My Organicup experience and review

Well hello to you my reader chums! Something I've tried to do recently is to implement a more eco-friendly lifestyle in my day to day life by investing in reusable products and doing my bit for the environment. One of the ways to do this was utilise the organic and eco-friendly period products out there like the Organicup.

I've heard a lot about menstrual cups and been wanting to try one for so long but always been really worried about the idea of it and what it entails. However, I thought I would take the leap and give it a go as I've heard so many positive things, and wanted to see what the hype was about. My best friend and I did it together to give each other the confidence in doing so - and I'm so glad we did.

My Organicup experience and review

Using it for the first time

It's safe to say that I was a little overwhelmed when I first attempted to use the menstrual cup. I've never been one for tampons and always used pads so doing that jump was kind of intimidating, to say the least.

First things first, I had to sterilise the cup which I did for 3-5 minutes in boiling water and also bought myself some lube (as it's recommended for your first try.) I read the instructions far too many times before I even attempted to use it and learnt that there were two different folds, the C fold, and the punch-down fold. Find more info about this on their website. I tried to use the punch-down fold as it makes the top of the cup smaller for insertion.

It took a few attempts to essentially put it in place but after failing a couple of times, I was able to secure it. I found the lube and relaxing really did help insertion become a lot easier.

It took multiple times to get used to the idea of inserting the cup and I just want to put it out there, I did not get it straight away - so don't be disheartened if you don't either. Once I got over the motion of putting it in and taking it out, I felt more comfortable with the whole process. They do say it takes around 3 cycles until you're fully comfortable with the process - and I can see why. It's only on the second cycle that I fully got used to it and felt comfortable going out and about with it in - and placed it correctly that there were no leaks.

Comfort and wear throughout the day

On the first day, I trialled it, initially, I couldn't help but notice it was there if that makes sense. However, once I was distracted, I didn't feel a thing and paid no attention whatsoever which I can really appreciate.

It did leak the first few times I used it as I didn't insert it correctly and allowed for the air bubbles to have a gap which gives it room to leak - if that makes sense.

It's not like pads or tampons where you need to be aware to check and change them as I had the security knowing it would last for up to 12 hours in the day. On heavier flow days, I did take it out once or twice just to double-check if it needs emptying or not, and for the most part, it was usually half full or a quarter of the way. It was easier to clean; I could either pour it out and rinse it in the sink or use the Organiwipes you can purchase with the cup.

When I felt comfortable with it in and secured it correctly, I didn't have to worry and I had the ease of getting on with my day.

Views compared to pads/tampons

Genuinely, I already prefer it to disposable pads or tampons for so many different reasons. Firstly, it's environmentally friendly and I'm able to reuse to for years and that means I'll save so much in the long run with the costs of sanitary products.

I love that it has a 12-hour leeway as I'm able to go out about my day and not even think about my period like I would using other products - and I can appreciate that it's all organically made so I'm not putting any chemicals in my body.

Although the process of inserting it and cleaning it is a little longer than using pads/tampons, all the other positives outweigh that completely. I think now I'm getting confident with it, I've been converted to the cup way of life.

Overall thoughts

Overall, I'm impressed with the menstrual cup and after getting over the initial worries and figuring out how to use it, I really like it. I like how it's sustainable, how long it can be left in for, and how it can literally last for years.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Have you used a menstrual cup?

Thank you for reading <3

How to plan a holiday on a budget

Well hello to you my reader chums! With lockdown slowly easing and the opportunity of travel rearing its head, many people are starting to plan holidays and making travel plans - and I'm one of them. I've missed the thrill of travel; booking a trip and the exciting venture to the airport, knowing I'm going to make a million memories somewhere new.

How to plan a holiday on a budget

 Something I frequently get asked is how I afford to travel to so many places? And I always answer with that I do so on a budget. Due to the pandemic, prices to travel have altered, however, there are still ways you can do it for a cheaper price - and here are my tips.

Consider a staycation

In lockdown, I've come to appreciate where I live, more so than I ever have and I feel lucky to live on the Kent coast. I'm minutes away from some of the most beautiful beaches and able to go on beach walks or picnics whenever I please. 

This got me thinking that venturing on a staycation is perfect to do, especially during this time. Staycations are a great opportunity to travel around locally and appreciate what you have on your doorstep. But the main reason to do it is you can save a lot of money by staying in the country. For instance, there is no cost going on an aeroplane, paying for luggage, or any transfer costs. You can simply take your car and everyone can pitch in for petrol - and with staycations, especially in England, there are plenty of campsites where you can host your own accommodation instead of paying for hotels.

Weigh up flight costs

However, if the thrill of jetting off somewhere is your idea of travel then there's no shame in that - and you can do it on a budget. Use the apps Skyscanner or Kayak to compare different flight times, flight dates, and compare them across loads of different countries. I love to choose the 'explore everywhere' option on Skyscanner as it compares the cheapest places to fly and sometimes flights can be as cheap as £10 to Europe - it's crazy.

Be flexible on your dates 

As I said when searching for dates, prices can really fluctuate depending on the day you choose to travel on. Prices are typically cheaper in the week than the weekend but that's not necessarily always the case, and it's worth having research around before booking your flights.

If you have a pretty strict work schedule, then I would suggest doing some research on the cheapest time to visit your chosen destination and then book the time off work.

Utilise your hand luggage as much as possible

I rarely travel with checked luggage unless I'm going somewhere for over a week as I can easily fit all my belongings into a hand luggage case. There are so many ways to minimise what you can pack into your suitcase including decanting your liquids, bringing versatile clothing, wearing your heaviest items, and rolling your clothes to fit in the case.

Avoid package deals from holiday companies

In my experience of booking trips, I've often found my travels to be a lot cheaper when I've put more research in and booked everything individually - as in paying for the flights and accommodation separately. Typically with holiday package deals, they often up the price for what a holiday costs - and that's why it's worth doing a lot of research before you buy.

Keep your eyes out for deals

Travel discounts and sales are everything you need when holidaying on a budget. These usually happen before peak season times - and what I like to do is sign up to airlines/holiday websites email newsletters so I'm the first one in the loop when a discount or sale is on. It may sound obvious but it's little things like this which can help you save a lot of pennies.

Plan a budget 

On any holiday, it's tempting to splurge or dine at the most expensive restaurant as we all say ' you've got to do it whilst on holiday.' But, I would say to plan out a budget for each day, bearing in mind your activities cost, food and transport and work within your means. Then, if you have a little dosh over at the end, you can do a big splurge on the last night. And, it'll stop you from paying out with the money you don't have.

Don't get too caught up in the cost

As much as planning on a budget is all about the costs, try and have a leeway with your minimum and maximum spend is, then you won't feel too pressured to find a price in a certain box. You'll be able to enjoy the process of planning and find a range of options in your overall budget.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What budgeting tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

What I've learnt from being single

Well hello to you my reader chums! Being single is something I think we all need to experience at least once in our lives. I came out of a long-term relationship at the end of last year and although the breakup was difficult, I've learnt a lot about myself since being single.

Here is everything I've learnt...

What I've learnt from being single

The love I have around me

When I was in a relationship, I was so focused on receiving the love from the other person, that my focus swayed away from what else I had around me: my family and friends. Since being single, it's like my world has opened up again and I've been spending quality time with the most special people in my life - and I realised how loved I really was. The love didn't just have to come from my significant other to feel appreciated by others. I'm so grateful for the best friends that surround me and my family who look out for me no matter what.

Loving myself

I'm a huge advocate for self-love and loving who you are. And, since being single again, I've been able to fast forward in my journey of self-love and boosting myself up. I lost the love for myself when in a relationship as I turned to my partner to give me that boost when really, I should be able to do that for myself. I've learnt my worth, I've learnt all about my flaws but also all the amazing things which make me, me.

Putting my happiness first

Again, when in a relationship, you're a unit so the other person's happiness is very important to you - and it was for me. I would put their happiness before my own as I loved and cared for them deeply. And, coming out of that, I've learnt over time to focus on me and my happiness - putting what makes me happy as the priority in my life. It's an important lesson which I'm glad I've come to realise and something I share with everyone.

Not to settle 

On the journey to loving myself and finding my worth, I've learnt not to just settle for anything. This goes for relationships, friendships or anything in life. If people aren't giving you the time you deserve or not treating you right in any way, they don't deserve to be in your life. Surround yourself with the people who boost you up, create a positive environment and offer so much love. And, when you're ready to get into a new relationship, take your time in finding someone else, and if the red flags show early on - walk away. Wait until someone comes around which deserves you.

Good vibes only

Single life has given me the opportunity to roam free in a sense, doing everything on my terms, living my best life and hanging out with my friends as much as possible. I'm not trying to say, being in a relationship isn't good as being in love is one of the best feelings in the world. However, now I'm single, I don't need to alert someone else or compromise for what I do - I can be me in every way.

It's okay to choose to stay single

As I'm getting a little older, there seems to be pressure about getting into a relationship and settling down with someone. However, know it's okay to choose to be single, to work on you and live your best single life. I always say you can't love somebody else until you love yourself and so - don't feel any pressure to fall into a new relationship or get onto a dating app. If you want to choose to stay single and work on you, that's okay.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have any lessons you've learnt from being single?

Thank you for reading <3

Estrid razor review | gifted

Well hello to you my reader chums! I never really thought much about my shaving experience before, it was just one of those things I got on with. However, when I frequently saw the brand Estrid pop up on social media, I was intrigued about it. Not only did the razors look incredibly cute, but they were also vegan and aimed at the hair removal process to be a pain-free experience.

When Estrid contacted and said they were going to send over a starter kit, I was thrilled to try it out and see if their dreamy Insta feed was as good as the products. (Spoiler alert, it was.)

Estrid razor review | gifted

What is Estrid?

Estrid is a vegan razor brand that aims to change the shaving game and focuses on the idea of your body, your control. I resonated with their mantra a lot and really appreciated how they were all about self-love and a female first razor brand.

Predominately, the world of shaving is designed for men and most female razors do not work as well and are pretty naff - and that's why Estrid has put their stamp on the market: to make shaving pain-free and affordable.

They also don't use any animal products in their razors making them a vegan-friendly brand.

Packaging/ Starter Kit 

I'm trying to actively be a little eco-conscious with my day to day life that when I received the box to the razor, I was very impressed. It was packaged in a cardboard box and all the components in cardboard type bags, rather than using plastic.

The starter kit included my razor (I chose the lilac one), a spare blade, a razor holder, and an information pack about the brand/razor. It was put together simply and with all the information I needed.

My experience using the razor

I cannot rave about this razor enough. I didn't realise how before using this, I've been shaving with terrible razors that didn't do nearly as good as the job and were painful a lot of the time.

The Estrid razor is designed with 5 blades and has aloe vera and vitamin E on the cartridge to offer the smoothest and comfortable shave. When I first used it, I was taken aback by how smooth the razor glided up my leg and how lovely it felt on the skin. I shaved with ease, without any worry of cutting myself or missing a bit. It's honestly that lovely and kind of makes me not hate the effort of shaving.

Estrid razor review | gifted

I also want to talk about the idea of the razor holder. I love this, as I'm able to hook my razor in the bathroom and pick it up with ease and place it back down. It's convenient and adds a little cuteness to my bathroom.

Price

Considering how much money I've spent on razors over the years and having to throw them away quickly, I've probably wasted a lot of money on razors which don't do the job. The Estrid starter kit is £7.95 which includes a razor, its holder, and a spare cartridge - and considering the quality and weight of the razor, it's a good price. I would say Estrid is more of an investment for yourself and body-care routine as I know I'm using a product that'll be nice to my skin.

Overall thoughts 

I really love the focus on the mantra behind this brand and how they talk about self-love and putting your body first, and taking back the control, society tries to take away from us. They wanted to be seen as a brand that is raw and real, for all women, not something 'perfect' like other razor brands I have come across. 

Estrid razor review | gifted

The razor has become my new favourite thing. I love the colour and design, I love how easy and gentle it is to use and I love how good quality the product feels. 

Thank you to Estrid for sending over a starter kit and introducing me to your brand!

Also, when purchasing an Estrid razor, if you use the code 'EQUALITY' at the checkout, Estrid will donate 1€ extra for every purchase with that code to the organisation Fawcett Society.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Have you heard of Estrid?

Thank you for reading <3

What to do when the books are piling up - AD

Well hello to you my reader chums! Books are literally my favourite thing in the world and I'm guilty of having the world's biggest to be read pile as I want to read everything at once. 

What to do when the books are piling up - AD

Accumulating books can be quite addictive. In these days of e-readers and digital reading material, there’s something really special and immersive in turning a physical page, and the main way I like to read. It’s tactile, sensory, and somehow more mindful than staring at a screen.

If you’re part of the growing army of people who have rediscovered a love for actual books (which is 100% me always), you could well be struggling to keep them organised and catalogued. Here are some tips to help you out.

Finding Hidden Spaces

Fitting book displays into small living areas can be a bit challenging but there are options beyond traditional bookcases. Look for spaces in your home that you’re not using to the max, that you might not automatically think would be good for books. 

Corner bookcases slot into odd spaces that would otherwise be wasted, or you could go for leaning or ladder bookcases. Ladder bookcases can either be freestanding or fixed to the wall, and are shaped so they resemble half of an open step ladder, wider at the bottom than the top.

In hallways, narrow bookcases don’t take up much space but create interest as well as practical functionality. They make the hallway feel like part of the house rather than being merely a connecting passage between areas.

Modular bookcases are another way of stealing small areas to create useful and attractive book storage. You can often arrange and stack them to your own liking, going as tall or wide as you need.

Unusual Display Ideas

Thinking outside the box can help you make the most of small spaces, or shared areas that would benefit from a few boundaries.

If you have a family computer in the living room, you could make the workstation area into a more private space by cordoning it off with a bookcase. Choose an open-backed, traditional bookcase and turn it out from the wall next to the computer. Arrange books with the spines facing in alternate directions, so it looks attractive from both sides. You could use some of the shelf space for trailing plants for added interest and the illusion of privacy.

Over and around doors is another space you can use for book storage and display. Fit a normal shelf above the door, then fit narrow shelves down the sides. The effect is a slightly recessed doorway that looks good in lots of different settings.

For cookery books, put up shelves in the kitchen. If wall space is already at a premium, is there a space at the end of a run of floor cabinets you could use? A narrow shelf here, with a rail fitted in front would be a handy place to store favourite books so their covers face outwards. 

It’s a bookcase style that’s often used by libraries to display children’s books, and it works very well. You could even use it for kid’s books if you like to keep an eye on children and keep them amused, while you’re cooking. Put colouring books in there, or puzzles - whatever kind of paper activity they enjoy.

The Best-Kept Book Storage Secret

Books often feel like old friends. We know them well, have treasured memories of them, and don’t have to see them every day to keep the relationship special. So even when we’re done reading them for now, we want to know they’re close and we can call on them again in the future.

Self-storage is a great way of preserving a book collection, like a personal library you can visit any time you like. If you have just a few precious books, you can hire a self storage locker to keep them safe, or take a whole room for bigger collections and install your own shelving system. 

That’s the beauty of self-storage. It’s flexible and personal, and as long as you don’t drill into walls or floors, you’re free to kit it out as you like.

Another benefit of self storage space for book collections is the emotional space you get from your books. Revisiting them is like a fresh experience, and there are bound to be some you’d forgotten about that give you a whole new joy of rediscovery.

I love books for all kinds of reasons, from education to pure escapism, and finding ways to grow the collection and display them creatively is all part of the enjoyment. I'll always dream of having a library in my house and would love the pleasure of organising my mountain of books one day.

This is a sponsored content placement.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Do you have any book storage tips?

Thank you for reading <3

My body confidence journey

Well hello to you my reader chums! Body confidence is certainly something that takes time, patience, and a good mindset. It's taken me years to get to the point where I fully accept my body for what it is and love everything about what I look like. I'm at a point in my life where I feel content with my being and want to share with you guys how I got to that point.

Here's a look on my body confidence journey and some tips on how you can feel body confident...

It's probably best to start this post with a disclaimer to say, it has taken years for me to get to this point of feeling how I do about my body and the change in how you feel about yours won't happen overnight, it is a process. However, it is possible and something I would love everyone to be able to do: to accept their body for what it is and for who they are.

My body confidence journey

I'm going to transport back 6/7 years when I was 17/18 years old. At that time, I was in a very bad mental health state and completely hated every inch of my being, including the way I looked. Body confidence wasn't even in my vocabulary as I was so against loving myself, I didn't feel good enough. All I kept doing was comparing myself to those around me and the absolutely stunning people I would see on the internet. I aspired to look like them and be like them, instead of aspiring to learn to love me and figure out who I was.

And, learning to love myself and my body is something which has come with time, age, and my journey as a whole with self-confidence.

Tips on feeling body confident:

Acceptance 

The first step with any confidence within yourself is acceptance. The process of accepting myself and my body was something that took time and the hardest thing to do in my journey. I started this by every morning, when I looked in the mirror, I would point out everything about myself; the good and bad. I have to say, I had to want to learn to love myself before I got to this point. I could only help myself.

I would then with the bad things, look at them and say 'these are my flaws and I accept them.' And with the good things say 'I love these things about myself.' These types of affirmations I've been repeating to myself for years until they finally sat with me and honestly until I believed them. It took good and bad days to finally get to a point where the affirmations worked. On the bad days, I would doubt myself and couldn't accept my flaws and would hate on myself for having them, wishing I was different. But, the better days, the affirmations would slowly sink in and over time with the good days, I began believing them.

It's true, once you accept yourself, you can take on the world.

Stepping out your comfort zone

Acceptance then goes hand in hand with stepping out of your comfort zone. I mean this in terms of what you wear, having the confidence to pose for photos, and generally rocking who you are out in public - and not caring what people think of you.

I found this stage a lot easier than acceptance as I love pushing myself and this came naturally to me, as hard as it was. Like any way of stepping out of your comfort zone, it's important to take small steps and do what you're ready for, and eventually, you'll get there.

I think how I tackled this head-on, was to get glammed up and wear clothes or an outfit I felt comfortable in. When I felt on cloud 9 with what I was wearing, I found it was easier to feel comfortable in my own skin. And, I would recommend going shopping or utilising what's in your wardrobe and wearing the clothes you feel you best in and wear them out. Then when you feel good wearing what's comfortable, I would recommend slowly wearing clothes that you don't feel 100% certain in. For instance, I really didn't like the fact I have small boobs and would always feel self-conscious in bikinis or in clothes that would really show off the fact. So what I did was essentially jump in at the deep end and wear the type of clothes I wasn't fully happy in, and doing it time again, helped me accept my body a lot more. And in turn, I started to be happy with what I looked like and realised my body is bloody brilliant, and I don't need to change it. It may sound like a bold move but it's something that really worked and resonated with me. I'm quite lucky that I have best friends around me who would always boost me up and compliment how I looked - that really helped with my confidence too.

You need to be your own hype girl at the end of the day!

Representation of different body types on social media

Comparing myself to other people was something that really took a toll on learning to love my body and accepting it. Social media is plastered with images of 'perfect' bodies especially when I was growing up and I delved into the world of Instagram. It's only now in my twenties that I'm following people which show what a real body is and not fixating on this perfect image of what patriarchal beauty standards tell me I should look like.

What a lot of the media do is only feature one type of body to sell products or to model clothing and therefore, they disclude so many other body types and that lack of representation affects others as they're not seen as being represented in the media.

I'm quite lucky to kind of sit under the patriarchal beauty standards, considering I'm white and skinny, and I'm aware of my privilege, which I think is something I've learnt over the years. However, despite me technically looking a certain way, it still took me years of stomaching the idea of what I see online isn't necessarily real and it's not logical to aspire to be perfect or look a certain way. Perfection isn't real and what you see on social media is only half the story of someone's life and is often taken at a good angle or edited accordingly. And, I've learnt, I shouldn't compare myself to people that I see on social media. I should be happy with what I look like.

I think the next step on me accepting the fact to not constantly compare and wishing I was someone else online really was a turning point for me. I could scroll and admire, instead of scrolling and hoping I could be that person. I think that was so important because instead of being jealous, I was able to hype other girls up so they can feel good about themselves, as they deserve to be. I've learnt that I need to aspire to be my best self and know that my body is my own goal. My body looks after me at the end of the day. Try and remember this the next time you're looking on social media or online in general. You are perfect the way you are.

Saying I'm enough

Over the years with how I'm feeling about my body having its highs and lows, knowing that I'm enough and my body is enough always got me through. It's an affirmation I like to say to myself even now when I'm not having the most confident day.

When it comes to bodies, something to remember is that yours is unique to you, and as long as it's healthy and you're happy then that is all that matters.

Knowing your body is natural

I could rant about this point all day long and it's really something I actually learnt through others talking about it on social media. There are many things our bodies are shamed for such as stretch marks, hip dips, 'muffin tops', birthmarks, body hair etc - and all these things are completely natural, and some of them protection for our body.

All these things are part of your body for a reason and you shouldn't try and get rid of them. You should embrace and accept them, and rock it. I've been obsessed with having the flattest stomach for years but I've learnt that the little bump on my lower stomach is to protect my uterus and is needed. I shouldn't wish that away as it's my body protecting me. There is stigma around body hair and stretch marks and so many other things. But your body is yours, shave if you feel comfortable or don't, it's down to you and nobody else - and that's something everybody needs to be taught. Nobody else has ownership over your body and nobody's opinion means anything towards your body. What's important is how you feel towards it.

Learning to ignore what people think

There are people who will shame you for whatever body type you have and it's really not okay. Honestly, there isn't a reason for people to be hateful but unfortunately, that's how the world works. And, once I learnt to stop caring what people thought of how I looked and ignoring the digs that got sent my way, then, I began to fall in love with my body and feel content. Which, is a huge step for me and my journey.

You are beautifully unique in every way and you can boss it, and take on the world.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. What are your tips for body confidence?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Well hello to you my reader chums! I've been reading many good books lately and one of them is The Family Upstairs. This book was honestly incredible and addictive, to say the least, and I couldn't put it down. 

Here are my thoughts on the book...

Book review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Plotline

The book is based around a house, located in Chelsea, London. A baby is found alive and healthy in the cot but 3 dead bodies are also discovered downstairs with a note. The bodies have been left for several days and nobody knows what's happened and who has been looking after the baby. It's a mystery in the vacant, huge house.

Characters and relationships

This book is complex, twisty and a page-turner, and the characters go hand in hand with that. The story is told from three different perspectives, by Lucy, Henry, and Libby, and how their lives overlap. The way it's written really shows off the characters and the descriptions are impeccable; so raw and honest.

I found myself really liking both Lucy and Libby and their honesty towards their life, whilst Henry had a strange appeal about him, but it's interesting to see the story unfold from all their perspectives. The relationships which I found were so important was Lucy and her kids, Henry and Phin, and Libby with her work colleague Dido. I learnt a lot about Lucy's character from how she was with her kids; a caring mother who is trying to do anything to get them back to London, her home. Henry and Phin had an odd relationship, and the way the book unfolds, I understood why they were this way. Libby is a free spirit and like any young 20-something year old who I related to page after page.

There are plenty of different characters in the book and significant ones at that, especially those who live in the house and finding out what really went on (no spoilers here.)

Overall thoughts on the book

I cannot rave about this book enough. From the first page, I was hooked into reading what happened and what went on, and what the big mystery was. The way the book is divided into three different perspectives helps build the suspense and feeds into each other, as I made my way through the book.

The plot twists are what really intrigued me the most in this book. As things began to play out, a twist would come out of nowhere and I was gobsmacked by a lot of them. I can't really get over how addictive the read was and how clever the chapters intertwined, and how the characters life's linked in, in more ways than one.

Beautifully complex and crazily twisty, the book is something I would recommend to any reader. It surprised me at every chapter and there were so many elements included in the story that I couldn't put it down.

Ending

After an intense read, I wasn't too sure how the ending would play out. However, it seemed to be incredibly satisfying how things fell into place, and I felt really content as I read the last page. I'm not going to give anything away, but what I will say, that the ending was pretty light and a complete contrast to the complexity most of the novel had.

I hope you enjoyed this book review. What are you currently reading?

Thank you for reading <3