| diy deodorizing disks
| how to: herb box
| edit your wardrobe
| 8 hard-to-kill houseplants
| a year in style
| how to: terrariums
| 5 truths the fast fashion industry doesn't want you to know
| blogging lessons
| evolution of games
Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams is the sweetest little book I can ever remember reading as a child and it's retained a special place on my bookshelf ever since.
Uncle Peder the toy maker crafts the most beautiful toys but none are more beautiful than the little wooden horse. When the toy maker falls on hard times and no one wants to buy his toys anymore, the toy maker's wife abandons the little wooden horse. He ends up being overworked in a coal mine, tightrope walking at the circus, cheated out of hard earned money, thrown over a house, he wears out his wheels.. and at one point loses his head. Despite the hardships and heartbreak, the loyal little wooden horse spends his life trying to return to his master's side and won't rest until he does.
I am not a watch wearer. I think that has more to do with never finding the perfect fit than my lack of appreciation for time pieces. Watches can really add a little something extra to an outfit, so I'm excited to have discovered a piece that fits so neatly with my existing wardrobe.
What I specifically like about Shore Projects watches are their versatility and aesthetic beauty. There are some beautiful colourways to choose from and the clock faces are so classically minimal it's hard to fault. Shore Projects watches are true unisex pieces; I love the triangle accent, clean face, and simple appearance of this Whitstable design. While I find the clock face a tad on the large size for my small wrists, all is forgiven when I see how well this monochrome combination works with my entire wardrobe.
Taking regular breaks throughout the day is super important for staying productive at work but my new thing is the midweek break - a rare little luxury that makes the working week that little bit sweeter. Shifting my workload around or switching a day off means I can spare some time during the week to relax and recuperate.
If you can't avoid work during the week, do something you wouldn't normally do on a week day. Even if it's something really simple like watching your favourite film, changing the bed sheets (fresh sheets always feel amazing), cooking an awesome dinner, or switching off from the continuous stream of online content can really help you feel re-energized.
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
year: 1999 | pages: 302 | rating: 5/5
In 1820, the whaleship Essex set sail from Nantucket for routine whaling work. Several oversights made before setting sail meant when an eighty-ton bull sperm whale repeatedly rammed and sunk the ship in the far reaches of the South Pacific, the twenty-man crew were left in a desperate situation. Boarding three small boats and fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, the crew began a 3,000 mile journey to the coast of South America in hopes of rescue. They spent ninety days at sea, enduring horrendous conditions, and eventually succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and what they initially feared, cannibalism. In the Heart of the Sea is written so powerfully with such extraordinary detail; the combination of factual evidence woven into a seemingly fictional narrative, makes this book such a page-turner. No facts are spared and while similar tragedies and relevant historical events are discussed in detail, this information is provided in such a way the reading experience is only enhanced and not dulled by overbearing enthusiasm. Philbrick's writing is exceptional and a book that could so easily be overladen with pointless trivia becomes one of the most amazing true life stories ever told.
Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson
year: | pages: | rating: 1/5
I found Swindled to be far less exciting than I expected. Wilson pays particular attention to nineteenth- and twentieth-century America and England and personally, I would have found a more in-depth analysis of how that era impacted our current generation. Wilson reveals how food swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and poisoned our food throughout history. Swindled details how people and corporations have placed profits above the health of its consumers by tampering with their food and drink in horrifyingly grotesque ways. Wilson encourages the reader to become more vigilant consumers, arguing industrialization, slack politics, globalization, and professional "food swindlers" have caused not only the quality of our food to suffer but our expectations. Despite not enjoying this book as much as I expected to, I can't deny that cover, it's to die for.
Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
year: 2009 | pages: 159 | rating: 4/5
Do you know that feeling you get when you hear something that rings incredibly true and you nod your head emphatically and say "YES" constantly? That is how I felt when I read this book. The entire time I was nodding along, agreeing with every word Huge MacLeod wrote. "Put the hours in; You are responsible for your own experience; Keep your day job; Never compare yourself; Sing in your own voice; Don't worry about finding inspiration; Write from the heart; The best way to get approval is not to need it; Beware of turning hobbies into jobs; None of this is rocket science." None of what is written inside Ignore Everybody is groundbreaking or even new, but the way MacLeod writes is encouraging and enthusiastic; MacLeod is passionate, sincere, and friendly. He offers up good advice in a way that would be hard for anyone to ignore.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
year: 2013 | pages: 250 | rating: 4/5
I have been telling everyone to read this book; Tina Fey must be one of the most charming and funny writers I have ever encountered. Bossypants is a brief account of Tina Fey's life so far including childhood memories, failed relationships, social faux pas, her successful career, and dilemmas only mothers would know. The entire book is entertaining, hilarious, and heart felt; quick, snappy, and full of empowering sentiments - read this book.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
year: 2013 | pages: 200 | rating: 2/5
Berger combines new research with powerful marketing stories to reveal the secrets of word-of-mouth and social transmission. Six basic principles are provided as to why certain things become "contagious" and others do not. Berger explores the power of consumer products, workplace rumors, YouTube videos, and viral advertisements. Contagious was an incredibly interesting read, however, lacked the ability to spark enthusiasm due to its rather monotone writing style. While Berger provides insight into the marketing industry and the power of organic reach, and despite incorporating a lot of modern research studies, Contagious doesn't cover any ground I was not already familiar with.
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
year: 2012 | pages: 279 | rating: 2/5
Jonah Lehrer attempts to shatter the myths of creativity; creativity, Lenhrer argues, is not a rare gift the lucky few possess, it is something that can be learned through distinct processes. Lehrer argues by encouraging creativity we can improve our neighbourhood and our workforce; we can make schools more effective and companies more productive. Imagine proved a little too dry for me and took paths down routes I did not find interesting (Bob Dylan's writing habits and the drug addictions of poets) to "prove" vague concepts of creativity. There are, in my opinion, much better books tackling the slippery subject of what is means to be creative.
Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom
year: 2011 | pages: 256 | rating: 4/5
The social science of advertising is a genre I can't get enough of so it's no surprise that I found Brandwashed to be an exceptionally good read. Martin Lindstrom explores the psychological tricks and traps set up by companies to fool consumers. Lindstrom has spent over twenty years working in the industry, which provides a new angle and fresh material. Brandwashed explores marketing to children, fear mongering, the beauty industry, addictive products, the use of sex in advertising, subconscious peer pressure, celebrity endorsed products, the selling of hope, and a whole lot more. While I have read many books on advertising and am rarely shocked by advertising tactics, Lindstrom writes in a fluid, engaging manner that managed to keep me interested throughout.
For the longest time ever I wore only one perfume - Christian Dior J'Adore - and while I am still madly in love with the scent, a perfume stops being quite so special when you wear it every day. I now reserve this distinct perfume for rare occasions when I know it will be noticed and appreciated.
Perfumes can be worn as an accessory to an outfit and so I have come to appreciate the importance of owning a selection that reflects the occasion and time of day they are to be worn in. I have started to build upon my signature scent profile by paying closer attention to a perfume's main accords than relying on one bottle alone.
I am naturally drawn to true floral scents such as Paul Smith Rose and woodsy perfumes like Jo Malone Amber and Patchouli. J'Adore sits neatly between the two with a sharp floral fragrance; fresh mandarin, jasmine, plum, orchid and rose complimented with amaranth, musk and blackberry. Paul Smith Rose features Turkish rose and magnolia with violet and green tea giving a soft, delicate, true rose fragrance. Jo Malone Amber and Patchouli is the richest of all perfumes I own; a beautifully sophisticated scent with amber, patchouli and guaiac wood.
Having a "wardrobe of scents" to match my attire adds that little something extra and the delicate final touch to any outfit.
Our bathroom shelf is luxuriously large in an "everything-gets-dumped-there" kind of way. But there is one little area that I reserve for the most loved, most used little treats. While they switch around every so often, there are currently three products sharing the adored space.
This beautiful candle by Honest skincare has such a subtle scent, it's perfect for any room at any time, but I like to light it when I have the rare opportunity for a relaxing bath. The service The Bathery offers means you can pick bath salts blended specifically for you. I chose a Bask mix featuring Epsom, Himalayan Pink, and Dead Sea Salts, blended with chamomile, rosemary, and ylang-ylang. You need to use at least half if not the entire contents of the bottle to get the full effect of the essentials oil, making a very decadent bath indeed. Natio's Clay and Plant Purifier is currently top of my list of favourite skin care treatments. Its formula is gentle on the skin yet has immense cleansing properties; perfect for when my skin needs a little TLC.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
year: 2000 | pages: 320 | rating: 1/5
Even though I know this book is for "Young Adults" and even though I should probably bear that in mind when writing this review, I cannot bring myself to say "oh well yes, it was very good for a Young Adult book." For me, really great books are accessible to all ages, whether they fall into an age-specific genre or not; a really great book supersedes genre boundaries, which is something Fangirl does not do. It might be a fantastic read for "Young Adults" but it does nothing to step outside those boundaries; I am not a young adult and so this book had nothing to offer me.
What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] by Zoë Heller
year: 2003 | pages: 258 | rating: 4/5
What is most intriguing about this book is how what was supposed to be a rather controversial story turns itself into something altogether quite different. Barbara Covett meets Sheba Hart, a new art teacher, and as their friendship develops, Sheba begins an affair with one of her underage male pupils. Our narrator Barbara begins to write an account in her friend's defense, recounting what happened and when, but ends up revealing far more of her own secrets than anyone else's. Acute observations and fine writing with a bleak twist; What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] is a poignant psychological masterpiece well worth reading.
Modern Baptists by James Wilcox
year: 1983 | pages: 239 | rating: 4/5
Modern Baptists is a comic satire set in Tula Springs, Louisiana. We follow Mr Bobby Pickens, a middle-aged bachelor diagnosed with malignant cancer, through a chain of unfortunate events riddled with social faux pas, as he allows his drug-dealing ex-con of a brother, FX, to move into the family home. Modern Baptists is subtle and off-beat, the plot is charming and amusing although, at times, tinged with sadness. I absolutely adored this book and the good old Mr Pickens.
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
year: 2012 | pages: 160 | rating: 5/5
This is, by far, the best book I have ever read on "being creative." In 2011, Kleon originally wrote a simple list of things he wished he had known when he was younger, Kleon later expanded this list into an illustrated manifesto called Steal Like an Artist. Practical lessons for creatives types - writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, musicians, and anyone who just likes making nice things - this book serves as a gentle and supportive reminder of what is important.
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei
year: 2013 | pages: 253 | rating: 4/5
Collating the knowledge of 20 leading creatives, Manage Your Day-to-Day provides pragmatic advice on how to create more effectively and produce better work. Clearly defined sections with useful summaries that tie everything together neatly, Manage Your Day-to-Day guides the reader through suggestions on how to build routines, stay focused, and ways to manage time. The cross-section of advice on offer alongside practical ways to implement it, makes this book exceptionally useful not only to creative types but to anyone seeking tips on productivity and time management.
The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
year: 2013 | pages: 240 | rating: 3/5
The One Thing offers a simple yet effective habit that will help us achieve success, stop us wasting time, and boost productivity.. and it's ridiculously simple. Unfortunately, that "one thing" is something I already do and while I think the book could be super useful for anyone unfamiliar with this "success habit," it simply covers ground I am already familiar with. A worthwhile read to keep around for when you need reminding of the most important time management advice.
Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo
year: 1955 | pages: 128 | rating: 2/5
Pedro Páramo is about a man named Juan Preciado who travels to his deceased mother's hometown, Comala, to find his father and reclaim his patrimony. Rapid industrilisation of early 20th-century Mexico left ghost towns scattered throughout the rural south's dustbowls. What Juan discovers is a literal ghost town, populated by spectral figures. Pedro Páramo is disjointed; the book's structure is fragmented with no clear plot-line, no character development, and no coherence. The writing is sparse, vivid, and there is always this sense of gloom hanging over the text leaving the reader with a dislocation and uncertainty. Pedro Páramo has undoubtedly inspired many authors over the past 50 years of literature, however, Pedro Páramo in itself is too elusive and fragmented.
I am a hair care floozy so when I find a routine I am happy to stick to, it's a pretty big deal. My hair has been super dreamy lately and it's all thanks to a few products and a simple routine.
I have been using the OGX Macadamia Shampoo and Conditioner religiously and it's done wonders for my (ahem) slightly neglected mess of hair. The OGX combo makes my hair super manageable, leaving it soft, shiny, and moisturised, which means no dryness or frizz.
I tend not to use heat to dry my hair and instead apply the Infusium 23 Miracle Therapy Serum, twist it into ringlets and let it dry into wavy curls, but sometimes you just don't have two or three hours (!) to air dry your hair. If I am in a rush to get out of the house but I still want to achieve mermaid hair status I'll use the Vidal Sassoon Infra Radiance Dryer. Using a diffuser limits heat damage and protects against frizz, which I always suffer when using a standard dryer. While it still takes quite a bit of time to dry using this method, it's far quicker than air drying and leaves my hair looking awesome.
For second or third (or fourth..) day hair, I'll apply either Argan or Almond oil to the mid-lengths and tips to restore shine.
There has been a huge increase in the number of advice posts popping up in the blogging community, most of which discuss everything from how to increase readership numbers to photography tips to how-to guides on becoming a "popular blogger." What has followed has been an increase in the number of blogs that look and feel the same: identikit blogs void of personality and originality in an attempt to achieve "blogger success."
One thing the community seems to be missing is the urgency to create exciting, unique content that doesn't feel the need to buy into the popularity contest and chase reader numbers by following "winning formulas" and replicating familiar content. We need creators who write and produce work they feel passionate about in a style that is their own.
Overlaps happen: We move in tight circles and gain inspiration from similar sources but sometimes influence turns into imitation. While "there is no such thing as an original idea," there are definitely ways of presenting old ideas in original ways. Developing your own individual style is the only way to stand out. Be confident of yourself, your talents, and the way you create.
Be easily identifiable | From your writing to your photography style
Be consistent | Everything you do online should look and feel the same
Keep it simple | Focus on a few key elements and hone them
Don't try to replicate | There is no originality in reproduction
Discover and develop | Discover your aesthetic style and work on it
It's time to stop reading posts about "how to have a popular blog" or "how to gain more readers" and start doing things differently, in your own way, and in your own unique style. Experiment with photography styles, write about new subjects and unexplored content; be brave, take risks, and stop worrying about the numbers. Blogging is not a job but it can create job opportunities from the skills you showcase on them - copying content isn't a desirable trait but originality is.
Read less | Limit the blogs you read (especially the "most popular" ones)
Write more | Develop your own authentic style
Teach yourself | Photography skills and the value of a personal aesthetic
Stop analysing | Ignore the stats and readership numbers
Don't mimic | Don't try to replicate successful content
Have confidence | In your unique content and writing style
Ask questions | Is this what I want to create? Am I proud of this?
Explore | Read outside of your blog niche for fresh opinions
Develop | Curate your personal style and develop it over time
Experiment, express, inspire, and share
Originality comes only through producing content in a unique, personal style. Replicating someone else's aesthetic won't give you success and chasing popularity, instead of working hard on achieving something worthwhile, won't make you happy.
Keeping a skin care journal can be an incredibly useful tool for monitoring troubled skin. It can reveal how diet, lifestyle, environment, and mood can effect the condition of your skin alongside the products you're using on it. An analysis of your journal can help you understand why certain routines or products do not work for you while they work for others with the skin complaints. For serious skin complaints it's advised you discuss the results with a skin care expert.
Document your skin care routine and the changes in your skin for at least 3 months.
Ask yourself the following questions each day:
1. What time did you go to bed?
2. What time did you rise?
3. How well did you sleep?
4. How many hours did you sleep?
5. What did you do/use for your morning skin care routine?
6. What did you do/use for your evening skin care routine?
7. Did you use anything else throughout the day?
8. What did you eat for your meals?
9. Did you eat any snacks?
10. Did you exercise?
11. How much water did you drink?
12. How much caffeine did you drink?
13. What was your mood like?
14. How were your stress levels?
15. What was your environment like?
16. What did your skin look up when you woke up?
17. What did your skin look like when you went to bed?
By monitoring your skin for at least three months you can see how your skin changes, whether it improves or deteriorates, and how the use of products are affecting your skin. By keeping track of external factors (such as environment and stress levels) alongside internal factors (for example, hormones and diet), your journal can provide an insight into what may or may not be going wrong and perhaps reveal factors you hadn't even thought of that are having an effect.
Not only is summer messing with me heat-wise, it's also screwing up my skin; despite laying off the make-up most days, my complexion has been suffering from some nasties. With the summer rays helping to sweat out those impurities, my skin has been troubled with a few blemishes I haven't had to deal with for quite a long time.
My first course of action is thorough cleansing and the application of a gentle but effective face mask. I alternate between three but right now the Natio Face Mask Purifier is topping them all. This clay mask uses aromatherapy to cleanse the skin: sesame nourishes and restores the skin's lustre, lemon cleanses and purifies, and palma rosa helps to soften. The clay isn't harsh and doesn't strip the skin so is ideal for sensitive skin that requires a little extra care. Alternatively I apply the last dregs from a bottle of the Clarins Gentle Brightening Exfoliating Toner but since that is almost gone, I've switched to trying the Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner. Toners are required to treat certain skin conditions so I rarely use them, however, liquid exfoliators remove dead cells and help create a brighter and smoother complexion, which is something I definitely need right now. Both of these contain alcohol but counterbalance it with glycerin; I find the Clarins toner gentle enough to be applied neat to the skin but with the Botanics version I have to dilute the toner on a cotton ball with a little water first.
After cleansing, treating, or toning I switch to targeted treatment of blemishes or trouble areas. Using a DIY Tea Tree Toner has natural antiseptic properties that can help combat inflammation. I find a sweep of this all over the face helps prevent, dry out, or clear up any pockets of dirt in the skin. Finally, La Roche-Posay Effaclar AI Targeted Breakout Corrector is my saviour for dealing with nasty blemishes and cystic spots, a little of this goes a long way and helps clear up problems within hours instead of days.
Seven corporations dominate the beauty industry, providing the majority of beauty products you see on the shelves. Knowing who owns whom is incredibly important; often the same formulas are used to produce both high-end and drugstore products and they are often made by the same manufacturers.
When you know L'Oreal owns both Maybelline and Yves Saint Laurent, and LVMH produces both Dior and Sephora's own range, it makes it quite clear what you pay for isn't always what you get. If paying more doesn't guarantee higher quality, why buy high-end beauty products?
I have regularly reinforced the idea that there is a great wealth of quality products available from both ends of the spectrum and even advocated saving money on certain products to spend elsewhere. So why do I almost always buy high end? Is it ever worth it?
I spend very little money on cosmetics, I spend only a small amount more on my skin care, and I very rarely double up on products. Rather than spending small amounts on a lot of items, I spend more money on fewer items to create a capsule collection that consists of effective, functional, and high quality products. What matters the most to me is quality followed by aesthetics; I want my collection to work well but also look nice on my shelf. If you have the budget, I don't see anything wrong with that.
What I am completely against is the beauty culture of feeling you must own high-end products and the pressure to "have what everyone else has." I have frequently reinforced the idea that high-end does not always mean high quality and while I buy plenty of high end products, I also support independent companies and brands whose products fall in between the high-end and drugstore categories. I buy what works and what looks good, those are my only two rules.
- read these books
- decide what you think is worth paying money for
- read reviews, compare products, make informed decisions
- don't feel pressured into thinking high-end means high quality
- buy the best your budget will allow
- avoid cheap impulse purchases
- build an effective capsule collection