Wednesday, 2 September 2015

My 4th Birthday

Good morning all and a very happy Wednesday to you all!
Today is my birthday! I am 4! I should clarify that I mean my blog birthday, not my actual birthday. Sadly, my actual age exceeds my blog age by two decades! Yep, it was exactly four years ago today that, after much deliberation and doubt, I finally put pen to paper (metaphorically of course) and started my own blog. 

I was in 3rd year of university and I was desperately longing for a way to express my love of fashion without it being graded or having a word count or a deadline date. I want free reign over my love of writing without judgment or approval. While blogging isn't what I expected in most ways (not necessarily I'm a bad way) I think than 4 years later, I have managed to create someone close to what I'd envisioned and I am very proud of my little corner of the web and all I've achieved. 

When I first started blogging, I had no idea. I had no structure to what I was posting, I didn't really care too much about photo quality or blog design and I was certainly blissfully unaware of the entire blogging community. There were a few people I knew ran reasonably small local blogs, but other than that, my extent of bloggers all had hundreds of thousands of followers and I didn't know that it was something 'normal' people (for lack of a better word) did alongside their everyday jobs, hobbies, families, friends and personal lives. Considering how unaware of all this I was, I guess it was ridiculously brave to try my luck at something that, as far as I knew, only consisted of Zoella et al. Why did I think stood a chance?

The first fashion blog I ever followed (and I did so religiously) was a girl called Jessica, from the blog The Vintage Virgin. While she doesn't blog any more, at least not under that name, her posts are still up and her style continues to amaze me. She was who I longed to be. She always looked flawless and always had the most original pieces from thrift stores, vintage boutiques and independent fashion brands. Again, I was aiming extremely high but I had this idea in my head that I was some cool fashion student who people who care what I wore. I wasn't. I was a skint fashion student when occasionally picked up the odd scarf in a charity shop but who mostly shopped in Primark & H&M. I was, and still am, no different from any other 'normal' fashion blogger out there.

My blog started out as a place to share my outfits. Looking back, what I wore, how I photographed outfits and how awful the posts where, I'm surprised anyone gave a damn about my terrible excuse for a blog. It wasn't until I discovered the wonderful world of social media, mostly Twitter, that my blog started to get any followers or recognition. I remember how happy I was when I got my first comment. It still amazes me to this day that with so many, quite literally hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there, that people care what I have to say, enough to comment on it and share it. That's such a fantastic thing that I ever imagined blogging would give me.

Fashion and beauty were the main topics I wanted to write about. I've always love makeup and experimenting with new products but with so many beauty bloggers being professional makeup artists, I was initially put off sharing my love of cosmetics on my blog through fear that people would think I was conceited or shallow. Two of my friends from uni, the ever lovely Sami & Lisa from Beauty Aesthetic were nominated for a blog award and were planning a trip to London for the weekend to attend the cereomy shortly after I started my own blog. They were my first tangible example of 'real' bloggers who wrote a blog alongside their own normal lives. I remember one day at uni Lisa asked if she could take a photo of my nails for something for their blog and it was from there that I thought, if they're interested in my nails and they run a blog successfully enough to be nominated for awards, maybe there is a place for my amateur love of beauty on my blog.

Lifestyle blogging was something I had absolutely no idea about until at least 2 years into my blogging 'career' - again, for lack of a better word. I had a very black and white idea of what blogging was. Either it was based on materialism like makeup and fashion or it was serious stuff like current affairs, politics and social issues. Despite having huge passions for both, I somehow never imagined that the two could ever live happily in the same blog. The first 'lifestyle' bloggers I ever remember reading were two people who I now consider to be a blogging friend of mine, the fabulous Becky from Becky Bedbug and the lovely Sophia from Tattooed Tea Lady. Their blogs struck me as such amazing collection of variety - everything from beauty and fashion to travel and food to books and films. They had so much variety yet still maintained a continued theme throughout and I was amazed. Becky and Sophia's blogs are still an inspiration to me and I know a lot of other bloggers today, but finding their blogs lead me into discovering the whole world of lifestyle blogging and from there, I felt like that identity allowed me the freedom to write what I wanted without backing myself into a corner or a genre.

In the time since I began to break up the fashion and beauty with other topics, I've felt it only like I enjoy blogging more and have a ton more ideas, but that people seem to enjoy and share my blog more too. Since then, I've covered food, travel, culture, art, feminism, politics and mental health and this variety has only helped me to build my blog.

This year has been the most incredible year so far in regards to my blog. While I don't quite have my own ghostwritten book quite yet, I have had some great opportunities to work with amazing brands, meet a ton of fantastic fellow bloggers who I now consider friends and increase my scope as a freelance writer as well as blogging as a hobby. At the start of 2015, I began to take blogging more seriously if you will, I now post on set days and make more of an effort to get involved in chats as opposed to just takin part if I happen to be on Twitter. I've even hosted a chat for the first time too!

I started my blog during a really uncertain and testing period of my life and retrospectively realise just how much it helped me to come through that time stronger. Now, 4 years on, I am once again going through quite a tough time but now I cannot imagine my life or my daily routine without my blog. Having been a lover of writing all my life, blogging gives me complete control to share exactly what I want and channel my thoughts into something productive and proactive. The community that I'm now a part of is so unconditionally supportive and amazingly accepting and without a shadow of a doubt, Filthy Paws & Silky Drawers would've quickly burned out very early on without the community.

Armed with support, confidence in the huge skillset that I'm proud to have taught myself via blogging and an overflowing brain full of ideas, I can't wait to see what the next 4 years has in stock...

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

How I Store & Organise My Make-Up

Hi all - hope youre all having a merry Wednesday! Apologies for no post on Monday. If you know of recent goings-on on Twitter within the blogging community, you'll understand. 

Last week while I was off work I had a massive clear out of all my make-up, body stuff, skincare and hair products and threw a whole load away and totally reorganised, so I thought I'd show you how I store my make-up. I love reading posts like this and seeing all the creative and innovative ways that people keep their stashes orderly and while my make-up collection isn't huge, I think I've got it organised pretty well now and thought it'd be fun to share mine too!

I store the majority of my make-up in one drawer. I have IKEA wardrobes with build in drawers and I've dedicate one entirely to make-up. To some, one drawer might not seem like a lot, but it does me just fine. It's definitely way more than I need, but hey, what can I say? I love make-up!

The only products that I don't keep in here are... 

  • My make-up brushes which I keep on pots on my dressing table
  • My MAC lipsticks which I have a cute little display stand for (you can see my MAC lipstick collection here
  • My everyday makeup which I keep in my make-up bag
  • Products that I'm planning posts about - they live in my 'big box of blogging' temporarily!

In my drawer, I have 4 storage boxes - they're from IKEA and come in packs of 6, 2 small, 2 medium, 2 large and zip across the bottom so can be packed flat when not in use. You can buy them here for only £6 and come in 4 colours. Retrospectively, I wouldn't recommend white for storage make-up in!

The two large ones I use for another purposes, but in the two medium ones, I keep all my lip sticks, lip glosses and lipliners in one and in the other, all my eye products - mascaras, eyeshadows, liners and brow products. 

In the two small ones, I store all my face products in one (foundation, powders, concealers, blushes, bronzers, contours and highlighters) and in the other I keep all the products that don't have another home - lip balms, primers, lipstick sealers, loose glitters, that type of thing.

On the left of the drawer are all my eyeshadow palettes. I'm a self-confessed neutral eyeshadow addict and have way too many - my favourites at the moment are the Make Up Revolution Mattes palette but I have a review of a great all-rounder drugstore palette coming up soon...

Finally, down the front, I have some false eyelashes (which I never ever wear as I really suck at applying them!) and a couple of other products and tools which I like to keep handy...

  • Garnier Micellar Water decanted into a spray bottle. Great for cooling down irritated skin or to spray onto brushes to help apply certain products
  • MAC Strobe Cream. Highlighter, illuminator, whatever you want to call it. I like to apply this under certain foundations for a bit of a 'glow'.
  • Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. A great multi-use product - moisturiser, lip balm, hand cream, the list goes on.
  • A couple of face brushes - one by Soap and Glory, one by Hydrea. 
  • Nivea Cream - much like Eight Hour Cream, the uses for this stuff are endless.
  • Tweezers and sharpener. Just because they're always useful to have nearby.


That's all - here's how it all looks together. Organised chaos, if you will!

I love seeing how other beauty lovers store their makeup, partially to pinch ideas but mostly just because I'm nosey! If you have a post about your makeup storage, please share, I'd love to see!

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Hi all! On Sunday, and then again yesterday, I undertook a Summer ritual which has been a part of every August since I was a child, the Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe, sometimes called the Edinburgh Festival is the worlds biggest arts festival, bringing hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Edinburgh every August for 3 and a half weeks of comedy, music, performance, art, song, dance, food and entertainment. 

With quite literally thousands of things to see and do, and a lot of them either free, or much cheaper than usual, it's always a good way see performance in intimate settings or previewing new material. This year, my choices seemed to specialise in female comedians - I saw Katherine Ryan, Laura Lexx and Mae Martin all doing stand-up. I'm sure you all know who Katherine Ryan is, but if you don't know Laura or Mae, you absolutely need to check them out. Before you go any further with this blog post, click their names for a little cross section of their comedy. Thank you, now we can continue!

While I adore comedy, I hadn't actually seen any live stand-up until about 5 years ago. I believe that stand-up comedy is a highly underrated art form though, can you imagine how difficult it must be to stand up front of a group of people with only you to make them laugh and nobody to bounce off of? I find it incredible to watch, even more so in person.

As well as seeing these amazing shows discussing important topical social issues like the much-disputed gender spectrum, #BlackLivesMatter and the internal battle of wanting to be a 'good feminist' and the desire to be a housewife, the buzz of Edinburgh during the Fringe is like nothing else. Every street you go down has something happening, the streets are full of performers, art & craft markets, street food and just generally, Summery positive vibes. 

As so much to do and see is completely free, I do recommend planning your time well and getting to venues/shows early and please oh please, if you enjoyed a free show, give a little to the performers. Do you know just how many performers actually loose money by coming to the festival? The money for travel and accommodation doesn't come from people taking advantage of free shows, and as Mae Martin said, people are paying upwards of £10 to see Ted 2 at the cinema right now. Think about it like that! 

I'm lucky to live only a little over an hour away from Edinburgh on the bus and can get there and back for under a tenner (if you're thinking of going, MegaBus all the way!) but even if you don't, I can't recommend both Edinburgh as a city, but especially the Edinburgh Fringe highly enough. Rich in Scottish culture (not that I'm biased or anything!), arts and beautiful scenery and buildings, what's stopping you?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

ASOS Wishlist

Any lover of fashion is a lover of ASOS, right? Well this months Elle magazine has a free 20% off ASOS giftcard so while I'm not normally a huge buyer of magazines, when I heard this news, I hot tailed it down to WHSmith to pick myself up a copy. Of course their website is huge so I could spend thousands on there, but I've picked out some of my favourites from their current collections - hope you like!

1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6   |   7   |   8

1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6   |   7   |   8 

1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6   |   7   |   8  

There's no way I could treat myself to all of these amazing pieces, but there's a few I'm definitely going to. I've been after another backpack for a while now, and after seeing the ever-stylish Ema from 'Is It Vintage?' rocking her starry boots (amazing post here), I might need to jump on the bandwagon. If you compare the price to these Saint Laurent onesthese Kurt Geiger ones or these Tommy Hilfiger ones, <£50 doesn't seem so bad!

What are you treating yourself to on ASOS at the moment? With such a big site full of goodies, it's hard not to miss stuff so please share in case I need to add it to my basket too!

Monday, 17 August 2015

5 Topics We Need To Educate Young People On

Last Thursday evening, a programme aired on Channel 4 called 'Sex In Class'. It featured world renowned Dutch sexologist, Goedele Liekins coming to Britain and educating a group of teenagers about the realities of sex, not the glamourised porn version of it that young people are lead to believe is how it always is. Newsflash, it isn't. 

The programme wasn't perfect (very heteronormative and didn't once mention pregnancy, contraception, STI's or asexuality)  but it did highlight just how flawed the UK's sexual education system is and how ill informed our youths as a whole are. You can watch the programme here, or read the lovely Olivia Jade's post on it here if you missed it. Sadly though, it's not just inclusive, thorough and realistic sexual health education that our education system lacks, there's huge important areas of adult (and teenage) life that school just does not prepare us for. Here's just 5 topics that we need to be teaching young people in the classroom...

Mental Health
In addition to sexual health, the school curriculum needs to make room for mental health education too. When I was at school, I know people who suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder and my school didn't once, in six years of education, mention any of those illnesses, what they involve, what to do if you think you might be suffering from them or how to help a someone else who suffers with them. Both mental health issues amongst young people and the stigmatisation of mental health are at an all time high and getting people talking about these topics as openly and honestly as possible needs to be top priority. 

First Aid
The extend of first aid that I ever learned at school was extremely basic CPR (without dummies, just 'CPR theory' if you will!) and that was in primary school. It was very minimal and I can remember none of it. Knowing that to do in a medical emergency is so important and schools need to be teaching young people about administering CPR, how to give the Heimlich manoeuvre, how to put someone into the recovery position, what to do if someone goes into labour or how to help someone having a fit, seizure, stroke or heart attack are crucial. I cannot see how this isn't a completely compulsory part of education? 

Inclusive History/Social Studies
How often were your history or social studies lessons about white men? How often is the national news about white men? That is not a coincidence. While it'd be impossible to teach children about every historical event that's ever taken place, a more varied and inclusive cross section wouldn't go a miss. When our history lessons feature nobody female or gay or of any racism background apart from white, there's a problem. 

Most teenagers believe that money and a job just kind of come to you and that whatever happens, you'll probably be okay financially. For some people, this is true, but from the security of being at school and often being paid to be there to adult life of potential unemployment, benefits, taxes, mortgages, bills and insurance, our education system does not prepare teens for the financial pressures and responsibilities of real life. I really believe that teaching young people the basics of the above as well as how banking works, how to budget, what to do if you're a victim of fraud and just what exactly a hedge fund is (plot twist : no hedges were harmed in the making of this blog post!) would not only benefit their own lives, but their careers and the economy as a whole.

All my school ever covered in regards to politics was how voting systems work and the very basic ideas of what the main political parties concern themselves with. Given that it has been 8 years since I left school and in that time, there have been massive political changes in Scotland, perhaps political education has improved since then too, but in order to full utilise our democratic system and ensure everyone gets the most out of it, unbiased education about the rights and responsibilities of living in a democracy, how to join a political party, how to lobby, petition or how to even go about contacting your local MP is absolutely crucial.

Do you agree? Or if not, what topics do you think we need to be educating our young people on? I'd love to know!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Huge Boots Haul

Good morning all - happy Friday! Like most beauty bloggers, I don't need any excuse to pop into boots just to see what's new, but I had a 'Spend £40 and receive 400 bonus points' voucher so I trotted along to Boots on Wednesday and did some serious damage. When I tweeted about it, loads of people said they'd like to see a haul, so your wish is my command - enjoy, and please don't judge me! 

I love Una Brennan skincare, I absolutely swear by their Salicylic Acid Anti Blemish Clay Mask and having read good things about their Vitamin C+ Brightening Skin Renew Cleansing Oil, I wanted to try it out. Generally the idea of oil on my skin terrifies me but I've used this the last two nights and it doesn't leave any residue at all, just silky smoothness.

Also from Una Brennan, I bought their Rose Hydrate Intense Moisture Mask. As I'm such a fan of their other masks, I thought I'd add this one to my collection. I've used it once and I like it so far, smells beautiful, floral but clean, and left my face feeling baby soft.

For no other reason that it was £1 and it's adorable, I bought a mini Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. I love this stuff, it's magic in a bottle when it comes to taking makeup off so I think this one will be handy for on the move.

On to face stuff, it was buy one, get one half price on Soap & Glory makeup so I finally bought their One Heck Of A Blot mattifying powder and their Kick Ass concealer. I've read great things about both so am keen to try them out as my normal powder (Rimmel Stay Matte) and concealer (Collection Lasting Perfection) combination is boring me at the moment. I also bought No.17's Phwoarr Paint concealer. A girls gotta have options, right? I saw this on Helen from The Lovecats Inc.'s blog (post here) and her skin is a dream so here's hoping mine soon will be too!

Lastly for the face, I bought a MaxFactor Creme Puff baked blush in 'Lavish Mauve' (£8.99). I love baked skin products and once again, these seem to be quite highly thought of on the blogosphere, so we'll see. It's a lovely warm reddy-tone which I think will be really nice as Autumn approaches. 

Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Grey palette. As if I don't already have enough neutral toned eyeshadow palettes, but I loved the blend of browns and grey tones in this one and I like that it's small enough to carry in my makeup bag. Not overly keen on this type of awful cardboard packing though!

Next, something really attracted me to this mermaidy eyeshadow, L'Oreal Color Riche eyeshadow in 'The Big Blue'. I don't know how I'm going to wear this, but I'm looking forward to giving it a go and seeing what fun look I can create. Maybe not the most wearable colour but certainly unique.

Finally on the makeup front, I bought this nail polish by Mavala in the shade '305 Samarkand'. I've seen this brand loads of times before and have read great things about how opaque the colours are. To be honest, £4.95 is quite expensive for such a tiny 5ml bottle but I was really drawn to this purple and it applies like a an absolute dream. 

Wow! That a lot for one trip! As always after a big beauty spree though, I can't wait to try out all my new goodies. The few I've tried so far, I really like so that kind of justifies the massive spend, right? 

If you have any of these products and have any thoughts - let me know, will I love them? Will I hate them?

Monday, 3 August 2015

Radical Self Improvement August

There's something about Monday's that make you feel ready for change. The start of a new week. Mondays, and new months. Although today is actually the 3rd of August now, it's my first August blog post so we're going to roll with this theme.

If we chat on Twitter, you might have picked up on the fact that I've not been that happy with a lot of things for a while. The past few months have been quite testing and I'm just felt constantly a bit shaken up and anxious. I'm just not in a good place. I've felt like this for periods in my life before but never for this long. It's almost like I'm feeling restless with my life and I'm craving change, but at the same time, I feel exhausted and new things terrify me. It's hard to explain, but I need change and while I can come up with every excuse under the sun as to why I can't do anything about the way I'm feeling, truth is, I probably can. Or at least if I can't, nobody can. I've read that it take 25 days for a change to become a routine so I've decided that August is going to be Radical Self-Improvement Month! (Setting a time limit makes it seem more achievable, okay?!)

I've written quite a sizable list of things I want to do, change and work on. It includes small things like...
  • Drinking less caffeine and eating less chocolate. During Lent, I have up my two biggest diet addictions for 6 and a half weeks and it actually wasn't as hard as I expected - you can read more about that here. When Easter came though, I let myself slip right back into my old bad habits without even trying to maintain my new healthier diet. Now though, I know that I've done it (and succeeded at it) before so I can again. My new rule? I can only have caffeine and chocolate on my days off. 2 days per week is better than 7, right?
  • Walking more, even if it's just getting off the bus home from work a stop or two early. At the start of 2015, my boss and I made a mutual New Years' Resolution to walk either to or home from work at least once a week. We live in completely opposite directions, but we just thought it'd be a fun thing to challenge each other with. Needless to say, whenever either of us do it, it's a huge deal and we talk about it as if we've just won the lottery. Simply not good enough, I need to walk more. It's free exercise and if I can't do it in Summer (yes, even this rainy season that's trying to pass off as Summer!) when can I?
  • Going to bed by 11pm every night, midnight if I'm off the next day. Admittedly as I've gotten older, my sleep routine has gotten better. I'm kind of over that whole staying up til 4am watching Netflix stage of my life, but sometimes I just faff about so much that without me even realising it, it's suddenly 1am and I need to be up for work at 7am. I'm setting myself the challenge of going to bed by 11pm on days that I'm working the next day, midnight when I'm not. Of course there'll be exceptions, nights out etc. but I think that's a reasonable goal for every day.

To bigger things like...
  • Get back into writing a 'journal' - until earlier this year, I was an avid journal writer since my mid teens. Everything that happened in my life, good or bad, was written down. I find it theraputic to have a record of my feelings but I've let that fall by the wayside and I want to get back in to it. On a similar note, my lifelong struggle to not me a closed book is once again reeking havoc on my life, and I find that writing stuff down not only helps me feel better about it, but it helps me be more honest with other people too, so it's a two birds, one stone deal.
  • Kick start my physical health. My gym's been closed for the past 10 months for renovation and it's finally back open with lots of shiny new equipment and personal trainers (not sure if they're shiny too, we'll see!) This month, I'm rejoining and more importantly, I'm going to use my membership. I recently found some old pictures of me and while I know I've gained weight over the past few years, I'm truly shocked at how much my body has changed and I am so jealous of 4-years-ago Sophie. Once I get in the habit of going to the gym regularly, I actually really do enjoy the actual activity of going as well as the results I get but it's the motivation to get going that I lack. It is however, quite literally, a 30 second walk from my front door so I have no excuse. Plus, you know, new trainers, so what's not to love?
  • Go back to my doctor about my mental health. I try not to go too much into my mental health on my blog cause I don't want people I know in real life seeing but I think I need to go back to the doctors and talk some stuff through as things just aren't going the way I need them to go and it's time to at least try and sort that out. I'm tired of feeling 'stuck' in this place.

As well as continual changes, there's a few things I want to do, like redesign my blog, redo my media kit, have a massive wardrobe clear out and get my hair cut (we all know I avoid the hairdressers like the plague).

I'm a firm believer that it's the things you don't do which you regret most, so I'm taking charge of my life and properly trying to change it. Wish me luck and watch this space...