Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Thank You, April

Well hello, hello! Welcome to the second instalment of my latest series, Thank You, in which I run you through some of my favourite links and thoughts from the month and take the time to share what I feel grateful for. It's already shaping up to be something I look forward to writing, so naturally I am beyond eager to talk to you today!


April saw me majorly unplug and take a step back from my online presence and honestly, I'm still working out how I feel about this. In some ways, it was a smart move; I've had a lot on my plate and removing blogging from the equation just meant I could breathe that little bit easier. That said, I really felt lost without my creative outlet and coming back feels so tricky: my internal perfectionist has me convinced I'm a charlatan and I am really trying to block that unhelpful noise out!

So I am trying to ease myself back into the saddle; with just over a month left before my US adventures I can't promise I'll be as active as I would like, but please know that I have no intentions of abandoning you! Incidentally, if you have any requests for videos or posts about my travels (and preparation for my trip) then feel free to let me know and I would love to oblige.


I loved this beautifully open interview (English version here) on Mamanblondie with lovely Eva from House of Smilla. In particular, I admired how she talked about infertility issues, a subject that isn't given enough thought for my liking!

I blasted through the Netflix series Sense8 this month and am so close to sitting down and rewatching the whole thing again. It's been praised for its fantastic and diverse cast as well as its beautiful cinematography; if you're going to watch it, I recommend setting aside an evening to power through a few episodes as it is far more gripping watched marathon-style (a great tip from Srsly).

I really enjoyed Celina of The Celution's post on honesty; this subject is so pertinent to blogging and I thought she made some cracking points.

I also watched To Kill A Mockingbird having loved reading the book last summer and gosh, the feels. My bestie and I sobbed through much of the latter half (but full disclosure: we're big criers.) It's on Netflix and is a fabulous film.

You know by now that I adore Conflicted Beauty and Coline's post on muffin tops cemented my love once more. Honest and fabulous.

Last but not least, I wanted to tell you about a new favourite blog: Jes + Bleu is an online space I can see going really far. In particular, her post on ways to de-stress really struck a chord.


DIY: All Powerful & Natural Deodorant
My Photography Journey
Weekly Vlog V

And last of all... Thank you! Thank you for sticking with me, thank you for your kindness as always... And of course, please hit the comments and share some of your favourite things from this month; I look forward to hearing from you!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Weekly Vlog V

It is Sunday, favourite people, and time for a new weekly vlog... Enjoy a dinner night out, some rugby action, and of course breakfast.

I just wanted to let you know that my weekly vlogs are now going to be less than weekly has work as got really full on (sorry guys!). I am thinking that while normal videos will go up when I can, I will only return with a weekly vlog when there is something really cool going on instead... I hope you guys will understand/forgive me!

Please let me know what you are up to this Sunday - and I hope yours is a wonderful week!


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

My Photography Journey

We all have to start somewhere, and today I am showing you exactly what that "somewhere" looked like for me and photography. Expect a walk through memory lane, featuring painful mistakes and the story of how I fell for photos... It's going to be nostalgic/painful/hilarious/hopefully useful!


I got into snapping pictures, artsy style, quite a bit later than most folks I've come across online. I had no appreciation for anything photography related until I was in my third year at university; I saw myself as someone who was more of a reader and writer rather than someone who is visually creative. Though I loved art as a kid, I dropped it at GCSE because it wasn't seen as "serious enough"... Cue a major eye roll.

This meant that I came to photography as a complete and utter noob; composition was a word I only understood as a grammatic term (I am a linguist after all). I used to steal the family camera purely to take pictures of literally anything. My first Canon point and shoot was purchased solely so I could take "funny" pictures of uni life for Facebook.


I'm not sure when I began taking photos with creative rather than comedic content, but the most concrete moment I can remember was buying my DSLR in my third year of uni. Prior to its purchase I still hadn't been bitten by the photography bug, and instead decided to make the most of my first year earning regular wages by treating myself to a Canon 600D... the blogger/vlogger's weapon of choice at the time. The plan was to use my new toy and my free time as a lonely English assistant in France to make YouTube videos... Easily one of my finer decisions to date, for the record.

Upon buying it, I knew nada about even the basics of photography; exposure was a word I'd only seen coupled with the adjective "indecent". This remained the case even when fluke landed me my first photography job; as I told you in this post my old workplace needed a product photographer and the fact I owned a DSLR was seen as qualification enough. Looking back now, it most certainly wasn't; it took me months before I'd trained my eye adequately, figuring out the sometimes impossible task of making clothing appear perfect on camera.

I spent about five months learning the ropes. At first there were nights I'd come home in tears, frustrated with how slowly I was learning, embarrassed by how poor my shots would come out. I wish I could show you my first week's photos now; thankfully they've long been deleted from our site. My point here is that I wasn't a natural. I didn't pick up the camera and work by instinct; I had to put in the time and the effort, getting imaginative with faking symmetry and carrying on even when I hated what I was producing.


This time period was also when I started my Instagram account and this helped me get the photography bug. Initially I never put pressure on myself to improve; it was nice to just post literally anything and anything, the woeful results of which can still be found in the backlog of my Insta account. Thankfully though it helped me remember that I did love taking pictures, and gradually I resolved to get learning and start taking photos more seriously.

But back to my photography job; by the end of my summer I was ready to go back to uni, but I'd learned through weeks spent floundering and then swimming in the deep end. What had once been way out of my comfort zone grew to feel completely natural. After a few weeks spent training the lovely girl who would replace me, our boss pulled us aside at one point to tell us we needed to stop obsessing over the details and just speed up. "You know how to do it girls - heck, you're correcting things that even the camera doesn't see," he said. It was a real high, let me tell you.

I headed back to my last year at uni and spent most of my spare time working on my photography. I spent hours poring over pictures on Flickr and Instagram, and used all the online resources I could find to learn the basics of exposure, composition and editing (not just for those in the literary business, I would find!) In November 2014 I started my Project365, and while I now look at even the later snaps and cringe, it is still something I am so proud to have achieved.

I also purchased Maud, my first child and only film camera. She's a Canon AE-1 and a total babe. The process of wanting to make each and every shot worth the money it cost really helped hone my eye. I would never say that buying a film camera is an essential, but if you love photography it is something to consider. (I've even written about my love for film here, if you are keen.)


Since finishing uni, I learned to fall for golden hour; that the weeks during late September and early October form my favourite time to take photos; that the iPhone camera is a total game-changer and that it is best to share only the shots that you are 100% in love with.

And then we come at last to more recent times... I am back to shooting as part of my job, loving it to pieces and still working on my greatly improved time efficiency. I was also hired to be a girls' camp photographer this summer and I am so excited for what it will bring.

While I like my photos far more than ever before, I still have so many things I'd love to improve: I rarely take pictures of people as I just feel so uncomfortable about it; I sometimes feel my shots look neat but lack soul; I still feel like I need to put in more time towards messing about with a camera and experimenting.

Hopefully, however, my story shows that it is possible to learn a skill no matter where you start. I don't care about being the best photographer; I care about improving on what I have learned and keeping going for as long as I love taking photos.

Thank you so, so much for sticking with me on this one... I really appreciate it! My fellow photography nerds: what was your journey like? I would love to hear in the comments - and if you're interested, my Instagram is linked here!


Sunday, 3 April 2016

DIY: All Natural & All Powerful Deodorant

"So Anna... What on earth made you want to make your own deodorant?"

It is a great question with an honest answer: finding a cruelty free deodorant that didn't cost the earth was proving to be a somewhat impossible task. Frustrated with my options I took a look at the ingredients of the latest one I'd bought and realised most of its components were in the house already, with the rest proving to be an easy and inexpensive purchase.

And so my deodorant making osbession was born...

As I say in the video, I've found some whacky and wonderful effects were brought with this concoction, chief among them that I am less stinky than ever before. I am a gal whose armpits know how to function only too well and will prove this readily on any and every occasion, yet I was so impressed by how it worked. I would encourage anyone to give this a try, even if you are a sweaty Betty such as myself!

The method I used started out as the one in this post, but the creaming method wasn't killin' it for me so you will see that I devised my own combining technique...


1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup arrowroot powder
2 tbsp baking powder - try reducing if you know you have sensitive skin
10 - 15 drops essential oil; I used 10 drops of lavender, 1 of eucalyptus & 1 rosemary
Please, DO NOT add more essential oils than 15 drops - it may not sound like much but your armpits are sensitive and those oils are potent
1 or 2 containers, dependent on size - a jar with a wide neck, or a couple of metal tins, will work perfectly here


Fill the kettle and boil enough water to fill a small saucepan; place water into said saucepan and leave to boil on a medium heat while you prepare your deodorant.


Simply place your ingredients in a pyrex jug, then hook the handle of the jug into the saucepan once the water is bubbling properly. Your coconut oil will melt and combine with the other ingredients properly. Use a spatula to stir, taking care to ensure that the ingredients are mixed properly and the coconut oil is completely melted. Not mixing well enough will mean you may end up with uneven concentrations of essential oil or baking powder, which could make your armpits sore.


Pour into your moulds and leave to cool; I put mine in the fridge but it is your call. To apply, take a small piece for each armpit - no more than the size of a kidney bean. Melt between your fingers and rub onto your skin. Keep out of sunlight and for God's sake, don't throw it on the carpet if you do leave it to melt!

And we are done chaps! Let me know if you would ever try this DIY and of any DIYs you're loving at the moment - I am so eager to make my own candles sometime soon! Stay well and see you soon...