HD Brows on fleek!

…it was time to correct myself before I wrecked myself.

Years of tweezing and waxing have seen my eyebrows take on all of the geometric shapes they could muster, from the ‘comma’ to the ‘flatline’, they’ve done it all! In September, I decided to let my eyebrows grow out where they have been waxed and plucked in the hopes of a new shape presenting itself by years end. By November, it had become too much and there were only so many two-inch hairs I could pull out by hand, it was time to correct myself before I wrecked myself.

I have always lusted after beautifully arched and perfectly lined eyebrows; eyebrows that are matched to the facial shape without looking like they’ve been glued on. I am fortunate in that my eyebrows are still very thick and grow rather long (in the places that they grow) however they have always been relatively short on the ends and bushy as hell. A car accident in my early twenties left me with eyebrow scarring which I have learned to fill (thank you Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade) and dotted hairs line my unibrow. I would love to have my eyebrows microbladed to shape but now that I cannot tattoo (for the moment), it was time to do the next best thing…

H:Room business card and High Definition Brows patch test

High Definition Brows

I must be honest, I usually pop down to the high street salon (American Nails) and have my brows done for a fiver, this is just a tidy up of growth. This time, I did a bit of a Google and found H:Room in Reading that specialises in HD Brows and this concept that is relatively new to me but well known to others.

High Definition (HD) Brows is a bespoke concept, specialising in tailor making your eyebrows for you. This is about using various tools and techniques to give you the brows you so desperately desire by working with what you have and enhancing it. The process involves tinting, measuring, waxing, threading and some trimming to get your eyebrows squeaky fleek.

I called into H:Room to see what it was all about, they advised me that having not had HD Brows done before, I would need to get a patch test from them and make an appointment in salon. Naturally, I sent hubby down to the salon to pick up my patch test, book my appointment and put down the £15 deposit that the salon required (as a new client). The overall cost for the HD Brows treatment at H:Room is £35 and the £20 balance was due on the day of the appointment.

It is important to note that yes, I did find other salons that do HD Brows for a slightly cheaper price (Ranging from £15 to £35) in and around Reading but I liked the look of H:Room and their various services on offer so I chose to pay the £35 and I am very happy that I did!

HD Brows Process

As soon as I arrived at H:Room, I was made to feel very welcome. I chose a nice, quiet morning for a treatment as I don’t even recall seeing another person in there. Lauren, my stylist, came over to me and ushered me through to her brow station.

We had a brief chat about the patch test and how I had no reaction on my arm after application a few days earlier. She looked at my face and listened to my monologue on arches and length and my Psoriasis and so on and so forth and then she got stuck right in. The process took about 35-40 minutes in total, I actually forgot to time it but I know I walked out of there at 10:40 and we got started just before 10am.

First, the brow tint was lathered over my brows (I wish I had actually taken a picture) and left for some time. I have very dark eyebrows so I wasn’t expecting much from the tint but Lauren assured me that despite that fact, the tint will darken any lighter hairs hiding underneath so it can make a difference (note, this tint does not stay on the skin). Next, she measured up my brows in line with my face and came at me with the scissors and trimmed my eyebrow curtains. We then moved onto waxing – which I absolutely abhor – and I was well impressed with how quickly my eyebrows were waxed and tidied after which the threading above and around my brow was done.

At this point, I had a look at my newly shaped brows in the mirror and absolutely loved what I saw, the arches that I longed for were clearly visible without being filled in and falsified. Lauren then went in with the HD Brows Pro Pencil (I am buying myself this pencil!) to fill in any gaps and elongate the brows on the ends leaving me with full, long, arched, fleeky eyebrows! Afterwards, she applied some balm to sooth the skin after all the poking and prodding and I was ready to put my glasses back on and see the final product.

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Before and After using the HD Brows treatment
Before and After my HD Brow treatment

HD Brow Result

While I know that HD Brows are not a permanent solution to a growing problem (literally, a growing one), it was a great way to get a decent shape to my brows so I once again have a new and fresh canvas to work with. I would recommend contacting your nearest HD Brows stylist as soon as possible and having them done, after all, your eyebrows are the focal point of your face.

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Before and After my HD Brow treatment

I will be back in 4-6 weeks (budget permitting) for a top up!

Have you had HD Brows done? What was your experience?

Shevy

Xx

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NO MAKE UP SELFIE

Special thanks to the H:Room in Reading for the great treatment.

I wanted to confirm that I have NOT been paid or compensated in any way for this review – This was paid for out of my own pocket and is an honest recommendation.

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Lip Scrub – ing!

A little pot of sugary, flavoured goodness is all you need to exfoliate that soft lip skin and get rid of any hanging bits of unpleasantness.

For an amateur like me, applying a matte liquid lipstick is an art form in itself; the perfect application takes time, practice and a lot of concealer around the mouth to get the straightest of edges and cleanest of applications. There is however another step frequently omitted that would make your lipstick life that much easier in the future, one I cottoned onto a little later in life but something I felt absolutely necessary to share with you, this step requires a little bit of a lip scrub and a whole lot of restraint.

As an avid reader, by now it is no secret that I have very dry, Psoriasis prone skin and I can assure you, my lips are no different. I have had to learn very quickly that dry lips make for very unattractive lipstick applications and after spending considerable funds on my extensive collection (Jeffree Star and Kat von D included), I have found a ritual that ensures my lips are just as kissable – liquid lipstick or none.

All of the liquid lipsticks I own are quick drying, matte products that dry down onto your lips showing every crack, every crevice and every peeling piece of dead skin (yuck!) so for me, no matter what I do to keep my lips lipstick lush, there is a little ritual I follow shortly before I start my make-up routine that has become mandatory…

Burning tea light candle with lip scrub around it

LIP SCRUB LICENSE

A little pot of sugary, flavoured goodness is all you need to exfoliate that soft lip skin and get rid of any hanging bits of unpleasantness. There is a reason that Jeffree Star made a lip scrub not long after he started selling the velour liquid lips, these two beauty products go hand in hand and if you haven’t used any before, now is a good time to start.

I have two go-to pots of lip scrub that I would recommend for use prior to your lipstick application, only a little bit of either lip scrub on the finger rubbed into the lips in a circular motion can do wonders for your after lipstick look. Alternatively, grab a toothbrush and with soft, circular motions, rub the scrub into your lips or rub your lips together softly.

You will have to dig deep to find that restraint I mentioned earlier because both of my recommendations taste as good as they smell but any product that could pass for candy in a jar is going to get a little lick, in fact my daughters can always be found nearby trying to stick their fingers into the lip scrub jars. After applying, feel free to lick the edible lip scrub off of your lips or wipe with a tissue or cleansing wipe if you prefer, but you won’t.

MY LIP SCRUB SAVERS

My first go to jar is (of course) Jeffree Star Cosmetics Velour Lip Scrub in Strawberry Gum. This lip scrub is Vegan, 100% cruelty free, Paraben and Gluten free and with this product; a moment on the lips is most certainly NOT a lifetime in on the hips. It has very gentle exfoliation and smells and tastes divine, just like a bag of Strawberry Laces (who can say no to those?) I believe there are now 12 different lip scrubs to choose from so if Strawberry isn’t your thing, you could grab a Root beer or Mojito instead and for just £12 for 30 grams from UK appointed reseller Beauty Bay this is a make up bag must have!

Jeffree Star Velour Lip Scrub in flavour Strawberry Gum flat lay

Secondly, the Lush lip Scrub in Sugar Plum Fairy is another favourite of mine and at only £5.95 for 25 grams, it is impossible to say no (That and the fact that they are strategically placed at the check out at my local Lush). This product is Vegan and cruelty free and consists of exfoliating castor sugar and wild orange oil that make this scrub irresistible to the palette. You can grab this scrub or any of the other flavours such as Naked Scrub, Chocolate or Honey at your nearest Lush store.

Lush Sugar Plum Fairy Lip Scrub spilling out of the jar

SCRUB UP ON THE INGREDIENTS

A quick look at what both of these products are made of :

Jeffree Star Strawberry Gum Lip Scrub

  • Glycerine
  • Vegetable
  • Sucrose
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil
  • Flavour (Strawberry)
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Vitis Vinifera (Grape Seed) Oil
  • Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
  • Red 40 (CI 16035)

Lush Sugar Plum Fairy Lip Scrub

  • Castor Sugar
  • Organic Jojoba Oil
  • Sweet Wild Orange Oil
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Synthetic Fluorphlogopite
  • Citral
  • Limonene
  • Flavour
  • Colour 77007

DIY SCRUB LIFE

Now you may feel that these products are a little overpriced for some flavoured sugar and though I am far too lazy to make my own – my motto is why make it if I can buy it, the ultimate consumer – you may feel that you can do it better yourself… and you should! A lip scrub is a beauty regime essential and you can put together your own little lip scrub recipe with the ingredients, oils and sugars you prefer to get rid of those chapped winter lips. With only two ingredients, brown sugar and honey, you can make a lip scrub that rivals the greats and is still just as edible (if not more so).

Ultimately, these are products that I just can’t live without when it comes to the liquid lipstick life and trust me; I am all about that life! A little circular scrub before my make up routine and I have soft, dead skin free lips ready for their Instagram debut.

Do you use lip scrub? If so, what are you favourites and why?

Shevy

Xx

The beautiful makeup brushes in the image are from the Ombre Gardenia brush set courtesy of Blush Tribe Cosmetics.

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5 quick tips on SEO for blogging beginners!

‘The first time I saw the words ‘Domain Authority (DA)’ I felt like I was a very small Neon Tetra in an aquarium of Oscars…’

It seems I have the daunting task of optimising three months worth of blog post images to include alt text, a task that is going to need a lot of coffee and even more patience as I edit and re position all images since September 2017. While the best blogging advice I’ve ever received would be NOT to focus too heavily on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), it’s important to have an understanding of these concepts to get the basics right from the outset, the rest will follow.

Up until a few months ago, SEO was something I had only ever heard in passing, another acronym or piece of IT jargon that was completely irrelevant to me. I was wrong, in fact, as intimidating as an acronym can be, optimising your blog for favourable search engine results is not as difficult as it sounds and now I can be heard rattling off the latest facts and figures at my husband after dinner and excitedly watching my baby (Moonsomnia) grow.

The first time I saw the words ‘Domain Authority (DA)’ I felt like I was a very small Neon Tetra in an aquarium of Oscars. So many fish, both small and large, all floundering for the same thing – the right to post an incredible DA rating on their media kit, a little number that has huge influence on the sponsored content offered to bloggers; both in quality and in frequency. (Unfortunately, my media kit is at this time, in parody format hopefully soon to be upgraded to the real thing).

What is Domain Authority when it comes to SEO?

In short, it’s a race held by SEO gurus Moz. You’re either at 1 (the back) or at 100 (you’re winning). How well your blog does on a search engine results page is predicted by how close to the winner of this race you are. The higher your DA rating, the better your search engine rankings will fair against other sites and the closer to the front page you’ll appear (you hope). The DA of your blog is its search engine power; the quality of your site and extra effort put into ensuring everything is ‘as it should be’ will ensure a favourable rating – one I don’t yet have.

I promised myself I wouldn’t get hung up on my DA rating but currently I’m sitting at 1/100. I thought this meant that my blog was awful and I was being shunned by search engines and bloggers alike but thanks to a group discussion in a bloggers SEO group on Facebook, I was assured that actually my blog is just still a little too new to index and I shouldn’t panic just yet… I still check on it daily, waiting for my baby to age.

Feel free to head on over to Moz to check your own rating but don’t get too hung up on the numbers (yes brands, that means you as well)! A blog with a rating of 1 can put out some high quality content; read the blog first, check the DA later.

If you’re lucky enough to already have a DA rating, which, if you’re reading this you probably already know everything I’m about to say, you may want to keep track of how to improve this rating. If you don’t yet have one that is above 1 or are new to blogging and this SEO mind boggle, pay close attention (I wish I had!).

You need only search the internet and various other social media platforms to find a myriad of ways to increase your SEO, I am going to focus on the basics here (I am but an amateur) and what I’ve been able to ascertain up until now.

Macbook on a desk being closed but light still on

SEO Tips and Tricks – The basics

Alt text!!!!

I’d been posting happily for the last 3 months, creating bright and image rich content and really enjoying the look of my blog. I was involved in another conversation in a Facebook group that saw a few bloggers pose the ‘alt text’ question… after a bit of conversation and a lot of head scratching, it was clear that I had missed out a VERY important step.

Alt (alternative) text is a word or phrase that is attached to an image to tell readers what is in said image. Now, while you as a seeing reader don’t actually need me to tell you what is in an image you can see with your own eyes, blind and visually impaired viewers using screen readers are able to tell what is in the image by the alt text being read out to them. Without alt text, the image is just… well, nothing.

This is an easy and essential correction, when inserting an image in a WordPress blog there is actually a blank alt text box, which you can complete with the description of your image. Remember, this is being read out to some of your audience members so ensure it’s clear and concise!

Example of where the Alt Text box shows on WordPress

Long form content.

There is nothing worse than reading a blog and you’re in a rush, you do a quick scroll and it looks like the London marathon rather than a 100m sprint. Perhaps it doesn’t get your full attention, you have the concentration span of a goldfish and give it a skip or maybe you get halfway and get distracted. From the writer’s perspective you’d think that a short form post would be better, something under about 700 words to keep your reader engaged but not for too long…

Wrong again.

There is a lot of speculation as to the number of words that Google sees as a knowledgeable, quality post but the principle is clear. Long form posts fair better in terms of SEO as they’re considered to be more in depth and more valuable than its shorter alternative. The average word count for top ranking Google content is somewhere around 1200 words!

This is fairly easy for those of us with verbal diarrhoea.

Keywords

Think about your post. If you wanted to find your post on the internet, which words or phrases would you use to search for it? (Think vague as well as specific). You will have multiple keywords within your blog post that will connect your readers to your site, these keywords will draw your target audience to your posts and using the right keywords is a process of trial and error.

It’s a little bit of skill to establish the right keywords, the words that your target audience are using to find what you’re offering. This could be product; service or subject related and needs to be relevant to your post. You want to have the most applicable keywords but also try not to use the same keywords as everyone else does in order to remain competitive.

Keywords and search terms are constantly changing and staying ahead of this wave can be tricky, thankfully there are a number of online keyword tools that you can use to help choose popular and particular keywords and phrases for your posts, URL’s and your headings…

WordPress Headings

Did you even know that each Heading (Text format) in WordPress came with its own purpose, not just to increase or decrease text size? When formatting your text, you’ll have the opportunity to convert text to one of the Headings provided – H1 being the largest, which is generally only used for the title of your post and not again in the body of your writing. H2 to H6 are hierarchical headings which can be used throughout the rest of your content, not only as bold and clear page breakers BUT as more keyword baskets… that’s right, chuck them in!

It is very important to use the main keywords in your sub heading (H2) because this reminds and clearly tells your reader what it is they’re reading. Without overly spamming your keywords, make sure that your headings contain the relevant info for SEO to ensure you rank as high as possible.

Screenshot of the WordPress Heading list.

Good quality needs media!

I know, I mentioned alt text first and images and media last. That’s because I want ALT TEXT to stick in your mind when you’ve finished sharing and commenting on this post. That said, if you’re following my alt text notes then you already have images so you’re winning at point number 5.

Posts and pages with good visuals make text a little bit more attractive than just a whole load of words on a digital page. Some surveys report that posts with pictures do twice as well than posts without when it comes to both traffic and SEO. While stock imagery is great, there is nothing wrong with showcasing your own photography skills – you may even find a hidden talent!

So now what?

These are merely 5 short ways you can improve your site’s SEO. 5 of many! After a little bit of search engine usage of my own, it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed by all of the information but remember, you had to first learn how to turn on the oven before you learnt how to cook. These things take time.

All of the above said, don’t lose site of your personal touch amidst all of the technical mumbo jumbo. While SEO is important in a lot of ways, it’s more important for me to stay true to myself and post content that is meaningful to me, it’s still my blog after all. While a higher DA rating may get you more sponsored posts, it doesn’t make your content any better without you making it so. The key ingredient here is YOU so keep that your primary focus and the rest should fall into place. Personally, I’m just trying to smash out great posts that’ll make you giggle a little and if they happen to get further forward in the DA race, I won’t say no.

By only offering 5 tips, I’ve left the advice column open ended! What are your SEO tips and tricks for new bloggers out there, I would love to know.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to spam your social media with the share button below! 

Shevy

Xx

Please bear in mind that I am not an SEO specialist, this is my personal experience as a blogger.

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Stock images – Source

Moonsomnia logo moon and crystals with SEO tips text

10 November Netflix picks!

… I couldn’t help but feel like I was stuck in a Tenacious D music video…

November has been a particularly busy Netflix month for me, being home and in recovery means that a lot of time was spent laying in bed or assuming the position on the sofa in front of my favourite Netflix series or movie. It also saw me watching a lot more movies than I normally do (which is hardly any) so those have been included for you below.

October the 27th not only happened to be my birthday but also the day that the second series of award winning Stranger Things was released. The reason I am mentioning this is because Stranger Things is NOT in my Netflix picks list – Yes, you have scoured the internet and here she is, the only NON Stranger Things fan. Despite my ‘seriesaholic’ faux pas, I know that all is forgiven as I bring a whole load of other suggestions of what you can watch once you have finished binge watching ST or any other series and / or movies not mentioned below.

So here they are, starting with the most recently watched in this order taken straight from my viewing activity history:

1. She’s Gotta Have It – Season 1

This 10 part series is an easy binge watch and I raced through it over a period of two days or so, each episode only a little more than half an hour. Directed by Spike Lee, this is a new take on the 1986 movie by the same director of the same name. It has been modernised and revamped for a naughties audience yet still retains that 80’s charm. I found myself having to shoo the children out of the living room on more than one occasion when watching this, there is a reason for the age restriction of 18 as Nola Darling navigates the world of polyamorous pansexualism in the most honest way. I absolutely loved this series and the way it is presented to a modern audience, it is identifiable in all kinds of ways and will definitely leave you questioning your feminist views.

She's gotta have it Nola and Mars

2. Hacksaw Ridge – Movie

I really dislike war movies so when I came across this one in the recently added category, I was going to give it my usual skip. Then I remember seeing a tweet (I can’t remember by who, I am sorry!) suggesting to another user that they should watch this movie so I decided to give it a bash. It is safe to say that for 2 hours and 19 minutes, I was absolutely glued to the screen in what I would say is the best work Mel Gibson has ever done (on and off the screen). The story focuses on Doss who, with his blinding faith, enters into a WW2 war zone with all of the Spiderman strength Andrew Garfield can muster. There are so many elements to the movie including a complex father-son relationship, a beautiful love story and a crisis of Christianity that it makes up for how gory and realistic it is. It’s based on a true story, it is personal, it is excellent and if the end credits don’t bring a tear to your eye then I don’t know what will.

Hacksaw Ridge Gif

3. The Mortal Instruments, City of Bones – Movie

If, like me, you are an absolute fantasy addict, this movie is a must see. I absolutely love and adore the books written by Cassandra Clare (Both the Mortal Instruments and Infernal devices series) and am currently making my way through the Dark Artifices series. The movie was released in 2013 and though steering very near to the book storyline, did not do so well at the box office. If you want to see Lena Headey play someone other than a Lannister and Lily Collins develop a complicated love triangle between a Lestat de Lioncourt lookalike and the nerdy neighbour next door mixed in with a little bit of demonic deviancy, this is the movie for you. The acting isn’t world class, the effects are behind the times and the ginger is unnatural but it will make a perfect date night movie because you don’t have to pay too much attention. Oh, did I mention Jonathan Rhys Meyers?

Poster of City of Bones actors

4. Horns – Movie

Where has this movie been all my life? It is so terrible it is brilliant! Again, you have found one of the only NON Harry Potter fans so the thought of seeing good old HP in a dark comedy like this was hardly appealing… and then I watched it! This movie is pure gold, from the awful special effects to the rather odd storyline and yet I couldn’t look away. It delves deep into the human psyche and the darkness laying dormant in all of us and I couldn’t help but feel like I was stuck in a Tenacious D music video. It is the story of a man fighting for his innocence and searching for the truth in a world that has gone mad, he also has a pretty badass snake collection as for as unrealistic looking snakes go. As the world confess their sins to a horned man, the man himself loses his identity; there is some heavy innuendo in this movie, but only if you’re looking for it.

Horns movie actor smoking cigarette

5. Once Upon a Time – Season 7 (Weekly release)

I must be honest with you: I am not even sure why I still watch this, I just do. I have watched OUAT from Season 1 and so I feel like if I stop watching now, I am missing out and yet when I watch it I question my taste in series. The reboot in Season 7 has taken the storyline on a whole other tangent that gets a little confusing and with two Hooks, one here and one not, it is difficult to see the same character played by the gorgeous Colin O’Donoghue as someone else. Confused yet? I usually am too at this point. I can’t say too much as we are 7 seasons in and you would need more than a few sentences to catch you up. The special effects have gotten a little better over the years and the acting isn’t as amateur as it once was but there is little change to the story and the characters are becoming so warped and out of sync with their fairy tale that the book no longer starts with ‘Once upon a time…’

once upon a time henry and cinderella on a motorcycle

6. Crazy ex-girlfriend –Season 3 (Weekly release)

Can we all just give a massive round of applause to the creators of this absolutely epic series? Rebecca Bunch has been dancing, prancing and singing all over our screens since 2015 and despite its stalker like undertones, the show has had a rather jovial and light-hearted feel up until now. Season 3 of CexG is going where not many TV shows or movies have gone before, delving into the deep darkness of mental illness and the importance of being diagnosed, not to mention the repercussions of being misdiagnosed. In this realistic portrayal of a woman battling her own demons and their attached stigma, the show hits the nail on the head in dealing with mental illness’ incurability. Rebecca Bunch is a W.I.P and I couldn’t identify more!

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7. Riverdale – Season 2 (Weekly release)

When did this series get so dark and when did Jughead get so badass? I remember when I started watching Season 1 of Riverdale and how excited I was that it was ‘based on the Archie comics’ (Please imagine in your mind, me using these parenthesis over my head in a sarcastic manner). The only thing that Riverdale has in common with the Archie comics is the character names; that is pretty much it. Instead, it has been perverted into a Halloween High School Musical and I feel that most of the characters lack depth and development. Perhaps I am not the intended demographic and those who recognise Cole Sprouse are better suited to an opinion on the series but that said, at least it tackles some important topics that are pertinent to the target audience such as date rape and peer pressure. It has all of the ingredients for a really good ‘series cake’ and instead we have been given dough balls. Make sense? No? Neither does Riverdale.

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8. Designated Survivor – Season 2 (Weekly release)

Surely I cannot be the only person that wants to nominate Kiefer Sutherland to take over from Donald Trump as US president? I mean, he does a fantastic job in this series and anyone else would be better at it, right? I was really hooked to this series from episode 1 and I feel like the first season followed a good storyline throughout the season; that said, Season 2 has more of a story per episode feel. Despite Mr President’s unwavering acting performance and aside from a small handful of regular cast members, the show can be a bit wishy-washy; it is easy to mentally switch off and play Pocket Camp with Maggie Q running around in the background constantly looking for an unobtainable target. It can’t be that bad though, I am still watching it.

designated survivor cover

9. Dynasty – Season 1 (Weekly release)

If you want to constantly feel jealous and envious of another person’s wealth, this is the show for you. Dynasty follows the Carrington family in a soap opera like offering with all of the trimmings, money, fame, sex and scandal. There is jealousy, trashiness and bitchiness at every turn, from the boys and girls alike and every episode comes with some major revelation to keep you wanting more. Despite this not being my usual cup of tea, I am thoroughly enjoying waiting for someone to get demon possessed. To be honest, this remake of the 80’s classic could probably pull it off with the brilliant acting these characters offer. Yay for trash TV!

dynasty_2017.jpg

10. Fallen – Movie

Based on the book of the same name written by Lauren Kate, this 2016 movie was a great one to watch with my 11-year-old daughter as I tried to convince her to read the book series. It follows Luce and her otherworldly love triangle with Daniel and Cam as it spans the test of time since the fall of the angels. It is the young adult (YA) version of the battle between good and evil influenced by an inexplicable love story. Yes, the movie is aimed at a more teenage audience who appreciate the good looks of the actors over their acting abilities but it is a somewhat decent portrayal of the book (which I loved) and offers easy watching. Say what you want about my taste in weird; fantasy; YA type movies, I liked it.

fallentrailer.jpg

I have stopped the list at 10 but I can assure you there were many more, I found myself watching Merlin (I am now on Season 3), Scorpion (all seasons), The Sinner (which I did a separate review on as I absolutely loved it!) and the Good Place (this one deserves it’s own review), all of which have kept me pleasantly entertained for the month of November.

What did you watch on Netflix recently? Give me your top picks and opinions and maybe I will watch that next.

Shevy

Xx

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Ocean saving tactics, getting rid of plastics!

We are all the ultimate serial killers and I don’t know about you, but I am feeling guilty.

Like many, I too was glued to my television on Sunday evening staring into the vast blue expanse that is our Blue Planet (II). This BBC created documentary, narrated by the influential Sir David Attenborough has not only given us vast insight into our oceans and their many –sometimes petrifying- inhabitants, but also raised a needed awareness around saving our seas and what we can do as humans to stop the clock on the devastation that pollutes 71% of the earth’s surface.

A shocking and deeply effective image still lingers in my mind, the footage of a mother whale carrying the carcass of her dead offspring for days on end, mourning its loss. Human beings killed that whale, like so many other species of oceanic creature that we continue to maim and damage on our quest for convenience. We are all the ultimate serial killers and I don’t know about you, but I am feeling guilty.

It is easy to sit here and spout out the things that we must do as a species to reverse the effects of the damage we have collectively already done, at the same time it can be inexplicably overwhelming to watch the damage and feel helpless and useless in this war on marine pollution. The reality is this:

1.4 billion

This is how many pounds of trash enter the worlds’ oceans annually.

80%

Of the debris floating in the ocean, 80% is estimated to be plastic.

It also happens to be the percentage of fish loss around Pacific Ocean islands by the end of the century as the acidic water warms and suffocates their kind

100 000

This is the number of marine mammals dying every year after ingesting plastic litter.

245 000 km2

Dead zones where marine life cannot survive cover 245 000 km2 globally.

Plastic bags in the ocean that look like jelly fish

SO WHAT CAN I DO?

Like myself, I am sure if you have been watching the series you may be asking yourself what you can do to make a difference. I felt immediately overwhelmed and wanted to be rid of all the plastic in my home, a little more ambitious than altogether possible. My changes may have little effect on their own but if sharing my changes with others instigates more change, we have a ‘change reaction’ and combined we are making an effort to reduce the amount of plastic going into our oceans as best we can. We are not perfect and cannot reverse a century of damage but we can give it our best try.

COTTON BUDS / Q TIPS

Ear, nose and throat specialists worldwide will tell you that the use of cotton buds to clean out your ears is not as beneficial as you think it might be. Stop using Q Tips and not only are you preserving the health of your ear, you are also doing your part to prevent more unnecessary plastic from entering the ocean. The plastic stems of cotton buds are said to make up 50% of the sewage related debris of UK beaches, time to take this little bag of pollution out of your shopping basket!

PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS

In October 2015, consumers were up in arms about having to pay 5p for a plastic bag with which to carry their shopping. Since this charge was introduced and reusable bags or bags for life became a handbag essential, plastic bag usage has dropped by 85%! That is a considerable change in the impact we collectively have on the environment and reducing the plastic pollution in our waters, look at what we have achieved! That said, I still slip up now and again when I have left my bag for life at home – Time to make more of a conscious effort to not touch a plastic packet at all, to stop adding to the plastic (jelly fish lookalike) ocean buffet.

PLASTIC BOTTLES

It is almost unimaginable that in 2016, bottled water production in the UK stood at over 2.7 billion litres. The irony is that we drink bottled water because we don’t trust the water from the taps, the very same water we continue to pollute with our plastic use. Water bottles are not the only culprits as many more household items come in the dreaded plastic, including but not limited to bleach bottles; shampoo & conditioner; household cleaning products and hand soap. This equates to an estimated 35 million plastic bottles being used daily nationwide, of which 16 million are not recycled! That is 16 million plastic bottles each and every day coming from the UK alone just chomping at the bit to get into the ocean and be fatal fodder for a marine animal.

Focusing on water, it can be tricky to navigate as personally I don’t drink tap water due to the high lime scale and it’s effects on my tummy however that said I have always assumed that bottled water was the best solution. Bottled water isn’t the worst option but we should be swopping out plastic bottles for glass ones, reusable and recyclable. Alternatively, there is a wide range of water filters that can be purchased to reduce the lime scale in the water, helping it taste better and removing the need to purchase water.

Turtle in the ocean eating a plastic bag.

STRAWS 

I love drinking out of straws and I always have, especially after an expensive matte liquid lip application, which I go out of my way to preserve… but you know who doesn’t love straws? The turtle whose nose that bled as he was held down, while marine biologists pulled a 12cm plastic straw from his nasal cavity, just one of 50% of his kind who will ingest plastic matter in their lifetime. This is not okay, it never will be okay and who are we to put this kind of unnecessary plastic into the ocean for marine life to treat as something to snack on as their natural diet wastes away in the poisoned ocean. I will no longer buy straws, now I just need to figure out how to dispose of the ones I have.

MICRO BEADS

Nothing better than a good exfoliating scrub but it is time to swop the plastic for sugar. In a vast number of toothpastes, body washes and face scrubs hide the silent killers, micro beads. Micro beads are non-biodegradable, they do NOT break down; they are not caught by filters as they are only a millimetre wide and they are completely made of plastic. Once in the ocean, micro beads are eaten unknowingly by fish or ingested by marine worms, which are in turn eaten by larger predators. These little plastic balls of poison are toxic to marine life and the integrity of the waters because they act like sponges, soaking up chemicals and pesticides en route to the ocean. Slowly but surely, brands and governments are getting onto the micro bead bandwagon but you can do your bit by avoiding any micro beaded product and opt for a natural alternative, like a Lush sea salt scrub for example.

While the continued war on plastics in our oceans remains daunting and almost impossible to fix, I have no doubt that small change adopted by only a few will make all of the difference, we need only be aware and educated.

If you haven’t watched Blue Planet II, I suggest you do. It is most certainly a conversation starter, the documentary has prompted me to make my own pledges to effect change.

I believe that this is a cause that we can all get behind, after all water is life.

Do you have any tips on what we can do collectively to reduce our use of plastic in day to day life?

For more information about sea conservation and to get involved, you can head on over to the Marine Conservation Society where you can learn more about keeping our oceans clean and even purchase ocean friendly Christmas gifts.

Until next time

Shevy

Xx

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Mudpie Fridays

What’s in a label – Xennial vs. Millennial?

A Xennial takes the middle ground between the negative, pessimistic Generation X and the overly positive, optimistic Generation Y, this according to sociologists and demographers globally.

I have grown up in in a world where social interaction both in person and digitally is the perfectly acceptable norm. Where playing outside with your friends under the glow of the street lamp was just as natural as sending your message over the interwaves within 140 characters. I grew up using an encyclopaedia in a library to research school projects and now use Google to research personal ones.

So who does that make me, Millennial or the recently emerging Xennial? Is it possible to be a hybrid and how do these stereotypical labels affect my day-to-day living?

So what is a Millennial?

(Millennials or Gen Y – 1977 to 1995)

Millennials or generation Y’ers are considered to have been born somewhere between the early 80’s and 90’s, the children of the baby boomers (circa 1946-1964). Millennials have gained a lot of momentum in the media over the last few years for both positive and negative reasons, words such as lazy spring to mind with a tendency to move from job to job, asking not what I can do for my job but what can my job do for me? Gen Y is a generation that requires constant feedback and reinforcement while adopting a liberal attitude when it comes to less societally acceptable circumstances once shunned by Gen X and Baby Boomers before them.

It is a generation that is said to have benefited from the Baby Boomers attitude that their own children would have a better life than they did, smaller families and more focused attention. A generation that has grown up seeking approval and being rewarded just for showing up; everyone gets a prize; everyone gets a medal. It sounds fairly negative up to this point and extremely generic but it would be remiss of us to ignore that those born in this era have grown up in a more open minded society, in a world where people have become more accepting of the ideals that buck the norm our parents were used to.

It has been said that this is the me-me-me generation but I would like to think that the generation has had more self awareness and self focus as we as a society become more aware and evolved to discuss and understand personal issues (mental health included) which by our predecessors would have been swept under the carpet as unimportant or weak.

5 Disturbing Facts You Don't Know About Millennials

Digitally, Millennials reached adulthood around the same time that technology was peaking and that very technology is considered the biggest selling point of the generation. It is a generation that came of age at the same time as the worldwide web and many don’t recall a time without it…

BUT WHAT IF YOU DO?

I was born in 1984, mid what is labelled as a Millennial. Personally, I don’t feel that I agree with a lot of the characteristics listed beneath the Millennial label. I have never felt entitled, never felt that the world owed me anything nor did I have a lax attitude towards my career and its progression. That said, I would have to say that I do know adults younger than I am, also born within the year ranges provided that DO have these traits and identify with a lot of what is said about being raised and growing up as a Millennial. There are definitely traits that I do agree with, such as being inseparable from my phone and choosing a friend request or a text message over a phone call (I truly despise the phone).

This is where a new term has come in, one for those that felt as though they couldn’t completely identify with the label of Millennial, they didn’t feel part of Generation Y and felt that there needed to be a sub label that would represent a small age range of people – One that I find myself leaning toward as far as labels go, despite being born only one year later than the range allows.

I must be a Xennial.

(Xennials – 1977 to 1983)

An older range of Millennials felt that while they had a myriad of traits in common with their generational counterparts, many characteristics did not seem to fit and there were a few differences that set apart this small range of 6 years (now aged between 34 to 40) from the others. The term Millennial has been ditched and instead, Xennial has taken over.

A Xennial is someone who grew up in and confidently remembers an analogue age but as they grew older was eased into the digital age. These are people that spent primary school making mix tapes and listening to Walkman’s but somewhere mid high school, had their first mobile phone and access to both book and PC encyclopaedias. This is a group of people that aren’t really Millennials in that they have memory of this early analogue age, but not quite the generation before them (Generation X) that have had to learn digital as an older adult. A group of people that grew up writing letters, using a landline phone (The worst!) and there was no such thing as an HD TV but grew accustomed to social media and their limited dependence on it.

What is a Xennial

A Xennial takes the middle ground between the negative, pessimistic Generation X and the overly positive, optimistic Generation Y, this according to sociologists and demographers globally.

The upside? I managed to get through high school without any physical evidence of my actions hidden in a private conversation somewhere on the interwebs. I don’t have any awful photos on Facebook of me from pre 2007 (by which time I was already 23 years old) and I learned social skills from being forced to interact with people, even though I hated it, in person and telephonically. I was lucky enough to have experienced listening to a tape and pausing every 5 minutes as I wrote down the lyrics for my favourite song (instead of finding it online) and then being able to record over said song when I found a new favourite.

The downside? Up until I was 23, I actually had to write down or remember someone’s birthday and physically draw up a birthday card instead of being able to write on their Facebook wall. If I wanted to make a call, I needed to slip a few coins into a pay phone and hope that I remembered the phone number I was dialling off by heart. I listened to Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls, by choice and blue eye shadow was still the first colour you wanted to own.

Millennial vs. Xennial with a little Gen Z

I would like to think that it is possible to relate a little bit to both. I am a Xennial with Millennial tendencies; I am open minded and liberal with a strong work ethic. I remember a time before social media but I don’t ever want to be without it again, I love my phone but for text messages and not phone calls. I fondly remember having a Sony Walkman but am grateful for music streaming, an endless supply of memories at my fingertips.

Now, I am a hybrid raising a new generation of human beings, the next generation Z; an unstudied enigma to generational alumni. A generation that is still too young to be studied and yet themselves are becoming some sort of hybrid, where their lives have been completely digital and mobile phones are common preteen gifts but we have a record player in the house and recently Tamagotchis made a comeback.

Labels…

I think it is important to remember that these generation labels are exactly that, labels. If you are happy to be labelled and live your life according to the label you have been assigned, that is your prerogative but it is important to remember that this is not always the case across generations. Wow, how very millennial did that sound?

Ultimately, this need not pertain to you if you choose it not too, lets not get too hung up on what’s in a name. It is also important to note that the birth year range for generation naming is very messy, every website you find has a different year or age to which the label pertains which could in fact lead to many more hybrids, just like me, who cross identify with generations. Heck, I am as cynical as the next Generation X’er, just another trait for my growing list.

Which generation do you find yourself being grouped into and which one do you best identify with?

Xx

Shevy

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Generation Gaps Infographic

Parenting, the dark side – Like versus Love.

Let’s be clear, love is not like

Being a mum is so difficult.

There is no manual; there is no textbook; there is no 30 days free return policy.

Then, there you are, suddenly mum (or dad) and baby. Get on with it.

I love my children, to the ends of the earth. In fact, I don’t know a mother who doesn’t (I know really decent people). I look at my children every day and watch them grow, spread their wings, look at how beautiful and how individual they are becoming… the light side of parenthood.

What is all too often not discussed and swept under the carpet as taboo is the dark side of parenting, the side that brings out the human being in all of us. The side that makes us question our parental capabilities.

Children playing in autumn leaves

Love versus Like.

Let’s be clear, love is not like. I can love someone with all of my heart: an inexplicable and immeasurable need to ensure somebody else’s happiness, wellbeing and safety. Love is putting someone else’s needs above your own without reason or explanation. I love my children and I would go to any extent to ensure that they have everything their little hearts desire (to my own detriment at times) as long as I possibly can.

Love is the intense, involuntary, incomparable and unconditional affection you feel for someone else and in this case, how I feel about my children: a feeling beyond words, beyond measure, beyond explanation.

Just because I love my children, doesn’t mean I always have to like them.

Children are only small human beings after all and humans CAN be annoying. Why would your own children be any different? When you put a group of unique and individual personalities into a small space for a prolonged period of time (18 years plus), there is bound to be some head butting – That was a description of a family unit and not a prison might I add, though at times not dissimilar.

I am the first to admit, with love, that there are times that I do not like my own children. This is not a permanent state of dislike, I am not going to reject their justification nor will I ignore them as a result of this dislike (if it can be helped) but all too often, mothers are expected to forget who they are as a human being and be the epitome of motherly perfection instead, I am sorry, I am just not that mum.

I know that I can love my children without actually liking them; the two feelings are not mutually exclusive.

I can almost feel the judgement as some people would read that line and wonder how can I say that about my own children, those perfect mums I’ve already mentioned included. Disliking my daughters when their actions are unlikeable is by no means a reflection of my love for them, nor is it a reflection of my ability as a parent to raise likeable human beings. Likeability is subjective, what I may consider to be likeable is highly likely to be annoying and offensive to most, so who am I to dictate to my children how they should or should not be when it comes to being socially accepted. In fact, through life they are going to encounter people who dislike them, colleagues who dislike them, mutual friends and romantic interests who dislike them. The way I see it, I am teaching them a valuable lesson:

Not EVERYONE will like you. Not everyone will like what you do, how you act, what you wear, what you say. This is not a bad thing, how boring the world would be if we all liked each other and had nothing to tweet about. I have accepted that there are a lot of people that do not like me (including my young human beings sometimes) and I have learned that this is a good thing, I no longer have to force myself to be around people who don’t appreciate all of me for me. They too deserve to learn this lesson.

Children looking at the locks on Bristol bridge

Behavioural dislike.

Unfortunately, dislike for your own children is likely to stem from behavioural concerns, this as they navigate the treacherous hormonal paths in front of them. No, I don’t like my six year old when she is bursting into tears every 5 minutes about unnecessary things. Nor do I like my eleven year old daughter when she is giving me a side eye and talking over me as she is being reprimanded for once again not doing something completely, so she may race back to her Snapchat story.

I am very fortunate in that these are normal behavioural changes for children of their ages, they are forming their own identities; they are being influenced by their peer groups and they are learning who they are and who they would like to be in this, a digital age. Just because these changes and moods are to be expected, doesn’t mean I have to like it – I am allowed to wear my own brat hat every now and again, no matter how many times I am told my children are well behaved and adjusted.

Social Expectation.

 

As a parent, it is very difficult not to feel like you are failing when you log into Instagram and see pictures of your friends’ happy, bubbly, posing children or when you go onto Facebook and the updates are only positive ones. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I myself am guilty of only pushing the positive online versus the negative, though I feel that this (Moonsomnia) is the right platform to look at the dark side (and sometimes light side) of parenting and start the conversation.

I feel that social media and society do create this expectation that we have to be this perfect mum above all else. Slowly but surely, we are getting to a point where we are pushing back; acknowledging that we are not actually mum’s first. We are human beings first and being a mum is one of the most important opportunities we have been gifted, it does not define who we are and we make mistakes, we don’t have perfect child-parent relationships (show me someone who does) and we are no longer afraid to talk about the darker elements of being a mum. It isn’t all daisies and roses.

Being a parent doesn’t come with a ‘HOW TO’ guide and we are all fumbling along the way, making mistakes and learning from each other. It is still foreign to me that stigma in this day and age is STILL A THING and there is a stigma attached to admitting that there are times you dislike your own child.

That doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you an honest one.

So the next time your child does something you don’t like, don’t be ashamed to admit to yourself that you genuinely didn’t like it. Don’t be ashamed to talk about it and remember, you are a human being with human emotions and robotic stamina: you are a SUPER MUM (or dad!).

I would love to hear about your dark parenting experiences, help me by commenting below so I don’t feel so alone…

Xx

Shevy

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