These are especially helpful in the winter or you have an issue with poor lighting. One click of a button on an editing app magically makes your photo burst with colour. In my first couple of years blogging, I used the camera on my phone and used Instagram to edit my photos and managed to get by. Now, I much prefer to use free apps such as PicMonkey; this is where I edit most of my photos if needed. Here you can crop, sharpen, change the exposure, add effects and text all for free. I tend to stick to the basics by simply clicking auto adjust or changing the exposure slightly. Photography has become a big part of blogging as clean, clear and bright images draw us in and is a big factor in whether we want to read on or not. With the use of easy to use free editing apps like these, your blog photography will be greatly improved in a flash.

Supermarkets and bargain shops
Having a stash of pretty backgrounds comes in handy, but buying so many can get expensive if you get a little carried away. Have you thought about using wallpaper or floor samples? Head down to your local DIY store and grab a few. Think about what colours and patterns would tie in with the personality and tone of your blog but don't end up coming home with enough wallpaper to cover every wall in your house! A place I like to go for cheap backgrounds is Wilko's, this marble adhesive film is perfect for a fresh, modern look and is only £4. With regards to where to find cheap blogging props, great places to go include Ikea, Tiger, Primark, DotComGiftShop and Sass&Belle. Supermarkets are the place to go for bright and beautiful flowers as they cost very little but look amazing in photos.

Inspiration and imagination
A little imagination goes a long way. Don't like how your photos are going? Try taking them from a different angle. Photograph your fun outfit in a fairground. Photograph your striking purple hued makeup look in an enchanted bluebell field. Photograph your freshly baked vanilla buttercream cupcakes against a rainbow of sprinkles and glitter. When it comes to inspiration, there are many places you can look. For a start, there are lots of wonderful blogs around full of inspiring photos and content! Social media is always a great source for inspiration too; think dreamy flat lay's on Instagram and a wealth of pretty photos on Pinterest. Be inspired, don't compare, use your imagination, and portray your uniqueness through your blog photography and content to be the best blogger you can be.