The arrival of winter means an entirely new wardrobe... right? Under the guise of a post-essay treat, I decided to purchase a variety of new clothing items from Shein (if you're not familiar, they are an extremely affordable online store - think Primark but online) and I couldn't help but add tons of items into my basket. Not only is winter well and truly upon us, but I'm going to Krakow next week and wanted to feel stylish while I'm there, plus Christmas and New Year means that I'll have various occasions and chances to get dressed up within the next few months. Although I majorly streamlined my basket and also ensured I had the best deals possible (a combination of Black Friday sales and my student discount), I'm in love with all of the items I picked up and thought that a haul post was necessary! Also, you're going to have to excuse the lack of fake tan, as I didn't realise how pale my body looked until all of the photos were finished. Anyway, on with the post!

Black Double Button Tweed Pinafore Dress

Anyone who knows me will understand that my go-to style for winter is a skirt or pinafore paired with a jumper, and so this Black Double Button Tweed Pinafore had my name written all over it. Tweed seems to be very in-style this season, having a fashionable look that is even a bit classy, and I instantly knew that I'd get a lot of wear out of this. Although it was incredibly affordable, I'd personally say that it looks a bit more expensive, especially with the button detailing down the front that adds some more interest. Although this looked monochromatic on the model (and perhaps in my photos too), if you look closely you'll actually see baby blues and dusky pinks running through it amongst other colours, which is definitely a nice touch that I wasn't expecting. I paired this with a tight-fitting jumper, and this in combination with the low cut of the pinafore is definitely flattering and accentuates your figure, especially if you're like me and have a slim build and small chest. One thing to be aware of is that it comes up slightly big - I ordered it in an XS but I'd prefer if the skirt was slightly tighter, but this is just me being fussy.

Double Breasted Front Tweed Skirt

Again with the tweed - you can tell that I was really loving this trend whilst placing my order! I knew that this item would fit the bill of my 'jumper and skirt' style perfectly, and as you already gathered I really like the gold button detailing down the front. Although I was initially tempted by the monochrome version on the website, I decided to opt for a pop of colour instead, and I'm really pleased I did as this is so different to anything else that I own. Although the colour looked quite muted online and is described as burgundy, it's actually a much more vibrant red - I personally love this, but it was unexpected. Like with the last one, this Double Breasted Front Tweed Skirt is slightly longer and wider than I'd like (again, I'm just being very picky as it still fits really well) so you might consider sizing down if possible.

Camel Double Breasted Coat

I've been on the hunt for the perfect camel coat all season (I remember seeing some in Primark way back in August, and since then they were always sold out of my size every time I popped in), but I stumbled upon this one on the Shein website and instantly fell in love. Although it was slightly more expensive than the other items, this was to be expected for a sturdy, thick winter coat, and it was still affordable once my discounts were applied. It's the perfect length for me, and despite being quite small it doesn't look too long, and despite being structured it's still comfortable and not restrictive. I can't wait to start wearing this, since this Camel Double Breasted Coat has definitely filled the gap in my wardrobe that I've had for quite a while!

Open Front Pearls Beaded Tweed Jacket

The third (and final) tweed item in this haul is this gorgeous jacket, which has actually been sitting in my favourites on Shein since last year and I finally bit the bullet and purchased it. Items like this are so versatile, in my opinion - it's the perfect way to dress up a simple jumper and jeans, like how I styled it in the photo, or it could be worn over a dress for a fancier occasion. This Open Front Beaded Tweed Jacket feels very trendy and classy, and it'll also be perfect to take me through to the spring where I no longer need a coat but still want to wear a lighter jacket.

Contrast Leopard Panel Top

This was a really cheap t-shirt which I spotted and knew that I'd get quite a bit of wear out of in the warmer months, but it was too cute to turn down. I really like the look of a baggy t-shirt tied at the bottom, and it looks cute either with jeans or a maxi skirt. Although I probably won't be wearing this Contrast Leopard Panel Top for a few months as it's freezing in England, I definitely think I'll be reaching for this as we start approaching spring.

Dobby Mesh Puffed Polka Dot Sleeve Top

This Dobby Mesh Puffed Polka Dot Sleeve Top is very different from what I'd normally wear and is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I fell in love with it on the website and thought that I would give it a try. In my mind, this is perfect for a date night or if I was going out for a meal or an occasion where I wanted to be quite dressy, and I think that it'll look gorgeous with jeans and a pair of heels. The top fits nicely, although there isn't much give to it so I'd be wary of this, and I adore how the sleeves look, and they are definitely a bold statement. I can't wait to wear this out, although I'll perhaps be a bit too cold since it's the middle of winter right now!

High Neck Snakeskin Fitted T-Shirt

It seems as though animal print is the other trend of this haul, but I've been seeing many different tops like this High Neck Snakeskin Fitted T-Shirt lately and knew I wanted to try one. The stretchy material means that it's really comfortable, and although it's slim-fitting it isn't at all restrictive. I thought that this would be perfect to wear of a daytime with tights and a coat, but I think it would also look lovely paired with a little skirt on a night out, meaning it gives the best of both worlds.

Crocodile Embossed Cami Bodycon Dress

I'll be completely honest with you guys, I felt a little insecure when taking photos of this outfit, just cause of how skinny I look, but I love the dress too much not to include it in this post. When I ordered it online, I thought that it was grey and black based on the photos, however it is instead a bright, metallic silver. Although this Crocodile Embossed Cami Bodycon Dress is definitely bolder than I expected, it is stunning nonetheless. I'm a sucker for cheap dresses to go clubbing in, and so for only a few pounds I couldn't resist this one. Although I envisioned this dress being for a normal night out, I definitely think that it has the wow-factor perfect for New Year's Eve. The dress is bodycon and therefore tight-fitting, but it's very stretchy and you won't feel uncomfortable wearing it throughout the night.

What's your favourite fashion steal from Shein? Let me known down in the comments!

You've probably noticed that I've been absent on here over the past few weeks, and that's because I've been drowning in work. Despite my university saying that they make a conscious effort to spread deadlines apart, I ended up with three essays due within 10 days of each other, and let's just say that stressed is an understatement! Trying to juggle the different essays was difficult enough, but I also had other lectures and seminars to attend with reading for each of these, my part-time job and other commitments, so I genuinely felt as though I didn't have a minute spare. Now that they're finally over and I don't have any more work due until January, I thought I'd share my tips for surviving essay season and coping with deadlines, so make sure you keep reading to hear how I did it!

Make a huge to-do list to organise your mind
When you're juggling different tasks you can easily start to get confused, and the last thing you want is to get the deadline dates mixed up so you hand in the wrong essay, or write an essay with the wrong word count. I like to make a note of all of these important details on a sticky note to make sure that I'm not going to forget them and keep it somewhere where I'll always see it. Then, I usually make a huge to-do list of everything I need to do for each essay (rather than simply saying 'write essay', I will break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks). This makes it clear exactly what I need to do and helps to ensure that nothing is forgotten, plus it's super satisfying ticking something off after a long day of work. 

Plan your time and make a schedule
If you're like me and have a lot of other commitments outside of school or university, then it's important to plan ahead and account for this. For example, I have work every Friday and Saturday, so I knew that any essays due on a Monday had to be done before this, as otherwise I would only have Sunday to do it all and that would be a very last-minute panic. It's also important to have a chill and spend some time with your family and friends, and by planning your time it is a lot easier to see when you can do so.

Don't just focus on one task
Although it can be tempting to focus solely on one task until it's perfect, you then run the risk of not leaving enough time for your other tasks and therefore they will be more rushed and haphazard. As difficult as it may be, juggling the various essays and working on them simultaneously will help to ensure that they are all done and are good quality, plus it'll hopefully prevent any all-night study sessions in a desperate attempt to finish.

Speak to teachers and utilise office hours
This is something that I was quite reluctant to do last year, since it can seem quite daunting speaking to an academic and sharing an essay idea on a subject that they are an expert in. However, this year I have realised just how much it helps, as talking through your thesis and debating aspects of your essay plan will really help to refine your ideas and perhaps open up new possibilities that you hadn't previously considered. Their job is to help, so I'd definitely utilise their knowledge and get advice wherever you can.

Remember to take care of yourself
Just because you're in an intense period doesn't mean that you should neglect self-care. Whilst I had my essay season, I made a conscious effort to eat a healthy and balanced diet, as constantly reaching for junk food over and over again will make you feel worse both inside and out. I also tried my hardest to sleep well and tried to be asleep before midnight when possible, as although it can be tempting to stay up all night trying to fit in extra work, you simply won't be as productive when you're tired, or it'll hinder how much you get done the next day.

Treat yourself at the end of it
Once all of the work is finally done, you deserve to reward yourself! Whether that's by going out for celebratory cocktails or buying that handbag you've had your eyes on, you deserve to de-stress and treat yourself.

What are your secrets to surviving essay seasons? Let me know down in the comments!

It's no secret that I absolutely adore Flower Beauty: I use their products every day, feature them quite often on my Instagram and also wrote reviewed their Light Illusion Foundation and Concealer a couple of months back. So you can imagine my joy when a parcel of their products landed on my doorstep last week - it was like Christmas came early! I thought it was only right to share the products with you and give you my first impressions, so make sure you keep reading to hear what I think of them. Before I begin, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the team at Flower Beauty for sending these out to me and I'll definitely be using them often! Now, on with the post!

First up is the Flower Beauty Supernova Celestial Skin Elixir, which just from a first glance looks absolutely stunning. I remember Barry M coming out with some highlighter drops similar to these a few years ago and everyone went absolutely crazy for them, but I never got the chance to try them out, so now I'm excited to have something similar! This product claims to hydrate, prime and smooth the skin whilst adding a stunning glow, and I can definitely say that it does just that. If you're in the mood for an all-over radiance then apply this product under your makeup and the pearlescent glow will subtly show through - enough to give you an illuminated look without being too over the top. It also looks nice applied lightly to the tops of your cheekbones over any makeup for a warm and radiant glow that is much more natural than applying loads of highlighter. So far it's a 10/10 from me, as it's perfect for injecting the glow that my skin is longing for in the dull and dreary winter months, and I can't wait to also give it a try on my body as apparently it looks dreamy on the collarbones!

When I saw that the Miracle Matte Liquid Lipsticks were included in the parcel I was honestly made up, as it was only a few days earlier that I was in Superdrug swatching them all and was very tempted to buy one. They sent me four gorgeous colours that pretty much have me covered for any occasion: an everyday, wearable nude; a girly blush pink; a bright, pillarbox red that is definitely perfect for Christmas; and a vampier mauve-purple shade. They apply with a very intense pigmentation, which is especially surprising for the darker shades as they aren't patchy in the slightest, although they do take a little bit of time to dry down. If you're a matte lip lover then these will be perfect for you, and they also act as a lovely base for a lipgloss if that's more up your street.

From left to right - 'Bare Honey', 'Nude Blush', 'Dark & Stormy' and 'Scarlett Letter'

The next thing that I received was the In Your Prime Pore Minimising Primer, which was a pleasant addition to my collection as I've needed a new primer for quite some time now. Perhaps one of my biggest makeup struggles is that my foundation quickly wears off my nose, and so having a primer to maintain my makeup always makes a huge difference. I definitely think that it helped to minimise my pores too, creating a blurred and perfected base for my makeup, and I can't wait to keep trying it.

The final product that I was sent was their brand new Seal The Deal Luminizing Setting Spray, which I was thrilled to receive as I've seen it all over their Instagram recently. I've tried a few setting sprays in the past, and I often find that they act as though they are doing something when really they make no difference - however, this one actually works! It creates a gorgeous glow (not a wet look like some setting sprays) and honestly locks my makeup in place all day, and I think this will now be an important step in my daily makeup routine. It also leaves the skin feeling incredibly nourished and hydrated, there's genuinely nothing that I can fault!

Thank you again to the team at Flower Beauty for sending me these products (and all the way from New York as well!) as I am honestly made up with them, and I'll probably be including them in a makeup tutorial sometime soon if that is something that you guys would like to see. Let me know down in the comments what your favourite product from Flower Beauty is, as I'd love to hear which one is your fave!

I can't believe October is pretty much over - where has this past month gone? I feel like it has been quite a while since I sat down and just had a little chat with you guys, and since it's the end of the month I have quite a bit to share. October has been quite an exciting (yet equally tiring) month, and although I've uploaded a lot of things on my social media, I also want my blog readers to get an insight into my life. I've also discovered quite a few new favourites this month that I couldn't wait to share, surprisingly none of which are beauty related for a change! So make sure you keep reading to hear what I've been up to and what I'm loving at the moment!

October has been a super busy month for me, as I’ve really been trying hard to get more involved within my university and the community. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to apply to volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, who if you don’t know was a Victorian novelist that actually lived in Manchester for 15 years. My induction is next week and I’m really excited to start and get involved in the many things going on, including the tours of the house, tea room and all the extra events and activities that are planned. I’ve also decided to become a peer mentor in my university, which means that I’ll be there to support any first-year students that need help. It’s been a few years since I did any volunteering and so I’m really looking forward to getting back into it, plus these are both exciting and rewarding opportunities to be involved in.

Also in October, I went to watch Jon Bellion at Manchester Academy, which was a really enjoyable evening. He is one of my boyfriend’s favourite artists and I quite enjoy his music too, and the show was honestly so entertaining and enjoyable throughout. Going to gigs has quickly become one of my favourite pastimes and this one was no exception, and I can't wait to book tickets for some others hopefully in the near future!

Aside from these, I’ve honestly been drowning in uni work. Although I’ve spent time with friends and had chill evenings with my housemates, a lot of my time has been dedicated to writing essays, since I have three deadlines coming up that are all within the space of ten days. But I’m slowly powering through, and hopefully, it’ll be over before I know it!

In summer, one of my best friends and I both decided to get our second lobe piercings, and since then I was counting down the days until I could finally take them out and change up the earrings. It's been a few weeks now and I decided to treat myself to some dainty gold hoops to wear in the new holes, and I'm honestly in love with how this looks. I can't wait to play around with so many different earring combinations!

As I mentioned in my last blog post where I discussed how I've been using silicone-free hair products for the last month, I've been absolutely adoring the Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food in Aloe Vera and Coconut, and I genuinely think it has helped to transform my hair. My previously dry and frizzy ends now feel a lot more nourished and cared for, and I've still got tons of this product left to keep my hair in great condition.

In my free time (although I've had very little of it due to the countless essays), I've actually been watching a couple of shows. Season 4 of The Good Place started on Netflix a few weeks ago, which I've been thoroughly enjoying, and I also watched all six episodes of Breaking Fashion after my friend Kate recommended it, which is a really interesting series all about the fast fashion industry. It's also been nice to have a bit of downtime watching these after long and difficult days of studying, and if you have any more recommendations I'd love to hear them.

You know it's officially the festive season when Costa's Christmas menu starts! I went into one the other week and was pleasantly surprised to see all of their festive drinks and treats on sale, and I couldn't help but order the Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate, which was my favourite from last year. As expected, it definitely lived up to my memory, and you can bet I'll be having another one sometime soon!

What have your favourites been this October? Make sure to let me know by leaving a comment!

Cutting out silicone from my hair products for a month, has it made a difference

Up until a couple of months ago, I was completely oblivious to what silicones were and how they can damage your hair, so you can tell that I was surprised by this discovery and hearing about their potentially damaging effects. For those of you who don't know, silicones build up around the hair shaft and give the appearance of health and shine, however in excess they weigh down your hair and make it appear greasy and dull. As someone who suffers from greasy roots, I was intrigued to find out more and decided to completely cut out silicones from my hair products over the past month, so keep reading to find out the results.

When deciding to go silicone-free, I opted for the Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Water shampoo and conditioner. I wanted something that I'd heard positive reviews of and from a brand that I trusted, yet was still affordable (if eliminating silicones worked out, I didn't want to be paying £50 per bottle!) These silicone-free products aim to help hydrate your hair without weighing it down, which is what I needed as my hair was seemingly dry and dehydrated (especially the ends) yet since it's quite fine it can tend to look flat and limp. The coconut water hydrates the hair and prevents it from breaking, and the aloe vera contains proteolytic enzymes which repairs dead skin cells on the scalp, both of which sounded ideal for my hair.

I also purchased the Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food, again opting for the aloe vera one, after hearing some amazing reviews of it online. This 3-in-1 product can be used as a substitute for your usual conditioner, as a rapid hair mask or in small amounts as a leave-in conditioner. It's 98% natural, has a vegan formula and aims to make the hair look nourished and shinier in a natural way, opposed to containing silicones. This product comes in four different varieties (papaya for damaged hair, banana for dry hair, coconut for frizzy hair, and aloe vera for normal hair) and the incredibly large tub means it'll hopefully last me quite some time.

Cutting out silicone from my hair products for a month, has it made a difference

So... what were the results?

I have to admit, my hair not only looks a lot healthier and shinier but also feels it, and I'm really impressed with how these products have performed after only a month. The dehydrated ends of my hair have been much better and definitely seems more nourished. I have also recently had my hair trimmed and added some highlights, so in combination with this my hair is definitely looking and feeling so much better.

I have to say, I absolutely love the Hair Food mask, and think that it has worked wonders on the ends of my hair. It does everything it claims to do and honestly just leaves my hair looking and feeling so much more nourished and cared for. I tend to concentrate it on the ends of my hair rather than applying it throughout, and it also helps to detangle my hair. I'd definitely be interested in trying the papaya one, as my hair can appear a bit damaged at the ends, but I have to say that I couldn't be happier with this product!

Despite this, I perhaps think that the shampoo isn't quite right for me. My roots are naturally greasy, not because of a build-up of silicones but just because that's the way they are, despite the ends of my hair being dry. I've found that whilst using this shampoo my hair has started to look considerably greasy the day after washing, and I can't last as long as usual in between washes, which is probably due to the shampoo aiming to hydrate hair and reinject moisture. Although this is ideal for the ends of my hair, my roots haven't been coping well with this shampoo, and so I probably won't be repurchasing it. If you have dry or normal hair then I'm confident you will love this product, however if you're like me and prone to greasiness then perhaps other silicone-free shampoos will work better.

So in summary, I really have noticed the difference in cutting out silicones from my hair products, and I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon! If you've opted for silicone-free hair products then I'd love to know your thoughts, so make sure you leave a comment!

If you're currently in university and studying an essay-based subject, you'll know just how much reading is required. I sometimes feel like most of my time is taken up by reading a variety of novels, plays and poems, even though this only skims the surface of what I have to do. Despite studying English literature and therefore having a very reading-heavy degree, I tend to organise it quite well and get through all of my texts, and so I thought I'd answer some of your questions about managing your university reading list and keeping up with it all!

My university reading list is so expensive - are there any more affordable ways of buying the books?
I'm lucky enough to work part-time in Waterstones and therefore have a staff discount, and so twice a year I will head into my store with a list as long as my arm of books that I need. Although this helps to make it a lot more affordable, I understand that not everyone will have this. I highly recommend buying your books secondhand on Amazon, as they are incredibly affordable and still great quality, although you may have to wait a week or so for them to arrive. If your university has a Blackwells on campus then they are also worth checking out, and will often sell bundles of books for each module at a discounted price. It's also worth asking around if you know older students on your course as they may be willing to sell or give away their old texts, and charity shops are also useful if you don't need to have a specific edition.

Alternatively, you can always find the texts in your university library, although they will most likely be limited in copies and you'll only have a short time before needing to return them. There's also the issue of not being able to annotate the texts, so if you're someone who learns by scrawling all over your books then it perhaps isn't the best method for you. I swear by the library for any secondary reading and resources that I perhaps only need a couple of quotations or ideas from, but all of my primary reading I prefer to buy.

Is it necessary to read all of the texts on your reading list?
I'll be honest, it isn't easy getting through all of the books on your reading list, especially when they're the kind of book where you sit down and read for hours only to realise you've only made it through 15 pages. As soon as I receive my reading lists, I go through them and highlight which texts I want to focus on in-depth or feel like I will use for any essays or exams, and that way I can focus more attention and time on reading those. Although I'd recommend reading all of the books, sometimes that isn't possible, and focusing on completing a few with a thorough understanding is better than each one being half-finished. If there are any books you can't complete before the lecture, make sure you read summaries and know what happens in the rest of it, and then you can finish it at a later date.

How can I get through all of my books and make reading manageable?
In terms of making time for reading all the books, it's really just about using every free moment you get to read, even if it's only a couple of pages. Whether that's on a bus journey, your lunch break or before you go to bed, every little bit will make a difference and help you get through the texts. I've had days of reading for probably 8-10 hours with only breaks for meals, and although it's difficult it's sometimes necessary.

It's also important to make reading an enjoyable process, not something that you have to do. Whether that's by getting cosy in bed with your novel or treating yourself to a cup of tea and a slice of cake in a cafe to accompany your reading, make it feel more like a hobby than a chore. At the end of the day, your degree should be something that interests you and so you should try and remember this whilst powering through your reading.

What do you do if a text is incredibly difficult and you can't understand it?
It's inevitable that we will all encounter difficult material at times, especially with subjects like English literature where reading poetry from the 14th century can feel like a completely different language. If you're struggling, I'd recommend doing as much research as possible, as well as reading alongside summaries or translations to help your understanding. If that still doesn't help, there's no shame in asking a tutor for help or someone on your course to explain it to you!

How do you remember what happens in all of your books?
When there are countless texts to read, it can be easy to get confused or to start forgetting details. I'd recommend writing down little notes as you go along to remind you of important plot points, features or details that you might otherwise forget. Also, watching Youtube videos or reading relevant articles can help to jog your memory of any important details.

There is so much going on within each text - how do I know what to focus on when reading?
I completely understand this concern, as there can be many different things happening and it's hard to know where to start and focus your attention. A good way in is to look at the essay questions relating to that book and keep in mind any particular themes or arguments that they discuss when reading it. You may also benefit from asking your tutors what they plan on focusing on in seminars and tailor your reading around these points. If you're reading after the lecture, you can also use those perspectives and arguments to frame your reading.

How do you manage your university reading? Let me know in the comments below!

Sustainability is something that is littered across newspaper headlines and talked about frequently online at the moment, but it's not just a fashion trend to jump on board with or a news story that'll blow over in a few weeks. Our planet is becoming more in danger from an inescapable climate crisis, and like many others, I am incredibly aware of how many of our decisions indirectly harm the environment. Although it's easy for everyone to say that they want to help, it can sometimes seem like an impossible task to do alone and that an individual's actions won't make a difference. However, I thought I'd write this post to share some small changes that you can make in your everyday life to become more sustainable and eco-friendly, all of which are easy to implement and prove how everyone can make a difference.

Drink from a reusable water bottle
A major change that I’ve implemented in my daily routine over the past few years is using a reusable water bottle. I’ll admit, it’s a difficult habit to break simply buying plastic water bottles and using them once, especially if you’re on-the-go and thirsty with no other option. But just think about all the plastic waste caused by this, plus it ends up being a lot more expensive! For probably about 4 years now, I’ve favoured reusable water bottles and you can guarantee that I have mine with me wherever I go - uni, work, dance, you name it!

Say goodbye to makeup wipes
Some people use makeup wipes religiously, but just think about how much waste that generates in a week, let alone a lifetime! Not only are there many claims that they are bad for the skin by only removing the upper-most layer of makeup and dirt, but they aren't biodegradable and so stick around for a long time. Instead, I'd highly recommend investing in a cleansing balm or lotion to use with a flannel, which you can simply pop in the washing machine to use again and again. There is also the added bonus of giving your skin a thorough cleanse, ensuring no dirt will be left behind. This is something I've done for a long time (I've always found that makeup wipes hardly work for me, especially since I usually wear waterproof mascara) and although it requires a bit more effort, it makes a massive difference to both your skin and the environment.

Eat less meat
Many recent studies claim that the biggest change anyone can make to help our planet is to reduce their meat intake. Although the two may seem unrelated at first, you have to consider the greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry, as well as land and water used in these operations. Cutting out meat altogether seems like an impossible task (I'll admit, I'd miss the roast dinners and chicken kormas) but instead, having one vegetarian meal a week seems a lot more manageable and makes a huge difference. Since starting university, I've been experimenting with various vegetarian recipes and I've honestly enjoyed going meat-free a few days of the week, and it's a lot easier than you think once you get the hang of it. I might actually write a whole blog post about easy and affordable vegetarian meals for students if that's something you'd be interested in seeing!

Buy clothes secondhand
You honestly won't believe some of the bargains there are to find in charity shops these days! Although the stereotype is that they only contain old, musty jumpers that are 5 sizes too big and aren't in style at all, this really isn't the case. I've been in various charity shops in Manchester and there are actually some lovely items to be had in there, as long as you've got a keen eye. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago I spotted a gorgeous dress from I Saw It First that was originally £20 but was only £3 in the charity shop - and it was my size! A lot of water and chemicals, as well as manual labour and shipping, go into producing clothes, and so it definitely makes a difference to avoid fast fashion and wearing things once and investing in charity shops instead.

Use a menstrual cup
Period products are one of the leading sources of single-use plastics for women, yet they’re something that we all rely on every month. But there are many other options: I made the switch to a menstrual cup about 6 months ago and honestly haven’t looked back since. I decided to give it a go for other reasons aside from sustainability - it's a lot more comfortable and practical for exercise, plus you can get up to 12 hours of use before having to empty it. However, there are lots of environmentally friendly benefits too! The OrganiCup is made from medical-grade silicone, meaning it is vegan and not harmful to the environment. Not only that, but it lasts for years as opposed to using it once and then throwing it away, which reduces waste and also saves a lot of money!

Always have a reusable bag to hand
I'll admit that it's happened to me many times: I'm out shopping for quite a few items, and suddenly I'm at the till without a bag and no choice but to pay 5 pence for a plastic one. And although we all tell ourselves that we'll keep those plastic bags and reuse them, how often do we actually stick to that and take them out for the next shopping trip? That's why I'd highly recommend purchasing a cheap fabric tote bag to chuck all of your items in, as they can easily be compressed and kept in your handbag and will considerably reduce the plastic waste caused by frequently buying new bags. They're also much more durable and less likely to tear, so it's definitely worth the small investment.

I'd love to know some of your sustainable solutions for everyday problems, so make sure you let me know down in the comments!

Although I'm back to blogging regularly, it feels like ages since I sat down and had a little chat with you guys just about life. If you follow my Twitter or Instagram then you will probably be caught up with what's happening in my life and how I'm feeling, whereas those of you who only read my blog may miss out on this. I thought this evening I'd have a little catch up with you and share a few of the things that have been going on in my life lately, so keep reading to see what I've been up to!

Starting second year of university
The academic season is well and truly upon us, and so I'm back living in Manchester whilst doing my degree. Being back has made me realise just how much I love this city, plus it feels great finally having some routine and structure in my days again. Rather than staying in private halls like last year, this year I'm sharing a house with my boyfriend and a few of our friends, which is honestly lovely and so far we've had a great time. Although I'm sure that my second year of uni will be hard and I'm already drowning in reading, I'm excited to see what it will bring!

Becoming a section owner in Waterstones
Another exciting update is that I'm now the sci-fi and fantasy section owner in my Waterstones store! If you don't already know, I work part-time in Waterstones alongside my degree and after my annual review a couple of weeks ago, I was given my own section to control and manage. This was incredibly exciting for me, as I started less than a year ago as a Christmas temp but I'm now starting to have more responsibility within the store. I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy books a few years ago, and I can't wait to rekindle my love for these genres.

Passing my driving theory
At the start of the summer holidays, I decided to book my driving theory test even though I hadn't done any revision of practice. It was my little goal to dedicate some time, even if it was only a couple of hours a week, to look over everything and hopefully be ready to take it come September. Now I'm pleased to let you know, I passed first time! After many practice tests on the app and an unnecessary amount of nerves, I ended up getting full marks on the multiple-choice questions and 65 out of 75 on the hazard perception. Next step is learning to drive - which will hopefully be soon!

Starting dance again
Last week, I officially started dance lessons again, which genuinely makes me so happy! I've danced all my life but leaving LIPA before moving to university marked the end of my dancing days (I wanted to continue classes last year in university but for various reasons I couldn't). I realised how much I missed dancing, and so decided to join the University of Manchester dance society and take classes in jazz and contemporary. It's only been a week so far but I've genuinely been loving it, and I can't wait to continue. I've also decided that I'm going to audition for the competition teams next week, although there are a lot of extremely talented people in the dance society so wish me luck!

Feeling happier
Although I have my occasional wobbles, I'm honestly so much happier lately. My mental health is drastically better than last year (I've never fully discussed this, but the bottom line is that I'm getting the help I need and really working on it) and I'm very happy with where my life is at right now. My heart is just so full and I'm surrounded by some lovely people - everything just seems to be going my way.

I'd love to know what you've been up to lately, so make sure you leave me a comment down below!

I spent the majority of my summer commuting back and forth from Manchester a few times a week, as I was home for the holidays but still had my part-time job to attend. I therefore had a lot of spare time in my day - waiting for trains, during the journeys, breaks in work - and it soon became boring just mindlessly scrolling through social media. After a while, I really made an effort to use these moments throughout the day to be productive and do something useful, and so perhaps these ideas will inspire you to make better use of your time too!

Do my hair and makeup - by always having a hairbrush and some makeup essentials to hand, I could get ready for the day whilst on the go, for example during my train journey. Plus, it was definitely worth it for the extra half an hour in bed!

Work on my blog - whether it was posting on my Instagram story, commenting on peoples' posts or replying to emails, these little tasks were the perfect way to fill a few spare minutes and honestly made a huge difference. I also tended to type blog post ideas in my notes ready to work on later

Reading - my 45-minute train journey was the perfect opportunity to delve into a new book without feeling disturbed, and it also helped me to get ahead with some of my university reading. Just be careful that you don't become too engrossed and miss your stop!

Learn something new - I took the opportunity to learn my driving theory over the summer, and so every spare 5 minutes that I had I'd open the app and quiz myself on some of the questions. It feels nowhere near as intense as sitting down for hours at a time, but I was surprised by how quickly it stuck

Eat a meal - breakfast and lunch on the go became essential for me over the summer, and I was constantly grabbing a cereal bar or making sandwiches to eat while I was out. Not only does it save money, but having some food will leave you feeling ready for the day

I hope you enjoyed this little blog post, and I'd love to know what you do with your spare time to be productive!

Over the past year and a half of being together, my boyfriend and I have done a variety of different activities and been on some really unique dates. Although we both enjoy going out for a meal or getting cocktails, sometimes it's nice to spice this up a bit and do something creative that you wouldn't otherwise think of, whilst also creating some amazing memories and hilarious moments. I thought I'd share ten of my favourite date ideas that we've done, whether you're looking for inspiration or just a sneak peek into what we get up to!

Do an escape room
Although it may sound quite intimidating being trapped in a room with someone for an hour straight with the intense pressure of trying to break free, doing an escape room is actually a really fun date idea. Aiden and I did one on our first date and it definitely helped to break the ice a bit and eliminate any shyness, as we were forced into working together. We've done a couple more since and both really enjoy it, as our inner competitive sides come out full force. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who has a logical mind or enjoys a challenge, but if you're argumentative or get quite aggravated under pressure, maybe this isn't the best idea for you!

Rent some bikes and explore
Aiden and I decided to do this last year at the Albert Dock in Liverpool, and to this day it was perhaps one of my favourite dates we've been on. With the sun setting behind you whilst whizzing around on bikes, it actually feels quite romantic, especially if you choose to stop off at some picture-perfect locations. Or you could unleash your competitive side and race one another, and the sky is the limit with how far you want to go.

Attend a gig or a show
If you have a mutual interest, it may be worth getting tickets for a concert or show that you can watch together. It feels a lot more special than just going to the cinema as it's something that you're both passionate about or interested in, and will make for great memories. Aiden and I went to watch Thriller Live in London last summer and it such a great evening, and we've also attended a couple gigs together (including Bastille, my all-time fave) which we've both agreed are some of our favourite memories together, and we have another one booked for next month!

Go to a theme park
If you're a thrill-seeker, a theme park can be a really enjoyable day out! Although there's quite a bit of waiting in queues, this is the perfect time to just chat and chill out together, and then the thrill of the rides is unbeatable. Aiden and I went on a double date to Alton Towers a couple months ago and it was a really nice day filled with constant excitement and laughter, but if you're afraid of rides then I'd definitely avoid this one!

Play some mini-golf
This is quite a standard date idea, in my opinion, but it's still a really good one. It's the perfect way to have a laugh and not take yourself too seriously, and you seriously can't beat the feeling when you get a lucky hole-in-one! Whether you opt for an outside course on a gorgeous summers day or the fluorescent edginess of somewhere like Junkyard, I can guarantee it'll be a fun way to spend a few hours!

Go bowling
This is another fairly standard one, but people often underestimate the enjoyment of bowling. It's not just an activity for kids, you can have a really fun date doing this together, whether you're cheering each other on or competing to win. If you do think that it's a bit childish, there are places like Dogbowl in Manchester which is a bar with a bowling alley inside it, which is a very cool and unique concept that definitely spices up a regular game of bowling.

Have a shopping spree
Although it doesn't really sound like a standard date, I actually think it's quite enjoyable to go shopping together. Not only can you have a browse in the shops and scout out some nice items, but why not have a go at styling each other and selecting them an outfit, whether it's serious or funny? It's also nice to have some time just walking around with no real intent, and instead just chat with each other and catch up on what's going on lately.

Try something physical
For some reason, we always tend to gravitate towards somewhat physical dates and activities, and we've tried some mad things like axe throwing and canoeing. Although these didn't really sound up my street at first, it was actually really fun trying out something that I wouldn't typically do. The lesson learnt here is that it's okay to be bad, and it's actually way funnier that way, plus you'll get to try something you never considered before.

Explore somewhere new
If you're getting bored of your hometown and feel like you're running out of things to do, why not hop on the train and explore somewhere for the day? You don't have to go far, and even if you only spend a few pounds you can discover some cute and quaint towns or travel to a nearby city for lots more to do. Whether you want to take in the sights or discover the heritage in museums, there are no limits to where you can explore!

Have a cosy evening in
As much as I enjoy going out on dates, sometimes you simply can't beat a chilled out evening with your feet up. My idea of a perfect evening together is ordering a Chinese, watching a film that I know we'll both love and just getting cosy on the couch. It's also fun to play some board games, do some baking or even go for an evening walk around your local area, whatever you fancy!

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for date ideas, and I'd love to know any more suggestions down in the comments!