Thursday, March 23, 2017

Upcycling: DIY Mongolian Fur Stool For Under £100

I'M OFFICIALLY A HOMEOWNER!! Like how? Since when? When did I become an adult? I fell in love with my dream home on October 15th and 5 months later it's officially mine. With my stress levels peaking at least 100 times throughout the process, it was a loooong journey, but worth waiting for the end destination. (More home posts coming v v soon).

Despite virtually moving in 5 months ago, it's only been in the last few weeks I've been scouring the net and frantically going back over my 1,000 + pins on Pinterest. I'd already decided I wanted a little furry stool, (I blame Kate La Vie's beautiful home interior for this!) But it was a game changer when I stumbled upon the mongolian fur stool on West Elm, swooon. Coming in at £400 I almost had a little heart attack, why so expensive? But cannot afford to not have this in my life. How hard could it be to do it myself and for a fraction of the cost? Not very. Real Mongolian fur stools are expensive anyway, it's the fur that pushes the cost up, but as I realised when I was searching around for mongolian faux and real fur, the difference between the two was incredible. Faux fur is perfect if you're on the fence for buying real fur or have an ethical stance, but if you want the proper designer and luxe look you do need to buy real fur. It's so much warmer, thicker, won't matt and it looks amazing. 

So, if like me you're a magpie when it comes to fur and fluff, and you've lusted after a designer dupe for so long, then you might want to have a crack at making your own without the designer price tag. Plus I LOATHE DIY, and this one really was simple and the results are A***.

What You Will Need

  • A Stool - £15
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray Paint (if required)
  • Ferrules x 4 (If 4 legged stool)  - £2.75
  • Cotton or other fabric (size dependent on stool)
  • Staple Gun
  • Mongolian or other fur rug - £74.90 (I purchased this one)
How To

1) Firstly you need to find a really good stool to work with. Finding the right one probably is the hardest part of the process, and knowing where to look. To get the desired effect you need to source an old, cheap one. New stools don't have the same character. I stumbled upon one when I least expected it, nearly everywhere has some kind of furniture store that sells loads of wooden chairs, tables and stools that are in need of some love. 

You'll know when you find the right one - this one was only £15! It needed a lot of love and affection, but I knew how I wanted it to look and this stool dates back to the 1920's and the craftsmanship of it really is amazing.

2) Once home, I took off the screws to the bottom of the legs, one had already come off and they were quite rusty, I also removed the initial polka dot cover, totally not Cath Kidston esque. Luckily the foam was in quite good condition, was comfy and didn't smell so I left this part of it.

3) The first step was sanding down the legs to get rid of the glossy finish, for paint to stick to it it needs to be completely bare. I covered up the foam and sanded down the legs to a smooth finish. I then cleaned the legs off with some water and sugar spray, you don't need to use this, but it does help to to get any last bits of roughness off.

4) I purchased a small spray paint can in gold from Hobby Craft which are relatively cheap, and again you can pick any colour you want or leave the legs bare. I went for gold as this most represented the West Elm stool and it adds that slightly luxe factor to it.

5) This bit is of course optional (dependent on stool and the condition of it), but once dried I purchased 3/4 of a metre of plain white cotton fabric, but only really needed half a metre to create the cover. You aren't going to see this part of the stool it's just there to obviously protect the foam so it doesn't matter what it looks like!

6) Once I had cut the correct amount of material for the stool, I pulled it in taut over the stool then laid the stool upside down with the fabric underneath. It was then a case of pulling it taut over the sides and using a staple gun to hold in place. I made quite a tight finish, but it doesn't need to be that tidy as again, no one will see this part! 

7) I ordered some ferrules (actually first started typing in chair leg stoppers to find the technical name, not a clue!), I measured the round part of the stool legs so I knew what size I needed, the ones I used were 20mm. I then headed to ebay and picked up a pack of 4 for £2.75 and in the colour black. I wasn't sure if they would fit, but they were perfect, and the black looks so perfect against the gold.

8) Next was the best part, finally watching my mongolian fur stool come to life, and if it actually would live up to what I hoped. It took ages to scour the net for mongolian fur but finally went for a UK based seller on Etsy called Ecostep, I opted for the mongolian style Icelandic single sheepskin rug which had that curly haired look and was exactly what I was after. The seller was UK based, it came perfectly packaged and I thought it was an incredibly reasonable price for real fur. I would definitely use the seller again. 

I originally thought I would have to staple the fur onto the underneath of the stool, but the size I ordered literally couldn't have been more perfect. All I had to do was drape the rug over the top and hey presto - it looks amazing!! It really is the fur that takes centre stage in the transformation of this stool!

I literally could not have been more pleased with the outcome, with all of the materials it came in at just under £100, which is amazing for a real mongolian fur stool as these are incredibly costly, as you can see from the West Elm one. It's sooo easy to recreate, it's just finding that perfect stool for the job and the type of fur that you want. It's definitely made me think more about upcycling furniture to get that designer look for less as I loved this little first project of mine and it's now sitting pride of place in my bedroom.

The transformation from an old, dated but classic stool into a luxe, swoon worthy stool of dreams!
Have you done any DIY's recently?
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

10 Things You'll Only Know If You Have Long Hair

When you have long hair, I guarantee you'll wish at least 5 times a week that your hair was short. Short hair? You'll be lusting after long locks for the foreseeable. Why is it no one is ever happy with what they have? Hair probably is one of the major defining features of your face, so it's fairly acceptable to want to chop and change more than you have hot dinners. But do you know what gets me? Girls who WISH they had long hair, like gurrrrll you literally know nothing. Sure, long hair is pretty damn nice, but until you have Rapunzel esque hair you really don't know what you're letting yourself in for. I certainly wouldn't wish these 10 things on anyone with short hair, but if like me you have super long hair, you'll probably 100% relate to these!

1. Is your hair real? Yep, pretty sure the last time I checked I was and I didn't have any skanky hair extensions falling out of my hair. Biggest insult or flattery? It's a grey area, but you will still be asked this and be marveled at with 'wow your hair is so long' or 'has it always been that long?' at least 10 times a day.

2. Split ends? Black roots growing? The normal kind of things you look for when you know you're due a haircut. But when you have long hair it's a whole different ball game. Being able to sit on your hair warrants for a haircut, and let's not talk about when your hair starts brushing the toilet seat - that is a public emergency.

3. Doing the washing up is a military operation. You can NEVER wear your hair down. No one likes hair congealed with dirty washing up water, or finding stray hairs stuck to what you thought were clean plates. We've all been there. The best coping mechanism? Buy a dishwasher.

4. Despite having such long hair and having endless possibilities for what you could do with it, you end up wearing it up everyday instead. Cut the hassle, cut the tangles and cut the time. The high bun, french plaits, halo braid are your go to's. 

5. You always wear your hair down on nights out because, if you've got it flaunt it right? Besides the endless compliments, you suddenly regret the idea when you're crammed into a sweaty nightclub at 1am. Repeatedly having to mop the back of your neck from the sweat and wondering whether it's possible to have heat exhaustion from hot, heavy hair. But we'll still continue to wear our hair down for every night out.

6. Plaits are a girls best friend when you have long hair, the possibility for it to still look pretty and tangle free. But ever tried doing a french plait or anything else fancy on long hair? I imagine it's similar to having 2 rounds of a chest or arms session. Those arms ache for dayyyyys.

7. Remember when high pony tails were in fashion? They looked so so cute at the start of the day as your hair was so long, but by the end of the day you'd legit be nursing bruises and a headache from the weight that your poor scalp had to withstand. 

8. Oh, the tangles. And this is the main reason why I practically always wear my hair up, the tangles. Wear your hair down for 8 hours at work, your hair will slowly become matted to the back seat of your desk chair. Decide to curl your hair with a chopstick curler and not brush it for 3 days? Just pass me the scissors. And it wouldn't be complete without tantrums and vowing to shave/cut all your hair off at least once a week.

9. Your hair gets EVERYWHERE. The shower practically backs up every time you take a shower as a hair ball formulates in the plug area. The vacuum cleaner continually gets clogged up with your hair, and they get stuck everywhere. Gap in a door handle? That will snag as you pass. Zipping up your handbag? Say goodbye to 10 more hairs. But when it comes to preparing food you're ultra careful that your hairs don't end up in the food, there really is nothing worse than spotting a stray hair in your soup VOM.

10. When you eventually do make it to the hairdressers, 2 years and 2 months later, you ask for the tiniest trim that is humanely possible. Feeling guilty that you've just betrayed your hair, everyone thinks your hair looks the same length, but NO let me just stop you there. It's sooo different, it's possibly the shortest it's ever looked, and you vow to never set foot back in the hairdressers again.

Can you relate to any of these?

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Is Blogging A Dying Trend?

Blogging, and the future of blogging is something that I have been pondering a lot recently. I'm also writing this in my bed at 10pm on a Friday night, so this is serious stuff. When I started blogging almost 4 years ago, the world and the whole blogging community was a very different place. It was all about rushing to make that 8pm #bbloggers chat on a Sunday and sharing less than perfect pictures on Instagram of that poorly put together outfit, that you honestly felt great in at the time, but it was real life. I feel I started at a good time, it was just before the real 'boom' of blogging, it was so supportive and it was ultimately about your writing - after all, that's what blogging is. 

As the years have passed, my love for writing has blossomed, and I still love blogging just as much as the day I started, although I'm not sure where the future of 'blogging' stands, blogging has really changed in the last couple of years. This is something that is being identified more and more across social media by the day. It wasn't until the first year of blogging that I first got a taste of these high profile blogger events that are now common practice, I got invited to an In The Style launch with Lauren Pope, like HOW? This was amazing for me and still stands as one of the best invites I've ever received, I still don't even know how this happened. At this event I met some people that had over 10k followers on Instagram, I think I had around 400 at the time and just couldn't believe this was a thing, and it was possible, these individuals didn't even really blog though, it was more about a few sentences with a stream of pictures. For me, this is when things started to make the switch, with less focus on the writing side and more about sharing perfectly executed photos on Instagram. 

In 2016 EVERYONE became a blogger, you didn't even have to write anything, just add it to your Insta bio and wait for the brand collabs to roll right in. That's how I saw it anyway? Let's not forget that now every reality star from Towie to Love Island instantly becomes a top fashion blogger and beauty youtuber as they come out to their almost 1 million social media following. Of course, this puts the actual bloggers who slave away writing content for their blog every night almost to bed.  There's no surprise that because of this I've been feeling more and more inadequate as a blogger in the last few months.

At the end of last year it was all about the rise of the influencer, bloggers that previously used to blog a lot don't even bother anymore, with close to 1 millions followers, they're basically just a model for their Instagram, collaborating with high profile brands and just sharing pictures and snippets from their life that every last follower is hanging off. Barely any brands even look at your DA, or blogger following anymore, they only work with influencers or bloggers with a set criteria of following, whereas brands I worked with 3 years ago and developed a good working relationship with won't even give you a look in now. I totally get this, why wouldn't you want to work with someone with 10K followers to someone who only has 500? DUH. But this is where the biggest change lies, no one chooses to work with you now based on your writing or blog, you don't even have to have a blog. As long as you look good, have a high following and take nice pictures I think it's fair to say you're set for the next couple of years. 

There's no reason that there has been a lot of speculation about blogging in the past year, leading bloggers to be brushed with the same tar. I think we have to make the distinction between the two here, because Influencers and bloggers I don't think can be the same thing. 

Yes, I sound bitter, but as I sit here watching my Instagram follower count go from 2,400 to 2,389 followers I'm lead to thinking why do I even bother anymore? My follower count literally has not moved in about 6 months. I've worked so hard on my blog and building my social media following organically in the last 3 years, and it feels like I've lost my chance in the industry to really make a mark now. 

I'm so caught up with wishing I was X blogger who attends fancy blogger events every day to constantly wishing I could take better photos, all while trying to juggle a full time job and other work commitments. Yes, there are a lot of self employed bloggers nowadays, but that really is a tiny proportion. The reality is most of us are drowning, trying to stay relevant in the blogging world and do everything we can, often at no monetary value. 

BUT no one ever used to start blogging because of money and free stuff, it was a hobby that was enjoyable. No matter what anyone says, blogging is now a competition because it's now seen as a job, as soon as this switch happens things change. It's a dog eat dog world, and I just view it like any other industry now. Hannah Gale's blog about blogging, jealousy and getting over it really rung true with me, blogger jealousy doesn't have to be a thing, but it's hard not to forget this when people in the industry are doing so many better things than you when it appears they haven't had to do a lot to get there. Money changes people and money changes industries, blogging is no longer a hobby, and because of that it's becoming toxic (like any job!), and more and more bloggers by the day are realising this and taking a step back.  

What's Next?

I honestly do thing blogging is changing at a rapid speed. With Instagram slowly becoming the 'only app' you need to use, more emphasis is being put on outstanding photography highlighting only the best and cleanest lifestyles, whilst live videos seem to be a rapidly expanding trend. 

Why wouldn't it be? People love visual things, I adore nothing more than looking at beautifully put together pictures that inspire me to better my own and be creative. But I also think there's nothing better than a hard hitting story, or a well written piece that you just so get. 

Is blogging really a dying trend though? Unfortunately, I think it is. There seems to be more top bloggers dropping from the radar for similar reasons, do people even read anymore? I do think there is still a place for it in today's eyes, but as everyone continues to compete, and more magazines go digital by the day, I don't think it will be here forever, even though I'll probably continue to blog for many years to come, even if there isn't anyone there to listen anymore.

I guess this post does come across a bit negative, and I'm not expecting everyone to agree with me (it's rather much a rant of pent up frustration), but I guess what I'm saying is that as a blogger we have to ride the waves of this emerging industry and keep abreast of the changes to stop ourselves from drowning and being forgotten in this ever changing industry. 

Nothing is certain with blogging anymore, BUT that doesn't mean it's the end, it's time to ride it out and be ready to take on the next trend that comes along. Will you be joining me?

Do you see a future for blogging?

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

5 Signs That Your Body Needs An Alcohol Detox

It's Sunday morning. You're hanging. Between reaching for a glass of water and rushing to be sick, you utter the words 'I'm never drinking again?'. Sound familiar? Now let's not kid yourself, these famous last words never have the same impact when you're being pressured to go out the following Saturday. They're just empty words that don't really mean anything.

I've been there. EVERYONE has been there. I luckily took the decision 4 years ago to completely stop drinking, my pancreas was telling me to stop, my doctors were and it has taken me a long 3 years to get my health back on track, and start to feel myself again. Whilst not everyone will have to take as drastic measures as I did, it's so important to listen to those early warning signs. When you're coming up against peer pressure at uni from your friends, and family gatherings, it can be hard to say no and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. 

When your work and social life is so busy it can be hard to stop and realise if how you're feeling isn't actually because of stress and what you've been eating. So keep a look out for these 5 signs, and if any of them ring home with you it might be time for a little alcohol detox, however small or big. Trust me, you'll be thankful for this in 20, 30, 40 + years time...

1. Being Sick Every Time You Drink
No one likes being the person being sick on the night out, and despite what people think it's not always because you've drank too much. I was always sick whenever I drank, it didn't matter what the drink was or how much I had drank, it was just awful. It ruined my nights and I just couldn't understand why no one else was ever sick. As time went on it became clear why this was happening, and that my body was doing everything it could to reject it.

It's never a good sign when you're being sick before you even reach that drunk stage and before you've even gone out. The rise in popularity of drinks like prosecco is making people get drunk faster and can cause sickness which stems from the bubbles in the drink. So it twigged with me that having fizzy drinks as mixers probably has the same effect (damn you vodka and lemonade). But as a general rule of thumb, if you are always being sick it's probably best to have a detox for a while, switch to flat mixers and get it checked with a doctor to see if you have an intolerance to alcohol. It's more common than you think!

2. Awful Hangovers
Remember when you were 16 and could get drunk on 1 WKD and wake up the next day with no hangover? No, me neither. It's definitely true that your hangovers get worse with age, mine were AWFUL. It didn't help that alcohol made me so sick, but my hangovers were so bad that I could not get out of bed, I'd be so sick that I would end up with a kidney infection and my skin was in agony. As they continued to get worse, again I knew something was not right. 

If your hangovers are worse than hell you may want to think about a) drinking less (if you're drinking a whole bottle of voddy, well that's your answer but b) take a break from it for a while and cut your consumption down to see if that helps. 

3. Spotty Skin
If you're anything like me, you're probably 24 and still getting spots too, but if anything can make you break out faster than purchasing that Asda bottle of voddy, it's alcohol. If you are consistently drinking and waking up the next day to big, red and angry spots this is not good. 

Skin mapping helps us to identify where your spots are on your face and what body part could be linked to them, the most common areas for breakouts after drinking are your forehead and chin area. I think every time I used to drink I'd wake up to another 2 massive volcanoes on my forehead. This is a sign that your body is to trying to flush out the toxins from alcohol that are not agreeing with you, and if your insides aren't happy it's likely to start showing in your skin.

4. Bad Stomach
When you're busy, going out every weekend and not eating as well as maybe you should, it's so easy to think that having the occasional stomach blip is just down to stress or being busy. If it is something that continually happens it could be a sign of something a bit more sinister. I always put mine down to alcohol and the 4 dominoes pizzas and candy king pic n mix tubs I practically used to have at uni every week, whilst that didn't help matters, my stomach was trying to tell me something wasn't right. 

Drinking alcohol does not mix well with IBS, Chron's Disease, IBD and other digestive problems as it usually aggravates symptoms. In today's society and the common sedentary lifestyle, bad stomachs are a common problem, so we need to look after them!

5. Social Anxiety
It wasn't until I lived in Finland in my second year of uni that I started to feel really weird in social situations, I didn't know what was happening to me, I didn't even really know anything about anxiety at the time. I also didn't link this to acohol consumption until about 6 months later. 

This isn't something I've ever touched on before, but I may in more detail at a later date. I suffered from a touch of social anxiety for about a 6 month period. At this time I was drinking about 3-4 times a week with uni friends, as soon as I drank I used to feel so much more confident in social situations and how to act, but because of this it meant that when I wasn't drinking I couldn't handle normal social situations. It was honestly awful, not being able to look people in the eyes and getting a light headed feeling every time I was in a group gathering really knocked my confidence, forcing me to isolate myself in a place that wasn't even my home. It was like I depended on alcohol to be social, which I know I lot of people do as they feel more comfortable and social when they have a couple drinks.

Continuing to drink in social situations when you identify this problem is the worst thing you can do. If I was going to a house party I was in the mindset that if I had a glass before I went out I would be able to interact in a group with no problem. Alcohol tends to not go well with anxiety of any form anyway, so if you're spotting early signs give it a break. It only gets worse, it then takes a lot of time to unravel. The good news is you can get around it, it's not easy but it's not impossible.

How do you know when it's time to take an alcohol detox?

*Just as a mini disclaimer, I'm not a doctor and this isn't all factual evidence, but from my personal stories and experience with alcohol that I hope could really help someone. 

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How To Juggle Writing A Blog & Working Full Time

Okay, so I'll hold my hands up and admit that I'm not always good at doing the above, but when I am on form, I think I do a pretty good girl bossing job of juggling a full time job, other work commitments, exercise and writing a blog twice or three times a week. Woaah - I don't even know how I do sometimes.

Now that is a lot to juggle, and one of the main reasons if any that I fail with this is that I'm quite simply exhausted. My brain is frazzled. I am stressed that I'm stressed, and I just can't be bothered. Sound familiar? Identifying the times that you just need to take a step back will help you keep on track, and let's face it, we ALL need a break. Whether it's a hobby or your full time job, we're only human and taking a step back and allowing yourself time to reset will allow you to come back with a clear mind and with better content than ever before.

So you're now wanting to go full steam ahead with your blog, but the small issue of time or lack of it besides your other commitments is holding you back. Being able to blog alongside uni, school or a full time job is 100% not impossible, I've managed to do this for almost 4 years now so I've definitely picked up some invaluable coping tools along the way. If you want to take your blog to the next level whilst you're still in education or in a job, these tips will help you perfectly juggle all your commitments, and you may even have some time left over!

#1. Be Organised

Like anything in life, you don't stand much chance without organisation. When you're not organised you feel like you're drowning with commitments and struggling to keep up (I still frequently do). If you work/go to uni or school alongside blogging, you probably wouldn't be reading this unless you were a little bit organised. This is why so many blogs fall by the wayside in the first few months of a blogs life.

I organise myself for my blog in a few different ways, and I'm sure that everyone has their own routine that suits them. What leads onto my next points to help me stay organised are a) planning content in advance b) scheduling slots on the weekend/evenings that I set aside for blogging c) organise photos to be taken of my outfits on the weekend d) use a calendar/weekly planner to track everything over the month, including post titles, photography and any blog collabs that I need to schedule in.

#2. Plan Content In Advance

Plan, Plan, Plan. Planning in advance is key to keeping you motivated and ensuring you have something to go out however many times a week/month you have in mind. I have a weekly planner pad that I use to add the dates and the post titles for that date. This then gives me something to work with a week or 2 in advance, I'll then schedule the post ready to go live and tick it off once it's done!

I'm always on the lookout for inspiration and motivation for new posts, this allows me to keep ahead of myself. At the start of the year I always write about 50 potential post titles for that year so I have something to fall back on. I actually enjoy being creative and doing this, and I find it a great way to prepare for the new blogging year!

#3. Use Time Wisely

When you're busy during the week, you 100% have to use your time wisely and set aside time that you know you can devote to the blog. For me this is mostly weekends and evenings, but at the start of the year I have started using about 3 of my 1 hour lunchtimes a week to crack on with some content. I hate staying at my computer the whole day, but this has freed up so much of my time at home and I usually get bored over a full hour lunch anyway.

Like you would with a revision schedule, set some hour slots aside in the week, and slot in the planned content/photos you want achieved in that time. If you make the time for things, it makes things a whole lot easier. Anticipate weekends away in advance too as this always puts a kibosh on my blogging plans.

#4. Time Out From Social Media

My week long social media detox was definitely an eye opener. I didn't realise just how much of my time was being eaten by social media. There was even moments when I was bored as I had completed everything on my list in no time at all, which is normally something I dread getting through on the weekend!

Even if you start off small, banning yourself from not checking your phone for an hour or having an afternoon off social media will be a game changer. As we work, then check our phone and scroll for a bit, we don't realise just how much time this uses up, and how much quicker your blog post or photography could have taken without doing it. I used this method for when I was revising for my A Levels and it worked a treat!

#5. Use Scheduling Tools

I'd love to be live tweeting and live blogging throughout the week, but when you only get one break a day there's no chance that can ever happen. Scheduling is an absolute life saver, I usually switch between Tweetdeck (the best scheduling app for Twitter) or Buffer - because you can link your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest to it if you pay for the premium account. 

I usually schedule all my tweets on a Sunday night, so I don't need to worry about doing anything during the week. I need to take a leaf out of my own book and do this for Instagram, as I really struggle during the week when the evenings are dark and I'm too tired to think. 

As for my blog posts, I also schedule all of them in advance too so I know what time they're going out during the week and on what days. I usually do this at least a week in advance so I know where I am and what content I have left to complete for the month.

#6. Take Breaks

Like I said at the beginning, we all need to take time out every now and then. For most of you reading this, blogging will still just be your hobby, so no pressure. Your blog won't go anywhere, and it will start to show in your content if you're struggling for ideas or forcing content that you don't feel 100% happy with.

We sometimes have to take that step back, and look in from a different perspective to realise what we want for our blog. I always feel so much fresher after a little break, with so many blog ideas that I can't wait to get stuck into. This allows me to realise just how much I love my blogging hobby and spurs me on to better it all the time. Never feel guilty for taking a break, you do you.

Ultimately organisation and scheduling really are the key to success with keeping on top with your blogging regime! I'm still learning and adapting all the time as things happen in my work & life, don't be so hard on yourself, take breaks and work as hard as you can to reach your dreams! I hope some of your found these tips helpful, I hold my hat off to all of you who still manage to blog alongside work/uni/school commitments, it's not easy! But nothing worth having is ever easy, right? <3

Do you have any other tips for juggling work and blogging? 

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