Friday, 2 December 2016

The November Playlist

Hello, Lovelies! It's been a while, huh? I'll save you the millionth where have I been post of the year and just skip straight to it! No promises or expectations for all this blogging lark, but I certainly hope to be about a bit more often for the last month of the year. 

Miss You - Gabrielle Aplin. 
100% the most played song of the month. I absolutely adore Gabrielle Aplin, and English Rain is one of my favourite albums of all time so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this little gem pop into my subscription box on Youtube. One listen in and it was the first song to make it into my little monthly favourites playlist on Spotify. Well worth a listen. Pinky promise!

Nathan Sykes - Famous 
Now, I'm not the biggest Nathan Sykes fan. I don't dislike his music, he's just not the kinda artist I'd choose to listen to, yknow? That all changed this month. I'm in love. Like, really. Kinda cemented by his live performance on the X Factor this year. But, this song is just amazing. I can't stop listening. 

 Unsteady - X Ambassadors. 
This isn't a new song. Apparently, it was featured on the Me Before You soundtrack, which I watched and loved. But, I've only just heard this song this month, someone. I found it on a random playlist on Spotify and I. Am. Obsessed. Not a knew one, but a good'un just the same. 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Sunday, 11 September 2016

The August + September Watchlist

IHello, Lovelies. I'm mentioned countless times here that I love me some telly! Whether it's a good old Netflix binge, sitting down with a cuppa and a soap or cringing at some reality tv, I'm there and watching eagerly. So, I thought I'd round up the shows I've been in love with over the last few weeks and share it with you guys. 

Could I really have done this post without Casualty? It's featured in nearly all of my tv loves posts, and I'm certainly not about to stop now. Any episode is a winner for me, but with the recent feature length episode and that helicopter scene, they definitely upped their game. I'm absolutely over the moon they've brought back Alicia, and can't get enough of the Hardy/Knight brother combo. Step aside McSteamy and McDreamy - Brit Doctors definitely do it better!

Ever since Rosanna Pierce started mentioning Suits in her Vlogs/on twitter/everywhere, I knew I had to give it a shot. I'll admit that when I started watching episode one, I just didn't get into it. I took a break, and sat down again a week or so later, and ended up binge watching 2 seasons in the week. Yep. It's addicting. Harvey Spectre is definitely my newest TV crush, very closely followed by Mike Ross. 

I've seen a lot of chatter about this recently, and it was definitely a Netflix binge. This at times was definitely a bit too obvious for my tastes; in particular, the commentary which in all honesty I found a bit silly. That said, I found myself suddenly deep into the second series when I'd only meant to be watching the very first episode to kill a bit of time. Definitely one of those "so shit it's actually quite good" shows. A bit silly at times, definitely a bit obvious at times, but addicting nonetheless. 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Saturday, 3 September 2016

What I Eat In A Day | Vegan Recipes

Hello, lovelies! Who doesn't like food? I love food! And, nearly more than that, I love finding new recipes to try. Now, I don't always eat vegan, which is terrible I know, but I try to as much as I can. That said, I spend far more time than I should watching vegan what I eat in a day videos on youtube and jotting down the recipes to try, and I adore spending my time in the kitchen playing about until I've got a dish that I just can't stop eating. So, I thought I'd join in and tell you all what I eat in a day, along with the recipes so you can try them out too. 


Now, this is pretty non-negotiable. I'm not one of those people who can sit down to a huge plate of pancakes or a cooked breakfast. I almost always have the same thing - porridge. I switch my add-ins and toppings around pretty often, but you can almost always bet on the fact that I'll be sitting down to a bowl of hot porridge on any given morning. Even the summer. Because I'm always cold. 

This one is pretty simple. Add 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of your liquid of choice to a pan, and heat over a medium heat. About halfway through, add 1/2 a mashed up banana, a small handful blueberries and 1/2 tsp maple syrup and keep stirring until it's combined fully and your consistency of choice (I like mine pretty thick, so I cook for a longer time). The banana and syrup make this super sweet, but the tartness of the berries cuts through the sweetness really well. And, it's loaded with fruit so you're already well on your way to your 5 a day! Top with the remaining banana and a drizzle of peanut butter and you're good to go.


Unlike breakfast, I try to have a different lunch every day. I get bored very easily, and if I have the same food too often I literally can't eat it again for months with the exception of a few things, but this veg soup is a super simple, versatile and filling meal. You could even double up the serving and have it with some crusty bread for dinner. I don't have a set-in-stone recipe for this, I just use whatever veg looks like it's about to go off with my go-to base of onion, garlic and chilli, so no matter what you've got you can just throw it in without having to go out and spend a fortune on new ingredients. 

This makes about 8 generous portions. 
Cut up any veg you've got lying around into medium sized chunks. I used 2 sweet potatoes, about 7-8 carrots, and about 6-7 mushrooms in this but you can use anything. Finely chop one onion, and 1/2-1 chilli, and mince 3-4 cloves of garlic. Fry this off in a small amount of oil and a pinch of  smoked paprika until everything softens. Throw in your veggies and add enough veg stock to cover everything. Leave to simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until you can easily break apart the veg with your spoon (this will depend on what you use, but about 30-45 minutes). Leave to cool, then blitz everything in a blender. You can then divide into portions, and freeze what you aren't going to use. 

I forgot to take a picture, but here's one from last week! Sorry.

Now, I'm not a fan of spaghetti. At all. But, this pasta bolognese is one of my favourite dinners. I switch out the spaghetti for whatever pasta I've got lying around, and even chickpeas if I fancy a change. You can also use this to top sweet potatoes, quinoa.. the list is endless! Topped with a nice helping of vegan cheese, you can't beat sitting down to this comforting pasta dish.

The sauce makes 2-3 portions. 
Cook your pasta according to the pack instructions. Chop 3-4 cloves garlic, 1/2 red onion, and cook in a pan with 1/2 a veggie stock cube and 1-2 tbsp boiling water. When the garlic and onion have softened, add 1 can chopped tomatoes, 1tbsp tomato paste/puree and 3-4 chopped mushrooms. Leave to simmer over a medium heat until the sauce is piping hot. Drain the pasta, add your sauce and toss to coat. Grate some vegan cheese over the top, and you're done! Freeze any portions you haven't used.

So, that's that! I didn't add snacks into this because I'll be doing a separate vegan snacks post soon, but I hope you liked these recipes. They're all so easy, but super delicious. 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Back To School Haul 2016 | Maxine Studies

Hello, Lovelies! As I mentioned in my recent 'where have I been' post, I'm going back to college for the millionth time this year. I don't actually start until the 20th, so I'm a bit ahead of my own schedule, but I like to be organised so I've already got everything in and ready to go. Plus, for anyone going back a bit earlier, you might see something you fancy! I picked all this up over the last few week, and it wasn't until I was getting everything together and getting the last few things I realised I've accidentally got a bit of a colour theme going. 

I've still got a ton of stuff leftover from last year, so this isn't everything I'll be taking. I will be doing a "what's in my pencil case" type post soon with all the things I take on a daily basis, so keep your eyes peeled for that. 

Obviously, the first thing I needed was a ring binder. I just wanted one I could divide up, instead of having to carry a few different ones around, so I went for one of the bigger lever arch files. I love this baby blue one from Wilko's (£2), and the design inside is lovely. I'm not a fan of anything too 'busy', so I like that it's plain on the outside but cute and girly on the inside. To separate the folder up, I just got these subject dividers (95p). I won't need all 12, but they seemed a bit firmer than the cheap cardboard ones which always end up ripped and falling out after about a week in my folder, so I just picked these up. Much the same with these plastic wallets (89p for 50), they aren't anything fancy, but they'll do to stick any loose bits of paper in which is all you need them to do, really!

Next, of course, I had to pick up a notebook. Like the folder, I wanted to just have to take one, and I always tend to get the Pukka project pads, but I loved the print on this one and it was only £2 in Morrisons. I also needed a diary, because I'm a micro-planner and organisation freak! This rabbit one was, again, £2 in Wilkos, and I love the cute design on the front. It was hard to find one that wasn't either a plain block colour or aimed at a younger audience, but I thought this was a nice middle ground, and the baby blue colours go well with my accidental theme this year!

Like I mentioned, I've got a ridiculous amount of stuff left over from last year, so all I needed to pick up on the pen front was some ballpoint pens and some colouring pencils. For pens, I picked up this pack of Paper Mate pens in 8 different colours (£1.50) I normally go for a super thin nib on a pen because my handwriting is cursive and really 'loopy' and gets lost with a thicker nib, and I didn't notice that these ones were marked as medium. So, I might end up not really using these in the end; which is annoying. I didn't really want anything fancy with pencils, so I just picked up the first ones I saw, which ended up being this 30 pack from Wilko's. They were only £1.75, which I thought was a complete bargain for the amount you get. To stick all this in I picked up this pencil case (£1.50), which isn't anything fancy but it gets the job done and looks nice with all the other baby blue things I bought.

Of course, even though I've got a massive pile in the house, I couldn't walk past these books of sticky notes from Morrisons. I can't remember which and I've lost the receipt, but one pack was 50p and the other was £1. They're really cute, and a nice change from the typical neon or pastel colours you get, and I like the fact they come in a little book with loads of different shapes and sizes. Next, my course is assignment based, with a lot of posters and things like that, so I thought I'd get this 4 pack of glue (£1). You get two 21g tubes and two 15g tubes. I might not need it, but I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it! And, for £1 for 4 tubes you can't really go wrong. 

Finally, I picked up this USB. I have got one lying around somewhere, but God knows where I've put it so I obviously had to buy a new one. I ended up going for the 16gb pastel blue one, which was £5 from Wilkos. I wasn't going to get a 16gb one, purely because I don't think I'll ever need that much, but the 8gb was £4 and this one was £5, so I thought I might as well. Plus, just like with the glue I'd much rather have a load of spare memory space I don't use, than need it and not have it for the sake of another £1. 

And, breathe! I didn't think I'd bought that much until I came to write this post up! I still need to buy a bag, but I'm so fussy about what I want that I'd never get this post up in time if I had to wait until I'd bought one. Let me know what you've bought for going back to schoo/college/uni in the comments below, and definitely leave any links too! 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Saturday, 27 August 2016

The August Playlist | Recent Music Loves

Hello, lovelies! Fancy having a bit of a snoop around my playlist for this month and finding out what songs I've been loving? You've come to the right place! I've gathered together all the songs I've had on repeat over the past month or so into one handy little post. Good, eh?

Bastille - Good Grief 
I honestly couldn't have made this post without adding this song. I've been obsessed with it probably for a little bit over a month, but it's still one of my go-to songs even now. I love Bastille, and I think this may be my favourite of all their songs. 

Rihanna - Love On The Brain 
This is a very recent love, but a love all the same. Now, I'll be the first to say I'm not Rihanna's biggest fan. I don't necessarily dislike her or her music, it's just not something I'd seek out either. But, I stumbled across this song in another playlist and I literally had it on repeat for the next 2 days. Solid. Like, it's all I listened too. Seriously

James TW - When You Love Someone 
This is the first I've heard of this guy, but I sincerely hope it's not the last! It's one of those easy listening, stick it on in the background when you're reading or just relaxing songs. Then, you listen to the lyrics and you're like "oh. so it's like that". Very much like Jamie Lawson's Wasn't Expecting That, where you don't really listen to the lyrics but when you do you realise it's a lot more meaningful than you first thought.

What have you guys been loving this month? I'm always open to new music, so leave your links below. 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Life Update! | Mental Health, Education + Pets!

Hello, Lovelies! It's been a while, eh? Quite a bit has happened, and you wouldn't believe the number of times I've thought "I must blog about that" and then just haven't had the time to actually sit down and have a good old natter about life. I've got a ton of posts hanging around in drafts over the past month or two, but it didn't feel right to start writing them up and getting them posted without having a little catch up on where I've been, and most importantly where I'm going! 

First things first, we really can't have this post without mentioning my new little babies! I got kittens! I was originally just going to get Henry; but in the end, we decided to get his brother, Winston, too. They were far too attached to each other to separate them, and actually the morning I rang about Henry the people who had reserved Winston had rang up to say they couldn't take him after all, so it was definitely fate. Winston loves nothing more than sitting down on your knee and watching Youtube videos (I've trained him well!) whilst Henry is a bit more reserved. They've settled in with the other pets really well, too. Kaiser is in awe of them, and they've taken to him really well. The home they came from also had a German Shepherd, which was one of the main selling points in picking them, as it was important to us that they wouldn't be scared of Kaiser and that their first few interactions were positive; which is obviously a lot easier when they've been brought up with another big, slobbery dog. 

Henry is mostly black, and Winston is the one with a lot of white.

The next biggest thing has got to be my mental health. I've spoken in posts before about my mental health problems, but Thursday the 4th of August marked the day I was officially discharged after nearly 2 years in counseling! I also came off my medication about 2 months or so ago, which was a big step. I honestly couldn't be happier or prouder in the way that my life has changed this year. I've got a post in the works all about my mental health problems in more detail and how I coped with counseling, medication and things like that, which I'm really looking forward to putting together.

Another big change is my education! After many failed attempts, I'll be doing an Access to HE course this coming September. I'm keeping tight-lipped about the degree I'm hoping it will lead onto just in case it all goes tits up, but I'm beyond excited! It feels like everything's falling into place, and this just feels like it makes perfect sense. I've tried a few times before but it's just never been the right time for me, but with all the big improvements in my mental health; I think this is the right time, finally! I'll have a ton of posts up on applying to uni as a ~mature student, study tips, and all that kinda stuff once I get into the swing of things myself.

Let me know what things have been happening in your life that you're excited about below! 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Almost Mid-Year Review | Looking At 2016 So Far

Hello, Lovelies! This was a slightly ad-hoc post. I didn't have this planned, but it popped into my head and who am I to say no to an idea? They don't happen all that often! So, I thought I'd take a look at the first 4 months of the year, review my new year's resolutions, and have a chat about the plan going forward. Let's do this!

One thing I want to discuss is the way that my mental health has played a part in the way the last 4 months have evolved. I mentioned briefly the history of my mental health in this post, and actually felt somewhat better until recently. I find that these things come and go with me. However, I've recently began counselling again, and am making steps to improve that area of my life. Although, of course struggling with your mental health takes it's toll, and I feel like that may be reflected in the way I've attempted to achieve the goals to far.

The first thing I wanted to do was be more organised with my time, which has pretty much been a non-starter! I tried really, really hard, but I'm a creature of habit, and sadly a lot of my habits are bad. This is definitely a goal I need to start working on, though. Hopefully in another 4 months, I can come back and tell you all about my success in managing my time. Until then, though...

I feel like the next two go hand in hand with me: worrying about pleasing myself instead of other's, and accepting that perfect isn't obtainable. I've really been struggling with this one, recently. I very much hold myself to other people's standards rather than my own. I feel like we're all guilty of doing this to different degrees, but this is a recurring theme in my counselling sessions, actually. If I'm happy with x thing, but Person A wants me to do y thing, then x thing is now a failure in my eyes. I think very black and white: perfect and useless, win and fail. I need to start to accept that the grey area exists, and I need to start choosing what shade of grey I am happy with. Something I've been working on in recent weeks, but certainly something that needs to be in the front of my mind in the coming months.

Next is blogging more, which is very hit and miss! I did perfectly, and then things wained. Although, I'm definitely getting the bug back! We'll see how this goes, I've noticed my want to blog varies with my mood, so hopefully things will only get better! Not the achievement I've wanted, but actually, all things considered, I'm happy with that I've achieved with this goal so far.

My final thoughts on the past 4 months as a whole: they haven't gone the way I intended. My motivation has dipped a lot, and life has certainly got in the way a lot more than I planned for. That said, I know that I could've done a lot worse, and actually I feel like I've put in place enough ground work to absolutely kill the next 4 months! 

How have you been getting on with your new years' resolutions? 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Indulgent Chocolate Brownie Recipe | Late Night Bakes

Hello, Lovelies! As I mentioned in my recent chocolate chip cookie post, I'm a baker at heart. When I'm bored, putting something off or just need to de-stress, I bake. I'm more of a sweet treats baker: I'm more likely to be found baking cakes and cookies than I am pasties and pies. And, one of my go-to recipes are these super simple, super indulgent brownies from Mary Berry.

Instead of chocolate chips, I once again prefer to use chunks: I'll normally add squares of rich dark chocolate for me, and Dairy Milk for my mum and sister. Again, I actually doubled this recipe, then halved it and made a batch for me and a batch for my mum and sister, as it's so easy to just knock up. This is definitely one of the easiest and tastiest recipes I know of. 

What you need: 
275g Butter; softened 
375g Caster sugar 
75g Cocoa powder 
100g Self-raising flour
4 Large Eggs 
100g Chocolate 

What you do: 
Preheat oven to 180c, line a baking tray 
1. Add everything to a large mixing bowl, and mix well. (I add the eggs + chocolate after I've mixed everything else, but that's personal preference).
2. Add the mixture to the baking tray, making sure the mixture's pushed into every corner, and spread evenly. 
3. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes (I'd check at 30-35 to be sure, then go from there) 
4. Leave to cool, then cut into even squares (or not, you do you) and turn onto a plate. 

These are really, really nice hot or re-heated, with a scoop of icecream on top. I microwave these and they come out fine. They should last 3-5 days in a sealed tin.

Much love, Maxine xo
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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Go- to Face Products + Reviews! | Full Face Routine

Hello, Lovelies! I have mentioned before on this little blog that one of the main reasons I started blogging was because of my love of makeup. I started watching YouTube videos, which really kicked off my love of experimenting with makeup, which then lead onto reading blogs (I've always been more of a reader than a watcher, but that's a story for another time), which lead quite naturally to me wanting to blog myself. 

If I had to choose one makeup item, it would be foundation. The only reason I ever even started wearing makeup was to hide the redness I have around my cheeks, which has always been one of the biggest causes of my self-consciousness. Of course, at 13 I didn't know what I was doing, and just layered concealer over my cheeks, unblended, and thought it was fantastic (I'm not much better now, in all honesty), but the whole point of this little trip down memory lane has been to lead us into today's post: my go-to face products. These are all firm favourites, with some of them being repurchased for years now, and all feature in my face routine on an almost daily basis. 

Firstly, I colour correct with this Freedom concealer palette, £5 and this MUA Prime and Conceal green-toned concealer, £2. As you can see, this freedom palette has taken quite the beating, they're such good coverage and they blend perfectly. I can't say enough good things about this. The MUA concealer is slightly less coverage and a thinner consistency, so I use this on my nose and forehead, where my redness isn't as bad so I don't need that thick product. I also use the peachy colour in the Freedom palette to cover my dark circles. 

Next, I use my all-time favourite foundation, the Collection Lasting Perfection foundation £5.99. We've all heard about the concealer, which is a firm favourite for most people I'm sure, but I don't hear enough about this foundation in my opinion. It is full coverage and quite thick, which I like but I'm aware not everyone likes but is exactly what I want in a foundation. One negative I've found is the colours don't run pale enough for me minus a bit of a tan, and they can oxidise quite a bit. I use porcelain, which is the lightest shade they do, and it's fine with just a bit of tan on me. I use this with a damp beauty blender and get a flawless finish. I never set this, and I get a full day's wear out of it without it budging so I'd definitely recommend. I don't think I'll ever find a Holy Grail foundation, but if I had one, this would be it.

After, I use the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer £4.19 to highlight under my eyes, my chin, nose and forehead. I also go back in and use this under my contour once I've done that, and if I'm going all-out, I'll carve out my lips and eyebrows with it. I won't talk too much about this, we all know it's perfect at this stage. 

Finally, my highlight + contour routine. First, I'll go in with this MUA Undress Your Skin Liquid Glow in Oyster £4. This is such a pretty colour and looks lovely as a soft highlighter by itself. I've even mixed it into foundations for a more dewy look, and it's worked really well like that too. I dot this on my cheekbones, across my nose, on my cupids bow and on my forehead, and blend with a damp beauty blender (noticing a theme? haha!). This dries super quickly, so I do this in stages and work really quickly. Next, I contour my cheekbones, my temples and around the top of my head with this Collection Highlight + Sculpt Contour Kit £4.19. This looks a lot warmer in the pan than it shows up on the skin. It's a very cool toned contour and blends out so well. I've tried a lot of different contour powders, and this is absolutely my favourite of them all. Finally, I go over where I applied that MUA Liquid Glow with the highlighting powder from the Collection palette. Again, this blends so well, and is a perfect, peachy glow, and takes my highlight to the next level coupled with the MUA Liquid Glow. 

And, breathe! This is my full face routine. I don't do all of this on a daily basis, of course, but my base makeup is the one thing I prefer to take the time doing and going all-out with, over eyes or lips. 

Leave any recommendations for products below, I'm always on the lookout for new face products I can fawn over. 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies | Baking + Recipes

Hello, Lovelies! Little known fact about me: my first job was baking things. I come from a long line of bakers, and my sister is a trained chef. So, it's no great shock that I love to bake in my spare time. These cookies are a firm favourite amongst everyone I know. They're crumblier than your standard cookie, with a slightly crispy, crunchy outside and a lovely moist centre. This plus the fact they're loaded with chocolate, they're the perfect cookie in my opinion. Keeping reading for the recipe (adapted from this recipe)

It's worth noting that I make these into giant cookies. I measure them with a tablespoon, so the balls fit nicely in the palm of my hand (no jokes, please) when I'm rolling them out. For a more 'regular' sized cookie, measure them out with a teaspoon, taking a heaped scoop each time. 

For this batch, I added the chocolate last as I made both milk and dark chocolate cookies, so I split the dough into two bowls and added the separate types of chocolate to each batch of dough, so you can quite easily add the chocolate last if you want to do that. It's easier than making the dough separately. 

What you need: 
200g Margarine
150g Soft light brown sugar
250g Self raising flour
100g Cocoa Powder 
200g Chocolate (I use squares of chocolate from a bar, but by all means use chips or anything else you want)
3-4 tbsp of milk (almond works fine)
3 tbsp Golden Syrup (Optional. I don't use this as I prefer a richer taste, but to sweeten things up add the syrup)

What you do: 
Preheat the oven to 180c, and line 3-4 baking trays. 
1. Beat the margarine until soft, then add the sugar and cream together until light and fluffy
2. Add the flour, cocoa, chocolate and syrup if using, and combine well. 
3. Add the milk a bit at a time until it's a moist but firm dough consistency. 
4. Take spoonfuls of the dough, roll into a ball and place on the baking tray, flattening out slightly. Make sure you leave a lot of room, as they'll spread considerably as they cook. 
5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes (8-10 if you're making a 'regular' sized cookie). Once out of the oven, put on a wire rack and leave to cool. 
And, you're good to go now! These can be knocked up in 20 minutes.

Maxine, xo 
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Friday, 22 April 2016

I'm Back! | Life Update + New Blogging Beginnings

Hello, Lovelies! Once again, it has been a while! I can't apologise enough, but life has been absolutely upside down for me. I've had a ton of stress, a lot of new things going on and just life in general, which has left me with a serious slump in motivation and time to get anything done. I hope you understand. 

So, I just wanted to have a little chat about the direction the blog is going in. When I first started blogging, I fit myself into a very strict blogging box, which of course was very restrictive when it came to the content I felt like I could post. So, I merged both of those blogs into this, which was just meant to be a "whatever I fancy posting" kind of blog. However, I've found that I still put those restrictions on myself when I'm coming up with new ideas. Which, to be honest, just leaves me a bit "meh", because what I feel like I have to post about I'm just not that into at the time, and what I want to post I'm just not happy posting. 

I've been being a bit more "daring" about what I've been posting recently, which is what I want to do with my blog. I want it to be more of a representation of myself as a whole, rather than just a small section of my life. Of course, beauty blogging will always be something that I want to blog about, but also as I come to understand my mental health issues more, and just generally grow and evolve as a person, I want to address those things too. 

So, as well as an "I'm back" post, it's also a bit of a heads up that there will be more general lifestyle posts, which I personally am very excited by!

Much love, Maxine xo
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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

How To Get A Better Night's Sleep | Tips + Tricks.

Hello, Lovelies! I mentioned in my recent post on getting out of a slump that getting a good night's sleep works wonders for boosting your motivation, and basically making your head seem clearer. My grandma, who was always right, used to always say that everything looked better after a good sleep and a cupper. And, I can't say I disagree with her! Here are some little tips and tricks I've found that have helped me improve my sleeping. 

1. Start small. Don't go into it thinking you'll go to bed at 9 if normally you're still binge watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix at 3am. You're not going to go to sleep anywhere near 9, which will just make you think about how you're not sleeping, which will in turn make you less likely to sleep, and you'll probably end up still being awake long after you'd normally be sleeping. I found that aiming to be asleep half an hour before I normally would worked for me. Once that's your routine, then aim for another half an hour until you're where you want to be. 
2. Turn. Off. The. Phone. And, the tele for that matter. Yep, and the laptop too! Try putting your phone on airplane mode about an hour before you want to lie down so you won't be distracted by any notifications (give it to someone else if you don't use it for your alarm!), turn off the tele and the laptop and do something outside of technology. Do some light yoga, meditate, read a book, anything that won't stimulate you too much, so when you're ready to head to bed you're ready to sleep. 
3. Leave the bed to sleeping. This is one I'm still working on, but I'm sure a lot of us watch tele in bed, do work, blog, write essays and countless other things (minds out of the gutter, please!). If you leave the bed to just sleeping, your mind will associate it with sleeping and not anything else, and you'll be much more likely to nod off. 

So, those are my top 3 tips for getting a better night's sleep. I promise, they do work. For me, at least. This is still something I'm working on, so if you've got any other tips please tell me. Every little helps! 

Much love, Maxine xo
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Friday, 4 March 2016

Apple Chips | Healthy, Easy Snacks!

Hello Lovelies! I'm a snacker. I like to snack. I'd be perfectly happy just grazing through the day instead of eating actual meals. So, I've recently been on the look out for things I can snack on that are as healthy as possible. You may or may not know that over the past few weeks I've been really trying to eat a plant based, clean diet. I've been eating 'clean' for quite some time, but I've recently made the decision to eat plant based where I can. So, adding that into the mix I've found the tastiest, easiest plant based snack: apple chips! 

The first time I made these, I tried them and knew I was in love. So, I gave some to my sister and my mum, and the entire pot was gone before we knew it! They're only 2 ingredients, and although they don't necessarily take minutes, they take about 5/10 minutes to prepare (depending on how you cut your apples, more on that in a second!) and then you bung them in the oven and leave them there while you get on with your day. I personally batch make these over the weekend and then I've got enough to last the full week. 

What You Need: 
2 baking trays, lined
2 Apples (1 per baking tray), thinly sliced. 
thats it!

What You Do:
Preheat oven to 100c
1. Cut the apples thinly (about the thickness of a regular crisp for reference). I have got no knife skills at all and I managed to cut them super thinly, but you can use a mandoline slicer if you want to (I find a cerated knife works much better)
2. Place them on a lined baking tray, making sure they don't overlap but are close together. I find 1 apple fills 1 baking tray, and I bake them 2 trays at a time, but that's up to you.
3. Sprinkle one side with cinnamon, and put in the oven.
4. After 1 hour, flip them over and leave for another hour.
5. Once they're out, leave them to cool and really crisp up for about 30 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container. 

I find these last about 5 days to a week in an airtight container, as long as you keep them in a cool, dark area. 

What are your favourite snacks? Have you tried these?

Much love, Maxine xo
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

How To Get Out Of A Slump | Regain Your Motivation!

Hello lovelies! I was inspired to write this post recently when I was asked this question and I wasn't sure what to say. I've spoken before about my own battles with mental health, and with depression comes a definitely lack in motivation to do anything. A lack of enjoyment in activities that are usually full of joy, and a lack of motivation to even wake up and get out of bed, never mind begin these activities. I'm in no way claiming that these with 'fix' anything as serious as depression, but these are some little tips and tricks I've picked up that can help kick start that motivation to do something. However big or small. 

1. Start small! Things can often seem overwhelming, so break up the task into smaller parts, and if you need to and can do, split them over a few days. If you need to clean your room because it looks like a bomb's hit, start by picking up the washing, then sorting it, then taking any dishes back to the kitchen etc. It's much less daunting to do little tasks than one huge task, and I find I actually feel more motivated because I'm ticking off a ton of to-do's, rather than working for a what seems like ages and still having nothing to tick off. 

2. Do something for 5 minutes. This is one of my favourite ones. Using the same example, if you need to tidy/clean, just think "I'll do some of it while the ad break is on", and you'll often find that you keep going. It's often that initial not wanting to start that puts you off, but once you've got started you'll be more likely to just keep doing it. And, even if you don't, you've got 5 minutes of work done and that's still better than nothing! 

3. Get someone else involved! Not only will this sometimes half the task, but you'll be less likely to let that person down than yourself. Even if they can't help you with the task load in itself (say it's just going out and getting fresh air, someone won't half that 'workload'), but you'll be much more likley to do it if you'll be letting someone other than yourself down. It will also, more than likely, be more fun, which will make the task seem much easier.

4. Don't beat yourself up for not doing it! This is the most important one, but often the hardest. If you haven't done as much as you wanted to, or any of it at all, it's very easy to beat yourself up about it. But, in the long run it's actually just going to make the thing seem much bigger than it is, and it's going to put a negative light on it that will put you off doing it. Try to accept the fact that other things happened that day that meant you couldn't do it, and try again as soon as you can. 

5. Keep your insides healthy. Get a good nights sleep, drink your water, eat enough (and healthily!). This actually makes a massive difference, my sleep hygiene has always been shocking. I sleep very little sometimes and all day the the rest of the time, and I have a very poor quality of sleep. It could be as simple as just shutting off technology for an hour or so before bed, going to bed earlier, and adding in things like more activity through the day and/or meditation (these all work for me), but if you're still struggling it might be worth seeing a doctor. And, we've all heard it a million times over, but drinking your 2l of water and eating a bit healthier are all massive impactors on your mood. 

I hope these have helped, and if you've got anything else to add please leave your tips and tricks below!

Much love, Maxine xo
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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Everyday Face On A Budget | Affordable Picks

Hello, Lovelies. When I first started blogging, way back when I was 18 and knew nothing (not that that's changed!), it was because I was on a tight budget and I wanted to share my love of "affordable" products. I've always stood by the fact that 9 times out of 10, you don't have to spend a load of money to get good quality. If you're a bit skint, there's a load of products out there for you! So, here's my everyday face makeup on a budget. 

Firstly, the current favourite in the beauty world, Nivea Post Shave Balm, £5.29. I read that this was such a great primer, so I had to get my hands on it. Although in all honesty I can't say this keeps my makeup on any longer, it does make it go on a little bit better, which is always a good thing! 

Next, the biggest surprise for me lately, I Heart Makeup I Am Flawless Foundation, £1.99. For such a cheap price I didn't expect much, but I was wrong! This gives a medium coverage, but lives up to its claim to be super buildable. I can build this up to a full coverage fairly easily, and it doesn't look cakey at all. One thing I will say is this can be quite shiny, and even I powder my full face with this, which is something I don't normally do. 

How could I have a drugstore/affordable makeup post without mentioning the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer, £4.19? I get this in the palest shade, and it acts as a great under eye concealer and general highlighting concealer, and gives a pretty full coverage, which is exactly what I'm after! 

After concealer, I'll powder with the MUA Skin Define Hydro Powder, £3. As far as I can see this only comes in one shade, which is super pale/almost white. This is the only powder I've found that isn't super orange on my ridiculously pale face, so if you're pale like me definitely give this a try! 

For eyes, I'll line them with this MUA eyeliner in Snow White, £1. This really opens my eyes up, which is always a good thing. I've mentioned before I always get good results for mascara, so I feel a bit iffy recommending one but if you're interested in what I'm using, it's this Essence Lash princess one, £3. 

For lips, my recent favourite lip duo, the Essence Lip Liner in In The Nude £1 and the Makeup Revolution Ultra Velour Lip Lacquer in Move Your Mouth Forever, £3. I'm back in my nude lip phase, and I'm loving these two together. 

On to eyebrows, I've been loving this little duo from Freedom makeup, £3. I got mine in powder Blonde, and I've been loving it. I mix the shades together for the main parts of my brows, and use the darker shade alone for the tail. I can imagine this lasting me forever, I've been using it on a pretty much daily basis for months and I've barely made a dent in it. Amazing value!

Finally, for contouring and highlighting I've been loving this Makeup Revolution Sculpt & Contour kit, £3.50. I actually got this a shade darker than I meant to, and for months have been meaning to pick this up in my shade but I haven't. The contour is a bit dark, but honestly as long as I use a super light hand it works really well. I am in love with the highlighter, though. It's such a beautiful peachy shade, and it's so smooth and blends amazingly. I'd happily buy this again just for the highlighter! 

I hope you enjoyed! What affordable makeup products have you been loving lately? Tell me below, I might be on a spending ban right now but I won't be soon! 

Maxine, xo 
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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sophia Karlberg - Pillowtalk | Zayn Cover

Hello Lovelies! Like the majority of people at the minute, I'm obsessed with Zayn's new song Pillowtalk. And, we all know I'm a big fan of my covers. So, it was only a matter of time before I featured a pillowtalk cover, wasn't it? The amazingly talented Sophia Karlberg's cover turned up in my subscription box recently and I just knew I had to feature it!

Her voice has got a lovely, slightly husky tone that really lends itself to the song. It's such a soothing version, I could probably listen to this all day for the foreseeable future and not be bored. Really! I haven't got one bad word to say about this version, it's so good you forget it's a cover and just enjoy it for what it is. You know that level of amazing? Yeah, this is it! Well worth a listen. It will also be available on iTunes & Spotify soon so, if you like it definitely support her and check it out there too!

Maxine, xo 
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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The 4 Week Spending Ban | I Have No Willpower

Hello, Lovelies! Like most of us, I spent a lot and got a lot over Christmas, which was quickly followed by my birthday in January. However, I'm a hoarder. A massive, ridiculous hoarder. So, on top of a huge pile of stuff I've got lying around the house, I've now got Christmas and birthday gifts, plus sales purchases to find homes for. I'm still struggling. It's just not happening. And, being realistic, I'm skint. So very, very bloody skint. 

The solution? A spending ban! As of today, I'm going to be only buying essentials. And, by essentials I mean I literally don't have another bottle of foundation left in the house, not I've got more bottles than I can count but omg doesn't this one look like it'll be the one?! Not that I've ever done that, of course... 

The point of this ban is, of course, to kick-start me into saving, hopefully make me realise that new things are grand and all but I don't need 50 red lipsticks, and also to give me an excuse to test out products I haven't tried in a while, force me to be more creative and hopefully give me lots of new things to write about here. Which can only be a good thing, yeah? Yeah. 

If any has gone on a spending ban recently, if currently gone on one or has any tips, please do leave links to your posts below! 

Much love, Maxine xo
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