5 Things: What I'm Reading.


New books are an essential part of the summer holidays for me. My birthday present of a kindle a couple of years ago has increased my reading ten-fold, but I also love a real paper back. They're always such a treat, and look beautiful stacked up, sitting pretty (before you ruin them by traipsing them around and breaking the spines, that is). 

Here are 5 books I lounged about and read over the last couple of weeks: 

1. All the Bright Places 

2. The Girl with all the Gifts

3. Before we Met

4. A Game of Thrones

5. The Manifesto on How to be Interesting

What have you enjoyed reading recently? Any I should add to my list?

Summer Makeup Edit.


Things have taken a summery turn in my makeup whilst on holiday so I thought I'd give you a peek of what's inside. I've been opting for a fresh, dewy look that takes only a couple of seconds to throw on before a busy day sightsee-ing and exploring...


First up, the new base that I've been trialling, the Soap and Glory CC Cream in Good Light. Easily my favourite light-weight base ever. I haven't hopped on the CC/BB bandwagon before this so it's nice to try out a new product and it's nice to see that it isn't just all help. This stuff provides minimal coverage but helps even things out and just make everything look a bit more naturally perfected. An all-round winner for hot weather. 

To finish off the base the Clarins concealer is my weapon of choice. This is one that I always forget about, but kick myself when I rediscover it. A full coverage wonder that still manages to be light, this is one that always needs to be in my makeup bag. A swish of the Solar Powder over the highpoints of the face helps give that holiday glow and subtly lift the face. 

The finishing touches are also age-old favourites. Benefit's Roller Lash is one of my favourite mascara's ever - defining, curling and lengthening, plus the mini size is perfect for travelling with too. For lips, the YSL Rouge Volupte Shine in Corail Intuitive is perfect for a peachy pink pop, and works well as a cream blush too, or the Soap and Glory Gloss Balm Stick in Nudist is one of those great 'slick on and go' products that just helps pull everything together. 

And finally a spritz or two and I'm ready to walk out the door. Sugar Crush is a really lovely lime/sugar scent, lovely and light for the day time and Jurlique Balancing Rose Water Spray to keep the face refreshed and hydrated. 

What are your quick makeup favourites? 

5 Things: Lessons to Myself after Volunteering in Uganda.


A letter to myself on the things that I learnt. 

Count your blessings. Being exposed to poverty made you more thankful for what you have. Be mindful you don't forget. It's never easy, and all too easy to slip back into routine, but so important to keep remembering. Stop complaining about the little things and instead look at all you do have. Running water, proper sanitation, food, a life free from disease - all the necessities that we take for granted everyday aren't always available for others. 

If you're having a bad day remember what you saw. The desperation in their faces as the children around you grabbed wildly for food, a mother, struggling to support her son whilst still paying for her HIV medicine, the story of child soldiers who were made to kill those close to them, or be killed themselves, girls the same age as you with more children than their arms could carry. Realign your perspective, ask what really matters and gain a more positive outlook on life. 

Live fully. What really struck you a lot of the time was how much enjoyment people out there seemed to have for life. Try to do the same, take hold of your happiness a little more and positively influence the world around you. Be infectious with it. Dance, sing and enjoy life whilst you can, be thankful. Take advantage of the opportunities that you get, it's your duty, don't waste them. 

Spend time with the people that matter to you, take pride in your education, and do it wholly. Social media is great but you don't need it all the time, be present, engaged. Life may be short, but you have the chance to make a hell of a lot of it. Do. 

Give more. Don't leave the work you did there, bring it into your present too. Remember the difference the gifts and donations you made make. A pencil for a smile, bubbles for a laugh, a bike for a whole new life. How the memory of teaching those children will stick with you forever. Be kind to those around you and give generously where you can, not just money, but time too. 

Think about the reality when you watch programs like Red Nose Day, it's not just a 30 second video clip, it's someone's life and if you can be the one to make that better, then why wouldn't you. Giving changes your heart. 

See the world. Develop a more rounded perspective on the world around you and question everything. Learn as much as you can. Wait to hear other's opinions before making your own judgements and learn how different, and indeed similar, everyone really is. Well done for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you gained a better understanding of how completely different life is and the very real problems facing some people. Make sure you keep doing it, and thing about ways to improve what you see. Travel as much as you can. 

Experience new things. Immerse yourself into different ways of thinking, living, speaking and change the way you look at life when you do it. Adapt to the situation that you find yourself in and try and overcome the challenges that face you. Let your mind be shaped by what you see, but don't let it drag you down. Let it buoy you up and inspire you to positively change yourself and others. 

My time in Uganda was both unforgettable, and (perhaps regrettably for a blog writer) indescribable. Volunteering out there has changed my outlook on life, made me question myself on several occasions and given me a life changing experience. To fully immerse yourself in a different culture and let go of the life you know, if only for a couple of weeks or days can really open your eyes, and is something I now strongly believe everyone should do at least once in their life. Whilst I can't quite put into words a lot of the things that I experienced, I really wanted to write some kind of piece on the topic, so I hope this kind of made sense and perhaps even helped you too. Let me know what you think - I'm wanting to introduce more thoughtful type posts onto here so hopefully this will only be the first of many to come. 

To donate to the charity that I helped with go here, it's an amazing cause and I really hope that you do!

Photo Diary: Uganda.





















I'll be writing more on my experiences and reflections tomorrow, but until then, here are a selection of the best photos that I took whilst out there volunteering. I hope you like them!

5 Things: Learning to Love Blogging Again.





Sometime around spring this year I started to hate blogging. At first I thought I could get through it, that it was just the usual dry patch of a lack of inspiration, but as the year went on and on it didn't get any better. I think somewhere between the free samples, constant comparison and stress I lost sight of what this site is meant to be to me, a fun, relaxed creative outlet. With the upcoming rebrand I'm hoping a whole new wave of inspiration will come, and though my content will still be mainly beauty based, I'm excited to bring in some of my other interests too and make this blog a bit more varied. I want to excite you with my content too, and the only way to do that is to love it myself. Here are 5 ways in which I'm learning to love blogging again: 

1. Get rid of the insecurity - A self-confessed perfectionist, my work is never good enough. My writing is sometimes clunky, my photography too dark, my life not pinterest-y enough - I could go on and on forever. But that's not what blogging is about. Whilst trying to get back into blogging I'm really working on not beating myself up about not being 'perfect', but rather, trying to improve little by little each post that I put out. 

2. Find motivation - I think part of what led me to fall out of the blogging was/is constantly putting out content that I don't feel totally engaged with. While blogging was initially a hobby, as soon as money gets involved it changes. Whilst I've never been dishonest with you all, there have definitely been times where I've only posted about things because I've felt I needed to after being sent them. Going forward, I want to be more picky with what I post about, I think this new stance will be a lot more motivating to me. 

For you it may be different? Your blog design, name, whatever it is - find what's not working for you and change it. 

3. Come up with new ideas - I'm conscious some of this post may sound sort of like it's just bashing other bloggers and please be assured that is 110% not my intention at all but all of the beauty posts can get a bit same-y. By branching out with new series' and content I'm hoping that I'll mark my blog out as a little different and show you some of the other sides to me at the same time. Uganda also left me with a changed view on the world, whilst beauty is something that I'll always hold dear, I want to blog about more substantial things now and again in addition. 

4. Relax - Going back to point number one, a lot of the time I don't feel happy with the way I run my blog. Doing it as a hobby is amazing, but also means there's no need to take it too seriously. Try not to focus on the numbers too much because they really don't matter, and I'm also going to take a while off my blogging schedule and only put posts out as and when I feel like it. 

5. Browse - Finally, get scrolling. If you've left the bloggy world for a while then you may feel slightly out of the loop. Getting reading, get inspired, talk to others, and remind yourself why you loved the blogging community so much in the first place. 

It's crazy to think that I've been blogging for two/ two and a half years now. Blogging has taught me so much and I never want to leave it behind. I love and appreciate the community, the confidence it has given me, the endless hours of procrastination ... and sometimes it just takes a few little steps to remember all that again. 

5 Things: Discovering New Makeup Brands.




It may just be the beauty obsessive in me, but I'm always exploring and trying to find new brands and products that will work for me, away from the beaten track. There's something so satisfying about coming across something new that really works for you, and if you know where to look, it's not as hard as it may seem. 

Love Me Beauty

Love Me Beauty are a subscription beauty box with a difference; the chance to choose your products every month so you aren't left with samples of unusable shades and formulas. Each month there is the option to choose from the boutique, using your credits to put items into your box, and working with a great range of innovative and up and coming beauty brands, you're sure to find something new and exciting that you like. This months box blew me out of the water with a selection of eyeshadows, lipstick, nail polish and skin care all pictured above and the quality blew me out of the water. There's brands that I'd never have otherwise tried in there, such as Belle Pierre, and it just goes to show what you could be missing out on. 

For just £10 you can get all of this, including full sized products, which is such a good deal, and if that's not tempting enough, you can also get 20% off your order with the code maddy20 - order here

Cult Beauty

A luxury online store stocking 'cult' products from around the world, this site is one to check out if you want to treat yourself to something nice. With new brands added regularly, a new in section and top rated products area, this site is one to stay away from unless you don't mind lightening your purse a little. 

I find the 'Why It's Cult' and Description boxes so useful in working out whether a product is going to work for me, and with the highly selective process to get onto the site, I know that they are never going to disappoint. 

Makeup Artists

Take a quick search on instagram and you'll see what I'm talking about - shedloads of products trialled, tested and then recommended for you through personal use by the people that really know what they're talking about. Cue furious note taking and wishlist adding from me ... 

Go Global

I dont necessarily mean that you have to travel the globe yourself here, but some of my favourite ever finds have been from international brands. For example, brands like Antipodes work with local ingredients and traditional recipes, making them a nice little something to add to your routine. A lot of these brands have the added bonus of not breaking the bank, plus, with the internet, it's so easy to get hold of practically everything over here now. 

Stay Open Minded 

Perhaps the most important tip on here, keep an open mind to what you're trying out. Some products will just be flat-out weird, case in point - Korean beauty - but can actually end up working even better than the same-old same-old from the aisles of boots. Same with packaging, try and prioritise formula over what the outside looks like - if the product sounds like something you'd like then go for it. Sure there will be some duds along the way, but the gems will make it all worth it. 

What about you? Any top tips for finding new and exciting makeup brands?