Lifestyle & Fashion Blogger

31 January 2019

Blog Reads of January

My first Blog Reads post of 2019! Here are the posts that I have adored reading this month:

1) Feeling The January Blues | Bryony Baker
Bryony completely sums up January for all of us in this post. We're all struggling financially after spending like crazy at Christmas, the days feel longer and we're all waiting for the warmer weather to return. Bryony says this time of year is definitely where we all need to invest ourselves into self-care. She is right, as we're at the end of January now, I hope we have all made it through this month in one piece!

27 January 2019

Insta Themes Are All Good, But...

...they're hard to keep up with, well that's my personal opinion anyway. I made the decision back in September to instil an Autumn theme on my grid. Something I don't regret doing, my engagement increased and people were taking more notice of my photography. Plus I love Autumn and everything surrounding it. I produced and posted some of my best photos during that themed Insta spell.

Then Christmas came around, I decided to do a festive theme for the month of December (obvs). However, my engagement didn't seem to be as strong as before, probably because I didn't put my heart and soul into it as I was so busy buying and wrapping presents and doing all the Christmas sha-bang.

As of the New Year, I decided to strip my Insta back to how it was pre-theme. I want to add a more personal touch to my photos again.

Something that I learnt whilst keeping my grid to a theme is that it's all very well and good, but after a while, I kept staring at it and I found it looked a little samey and uninspiring. Something I don't want my Instagram to be.

With Instagram giving us grief with the bloody 'A' word (algorithm for those who have been living under a rock) and Instagram showing our photo's on other people's feeds as and when it pleases them, it's hard to remember the reason why we were so eager to download the app when it became popular. This is speaking from a blogger's POV, but before I entered the world of blogging, the constant analysis of the amount of likes for my pictures and thinking I had to conform my feed into some sort of theme was something that never even entered my mind.

If you keep to an Instagram theme 365 days of the year, hats off to you, I struggled to keep it going for 3 months so I have great respect for those who spend so much of their time taking pictures that aesthetically fit their theme. I know I couldn't do it, unless I had more time on my hands - which I don't. I'm inhaling inhalers and popping pills every 5 minutes and trying to stop my cat from getting fat. Yep, I definitely don't have the time.

The point of this post is this, if you like to keep to a theme, then I have a lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T (singing like Aretha Franklin, god rest her soul) for you. If you're like me and you don't attempt the themed side of Instagram, then I have a lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T for you too. Fist pumps all round.

Do you keep to a theme on Instagram?

22 January 2019

Has Social Media Taken Over Us?

*AD - see disclosure at the end of this post

I was in work way back and the kids in the class I worked in back then had to compose a Tweet and write no more than 66 words. Yep, wouldn’t have a problem with that cause I practically use Twitter on a daily basis. But one girl put her hand up and said “I don’t know what Twitter is”. Of course, most of the class are aghast and gasp in astonishment. But it made me think, has social media taken over our lives, particularly the younger generation?

I mean, this girl doesn’t know what Twitter is (well, she does now) and I think that the fact she had never heard of it was quite refreshing to hear. She hasn’t let social media be the entire reason she’s eager to leave school at 3:15pm.

When I was in school, social media wasn’t such a huge thing. Facebook had recently just become the in thing and Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat never even existed. My Space was slowly going out of fashion and Bebo was at its peak before it declined not long after I left comp in 2009.

Nearly every Internet-y and WiFi-ess thing we do involves social media in some form. It absolutely astounding how social media has taken over us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love using social media and it most definitely has its good uses and values. It does help me a lot in my everyday life and it is valuable in that respect. I use it to promote my blog posts and talk to different people and check on how they're doing and congratulate them on their latest achievements. But I see these people who literally have their phone superglued to their hand (like I am now writing this post) and can’t stop thumb scrolling.

Seriously, has it become a life essential to have and use some form of social media platform? Well, in defence of others, some people rely on their phones for other different reasons, whether it's using Maps to guide them around, using the Calendar to write down their next appointment, setting the Alarm for the morning and for so many other reasons.

We have that Screen Time function on our iPhones now. But does it really make us stop, put our phones down and actually communicate face-to-face with the people around us? It does give us a stark reminder of how much we have used our phones throughout the day, but I don't think it really stops us from using them or scrolling through social media. It just reminds us to put our phones down for a few minutes before we agree with ourselves that we have given ourselves a break and go back on our phones again!

But yeah, we mainly use it to Pin pictures on Pinterest, see what's trending on Twitter and watch Style Videos on Instagram. So to sum up, I think social media has taken over us, as I wrote in a particular post, I'm on my phone way too much and I need to step away from it as much as I can.

However, if you're looking to spice up the back of your phone with a new case, then get over to CaseApp where you can design your own personalised phone case and also a personalised laptop skin. To get 20% off your order from CaseApp, use the code LUCYMARY20 at the checkout. The discount lasts until 14th February so get your skates on!
*UPDATE - code has expired.

Wait for it...there's more! CaseApp have given me the chance for one of you lovely people to design your own personalised case! Just head over to my Instagram to find out how you can enter!
*UPDATE - Competition closed

Do you think social media is taken over our lives?
*This is a collaboration with CaseApp, the design of this phone case is my own work. All social media and phone case views are my own. For more information on this, please read my disclaimer.

16 January 2019

My First Blogging Event

Ok, this is headline news (well, to me it is) - I recently attended to my first networking event!

I got invited just before Christmas to the launch of House 21, a brand new initiative which brings together women to talk about networking and blogging over brunch. What I loved about it when I first had a lovely message from Mel is that they are basing their events outside of London, a great way to include those who can't afford the extortionate train fares to London to go to events, someone like myself.

Picture this, it's a (very windy) Sunday morning, I'm in Cardiff about to head to my first networking event at the Little Man Coffee Company and I'm excited but slightly nervous. I'm hoping that I can engage with some new people and I don't come across as an awkward chipmunk.

As the room started to get busy, I started talking to the lovely ladies that were sat on the same table as me. I actually felt comfortable talking about blogging and introducing myself as a blogger, something I never have felt at ease with before. When you tell you're someone you're a blogger, they look at you with such a perplexed look on their face that you wish you never bloody said anything.

In between lots of blogging conversation and drinking lots of cups of green tea, a great chat from Nia about how she started her amazing craft business and author Karla Brading, an inspirational lady who never gave up writing until she wrote her first book. She's gone on to write many others too.

From eating granola for the first time, to talking about our blogging journeys and learning about so much from some inspirational ladies, I really enjoyed myself. It has certainly highly motivated me to come up with some of my own business ideas, hmm...

So, what did I learn from my first blogging/networking event?

1) I need to go on a lot more of them.
2) It's certainly built my confidence up.
3) It's so great to meet so may like minded bloggers.
Hopefully there will be another for me to go soon, I've been given a new found confidence in meeting new people. 

What was your first blogging event? Did you enjoy it?

13 January 2019

Dreams Can Become A Reality, Honestly!

Apparently it's Make Your Dreams Come True Day. This sounds like a line from a Disney film. However, I'm here to tell you that dreams can really come true. They did for me.

Picture it, it's a sunny February day, you're in a taxi with your best mate, on your way to a place and you feel like all your Christmases, birthdays and paydays are rolling into one.

It's a day I know I'll never forget; I'm about to meet a bunch of people who I watch week in, week out - yes, I'm about to meet the Liverpool team.

My palms are sweating, my tummy is going round and round like a washing machine with excitement and I can hardly contain the goofy smile that is etched on my face. Queue the massive chubby cheeks.

I'll always have the day etched on my memory - Monday 22nd February 2016. A day that will be the best day of my life until (if/when) I get married. Can meeting Jurgen Klopp, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and so many others be a better day than my hypothetical wedding? My best friend kind of scolded me for thinking that in the taxi back to the Premier Inn.

The point is that my dream came true, I may as well be in a Disney movie for saying that. If you have a bucket list, like I do, do everything you can to tick off as many items as you can off that damn list!

You want to climb that mountain? - DO IT!
You fancy running the London marathon? - DO IT!
You want to attempt that food challenge in your local pub? DO IT!

Go on adventures, laugh until you wee a little, splurge on that mega expensive bag you want (well, don't get yourself into debt because of me) and just BE HAPPY. Like the title of this post, dreams can become a reality but at the end of the day, it's all down to you to make them happen.

What are your dreams or things on your bucket list you want to tick off?

8 January 2019

What Direction Do I Take My Blog In Now?

Last year, I kept to such a strict schedule with what days I published new posts, now that it’s the New Year, I’m struggling to figure things out. The reason being that my Story of 2018 diary entry posts have finished, obviously they had to because of the new year starting. I also decided to stop writing my ‘Most Liked, Retweeted & Viewed’ posts as I fell out of love of writing that series.

I’ve realised that I’m now 5 posts down each month. I used to post on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Saturday’s, but that’s not possible now.

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to make up for those five posts that will now be missing. I’m telling you now, it’s taken up plenty of pieces of paper in my notebook and lots of mugs of green tea to come up with a solution. I’ve worked out equations in school easier than this dilemma.

Should I go down the root of just posting as and when I can? Or just rejig the schedule? Reading Maria's post about where she wants to take her blog in 2019 has got me pumped about what I want to do with my blog over the coming year.

There's also another thing on my blogging mind - content. I did numerous polls on Twitter and Instagram stories about what content do my lovely readers want to read over the coming 12 months. Here's what I learnt from them -

1) Lifestyle posts seem to be the outright winner - which thankfully I love writing anyway.
2) Beauty posts - hmm, quite a mixed review on this one, some say go for it, some say you best leave it, who do I listen to?
3) CF/Mental Health posts - quite a popular one, unsurprising as mental health is a huge topic and is in the spotlight more these days.
4) Fashion posts - you're not so keen on those ones, but they are the ones I write less on anyway, so that's not an issue.
These polls kind of helped me, so thanks to all you darlings who did vote! However, the type of posts I did want to give a try this year didn't seem so popular in the polling votes - beauty content. When I first started blogging, I did do a few beauty posts, but for the life of me I can't remember how well they did. Back then, I didn't seem to take any notice of numbers, the naivety of me didn't seem to care. I wish my mindset was that way now. Maybe I could practice writing them before publishing them? See how I think they'll fit in to my current blog.

But yes, I am excited to see where my blog goes in 2019. I hope you will all enjoy my posts for this year and I hope you'll stick with me!

5 January 2019

Why I'm Like Each Character In Friends

Before Netflix started showing it, I watched Friends ever since I can remember, when it was either on channel 4 or E4. I adore the programme and it's one of my favourite comedy shows of all time. The big debate of whether Ross and Rachel were on a break, singing along to Smelly Cat with Phoebe, living for Chandler's sarcasm, relating to Joey's love for food, loving Monica's organisation skills and seeing the Friends drink about 2,000 cups of coffee in Central Perk was and is still something we all love to watch.

I was watching an episode the other day, I can't remember which one but it still made me laugh even though I've seen it about three dozen times! It got me thinking, I think I can relate to some characteristics each Friend has. I'm sure some of you can too.

Like Rachel, I love fashion and style. I would love to work in the fashion industry and get discount on the best brands. But nah, there's not enough opportunities like that where I live. I love how Rachel starts from the bottom in terms of her career and reaches to its peak in being a top executive for Ralph Lauren. It's kind of inspirational.
Monica has an obsession with cleaning and being organised, even to the point of coding her photographs when organising them into albums. No, I wouldn't go quite that far when organising photo's, but I do have a little obsession with cleaning. Especially with washing dishes, I have to be the one in the household to wash up. However, I'm not a good cook like Monica. I can only just about boil an egg.
I'm an only child like Phoebe, I'm also a little eccentric like her too. Ok, I may not have an alias name like Regina Phalange - sorry, Phoebe does though. I like to think I can sing like Phoebe - "Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding?" - ok, I'll stop now.

There's only two reasons why I'm like Joey - I love food and I won't share it. Remember the episode where Joey is on a date and the girl goes after his food? Yes, I'd be as pissed off as Joey too! If a man went after my chips during a meal, I would literally stab his hand with a fork. No, really, I would.
I'm incredibly sarcastic like Chandler, my parents have separated like Chandler and I have barely a relationship with my Dad like Chandler does also. Hmm, maybe I'm more like Chandler than I thought I was.
Ok, I have to admit, there is a little geeky side to me, more so in school. I like to think I'm a little more laidback about things now and I don't really go all nuts about clueing myself up on general knowledge like Ross does.
Which Friends character do you think you're most like?

2 January 2019

Let's Ditch the Habits in 2019

It's that time of year when I see the 'New Year, New Me' posts and statuses all over my social media timelines. Some people set realistic goals, some, even I can tell, are pie in the sky for that other person.

I have set myself goals for the new year ahead in the past, some are beyond a dream and some are more down to earth and are possible to achieve. However, I've decided to take my own twist on goals for this new year, instead of saying all the things I want to achieve this year, I want to make 2019 the year I ditch the habits that I have picked up over the years. Habits are easy to pick up but a nightmare to stop. It will take a lot of willpower, but maybe my incentive could be a little treat from ASOS or a Dominoes pizza. Mind you, any sort of takeaway food would be a decent incentive for me.

Anyway, here are the habits are want to kick out in 2019:

Let's face it, this is a bad habit within us all. I've admitted in the past that I use my phone too much. It would be quite shameful if I ever find out how many hours a day I spend scrolling through social media looking for cat videos or pining over how minimalist people's living rooms looked. However, time with my friends and family is more important than anything else, my phone does go away when I'm with them and also I'm barely on my phone when I'm in work. So technically, I am making strides in regards to taking long breaks away from my phone.
Oh my word, I am super duper guilty of this. Things that don't need overthinking about I overthink about. I do think it comes from the form of paranoia I suffer from thanks to my torrid younger years . I've made a little pinky promise to myself that I am going to do my utmost best to try and not let my mind go into overdrive for any little thing that happens in my life. This will probably be my hardest habit to kick out, but I'm determined to give it a go!

This habit does sound like a strange one, but hear me out. In the past, I've always known myself to get my hopes up too much about dreams, goals or anything I want to happen in my life. Whether it's reaching a certain amount of followers on Instagram or wanting Liverpool to win the Premier League, I do set the bar too high. I need to stop setting myself unrealistic goals and just let what is meant to be happen in its own way.
Ever find yourself saying "I'll do it in a minute, let's just have a cuppa first" . Yep, been there, done that plenty of times. Usually I'm always putting off making phone calls where you have to wait about 23 minutes listening to crappy music whilst waiting in a queue. So I'm making it my aim to do the jobs first before I have my cuppa.

She has much better hair than me, she owns nicer clothes than I do, her eyebrows are on point, her makeup looks flawless...yeah, yeah, yeah! I know what you're saying, why are you putting yourself through this mental torture?! This habit I'm oh so eager to stop in 2019. Social media does play a big part, which is why I'm also keen to kick out habit number one so it can help kick out this habit! 

What are the habits you want to get rid of?

Copyright @ Lucy Mary. Blog Design by KotrynaBassDesign