Getting a Little Help….

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The genre of ‘self help’ literature kinda gets a bad wrap in my view. Personally I think they’re a great resource. They can be inspirational, motivational, educational, maybe even life changing. If you’re suffering from any serious issues they probably shouldn’t be relied upon exclusively, but for the most part, I believe they can be very useful.

In my mind, all kinds of books fit into this category. Basically anything where the author is aiming to help and guide the reader to improve their life I see as a type of self help book. I do wonder whether there might be a better phrase to describe this type of book though….I’ll have to keep thinking about that one!

I thought I’d do a little round up of some interesting ‘helping hand’ books I’ve read over the last few years.

‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers. 

I read this one a good few years back and really took a lot from it. Its largely about accepting the things you are frightened of or worried about but learning to realise that you’ve got it in you to handle whatever life throws at you and about seeing the positive side of ‘bad’ things that may happen. There are points where it gets a little cliche or irritating but I definitely came away from it feeling good and inspired and have even returned to it and reread sections again at times I felt in need of a calming influence!

8 out of 10 stars.

‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo.

I know this book is quite in fashion at the moment and I was intruiged to see what all the fuss was about! My take on it was that its completely barmy. At one point the author even describes how she talks to her socks thanking them for a hard days work! There was, to be honest, very little practical advice in the book that was new to me, or helpful. In fact there was quite a lot I outright disagreed with. Her main message is that items ought to ‘spark joy’ and if not, they’re out. She does modify this a bit, but basically that’s what she’s saying. My loo rolls do not ‘spark joy’ but I’m not about to go throwing them all out. I would say that the best thing about this book is that it does kind of put you in the mood to have a bit of a clear out. Even if you don’t follow her methods to the letter.

6 out of 10 stars.

‘The Happiness Project’  by Gretchen Ruben.

I actually listened to this on audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed it. (So much so, I’ve probably listened to it two or three times now.) The author, Gretchen, describes her quest for a happier life. She stressed that she is not unhappy, she just wants to find ways to appreciate what she has more and find more joy in her life. I became a massive fan of Ruben’s after discovering this book. She is very intelligent and, I think, very insightful.

10 out of 10 stars.

‘Better than Before’  by Gretchen Ruben.

Of course, being such a fan. I’ve now also read Ruben’s most recent offering. Better than Before is all about habit formation (and in turn, still really about happiness as habits are such a key component of this). I’m sort of obsessed with Gretchen’s four tendencies theory, which relates to how individual’s respond to expectation, both internal and external. Her main message is that there is no set of ways to best form habits, the key is knowing yourself and using the strategies that work for you. My only criticism of the book would be that when I came to read it there was very little new material. Being an avid reader of her blog and listener of her podcasts, I’d basically heard it all before, BUT, that said, I really didn’t care. So much of what she says is so spot on that it was interesting to read again in a polished format. In addition I would say that it is also only repetitive because Ruben is so generous with her material. If you weren’t in a position to buy the book you could easily source all the info elsewhere. I think this shows her main aim is truly to help people and inform them.

10 out of 10 stars.

‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ by John Gray. 

Another one I read a good few years back. I think its reasonable to say there’s a fair amount of filler and gimmick in here, however, there’s also some really worthwhile insights (for both sexes!) There were numerous moments reading it where, early twenty-something me had to reread passages in disbelief because it just.made.so.much.sense!

I also like the fact that it doesn’t paint either gender in a negative light. It really works hard to explain the different viewpoints and stress how key it is to learn to empathise. I’m a firm believer that you really can’t generalise, and of course there will always be individuals who won’t fit the mould, and no individual who will fit it on every count, but I really think that for most, there’s an awful lot in here that will ring true.

9 out of 10 stars.

Happy Reading!

Rach.xx.

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A Dry Shampoo to Rival Batiste?

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I get through a lot of dry shampoo. A lot. My stupidly fine hair is all too prone to looking decidedly lack lustre even after a few hours, never mind on the second day. When dry shampoo came onto the market I was THRILLED. Ok, so it doesn’t solve all my problems, but it goes a long way to help.

I’d alway used batiste. It works, it has a nice range of scents and it doesn’t exactly break the bank. However, in an experimental mood one day, I decided to pick up a can of a cheaper alternative; Wilko’s Dry Shampoo . This particular one promises volume. (I will pretty much always opt for whatever product states this word.) As far as I’m concerned Wilko’s offering does everything Batiste does, and it does it for only 95p!

Oh….and my best tip for dry shampoo? Apply it the night before where possible. Apply a lot (a lot) and don’t worry about rubbing it in or brushing it out. By the time you’ve slept on it, it will all blend in and be absorbed beautifully and you’ll awake with hair that (almost) looks freshly washed! Perfect.

Rach.xx.

Creating Memories.

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I created a memory Jar for the year leading up to my 30th birthday. Its a simple idea; just a jar, of any sort, that you pop little folded pieces of paper containing happy memories in. You can include things that you’ve done, funny moments or quotes, compliments or achievements. You could even include little photos or tickets. The difference between a memory jar and just writing these things in a journal or making a scrapbook is that you don’t reread them inbetween, come your next birthday (or new Year’s eve or whatever other date you’ve set in mind) you can open up all the memories and chances are there will be lots you had completely forgotten about or not thought of since!

I thought this would be a fun thing to do in the last year of my twenties and I also hope it will spur me on to do some fun things and create some great memories!

To make my jar, I simply tied a ribbon round a glass jar from Ikea, popped on labels with a couple of favourite quotes and decorated with some sticky stars! Easy!

Rach.xx.

Little Life Improving Tips and Hacks.

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I’m pretty busy, and can be kinda lazy. I’m basically all for anything that makes day to day life simpler and helps with all those irksome little chores. I’m a long way from getting ALL my shiz together, but here’s a few tiny things that I’ve figured out so far:

1.) Wash your make up brushes in the shower. Seriously, washing make up brushes can be such a chore. Especially when you’ve got loads of them to do. I try to wash the main ‘facey’ ones pretty regularly and I’ve found that the ideal time to do this is at the same time I’m washing me! I just bring em in, do them while I’m waiting for my conditioner to do its thing and I’m done!

2.) Clean your shower in the shower. Another job you can get done in the shower, is some bathroom cleaning. I keep one of those dishscrubbers stuck to the wall ready (they can have some washing up liquid/other soapy cleaning stuff in the handle) and I just swish it round the tiles and tub while I’m there and let it get rinsed away. Soooo much easier than faffing about doing it at another time.

3.) Tidy in short bursts. I majorly struggle to keep on top of mess and clutter. It just seems to be a constant uphill battle. One thing that helps though is sneaking in tidying in short, otherwise wasted bits of time. When I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, the microwave to ping or the toast to pop I’ll run round clearing the sides, filling or emptying the dishwasher and putting things away. Cleaning the bathroom sink is a job that can easily be done in the length of time it takes to do your teeth. I quite enjoy seeing how much I can get done in just a minute or two. (This also works well during advert breaks!)

4.) Put things half away. Ok, so in an ideal world you’re gonna put things completely away. But this is not an ideal world and I know that more often than not that just aint gonna happen. But I’m trying hard to get into the habit of at least getting things on their way to being put away. So if I’m leaving the bedroom to go downstairs I’ll look around and grab the mug that I’ve left by my bed. Even if it only gets to the kitchen counter or the bottom of the stairs, its an improvement, and more likely to eventually end up back where it should be.

5.) The basket of inbetween clothes. I have often suffered from a very serious and out of hand floordrobe. When I’m exhausted at night the last thing I want to do is hang that cardigan that’s only been worn for a bit back up, or refold my jeans and put them carefully on the shelf. So they would end up on the floor. That is, until, I employed a handy basket in my wardrobe. Now, any items that aren’t quite ready for the laundry get thrown in there. I can either put them straight back on the next day, or at least tackle the basket when I’m feeling a little fresher another time.

6.) Never trust your brain to remember anything. I’m slowly learning that it is never wise to think you will remember something completely unaided. The amount of times I’ve told myself I’ll remember what I need to buy, or that idea I a had, or that I responded to that bill or letter. It seems so obvious at the time that you think you’d never forget it. But if you’re anything like me, forget it you will. I now try and write everything down, lists, memos, everything. I write dates and explanations on bills and correspondence. I also don’t trust myself to remember to write it down later. Instead I record things all over the place, notebooks and pads and on my phone and computer. I’ll often take a photo of a handwritten note or list so that I know its in my phone too. I even make lists and record ideas on my voice memos as I’m walking along. I then simply take ten minutes or so every few days to collate all these notes in one place.

7.) Trick Yourself into starting. I have big issues with getting going on tasks. The huge ones, the daunting ones, the unpleasant ones, but even, bizarrely, the things I want to do! One way I’ve found round this is to tell myself I only have to do it for ten minutes. I set a timer on my phone and give myself permission to stop if I want to when it goes off. More often than not I find that by the time I’ve started keeping going doesn’t seem nearly so bad. (I’m shocked how this trick continues to work….I’m obviously easily fooled, even by myself!)

Hope these teeny tips help.

Rach.xx.

 

The everyday SPF.

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Simple Kind to Skin + protecting moisture cream spf 30 uva/uvb:

currently £3.33 at Boots.

I try and protect my skin with an SPF on a daily basis. Come rain, cloud or shine (lets face it, mostly cloud and/or rain in this country) I like to pop Simple’s Kind to Skin on my face, either alone or under make up. Its a great day cream as its light, non greasy and a good base, yet still provides a fairly high UVA/UVB protection.

Whats more, its such a bargain. Its currently only £3.33 at Boots (and I don’t think I’ve ever actually paid much more than this for it). At that price, as the weather starts to warm up a bit I like to keep one on my dressing table and one handy in my bag. That way i can quickly top up on any super sunny days. I sometimes find myself caught out in this unpredictable weather and this can be applied to those forgotten areas such as hands, shoulders or the tops of feet!

Its pump action dispenser means its hygenic and easy to use. You won’t find yourself accidentally squeezing out half the bottle and wondering what to do with all the excess! Its also extremely gentle and won’t irritate sensitive skin. Its cheap, cheerful and….well…..simple, but I think you’d be hard pushed to find a better performing product.

Rach.xx.

Finding Time to Read More.

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I’ve always loved books, but the amount of time I actually spend reading has definitely peaked and troughed during different periods of my life. I think this is only natural. For me, I tend to read a lot less during periods of stress. Its a bit of a paradox, as its these times of anxiety when I would probably benefit even more from relaxing with a book, but there we go, the happier I am, the more I read.

But even aside from all that, it can be difficult to fit an activity like reading into life. I definitely don’t always manage to read as much as I would like, but here are my thoughts on some strategies you can use to try and up your book time.

1.) Watch less t.v./ spend less time internet browsing. Its not going to be popular with everybody, but there are only so many hours in a day and you’ve got to decide where your priorities lie. I still love to watch t.v. but I find when I make sure I only watch set shows that I actually enjoy (and less time mindlessly watching rubbish just because I haven’t turned the t.v. off)I have more time to read! Ditto for scrolling through pinterest.

2.) Read before going to sleep. Its got to be one of the best ways off helping you settle down for a good night’s rest. Much healthier than staring at the blue light of a screen and even if you only manage a few pages before your eyes start to droop, it all adds up.

3.) Find a reading buddy. Its much easier to get into a habit when the people around you are developing that habit too. If you can convince a partner or housemate to try and increase their reading time, chances are your good intentions will rub off on each other and you’ll both benefit. Its also great to have buddies that read because you can swap and share books and make recommendations to each other.

4.) Utilize technology. Not everyones a fan, and I know I could never give up ‘real’ books but the benefits of an ereader are that you can always have it with you and thus take advantage of otherwise wasted time! I personally don’t actually own an ereader, but make sure that I have a book downloaded on my phone. I can then read while I’m waiting for a friend, or alone in a cafe rather than just sitting or browsing facebook. The same applies for audiobooks. If you’re into them, they mean you can be ‘reading’ even while you’re driving, walking or running.

5.) Read multiple books at the same time. Not literally at the same time, obviously. But its ok to have more than one book ‘on the go’ at any one time. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a particular book or story, but you might still be in the mood to read something.

6.) Don’t be afraid to give up on a book. I used to struggle with this a lot and it really held me back. I would find myself not enjoying a book and it would sit on my table for months on end while I didn’t read it….or anything else! Whats more, this weird belief that I had that I had to finish every book i started, meant I sometimes had issues even beginning them! It felt like too much of a commitment. Allowing yourself to quit if you feel like it, frees you up to try new things and to move on if they are not for you! It makes reading a whole lot more fun!

7.) Put aside time for more challenging books (If they’re something you’re into).  Of course sometimes there are books that are less enjoyable, at least in a straightforward sense, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to read them or that they aren’t worth the effort. If a book falls into this category I find it helps to put aside a set amount of time (maybe half an hour a day, or an hour each weekend, whatever fits your life) and to focus on it then. Meanwhile read something lighter and easier at other times. It might take a while to get through them this way, but you’ll get there in the end and without getting stuck in a rut!

8.) Keep a big ‘to read’ pile. I just love having a big stack of books I’m yet to get through. I like always having lots of choice when its time to start something new and I find that keeps me excited about reading. Now books aren’t cheap, and although I will occasionally buy new books (or spend a voucher!) the vast majority of my books come from charity shops.

Happy Reading!

Rach.xx.

No 7 Stay Perfect Mascara: The solution to Panda Eyes.

 

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I spent a long time searching for a mascara that I could get along with. A very long time. I literally spent years struggling with panda like black smudges under my eyes. It was a problem I seemed to suffer alone with. My friends would happily pile on the mascara, layer upon layer, spend all night dancing and still look fresh as a daisy. I on the other hand would be in the loos, rubbing under my eyes with a wet finger. I still haven’t worked out exactly why I seem to get this issue, I wonder whether perhaps I have particularly oily eyelashes?

Then came the glorious day I discovered No 7 Stay Perfect Mascara. I scoffed, inititally. Stay Perfect indeed I thought. My make up had never ‘stayed perfect’ for more than a five minute interval. But, in desperate hope I purchased it and tried to stay optimistic.

And this stuff is game changing. Its like no other mascara I’ve ever encountered. It basically seems to be made of different stuff. It doesn’t budge an inch. Even If I were to rub at my eyes, it wouldn’t exactly smudge, it would perhaps flake a bit with some pretty vigorous prodding. You also can’t really take it off with normal eye make up remover. You could sort of manage it, but really the best thing you can do is take it off with plain old water. Just very gently wipe it with a wet cotton pad (or i just use wet fingers sometimes) and it will flake off cleanly in, well, sort of bits. Ok so you’d run into trouble if you went swimming but lets face it, that would be true with any normal non-waterproof formula. At least in Stay Perfect’s case, if you forgot and jumped in the pool all you’d have to do is wipe it away and it would be gone. No tell tale streaks! Ditto for crying. If you cried a few gentle tears it would stay put, but if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have a proper bawl, all you need to do is nip to the sink and clean it off. Problem solved!

I concede that if you are someone who doesn’t suffer from the same weird smudgey, oily eyelashes that I suffer from you’re probably not going to be interested in this mascara. It has its downsides; you can’t really layer it like you can with normal ones, and its probably not the most volumising or lengthening solution you could find. But if, perchance, you’re a weirdo like me…..this could change your life.

No 7 stay Perfect Mascara £12.95 at Boots.

Rach.xx.

A Little Bedside Organisation.

I like to keep a fairly well organised and stocked nightstand. After all, I spend a good proportion of my time in bed so I need things on hand!

I aim to try and keep the top of my bedside table fairly clear and clutter free. A light is essential, of course, for bedtime reading and I always like to have water at the ready. The picture frame and candle add a touch of decoration.

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My top draw holds all my essentials. First, beauty bits. I like to keep lip balm, hand cream, body lotion and cuticle cream nearby. For those night time emergencies and also purely because I find lying in bed to be one of the best times to do these little things. If I can slather on moisturiser and have it working away while I sleep then all the better! And of course, hair ties!

 

Healthcare items: I keep a bottle of sinex in my nightstand. I find this product a godsend! I absolutely cannot stand having a blocked up nose if I am trying to sleep and sinex clears it within minutes. Piriteze anti-histamines: I take one of these most days as I suffer from a bit of hayfever and just general dust allergies. Bach’s Rescue Remedy spray: This claims to reduce stress and anxiety. I’m not completely sure I actually believe this works but I’m all for the power of placebos. Lavender essential oil: I will occasionally pop a few drops of this on my pillow as a calming sleep aid.

Miscellaneous (but oh so essential!) bits and bobs: I keep a selection of bookmarks here as I hate to find myself without one. Earplugs: Its pretty rare that I use these but its nice to have them on hand just in case of car alarms or noisy neighbours. Headphones: I often listen to podcasts in bed if I’m feeling anxious or having trouble drifting off. These ensure I don’t disturb my other half! A nakd cocoa crunch bar: You never know when you might get a pang of nighttime hunger! I sometimes find it hard to sleep if I’m hungry so I like to keep a snack close.

In the next drawer I keep my journal, a selection of notebooks and my 5 year memory book and a pen. I don’t write in my diary everyday but if my mind is feeling overly busy I find it helpful to get things down on paper. The notebooks serve a similar purpose, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, or maybe just full of ideas I like to write some lists. I also have a couple more books for browsing. I’ve recently been learning a little about mindfulness.

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The last draw houses my wheat bag (great for aches and pains when warmed up in the microwave), an eyemask, a massage roller and some cotton gloves. When my hands are particularly dry these help my moisturiser work overtime through the night to leave them soft by morning. There’s also a lint roller (not something I use in bed obviously, its just a handy place to keep it!), a pair of socks (for chilly feet!) and a sleeping mask. I actually use the sleeping mask quite often as my other half tends to keep the light on reading for longer than me.

And that’s me all ready for bed! Night!

Rach.xx.

L’oréal Paris Elnett Satin Review

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I’m often all about the novelty and am easily swayed by new products or pretty packaging, so when I find myself repurchasing a product its a pretty good sign that its done something good.

I’m not quite sure what exactly it is about the L’oréal Paris Elnett Satin that I find quite so appealing. Perhaps its that it certainly does the job. In fact, it does several jobs! For me, the main properties that convinced me to part with my cash were that it is a heat protectant and that it provides volume. (In fact, they claim it locks in a voluminous style for up to 3 Days! I feel L’oréal may be getting a little ahead of themselves here. They’ve sneakily used that catch all and deceptive ‘up to’ phrase. If they’d like to come and have a look at my hair after three days I think even they would agree that volume would not be a word they would use in relation to it, and they would in fact probably suggest that it needed a good wash.) They also claim it locks out flyaways and humidity and leaves hair shiny and soft like satin. A claim that L’oréal don’t make, but that is one one of my favourite things about the product, is that it also seems to act as a detangler. I spray it on damp hair and suddenly I can get a brush through it without feeling like I’m breaking it to pieces. A definite plus for my fragile locks.

All in all I would say that L’oréal are over egging it a bit. It certainly hasn’t completely transformed my hair but its not half bad. And if its stopping my hair getting heat damaged and broken then I’m happy. I also LOVE the bottle and spray component. It has a lock/unlock function and creates a pleasingly fine mist. For now, I’m a loyal consumer…..but its possible something else pretty could turn my eye.

Available at Boots for £5.99.

Rach.xx.