Wednesday, 21 December 2016


A guest post

Hello, I'm not Connie.

I am 21. I am a student. I am ginger. I am Vegan. Connie is none of these things.

So, hello. I'm not Connie. Sorry to disappoint.

I am a scientist. I am tee-total. I am a southerner banished to the north. (I'm also a bit of a Scot exiled to the south.) I am an Aspergirl.

Hello, I'm not Connie. That's not to say that Connie and I have nothing in common; we do live together after all.

I'm reaching the point now, don't worry. I've given you a long list of what I am. Of my labels. I was always told that "you don't need labels", and asked "why do you allow yourself to be put into a box like that?"
We are women. We are Christian. We get over-excited by blankets. We are anxious. We are depressive.
But here's the thing about labels. They let you know that you are not alone. That there are enough people like you for you to require a label. They're not boxes, they're balloons. Labels don't shut you in, they let you find and be found by people like you.
There's a Scots word: Ken. It means understand, but the kind of understanding that only comes from being there yourself. It's empathy. I like my labels. They help me find ken. So please don't be offended on my behalf when someone gives me a label.
Hello. I'm Caroline. I am so many things. It's lovely to meet you.
This is Connie now. I just want to say a big thank you to Cai for her post this week. Hopefully we will see a few more posts from her as time goes on. Apologies for the lack of posting last weekend. Had a RIGHT 'mare with my laptop, but luckily now my baby is fixed and all will be back to normal, I will be posting next in the New Year.

Happy Advent, and Happy Christmas :) 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!

Thanks, see you soon


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Happy to be Tired.

Right, so I'm 3 days into my new job (no I'm not going to stop talking about it yet) and, I kid you not, every part of my body is exhausted. I'm getting up before the sun rises in order to get to work on time, my legs burn from the amount of walking I've been doing in and around Hull and my neck and shoulders ache from being constantly poised at my desk so that I'm ready to spring into action if needed. It's all I can do once I get home to not collapse on the floor and fall asleep in the hallway! And I haven't even begun to express how tired my brain is. It's not used to this much thinking. I have no time at all to be a newbie; I have had to hit the ground running and haven't really stopped running since. It's stressful, confusing and I'm having to learn a lot VERY quickly. But I am the happiest I have been in a long time.

It might seem like those last two sentences don't really fit together, but honestly I'm happy to be this tired. You'd think that someone with anxiety and depression would want to avoid all things pressuring and stressful, and don't get me wrong, on my first day I was so anxious I had moments where I really wondered "can I do this?" The answer to that question is yes; yes I can. I might not know everyone's name or how everything works, but no-one does when they first start out. Everyone starts somewhere. Often having problems with mental health can mean people shy away from things, even the things they enjoy because they feel that they can't do it, aren't any good at it or because it seems too hard. I'm all for self care (I even dedicated my first post on this page to self care) but I am also about challenging myself. That doesn't mean I'm going to force myself to do something that will make me miserable, that'd be counter productive. However, I'm not going to do nothing either. The first step to recovery, is just to take a step. If you don't take any steps, you're just standing still. I don't know a single person who suffers from poor mental health who actively wants to remain where they are when they feel most affected. Whilst I know that everyone thinks, and therefore recovers differently, the thing that everyone has in common is that nothing changed for them until they did something different. 

For me, as I have said before, that something different included being honest with myself about how I felt, but it also meant pushing myself daily to get up and do something, anything. Sometimes the big challenge was leaving the house for a half hour just to go outside, other days it was something else. I celebrated everything I managed to do like it was a great achievement, and I celebrated the big things in exactly the same way. I was as proud of myself for doing the dishes as I was for climbing Kilimanjaro. It might sound daft but sometimes you need to treat your littlest victories like you've completed a mountain trek because both can be exhausting and difficult. 

Now just to clarify, I am not saying that my current job is like a 7 day climb up and down the largest mountain in Africa. What I am saying though, is that it has sometimes been hard. But like my climb in the summer of 2015 when I was exhausted and stressed and was thinking about the likelyhood of me actually dying on the side of this mountain in Tanzania, I will push myself to keep going, I will get better, and my footing will become stronger. Now, here in wintery Hull, I have managed to find something that I am good at, that I enjoy and that challenges me daily. And I encourage you to do the same. Find something that pushes you on. Find something that you don't mind being tired for. In fact, find something that makes you happy to be tired.

Happy Advent :) 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 11 December 2016

It doesn't need to be Perfect...

"My biggest fault?... I'm a perfectionist" is a phrase you will never EVER hear me say. Of course, as someone with anxiety, sometimes I do like things to have a plan, order or in a familiar/particular place. But part of embracing my mental health issues and part of my process to get better has been to accept that everything isn't, can't be, and shouldn't be perfect. In all honestly I now find I find perfection in the imperfection. The little impurities make it more real, more personal. I like the experience of the real deal as opposed to the preened, perfected and impersonal. For example; in my last post you will see that I decorated the house I am currently living in in Hull for Christmas. It isn't perfect and after spending time with my two housemates finishing it all off by making the sparkliest paper chain  known to mankind which now WON'T BLOODY STAY ON THE WALL (totally over it, whatever, I'm cool) and larking around doing Christmassy things together stuff did go wrong, or happened in the wrong order or wasn't going the way I had initially planned. And that was okay! I still loved it, I had fun and now our wonky, slap-dash, mildly improvised but ultimately successful decorations and stuff make me happy every time I look at them. And I probably love them more than I would if I had forced my decorations to be 'perfect' and it probably would have been far more expensive and stressful.

My beautiful housemates <3

And I guess that's one of the best things about creativity, you might start off with an idea in your head about what you want but the end product, for whatever reason, can come out in a completely different way, often equal to or better than your original thoughts for it. Tomorrow I am starting my new job at the Hull City of Culture offices working as Press and Communications Assistant. I'm thoroughly honoured and excited to work there and with so many AMAZING people and to learn, develop and engage with the work that's being done both in the offices and in and around Hull. I am aware of some of the tasks that lie ahead of me and I can already feel my anxiety telling me that everything needs to be perfect or it won't be good enough. I'm already setting myself too high a standard so I will end up feeling like I've let myself and others down. I know that I'm not the only person who thinks like this so I'mma break this down for y'all as well as myself. It doesn't need to be perfect all the time. Embrace the messy. Thrive on the unexpected and roll with the imperfections. Of course you can work hard and produce the absolute best work you can, in fact you should always strive to do so. But sometimes, you need to let it all loose and let things happen organically. This thought actually popped into my head whilst I was baking last night with the two lovely ladies pictured above. We were decorating our Christmas cookies and we could have spent hours meticulously piping the icing, ensuring the designs were sharp and that each individual cookie looked pristine. But instead, we did this...

and I freaking loved it! We threw caution to the wind, did something different and it came out looking fab. It was far from perfect, it was random, messy, un-planned and a complete pain to clear up. 

When I planned for this post I had thought that I'd be writing about baking and having a C3 gals night in, not about letting control go and learning to not force perfectionism. Which, in itself is proof of what I'm trying to say. Sometimes the best work isn't perfect. Messy can be marvellous. I will always be the sort of person who works hard and I always like to ensure my work is of a high quality. But maybe I can learn to let some things go. Of course with somethings details are important, but human's aren't perfect and we shouldn't ever expect ourselves or others to be. Don't set an unrealistic standard for yourselves. Don't stress about everything being perfect. Embrace your imperfections.

I'm going to be working on something else new and exciting over the next few weeks and to fit in with this and my new job (have I mentioned that enough yet) I am changing my posting days during the week from a Tuesday to a Wednesday. SO please keep eyes out for posts every Sunday and Wednesday now as well as some teasers towards my new project!

Happy Advent :) 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!

Thanks, see you soon


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Can you be Kind and Honest?

If we're being honest 2016 wasn't the greatest year for a lot of people. Controversial and dividing politics split countries and communities of people in two, many of the worlds greatest humans passed away leaving us with other less admired people and a huge mess to clear up in their absence. All we seem to see in the news is how the world seems to be getting gradually worse. I have also noticed that, more than ever, internet trolls and genuinely mean people seem to be getting more and more attention and authority. I can barely open my laptop some days because of the comments I know I will see on articles or the blogs I read and that I will read something that will upset me. And so often these people excuse themselves, or their fans excuse them, because 'they're telling it how it is', 'it's just their opinion' or 'it's just a joke!' My question is, when did being unkind become equivalent to telling the truth?

When I was little, I used to make up stories all the time. I used to lie to try and get people to like me and to try an seem impressive. Luckily this was a trait I grew out of as I gradually gained the maturity and self esteem to know that the people I wanted to hang out with I didn't need to lie too to impress and get them to like me, and those who didn't like me or those who didn't think I was worth knowing weren't worth my time. And after my first year of university, where I lied about how I was doing and hid my true feelings, anxieties and thoughts so much that when I ended up putting myself in hospital it was a complete surprise to a lot of people, I decided I needed a new policy. I decided I needed to tell the truth whenever I could and if there was something I didn't what to say or share, I wouldn't lie, I would just keep silent. In my mind this wouldn't be a lie of omission, I just needed to know that I have the option not to tell everyone everything I think, feel or do. So nowadays, I am always as truthful as I can be; I'm honest and I try to be an open book. However, this does not mean that I am always unkind. I would hope that my friends and family would describe me as kind and compassionate, yes I can sometimes tease people and I have partaken in the occasional bit of banter, but I would never say anything to intentionally hurt someone and if I ever do hurt someone unintentionally I am always keen to apologise and to make things right. I know I'm not perfect and sometimes yes I can mess up and I can be mean, but I do know what is appropriate and I know boundaries. Which seems to be a skill that too many people are loosing.

And yet, sometimes, I look at what so many influential people are saying or doing and I can't help but think that if, for example, someone heard a child or a young person in school saying that to someone else they would be chastised and punished for behaving like a bully. There are too many 'grown ups' out there who in my mind are bullies. And no, it isn't funny to encourage violence or sexual assault, it isn't tough love to tell someone that it's their own fault they are homeless/unemployed/unwell/abused and it is never NEVER okay to see human kindness and compassion as a sign of weakness. In my opinion, it takes real strength to be both honest and kind. I think often when people use honestly or what they masquerade as honesty to bring others down, it shows themselves to be weak and vulnerable; lashing out to cause damage first before someone can lash out at them. Kindness, manners and showing love to others is vastly underappreciated. Showing kindness doesn't mean that you can't confront or challenge others, it just means that you do so with respect and from a place of love. Trust me, I have friends who I love dearly but sometimes I do need to get cross with them, or challenge them, and they do the same with me. It's how respect between peers works.

Lady Gaga recently said "Just be kind. The act itself, it's free. And it's priceless". I think this statement rings beautifully true. Being kind costs nothing, it doesn't take anything from you and the repercussions of an act of kindness can be phenomenal. Personally I have experienced random acts of kindness from friends or strangers which have transformed my day. You never know who you could be helping just by being nice. AND if you need more motivation to be kind, according to many successful business men and women nice people get to the top. If you are unkind, if you are mean people remember you as someone that they don't want to work with. You can be kind and business savvy. My granddad for example, a very successful business man and he is one of the sweetest men I have ever met. You can be kind as well as smart, successful and self aware. I think often people confuse kindness with naivety. I know this too isn't true, in my experience those who are the least kind seem to be the most naive and inexperienced.

I would never want to tell someone that their voice isn't worth hearing, or that someone shouldn't be honest about how they feel. Please, continue to think and debate and discuss things that are important to you. Just, don't be a dick about it. If you use common sense, or place yourself in someone else's shoes before you speak, you can still express your point of view but without lashing out, hurting people and just adding to the noise which can hurt more than one may realise. So guys, please, don't let the world make you mean. After this year, we could all do with a little more kindness. So do something nice for someone today. Don't be afraid to be kind.

Happy Advent :) 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Getting Festive on a Budget.

Most people love the Christmas season, I know that basically everyone in my life does, and part of what makes that love so strong is that you are  surrounded by decorations that ornate your home and make it feel even more cosy and lovely. I LOVE decorating my house for Christmas, putting up the tree and the garlands and lights and baubles fills me with so much joy and is a huge part of my many Christmas traditions. Seeing my home decorated and Christmassy make me so happy because it makes me feel safe and reminds me of all the wonderful things I can celebrate and be thankful for. So even when I'm not in my family home, I like to make sure that wherever I am living is as decorated and Christmassy as possible. HOWEVER I have next to no money at the moment (lol grad life) so I have next to nothing to use to decorate my house and I had left all my usual 'uni digs' room decorations at home. I wasn't going to leave my current house un-adorned. So I set off, out into the city of Hull to decorate my home with a max budget of £40. Which, lets be honest, isn't that bad it just means I had to buy less wine for the next fortnight, which is probably a good thing. For everyone. 

Before I continue it is worth mentioning that most of the things that I bought or made are temporary decorations that I got for this year only. Most of that I used is stuff that can and will be thrown away once Christmas is over and anything else that I keep is something I know I will use elsewhere or at another time. For example; Baubles I will keep,store and re-use, anything made from paper I will throw away/re-cycle.

I managed to do quite a lot! Walking around Hull I found so many great stalls and shops which sold festive ornaments and craft materials and got to chat with some of the lovely store and shop workers too. It was great to share ideas and discuss how someone could use different tools and crafts to make really beautiful, but cheap and easy, decorations for your temporary home, maybe even your permanent home too.

After I gathered all I had it took me just over 4 hours to make, put up and finish everything. Although a few of my craft ideas did not turn out as I planned (they were a hot mess) a few turned out alright. My 3D newspaper tree looks great and looks like a Christmas decoration idea straight off Pintrest, and all it took was a newspaper, 2 staples, scissors and some tape. And once I hung my baubles (a tub for £5.50) on the wall surrounding it, I thought it looked even more festive and fun, definitely not something I had seen or done before. Our festive paper chains are going to be brilliant and my glittery flowers are a little slap-dash but still look quite cute. My main victory however is my gold, weathered champagne bottle which looks ace and is a simple but elegant way to display some Christmassy foliage. My best buy however has to be the branch or blue spruce which I bought from my local florists, Eden, which not only looks Christmassy especially with the bronze eucalyptus leaves and my faux poinsettia but also smells UH-MAZING. I managed to buy it for fairly cheap too so if you can I highly recommend buying some authentic woodland greenery because it looks and smells so good. 

Overall I am very pleased with how my house now looks. It isn't what I would do every year but it is perfect for where I am now. It's simple, it looks great, it wasn't expensive and don't need to worry about storing it as I can throw most of it away or recycle it after Christmas. And hopefully it will help make me, and my house mates, that little bit more cheerful and excited for the Christmas season. And who knows, maybe we can spend some time making the red, green and gold paper chains together. Because if we can gather and be happy at Christmas, when can we?...

Happy Advent :) 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A letter to my younger self (part1)

Dear Connie,

As a 22 year old you may think that I am a proper grown up and that I must be like all the other grown ups around you. I know that you often find yourself in the company of many intelligent, impressive and inspirational men and women who seemingly have their lives together. Trust me when I say they probably don't feel the same way. I know that you see yourself right now as very little, that what you say and do right now doesn't matter because it is little, and the world is very big. I'm writing to tell you that this isn't the case. All the stuff that you do and think and feel right while you are young, shapes you into the 22 year old woman I am now. Your heart doesn't change, all that changes is your experiences. There are lot's of thing I could tell you, but I don't want to give a lot away. Your life is an adventure and you should look at it like one.

Your family is always ALWAYS going to be a major influence in your daily life. They are simultaneously going to be your biggest fans, but will also be the people who challenge you and call you out, as well as you doing and being the same for them. 

Your Father is always going to see you as his baby girl, and I'm not going to lie it will start to get annoying at points after you turn 16. But know that as well as still seeing you as his little ballerina princess, he also see's you for who you are and who you could become. He will always remind you of how amazing you are and although you may joke about what you inherited off him, one of the best things you will get from him is a heart for compassion. Dad will struggle sometimes, and that is because he always puts others needs before his own. Dad is and always will be one of the hardest working, selfless human beings you will ever meet. Remind him that he needs to make time for himself though, cause he will tell you the same. You are able to talk to him and help him as much as he helps you. You will always be his baby girl, but you will also be one of his best advisers.

Mum, like many of the other women in our family, is insanely impressive. She will amaze you with where she will go and what she does and yes it is intimidating. There will be times where you feel that you can't live up to her or like you can't fill her shoes but she is immensely proud of you. Like Dad, she is always on your team and she always wants the best for you. I know that when you hit your teens you may feel like yelling or being mean but, please, don't do it. Trust me when I say that mum knows you so well, better than you know yourself sometimes. Let her be mum for now, and eventually she will not only be your mother but your best friend too. You will love being able to talk openly with her in a way you never knew you could or would.

Your brother will always know how to wind you up. I think it's just a universal, unwritten law that little brothers HAVE to know how to wind up their big sister. And don't deny it, you wind him up too. You will find at points that you and your brothers lives take very different directions. Now, I'm not saying that your bro has an easy time of it all, he doesn't and you need to be there to help him when he doesn't but you will go through a lot. He will always seem to get the good stuff; the better grades, the bigger friendship group, better love life, social life. There will be points were you even think Mum and Dad like him better than you. This isn't true. As much as your brother winds you up, you are his big sister. And he is fiercely loyal to you. He has your back, and he looks up to you.

There are going to be points where you feel you can't tell your family things. Things you think about yourself, about your life, about what you have done or what has happened to you. It may take time, but tell them. Being honest with them will help you be honest with yourself.

You will never be the smartest in your class, but you are wildly intelligent. You will never think that you are the prettiest of your friendship group, but you are incredibly beautiful. You won't have the same amount of money or confidence or popularity as some of your peers, but you work hard, you push yourself and you will always try to be kind.

You will go through some really rough spots in life, but you will also experience some wonderful things too. Remember not to focus on the bad stuff, but always look for the good as there is always some good in the world, no matter how small. Know that you are allowed to take each day at a time, and that one day in the past has no standing against what your future holds for you. Look back over everything not as a definition of who you are, but as the learning curve that taught you the skills you have now and have shaped and will continue to shape you as you grow and learn.

Oh and also, when your like 13 please trust Mum when she tells you that baggy ripped jeans with a loose, studded belt with slogan tee's, fishnet fingerless gloves and too much eyeliner isn't a good look. I know you think you look edgy and cool, but you will look back at that time and you will wish you had listen to Mum... 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 27 November 2016

How do I Adult? - Same fish, new pond...

If you were to take a look at my About Me page, you will see that I recently graduated from the University of Hull. As much as I adored my time at university, by the end of my third year I was very ready for that period of my life to be over. I honestly never wanted to write another essay again for as long as I lived and I was tired of the university environment. It seemed childish to me in my final months, and I felt so ready to work and behave like an adult and surround myself with other adults. My only problem now is, I have absolutely no idea what being an 'adult' means. 

When I was a student I was comfortable. At times frustrated, but there was a comfort in that frustration. I was in the same boat as the rest of those in my class and we supported each other. Legally yes I was an adult, I could make my own choices, I lived away from home and I was as independent as I wanted to be. But we lived in a suspended world; a world where we were no longer kids, but we weren't quite ready for all of the responsibilities of the real world. Student life was a comfort, and we always had the university, our peers, or our families to fall back on. Once I left that comfort I felt alone. I felt lost and surrounded by unfamiliar territory.  You've heard it said that someone can feel like a big fish in a little pond and then a small fish in a big pond? Well,  I would never be so arrogant to say I was a big fish while I was at uni, but I knew my pond and as a fish as part of a wider group of fellow fish I knew and understood my environment. As a graduate,at first I felt like a fish without my shoal, in an ocean that I had heard about but had never experienced for myself. Its a BIG world out there and there are so many things I never knew I had to deal with and never anticipated would be so difficult. 

Poor Little Fish

My choice to stay in Hull definitely showed that in reality I wasn't fully prepared to say goodbye to my old pond just yet. And I think it also shows that I wasn't fully ready to fully leave the security of my comfortable little pond, otherwise known as my student lifestyle.  When I was a fresher and the City of Hull was chosen to be City of Culture 2017 I decided to stay after I graduated in order to gain experience and use the connections that I had already and would develop over my time at the University of Hull. The plan stayed, but the reality of it became difficult when I realised that many other 2016 graduates as well as many other previous grads, also had the same idea. Of course we all have a strong connection to this city, and we all love it (and for good reason) but the sheer number of Hull grads and remaining students who wanted to get involved meant that suddenly rather than just being peers and classmates, sometimes we were each others competition when it came to finding work. 

Finding work has been one of the most stressful things I have had to experience so far as a graduate, and probably always will be from what I've heard. The idea that you have to compete for a role against several other candidates, and sell yourself in a way that is confident but not too cocky is tiring, complex and confusing. What is the best answer when your asked 'what is your greatest weakness?' What is a 'good' handshake? How long should you wait to ask about salary? There are so many questions about interviews that make most people quake in their boots. Throw in anxiety into the mix and boy oh boy, it makes the whole experience simply delightful *insert eye roll here*. For me,I want to work somewhere where I know I will be happy,confident and supported as well as challenged, taught and pushed. My worst nightmare is being stuck in a monotonous role where I am never challenged and never given opportunities to improve or prove myself. I want a reputation which precedes me; that I work hard, that I'm good at what I do and what I'm not good at I learn how to be. But to find that environment and still be assured that if I, for one reason or another, have an anxiety attack or if my depression rears its ugly head  I'm still in a safe space or that I can take time to ensure I and my work are okay is scary. When I was a student there were numerous times where my mental health wasn't taken seriously and I was made to feel like I wasn't doing enough or I wasn't doing my best. And those experiences have transferred into my concerns about future work. Meaning that not only am I afraid that I won't find a job which challenges me, but what if I find a job which challenges me and I can't handle it? I may be 22 years old, but when my mental health is at its worst I feel like a little kid and I'm lost. 

For a recent interview, which I was very anxious about, my father gave me this piece of advice... 
"walk in there like you've been doing the job for years. If you can convince yourself that you can do and have basically been doing this job already, your interviewer will believe you can and have been too."
Although this advice was about an interview, I feel it applies to  the whole experience of 'adulting'. If you act like you can, you will eventually believe you can, and those around you will believe the same. I have had some great chats with people who are 10, 20 years older than me and they still feel like they have no idea what they are doing, and yet to me they seem like the most together people on the planet. Even though I'm no longer in full time education, I'm still learning. I will never stop learning. The change may be scary, but without change, I will never learn anything new. Yes, I might be applying for some of the same jobs as some of my peers, and I may be having to find work temporarily in a place I hate in order to cover my rent, but you know what my friends are in exactly the same boat! They are looking for work, as I am. They too are stressed about rent, about council tax and how on earth you pay it, about the constant battle between affording to buy either cheese or wine. At first, I felt like I was a lost fish, in a big ocean I didn't recognise and didn't know how to survive. But in actuality, I had just become part of a much bigger shoal, where we all face similar challenge and we can support each other. This new environment will become our home and we will not only learn how to survive it but together, as we learn and as we grow, we will thrive.

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

My Winter make-up look 2016

I don't wear make up when I can help it, there is something so appealing about a day where I can have a  fresh faced, relaxed, smudge free appearance.  But when I do wear make up, I do enjoy the process of putting it on. I enjoy blending nice colours on my eyes and I love a good strong brow, but I am definitely not an expert and I have so many friends who regularly come to my rescue when I have committed a beauty faux-pas (you guys know who you are). HOWEVER sometimes, I do get the occasional compliment when I have managed to get my makeup on fleek so, I decided I would give you a step by step guide on how I am doing my winter make up.

First things first I want to quickly mention that in order for me to be happy with my make-up I always start by ensuring that I try to keep my skin healthy. If your skin ain't happy, putting make up on it will only make it angrier. I know that a typically normal human being would only really have time for a face wipe and maybe some moisturiser quickly before bed and then you know washing your face in the morning or when-ever you feel like you need to wash your skin, I know that's what I have done for most of my life and sometimes is all I still have time for. I would recommend trying to incorporate some real skin-care-rehab time though, maybe like once a week or every two weeks, as well as investing in some products to cleanse and clear your skin. I use Clean and Clear blackhead clearing face lotion and Deep Cleansing lotion after I remove my make up and then use Nivea Soft Intensive cream before bed.  I also try to give myself a face mask whenever I have the time and use Biore Nose Pore Strips when I have a spare few minutes, like when I'm at home writing. Skin care needn't be a big deal, you can incorporate it into your regular daily routine. I also always try and moisturise before I put on any foundation as this means you can avoid damaging your skin and steer clear from your skin getting dry. Simple have a great range of moisturisers you can use before applying your makeup and they often contain SPF which adds to the protection you are giving your skin. 

So after you prep your skin (i.e. wash and moisturise) then you can start to apply your foundation. I have used this foundation for a REALLY long time, and somewhere in that I lost the label on the bottle so I have completely no idea what it is any more, all I know is that it works. I vaguely recall that it was a Rimmel product and after some research I think it is Rimmel London Match Perfection in True Ivory (cause I am currently pale as hell) and I used my vegan Royal and Langnickel Stipple Brush to apply and then my beauty blender to blend and make the whole look softer.I love this foundation because I hate wearing really heavy make-up and I always try to keep my skin coverage as light as possible. This foundation gives me coverage but doesn't make my skin feel claggy and greasy and heavy. I also used Max Factors colour correction stick to hide red spots and blemishes. Again I use this sparingly and I'm careful to blend as well as I can and keep it sparse. 

Next is the brows. I'm not gonna lie, with the change in hair colour it has been a major transition in how to fill my brows. I am also in dire need of a shaping session as I have been blessed with my fathers wild eyebrow gene. So sometimes, they still come out a bit too dark. But I'm working on it, okay!
I really like Maybelline New York's Brown Satin eyebrow pencil and blender in Dark Brown. It's so precise and doesn't go on too heavy, which means you can build the shape you want effectively. I like to do my brows at this point because I can fix any mistakes without ruining too my hard work elsewhere. It also means that I don't look like an alien when I put on my eye make-up cause with eye make-up on and with no defined brow, one's forehead looks disturbingly bald which can then lead to an overly dark brow. Above all, one wants to avoid a scouse-brow. I also then use my foundation to make a sharper brow line using the point of my blender as an applicator. I need a new concealer for my brow bone and my under-eyes so if anyone has any recommendations please do leave a comment below. 

My next step is to work on accentuating my eyes. I think my eyes are my best and strongest feature so I always work on making them the focal point of my face. I started with the Nudes Palette from Maybelline New York and I used the metallic dusk colour, I couldn't find it's actual name, and used this to cover my eyelid with my mini flat smudger brush. I then used my angled shader brush to brush the colour Fawn into my crease from the Revolution Ultra Eye- shadow matte collection to give my eye more shape and definition. I also used a smaller smudger to add the Nutmeg shade to my inner eye, my brow bone and then blended Fawn on my lower lash line for a smokey effect

Then for added definition around the lash-line and for that 'on fleek' feel I was earlier referring to I used my Bourjois Felt Tip Liner in Ultra Black 24hour Stay for a strong cat eye along the top eye-lid as close to the lash line as possible. I then finished off the eyes with 2 coats of Maybelline New York Colossal Go Extreme Volume Waterproof Mascara cause as its so winy and cold, you don't want your eyes to water and end up looking like a panda.

Then to finish off the rest of the face I used my precision blender to contour my cheeks and nose after applying Collections Precision Contouring stick in Light 1 and then accompanied that with Maybelline's Master Sculpt and used my contour brush to apply it to my cheek bones, temples and under my jaw. Then for highlight I used a combo of Master Sculpt and Revolution's Strobe Highlighter on my upper cheeks, my nose, my forehead, my cupids bow and my chin. This was set with my Rimmel London Match Perfection Powder with my large powder brush and all that was left was to apply my lasting finish lipstick by Kate Moss in shade 30 with my lipstick brush.

And this is the overall finished look...

I hope that you found this post at least a little bit helpful, honestly I have never had to think so much about what I put on my face. As I'm sure you can tell, I did tell you this wasn't my area of expertise. 

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

A night to remember...

Last week I was able to attend an event that I had been excited about for a really long time. I was invited, along with the other members of a theatre company I work for, to attend the first Theatre Social of Hull 2017's City of Culture where like minded people met and talked about their work and the future projects they wanted to create and perform in, and for, the wider community. It was a truly special evening, not only because of all the familiar faces I knew but because of the many I didn't! It was so encouraging to see so many people from so many different backgrounds coming together for one cause, to get to know each other and support the arts in Hull.

2017 is fast approaching, and honestly I cannot wait for the new year to start as there is so much I am looking forward to. I graduated this year from the University of Hull with a degree that I love, surrounded by my peers (whom I also love) and in a city that I adore. Hull stole my heart from the moment I came for my open day in 2012 and I doubt that I will ever fall out of love with this wonderful city and community. Yes I went through some of my toughest moments in Hull, but that is part of why I love it. Hull made me the woman I am today. Being able to see so many people, from so many different areas of expertise and creative vision all gathering to talk about what they can do in and for Hull was truly impressive, and in hindsight almost moving. 

If you look on the Hull 2017 website you will see that Hull was awarded the opportunity to be city of culture because Hull is a city that "demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture." This was clearly seen on the 10th on November, because never have I seen so many theatre people gathered in one room without the phrases "limitless", "free" and "alcohol" or "food" being advertised also*. It was exciting to see people gather, and be sociable with the Hull theatre-making scene.

There were wonderful special guests who were more than happy to chat to everyone, and ask as well as answer questions about their work and that of others. For me, one of the highlights was getting to meet the 'face of 2017' Kofi Smiles, who was selected from a crowd of almost 200 hopefuls who auditioned for the role last month. Kofi, who is just lovely by the way, was chatty and excited and great to talk to about the projects and areas he would like to see and share. We also bonded over that fact that I also auditioned for the role (auditionee number 50 - no biggie) and how nerve wracking the whole experience was, but ultimately I think the right person was chosen and I think Kofi will do a stellar job. 

As well as meeting Kofi, it was wonderful to also meet the representative for the Hull Independent Producers Initiative or the HIPI , Helen Goodman,  and Justine Potter and Usman Mullan from the BBC Writers Room, as well as members from several local companies who were, as always, friendly, passionate and excited for what's to come.

I think the evening was a real success and was so encouraging, especially as an unemployed graduate and theatre enthusiast who is desperate to be involved in any way she can. I met so many people who, if nothing else, urged me and others to keep going and to keep on creating and contributing to the theatre scene. I enjoyed my night thoroughly and cannot wait for the next one.

Bring on City of Culture 2017!

photo of The Pub Corner Poets performance of ANGRY! at The New Adelphi club - 2015 - cast and audience

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*It is worth noting that we were given vouchers for a free drink at the venue Silvers bar and restaurant which probably did motivate a few...

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

My November Book List!

As I mentioned in my previous post I always have a current favourite book which I have been reading at any particular time. However, I read so quickly and I love falling into an imaginary world that is entirely my own so much that I can never have just one favourite book. So I decided to share with you my November favourites and encourage you to buy, or borrow, as many of them as you can and read them, devour them, experience them and love them as I do.

Let's get started shall we:

1 - 'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I love Chimamanda's writing and adored 'Half a Yellow Sun' and 'Purple Hibiscus' both of which which I read in my A level year for my English Lit class (I recommend both of these books also). I have always found her writing engaging, absorbing and interesting, especially since I find myself drawn into a world that, other than the information in the book in front of me, I have no knowledge of. I think, feel and learn about an environment and a people or person who in any other circumstance I would be entirely unable to relate to. However, her key themes are often universal and you can't help but care for the characters. Chimamanda is also a highly intelligent, wonderful, brilliant woman and her TED talk on why we should all be feminists contributed a lot of material in my dissertation as well as in the rest of my life. Although difficult to get into initially, once you connect with it you can't put this book down! 

"As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.
Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalised world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet." 

2 - 'The Bees' by Laline Paull

I bought this book as it was one of the recommended books in Waterstones in the summer of 2015 and I wanted books to bring with me before I went to Tanzania. I remember spending 2 days while I was there not only surrounded by the most beautiful scenery and the most fantastic close up encounters with some of Tanzania's wild animals on safari, but also being totally absorbed in this book during quiet times and wanting not to focus too heavily on the crazy traffic. If I remember correctly I read the entire thing in one day because I was determined to see how Flora's story ended and I have read it over and over again since. My biggest fault with it is that is seems to give the implication of a political message without ever actually giving one. However, that is possibly irrelevant as the story is a narrative of a completely natural and everyday life cycle told with the emotion and feeling that comes from a human mind in an animal environment. It isn't about people, its about bees! And yet, there are moments of familiarity throughout, which is maybe where the political vibes come from. I'm probably not doing the book justice, I would recommend you read for yourselves and that will give you a better understanding of what I am trying to say.

"Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden...

Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world."

3 - 'Go set a Watchman' by Harper Lee

When I saw that this book was out I HAD to buy it. It did take a while for me to get around to reading it, but boy when I did, man oh man, my head was reeling. I love it when a book really gets me thinking and I find my self arguing with my own subconscious. And this book did just that, it was crazy. I haven't felt so energised and emotionally responsive to a book in this way for a long time, and found myself re-reading this book this month as a way for me to sort things out in my head in response to so many things that are common topics of debate today, especially in the news. It takes you on so many twists and turns and is a welcome sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird". If you haven't already please PLEASE read this book. If it does nothing else it will definitely make you think.

"From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic. "

4 - 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

Okay yes, this is going to reveal just how much of a potterhead I am but with the movie coming out (the premiere of which is tonight people just saying) I couldn't not re-read this book this month. The Harry Potter book series has a big place in my heart for many reasons. Not only because it is a brilliantly and carefully written children's fiction but it also has themes, issues and plots that engage and matter to so many adults! J.K. Rowling is an inspiration to me, her life, her story and her skill are all fascinating and I highly suggest you research her if you can. I am always so eager to engage with any extension of the Potter universe, as it just adds more and more information and detail to such an already complex and significant world. I love this book because it feeds my imagination and remind me that "just because it's in your head, it doesn't mean it isn't real" (Albus Dumbledore). I love this book, as well as The Tales of Beedle the Bard however I have entirely different opinions when it comes to The Cursed Child but I will write about that another time. Fantastic Beasts is silly, completely fictional (or so the muggles believe) and serves no other purpose than to bring people just a little bit closer to their dream alternate reality. Read it, go on, whats the harm ...

"A copy of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief, which means that the pounds and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore. - Albus Dumbledore"

I hope that you find as much joy from these books as I do, and if you have read them or you have your own book recommendations for me or anyone else please do let me know in the comments below and I will be sure to give any suggestions a look.

(all reviews are from

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