LIFESTYLE | The Perfect Cosy Home Day

Let's hibernate for a day or two.

I think we should take the time for cosy home days all year around, but as winter comes and the weather outside is dreadful, we have even more reasons to stay home and cosy up. Every week, I make sure to spend one day focussing on self-care, relaxing time and doing all the home things that make me feel warm and happy. I've become a bit of a pro at this, so I thought about sharing all the little things you can do for a perfect winter home day...

Even though you are having a relaxing home day, it can be easy to set yourself back and fall into a spiral of procrastination, endless scrolling of your phone, and mindlessly lose your time. Self-care has to be thought through, in my opinion, to really have a positive effect on you. As you start off your day, give yourself a short list of goals to accomplish. It can by anything from catching up on a TV show to finish reading a book, or baking something. Write it down at the start of the day, tick it off, and you will practice mindful self-care. Know what you are doing for yourself and how it helps you feel good. 

For me, being at home always, always means wearing comfortable clothes. Most of the time, during home days, you'll find me in my cosiest pyjamas and fluffy socks. You can also decide to wear proper clothes of course, and in that case comfy oversized jumpers and leggings are your best ally! I find that wearing soft, comforting materials sets me in a cosy mood much more than if I wear thicker materials like denim or items like dresses and skirts. 

Primark has the most wonderful range of home clothes, slippers, socks and pyjamas, especially towards the end of the year.There's nothing like spending a day in your pyjamas to feel like you're really getting some good, well-deserved rest!

Are you more team tea or team coffee? Or maybe you're a hot chocolate kind of person? Whenever I have a home day, I inevitably have a mug of hot coffee and almond milk in the afternoon, with a little snack - a French pastry, toast, or, around Christmas time, a chocolate or two.
Treating yourself to a little sugary snack is the perfect pick-me-up to make the day even more special. I like to do this while I'm watching a film or a video on YouTube, often after I've got some work stuff done (because yes, there's always the temptation to do some work even on an off-day...) 

Get out your cutest mug, buy your favourite ever snack, and turn it into a relaxing moment. Put some music in the background, and you could even feel like you're at your favourite coffee shop... Without the expensive coffee and the chatter around you. You can refocus and do something you enjoy while getting your energy levels up - especially if like me, you like having lighter lunches at home.

I don't think a day at home should mean snoozing all day and taking random naps. It should be a time for stimulating your mind in ways that are different from what you do during your usual work week. It's your time to practice your favourite hobbies. Reading, knitting, working out, drawing, the possibilities are infinite. Who said staying at home is boring!
Recently I got myself a Netflix subscription, because Making a Murderer part 2 is out, and I could not resist as I was fascinated by the first part of the documentary. And if you've watched it, you will know that this is a hell of a lot of brain stimulation! The detective in me has awakened again. I need a Sherlock hat ASAP.

When I spend some chill days at home, I always remember that not everybody has this chance. Some people work shifts, some people work weekends, and in the past I have had days when I felt guilty for taking a day just for myself. Guilty for not working for a few hours, guilty for not being outside enjoying the weather and other people's company... But ultimately we should try to make time for ourselves. There's no better time to reflect on your life and on what you have, than when you're on your own, in a peaceful and familiar environment. Realise how lucky you are to be able to watch Netflix a whole afternoon if you want to, to be able to eat these treats, and have these hobbies that make you happy and fulfilled. Those cosy home days are not lazy days, they can also be work on your inner self. And this can only make you feel good and content.

What are your must-do things on a cosy home day?


CHRISTMAS | The Best Festive Spots in London

Why go to Lapland for Christmas when you can go to London?

Every year, London looks a little more magical at Christmas time. They put up beautiful displays, sparkly lights and you can hear Christmas music in all the shops. I've been wandering around Central London a lot recently, and I collected photos of the most beautiful spots to share with you. So if you're around the capital this Christmas, here are the spots you should check out:

I could not write a this blog post without mentioning Covent Garden - it's one of my favourite areas in London all year around, and around Christmas it gets even better. The famous bauble displays are up, there is a huge tree in front of the covered market, and the shops and coffee places are inviting. Make sure to check out the stores around the market; Whittard is one of my favourites (I always pop in to try their hot chocolates and tea on display), Sass & Belle (perfect for little trinkets and homeware) and the Petersham Nurseries (home inspo for days!).

Covent Garden always has beautiful displays to take photos with, like their benches covered in flowers in the spring and their huge pumpkin this autumn. Christmas is no exception, and you can take your sassiest pose in front of a huge silver deer or sit on the chairs in front of their Christmas trees display, put there just for the purpose of snapping festive shots.

Although they get super crowded very early on, department stores really are a beauty at Christmas. The shop windows are decorated with the cutest displays, you can find plethora of festive ornaments, food, and of course present ideas. I rarely buy anything in those stores, but I love going there just to see what everything looks like, listen to the Christmas music and enjoy the excitement of these festive times. I love doing the same in Paris, too - watch out for that, it'll be coming on my Instagram!  

Hay's Galleria is a beautiful spot, hidden away behind London Bridge Station. You wouldn't really notice it, I found it with friends one day by accident and it was the best discovery ever! Hay's Galleria is a little spot near the Thames, covered in beautiful ironwork and with the most intriguing, vintage science-fictioneseque sculpture and fountain in the centre. This Christmas they went all gold with a massive tree covered in gold baubles, and at night they reflect the light beautifully. You have a few shops and cafés and restaurants in the Galleria, so if you want to try out the new Costa festive drinks, this is the best place for it!
It also has a lovely Christmas market full of food stalls and little presents to get ideas for your loved ones. 

I may receive some frowns about this, but I will make the statement again and again: to me, Winter Wonderland is really not worth the hype. Don't get me wrong, the rides and shows can be fun, but there's just too much going on there. I went once a few years ago, and felt so overwhelmed by the sheer amound of people and noise there. I am thinking that as it gets closer to Christmas, the crowds are even larger, so not ideal in my opinion. I would rather go to an actual Christmas market and forget the fun fair side. There are families, huge groups of people, and I found it all very unpleasant! 
To experience that type of Christmas entertainment in London, I would rather recommend going to Christmas markets like the one in Southbank, which still has a beautiful carousel overlooking the London Eye and holds a food market with a wide variety of stalls from all over the world. The one near London Bridge is great too. You still have a lot of crowds but it is a much more regulated flow of people, and the Christmas experience is even better in my eyes.

What is your favourite town to see at Christmas?


MAKEUP | My 2018 Autumn Makeup Look

This year my makeup matches my top and I think that's pretty convenient.

In the autumn I love creating new makeup looks. They often include warm shades and lots of shimmer, because Christmas is getting closer and closer and whenever November comes, I can't help starting to feel festive... Yes, I'm one of those people. Sorry.
This year, my makeup look matches the Miss Selfrige crop top I'm wearing: it has some red, some green, and no, it wasn't actually inspired by a Christmas tree. It just features some of my favourite products at the moment, which I'm going to review below, so keep reading!

I've been loving the Botanics skincare range by Boots recently. I am currently using their day cream and its texture is soft, just thick enough and moisturising without feeling heavy on the skin.
The foundation I am wearing on these photos is the FaceFinity All Day Flawless foundation by Max Factor. It was a firm favourite of mine a few years ago and I recently just got it again - the coverage is light to medium, and I love how natural it looks on the skin. The finish is neither matte nor glowy, it just evens out the skin beautifully.

On my eyes, I have one of my favourite autumn/winter eyeshadows: Sahara Dawn by H&M Beauty, a gorgeous deep burgundy shade. It is slightly shimmery and super pigmented, so I only applied a little touch in the outer corners and then blended it out. It's the only eyeshadow I have tried from H&M Beauty, but if the rest of their range is as good, then it's definitely worth trying out. I paired it with a gold glitter eyeshadow from the French brand Nocibé, and on my lower lash line I am wearing the wonderful Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil in the shade Stash. I find that khaki green really compliments brown eyes and I've been wearing this pencil all autumn, it stays put for hours and the formula is gorgeous. A touch of NYX eyeliner for a more dramatic look, mascara, and I'm good to go.

On my lips I've got the beautiful NYX Liquid Suede, a semi-matte liquid lipstick which I wear all the time as soon as the leaves start to turn red. It needs to be reapplied after a few hours (the colour at the centre of the lips tends to fade a little) but for the price tag, it's a really good product. I love NYX as a brand and I've always enjoyed everything I've tried from them. 
In the autumn I love deep burgundy shades. I'm also yet to wear my purple MAC lipstick (Instigator) this year, and when I do I'll probably post a picture on my Instagram - so make sure you're following me there!

What are the makeup products you've been loving this autumn?


LIFESTYLE | You Worry Too Much? Here Are My Top Tips To Worry Less

Otherwise known as: please don't be a stressball like me.

Before we booked our lovely trip to Brugge last August, my boyfriend and I struggled for a few days with our trip planning. Where to go, where to stay, how long, how much... We spent evenings figuring out what to do, and stress was even higher because it would be less than a week before my boyfriend flew back home to California and I moved back to England. We had to think quickly, weight the pros and cons of every idea we had, and of course both agree on our final plan.
To my utmost shame, I was crap at this. I was very stressed, very negative, and ended up shutting down a lot of the time. My boyfriend was a champion for bearing with me until we finally got things together and booked our stay in Belgium. I really wasn't proud of myself for letting stress and worry control my behaviour, and it made me realise the first point I want to get at now: worrying can affect everything. Not only does it affect yourself and your mood, but also the mood of those around you, especially the people close to you like your family, partner, and friends. 
As a worrier, I often feel like this could never change, like it's a trait of my personality that will never go away. So recently I have made it a point to work on how I cope with stress and how I can, in my daily life, set up little things that hopefully will help me with little worries, the every day things that make my heart race and my thoughts mix all up in my head. Here we are...

Sometimes, you are so used to being stressed that you feel like it's a constant. That it's just how it is. But we don't stress for no reason. Every time somethings comes up, that makes you feel worried, pause and think. Ask yourself:
What is the current situation?
How do I feel about it?
What is it in this situation that scares me?
What would make me feel better?

Analyse your feelings and thoughts. Worry is often based on fear and uncertainty, about yourself or others, so don't be afraid to ask yourself difficult questions. Sometimes, I feel very worried before a social occasion. And most times it happens, I as now admit to myself, I worry because I am scared of whether people will like me or not, whether they will enjoy themselves in my company, or whether I will bore them to death. All of these reasons are confidence-related. So now, whenever I feel worried before a social event, I will remind myself where my fears come from and how I can fight them. It is all about finding what you are worrying about. It often comes a different problem, which will need fixing - but first, figure it out.

By this, I don't mean watching vlogs or listening to funky music to ignore your worries and pretend they will just go away. Unless you're very lucky, they won't. I rather mean, do something that is proven to help with relaxation, calm, and mindfulness. Recently, I have found that stretching sessions, that I incorporate at the beginning and the end of my workouts, are incredibly calming. You can find videos on YouTube and create a schedule for yourself to follow as many times a week as you want. To me, a relaxed body helps having a relaxed mind too.

Colouring books are also great, you focus on a simple action and get the satisfaction of accomplishing something (i.e. colouring in your picture.) I would advise doing these activities in complete science, so you can hear your mind slowing down, or with very soothing and quiet music in the background, like this one. The aim is to be alone with your thoughts, not forget about your worries. You still have to tackle them - but with a rested mind, it helps.

I really do think that worrying and stress are only the external factors of deeper problems. You don't stress for nothing. There is always a reason behind it, and unless you find that reason and work towards solving it, you will keep worrying all the time. As I have explained in my first point, I figured out why I would worry about social situations. So whenever you feel stressed, wind down and unfold the stories behind the worrying. 
Sometimes it can be that you need to gain more self-confidence, sometimes it can be that you have to learn how to trust others, or how to embrace the unexpected if you tend to worry about the future and your professional life. Learn how to make yourself happy and safe, step by step, by confronting your emotions. Don't let it go and wait for it to pass. It may go away for a while, but if you don't tackle the issue, it will resurface eventually. Who knows, figuring out your battle may be the start of a new, life-changing and exciting journey in discovering yourself!

Just like with any thing that may be troubling you, you should talk it out. I am a great advocate of figuring things out by yourself and for yourself, but if you are surrounded by people who get to see you worry, and stress, like family members or a partner, you should talk with them. They may see some things about yourself that you don't see, because you are focused on the negativity that you may be feeling.
When we were booking our trip, my boyfriend remarked on how negative I had been, and repeated to me some of the things I would say, that I didn't even realise I was saying back then! Things like 'I'm stressing out,' 'I wanna die,'There's not enough time'... And all the while I was saying those things, I was letting myself fall into my worries. My boyfriend got to observe that from the outside, and him telling me about how I had been acting really got me thinking. Sometimes it takes having someone else to realise what you are doing, and how you can improve. Also, make sure you always seek help when you feel like you need it. It is not a weakness, on the contrary - you share with people who are close to you, and who know what you may not see about yourself.

In the same way, remember to be kind with others. It is easy to get in a loop of negativity and spread it around - like I have done in that episode with my boyfriend. Even when you're not feeling quite right, always take a step back and reflect on what you are doing. If you're feeling stressed and upset, always remember that these feelings will influence your actions and the way you are towards people. Being positive and finding the little things, even in your distress, that will put a smile on your face, will help you, first and foremost, but it will also help the people you live with, share your day with, or interact with in these times of worry. Spread positive messages, and you will only get support and cheering in return. It is easy to put off others with our behaviour, and doing so is only a disservice to you as well as them. Keep your mind open and own your actions. Positivity attracts positivity!

How do you deal with worry? What do you do to relax and relieve stress?


TRAVEL | Forget LA: Five Reasons to Visit San Diego, CA

Grab a snack; this is a looong one.

San Diego is just a couple hours away from LA, and although we all know the latter, there isn't as much out there about San Diego. But with my boyfriend living there, I've had a chance to visit quite a few places around SD and I really want to share with you all you can see there. It's a pretty awesome place, if you ask me. So this post will be full of personal impressions, tips on what to do and see and why I think you should visit SD if you're looking for a bit of Southern California for your next big trip...

If like me, you live in a European city and that going to the beach is a one-time-a-year exclusive event, then you'll love the beautiful sandy beaches along the coast of San Diego. I have been to the beach there in winter, summer and in the autumn, and no matter the time of year, they are beautiful. There are a lot of beaches worth visiting around San Diego, and my favourite is Torrey Pines, which is right near a beautiful natural reserve. You can hike there, and get some rest by laying on the beautiful beach. This autumn, my boyfriend took me to Coronado beach. Coronado is a little island connected to mainland San Diego by a long curved bridge. Let me tell you, Coronado's posh. Like, huge, beautiful houses all around. We went to the beach at around 5, as the sun started to go down, and we had it all to ourselves. It was the most amazing moment. 

If you're lucky, you might see some people surfing around. In Coronado, you can also see the most beautiful Hotel Del Coronado which looks straight out of Disneyland. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants around any of those beaches, so you could easily spend a whole day discovering a beach and its surroundings: Coronado, Carlsbag, Del Mar - all places I've seen and would totally recommend.

In San Diego, animals are a big deal. You can see plenty of them, of all species (more than 650!) at the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park. I have been to both quite a few times as my boyfriend loves these two places, and the Zoo in particular is one of my favourites. I don't do zoos very often, and I make sure to only support places that show the animals the care and protection they deserve. San Diego Zoo is one of these: they keep the public very well-informed about their programmes of development, you have volunteers all around the park that share their knowledge and love of the animals, and the money is reinvested in plans to make sure we keep all these beautiful creatures safe all around the world. The variety at the zoo is quite amazing too, you've got anything from pandas to polar bears and gorillas.

The Safari Park (or Wild Animal Park) is a more extended park where you will see a lot of species in big enclosures that resemble their natural habitat. You can actually do a safari there, and get to see the animals closer than you usually would. Although I have a preference for the zoo because of the variety of animals that they have, the work that has been put in the Safari Park is amazing - you can stand a few steps away from the kangaroos, and that in itself is a pretty good reason to visit.

My absolute favourite area of San Diego, if you've seen my previous posts on the city, is Balboa Park.
Balboa Park. It is right in the area where the zoo is, and it is a beautiful, Spanish architecture heaven full of museums and gardens to visit. This time, my boyfriend and I went there after our day at the zoo, for a little walk. Most landmarks will have a fee, but even just walking around the area and seeing the Botanical Building, the Rose Garden, the Spanish Art Village and the International Cottages. There is always something new to see in Balboa.

These buildings are my favourite, and I always swoon over how beautiful they are every time we go there. I would highly recommend the museums of course - I loved visiting the Museum of Man last year.

The variety of landscapes in San Diego is impressing. You can find the beautiful, dry moutains and cacti galore, but you also have Downtown SD for all things city, cafes, and Comic Con. 
In Downtown San Diego, Seaport Village is an adorable spot where you can do shopping and have lunch. They have an amazing Christmas shop open all year around, as well as a cupcake shop that makes the yummiest treats. Around the Bay, you can also take a boat tour, which my boyfriend and I did with the Hornblower. On some tours, you can see sea lions, or even do dolphin and whale-spotting cruises. At the Convention Center, you will find the biggest Comic Con that is held every year, with tons of cosplayers and actors coming to San Diego for the occasion. Not something I have done myself, but if you're a fan of pop culture, it might be the dream trip to organise!

If you're cheesy like me, and you love a bit of stereotypical Americana, you'd love quite a few spots in San Diego. Old Town Temecula is one of my favourites: think 1800s style buildings, wooden barns used as restaurants, and fairy lights as soon as the night falls. Old Town is also where one of my favourite places to eat in the San Diego area is: Havana Kitchen. I've mentioned it on the blog before, but they do an incredible cubano sandwich, very flavourful, as well as the yummiest lattes you ever did taste.

Apart from Temecula, there's another lovely spot I discovered during this trip, courtesy of my dad's boyfriend: Bates Nut Farm. I had never been to a traditional farm like this before, and it was awesome. Fresh produce, animals (and an emeu for some reason?), make-your-own peanut butter machine, and pumpkin patch. Yes, pumpkin patch. Although most of the good ones were gone already (we went the day before Halloween) it was still fun to walk around. And take a look at the Christmas tree ornaments... It doesn't get more American than that!

I have seen very little of LA, but I can tell you that San Diego is an amazing destination if you're interested in discovering this part of California - so I would totally recommend spending a few days there if you ever plan a big California holiday. Personally, I love it and I can't wait to go again! (After all, it's not like my favourite person in the whole world lives there...)

Which part of San Diego would you like to visit the most?