Saturday, 31 January 2015

Northern Bloggers - Wordpress Leeds Meetup

Hey guys! Last week I did something a little different, and went to a local blogger's meet-up in town. It was rather impulsive in all honesty, I saw a link to it on Twitter and decided on the spot that I wanted to go. It's not something I've ever really been involved in previously despite being a blogger for a number of years now, and I'm pretty glad I went as it opened my eyes to a lot of things that frankly, I would never have otherwise thought of myself!

Despite being ran by WordPress, the event is inclusive to all platforms. 

The evening was a very relaxed format with a friendly atmosphere from the start. We spent the evening sat around a table in a lovely set of offices in the city centre, and took part in an activity called 'Lightning Discussions'. This was where everybody wrote down two or three topics they wanted to discuss and then we all voted on what we should talk about, with each topic getting ten minutes or so of time to make sure we got through plenty!

A lot of the attendees were people working in the blogging industry as professionals, either as developers, SEO specialists or web designers, and so a lot of the discussion for the night was around techy things such as maximising blog security, what to do in instances of hacking and how to best understand SEO to make sure your blog is reaching as many people as possible in the best way. I'll admit, some of it went right over my head, but a lot was super helpful advice, much of it from real industry professionals who know a lot more about IT and the internet than I do! Key points involved focusing on quality content and legitimate link-backs for good SEO ranking, having strong passwords on everything, and learning how to properly use Google Analytics, because that still really confuses me in all honesty.

We also spoke a little about the actual content side of blogging, and it was really interesting to get an insight into how other people tend to write, and also reassuring to see that many others run into the same problems I do! We all admitted to having far too many unfinished draft posts piling up, forgetting to tag things appropriately, and sometimes just being incapable of getting into the right mood to write a post. I shared my method of writing a couple of posts in advance and storing them up, so that even if I don't feel like writing much one week, I've still usually got something to post. I write all day at work for my job, so sometimes the last thing I want to do is come home and write some more! I'm really trying to improve how regularly I post though, and it's one of my key objectives for this blog in the future.

Overall I'm really glad I went and I hope I can go again sometime soon! I'm certainly going to keep an eye out for any other blogging meet-ups around me as well, as I think it's a great way to meet other people with similar interests and share some quality ideas.

- Natalie XOX

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Charity Shop Bargains in Leeds

Hi all! This weekend I've had a few extra days off work which has been really great, just relaxing and catching up with things around the house while I can. Yesterday my mam came down to visit for the day, so we could have a catch up and do some shopping. I hadn't seen her since before Christmas, so it was really nice to spend some time together. We had lunch in the Handmade Burger Co, which was lovely as ever, some hot chocolates in Costa, and did plenty of shopping. We actually went up to a village on the outskirts of Leeds called Horsforth, which is a great little place with loads of nice charity shops and independent shops.

I don't think it's any secret that I really love shopping in thrift, vintage and charity shops. Just last year I shared my Top Ten Tips for Shopping in Charity Shops, and I still think it's one of the best ways to source great quality clothes for ridiculously low prices. I picked up some serious bargains this time around, and thought you might like to see them!

Originally from: SoulCal
Charity Shop: Cancer Research UK
Size: 8
Price: £4

This jumper looks a bit weird on the hanger, but when on, it's so so comfy and nice. It's a really relaxed fit with a drapey hem and cropped sleeves that end at the elbow. I'm really glad I tried it on as I would never have bought it after just seeing it on the rail - it doesn't really do itself justice! 

Originally from: Oasis
Charity Shop: Cats Protection
Size: 8
Price: 99p

Yep - 99p. I couldn't really believe it, as there's nothing at all wrong with this lovely 60's style dress. It's a gorgeous loose finish with a fairly short hem and sheer sleeves. I can see myself wearing this plenty for work as it's smart enough but also fun enough to not look too dressed up. I love it!

Originally from: Hearts and Bows, an ARC Clothing label
Charity shop: Cats Protection
Size: 10
Price: 99p

My mam hates this shirt. I absolutely love it. For those reasons I can sort of understand the price tag, but seriously. It has SPACE and PEGASUSES on it. Pegasuses? Pegasi? Who knows. It's silky fabric and a nice fit and I don't care what anyone says, I think it's amazing. 

Originally from: River Island
Charity Shop: St Gemma's Hospice
Size: 8
Price: £4.49

These were my ultimate bargain of the day. Never worn River Island jeans, with the £35 price tag still on, for under a fiver. They're sort of in between a tan and a khaki colour and have surprisingly deep pockets for skinny jeans. If ever a purchase convinced me that charity shopping is worth the time and effort, this would be one of them. 

My next charity shop trip is going to be a fairly extended one as I'm not looking for clothes, but home-ware to help us re-do our bedroom and the basement, so that should be exciting. No doubt i'll still come back with a few irresistible bargains though ;) 

Have you picked up any exciting  purchases lately, whether second-hand or new? Where's your favourite place to go charity shopping? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOXO

Thursday, 15 January 2015

What I Wore: Winter Office Monochrome

Skirt - Boohoo, Vest top - New Look, Tights - Primark,
Shoes - New Look, Necklace - Silverado

Who’s gonna hire you with your lack of experience,
Who’s gonna wire you, the last of your inheritance?

Hey guys! How is your January going so far? I can't believe we're almost halfway through already, it's gone by so quickly. I'm not enjoying the horribly cold and windy weather we've been getting up north lately, but I am enjoying getting back into a routine and catching back up with life a little after the lull of the holidays. Plus, finishing off all of the leftover Christmas chocolate and wine of course. 

This week I've been making the most of being back in the daily routine by allowing myself to enjoy getting dressed up smart for work. It's been FOREVER since I did a 'What I Wore' post, hasn't it? I was very good in the sales (although I think my poor post-Christmas bank balance played a large part in that!) and managed to pick up one or two key bargains that I really love. 

Although I'm lucky enough to work somewhere with a nice relaxed smart-casual dress policy and a warm, indoor office, I do find it quite difficult figuring out what to wear for work. Swinging between too relaxed and too formal is very easy, and to make things even harder, I commute by bus. 

Yeah, that's right.  I literally work for a company that sells and manages cars, and I can't drive. Laugh it up, everyone else does. My morning commute isn't too bad, but it does involve two buses and a walk through a park which as you can imagine is super fun in January. So while everyone else at work steps neatly out of their cars with beautifully coiffed hair and heels on, I usually fall through the door with about twenty layers of clothing, walking boots and my hair looking like it's never seen a brush in its life. Super attractive. These photos are obviously POST de-layering...

Coping strategies are therefore in order. Lots of thin, easily removed layers for quickly adjusting from the freezing outdoors to the near tropical temperatures of my little office. Leather ankle boots that look cute, but also keep out snow. Tights. TIGHTS FOREVER. A brush stowed under my desk, along with emergency mascara, deodorant and spare heels for the mornings that have truly defeated me. Bobbles and hairpins galore. Because don't get me wrong, I am absolutely thrilled to have a job where I can wear what I like and feel good and confident as I do so. I've previously worked in a lot of jobs that had uniforms, of one sort or another, and it's really freeing to be able to express myself through how I dress again. 

Today I fell in love with this skirt. This is the Natalia skirt from Boohoo, a knitted dogtooth patterned skirt which is currently an absolute steal at £8 in the sale. It's comfy, warm and looks amazing with tights, a vest top and a blazer, but casual enough once the blazer is off to be suitable for after-work shenanigans. It's amazing and I sort of wish they did it in every pattern and colour. 

The title of this post is perhaps somewhat misleading. Yes, I'm mostly in monochrome today, but with hints of navy blue everywhere. I don't know what it is about wearing black and navy together that makes me feel so damn stylish, but it just does. So my blue suede shoes (ah huh) and I get on very well, especially as they're so damn comfortable. They were a gift from my mam ages ago, but I do know they're from New Look, which doesn't surprise me. My favourite shoes always turn out to be from New Look. 

Opi 'Muppets World Tour' layered over Opi 'Miss Piggy's Big Number'

I've had a pretty great two weeks back at work actually. Four months in and I'm no longer in my probationary period, and really starting to feel settled now. I'm gaining confidence in my abilities and my industry knowledge, and really enjoying working alongside some really great people. I'm not really the new girl anymore though... I suppose this means I need to start learning people's names properly! Eeek. I am really bad at names. 

Hope you're all having a brilliant week even and enjoying January so far, even in amongst all the gloomy weather and post-Christmas malaise. What do you think of this skirt? Are you fearful of the midi, or do you think it's a feasible alternative to the traditional pencil skirt? However you're spending your week and whatever you've been wearing, I want to hear about it, so drop me a note in the comments below and I'll see you all soon! 

- Natalie XOXO

My favourite outtake - my girl just wanted cuddles ❤ ❤ ❤

Monday, 5 January 2015

January Goals

It probably seems a little strange to follow up a post on how I'm ditching the New Year's resolutions this year immediately with one on my goals for the month ahead, but hey - that's just how I roll. December was, as predicted, a heinously busy month, that I still managed to enjoy very much indeed. I experienced some more new things including cooking Christmas dinner for the first time on my own, gave and received a lot of presents and love when visiting my family back in Newcastle, indulged in a LOT of chocolate, blankets and Netflix in my two weeks off work, and very much enjoyed using some face masks I'd saved up and taking more long baths than usual. The holiday season well and truly sucked me into it's magic this year, and I loved every moment of it.

But now all of a sudden, it's back to normal. Back to work, responsibilities, bills, early morning meetings, taking the cat to the vets, and on top of it all, everyone is extra grumpy because it's cold and they feel fatter than they did three weeks ago. Fun times! With that in mind, these are my goals for the month ahead....

  • HEALTH - For various reasons, my health has been getting a little worse lately than usual, I've got a number of hospital and doctors visits coming up in the next few weeks to see about changing some medications and such, but there are some things I can do on my own too. I'm being dragged, kicking and screaming, away from caffeinated drinks, and i'm making it a personal goal to drink no more than one cup of caffeinated tea per day. Sighs. It's for my own good, but it's seriously un-fun. 
  • EXPERIMENT - I've mostly stayed away from the January sales, but Boohoo and New Look managed to suck me in, and I still have some high street vouchers to spend as well. I'm lucky enough to work 5 days a week at a place where I have quite a lot of freedom in what I wear, and yet I tend to stick to the standard boots / black trousers / sensible top combo a lot. I'm going to branch out - more dresses! More heels! More accessories! More colours that aren't black! 
  • DANCE - I've been wanting a proper night out dancing and enjoying myself with friends for so long now, and health permitting, I am definitely getting this together sometime in January. Some of my friends from University might be visiting this month, so that'll be a great excuse I think.
  • OVERHAUL - There are SO many things I want to do this month in terms of my house. My grandparents very kindly bought us a new daybed over Christmas for the second bedroom, I was gifted a gorgeous pair of Laura Ashley lamps that are screaming out for a proper place, and now that the Christmas decorations are all down, I'm itching to reorganise and spruce up things a bit. 

How are you feeling about the month ahead? Are you going to be focusing on your yearly resolutions? Are you glad to be heading back to work/school/college, or pining for the lazy days of Christmas to be back again? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOX

Sunday, 4 January 2015

My Word of 2015

I used to enjoy creating New Year's Resolutions. Never mind that I never stuck to any of them and forgot about them by mid-February at latest, it just seemed like the thing to do, even if it didn't really mean anything to me. This year I wanted to take a slightly different approach - 2014 was such a good year for me and I knew for sure I wanted to carry on with so many things and improve on the progress I made last year, but I couldn't pin down everything into definite, spelled out goals. So, when a friend pointed me towards the concept of having a 'Word of the Year' instead, I jumped at the idea. Susannah Conway's free 5-session exercises and accompanying 'Unraveling the Year' workbook were a lovely discovery, and guided me perfectly towards the word that sums up all of my goals for 2015.

I want to grow in all areas of my life, build on the things I already have, and develop myself and my skills in a natural and organic way. I like the fact that it's both specific and vague in different ways, and it's easy enough to keep in mind in all the decisions I make this year.

This includes, in amongst other things, growing my blog! I want to reach a wider audience and hone my photography and social media skills further, and hopefully continue to have as much fun as I currently do writing and sharing things with you lovely lot. I've put together a pintrest inspiration board for my word, so if any of you felt like checking that out, you can find it here

What are your resolutions for 2015? If you had to sum them all up in one word, what do you think it would be? Let me know below, and happy new year lovelies! 

- Natalie XOX