Sunday, 31 May 2020

May 2020: the round up

Oh how long have we been in lockdown now?! It seems to be flying by and dragging at the same time. Just like last month, my May round up is mostly TV shows and films and music - but here it is anyway. These posts don't get much traffic but, for the most part, I write them because it'll be so interesting to look back a year or two from now and remember this crazy time...

In terms of TV, I watched Normal People because everyone else was. I've not read the book, and I kind of wish I'd done so first; I enjoyed the series, because it's so beautifully shot and everyone has lovely voices and Connell's mum is gorgeous. But I found the plot to be a bit lacking and ultimately confusing... I also watched the adaptation of John Green's Looking for Alaska, which is on iPlayer. I loved the book when I read it, and the TV show is okay but everything just seemed a so different from the book itself. Cracking soundtrack, though!

I watched some films in May, too. I'm not really a film person as you might know, but I watched The Half of It on Netflix which I loved (it's a beautiful story, and Ellie Chu is a brilliant character) though I can't help but feeling like the trailers are a bit queer baiting... I then watched Booksmart and it's shot into my top 5 films of all time. I love love LOVED every second of it, and I urge everyone to watch it. So beautiful and fun.

Youtube, as always, has been something I've consumed a lot of. From Emily Merrill and her soothing book-related content, to cake decorating videos from Yolanda, and loads in between - quick fire assumption videos, true crime and beauty reviews.

Music... well, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit's new album, Reunions, dropped in May. It is honestly, from start to finish, pure perfection. I ordered the special edition vinyl, and I stayed up one night to listen to the first run through on an independent radio station in Nashville which was exhilarating. It's their best album for sure. On the same radio show I heard LaZboys by Ele Ivory which is a gorgeous song, and it's been added to my playlist!

May saw me bake my first (and second, and third) lemon drizzle cake which were all delicious. So proud of myself! I also hosted a couple of virtual quizzes for my friends, which was so much fun, and carried on taking part in our weekly family quizzes too. I seem to have 'zoom meetings' all over the place but it's nice to see friendly faces even if it is via a screen...

I also worked with Moonpig on a blog campaign which I loved, and I managed to get some more freelance work so everything is ticking along quite nicely over here. If only we could go the pub!

May also saw the abhorrent and brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis, which sparked riots across America - and rightly so. I had written this post before this happened, and wanted to add this on to say I am in complete support of these protests, and of the Black Lives Matter movement always. Please donate if you can, and sign/share petitions, and educate yourself. Do not rely on black people to educate you, but do the work yourself. Read books, take an anti-racism course, have those uncomfortable conversations. Do better and be better.

What have you accomplished or experienced in May? Let me know in the comments - hope you're keeping safe and staying well.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

My lockdown skincare routine

Foolishly, I thought not wearing make up and getting hot & sweaty behind the bar would do wonders for my skin - alas, I was wrong. So I've been trying my best to stick to a good skincare routine during lockdown, and I thought I'd share what I've been using...

L'Oreal Pure Clay Blemish Rescue Mask

I've been doing a face mask at least once a week, often twice. And this is the mask I've been reaching for - I love it because it's blue, it smells nice, and it genuinely helps to reduce redness and calm blemishes. I picked mine up at Morrison's when doing an essential food shop at the very beginning of lockdown, and it's still going strong. I put it on with a face mask brush, and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Then I just wash it off with a warm, damp flannel and voila.

IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser*

This is a cleansing serum, which isn't something I'd ever really tried before; I've not been wearing make up so I haven't tested the cleanser's ability to remove it but it's definitely more of a second cleanse skin cleanser anyway. It feels so nice on the skin, and doesn't leave my face feeling tight and dry either. Winner for me!

Pixi Glow Tonic*

I'm actually obsessed with this stuff - it's a glycolic toner which exfoliates the skin, leaves it feeling soft and just brightens the skin up a bit. I love it. You can get cheaper alternatives, but I haven't found any that are quite as good! Whack some on a reusable cotton pad and it works wonders.

Tropic Pure Lagoon Serum*

I've been getting a few spots during lockdown, and I find this great - when paired with everything else - for sorting them out. Plus I love anything with a pipette. It's an expensive skincare product but definitely one I'd recommend if you have blemish-prone skin! A little bit goes a long way; you really only need 1-2 drops to do your whole face, and it's just a great addition to any skincare routine.

Bioliq Dermo Moisturiser

I bought this in Poland ages ago because it says 'acneous skin' on it - so I assumed it was for people with acne, like myself. So I've been using it and I really like it, but when I was looking online to see where you could buy it I realised it's actually for people with weak capillaries, not acne at all... Some miscommunication there but it's a really nice moisturiser which sinks in quickly and doesn't irritate me at all. So if you do have a lot of redness, it might be wroth a try!

I've also been using good old sudocrem on my nastier spots, and overall my skin is looking better now than it did a couple of weeks into lockdown. What skincare bits have you been whacking on your face during all this?

Monday, 25 May 2020

Five recent reads | May 20

I've slowed down with reading a bit now that I've managed to claw back some freelance work, but I am still reading. So here's my five most recent reads and what I thought of them!

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven was just incredible. Focusing on a girl called Libby, once dubbed America's fattest teen and now navigating high school, it's a gut-wrench tale of loving someone for who they really are. It's equal parts happy and sad, and just a great book. I'd definitely recommend!

My next read in May was the end of everything by Megan Abbott, which I devoured in a day. Her writing is almost poetic - and while the story itself is hard to swallow (it's about a girl who's best friend goes missing, and all the secrets that come tumbling out because of her disappearance) I would highly recommend it. Teetering between YA and adult, it's absolutely incredible.

I picked up The Lying Game by Ruth Ware in Lidl during an essential food shop - I just can't pass up a cheap psychological thriller, and this was only about three quid. And it's SO good; the story follows a group of women who were at school together and did Something Bad. They've reunited because of what happened, and the story unravels the whole situation. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and I loved it!

The next book I read was Crocodile Soup by Julia Darling, about a woman called Gert who is trying to woo a woman called Eva - it flits between Gert's tumultuous childhood and her disjointed adulthood, and it is written like strange but wonderful poetry. A beautiful story about femininity and madness and the power of memory, and ultimately a lot of sadness. I loved this, but I wouldn't call it an easy read. Definitely worth a try, though,

One book I was absolutely dying to get my hands on this year was Read With Pride* by Lucy Powrie, and I was lucky enough to get a proof copy before it came out. Her debut, The Paper and Hearts Society, was one of my top books of 2019 and I knew I'd love the follow-on too. I read it in a couple of hours - it follows Olivia and her pals as they try to overthrow the school library's new rule about not being able to borrow books with LGBTQ+ themes without parental permission. Representation in fiction is SO important to me, and Lucy handles it so well. I loved this book and would definitely recommend. I'm actually giving away of copy of this on my Twitter, if you're interested!

So there's my 5 recent reads - what books have you been into recently?

Friday, 22 May 2020

My Look Fantastic sale wishlist

While we're in lockdown, I'm not wearing make up - I've done my brows and worn mascara on a total of 4 occasions, and my beauty blender probably thinks I'm dead. I'm using a lot of skin and hair care, though, and still online window shopping for all sorts of beauty products. And Look Fantastic have some great offers on right now, so here's my picks...

First of all is the Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner duo - I've tried the shampoo before and loved it, and I'm sure the conditioner will be equally fab. At just under £26 for the duo, it's more expensive than your average haircare but in my opinion Pureology is SO worth it. Love the sleek packaging, too.

The Urban Decay Naked Cherry palette is the only Naked palette I don't own, and I'm so tempted to treat myself because look at all those gorgeous red and pink shades! It's just a bit of me, really, and I think it would definitely push me into doing some lockdown make-up... It's currently only £34 on Look Fantastic, so you'd be saving a tenner on the RRP!

I've got the Sukin Natural Deodorant on my list because I've been looking for a natural deodorant to try for ages. I haven't bought one yet but this is currently only £6, and it has no aluminium or parabens in which can be bad for you. This apparently smells amazing, too!

My hair is SO frizzy and I'm always looking for something to tame it, and I like Tigi as a brand so their Bed Head Control Freak serum is on here - loving the green, too, and it's currently just £7.75 on Look Fantastic which is half price! Definitely tempted to pick this up...

Last but not least is the Sanctuary Spa Sleep drift-off bath soak; I love having baths, and I've been struggling to sleep what with everything going on. Lavender is one of my favourite scents, and at £6.40 this is a steal I reckon! I find Sanctuary to be such a lovely brand in general, and obviously the lilac packaging is a bit of me.

So that's everything I'm currently drooling over on the Look Fantastic site - what have you got your eyes on?!

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Literature themed quiz questions and answers

This is quite a niche post, but I wanted to share it in case anyone is looking for something similar - maybe for your own creative writing group, book club or online English lessons. I run a creative writing group in my local area with my best friend, and I hosted a mid-week virtual literature themed quiz for us to have some fun during lockdown. There are three rounds of 10 questions each, and you can find them below with answers.

Round one - who said that?

In this round (I) will read some famous quotes from popular novels. Please write down the name of the author who wrote the book the quote is from!

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”
(Emily Bronte)

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise”
(A A Milne)

“We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
(Margaret Atwood)

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”
(Oscar Wilde)

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”
(J K Rowling)

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show”
(Charles Dickens)

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I don’t know what I was doing in New York”
(Sylvia Plath)

“I know love and lust don’t always keep the same company”
(Stephanie Meyer)

“We accept the love we think we deserve”
(Stephen Chbosky)

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one”
(J D Salinger)

Round two - oh what’s in a name?

In this round (I) will read the names of 10 iconic book characters. Please write down the title of the book in which you would find these characters.

Veruca Salt
(Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Miss Havisham
(Great Expectations)

Randle Patrick McMurphy
(One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Scarlett O’Hara 
(Gone With The Wind)

Amanda Thripp

Mark Renton

Lennie Small
(Of Mice and Men)

Holly Golightly
(Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Leopold Bloom

Scout Finch
(To Kill a Mockingbird)

Round three - poetic justice.

This round contains straightforward quiz questions all related to poetry.

Who is the current poet laureate in the UK, as appointed in May 2019?
(Simon Armitage)

How many lines does a sonnet have?

Who won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for poetry?
(Jericho Brown)

Who wrote the famous poem ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’?
(Dylan Thomas)

What was the name of the nonsensical poem written by Lewis Carroll and found in his book Through the Looking Glass?

How many lines does a limerick have?

A poem in which the first letter of each line spells a word is called what?

Which US state was poet Maya Angelou born in?

Who was the first poet to be buried at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey?

Which famous poem is read out in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral - bonus point if you know who wrote it too?

(Funeral Blues, by WH Auden)

If you happen to use this literature themed quiz, let me know - it's a bit of fun and I'd love to see how your pals get on with it.