Simple Skincare, Happy Skin

After years of neglect, I am now such a skincare nerd. During exams my skin was angry with me being a little more relaxed about it than I had previously been this year; weirdly, it became worse immediately after my final exam. I was already planning on treating myself to some new skin products and when I saw the already affordable products by Simple were on offer while I was shopping, I popped a few bits and bobs in my basket last month. I have always been a fan of the moisturiser – hydrating but not too hydrating for my oily skin – but have rarely bought their other products.

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Simple bath cream is divine. Despite adoring baths, they are a luxury I don’t seem to allow myself very often. I have, however, been testing out this when my body feels super tired- which it has done recently. It feels like bathing in warm milk (in a really great way!), smelling subtly clean and leaving my skin feeling really quite soft. After a long run, this is the product I need to calm my muscles down. Bonus: You don’t need to use much of the product at all.

Simple face wash is the cheapest necessity when it comes to face washes. Although I have sucked at being friends with my skin before this year, I have always frequently used face wash. Not only does it make me feel fresh in the morning, but it always seems to be the product that helps me out the most. This face wash is silky and smooth and never feels like a chore to use!

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Simple facial wipes are a saviour. Make up wipes have never seemed to agree with me. Whether I get a shockingly cheap pack or spend a few pounds on them, my eyes hate them and become beyond irritated. Although I have tried these in the past, these are definitely my official staple make up wipe. They wipe off my eye makeup super quickly and don’t make my eyes hurt for one second. Finally. It even wipes off my waterproof eyeliner without complaining once.

It always shocks me how unbelievably affordable Simple’s products are. On offer, each product cost me £1.50. Not only do they look like they should cost more, I genuinely believe they feel like they should too. But I’m bloomin’ glad they don’t! I have been using these three products for the last month and a bit and, together, they are a dream. As much as I adore my Clarins products, Simple do the same job brilliantly.

~ Kat ~

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What’s in my Bag? | Graduation Essentials

On Monday I am graduating from Cardiff University and after finally getting my outfit sorted (I left it very, very, very unbelievably late) I am super duper excited. I can’t wait to get suited and booted with my cape (that’s what it’s called, right?) and platformed shoes. For too many photographs. For lots of giggles with my favourite people. For a couple of glasses of champagne. I’m sure I’m going to feel just as teary as the High School Musical cast at the end of the trilogy and I’m most certainly going to be singing even more. As I am sure you are all so very eagerly on the edge of your seats so here is what I will be popping in my pretty new bag on Monday morning.

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  • A pouch full of make up: Eyeliner; concealer; nail varnish. I’m likely to cry, sweat and chip every bit of make up possible on Monday. And I will be prepared for each and every occasion. If my eyeliner wings aren’t on fleek for the whole day I’ll never forgive myself. I didn’t spend nearly £30,000 for shabby photos.
  • Plasters: For any of mine or my friends’ SOS moments. High heels are not my thing and I’m hoping platforms will cause me less stress. But if not, I will be the mother of the group, a box of plasters at the ready to prepare any our blisters.
  • Socks: For when my shoes might get a little too intense. The shoes will be off and the trainer socks on.
  • Brush: Because my hair never works with me.
  • Hairbands: In case of the warm day the forecast is predicting, hairbands will save the day as they always do. Never underestimate a girl and their selection of hairbands. Never.
  • Purse: For obvious reasons… Bubbles.
  • Water: So I don’t get heat exhaustion on what promises to be one of the most fun days ever.

I will be posting a whole outfit post next week (so very Zoella of me!) as well as documenting the very day itself. The celebration will begin on Sunday, chilling in a sports bar to catch every brilliant moment of the Wimbledon final (even though my Murray will not be there) with Pimm’s and excited butterflies for the following afternoon. *Goes back to bedroom to plan all of the High School Musical esque squad pictures.*

~ Kat ~

P.S. What’s in my Backpack? | Summer City Break Essentials

Five Ways to Detox Better this Summer

With summer under way, a lot of us are excited to be outside, using our legs as much as possible and feeling a bit damp on the forehead. Like all year round, however, it’s easy for us to become obsessed. People are after a quick fix but being healthy and fit isn’t something that we achieve just as quickly as a Tweet can be sent; being healthy and fit doesn’t even have an end point. It freaks me out to see the unhealthy lengths people go to: bizarre fluid-only diets; skipping dinner; too much exercise. I have made the choice to make a few more conscious health choices and here is how I’m detoxing in the hope to feel a bit more fresh for the summer in the most mind-healthy and body-healthy way possible.

Detoxx1. Give up or limit alcohol for a while. Summer might feel like the couple of months where limiting alcohol consumption is impossible- Sunday pub garden trips; BBQs; weddings; picnics; holidays. I nearly made the choice not to carry this out just because I didn’t want to miss out. To miss out? Yup, that’s actually what I thought. Our society relies on alcohol to have a good time and I’ve realised how bizarre this is. The last month I have been limiting my alcohol consumption as much as possible and, after realising I was drinking a few too many beers, I am trying to switch beer for gin and tonic where possible. Although I nearly bought a few beers for an evening down the beach with my friends a few weeks ago, I was grateful to (obviously) find out, I have just as much fun with fruit and my water bottle.

2. Drink lots of water. Although simple, we all find this step harder than it should be. I have been sipping on water frequently, and choosing to have a fruit tea or water when I feel a bit peckish- often we snack when we think we are hungry even though at the roots of it is thirst. While this would be advisable all year around, just make sure you’re always carrying water with you all day long. I’m quite prone to heat exhaustion so have learnt my lesson one too many times- water up! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the heat; even if we are enjoying it. The UK has seen some amazing weather the last month or so and I only feel fresh so long as hydration is my best friend.

Detox3. Cook from scratch. Cooking during the summer is so much fun: shove some fruit in a salad to liven it up and chuck all of the veg ever into your pasta in the evening. There is nothing more rewarding to me than cooking from scratch. As always, I completely recommend Joe Wicks for this step. He produces the most easy, comforting and refreshing recipes, perfect for a summer detox that never leaves you feeling hungry or unfulfilled.

4. Walk everywhere. Walk to work (if possible); walk when you’re hungry but know you’re not really; walk to dinner or the pub; meet your friends for a walk instead of a Netflix session (boo!); spend a day walking around a beach (like I did yesterday!). Even when I don’t fancy walking but have to to get somewhere (I will start driving soon!), as soon as my feet have stepped a few steps, I feel relaxed. Mentally, walking for 30/40+ minutes is a detox most of my days crave.

5. Just keep swimming. Swimming is my new favourite way to wake up. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished because it’s quite the challenge for me. A lot of us think swimming is just for holiday but I’ve really enjoyed visiting my local pool once or twice a week. It’s unbelievably good for your muscles, which, as a runner, I find particularly helpful. Whatever your ability, swimming is for sure incredibly beneficial for everyone while being the most relaxing detox that is simultaneously incredible for you.

How are you detoxing for summer?

~ Kat ~

Three Cities

I have been fortunate enough to go on three adventures this last year. A quick “how to” to achieve the most fulfilling escapism? 1. Pack a bag; 2. Get on a plane; 3. Explore a city. Now considering myself a full-fledged professional city-breaker, I can whole-heartedly recommend that you jump on the bandwagon and spend a few days in a city, soaking up the culture, food, famous places and not-so-famous places. Dublin; Paris; Rome. When asked, “Where is my favourite place?,” I cringe and realise I can’t say one without saying the other two. It’s like picking between children, or picking between Harvey Specter and Mike Ross. Impossible. And, *drum roll per-leeease:* here’s why!

DUBLINDUBLIN. The city of four-leaf cloves, inviting accents and (most importantly) Guinness, Dublin is the most refreshing break away. Aaron and I visited to celebrate his 21st and, upon booking, I didn’t realise just how much it would tick off a hypothetical list that outlined Aaron’s Perfect 21st. The city is buzzing with history and culture; food and drink. The main attractions (The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle and Temple Bar- not an exclusive list by any means) easily explain why Dublin is a must on your Where shall I travel next? list. In need of some deserved restbite or the sky is crying? It’s easy to dip into a lovely small chain or independent business, stopping for a Hop House 13 or a coffee (an Irish one, of course). We never escaped the excitement during our three days there and we never wanted to either. Dublin’s charm is undeniable.

PARISPARIS. The city of love; the city of grand buildings and wiry balconies. The story of Paris is told in its every nook and cranny. Dainty and magnificent; two words that are not twins anywhere else other than in the capital of France. Whether you’ve visited Paris or not, we all know of its history; its magical architecture; its love of wine. Paris is “my favourite place” (alongside Dublin and Rome, of course) because its beauty plateaus whether you’re staring at the Eiffel Tower or a white sparkly building that you’ve stumbled across when lost in the city. Nowhere is prettier than any other piece of the Paris jigsaw every building contributes towards. Pretty Paris, it should be renamed.

IMG_2551ROME. The city that needs not an introduction; “Rome” is its introduction. With reminders of our favourite history lessons around every – every – corner, nowhere makes you want to restart education and become a history lecturer more. Rome is purposefully imposing and unapologetically arrogant. We dare not forgive it; it doesn’t ask for it. The city is delicately strong with its buildings requiring our love and attention. Rome offers history and culture in abundance while we tourists try to avoid the ardent desire to pop into every gelato shop we pass. It’s a happy city; an excited one with buildings that hug the country’s culture, keeping it safe from the outside.

Have you been to any of the above? What’s your favourite city break you’ve been on?

~ Kat ~

A Writer Abroad: The Travel Journal

Since holidaying in Malta last year, I’ve tried to keep a travel journal from the moment I pop on a plane until the moment I leave my new favourite place. Although I haven’t always been successful in completing a trip’s worth of stories and they aren’t always substantial entries, I am a big advocate of writing down adventures. There’s nothing like (momentarily) curing the I’m-not-travelling-right-now blues by picking up a little book full of some of your best moments and memories, transporting you back in time without even getting on a plane. WARNING: side effects are likely to include even more intense wanderlust, but the momentary escapism is worth it.

IMG_2684.JPGWhile in Malta I opted for writing a detailed list of each day, in Rome I wanted to write full diary entries, getting my writer groove on. My detailed lists included what ice cream I ate (for example, day one: Nutella!), what restaurants we visited and what activities we happily dwindled away the hours with. On the other hand, in Rome I wrote chunky paragraphs about the little things that happened as well as the big things that happened; at the same time fancying up each and every detail in a way that screams, “I just completed my English degree and I want you to know.” It’s easy to over romanticise every corner of a place when it’s as beautiful as somewhere like Rome.

I don’t think travel journals are just for writers. Aaron is far from English’s biggest fan but loves to keep a journal, keeping a far more detailed play-by-play of our trip to Dublin than I did, as well as previously writing out the day so far when I’d get ready for our evenings in Malta. I’m a very sentimental person which has also made me a hoarder. When I used to go abroad I needed to buy a souvenir or three “to remember the holiday.” I recently realised I don’t feel the need to pick up anything (although I buckled last minute and bought a Rome tshirt last month) because I much prefer taking the time to write out my trip which actually means I remember the perfect few days. I think most people would find this to be the case.

All the while, I do think it’s particularly essential for writers. When I’m abroad, I’m more inspired to write than ever. When I was younger I used to go on holiday and magic up an idea for my debut novel (which were never actually completed so hopefully my holiday in Mallorca this summer will inspire the real deal). Although a holiday might be the perfect opportunity to avoid writing and relax entirely, sometimes it creates the perfect creative outlet. Creative hobbies/job likes writing, taking photos or making videos) can crave attention; often, we can only improve if we are (for example) writing, writing and writing. As a blogger, not only do travel journals come in handy when I’m compiling blog posts about a holiday or city break, but being in a creative mindset means I have a list of new blog ideas (unrelated to my break away) for when the “I have been away, did you know?” blog posts have reached a dead end.

Do you keep a travel journal when away?

~ Kat ~

You Cannot Be Serious | That Thing McEnroe Said

Since Wimbledon is well and truly under way now (my absolute favourite time of year), I thought I would address John McEnroe’s comments on Serena Williams last week. In an interview that was promoting his new book, he commented that Williams is the greatest female tennis player in the world. When questioned on the word “female,” (why not the best player, full top) he claimed if she were placed in the men’s circus, she’d be “like 700 in the world.”  While I adore McEnroe and don’t believe he should apologise if he doesn’t want to, I don’t adore the comment and it is unsettling.

I have had a few discussions about the comments and I’ll start with my main problem. It is widely accepted the men’s and women’s tour are different. Serena Williams has commented on this herself, and that is nothing controversial. And it’s not McEnroe’s comment that offends me, it’s the sentiment behind it. Why compare two tours that are considered so different? The question could have been dealt with far more professionally (I question whether it should have been asked in the first place) and like he has said himself, it could have been left unsaid. Further, why 700, McEnroe? Plucking a number out of thin air is not only unfair on Serena and women’s tennis more generally, but on seed 700 himself. The whole affair screams unnecessary. While I don’t consider McEnroe or those who disagree with me to be sexist, the fact remains that we are pitching one woman (and indirectly, a whole bunch of female athletes) against even more men and saying, “You lose, sweetheart.”

When talking to a male who simply didn’t see the problem although understood the backlash, I asked him if he was looking at it from a different point of view to me (me as a woman and him as a man). A point of view promoted by his gender; the gender that is told essentially from birth that when it comes to sport, you’ll always win, son. And he agreed. He agreed he would be seeing it from a different point of view for reasons x, y and z and I think those who disagree that the comment was unnecessary need to try and empathise with my view as once a girl and now a woman who loves sport.

And here is where I explain why the comment made me feel a little heartbroken. All of my life I have felt and seen other girls experience the weight of gender expectations their athleticism. When I won the cross-country in year 5 a boy told me his placing 6th in the boys’ race was still better. Last year I was told a male friend would beat me in a 200m race because “he’s a guy” (even though he admits to doing no exercise while I train quite passionately). Biological differences unfortunately do count for some differences in sport (as a kid and as professional athletes), but premium athleticism is something to be celebrated. Comments that pitch men against women and boys against girls strike a chord with me because myself or fellow females excelling in sport was never as big of an achievement as the first place boy.

Feminism Up.

~ Kat ~

The Wonder Woman Review I was Always Going to Write

It took me far too long – far too long – to get myself to the cinema to see Wonder Woman. AKA the most kickbutt and exciting film I have seen in a long time. Spoilers: I loved it. Gal Gadot brought us another fantastic female superhero; the warrior of all warriors. Previously, it has seemed that my 20s cast a spell on me: The Dad in a Cinema Spell. I actually have come to fear the cinema because of how much my eyes let me down, begging me to just fall asleep right there and then in a crowded cinema. But – you guessed it – they didn’t even tease me when I watched Wonder Woman after a day at work. And missing even a second of the film would have been a tragedy.

WonderrrThe film is absolutely smashing reviews and, ten minutes in, it’s easy to see why. With Gal Gadot as Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (American pilot), an army of strong women and a stellar and an often (just the right amount of) hilarious cast around them, yeah, it’s my new favourite film. It tells the story of princess of the Amazons, Diana, training up to become the strongest warrior of them all. In a world where it is normal for gender to be no boundary, Diana did not expect American pilot – a man?! – and a world full of war and destruction to turn up on her doorstep… or on the beach that can only be described as paradise. But she knows what she has to do. WW1 meets Wonder Woman and it’s super duper cool.

And what is compatible with a kickbutt heroine… a lot of chat about feminism. *Enter Kat with her I AM A FEMINIST t-shirt on, a grin and a lot to say.* But before I gush over the character and film that allowed us to forgive DC for previous *cough* disappointments, I will shortly disclose the basis behind my article about it in my monthly newsletter (Feminism Up). As I named the article, not all feminists wear capes. Wonder Woman is not the first film featuring a strong woman; a woman we all look up to. Further, we define strong in a very restrictive way. Strong = physically and mentally resilient. Yet our favourite male and female characters aren’t our favourites for these reasons. And Wonder Woman is no exception. We love her because she’s motivated by her beliefs; we love her because at the core of her strength is her compassion. We laugh with how out of touch she is with the human world but we adore her passion for saving the human world she doesn’t perfectly fit into. She’s not a “feminist” character because she exceeds the strength of any man, she’s a “feminist” character because of her beliefs.

Even if the wonder Diana Prince and film in general does wonders for feminism (and it does), it does have its faults. Originally, Diana’s competence is questioned by Steve and other men in the film. Soon they realise their mistake, but the focus on gender is a little unsettling. Further, her looks are often referenced, even though she is brilliant, intelligent and caring. All in all, however, Wonder Woman presents an independent woman who we admire (just like other female characters entirely unlike her).

The film is jam-packed with everything we love about superhero movies. Action and the whole Good Vs. Evil war. Love and friendship. KAPOWs and BAMs. And while it is not the first female-led film (or even superhero film), it is paving the way for a future in film we all want. Women fighting Hollywood’s archaic structure like the Amazonian warriors.

~ Kat ~

WHY

I have gushed about her and her influence on my health and fitness lifestyle before, but Carly Rowena has done another one of those good things that has made me fist pump the air and feel twice as motivated. She has released a video that features health and fitness personalities talking about why they exercise and what they love about their body. I urge you to watch the video and you can do so HERE. I think this mini campaign, if you will, works so brilliantly because of the two elements that I think shouldn’t be separated. We are talking about this thing we do for reasons that probably aren’t what we expect, and we are linking it with confidence: what we love about ourselves.

WHY

Even when I was younger and didn’t have a gym membership or running events to train for, I loved exercise. In hindsight I realise it was those cheeky endorphins painting a smile on my face. So why do I exercise? First and foremost it, it’s a part of my day that guarantees a slice of pure happiness. Mentally, I feel free; physically, I feel capable. And feeling capable is my favourite feeling that we tend to underrate. Even though it can add up to costing nothing at all. I exercise because I rarely get bored of it. If I am? I need to change it up. Variety is exercise’s best friend and I adore that while I love to run, I also love training my arms. I love to swim but I love to go to Zumba. The challenge of a new class the next day is like an everyday Christmas Eve for me, and the occasional meet up for a badminton or tennis match gives me excited butterflies. I exercise because it’s fun.

And something I like about myself? I’ve always answered, “my legs.” While I am by no means tall, they carry me everyday and are my most loyal cheerleader on my favourite days: running events. They are strong and have been the reason for some of my proudest moments. But I’m going to change it up. After years of covering them up, I finally wear all of the workout vests and all of the Topshop sleeveless tops I want to wear. My arms. Even though I don’t exercise for aesthetic reasons (I exercise for longevity and all of the reasons above), I have seen changes in my arms in the last two years. Not only this, but I’ve felt it. My arms are one thing that make me feel more than capable now- I’ve made a lot of trips this past year with a lot (a lot) of luggage. And I managed them because of the part of me I used to make myself feel terrible for.

There is no one size fits all for exercise; for falling in love with it. For realising you’re no longer exercising for the reasons you thought you were; or the goals you set out to achieve. It could take a lot of trial and error; a lot of tried and tested workout classes. But when you get there, there’s not going back. Those endorphins are too addictive and the by-products are too attractive. Carly’s project is super refreshing. Like I said, it made me feel motivated. Pumped to get in my next workout. More than that, it was brilliant to see a bunch of people united by the same cause, saying things that I completely relate to. It’s cool to be fit and it’s cool to be confident; I think the two go so fabulously hand-in-hand and Carly’s reminded us of that.

~ Kat ~

P.S. Carly recently posted a brilliant video on how to be happy, which I more than recommend you checking out!

Feminism Up: Issue #2

Last month birthed the start of a new and very precious project of mine- Feminism Up; a monthly online newsletter encouraging discussion about sexism, equality and the need for feminism. More than that: the need for as many people to participate in the discussion as possible. I have had a brilliant response and many (very reasonable) debates about the whole concept. Just increasing the discussion a little bit has made me geek out. Issue #2 will be released later on today and I thought I’d couple each release with a blog post about it. If you want to sign up to the newsletter, you can do so HERE. If you want to receive issue #1 before it’s too late, sign up before 6pm (GMT)!

FU Blog

This month’s newsletter is full to the brim with guest writers and fabulous pieces I cannot wait for others to read. Laura writes a poignant piece about being a mother in the workplace, the judgement mothers unfairly receive and a couple of cases of sexual harassment she has experienced. Guest writer Tom writes about women in film and whether all-female remakes are a bit of a let down and women then, consequentially, receive the blame. Holly writes a piece that is well and truly needed: all about the notion of “slut-shaming” and why we need to tackle it head on. Tarryn writes about LGBTQ+’s relationship with stereotypes. My first piece discusses about the gender expectations at the gym – and sport, in general. The issue ends with a feminist take on Wonder Woman and all things film and feminism.

It was inspiring to be so quickly approached by guest writers at the beginning of last month; friends and even those I don’t know wanting to write something for Feminism Up. It was awesome to see so many people easily relate to the movement of feminism and share their own experiences. This issue is packed with different perspectives and interesting topics- some that aren’t too easy to speak about, even thought they should be. If you want to check out more about Feminism Up, check out the Instagram or if you’d like to write something for the newsletter, please contact me at feminismup@outlook.com. I’d be super interested to chat with you.

FU Blogg

This evening will see the release of issue #2 and, two issues in, and I feel as though I’ve learnt a lot. I dreamt up this project half way through May, knowing I wanted to release the first issue just half a month later. Setting myself deadlines as soon as university deadlines ended was an experience, but I have been enjoying it so far. Here is what I’ve learnt from compiling a monthly newsletter:

  • The photos are the hard bit- organise this way in advance to the release date!
  • Feminism is a topic so many people are switched on about and inspired by. This has meant all of my guest writers so far have been beyond trustworthy and finished with their pieces way in advance- last month I had the other two pieces all polished up before I had finished one of mine!
  • Proofread, proofread and proofread again- and then ask a friend.
  • While I want the guest writers to have as much freedom as possible, sometimes they want some instruction. So have some and then give some!
  • Sometimes I don’t agree with something a writer has written. As long as it isn’t offensive or reflects badly on me or Feminism Up, that’s all okay. Wanting everybody to talk about feminism means understanding lots of different views- which is super exciting.

If you check out the newsletter, please let me know what you think and if there is something Feminism Up really needs to hear, tell me! ❤

~ Kat ~