This year I want to give something back to the world that gives so much to me, so I've decided to dedicate the year to fundraising for the Bone Cancer Research Trust. This is an absolutely incredible charity that funds PhD students looking into cures and better treatment for bone cancer, and it's the only charity that raises money to help bone cancer survivors.
I first heard about this app in a tweet, and naturally assumed it was too good to be a real thing, a hoax that got RTed a few too many times. But, having downloaded it myself and checked it out, the Calm Harm app is real, and it's incredible. It's a free app designed to help people that self harm. Although I don't feel that urge very often at all any more, I wish I had this in the first year of my recovery.
I didn't realise my school was any different to anyone else's until I went to University. Then when I chatted about school with people there I realised that not everyone went to a school like mine and I was totally shocked. I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet because there are a lot of experiences that make up the first 18 years of my life, but I wanted to give an 'insider's' perspective to going to a faith school and what it's really like. Obviously I can't speak for other schools, but these are my experiences from going to a Catholic primary and secondary school.
There's a weird section of the Internet that glorifies everything that is traumatic, and I can't even put into words how angry I am that it exists, but I totally understand why and how people can get swept up into it. Self-harm is brutal and painful and happens when you're struggling so much that you turn to something that you can't take back. But there are masses of people who congregate, or just spread the message alone that self harm is beautiful, and it's not.
Mental health books aren't really my cup of tea. Any that I've attempted to read in the past have seemed too prescriptive, and too narrow to do anything other than trigger me and make me feel as though I'm not doing enough to help my mental health. They always seem to focus on the way to make things better, rather than acknowledging that different things can negatively impact your mental health, and that there are many different disorders that have many different impacts.
Urban Decay are one of those brands that's always at the top of my omg I *need* lust list, and I've spent months and months drooling over every new release they bring out. This Christmas my sister was kind enough to gift me their Afterglow highlighter palette and it was the biggest shock I think I've ever had.
I imagine it'll come as no surprise to hear that I'm an introvert. I love spending time on my own in the quiet and forcing myself to be around people can sometimes be a bit *too* much. I'm not anti-social (most of the time), and in that respect I can be an extroverted introvert; I love talking to people, and the social aspect of working as a waitress is something I really miss.
I'll let you in on a little secret: beauty advent calendars are fab, but post-Christmas beauty advent calendars on sale are even better. I've been wanting to get my hands on a NYX lipstick vault (you know the dreamy ones I mean) for just about forever, but who knows when I'll be able to justify spending a buttload of money on one, especially when it'll naturally come with shades that I don't want?
My sister and I picked up this NYX advent calendar filled with mini lippies just after Christmas, splitting the cost and the lipsticks between us. Now, I won't lie, there are definitely a couple missing from this post, rattling around a handbag or coat pocket somewhere, but here's a roundup of 22 of them.
From top to bottom, the swatches and lipsticks above are as follows:
My favourite of these was the palest shade; the butter lipstick. I'm not usually into pinkish nudes, but this one was hella creamy, and actually suited me. My lips have been incredibly chapped recently, so I was definitely in need of something that wouldn't dry them out further, and this fit the bill. I've excluded the Soft Spoken liquid suede lipstick from this because it's my favourite all time lipstick (literally the perfect nude) and it just wouldn't be fair to pit the rest against it.
Aaaand on to part two:
Matte Lipstick in shade 'Shocking Pink'
Soft Matte Lip Cream in shade 'Paris'
Matte Lipstick in shade 'Indie Flick'
Intense Butter Lip Gloss in shade 'Tres Leches'
Lip lingerie in shade 'Embellishment'
Matte lipstick in shade 'Up the Bass'
Butter lipstick in shade 'Root Beer Float'
Butter lipstick in shade 'Ripe Berry'
Soft Matte Lip Cream in shade 'Copenhagen'
Simply Vamp Lip Cream in shade 'She Devil'
Liquid suede in shade 'Stone Fox'
I had a clear favourite in this half - the 'Indie Flick' matte lipstick. Not only am I a red lip girl through and through, but matte lipsticks just last so much longer, and I needed that for my Crimbo limbo snacking phase. The butter lipsticks are in beautiful shades, and I'm determined to get a lot of use out of them this month by wearing them into work.
All in all, I'm fairly excited to push myself out of my colour range comfort zone and into brighter territories. I'm officially in love with NYX again.
Today didn't get off to a brilliant start for me. I got rained on. Then I got to work only to realise that I had no hairband and had to borrow 'spare knicker elastic' from the work sewing box to tie my hair up. I kid you not. But, my rubbish start to the day wasn't down to some supernatural force making it a 'blue' Monday. It was down to forgetting an umbrella, and putting my hairband on the dining table instead of in my coat pocket.
I held off from getting into Goodreads for a LONG time, because it just seemed like far too much effort. But, as the start of 2017 rolled around, I decided that I really wanted to read more, and that getting into Goodreads would help me to set goals and keep to them.
Last year I set a goal of 35 books, which is almost 3 a month, and I absolutely smashed it, finishing the year on 39 books. I read some incredible novels over the course of the year, including The Hate U Give, the first 5 Harry Potter books, Breakfast at Tiffanys and ROOM to name just a few. I loved the fact that it tells you if you're getting behind on your goal (which definitely happened when I read Bolano's massive The Savage Detectives) and how many books you need to read to catch up.
My 2018 goal is to read 50 books, which is a mammoth amount for me. I'm intent on finishing the rest of the Harry Potter series as well as getting into more YA fiction. 2017 was the year where I really started to read more of it again, and I absolutely loved it. I've got a whole stack of YA books that I'm itching to get started on, and I can't wait to (hopefully) smash my 2018 Goodreads goal!
Do you use Goodreads? What's your goal for the year?
For a long time now I haven't really felt like 'me' in any of my clothes. I wanted to wear clothes that the old Steph would wear, or the old OLD Steph would wear (okay, maybe not the ugly slogan t-shirts that I totally repped in my teens), but I didn't want to wear anything that the current Steph owned. And it wasn't the classic 'ugh I have nothing to wear *whilst tugging reams of clothes out of my wardrobe*' scenario, it was more the fact that I didn't want to dress the body that the current Steph has.
Recently however, I've turned a corner in terms of self love, and I've got a post all about it here. I've come to face the fact that even though I'm made to feel shit because my body takes up more space than it used to, I'm not obliged to feel shit about it. I spoke out about my successful shopping trip and buying clothes that made me feel fierce. This outfit is my favourite one.
These New Look boots (similar here) are possibly my favourite shoes I've ever bought. I've been lusting after this style for years, but I've been too shy to go for it. I didn't want to make a statement with my shoes, and draw attention to me. But now I've got them, you can bet I've been stomping around all day, feeling tall and a little kick-ass just by wearing them.
Red is my favourite bold colour. A red lip is always what I go for when I need a little extra confidence to put the pep in my step. This dress from H&M (which is only available in a size 8 and 16 in the sale now) is so simple, but exactly what I needed. It's a style of dress that I've always thought I was 'too fat' for, but when I tried it on, I fell in love. It's loose around my middle, the neckline is beautiful and it's the perfect coral-y shade of red. The dream. Realising that this shift dress actually looked good on me made me realise that it wasn't my added weight making me look bad, it was my own mind restricting myself to things that would make me blur into the background.
Now I finally have that little bit of self confidence back. I'm ready to head out tonight in this exact outfit with a pair of statement earrings and have a tasty AF meal without worrying that eating in this outfit will 'make me look fat'. I'm ready to buy a buttload more clothes that make me feel as though I can take on the world, and finally, I'm ready to absolutely rock this year.
It's been a long LONG time since I bought a subscription box. There are so many tempting ones out there that I've been absolutely overwhelmed with lusting after so many. But I finally found one I couldn't resist. Reading in Heels create subscription boxes for people who love to read and have a lil pamper. I found out about them through another blogger (and I WISH I'd bookmarked her post dammit) a few months ago, and they've been on my to-buy list ever since.
For as long as I can remember, there's been a pressure to make a New Year's Resolution that's weight focused. Last year mine was to get back into a size 12 (we can all take a guess at whether that happened), but in the past I've promised to do more exercise, join a gym, cut out chocolate, cut out junk food, cut out biscuits, go swimming, etc etc. And it's all been with the main intention of getting back to that weight that I always have in mind as my 'ideal weight' (which when I hit back in my first year of uni obviously soon became 'too big' in a vicious cycle of needing to get slimmer).
Growing out of clothes is probably the toughest part of gaining weight over the last couple of years for me. As much as I try to stay in denial about the whole thing, when my favourite jeans stopped doing up, or my tops started riding up to expose my belly, it forced me to realise that it was happening. And I didn't want to realise it.
Even though I'm posting (sorta) on time with my favourites for once, December feels as though it was eons ago. I'm not sure if it's my 'New Year, let's rock this shit' mentally, or if January is already dragging, but I can't believe it's only been four days since 2017 ended?!
This is the most excited I've been about a book haul in so long because there are books I've been absolutely lusting over for months and months in here. I was lucky to receive a couple for Christmas, and my local book charity shop has just had some absolutely incredible pieces in recently. I'm going to try to keep this post short and sweet, so let's get cracking.
No Filter by Grace Victory. This was absolutely top of my Christmas list this year. I'm not someone who buys into the whole Youtuber autobiography thang, but Grace inspires me pretty much on a daily basis. I feel as though reading her book won't just give me an insight into her background, but will more importantly teach me some key life lessons.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I've heard this book being discussed time and time again by book bloggers over the last few months, and I've been desperate to give it a try. It's all about a ten year old boy with a facial deformity that goes to school for the first time. I'm ready to be inspired, and to see how the author handles this subject.
Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. I'm feeling beyond lucky to say that I actually found a signed copy of this in my local charity shop(!). This is a young adult book all about a girl once dubbed 'America's fattest teen' who loses her mum and somehow still needs to navigate her way through high school. I'm already pretty sure this might make me cry.
Yesterday I Was the Moon by Noor Unnahar. This is the first poetry book I've bought (or was gifted) in a long time, but I'm blown away by the fact that it's even better than I ever imagined. Noor is an incredible artist and poet and I'd snap up any future poetry books from her in a heartbeat because it's just incredible.
The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan. Colgan's an author that I've heard a lot of good things about, but I've never got my hands on one of her books. It's a book about a book lover written for book lovers. The main character moves to Scotland to take over a tiny bookshop and fulfill her dreams, but she finds out that it's a little harder than she ever imagined.
Zero K by Don DeLillo. White Noise was one of my favourite books I read on my whole English Lit course, but I haven't picked up any DeLillo books since. The aging main characters elect to preserve their bodies to head into the future. I find this whole idea SO fascinating, and I'm excited to see what questions are posed about the whole idea.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. This was totally a 'judging the book by its cover' kinda purchase because it's like nothing I've seen on a classic recently. I was shocked last year to find how easy it was to read a Sherlock Holmes novel, and how much I enjoyed it. So now I'm ready to read some more adventures of Holmes and Watson.
A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe. I've not read a book that links so closely to post-colonial Nigeria, and I'm ready to have my eyes opened. The main character is a school teacher in a fictional country, that gets involved with the very corrupt Minister of Culture. The latter is supposed to be a 'man of the people', but uses his power for evil, not good.
Middlemarch by George Eliot. This is another book with a beautiful cover. I've never read anything by George Eliot, but I was 100% supposed to as part of my uni course. Buying this was kind of my guilty conscience coming through on that. It's a bit of a tome, but it'll be nice to get back into Victorian fiction this year.
It took me an upsetting amount of time to condense everything I wanted to say into the title for this post, so soz, but I am hyped to share all the goodies I've got from LUSH over the last few weeks. As I'm not doing a 'what I got for Christmas' post, I'm sharing all the bits I was lucky enough to receive a week ago today(!), as well as my picks from the sales, and a few treats I gathered in the post Christmas slump.