GOALDIGGER: How To Achieve More

how to achieve your blog goals

Goals are everywhere at this time of year. Most of us really enjoy writing down the to-do's, bullet lists, agendas, and blog-post schedules; ticking things off as we go. It energises us. It gives us a sense of achievement. We have strange relationships with our goals; there is guilt, excitement, hope, envy, self-doubt all tangled in together, pasted on a page marked "Resolutions". Contrary to popular wisdom, I know I often achieve the most when I am...free-styling, as it were. Not crossing-off a scheduled list of actions, but simply following my gut, getting things done with passion and only a vague idea of where I may end up. This approach often leaves me feeling as if I have achieved very little, even when I've accomplished a great deal; there is no completed agenda to look at and be reminded by, no scribbled-on page to tell me I've done well. And because I get no satisfaction, I keep going.

I was unsure whether to write a post about my goals for 2015. This little voice inside me kept nagging "but why do you want to share them? what are you really after?" and when I watched this video, I figured it out. I wanted the happy feeling you get when you share your goals, and receive encouragement and validation from your peers, without having actually done any of the work yet. I've decided I'm not going to bore you with a itinerary of Drink More Water, Do More Pilates, but instead, give you what little knowledge I have to quietly, and effectively, achieve your own goals.

how to achieve your blog goals

Stop Looking At What You Want To Achieve: Most goals require you to get into the mind set of a creator, not a consumer. When a novelist is working on a new book, they don't spend their days browsing Waterstones. If we spent as much time in the gym as we do looking at fitspo accounts on Instagram, there would be a lot more six packs around, that's for sure. We can kid ourselves that it's for "inspiration" for only so long, and then we have to admit it is simply straight-up procrastination. One of the best tips I ever read for online-content creators, is to look at less online content, so that you can focus on your own. Looking at people doing whatever it is we want to do is actually counter-productive, as our mind can't distinguish between seeing and doing, and so it leaves us bored with our goal. It can also interfere with our individual style or voice.

how to achieve your blog goals

Switch On Your Best Self: It's been proven that people who make one positive change are more likely to make others. People who set out to eat more healthily end up drinking more water and doing more exercise, without even really meaning to. This is partly because if we are working hard in one aspect (going to the gym etc) we don't want to sabotage it by making a terrible choice in another (eating cake for breakfast etc); it's also because we are creatures of habit, and as we shift one habit, all of them become a little dislodged, allowing real change to occur. Once we flick on the switch to our best self, the self who really gives a crap about our health, happiness, and standards, letting things slide becomes much less tempting.

Look To Your Past For Clues: Most of us have an activity or something tangible that we associate with our best self. "When I did yoga every morning, that was when I had my shit together"; "I never felt better than I did as I redhead, I really should try that again". I hear these kinds of statements all the time, and want to shake people into realising that that very thing, thrown out so glibly, could be the key to their happiness. If you remember a time when you felt better than you do now, return to it. Take that hard-earned knowledge about yourself into the future, and don't let your best self be a lost identity.

Good luck to everyone setting themselves goals and resolutions for 2015. Share the love, and give us your best goal-setting and motivation tips below in the comments! Happy New Year.

Why I Only Want To Smell Like One Thing At A Time

the body shop vanilla perfume
There is something about single-note scents that I've always loved. When I was younger I used to douse myself in Dirt by Demeter Fragrance Library; a wet rocks and dry earth kind of smell that actually makes my mouth water (wanting to eat dirt, sand, rocks, and pavement is one of the many ways in which I am mad). Discovering that The Body Shop do amazing cruelty-free single-note perfumes has been (zero exaggeration) LIFE-CHANGING for me.

There is something so literary about single-note scents. Characters in novels are hardly ever described as wearing an intricate and confusing combination of jasmine, juniper, lily of the valley, and ylang ylang, because that is not memorable, and it doesn't appeal to your own memories. They are described as "the girl who smelt like green apples" or "the boy who smelt like cut grass", instead. Single-note scents, by their very specificity, are more descriptive. They tell you more about a person. Wearing a single-note scent allows you to define yourself absolutely. 

The notes that I think best suit my personality are rose, vanilla, watermelon, cherry, lychee; usually anything along the white-to-blush-to-pink-to-red colour spectrum. During the day I often wear my Flowerbomb dupe, but at night I've been switching to this warmer, sexier vanilla eau de toilette. I plan on going back to The Body Shop to get cranberry, strawberry, and coconut. Part of me really wants to be "the coconut girl". 

Christmas: Expectation VS Reality

vegan red velvet cupcakes

I'm going to tell you a little story about a girl. Let's call her Polly. No you don't know her, shut up.

All Polly wanted to do was bake some vegan red velvet cupcakes for Christmas. She'd never made them before but for some reason assumed it would be easy, and that she would simply put on her little red apron, play some Michael Buble in the kitchen, and whisk together a few dairy-substitutes, whistling like Snow White the whole time. So she downloaded the first recipe she found (from a blog she'd never read) and skipped to Waitrose to buy soya cream cheese and cocoa powder. And for a while, everything was perfect. She put up her hair and indulged in the idealic domesticity, sighing with pleasure as she folded together the butter and powdered sugar in her new, shiny kitchen. And then something went a bit...wrong. And then everything went a bit wrong.

Poor Polly had a proper little freak out, and as she got more and more upset, more and more things started going wrong. She had invested so much into these fucking cupcakes and the experience she thought she would have making them, that something as small as curdled frosting was enough to push her over the edge. Which, for most of us, is what Christmas is really like.

We build things up so much in our minds, and never let thoughts of lost presents, shopping mayhem, cooking disasters, uncooperative in-laws or mountains of washing up factor into our big dreams. Before you know it the whole thing has gone tits up and you're fighting with your Mum over cream cheese. And in this way, our pursuit of happiness begins to sabotage our actual happiness. Unless we can laugh. Laughter is the thing that changes the ending to this story. If you can laugh, like Polly did *cough cough* and just start all over again (with a different recipe, and maybe some lower expectations) then things might not be Instagram-perfect, but they will definitely be more fun.

The £15 Biker Jacket

Pleather biker jacket and snood, both Primark

Primark has always reminded me a bit of Dante’s Inferno. It might sound like I’m making loose analogies just to take the piss, but bear with me. Both have many levels, all with their separate tortures; both have wild beasts roaming them, on the hunt for fresh meat; they have aimless wanderers too, people who don’t quite understand where they are or how they got there in the first place; and they both seem to exist outside of space and time. An hour inside them can seem like a hundred years, and if you’re not careful, you’ll probably faint from the heat, get trapped underneath some rubble and have other aimless wanderers treading on you for eternity.

But you can’t get a £15 biker jacket in Dante’s Inferno. You could get one made of wilderbeast, maybe, if you killed it yourself. Or you could steal something cool off Cleopatra (she’ll be on the level for adulterers, I should think *presses for the elevator*) but you’d have to fight her for it. So best get to Primark while you can and start practising your powerslam.

Being Watched Online: What Happens When You Write For Your Stalkers

There is an old American saying that I think of often. When a woman has been beaten down by life or her commitments, they say she has “gone too long in harness”. This expression means that in maintaining the status quo, something of her has been captured, until she lost touch with her true nature. Most modern-day people call this burnout. But it is more than that - this phrase means a woman has lost her connection to her essentially free, wild self.

holly cassell

My blog has changed a lot these last few months. I’ve become less melancholic, I hope, and featured more fun and practical material. You may think this was a shrewd career move on my part, but I’m afraid I’m not that forward-thinking. Neither was it a result of blogger peer-pressure; I felt no need to fit in that led me to write more about make-up. I did it because I was being watched, and when you’re being watched by people that left you bleeding, the last thing you want to do is hand them your exhausted, haemorrhaging heart. You may ask why I ever let this surveillance bother me - why I didn’t assert my internet space as my own, and be damned with their opinions. And you’d be right. Self-imposed censorship has cost me dear, and I have gone too long in harness.

We all, at times, wish to appear perfect. I fight my hardest against that wish. So hard, in fact, that it took me a while to understand my real fear behind the fight; the fear that without even knowing, anyone could share in the small, intimate things that make me who I am – my face, my smile, my daily ups and downs – and that they would have a piece of me, through a one-way observation that always sends the observed quite mad. This fear cost me my freedom to show you the little details of my world. I made some heavy shackles in my attempts to be free.

Ironically, there are many who will think I have written this post for them. One of them Googles me daily, while another downloads all my pictures so he can look at me, without his girlfriend’s knowledge. It is a common phenomena in life that humans will feel entitled to each other, no matter what has happened to estrange them. It can be as simple as the girl who bullied you in school keeping tabs on “what you’re up to”. This kind of stalking without interaction isn’t really frowned upon in society, it's been accepted as part of our technological culture. We even convince ourselves it is romantic, or flattering. We’re reluctant to complain in case we appear too sensitive, or like we forgot we’re writing public blogs, after all. I have to be honest with myself and say it has gotten to me, and at times it’s made me want to give up - but I'm not going to give up.

We can’t control who reads our words, or what they take from them. The only thing we can control is how we write. The little details in life – the little details that are small, but universal, and break all our hearts in recognition of their larger significance – are the reason I started writing, and without them we are nothing. Without them, we are in chains.

Christmas Break (Making Time To Do The Little Things)

blogging addiction
November was a good month here on TPC. In terms of hits, it was my best month ever, and I worked bloody hard for it. I probably worked a little too hard, in fact; staying up all hours of the night answering tweets and emails when I definitely should have been sleeping. Writing posts at 3am and then waking up at 8am to carry out my day. If I remember November 2014 as the month of anything, it will be the month of blogging addiction. I started posting three times a week, I founded a new blog chat, I hosted a giveaway, had my blog hacked (and then fixed) and as absolutely wonderful as it has been for the most part… I’m knackered.

After doing some deep soul-searching over my peanut butter toast, I realised that I’m not enjoying myself as much as I want to. I want to spend more time doing the things I love (including writing, and taking photos) and less time on the never-ending demands of social media and blog promotion. I want to stop and smell the roses. I want to be present for December. I want to put down my phone and have a better quality of life, and be aware of all the beauty and cuteness that’s around me over Christmas, without missing it because I’m hunched over a laptop all evening. I will still be blogging - I’m just going to take my foot off the gas a bit. I realise I’ve let a lot of things slide as I’ve gotten more serious about blogging. Like eating. And taking baths. Not good things to let slide.

I want to bake red velvet cupcakes in my new shiny kitchen. I want to enjoy my first Christmas in (gasp) my own apartment. I want to get some sleep and maybe even MOISTURISE (is there such a thing as dandruff of the skin? Because I have that). I want to read more books, especially wintery fairy-tales and Victorian classics. I want to do more nail art, and all the little luxurious things I never make time for. And I have got to do something about my posture. 

#CRAZYBLOGGERS: The Drama-Free Chat For Unconventional Bloggers

crazybloggers blogger chat

A little while ago I was having a conversation with Jordan about how awesome it would be if there was a chat for bloggers like us; and by bloggers like us, I mean freaks. Proper weirdoes who LOVE to tweet, but are slightly bored by the prospect of tweeting about Monthly Favourites for a whole hour, yet again.

I decided to have a go at hosting one after a random survey showed that loads of my followers were up for it. It all came together in less than 24 hours, and before I knew it, I had hundreds of notifications from people all over the world, tweeting about our first topic, Adult Content, under the new shiny hashtag #crazybloggers. For some people, crazy is not a word they want to embrace, and that’s exactly the point.  A lot of us have been unfairly labelled a crazy bitch in our lifetime, have we not? But to me the word means wild, unconventional, unpredictable, weird, random. And all those things are good in my book, or blog.

The ethos behind the chat is this. We want to create a drama-free, welcoming chat for every type of blogger to discuss the hush-hush, embarrassing, hilarious, or dividing issues in blogging; the things people don’t want to bring up because they’re scared they’ll lose followers if they do, or be labelled as “out there” or “too crazy”; a chat where people will actually experience the opposite, and GAIN followers for speaking their mind. Foul language is encouraged, and an open mind is essential. So far, it’s been a huge success; many people got in touch with me after the chat to say thanks for getting them so many new, like-minded readers! This makes me incredibly happy, because deep down, all I really want is for bloggers to come together in a haters-free zone and have a good time.

For now, I will be hosting over on my main account, @hollycassell, and Jordan will host on hers, @hellomissjordan. But for chat updates and such like, you can follow the super-official  fancy-pancy account we made over on @CrazyBlogChat. Once that is built up a little bit more, we'll probably start hosting from there, as well as putting names down for guest host spots!  If you want to come join us (and I really hope you do) then we’ll all be tweeting under #crazybloggers every Thursday night at 7-8pm GMT. Bring your inner crazy bitch.

Going Red The Natural Way: Lush Caca Rouge Henna

lush caca rouge henna review
It’s a messy business, henna. I remember watching my mother patiently cake her own head in dark green sludge when I was a child, emerging four or five hours later with a bright coppery mane of curls. I remember helping her reach parts that she couldn’t do herself, carefully spooning it onto the nape of her neck or behind her ears, trying not to touch the skin. Even with all the modern-day updates, applying henna is pretty much as ceremonial, tedious, and hilarious a process as it must have been back in ancient Persia, where it originated. At the end of the day it is very much like smearing a big cow pat on your head.

I won’t go into details about the process (to learn how to apply Lush henna, find full instructions here) because that would take forever; instead I’ll tell you what I thought of the product and results. Most henna has a distinctive dried-leaves kind of smell, and this is no exception, although it has been perfumed with some lovely natural oils so it's not too intense. I left it on for 3 hours, but you can leave it on overnight if you want to. The great thing about henna is that there is no such thing as too much. The results will vary depending on your hair colour, but for images of how it turned out on me, just scroll down to my previous post.

The thing I really, really loved was that it left my hair in BETTER condition than before. Usually any kind of colouring will do damage, but henna fills your hair follicle, leaving it softer, thicker, and shinier. Don’t expect it to turn jet-black hair into Ariel’s fiery mane, as henna cannot lighten hair, only add more colour. However, if you’re interested in going the chemical-free route, and want a colour that looks like you were just naturally blessed with it, I couldn’t recommend this enough. I’ll definitely be buying more and reapplying within a month, to maintain my new auburn look!

If you’ve ever tried Lush bricks, or any kind of henna, please do share your stories below!

I Did A Thing

holly cassell

I love people watching in big cities. You see so many striking humans who are totally committed to doing their own thing, living their own lives, going their own way. I often calculate how long it must have taken to put together an outfit/hairstyle/make-up look/whatever that I see on passers by, and I find it genuinely inspiring. I want to have the guts to live that way. Life is really too short to be resolutely low-maintenance, and so miss out on embodying your own vision.

Am I wrong is saying that most of us have a hair-idol? Someone who, no matter how many styles we try out on ourselves, has always been our idea of Perfect Hair? Call it hair-on-a-pedestal, if you like; it’s usually a colour/texture that is almost unachievable for us. People always seem to want what they don’t have, after all. My hair-idol is a character from a film called Perfume who has bright red, shoulder-length curls, and has been for years. And yet I’ve never really tried (until now) to recreate it, because, well…I was too lazy.

holly cassellholly cassell

But you get to stages in your life when you not only want a complete makeover, but you get sick of things never being how you truly want them to be, just because you’re too lazy to work at it. You start to think, if not now, when? With this in mind, I picked up a Henna brick from Lush (of which there will be a full review coming soon) and went to town on myself. I’m nowhere NEAR where I want to be yet; I’m still growing out my awkward fringe, and I want more red tones, some layers and other tweaks. But at least I’m getting there.

This post isn’t just about hair. Although hair is super important. What I’m really trying to say is that most of the time - whether with clothes, hair, our relationships, our jobs – we are settling, because we are lazy. And I don’t want to settle any more. I don’t want to ignore my gut when it tells me things don’t fit, and that there is something better out there. I don’t want to sit back and admire on other people the things I know I could have for myself, if I only insisted on it. And so I guess this post isn’t about a make-over, either. It’s about being unashamedly high-maintenance.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

yankee candle christmas cookieikea holly ligts
Blue Tree Decoration, John Lewis // Candle, Yankee Candle Co // Holly Light Caps, Ikea

It’s that time of year again, for sure. This time around, I’m not holding out until 1st of December. Oh no. The baking starts now. Basically, I’ve had too exhausting a year to wait; I feel like someone needs to come and inject Christmas straight into my femoral artery, like a muscle relaxant that’ll leave me with a dreamy smile and half-closed eyes.

This Christmas will be so different from last year; it will be the first Christmas with me and my brother living independently from our parents, (even though they are practically right next door, haha) and with our own apartment to decorate.  Some people are no longer here to celebrate with us; either because they are in heaven now, or life has simply called them in another direction. Some of us have new obligations, new careers. The most important change of all (not really, but still) is that I have a kitchen all my own, to bake vegan treats in. I’m going to be that annoying girl who stuffs everyone full of cake as soon as they walk through the door. And I’m more than happy with that.

Defining Your Aesthetic Or Personal Brand

Finding a signature style is one of the biggest challenges any creative person (or wearer of clothes) will encounter. I've tried out many different ‘looks’; some of them cute, some of them…not so cute. Even now, as a supposedly grown-ass 23-year-old woman, I get frustrated with my wardrobe, my hair, my make-up, the decor of my apartment, the layout of my blog, and just about everything else in my life, for not representing me as I want them to. Some days I want to rip it all up and start again, and I’m here to tell you that’s okay. It’s never too late to find your real style. In fact, from scratch is the most creative place to start.

creating a personal brand
How Do You Want To Make People Feel? Maya Angelou said that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. How do you want to make people feel? How do you want your readers to feel when they visit your blog? Or when they look at your photographs? How do you want to make people feel when they meet you in person? Choose your layouts, content, outfits, or whatever else, with that in mind. Think about the emotion you want to inspire in someone, and then consider how to achieve that. For example, if you want to make people feel calm and relaxed, you’d choose very different things to those that would make someone feel inspired or excited. A good way of figuring this out is to write down what emotions certain colours/words/images bring out in you, and then ask people if they feel the same.

Start A Pinterest Board Pinterest is an amazing tool for finding imagery you like and collecting it all together in organised groups. Make a board and call it something like Blog Inspiration, or whatever. Make it a Secret Board if you are rebranding and don’t want anyone to know about your new look! Collect everything you think is relevant and beautiful and inspiring, until you begin to notice emerging themes. Some of the themes in mine when I first did this were fairy-tales, the colours red and pink, female-centric photography, and Americana. Look for the similarities in your Pins; this will help you narrow your vision to a finer and finer point.

Learn From The People You Stalk Whether it be an amazing Instagram account, a blog, or a celebrity who’s wardrobe we want to steal, we all have style icons that make us wonder how on earth they do it. It’s never a good idea to copy someone, and the whole point of this post is to help you find YOUR OWN style, but a big part of that is learning from other people’s successes. Look at what your icons are doing right. Identifying their magic formula will help you find your own.

Keep A Scrapbook Keeping a scrapbook is a more intense way of creating a mood board. Making your own images gives you more control than you have on Pinterest, and it helped me find a style that was all my own. If I could wear my collages on my body, I totally would. No two scrapbooks will ever be the same, and you’ll be surprised how individual your pages will look.

Find Your Key Words, Colours, And Concepts Whilst you’re doing all this, take note of words, colours, and ideas that you go back to over and over again. These will be your signatures. You might be surprised by what comes up. A concept that I explore a lot, without ever really meaning to, is love. Love is one of my most used keywords, even when I’m writing about make-up or food. Every post I write is like a love-letter to whatever I’m writing about. You might find that you have a similar pre-occupation with friendship, spirituality, or beauty. Run with it.

Be Ruthless You won’t be able to include everything you like in this new, defined style of yours. There will be things that you will have to just admire on other people, or enjoy in private. A big part of defining your aesthetic is editing out the things that don’t belong. They say consistency is key, and that’s true; but remember that what you’re essentially doing here is figuring out who the fuck you are and what you stand for, which can take longer than an allotted weekend! Give yourself permission to rip things up and start again. Trust me, you’ll be doing it all your life.

I Want Some Red Slashes To Go With Those Long Eyelashes

lipstick for crooked teeth
I have an obsession with red lips. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed. Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to paint myself, to create shape and colour, to draw myself anew. My lips are my most-complimented asset, and yet they sit on top of crooked teeth, my most obvious flaw. This creates a strange conundrum – I both wish to draw attention to my mouth, and distract from it. I do my make-up with a relaxed face, pouting - but after I am done, never manage to hide my ugly-pretty grin. It is an awkward situation to have both my favourite and least favourite features so close together, rubbing against each other every moment, each one made a little worse and a little better by the other’s presence. I know nothing is ever meant to be perfect, and my teeth no longer bother me the way they did when I was little, and wishing for invisibility. I almost enjoy the juxtaposition now; I use my smile as a weapon, to surprise those who spend too long on my soft and harmless lips, and begin to think me harmless too. I enjoy watching people watch my mouth, dizzied and confused as I flash a bright blood-soaked smile at them, threatening honesty. Sharp teeth to go with my sharp tongue. I catch sight of my mouth in mirrors, and these gashes of red paint – curled around white fangs, like a great wound that never heals - make a kind of sense that I could never have designed for my own face. And so I paint myself, almost religiously, sacredly, to represent the blood my words will draw.

My Totally Unexpected (And Somewhat Problematic) Love Of Hollister

hollister scandal

I don’t want to like Hollister. Let's get that straight out of the way. I don’t want to be able to go in their store and find ten, twenty things I would buy without a second’s thought. But I do. And I can.

There are many, many reasons why I am reluctant to admit I’m a fan. Why, until recently, I hadn’t even gone in to look around. I would like to say it was a matter of principle, and I guess partly it was. There has been much controversy over their store “models” - i.e, sales assistants - who have to look, behave, talk, and even smell a certain way in order to be employed there. There has been much written over the words of their CEO, Mike Jeffries, who was famously quoted as saying that his store only sold small clothes because he didn’t want plus-size women wearing them (you can read an excellent article about the whole thing here). These were the things I brought up when people asked me why I didn’t like Hollister. But then I asked myself – if that’s true Holly, why do you go in American Apparel, king of the pornagrahic up-skirt campaign shot, who don’t even employ women with short hair? Why do you go in Topshop, with their angora rabbit wool and uniformly size -00 mannequins? When you think about those things, Hollister’s limited sizing seems forgivable. So why do you make excuses for other shops, but not for Hollister?

I realised, much to my chagrin, that essentially it was a question of branding. I am not the kind of girl that I thought would shop in Hollister. I thought I would hate the infamous perfume they spray on all the clothes, but instead I loved it, and bought one. It smells like watermelons and California and now when people hug me they breathe in my hair as if I’m a salty-skinned surfer goddess just emerged from the sea, and they tell me I smell amazing. But I simply didn’t want to see myself as a Hollister girl, which when you think about it, isn’t ethical of me at all, but just very, very pretentious. 

Take American Apparel, for example. They seem to cater for the Tumblr-cool hipster crowd, and everything about their image seems made for an Instagram-ing vegan feminist like me. But that’s just their image. Like that ridiculously unnecessary “rustic” chalk board in Starbucks, it’s all just for show. Due to all this misleading branding and the real company policies that I find on Twitter, I’m running out of places to shop. I don’t go in H&M because too many of their things have disintegrated in the washing machine. I hate shopping in Primark, as it’s no fun checking your purchases for SOS markings after a shopping trip. Which leaves what? Jane Norman? Looks like it’s back to charity shops again.

Finding A Way Out Of An Eating Disorder

 photo d932d50c-ce18-4a8c-a1f1-9cd5fba6bae8_zpsdiatfc1n.jpg

Today I’m going to talk about something that I don’t think I’ve ever discussed on my blog - my experience with eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa. One of the reasons I haven’t spoken about it in depth until now is because I was scared to focus on it. I didn’t want to ‘jinx it’ or trigger myself into going back to old patterns. But a few days ago I was thinking about it, and I realised just how long it has been since I displayed any disordered behaviour, or felt any anxiety or shame about my body. Only now can I see how far I have come, and how I got to this place of self-acceptance, that I never thought I would arrive at. I want to show you how I did it, in the hope that maybe someone out there will find it useful, and realise that it can get better.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and around 50% of sufferers also meet the criteria for depression, which is a scary-ass statistic. I’m not claiming to be an expert on mental health at all, but these tactics helped me, and maybe they’ll light a spark inside one of you.

Talk To Someone Who Understands: It is really, really important to have at least one person in your life while you are battling with an eating disorder who knows about your condition, who you can talk openly with, and who you can trust. It can be anyone from a school counsellor, a sibling, or a trusted friend. If you don’t have anyone in your life that you feel comfortable talking to, then you are always welcome to email me at hellowitchcake@gmail.com and I will be  more than happy to chat to you.

Find Your Triggers, And Kick Them The Fuck Out Of Your Life: Eliminating your triggers is a really important step to recovering, and is one of the most empowering tactics I know of.  I started collecting fashion magazines when I was about 11, and looking at thousands of PhotoShopped images of models every day was not what I needed during puberty. I dropped to less than 7 stone without even realising - which at 5’9 is significantly underweight. So I cut them all up and made collages, which you can see on my artwork tab. Unfollow blogs or accounts that make you feel twinges of self-hatred. Make your internet space as safe and nurturing as it can be, and then…

Surround Yourself With People Who Love And Accept Your Body (And Their Own): The mind works like a sponge, and what we hear people say about our bodies (or their own) can stay inside us for a long time, unless we wring it out and re-fill on something positive. If you spend your day listening to friends  reinforce the idea that fat = bad, then it will be pretty hard to avoid absorbing it. I’m not saying that if someone is struggling with their self-confidence that you should cut them out of your life, not at all. Just try and make sure that the majority of what you hear about food, body-image etc, is good stuff and not diet talk. If you have “friends” who make nasty comments about your looks, then please consider showing them the door. You deserve so much better. And never, ever date someone who thinks you are less than perfect. One of the most healing things for me was realising that there are people out there who will find me attractive just as I am; people that won’t even notice the flaws I see when I look in the mirror, because they’ll be too busy enjoying me. You deserve to be adored, and there are people waiting to adore you. Make room for them.

Fall In Love With A Sport, And Become A Warrior: One of the best things I ever did, and not just in relation to my disorder, was taking up swimming again. I have always loved the water, but for a long time during my teens I stayed away from the pool and the beach, because I hated the thought of someone seeing me in a swimsuit. One day I finally got to a place where staying away from the water was worse than people seeing my thighs. The peace I found there, in the sound vacuum that made me weightless and quietened my mind, is a feeling that I carried around with me for hours afterwards. I began to judge my body by different standards; how fast I could do a lap of the pool, how well I could dive. In order to do a sport well, you have to feed yourself. Not only did I have a healthier body as a result, but being in a swimsuit in public every day made me realise just how irrational my anxieties about nakedness had been. No one laughed. The world didn’t end. I stopped feeling ugly, and started feeling like a mermaid. Of course swimming won’t be for everyone; the trick is to find a sport that gives you that out-of-body-and-yet-blissfully-IN-your-body experience. These days I enjoy weight-lifting at the gym, and it brings out my inner superhero. Find your inner superhero.

Throw Away The Bathroom Scales: It’s obvious I know, but weighing or measuring yourself obsessively are habits that are all too easy to get into, and it can become uncontrollable. It might seem like an impossible thing to do, but throw them away. If you cannot make yourself throw them away, ask that person you trust to do it for you. Chances are, if you’re female, you’re pretty aware of your body already (the average woman monitors her own body every 30 seconds) and the scales are only making that worse. I threw mine away four years ago, and have never looked back.

Remind Yourself You Are More Than Your Disorder: It can be all too easy, when you first start your journey to recovery, to almost swap your obsession with losing weight for an obsession with beating the disorder, or with healthy living (this is known as orthorexia). Arm yourself with information, but remember that the disease does not define you. There is so much more to you than that. Sometimes the most healing thing you can do is just allow yourself to be. Dance. Read. Look at how children inhabit their bodies, and remember what it felt like to be that free. You can be that free again. It takes time, but I promise you, it can be done.

My Pussy Taste Like Pepsi Cola

Holly Cassell Art
Making collages is something that I only ever want to do in a very specific frame of mind. I can’t be too happy, or too busy, or too depressed. I have to be full of thoughts and nervous energy, but not so many thoughts that I can’t find a clear outlook. Melancholy sometimes helps. Listening to music always helps. The best time for me to become absorbed in niggledy tasks like cutting paper is when I have an experience in my near past that no longer causes me pain to think about, but that I haven’t quite learned a lesson from yet. Making collages, writing and blogging are all things I use to come to terms with who I am and how I see the world. There is a quote by Flannery O’Conner that goes “I write because I do not know what I think until I read what I say”. This has always been true for me, and conversely, I never know what I feel until I see what I make. This is my first attempt in a long, long time, so it’s not up to my usual standard, but I thought I’d post it anyway, just because I’m really happy to be making them again. I know it signals healing, and learning, and a thought-harvest.

Girl Hate In The Blogosphere: Internalized Misogyny 101

girl hate in the blogosphere

I have never been one of those people who, when criticised, will shrug it off as the words of jealousy. I take criticism to heart; not just from people that I admire and wish to imitate, but from everyone. As my online presence grows and my blog finds more readers, naturally I have become more exposed to both negative and positive attention. I get trolled by both men and women on Twitter for expressing my views on feminism that might not match up with their own. I often have to delete casually nasty comments from my blog, and I stumble across many other instances of girl-hate, or as it is academically known, internalized misogyny. Internalized misogyny is when a woman unconsciously absorbs patriarchal ideas and attitudes, and directs them towards herself and/or other women. You know, those times when somebody tweets you something that sounds like a compliment at first, but is really laced with venom; “Oooo, so jealous you got to go to that event! How on earth did you get an invite?!”; “You look amazing in your last post! It’s so nice that you’re confident in your curves, I don’t know if I could be that brave!”. It is girls spewing poison left, right and centre, with an innocent face and a shrug. Internalized misogyny is thinking that you are the only girl in the world that reads comic books or plays video games. Internalized misogyny is dismissing other women’s interests as girly, superficial nonsense. It is laughing at women for their apparently inferior life choices. It is branding women or their taste as “basic” or “ratchet”. And I see it everywhere in the blogosphere, coming from all niches and directions.

When somebody within the blogosphere has a great success, I sit back and wait for the inevitable shit storm. People don’t like to see their contemporaries do well, it seems. When Zoella announced the launch of her beauty line, the criticism, bitchiness, and blatant jealous backlash on Twitter was depressing to witness. The most depressing thing about it is that it came, almost invariably, from other beauty bloggers. The people who object to Zoella, Pointless Blog et al on the grounds of their “vanilla blogging” being culturally damaging (as Vice did in this article) you would at least have expected to have something critical to say. But no - the people tearing her down were her secret followers, her hidden admirers. People who read her blog and envy her success, but would never admit it. I checked the relationship between Zoella and a few of the people behind the nastiest tweets (this information is public and can be checked easily on many apps) and every single one of them was following her. This says a lot about the competitiveness at the core of internalized misogyny.

I’ve heard so many remarks along the lines of “I’m not like regular bloggers” or “I don’t really fit into the usual blogger mould”, or even worse, “I don’t want to be associated with most bloggers, I’m not like them”. People feel pressured to fit into a box, and in reaction to this, they attack the box and everyone who fits within it. This is overlooked because we live in a society where it is normal to slate others in order to glorify ourselves. We have “body confidence” anthems like Anaconda and All About That Bass that are all about pandering to the male gaze, because hey, real men like curves, right? Who wants to be one of those “fake”, “Barbie doll”, “skinny bitches”? Fuck those skinny bitches, right? Wrong. Bashing a woman’s body shape (or blog, or lifestyle, or taste) because you want everyone to know that yours is better or more “real” doesn’t make you confident. It makes you a sad, uneducated sexist.

So how do we stop it? Well, we can start by not being hypocritical. If you write a blog about make-up and skincare and then slate a girl who does the same as a talentless fraud, please take a good, long look at yourself. If you don’t like a blog, don’t comment on it because leaving your link there gets you lots of traffic. Don’t leave insincere comments period. Share the things you like. Promote the things you believe in. Praise people. Watch loads of Laci Green videos. And remember you aren’t the only woman who likes video games.

I Jumped On To The Lush Bandwagon

lush bubblegum lip scrub
Lush is one of those brands that I’ve always meant to get into, but never really found a product that totally wowed me. For someone who’s a vegan and has a toiletry cupboard full of shampoos made from hemp and neroli oil, the fact that I’d never really gotten into Lush stuff felt like a heinous crime. They’ve been getting a lot of good press lately and so I thought I’d go in their Cardiff store and take a look at the new Christmas range. While I was there I picked up this little beauty. I’d wanted a lip scrub for a while and when I smelt the absolutely mind-bogglingly good scent of this one, I sort of lost my shit just a little. It smells like candy-floss and pick-and-mix, and tastes just as good. The only gripe I really have with Lush is that I completely disagree with their policy on SLS (Sodium Laureth/Laurel Sulfate) which they use in most of their shampoos and soaps. SLS is believed by many to be carcinogenic, as it comes from petroleum, which I try to avoid wherever possible. This scrub, however, contains only sugar, organic jojoba oil, methyl ionone (which is a safe synthetic) and some colourings. It’s edible and can be licked straight off your lips when you’re done exfoliating them.

Lush is that shop that you can always find in a strange city, because you can smell it a mile away. But if you know what you’re looking for, it can be a great place to find totally game-changing products - even if you do need a coffee afterwards to cleanse your palette! Let me know your favourite Lush products in the comments below, I’ve got my eye on some Snow Fairy shower gel...

Hi You Are Beautiful How Are You

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Arvida Byström is a Swedish artist, model, Tumblr blogger, and internet sensation. Valerie Phillips is a fashion photographer I was lucky enough to interview for THE LE SIGH a while back (you can find the piece in my sidebar); you are almost definitely familiar with both their work, even if you don’t know it. Phillips has shot ads for brands like Dr Marten, Converse, Sloggi, and Virgin. Byström’s Instagram alone has over 28k followers. When I heard that a photo-book collaboration between these two women was coming out, it seemed utterly perfect to me; their candy-coloured, rave-and-skate influenced aesthetics gel so perfectly. But according to Phillips’s introduction in ‘hi you are beautiful how are you’, it didn’t go so smoothly at first. Byström is an unsettling, serious personality and was unenthusiastic to have her picture taken. Nevertheless, they were soon taking over a house in East London, painting the walls and the carpet, with Valerie taking pictures along the way. The resulting images are raw and bright and young, Byström’s hair changing colour as you flick through the pages. She seems like a kind of modern mermaid as she sits, in one image, naked in the bath, tipping a cup of water over her own head, with tattoos and body hair and a beautiful childlike face; only showing some fragments, here and there, of who she actually is.

Are Bloggers Getting Ripped Off?

Blogging, whether we like it or not, is now an industry. It is a marketplace. If you aren’t making money from blogging, chances are, you’re making it for someone else. And I’m not even talking about the all-too-real, nasty, totally illegal ways that bloggers are being ripped off – photos being stolen, content being plagiarised, website designs being copied; I’m talking about the bloggers  who are selling themselves short with0ut even realising. Learning how to navigate the Wild West internet, and be a competitor in it rather than a consumer, is a huge challenge. It should be noted that I am most definitely NOT saying the situations below are by nature exploitative or one-sided. Far from it. But I think they need to be examined on a case by case basis. Whether you do blogging as a hobby or career, nobody wants to get used. We should all value our time more than that.

Working With Brands, Blog Tips, Blogging Tips

Events: On the service, being invited to a blogger’s event at a store for a product launch or a sneak preview of their latest collection can seem like a great opportunity, and it is – if you love the brand. If you love the brand and would normally buy from them anyway, blogger’s events can be a fun way of staying up to date with their latest releases, as well as meeting other bloggers who share the same taste. That being said, I’m going to give you an example of what can happen at a blogger event, based on my own experiences. Let’s say you get an email from a make-up brand you like, inviting you to the launch of their new mascara. You feel really chuffed that they singled you out, and you’ve been hearing loads of hype about this product on Twitter,  so you pack up your camera and a buddy or two and head down there. You take loads of pictures of the event, showing off on Instagram, @ing the brand in every one. You’ll test the new mascara and most probably buy one, to have something to review on your blog. You might get some free testers, or, if you’re lucky, a goodie bag with some travel-size products in it. You then go home and blog all about the event, and then later on, blog a review of their new mascara as well.

Now, I don’t think I really have to explain what’s happened here. Not only have you spent much, much more than a few testers or a goodie bag was worth, but you’ve also supplied the brand with a ton of free publicity all over your social network and blog channels. The way they make it happen is by making you feel like press; like the experience you are getting is exclusive. But it’s not, at all. Beware of brands that try to make money out of boosting your ego as a blogger. They are inviting you because they want you to shop.

How to get the most out of it: Only accept invites from brands that you really, really want to be linked with. Ones that match your aesthetic and blog ethos. Use them as opportunities to network with other bloggers, and don’t just stick with the buddy you dragged along out of shyness. Hand out your card. Take people’s Twitter handles and tweet them, rather than the brand. Remember that you are not obligated to post about the event or their product, and only do it if you genuinely enjoyed yourself and think they earned it.

Sponsored Posts/Gifted Items: A lot of bloggers want to work with brands, in some capacity. Most of us are flattered when brands get in touch and want us to feature something of theirs on our blog. But you have to think in terms of hours of work. Ask yourself how long it is going to take to write up a review, take pictures, edit, put together a post, and publicise it. You then compare that to the price of whatever you are getting in return. For example, if you take only 5 hours to do all that, and they are offering you a £10 lipstick in return, you are then working for a wage of £2 an hour. Would you work for that wage in any other job? Or would you consider it slave labour? Sometimes you will get pitches offering a “competition entry” in return for a blog post. I haven’t even got the words for how exploitative that is, really. Try not to trip over their bullshit as you run  a mile.

How to get the most out of it: If you want to work with brands, instead of passively waiting for them to approach you, reach out to ones that you like and already buy from. Your knowledge of their products and genuine enthusiasm will stand you in good stead. The best way to do this is via email, either direct to the brand or to the PR that handles their press/blogger collaborations. You can find an excellent post for learning how to do this here.

Twitter Mentions/Shoutouts: A tweet can seem like a small thing, and it is. But there is a good reason some people sell mentions, or ‘shoutouts’. If you have a large following, your endorsement in a tweet is worth something. Tweeting about a brand you love might seem like a good way of getting that brand’s attention, and on occasion, it can be. But more often than not your tweet will get lost among the plethora of other bloggers doing exactly the same thing, and will just be another free advertisement for them.

How to get the most out of it: If you have worn a dress you adore in a post (and it’s not a freebie that you agreed to promote on social media) and you want to show the brand some love, then by all means mention them. Include a picture in your tweet so that you’re more likely to get a response or a retweet. This tends to work best with young or smaller brands who are still engaging with their customers personally. Use Twitter as a good way of maintaining working relationships, rather than name-dropping a huge brand in the hope they will spot your blog and give you free things. There’s a handy post about how to use Twitter more effectively here.

I know loads of people will probably disagree with what I’ve said here, this is just my opinion. Let me know your experiences in the comments below.

Every Day Can Be Halloween

Autumn Make-Up, Halloween Make-Up
Lipstick, in Beguiled, from Topshop // Nail Polish, Jessica // Blush, in Mellow Mauve, from e.l.f // Eyelash Curlers, Shu Uemura // Hairspray, L’Oreal // Eyeshadow, Chanel //

There’s a lot of talk around this time of year about ‘autumn make-up’ and ‘autumn colours’. Everyone gets super, super excited about plum lipsticks, smokey brown eyeshadows, and red vampy nails. I’ve never really been one to follow trends, even seasonal ones, and if a colour suits me, I tend to wear it year round. I’m the kind of person that will wear red lipstick to the beach. Apart from a few really terrible mishaps in my teens (think Caboodles lipgloss all over my teeth and blue Miss Sporty nail polish, and you’re about there) I’ve always stuck to things that suited my skin, hair, and aesthetic, no matter whether they were in season. Saying that, there are a few things that I get out more when the actual, real life season turns and the weather gets colder. Things like eyelash curlers and hairspray come out more, as does powder and blusher. I tend to wear my hair down more, so that the wind doesn’t destroy my ears. I’m quite a low-maintenance person, now I think about it. Which is a more positive way of saying I’m lazy. And I’m all about the positivity.

A life update…and some things I’ve been keeping secret

Holly Cassell The Persephone Complex
Sometimes it is easy to talk; the words come flowing out, impossible to stop, effortless and unrelenting. There are times when we want to share ourselves, when the sharing helps, and eases our mind. But for the last couple of months, I haven’t wanted to blog about my own life, or dissect interactions the way I used to do. When I first started blogging, there were times when I almost felt sorry for the poor people reading, who were often (judging by the comments) in floods of tears at my diary-like entries. Lately, although a lot has happened (both good and bad) I have wanted to use my blog as a immovable space; somewhere beautiful no matter what ups and downs I was riding. I didn’t want to examine, analyse, and relive the changes that were occurring all around me. I didn’t want to breathe them in too deeply, and allow them to drown me. Now that I have arrived in a better place, and feel able to breathe again, I can at least state the facts. In the last few months I have been through a family bereavement, a break-up, dating, more heartbreak, my horrific hormonal rollercoaster, and finally, a major relocation out of my father’s house, to the peaceful white apartment I write in now, just outside Cardiff. Things have worked out for me, I think; and it is only because of that, that I am able to write. I’ve met somebody I  like, and for once, I am taking it slow. I’ve found a place I am happy to exist, and the relief is like coming up for air.

I intend to raise succulent plants here. Perhaps a tortoise. My brother is my only room-mate. We have wanted this for such a long, long time; to just be together in our own space, with wooden floors and an echo, where I can blog and he can study in peace. We sit and laugh together on the floor of our sofa-less living room piled up with books, and it is blissful just to hear the birds chirping and make toast for us both in the morning. I could write about this better. I could write something that would make me cry as I put the words down, and make you cry as you read them. But I won’t do that. I think we’ve all cried enough.

My Favourite Lip-Balms

Best Lip BalmsBest Lip Blams
BabyLips, by Maybelline // Beeswax Peppermint Lip-balm, Burt’s Bees // Bee Lippy Fresh Lemon and Lime Lip-Balm*, Bee Fayre // Tin O ‘Tint Strawberry Lip-Balm*, Miners

On the sliding scale of lip-balm addictions, I’d say I’m pretty close to crashing at rock bottom. I’m more of a collector than a junkie, having probably more balms than I do lipsticks – or any other beauty product, in fact. I love everything about them. I’m obsessed with their adorable scents and cute packaging, and I love finding natural ones made from beeswax rather than petroleum, which are becoming more widely available now. It’s a cliché but I DO always have one in my handbag, even if most of the time, I fail to remember to actually USE it. Lip-balm is one of those things that you always forget to use, until your lips look like Hangman’s Rock and you have to slap industrial strength lube on your face to prevent rupture. But I am always the girl that people go to when they need lip-balm. I end up passing a tin around in the girl’s bathroom at clubs until I say to someone ‘you know what, just keep it babe’.

That being said, there are a few balms I’ve discovered recently that I’d be reluctant to share with anyone. My new favourite is the Bee Lippy one by Bee Fayre, in the lemon lime flavour. I cannot even begin to describe how mouth-watering the smell of this is, so you’ll have to find out for yourself. I often open it just to breathe it in. I love strawberry Chapsticks, but this tinned one from Miners is a cuter alternative that leaves a bit more colour as well. The smell of BabyLips is also amazing, although I’m not sure exactly what it is. Grapefruit? I have no idea. And Burt’s Bees lip products obviously need no introduction, they’ve earned their place in the lip-balm hall of fame. Let me know in the comments what you use on your face when things start to get cracky.

The Soundtrack To My Sex Life

Music is something deeply specific to each person. I believe it would be impossible for there to be two people who had exactly the same taste and responses to sound. It is simply too personal. And yet it unites us all. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy some form of music. I read somewhere that that is because melody, rhythm and harmony are universally pleasing to the human brain, so that no matter what our tastes may be, we will always enjoy something. Finding someone who shares your tastes closely enough to be able to agree on sex music, however, is still a big ask. No one on my (admittedly short) list of ex-lovers had anywhere near my taste in music, although I did try to find common ground for the purposes of creating a kinky soundtrack to use in *intimate* moments. Music has always made me feel sexy, and want to move; it can completely control my mood, so that my emotions follow the melody and my pulse throbs in time with the beat. I am constantly on the hunt for new music, and my preferred listening material ranges widely across genres. But as I put together this playlist, I did notice a leaning towards the industrial, synth-pop, EBM side of things, and decided to make that the overall theme. I think that goes perfectly with who I am as a sexual being, or rather, sex pest.

Some of my picks are outrageous fuck-songs that I listen to alone and think about what an amazing sex life I’ll have one day when I find someone who has the same musical taste as me, and others that are attached to some real-life memories. I hope you guys are ready for the filth. Enjoy.


VNV Nation - Control

This track is a recent discovery of mine, that I heard first heard on the dancefloor while out at a goth/alt night in Cardiff. I googled the lyrics when I got home and have been playing it on heavy rotation, especially when I'm making art or working. The energy in this song is incredible. Hearing lead singer Ronan Harris growl 'I want control' right before the base drops is enough to get me there, to be perfectly honest.  

Nine Inch Nails - Closer

I've made a lot of art about this song, and I listen to it at least once a week. It's one of my favourite all-time tracks, not just something I put on to get in the mood for a shag. I relate deeply to the lyrics and with Trent Reznor's narrative of sex as escape - freedom from one's self. It mixes the absolutely base primal impulses and compulsions with death-like transcendance perfectly. The line 'you get me closer to god' is everything.

Lana Del Rey - Lolita

Almost everything by Lana is incredibly sexy and sensual, and perfect for setting a darkly romantic mood. I love her soft ghetto Lolita vibe, and she gets away with whispering some pretty provocative lyrics. If you're looking for them (as I am) you'll notice she plays many different sexual roles and characters in her videos, which are unfailingly steamy. I can't help thinking that her mind works very much the way mine does, and I'm pretty sure I'll adore her forever. It was hard picking just one track but in the end I went with this one for its overall theme and, and I like this home-made montage video.

Combichrist - This Shit Will Fuck You Up

Well, heck, what can I say about this song? It's not for the faint-hearted. If you can handle the absolutely relentless speed of it then it's a great one to lose yourself to. Combichrist are actually an amazing band within the industrial rock genre, who have churned out some epic goth-trance bangers over the years. Check out 'Get Your Body Beat'  and 'Fuck Machine' as well if you like the sound of them. 

How To Make Stuff

Creativity Tips For Bloggerscreativity tips for bloggerscreativity tips for bloggers

Sometimes life is not at all inspiring. Sometimes, life is really shit. There are days when I spend an embarrassingly long time deciding whether I should wash my greasy hair or spray on more dry shampoo, or whether there's much point in getting dressed. We all hope that if we find the key to creativity, or learn enough tips from those who have - if we learn the secret that all those other bloggers have (who are they, these competitors? Are they real? Or, to paraphrase Nine Inch Nails, have we just made them up to hurt ourselves?) - that we’ll start magically spewing artistic gold all over the place like so much creative vomit. But that really is a misconception. Some people’s ‘creativity’ is really discipline. Mine is probably nothing more sophisticated or glamorous than my hormonal cycle. I certainly have an artistic temperament, even when I am making nothing of any significance. I find it hard to focus on menial tasks, and my mind wanders a lot. I get ideas at strange times of the night, or in strange places. I feel I have no choice but to drop whatever I’m doing and follow my instincts. Everybody works in different ways, but some things about creativity are universally true. The more you use, the more you have. You cannot run out. It is a force that can be harnessed, once we learn how our individual creativity works.

There are a lot of tips around for bloggers, on how to maintain your creativity, how to “stay inspired”. None of them have ever worked for me, and I’m sure many of you reading would say the same. But there are some very common hurdles to creativity we all have to get past before we allow ourselves to be artists, and so I thought I’d share some of mine. These obstacles are very difficult to jump over, but coming up against them is a natural and often essential part of getting what is inside you out into the world.

Lack of Energy/Impetus: We all have those days when we get out of bed and just go, ‘nah’, and get straight back in. This is especially true for people like me, who freelance and work at home, and have no office to go to. I find it helpful to leave my phone out of reach of my bed, or even my room, so that I’m not tempted to stay under the covers and browse Twitter until noon. Hours can go by in bed, staring at a phone. Get the fuck up and make some breakfast. It is easy to allow yourself to become distracted before you have even begun, but you must push through, or examine where your lack of creative libido comes from. Is it a natural dip in your creative cycle? Or are you hiding away from possible failure, disappointment, or what it would mean to be successful with your project?

Procrastination: This is my biggest obstacle to being creative. It can appear very similar to my first point. The hardest part is figuring out where your real procrastination time is spent. Everyone knows that the time we spend on YouTube watching beauty-haul videos isn’t the most productive. But it’s a little harder to admit that your relationship drama is draining you, or your toxic friends are using you for emotional labour and giving nothing back. Look for the real sources of procrastination in your life. What do you do, to avoid focusing on your art?

Comparison: Do. Not. Compare. Yourself. To. Anyone. Ever. Seriously, why would you do that? Focus on your own shit. Don’t look at what other people are doing. Stop looking at the other girl. She’s busy focusing on herself. What is meant for her will find her, no matter what you do, and what is meant for you can never be snatched by another. Stay in your lane and keep moving forward. I have found it helps to ask myself if I am spending more time creating or consuming, and if the answer is the latter, I work on redressing the balance. You were not made to stare longingly at someone else's Instagram pictures.

Self-Doubt: I have literally no tips for this that won't sound patronizing and "easier said than done". Self-doubt is a bitch, but it's most often linked to other issues in this list, and can be helped with their solutions. You just have to push through and battle your demons. Literally everyone I know struggles with this, so in a sense, I guess my only tip is…get used to it. We are all in the same boat. Make things anyway. 

Snow White Make-Up Look

snow white make-up look
Eyeliner pens, e.l.f and eyeko // Mascara, Benefit //  Lipgloss, Bourjois // Eyeshadow quad, Rimmel // Lipstick, Mac // Foundation, Rimmel

Now I really have next to no clue when it comes to make-up. The only things I know, I’ve learnt from watching YouTubers like Essie Button and Arden Rose, while sitting in my onesie and eating Pringles. I don’t have much in terms of products; only recently has make-up become something I will treat myself to when out shopping. I’ve always been a fashion-splurger, and a book-splurger, and a candy-splurger instead. I’ve been known to spend a tenner on Skittles in one weekend. But I’ve managed to build up a little stash of high-quality, essential products that perform really well, and a resume of maybe ten different looks that I know suit me and my colouring. Most of them are based on movie or literary characters, because that’s sort of my thing, in case you hadn’t noticed. During this super-exciting time of transitioning into autumn, the one I’m wearing most is my Snow White look, so I thought I’d show you how I do it. However, really a tutorial. There are so many people who can do that better than I would, and I cba, tbh.

I’ll simply walk you through it. Specific products are not important AT ALL, you can do this look with whatever you have lying around. Start by moisturising your skin really well. Really, really well. And then a little more. Then take your foundation, and using your fingers or a buffer brush, start working it into your skin from the centre of your face, spreading outwards from your t-zone. Add concealer if you need it, but be careful not to make the area around your eyes too white. You want the skin to look natural. I used a matte brown eyeshadow to fill out my eyebrows, then applied a single coat of mascara. We don’t want clumps here. A little eyeliner is optional. And lastly, for the lips, I applied matte red lipstick with a deep red gloss over the top.

What make-up looks are you wearing this autumn? Also, let me know in the comments if you’d like to see me do more beauty looks for famous characters or fairy-tale heroines!

Racing From The Rising Tide To My Father's Door

It’s been a long time since I gave you guys a little blogger house-tour. Some of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning will have seen glimpses here and there, but even then, I doubt there are very many among you who know where, and with whom, I actually live. It’s one of the only things I’ve been even remotely secretive about; partly because for a long time, home has been a difficult subject for me. It’s been a source of stress, worry, and feelings of frustration. If you’ve read my ‘About’ section you’ll have seen that I move around a lot; usually between my father’s house in Pembrokeshire, my mother’s apartment in Cardiff, and my friend’s flats in London (if I’m lucky). I have never thought of it as my ‘home’, but the only place I really have my own space is in my dad’s place in Pembroke. That has been my base for a few years now, even though there have been times when I have truly hated it and wouldn’t even let my friends come and visit me there. My father isn’t the tidiest of people (no points for spotting the massive understatement) and Pembroke has got to be one of the most soul-crushingly banal places on Earth. I share the upstairs floor of the house with my brother, and my dad has the downstairs. I’ve managed to carve out a haven for myself despite not really wanting to; I’ve seen my friends and my family move on to better places, and for a long time I’ve felt stuck in limbo, unable to join them or move along my own path. After I leave, I probably won’t come back here for a very, very long time; and so I thought I should record it while I still have the chance.

blogger house tour

It’s not your typical blogger space. I have my fair share of Yankee candles and decorative orchids lying about, but there is also a lot of random things that no one else wanted, and boxes of stuff I’ve kept in storage. Most of it isn’t photogenic at all, and huge clear-outs are a weekly occurrence in my hoarder household. All my furniture is either an antique or from Ikea. I have two wardrobes full of clothes, and an exposed rail as well. You could say I have a lot of shit. I’m lucky in that my bedroom is really big, by far the largest room in the house, and there’s plenty of room for my king-size sleigh bed that my mum palmed-off to me. Its slats are nearly broken and if you sit down on the bed too abruptly the whole thing falls through, which stopped being funny about two years ago. My windows are really old, single pane glass back from when the house was first built, so when the wind blows outside, it blows in my room too. On the rare occasion that I do have guests over to the house, my bedroom serves as living room, kitchen and sleeping area. And in the evenings it is where my brother and I watch movies and pig out on my bed. I do not think I will miss it when I am gone; I think I will be too busy putting together my new life to think about the past. But I might be wrong.

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