The Importance of You

Time at evenings and weekends are becoming more and more valuable to me. The Monday to Friday rat race can be a hard slog at times, but having an evening of pampering to yourself can be that one reward at the end of a long week to look forward to.

My pamper evenings tend to take place on a Sunday evening and consist of a warm, bubbling bathtub, a room of scented candles and a chance to finally paint my nails.
There’s a fantastic quote from Eleanor Brownn, a Self-Care Expert, Speaker and Author, which goes a little like this: “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” I find this quote quite profound. So often we spend our time thinking of others. Asking ‘what can I do?’ ‘How can I support you?’ Offering to lend a hand so that the other person’s burden is light. But what about us. By us I mean me. Me and you. What about ourselves? From a young age any good parent teaches you the importance of putting others first. Treating others as you would like to be treated if you will. These are valuable lessons that everyone should learn and live by. But there’s another important lesson that we so often forget to pay attention to: The Importance of You.
Focusing your attention on others is a wonderful privilege that can fulfil many people. But humour me for a moment. Take a second to think of yourself as a barrel. A barrel full of good deeds, intentions, and time. Every time we step out and spend a moment on someone else you open the barrel stop and out flows some of these elements. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I hope it doesn’t come across like I am discouraging emptying your vessel into a pit of nothingness. It’s nothing like that at all. The point that I am trying to make is that none of us have an unlimited amount of time, or patience, or good practices. I would like to think that I spend more of my life giving to others than myself. But that barrel will soon become empty if we do not take time out to restock the barrel.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that once the barrel becomes dry there is no more that you can give.

So how do you ensure that you always have something to give? By taking time out to focus on the importance of you. Set some time aside every day, or one a week if that’s more realistic for you, to do something that will restock your barrel. Half an hour in the morning to read a chapter in your favourite book. A Wednesday evening spent painting your nails. Or a Sunday morning jog that you’ve been meaning to do for the past few weeks. For me it involves taking my camera and going for a walk somewhere scenic. A couple of hours spent with only nature as company is the perfect environment to relieve the stresses of life and focus on something other than the busyness of life. Why? Because realising the Importance of You means giving back to yourself that which you have given to others.

DIY Christmas Decorations | BLOGMAS

I should start this post by declaring my inability to think up anything craftily creative on my own. The below Christmas decorations were truly inspired by Tesco who unexpectedly tweeted me last week asking how my Christmas decorating was going.

My Christmas decorating follows the same course as most other people. See. Buy. Hang on the tree. In my twenty-something years of Christmases I don’t recall choosing to make a decoration of my own. Quite possibly when I was a child and the teachers somewhat foolishly let us loose with coloured paper, glitter and scissors. But never in my teens or onward. As I say, I’m not naturally creative. I find it difficult to switch off and let myself ‘do’. Give me a PowerPoint presentation and I’ll blow you away. Give me a spreadsheet and I’ll add formulas to make a twenty minute process take a swift few seconds. But leave me alone with a craft box and I’m lost. Extremely lost. So when Tesco tweeted me out of the blue I decided that maybe December 2016 was the year that I finally gave the right side of my brain a chance to excel itself. Judge for yourself how my afternoon of DIY went, but I’m pretty proud with the outcome.

The Tesco Living website has a number of options suitable for those of all abilities. I chose the Easy DIY Christmas Decorations page and was truly surprised with how such an easy bunch of decorations could turnout so well (again, that’s for you to truly judge!). So here goes:

Gingerbread Garland- A Christmas garland that looks good enough to eat.

img_4918

What You Need: Brown Felt, Red Ribbon, Red buttons (optional), Scissors, Gingerbread Template

This gingerbread man garland was the easiest of the decorations that I chose to make. With only a few materials needed to create this feature it works out to be very inexpensive. I chose to glue the individual men to the ribbon rather than threading them through the felt as suggested on the website. They’re currently hanging proudly above the fire place and will stay there for all to see.

Star of Wonder- Beautiful hanging decorations that shimmer in the twinkle of Christmas lights.

img_4950

What You Need: 8 x Clothes Pegs, Glue, Varnish or Spray Paint, Coloured Ribbon

Again,this festive item only requires a few materials. Each star is made up of eight clothes pegs that are gingerly stick together with a glue of your choice. I used an all purpose craft glue rather than splurge on a wood glue that I wouldn’t have any other use for and it’s held together rather well. The website suggests that you use varnish for the finished look but I chose gold spray paint which catches the light well and sparkles on the tree.

Snow Glows- Battery operated tea lights transformed into stylish snowmen.

img_4993

What You Need: 2 x Battery Powered Tea Lights, Festive Ribbon, Black Paper / Card, Red Pom Poms, Black Marker Pen, Scissors, Glue

These smart snowmen were the fiddliest of my crafty makes. Fiddly but still very easy to make. Adding the glittery scarves was the trickiest part of the make but I achieved this by poking a small hole into the ribbon at the back and hooking it onto a small plastic knob on the tea light. I then added a pea sized amount of glue to keep it secure.

Creating your own Christmas decorations is not only a great way to save money over the festive period but it makes a fabulous change to the usual decorations you’ll in stores. Why not try adding a thread of uniqueness into your home with these decorations from Tesco Living.

If you do give these easy decorations a go I’d love to see how you get on! Leave a comment below or share a picture with me on twitter (naomiophia_).

 

 

*This post isn’t sponsored in any way. All opinions are my own*

Collection Velvet Kiss Lip Cream

Collection Cosmetics are a  beauty brand, established in 1987, with British heritage. The brand is well known for being one of the high street’s best Fast Moving Consumer Goods forerunners in beauty. Fashion focused and leading  the market at an affordable price, Collection Cosmetics is a must for those interested in beauty. As a multiple award winning brand the range ‘is made up of a core range of essential ‘canvas’ products and trend-led ranges for a more dramatic seasonally-inspired look.’

Although Collection Cosmetics don’t advertise themselves as a vegan brand, you may be interested to know that they do not test on, or instruct any third party to test finished products on animals.

At only £2.99 per lip cream, the Velvet Kiss Collection offers a well-matched alternative to the more expensive products on the market . Though a lip cream rather than a lipstick, this collection does well to rival the choices from NARS, MAC and Too Faced. Granted, at just six shades the range of colours to choose from is less varied than some of the larger brands but with shades ranging from nude to a classic deep red, the collection has something to offer to all.

Overall I really enjoyed trying out these lip creams. Although matte on the first application, the creams are moisturising on the lip. Upon application you’re also greeted with a sweet scent that takes me back to my childhood weekends eating sweets such as Parma Violets. Unexpectedly, the formula feels different between the shades. The red (Rosie) goes onto the lip easily with its thicker consistency, without streaking whereas the orange shade (Mango) seems slightly thinner and requires a couple of layers before the pigment pulls through.

swatches

This week I’ve been religiously applying the Caramel (nude) shade. I’ve searched for many months to find the perfect nude. For some, finding the right nude can be a simple task but for myself, and I would include others with black skin, the hunt can be a difficult one. Many nudes are too cold and make the skin look dull or grey but this shade is warm enough to be applied liberally,without the worry of being left looking ill. This will most definitely stay as my go to, every day shade. On the contrary, Cotton Candy is a physical symbol of my journey into finding a nude lip product. The base colour is cool, almost a blue, and so will never compliment my skin tone. On lighter skin I’m sure this shade would compliment an every day makeup look but unfortunately for myself this is a shade I will never get any use out of.

The other shade I am undecided about is Mango. Though I believe this is a versatile colour that I would wear throughout the warmer months I don’t feel that this fits within the collection. The nude, pink, berries and red all sit extremely well together. The colours compliment each other well and can be found in collections from any other brand. The Mango shade is the rebel of the pack. On its own it makes sense, a bright alternative to the usual safe shades, but as a group it feels mismatched, as though it doesn’t belong.

Having tested the products for a few weeks now I would offer a glowing recommendation of the collection. This isn’t a long wear lip cream and so you will need to apply it a couple of times throughout the day on order to keep the colour bright but don’t let that deter you.  The Mango shade is a personal gripe of mine that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the collection. At £2.99 per lip cream you can purchase the whole collection for under £18 for which you’d receive little change after purchasing one of the higher end lip products.

If I could only purchase one it’d be the fantastic nude (Caramel). If I had a choice of two I’d include the classic red (Rosie) every time. And if I could only have three I’d refuse to answer because I just can’t choose between the two beautiful berry shades (Mulberry and Blackberry)!

All shades can be found at Boots and Superdrug. More information about Collection Cosmetics can be found on their website.

Autumn / Winter Lookbook

The new season not only brings us shorter days and darker evenings, it also brings a new sense of style and opportunity to express yourself in a completely different way to only a few months before. The cold snap calls for layers, warm accessories and boots to keep the feet warm but needing to be sensible doesn’t mean that your wardrobe needs to be dull and boring. This post is a pictoral lookbook of how I would pair some of those items with my everyday outfits. Enjoy.
Coat: Warehouse / Fedora: (similar) Marks and Spencer / Polo Neck: TopShop / Jeans: New Look / Boots: New Look
Coat (similar): Neon Rose / Fedora (similar): New Look / Jumper: Oasis (ASOS) / Jeans: New Look / Boots: Primark
Coat (similar): Neon Rose / Fedora (similar): New Look / Jumper: Oasis (ASOS) / Jeans: New Look / Boots: Primark
Polo Neck: New Look / Poncho (similar): New Look / Jeans: Miss Selfridge / Boots (similar): Marks & Spencer
Polo Neck: New Look / Poncho (similar): New Look / Jeans: Miss Selfridge / Boots (similar): Marks & Spencer

Spending Time Alone & Enjoying Every Moment

I work hard. I’m sure you do too. Sometimes the days roll into one and the light at the end of the tunnel seems further and further away. Friday comes and all you can think about is the fact that in two short days you’ll be back at work with little but Friday to look forward to again.
Finding a way to make the most out of your weekend can be difficult for all sorts of reasons. As we get older our lives get busier with ‘stuff’. Our friends have families and responsibilities of their own which means that the joy of a spontaneous evening out happens less and less frequently.

I’ve always been an extrovert who loves being around other people. I find myself more refreshed and energised when I spend time with my friends. But what do you do when those friends just aren’t available? Stay home with the latest boxset and takeaway? Or do the unthinkable… go out on your own. Shock horror! As I get older I am learning to enjoy my own company. And you can too. Though the realisation that your friends can’t always drop everything for you last minute can be disheartening at times, knowing that you still have options for enjoyment can help you through a weekend on your own.

So, for those weekends when you’ve reached the end of yourself (and I’m talking googling ‘what to do when you’re bored’ end of yourself) here are my Top 10 ideas for making the most of spending some quality time alone.

Work Out. This is always something that I neglect when I’m too busy to think straight and so why not make it a priority when your weekend is looking empty. Why not try out that new spin class. Or treat yourself to the sauna and jacuzzi if there is one. A release of those endorphins that make their way into your body when you exercise could go towards making your attitude toward a lone weekend much more positive.

Head to a Restaurant. This can be the last thing that you want to do alone. It takes a certain amount of courage (or who gives one) to sit in a restaurant on your own while those around you laugh and chat with their company. But it doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. Take a book you’ve been meaning to read or your laptop to make it a productive experience. Or even better, take a journal and sit and look pensive. Sometimes the restaurant will think that you’re a food critic and give you the best service you’ve ever had!

Reconnect with a Long Distance Friend. A great way to be around a friend when your local pals are otherwise occupied. A good dose of spare time can be a great opportunity to Skype or call a fired or relative that you just haven’t had time to speak to for a while. I have friends that I met while travelling America years ago that will always find an hour or so to have a good catch up at late notice.

Take A Short Break. Is there a location you’ve always wanted to visit? Home or abroad? Obviously the destination will be limited to the amount of time that you have available but even with a day or two you can make a memorable trip. I recently spent a few days exploring Rome alone and would recommend it to anyone.

Catch a Movie You’ve been Meaning to Watch. Everyone loves a movie. Whether this is achieved at home in your pyjamas or out at your local cinema, spend some time winding down in front of a great movie. Who says you can’t enjoy popcorn on your own.

Start a Project. Another great activity that we all put off because we just don’ t have enough time. You could start a new hobby, new blog or even a new business in the hours you have to spare while embracing your lonesomeness.

Make Exciting Plans. What do you do when you don’t have anything to do? Dream about what you wish you were doing. This doesn’t have to be a negative time, sat wallowing in pity. Instead, make exciting plans to be undertaken either alone or in a group. Planning ahead to make the most out of your next weekend can be real fun.

Pamper Yourself. When was the last time you took some time out to look after yourself? A day or two alone can be a great chance to pamper yourself at any price that you wish to spend. Treat yourself to a bath bomb or light a candle and sit back, relax and enjoy a long warm bath. Clear your mind of the stresses of life and enjoy a peaceful moment.

Learn Something New. What it says on the tin. Time alone is great for learning something new. Open a how-to book, watch a YouTube video or take a leap of faith in your own ability and learn a new skill. You could also look into whether your local council or college have any evening / weekend classes that you can go along to. You could be the next Masterchef!

So those are my Top Ten ideas for how to enjoy spending some quality time with yourself. Embrace the time alone.

GlossyBox UK – November 2016

I’m really happy with November’s GlossyBox, especially after last month’s slightly disappointing box. Feel free to check out last month’s video to understand why but for this post, let’s focus on this month’s positives!
This month’s box is themed around preparing for the party season, with gifts to help with the run up to the Christmas parties and work events. In this month’s box I received five products and one sweet treat from Raffaello, which lasted for about five seconds after this photograph was taken. It tasted like a coconut, white chocolate, Ferrero Rocher. After some googling to find out where I could buy more, I discovered that they are actually made by the same company and can be found at a variety of stores.
Now, onto the contents of the box…
 
Wilkinson Sword – Quattro for Women Raspberry Rain Disposable Razors
Everybody needs a razor. And in a world full of choices why not have one that’s raspberry scented? Well, Wilkson Sword have the razor for you. To be honest, I think that this is a step too far and completely unnecessary but the Wilkinson Sword itself really is a great product. Offering a slick shave and smooth finish I have nothing negative to say about this item.
De Bruyere Beaute – Jumbo Eye Pencil in Bubble 07
This Jumbo Eye Pencil offers a creamy lightweight shade of eye shadow in a very usable formula. Although the shade is titled ‘khaki’ I would say that it is more of a shimmery grey shade with a brown undertone. Never the less the eye crayon is a great colour to be used on any skin tone.I chose to add a lighter basecoat to really make the colour pop. Long lasting, this product stayed on the eyelid throughout the day but was removed easily enough with my usual evening skincare routine.
Ruby Professional – Large Tapered Blending Brush
This Blending Brush from Ruby Professional is sure to be a great addition to my makeup brush collection. Although slightly lighter in weight than I would usually choose the brush itself offers a lovely soft head which effortlessly blends the De Bruyere Jumbo Pencil around the crease of the eye.
Nanogen – Root Boosting Hair Thickening Spray
This keratin filled spray promises to lift each root and thicken each strand. This is certainly something that I’ll try on my hair. Although I have plenty of it, the strands themselves are actually quite fine. I’ll be able to give a more detailed review once the formula has had a chance to make a difference.
111Skin – Bio Cellulose Facial Treatment Mask
Saving the ‘best’ product until last,we come to the 111 Skin Facial Treatment Mask. This product retails at a somewhat steep £20 and offers one mask, to be worn for 20 minutes. ‘Filled with arbutin to brighten the skin, silk amino acids to condition and centella asiatica to stimulate collagen production’ this product really does make a difference to the skin. I left my mask on for a little over 20 minutes (to squeeze every pound out of my use) and could see a visual brightening to the skin almost instantly. Although £20 is quite an amount for a single use face mask, with almost instant results I completely understand the associated cost. Will I purchase this again? Possibly. Though I doubt I will be abiding by the three times a week recommendation I would be sure to use this mask again as a treat ahead of a special night out, or even after a long week in the office.
Thank you GlossyBox for such a great box this month!

GLOSSYBOX UK – October 2016

I love the excited feeling I always get when I receive the month’s Glossybox. Opening the black postage box and finding the baby pink box inside makes the moment feel like a special day, where a gift has been delivered after being carefully selected just for you. Of course, the Glossybox isn’t exactly unique to me, but the moment still remains special. This month’s box was the usual pink box which when opened greets you with pink tissue paper and a beautifully tied black bow.

I was always the child who opened their Christmas present slowly, being sure to not rip the paper and this habit extends to the Glossybox. No amount of excitement could lead me to purposefully rip the beautiful packaging! Once inside I get the first glance of the products inside.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I always spend the days before my box arrives searching YouTube for the month’s UK unboxings. Surprisingly this doesn’t spoil the surprise.

This month’s box was guest edited by Estee Lalonde, a well know beauty and lifestyle blogger and vlogger. The pieces inside every box were approved by her. Estee even left her very own mark with an unknown bottle of sweet smelling shampoo for all to use. The only way to find out which brand this shampoo belongs to is to visit her blog for the grand reveal.

In all honesty, this month I wasn’t as overjoyed with the contents as I usually am. This may have been my fault. I only decided to resubscribe to Glossybox in the third week of the month. From what I received compared to what others received in their boxes I can only assume that as the main stock runs out the ‘best’ products are switched out for other gifts. Having reviewed my initial disappointment I now understand that this should have been obvious to me as I subscribed! I’m now back on the monthly plan, and eagerly awaiting my freshly delivered (fantastically packed) box of goodies this month.

Office Heel Collection – The Work Edit

New Look. KG by Kurt Geiger. Next

Shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes,shoes. I love shoes of all shapes and sizes. There’s no discrimination here. Shoes with a purpose are my absolute favourite and maybe this is why I chose to show my office heel collection first.

I work in quite a corporate environment with many men in suits and polished black shoes. Although I love working in this type of workplace, it could be quite boring if my day didn’t start with spending time on myself, choosing the perfect outfit for the day. In fact, the only thing I find more joy in at 6am is selecting the perfect shoe to accompany the outfit.

I don’t know what type of environment you work in but I think there are some general considerations that can be taken when choosing the appropriate shoe for work. (Disclaimer: I may have made one of these words up!):

Suitability: First and foremost, your shoe should be appropriate to the environment that you’re working in (although this shouldn’t limit your style). This doesn’t mean that your shoe choice needs to be boring but there are some shoes that won’t be appropriate in all situations. For example, open toes in the deep depths of winter when you have to trudge through the snow to get from the car to the door. Or a skyscraper heel with a 4 inch platform and silver diamante crystals. Though only a little over 5 foot myself, this shoe would not be appropriate for shuffling across the office floor. Similarly, if you spend your whole day standing, or running after children, you should consider your heel height more carefully. Though I may sound older than my years let me tell you- comfort is king!

Steve Madden


Walkability: Very important! Ask yourself: can I walk in these shoes? I’ve stepped out of the house a number of times in a pair of heels that I could walk in so gracefully that I could have taken on Sandra Bullock’s role in Miss Congeniality. However, walking on the cushiony carpet of your bedroom is very different to trying to make your way across the office hallways that could be used as an ice rink after hours. I remember wearing a truly stunning pair of high court shoes to work in my first week of joining the company. I teetered around, having to take three small steps to a normal person’s one. I really couldn’t walk in them. It was quite embarrassing really. Especially when I had to ban myself from going to the bathroom for fear of staring in my very own version of Bambi on Ice right in the middle of the office!

A little tip to look out for- if you’re new to wearing high heels then choose a shoe with an ankle strap. This will help to support your ankles throughout the day and make sure that your foot stays comfortably in the shoe.

KG by Kurt Geiger



Personality: Though there are some sensible considerations to be made when choosing the perfect shoe, don’t be limited by what you think you should be wearing in the office. Why not take a step out? (No pun intended). My favourite pair of ‘out  there’ shoes are my bright blue heels from M&S. I held onto these, not brave enough to wear them into the office for a while, before daring to be different and wearing something that was sure to turn heads. These are the shoes that I have had the most compliments from and I really do enjoy spending the day in them. They always brighten up a black skirt or trouser set and can be used to venture out of the office and into the evening for after work socialising.

Marks and Spencer
But most of all, choose a shoe that makes you happy to be wearing them. There’s a reason that Marilyn Monroe famously said ‘Give a girl the right shoe and she can conquer the world’. These beauties are my Bond Girl shoe. If I was ruling the world, these are what I would be wearing!
Marks and Spencer
Why not come over to my channel and have a look at my full collection.