Friday 21 December 2018

How To Overhaul Your Blog For The New Year (And My Goals For 2019)

How To Overhaul Your Blog For The New Year (And My Goals For 2019)

A few weeks ago, I gave you a brief explanation as to why I was absent from my blog through much of November, and I mentioned that I might go into more detail about the reflecting I'd been doing, the blog overhaul I'm currently in the midst of, and my goals for 2019. So here goes!

To be honest, I often shy away from being vocal about my goals, both on here and in real life, because I hate the thought of putting something out there and then not delivering on it. However, it has become clear to me this year that I need to commit more to this blog if I want to see better results from it, and actually coming out and stating that, making myself accountable, is a necessary first step. 

I take my blog very seriously, but I don't think that has always been evident in my content output. Sometimes this has been for good reason - I have other work commitments that take up my time and energy - but sometimes it's because I feel trapped in a vicious cycle. My blog isn't bringing me sufficient reward to justify the time, energy and money I would like to invest in it, yet without that investment I am never going to see the reward. Other times, I am let down by my own perfectionism. I can spend hours and hours trying to make a post "good enough", and as a result I simply don't put out enough content to see any sort of meaningful growth.

Outfit With Topshop Orson Jeans

As you can see, I've taken a long, hard look at myself! And with the new year on the horizon, I've taken some steps to get motivated, and find some direction to help me kick start my 2019 goals. I always find it inspiring when other bloggers share this kind of thing, so I hope this is helpful for some of you too.

How I Got Motivated

1. I Took A Step Back

I've always been a little bit wary of taking breaks from blogging. For someone like me who struggles with consistency at the best of times, I know only too well that absence usually results in a dip in following and/or traffic. If you're already feeling disheartened, this can be dangerous, and I've seen a few people take breaks for the purpose of gaining perspective on blogging, only to end up taking more breaks, and longer breaks, and eventually give up altogether. That said, sometimes taking a step back really is the only way to gain that perspective, and after four years of being constantly caught up in a blogging bubble, it was necessary for me at this point.

This year, I felt as though I was putting more of myself into my online space than ever before, yet I was producing less content, and my growth had slowed down as a result. Instead of beating myself up about it, I realised that I needed to take a short break so I could figure out why. This helped me to see that a lot of my troubles stemmed from starting my YouTube channel last December. Adjusting to creating content for two platforms instead of one (never mind the increasing demands of Instagram), proved harder than I thought it would be. Additionally, for the first half of the year I was struggling to edit videos on an ancient laptop that wasn't up to the task, which held me back a lot. I already knew all this, but it was only by taking a step back that I was able to see clearly just how much it had affected my content this year.

Outfit with white ankle boots

Progress isn't always a perfect upward curve, and when you're working really hard on something that means a lot to you, that can be difficult to accept. The little break I had in November helped me to see the bigger picture, and I realised that the dip, while frustrating, had been necessary in order for me to start finding my feet on YouTube.

2. I Educated Myself 

I am always researching blogging and YouTube and doing everything I can to improve, and this year, two resources in particular stand out from the crowd as they really helped me to look at things from a different angle. One was Hayley Hall's blogging e-course. I've met Hayley a few times and have a lot of respect for her. As someone who has achieved real blogging success through years of hard work, I was sure that her course would be a wise investment, and it was. It really made me think differently about the fundamentals of blogging and the way I approach content creation, and has given me quite a few ideas to take with me into 2019.

The second resource was this post about Instagram by Maria J Blogs. Written by some one who has seen successful growth on the platform in recent months (yes, apparently it's still possible!) this is well worth a read for anyone who feels disheartened by the daily follow/unfollow game. To summarise, Maria essentially explains that she doesn't bother trying to beat the algorithm or spending hours of her day engaging with other people's accounts. Yet her Instagram is growing. Why? Because she devotes her time instead to creating beautiful content.

Outfit with burgundy jumper

This really made me sit up and think. I can spend inordinate amounts of time on the platform, desperately trying to get my photos seen and cursing the algorithm when all I get in return for my efforts is a new bunch of people unfollowing me, but maybe it's not the algorithm. Maybe my content just isn't good enough. By that, I don't mean to say that my photos are bad, necessarily, but perhaps the problem is that I am just not giving people a good enough reason to follow me. In any case, the article has really made me look at Instagram in a new way. In the new year, I will be spending more time thinking about my content and less about whether I have liked and commented on enough random accounts to gain a new follower or two.

3. I Updated My Blog Template

This one is slightly more superficial, but just as new gym clothes can make you feel excited about working out, a fresh new look can do wonders for blog motivation! I had felt that my old template was looking dated for a while, so I opted for a new one from Pipdig. I still have a little bit of tweaking to do with it, but on the whole I think it makes my existing content look better already, and I can't wait to start creating more posts to show it off in the new year.

High street jeans and jumper

My Goals For 2019

1. Be More Consistent

This has always been my biggest struggle. In an ideal world, I would love to publish two blog posts and one video every single week. That isn't even a lot, but for me, it seems like a huge challenge. This year, I have averaged about one blog post per week and one video every fortnight, so I have a long way to go. All I can say is that I am going to do my best!

2. Find My Blog Identity

I have been working on this since I took Hayley's course, and if you take a look at my updated About page, you will hopefully see a little more clearly where I'm going with this. I have always had an idea in my head of who I am as a blogger, but I feel like it needs to be more evident in my content. What I'm hoping for is that having that focus will help to make content creation easier for me, and that at the same time, it will attract more of an audience, because it should also help me to achieve my third and most important goal...

3. Add Value

To return to what I was saying about Instagram, fundamentally I think that the reason my online presence in general is not growing as much as I would like is because I am not offering enough value to my readers/followers. Because I live in a constant state of panic that it's already been too long since my last post, I rush content far too often, and don't always think about what my readers are going to get from it. My number one aim for 2019 is to produce content that people actually find useful, and hopefully, that will make them want to come back for more.

outfit with Topshop Mission ankle boots

Shop The Look

To conclude, I'm not saying that any of this is going to provide the magic answer to growth and success, and I'm definitely not saying that it's going to be easy to achieve. But I do think I've identified my main areas of weakness and I'm going to do my very best to work on them in the year to come. Fingers crossed it will bring some results!

I would love to know if you have any plans or goals for your blog/YouTube/Instagram in 2019? Do let me know in the comments.

Kate x

Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Friday 14 December 2018

Buying And Decorating Our Christmas Tree

Buying And Decorating Our Christmas Tree

Happy Friday all! It's not long now until the big day, and Mike and I took a trip out this week to buy our Christmas tree from a nearby forest. It definitely got us in the festive spirit! Of course I took the opportunity to vlog the occasion - this is as close to vlogmas as I was ever going to get this year!

When it comes to decorating the tree, I've stuck to a colour theme for the past few years - mostly gold, silver and white, with a few touches of red here and there. I always really like how this combination turns out. If you want to see, you can watch the video on YouTube, or right here.

Is your tree up yet? And how have you decorated it?

Kate x

Wednesday 12 December 2018

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Things No One Tells You About Brand Collaborations

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Things No One Tells You About Brand Collaborations

With Christmas on the horizon and the end of the year in sight, I thought I would snap to it and bring you the final instalment in my small blogger's guide to sponsored posts, part of my wider Working With Brands series. I'm really happy that this series has proved to be so popular with so many of you - I guess you enjoy reading about other people's blogging experiences as much as I do! I will be bringing you more about working with brands in 2019, as well as more about blogging in general, but today, I'm going to conclude my guide to sponsored posts by focussing on what happens in the final stages of a (paid) brand collaboration. While it might feel as though everything is done and dusted once you've finished editing your content, there are still a few important things that happen afterwards, and, in my experience, there isn't a huge amount of information out there to help new and smaller bloggers with this particular part of the process. So, in this post, I'm going to shed some light on the 5 things no one tells you about brand collaborations.

Before I begin, I want to make my usual disclaimer - I am not a big blogger, but I do have a fair amount of experience when it comes to working on sponsored posts. I also understand the particular issues smaller bloggers face in trying to produce professional quality work without the resources available to bigger influencers, so I really hope that I can benefit others by sharing my experiences. If you're new to the series, I recommend you check out my my earlier instalments, 6 Important Questions To Ask Before You Start and 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration before moving on to this one.

Yellow Christmas Party Dress

5 Things No One Tells You About Sponsored Posts

1. The Brand Might Not Respect Your Schedule

With some sponsored posts, you are free to hit publish on your content without getting final approval from the brand, but usually, in my experience, your first deadline will be to submit a draft, so that the brand or PR can check it over before giving you the go-ahead to post it on your blog. And even though you might have taken care to leave yourself plenty of time for any possible amendments, it doesn't mean that they will! On more than one occasion, I've had to wait until the eleventh hour to receive feedback, and have been left frantically trying to incorporate the requested changes the night before the post is set to go live. 

This isn't ideal for anyone, but can be especially tricky for smaller bloggers who are probably juggling the work with a full time job. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do about it except keep your own work well within the timescale and potentially be prepared for a late night! Ultimately, if we are serious about earning from our blogs then we should be prepared to see them as a real business, and those take hard work and a certain amount of sacrifice. These kind of situations are part of the reality of sponsored posts and my best advice is to grit your teeth and get on with it. However, if it is getting really close to the wire and you have other commitments which may result in a potential clash then a polite email to let the brand know is probably a good idea.

Yellow Christmas Party Dress

2. Promoting The Post Can Be As Stressful As Writing It

I always breathe a sigh of relief when a sponsored post is signed off and scheduled for publication... and then I remember that I also have to create promotional tweets and Instagram posts for it, and for some reason I can often find this just as stressful. Have I chosen the right photo? Have I included all the information I need in the caption? Have I spelled the campaign hashtag correctly? Sometimes, brands want social posts to go live at certain times, and of course, with Instagram, that means you need to be available to do it. When faced with the prospect of creating a whole blog post for a brand, it can be easy to dismiss the social media promotion as something you can easily throw together afterwards, but this is a mistake, and will leave you feeling unnecessarily under pressure when the time comes to promote your post. Instead, devote some time to planning out your social posts in advance, paying particular attention to any requirements the brand may have, the correct spelling of their handle and any hashtags they want you to use. And of course, don't forget to include #ad!

Long Sleeved Party Dress

3. Published The Post? Expect Radio Silence From The Brand/PR

When the post is live, promotion has gone out, you have emailed the link to the brand and they are happy, there is only one thing left for them to do, and that is pay you. For some reason, it is at precisely this moment that I find my brand/PR contact can often be remarkably quiet, even if they've communicated very well up till now. I don't know if bigger bloggers find the same, but it can sometimes feel as though they disappear once they've got what they want, and while they may have replied promptly to every email during the collaboration process, the final one I send, containing the link to the finished piece and my hope that all is OK, can often be met with radio silence. While this can seem somewhat rude, it's best not to take it personally. It has happened to me often enough to realise that it is fairly common, and I have gone on to work with many of the brands again, so I'm pretty confident that they don't hate my work! Like everyone else, they are busy, and with the post published, it means that your contact gets to tick off a task from their to do list. In most cases, it will be an entirely different department that deals with the payment side of things, so your contact has probably passed on your details to them before cracking on with their next project.

River Island Yellow Midi Dress

4. Waiting Ages To Get Paid Is Normal

Most brands work to a certain payment schedule, which means that there will be a fixed day of the month when they pay their invoices for that month. So regardless of the date you publish your post, you will have to wait until the next payment run to get paid. Details of payment will normally be discussed before you agree to the work, so you should at least have an idea of when you can expect to receive your fee, but if not, I would say that one month after the publication date is an acceptable time to send a polite email about it. 

In my experience, following publication of a sponsored post, the brand will either send you an invoice to fill in, or you can submit your own. It doesn't have to be fancy, just make sure that you include your name and address, details of the account you want the fee paid into, a brief description of the work done and the fee agreed. You can also state the payment date if you've been given one, otherwise, I usually put a payment date of 30 days after the date I submit the invoice. (This doesn't guarantee you'll be paid by then, but it gives you some support should you find you need to chase for payment once the date has passed.)

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Things No One Tells You About Brand Collaborations

I have never not been paid for a sponsored post, although I did once have to wait about three months. However, that was unusual, and the brand remained communicative and apologetic throughout. As I recommended in my first post on the subject, you should make sure you have confirmation of the fee in writing from the brand before starting work, but it's unlikely that you will have to resort to using it.

5. Finishing The Post Doesn't Have To Be The End Of The Story

Once you have been paid, it can be easy to forget all about the collaboration and move on, however, you could be missing an opportunity. You have now established a relationship with a brand, and hopefully they are pleased with the outcome of your collaboration. Following payment, I will always email my contact to say thank you, express how much I enjoyed working on the campaign and let them know I am open to future collaborations. And, on occasion, I have had the same brands come back to me with new projects. One thing I have not yet done as a blogger is pitch to brands for work - I always wait for them to approach me. However, this is definitely something I want to start doing in the future, and if it's something you're thinking about too, the contacts you have already made are the perfect place to start. They might not be in a position to offer you another campaign straight away, but making sure you stay on their radar as you continue to grow your blog at least keeps open the possibility of working with them again in the future.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Things No One Tells You About Brand Collaborations

Shop The Look 

I really hope you found these tips useful. If you've worked on sponsored posts, what did you wish you had known beforehand?

Kate x

Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday 10 December 2018

Christmas Gift Guide: Accessories And Sleepwear

Christmas Gift Guide: Accessories And Sleepwear
We are just over two weeks away from Christmas, so I guess that makes this something of a "last minute" gift guide. I can't quite believe I'm saying that, but here we are. Time flies! For this year's offering, I decided to focus on the type of gifts I tend to give and/or receive myself, which mostly fall into the accessories and sleepwear categories. I honestly think there is nothing nicer than finding some lovely silky pyjamas, cosy slippers or a stylish pair of gloves under the tree!

For Finishing Off Your Look

Christmas Gift Guide: Accessories, Hats, Gloves, Scarves, Jewellery, Handbags

Silk hair tie - Would also look lovely tied around the handles of a bag.

Burgundy fedora - I love how chic fedoras are and this is such a pretty colour.

Gold earrings - I don't really wear statement earrings but I'm loving seeing them all over Instagram.

Grey bag - I'm obsessed with that faux fur trim.

Embellished beret - How cute is this?! I love the little diamantés.

Two tone handbag - Beautiful colours and looks a lot more expensive than it is.

Resin earrings - These are so striking.

Yellow bag - I can't get enough of this colour right now.

Tassel earrings - Annoyingly vanished from the website. These are similar in style.

Pink gloves - The mix of suede and leather makes these look really smart.

Pearl embellished gloves - So pretty and feminine.

Silver earrings - These would be amazing for a big night out. Maybe New Year's Eve?

Pink clutch - You can hold this by slipping your hand under the bow - makes a real style statement.

For Cosying Up At Home

Christmas Gift Guide: Sleepwear, Stationery, Slippers, Books

Burgundy pyjamas - My favourite pyjama style.

Rose gold pen with Swarovski crystals - For making notes in style.

Mermaid notebook - See above!

Grey loungewear - I would love to curl up on the sofa in this!

Pink bathrobe - Fleecey and soft as a dream.

The New Fashion Rules - All about the digital revolution in fashion, written by Inthefrow.

Criss cross slippers - Look just like the Emu ones. A fraction of the price.

Pink pyjamas - I already have these in two different colour ways and they are beautiful!

Sparkly charging cable - Because sometimes it's all about the little things!

Boot slippers - A winter essential.

Did any of these items catch your eye? And have you got any shopping left to do?

Kate x

Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Friday 7 December 2018

3 Christmas Party Dresses Under £50 (And How To Style Them)

3 Christmas Party Dresses Under £50 (And How To Style Them)

It's no secret that I love an opportunity to dress up. And Christmas is perfect for it - work parties, get togethers with friends, it's a very social time of year and a time when celebrating is high on the agenda. The only problem is, other things are high on the agenda as well. Buying presents, stocking up on food and travelling to visit loved ones can all put an extra strain on the bank balance, and when you add party wear into the mix, it can all start to get a bit too much.

So, as so often in life, I find the high street to be my best friend! In today's video, I've styled up three very different party dresses, all of which are under £50. I hope it helps give you a few ideas of party looks you can create without breaking the bank this year.

You can watch the video on YouTube or right here, and if you like what you see, I would love it if you subscribed to my channel, although I promise I won't be offended if you don't!

Which look was your favourite? And do you have any parties coming up this festive season?

Kate x

Wednesday 5 December 2018

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

Are you ready for the next post in my Working With Brands series? I hope so! In the last instalment, I covered the six important questions to ask before committing to work with a brand on a paid collaboration, and today, I'm going to focus on the nitty-gritty of the work itself, by sharing my tips for getting the job done, and done well. 

Obviously, as bloggers, we want to be proud of every post we create, but when we're working on sponsored content, the stakes are that little bit higher. We've entered into a formal agreement with a brand to produce a piece of work which will be paid for, and naturally that brings with it a certain amount of pressure and expectation. Not only that, but doing a good job could lead to a continued relationship with the brand in question and hopefully more paid work in the future, so it's really important to do everything we can to ensure a successful collaboration.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

To begin with my usual disclaimer, I am not a big blogger, but I have had a fair bit of experience with sponsored posts in the (nearly) five years I've been blogging. The advice I'm offering in this series of posts has come from the trial and error of my own experience. As a smaller blogger myself, I know only too well the difficulties of trying to balance blogging with other commitments, not to mention the fact that we don't have the same resources at our disposal as the larger influencers do. That's why my advice is tailored towards small bloggers like myself, and I hope you find it useful.

So when you've agreed on a collaboration with a brand and the contract is signed, what happens next?

40 Plus Fashion Blogger

My 5 Top Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

1. Don't Panic

OK, that might sound a bit silly, but bear with me here. A funny thing happens when the negotiation process comes to an end and it's time to actually start work on the content. All of a sudden, it's just got very real! And when you think about it, it's natural to have a bit of a freak out. Most small bloggers don't work with brands on a regular basis, and we're not used to having anyone to answer to when it comes to the content we create. Most of the time, if a post doesn't turn out the way we wanted, or our schedule goes out of the window, it really doesn't matter. But with a sponsored post, it matters. There's a deadline. There are requirements to fulfil and a standard of quality to maintain. All at once, even if it is just for this one post, we are thrust into the position of a professional influencer. This can be pretty daunting for small bloggers who are used to being in hobby mode most of the time.

Experiencing this feeling of panic led me to develop the 6 points that I think are really important to have clear in your mind before committing to work with a brand. As I mentioned before, you can read about them here and I'd highly recommend doing so if you are looking to work on sponsored posts and are unfamiliar with the process. By being clear on those 6 points, you will already have a good idea of what is expected of you before you signed the contract, you will already know that you are capable of producing the work required and that you can do so within the timescale provided. You might still be a little nervous, but hopefully this preparation beforehand will save you from full blown panic!

Autumn Winter Outfit Ideas

2. Plan Like A Demon

Speaking for myself, rushed content is never my best content, and I suspect that the same is true for a lot of people. Taking the time to plan each element of a blog post tends to lead to a more polished finished result, and you're definitely going to want to produce the best work you're capable of when a brand collaboration is at stake. I'm also of the firm belief that more effort you devote to planning a post can end up saving you time when it comes to the actual creation of it.

I would recommend sitting down with a notebook and pen and really taking your time to plan each step. If you're testing beauty products, research the ingredients and make a list of results you will be looking for. If you're styling clothing, try a few different combinations until you find a look you really love. Think about when and where to take photographs - how do you want them to look? When it comes to the written element of the post, what will your focus be? If there are certain requirements requested by the brand (again, you'll know if you followed the steps in my first post!) use these to guide you and start building a picture of what the finished post will look like.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

3. Leave Room For Error

Life is a funny old game and even the best laid plans can run into unforeseen difficulties. What if it's raining on the day you've picked to take your outfit photos? What if an unavoidable commitment pops up on the afternoon you've set aside to write your blog post? Factoring in a couple of extra days and possibly a back-up photo shoot location can make all the difference and turn a potential disaster scenario into a minor inconvenience. Do yourself a favour and work some wiggle room into your schedule. It will take some of the pressure off the creation process and make sure that you meet your deadline, even if something goes wrong.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

4. Remain True To Yourself

When you're working on a sponsored post, you can often feel as though you really need to go the extra mile to create the best piece of content you've ever produced. While it's absolutely fine (and advisable!) to want to do your best, there is no need to push yourself too far out of your comfort zone. Remember, the brand picked you to work with in the first place because they like the type of content you already create. There is no need to feel as though you need to suddenly change up the look of your photos or write in a different style from the one you normally do. It will put unnecessary pressure on you and could even backfire, as the brand will be expecting something that's in line with your usual work.

Topshop Midi Skirt

5. Relax, And Enjoy The Creative Process 

Once everything has been planned, you know what you need to do - knuckle down and create that content! The best piece of advice I can offer at this stage is to relax and enjoy it. You have already done the necessary preparation, so now it's time to put out of your head the idea that this piece of content is different from any other, and let your creativity flow. Simply enjoy the process of creating a blog post as you normally would, as the results are likely to be better than if you put too much pressure on yourself. So trust that you are ready for this, and just go for it. Once you reach the editing stage, you can double check everything against the brand's requirements and make any tweaks that may be necessary.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts: 5 Tips For A Successful Brand Collaboration

Shop The Look

I hope you found these 5 tips interesting, and I hope they will help to make your future brand collaborations a success! For my next post in this series, I'll be writing about the latter stages of the process of a sponsored post, so keep your eyes peeled for that in the coming weeks.

Do you have any tips of your own when it comes to sponsored posts? I'd love to know, so do share in the comments.

Kate x

Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday 3 December 2018

Fill Your Home With Festive Fragrance: The Scented Candles I'm Loving (And Lusting After) This Christmas

Fill Your Home With Festive Fragrance: The Scented Candles I'm Loving (And Lusting After) This Christmas

I've been an advocate of scented candles and reed diffusers for years. Filling my home with scent is such an easy way to lift my mood, relax, or simply add a little touch of luxury to a room. I love keeping a reed diffuser in my entrance hall to welcome me home after a long day, or having candles to light in the living room to set the mood for cosy evenings in. Home fragrance is also a pretty affordable treat to self, and we all know I'm a big fan of those! Christmas, of course, is the perfect time to indulge, as festive fragrances and twinkling candlelight can add another dimension to the decorations and really help to get you in the Christmas spirit.

While I haven't got too far with my seasonal preparations yet, I've definitely been enjoying a couple of festive scents, thanks to these two beauties.

Fill Your Home With Festive Fragrance: The Scented Candles I'm Loving (And Lusting After) This Christmas

Beatitude Christmas Comfort Candle

I love the simple white and silver packaging of this Christmas Comfort Candle from Beatitude Products*. I've used their bath oils before (which are well worth checking out, by the way!) but this is my first candle from the award winning aromatherapy brand. All their products are 100% natural, free from parabens and not tested on animals, while the packaging is fully recyclable.

Christmas Comfort Candle from Beatitude Products

Christmas Comfort Candle from Beatitude Products

If you like a candle that really fills the room with scent, you will love this. Even before it is lit, you can smell it in the air. The fragrance is a beautiful mix of citrus and spice, one of my favourite combinations when it comes to Christmas scents.

Paddywax Deck The Halls Candle

I received this cute little silver jar candle at the Debenhams Christmas in July event - held on a scorching hot day in the middle of the summer heatwave! It's been sitting in a drawer since then,  waiting for the festive period to begin. Deck the Halls* is completely different from the Beatitude candle, but just as lovely in its own way. Featuring eucalyptus and balsam, it smells fresh, green and a lot like a Christmas tree - another favourite fragrance of mine.

Paddywax Christmas Candle in Deck The Halls

Paddywax Christmas Candle in Deck The Halls

Festive display with scented Christmas candles, decorations and fairy lights

I'm loving both these candles so much that, chances are, they might be long finished by Christmas Day, so I thought I would share with you a few others that I'm lusting after, as well as a few reed diffusers too.

What's your favourite festive fragrance?

Kate x

*Gifted item. Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Thursday 29 November 2018

What I Wore, Ate And Did In York (And Why I've Been Absent)

What I Wore, Ate And Did In York

Well hello there! It's been a while, and things are looking a little bit different around here! As you'll probably know if you follow me on Instagram, I've had a couple of breaks away recently. One was to sunny Cyprus, the other to beautiful York. I vlogged the York trip, and shared it on my YouTube channel a couple of days ago. I've delayed posting it here until now, as I've been busy giving my blog a new look and template. I'm not quite finished playing around with it yet, but I'm loving the change so far, so I hope you like it too.

So what is this new look all about, I hear you ask. (Or maybe not, but I'm going to tell you anyway!)  Well, my trips away provided the perfect opportunity to sit back, reflect and take stock of the past year. As a result, I've found my mind jumping ahead to new year goals a little earlier than it usually would. When it comes to my blog and online presence, I've made some achievements I'm proud of in the last twelve months, but I really want to up my game in 2019. I won't go into too much detail now, partly because I haven't got it all figured out yet, and partly because I might do a proper blog post on it closer to the end of the year. But essentially, this explains both the new template and my absence for the past few weeks.

I'm still hoping to get some lovely new content up for you in December, but please do bear with me if consistency is sketchy for a little while longer. It has never been my strong point, so I hope it won't make too much difference if I take a little more time now to work on my goals, rather than jumping straight back in to the same old habits. After all, if I'm going to hit the ground running in 2019, then I'm going to need a solid plan, right?!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy visiting York with me! Click here if you prefer to watch the vlog on YouTube, otherwise, here it is!

Until next time!

Kate x

Saturday 10 November 2018

By Invitation Peony Noir - The Latest Fragrance From Michael Buble

By Invitation Peony Noir - The Latest Fragrance From Michael Buble

Having already fallen in love with By Invitation, Michael Buble's debut fragrance for women, as well as the more recent Rose Gold version, it's safe to say I was pretty excited at the prospect of a third release from the perfume brand. As soon as I sniffed Peony Noir*, I knew I was going to love it as much as the others. In fact. I'm pretty sure it's going to become my go-to scent for evenings out throughout the winter.
 Best Perfume To Wear In The Evenings

Beautiful Perfume To Display On Your Dressing Table

Like the two previous fragrances, Peony Noir is packaged in an attractive round bottle with a metallic lid, although the design has been simplified slightly and I have to say, I'm a big fan of the updated version! The smoky ombre glass and touches of pink are gorgeous, and it's definitely a nice piece of eye candy to display on your dressing table.

Perfume With Black Coffee And Bergamot

Perfume With Rose, Iris And Orange Blossom

As for the fragrance, it follows the same trend as the packaging - there is something of the original scent about it, but it's more of a departure from that than the Rose Gold version was. It opens with top notes of black coffee and bergamot, instantly creating a sexy and sultry vibe, before giving way to a fragrant heart of rose, iris and orange blossom. The warm base notes are where you start to recognise the signature Michael Buble scent, as the vanilla, cedarwood and patchouli combination remain from the original fragrance, this time complimented by luxuriant sandalwood.

There is something about this that reminds me of YSL Black Opium, a fragrance which also contains notes of black coffee and orange blossom. However, Peony Noir is quite a bit lighter and has a little more sweetness to it. All of the Michael Buble fragrances are feminine and this one is definitely no exception. If you're after a perfume for evening that has that smoky sexiness to it but isn't too overpowering, this is the one for you.

Perfume With Vanilla, Cedarwood, Patchouli And Sandalwood

Feminine Fragrance For Evening

Peony Noir EDP retails for £42 for £100 ml and you can pick one up here if you fancy it.

Have you tried any of the Michael Buble fragrances? What perfumes have you been enjoying recently?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

My Current Favourite Day And Night Face Oils

My Current Favourite Day And Night Face Oils

I always feel as though my skin needs that little bit extra TLC in the cooler months, and perhaps for that reason, the whole ritual of my skincare routine feels a bit more like a treat at this time of year than it normally does. One thing I've particularly been enjoying lately is layering face oils under my moisturiser for extra nourishment and protection. I've been lucky enough to have been gifted two really lovely ones, and I've found one of them to be an ideal addition to my morning routine, while the other has become a night time favourite. Below, you'll find a concise review of both products, why I like to use each of them at different times of day, and links to where you can shop them.

Oh, and if it's the day time oil you like the sound of, you're in for an extra treat, as I also have a discount code which you can use to get 20% off your purchase. Read on, and all will be revealed!

My Current Favourite Day Face Oil

Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil

As soon as the Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil* arrived on my desk, I knew I was going to love it. It has rose in it, for one thing, and we all know how obsessed I am with rose as an ingredient. It's also pink (pink makes me happy, what can I say?!), and has the most beautiful light, sweet fragrance. 

There are a few reasons why I love using this in the mornings. Firstly, it's super light and absorbs into the skin almost instantly, meaning I don't have to wait around before applying my moisturiser and moving on to my makeup. It's also rich in anti-oxidants, so I feel as though I'm helping to protect my skin against free radicals and pollutants in the atmosphere by applying this before going out and about during the day. Finally, it has Vitamin A as a main ingredient, which helps to even out skin tone. When I apply this, I feel that my skin looks instantly clearer and brighter, with any redness calmed - definitely ready to face the day!

Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil Vegan Skincare

Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil Natural Skincare

In addition to Vitamin A, the other main ingredients in this product are Vitamin C, which stimulates collagen production for younger looking skin and Almond Oil, which adds moisture and also helps to brighten the complexion.

Designed to be suitable for all skin types, I think a lot of people would find this a great addition to their routine. If you like the look of it, you can find the Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil here. Entering the code KATELOUISE at checkout will get you 20% off your purchase, and that applies not just to the oil but across the entire Dr Botanicals site. Their products are natural, vegan and cruelty free, and having had a good browse myself, I would say it's well worth a look as there were quite a few things that made me "ooh" and "ah". You might even, dare I say it, want to get a head start on some skincare related Christmas shopping?! (No? Too early? Ok, let's all forget I said anything and just look for treats for ourselves.)

My Current Favourite Night Face Oil

Antipodes Divine Face Oil with Rosehip and Avocado

I've already talked about the Antipodes Divine Face Oil with Rosehip and Avocado* in my Post Holiday Skincare Routine, but I'm still absolutely loving this product and it's perfect to use at night after the Dr Botanicals oil in the morning, so I just had to mention it again.

While both oils are rich and nourishing, you feel it a lot more with this one, as it's much oilier in consistency as opposed to the super light, almost watery Moroccan Rose oil. This makes it feel very comforting to apply at night. It's also packed with Vitamins, as well as Organic Avocado Oil, which boosts collagen production while reducing the appearance of fine lines and scarring. Rosehip Oil also adds moisture and repairs damaged skin. With all that repairing going on, I think that the evening is the ideal time to apply it, as it can really get to work to aid the skin's natural healing process.

Antipodes Divine Face Oil with Rosehip and Avocado Organic Skincare

Are you using any facial oils at the moment? Which are your favourites, and do you prefer to apply them in the day time or at night? And don't forget to use the code KATELOUISE for 20% off anything from the Dr Botanicals website.

Kate x

*Gifted product. Some links may be affiliate links. This poses no extra cost to you, the customer. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday 29 October 2018

My Easy Everyday Autumn Makeup

My Easy Everyday Autumn Makeup

To be honest, every makeup look I do could be prefaced with the word "easy", and the vast majority of them with the word "everyday". But since the change in seasons has inspired me to switch my usual gold and bronze eyeshadows for something a little different, I thought I would share the results with you in a quick video. You can watch it over on YouTube, or below.

I've been loving these burgundy/toffee apple tones, and the whole look takes no longer than ten minutes to throw together. Great for busy mornings! 

What makeup have you been loving lately?

Kate x
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