101 in 1001 XXVIII

Remember how I said my 101 in 1001 goals were really ambitious this time round? Something has happened which is going to make them much easier...

#46 Learn to drive
Finally! Ten years after I became legally allowed to drive, I eventually got round to it and passed on my third test. I am very very proud of myself! Now I visit all the places on my list. Woohoo! 

4 books that always make me cry

Call me crazy, but books that make me cry are my favourite. For an author to create something that emotive is really special- when I care so much about characters that I cry with them. That's the mark of a good book for me, so it's this that makes them some of my favourite books.


Beauty First Impressions

When I collected the results of my reader survey, one respondent said they'd like to see more in the way of beauty first impressions. Lately I've bought a lot of beauty products so it's the perfect time to give this a go! Just like my book speed reviews, I've written mini beauty reviews that are less than 140 characters.

Sponsor Becky Bedbug in July

Holy moly- July is nearly here! July is pretty much one of my favourite months (just behind August and December) because hello! Summer holidays! This year, entering July is not quite as exciting as usual since I've already been off for the past few weeks but I'm still going to be making the most of the summer days! Every single year in July and August, my views shoot right through the roof. They're always the best time of the year for the blog so it's the perfect time to sponsor. I've had a frankly amazing June and, for the first time this year, have hit my Bloglovin' target (not to mention the fact that I'm currently approaching my Twitter target for September already!). Want to get in on the action? Course you do!

For all the details on pricing and what you get, check out my sponsorship page here.

Pssst: If you're really quick and book your ad spot before 1st July, you can get my birthday discount of 27% off with the code BIRTHDAY! 

Bloglovin' // Twitter // Instagram


Review // Soap & Glory Kick Ass Concealer

I'm yet to find my holy grail concealer. After years of searching, I've turned to Soap & Glory's Kick Ass Concealer as I've heard such great things about it. Is it The One? Unfortunately, no!


Lush Starter Kit // Giveaway

By now it's pretty obvious that I love Lush. Having tried most of the current products, I've built up an idea of what my core collection would be. These products are, in my opinion, the best place to start with Lush and feature one great product from each category. (That is, except the soap and make up as I find Lush soap really drying and I haven't used any of the make up yet). Click on the links to read my reviews on each product.

I'm not much of a bath bomb person, to be perfectly honest. I like bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles! However, when I do plump for a bath bomb, it's always Dragon's Egg! A lemon sherbert wonder of a product, it makes your bathroom smell like a sweet factory. Yum!


A huge slab of blackcurrant goodness, Comforter is The One for bubbles. You can control exactly how much you use, depending on how many bubbles you want and how long you want it to last, and the iconic scent fills the room. It's pretty much a Lush must have... however...


Book Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Don't you just love Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Lovely Quasimodo, exotic Esmerelda and dashing Phoebus working together to defeat Frollo. Such a happy, feel-good film. I bet the book is just as joyous, right? Erm... no. If you imagine the exact opposite of the Disney film, you'll have the book. Basically, Disney wrote a nice, family storyline and then used the title and characters of a classic book. It makes no sense! It would be like re-releasing Toy Story under the new title Circles of Hell. Why, Disney? Why?


Do bloggers need a niche?

Contrary to general blogger opinion, I am a big fan of the blogging tips type post. In fact, I have a whole Pinterest board full of 'em! The problem for me, however, is that when I read these posts, a lot of them, and I mean a huge overwhelming amount, harp on and on and on about how you need a niche. 
According to these posts and articles, a niche blog makes sure you stay focused on consistency, gain loyal readers and can monetise your blog. I see this so often that I started thinking:



My 5 Favourite MAC Lipsticks

We all love MAC lipstick, right? That's just, like, the rule of blogging! I have my fair share (19 isn't too many is it? Is it?) but there are a few that I reach for time and time again. These, ladies and gentlemen, are my Golden Five*.
In true Top of the Pops style, I'm going to countdown to my number one. Spoiler alert: I like pink.


The truth about perfectionism

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post called The Truth About Panic Attacks. I had such a great response to it and it seems to have helped a lot of people. While writing my book review of Overcoming Perfectionism, I realised I could write a similar post on my perfectionism. As I said then, I'm not a medical professional or a scientist, so that post was, like this one is, written from my own experience. 


2015 Survey Results

I'm going to level with you here: Collecting survey results is terrifying! I'm always petrified that someone's going to say "Oh and by the way, I hate you. Your blog sucks, everything you write is rubbish and you've been getting this obscure grammar rule completely wrong for years". Of course, it never actually works out like that. What I end up with is some really lovely comments and helpful suggestions on how to improve.
Because I'm a total sucker for statistics, I've carefully assessed the results and I'm posting them here, telling you why I asked the question and what I'll do with the answers. My diagrams are for illustrative use only so they're not accurate representations of the results.


OOTD // Tropical Print Dress

Thank the lord for Boohoo and their gorgeous plus size range! I love this print because it's so bright and colourful, but it also has that black base which makes it super versatile.

Sponsor Shoutout // June

I am over the moon with how many wonderful sponsors I have this month! This has been such a fun post to write as I've been trawling through each and every one to find perfect posts to share below. Seriously, check them all out because they're awesome!

Having met Jasmin in real life, I can confirm that she is both lovely and hilarious! On her blog, the tech series is really helpful, with hints on everything from domain authority to SEO. She also posts awesome recipes such as this turkey courgette lasagne and really informative posts on the science behind beauty. Well worth a read for expanding your brain!

Diane is a regular sponsor and I always love choosing posts from her blog to share here. Her He Watch, She Watch series is awesome and she finds the best things in Primark! If you like cats, there are kitty photos a-plenty and one of my favourite posts of hers ever is this Christmas in Disney one. Someone take me there?

Lisa is someone I've known on Twitter for a long time and her blog is right up my street, especially as she posts about Lush events! I also love her post on the Cambridge Craft Party in which she made the flower crown above. If you like pretty things and beauty, Lisa's is the blog for you!

Jessica's blog, The Birds and the Butterflies, is a fairly new beauty blog with sprinklings of fashion and lifestyle. Although Jessica has some great beauty posts, she also writes about more serious topics such as leaving university and mental health. Well worth a read!

If you'd like your blog or small business to feature in a post like this, check out my sponsorship page.
Bloglovin' // Twitter // Instagram



As always, Amber has hit the nail on the head: Why blogging hasn't actually changed.
Katy's digital detox has almost inspired me to have a go. Almost.

Other Favourites 
Gweni has written a really detailed post on her trichotillomania and it's amazing how similar our medical backgrounds are.
A really helpful post from Dana on how to transfer art to Photoshop.

Bloglovin' // Twitter // Instagram


Review // Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar & Big Conditioner Bar

Big is one of my favourite Lush products of all time, along with Rub Rub Rub. I'm just in love with everything sea salt right now and I've been meaning to try Seanik Shampoo Bar for a long time. When I popped into Lush Oxford Street and discovered they also have a Big conditioner bar, I was chuffed! (Later I discovered that they do sell this across the country but the new shape of the product in Oxford Street confused me!)

Oh my, this stuff smells so good, exactly like Rub Rub Rub! It's also seaweedtastic with Irish Moss and Japanese Nori varieties as well as a whole load of sea salt, topped off with some lemon oil, jasmine and orange blossom. At first, I was a little dubious about how this would work but it was really simple. As I rubbed it over my head, it began lathering up nicely and I found it much easier than normal shampoo as I could really get in there and give my scalp a good scrub! For the ends of my hair, I rub the bar between my hands to work up a lather first, then use this to clean them. 

Summer Reading List

Last summer I didn't get much reading done due to the whole wedding shebang but, the year before, I devoted my summer to reading 1Q84. I actually completed it in about 3 weeks in the end, so I didn't need that long, but I do think summer is the perfect time to tackle longer texts. Initially, I was planning to take on War and Peace this year but I think it will hold me back from finally, finally, reaching my 50 book annual goal. Instead, I've compiled a list of shorter texts to work my way through this summer.


Nails // China Glaze Peonies and Park Ave

With summer firmly planted in its place, I wanted a nail colour that was super bright and cheerful. Barbie pink! This shade is China Glaze Peonies and Park Ave^ and I bloody love it!


Birthdays & Dinosaurs

Saturday was my 27th birthday so Rich and I headed into London to meet Laura and Matt for an evening spent watching Jurassic World and eating shrimp. Sounds perfect, right?

Rich bought me a new lens as my present. It's a 50mm and I bloody love it! It has manual focus, which is a little tricky to get used to, so bear with me while I get the hang of it! As you can see from the photo above, Rich has definitely not got to grips with it yet! I did love this outfit though so you'll have to make do with the out-of-focus shot. 


Review // Lush Rose and Lemon Face Mask

This is a momentous occasion for me- my first Lush Kitchen review! I didn't really understand how the Kitchen worked until recently and you better believe I've had my eyes glued to it ever since! Finally something popped up that I was intrigued to try. At the moment it's almost exclusively selling the Lush Oxford Street products, which I can just buy at the store and save myself the hefty postage cost. However, Rose and Lemon Face Mask is only available as part of a spa treatment and not to purchase individually, so I was super excited to try it out!
Review of Lush Rose and Lemon Face Mask


Things I'd tell my younger self: The fashion & beauty edit

After reading this post by Becky (erm, not me), I started thinking about what I would tell my younger self in terms of fashion and beauty advice.


Overcoming Perfectionism^- Roz Shafran, Sarah Egan and Tracey Wade

During one of my CBT sessions, my therapist referred to a model in this book and, as it looked helpful, I bought myself a copy. As I've mentioned many times, perfectionism is a real problem for me and underpins all of my issues with anxiety so I was hopefuly that this book would help give me some tools to deal with it.


Kathryn has taken the cutest photos at the Great Wall of China.
How gorgeous does Erica look in these glasses? 
A really helpful post from Terri about the DA drop earlier this week (and one from Six Out of Ten on why DA actually does matter).

Other Favourites
I cannot wait to read Jes's body positivity book
Featuring Amber every week has paid off as now she's mentioned me in a post! Seriously though, her post on why full time blogging might not be for you is a great read!


Can fat people wear maxi dresses?

Can fat people wear...? is a series that roadtests current trends on a fat body. Of course, the moral of the story is "wear whatever you want", but I'll be sharing how I felt, how I looked and the reactions I received as a chubby girl in the latest trends. Fat is used here as a tongue-in-cheek, yet factual, adjective, rather than a derogatory term and always, always remember "If you like it, wear it". 
I've never been a fan of maxi anything: Dresses, skirts, even trousers! Then, last year, I bought this striped maxi skirt and absolutely fell in love. Since then, I've been a lot more open-minded and couldn't wait until this summer so I could wear all the maxi dresses. I might have gone a bit overboard though, as I've bought four in the past week! 

Annual Survey 2015

It's that time again- My reader survey! I always do this the day before my birthday because it means I'm less likely to forget! Except this year it's two days before my birthday because Friday is Friday Favourites and book review day... I've made this more complicated than it needs to be.
Last year, the results were really helpful and I was able to create a more engaging place, dropping the least popular features and spending more energy on those you loved (until Company ceased publication. RIP Becky Reads Company!)


Review // Soap & Glory Hand Maid

Bless the Lord for Boots' travel minis, amiright? On my way to the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, I suddenly realised there'd be no sink to wash my grubby London hands and ducked into the shop for some hand sanitiser. This one was pink and cute, so it was a no-brainer.


Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Like afternoon tea? And sightseeing? Combine the two with afternoon tea on a bus! I know it sounds crazy but this is exactly what I got to do at the weekend, thanks to Thistle Hotels. They have a range of hotels within easy reach of the top London attractions, so what better way to promote this than going around and seeing the attractions for ourselves?
On a gorgeously sunny Sunday afternoon, 20 bloggers boarded the BB Bakery Bus- one of three revamped 1960s Routemasters named Rodney, Del Boy and Marlene- for 2 hours of sightseeing, sandwiches and sugary treats! 

The truth about panic attacks

That title may be a little misleading. I'm obviously not a doctor, or a scientist, or any form of mental health specialist so I can't exactly reveal "the truth". However, when I was lying in bed the other night, with my mind swirling incessantly around as it does most nights, I realised there seems to be a disconnect between the perceptions and realities of panic attacks.
Now, I have severe anxiety. Severe enough to be transferred to some pretty gnarly medication. Yet those classic gasping for air panic attacks that you see on TV? I probably have one of those two or three times a year. 


Charity of the Month // Samaritans

This month, I've chosen to support Samaritans which, as many of you will know, is a charity that supports anybody who needs emotional support. Although some believe that you can only call Samaritans if you're feeling desperate, they actually welcome everyone, regardless of how small your worries may seem. Over 60 years ago, Samaritans opened as a telephone service but these days you can call, visit your local branch, email, text or even write a letter for support and someone to talk to. 
However, Samaritans isn't all about offering individual support. It also carries out a huge amount of research projects into suicide prevention and are in a five-year partnership with National Rail to reduce the number of railway suicides, which includes suicide intervention for railway staff and has lead to over 50 saved lives. 

There are a huge variety of ways to support Samaritans, from climbing Kilmanjaro to collecting your loose change. Of course you can just donate the old-fashioned way too!

With support from us, Samaritans can answer every call and extend the availability of new services such as text support. We can make a real difference to people's lives if we all help out a little!


What to look for when sponsoring blogs

A long time ago now, I was having a conversation with someone on Twitter about sponsoring blogs. "I don't see the point", she said, "I sponsored a big blog and all they did was put my ad in their sidebar. They didn't even follow me on Twitter". I asked her if they'd stated that they were going to follow her on Twitter, or if they'd offered anything other than an ad placement. They hadn't.
Now this post isn't to mock the girl I was talking to, don't get me wrong. It's a mistake that I think many bloggers make. I know I did! It's easy to think that the blogs with the most followers are the best ones to invest your money in, but, actually, that can be far from the case. 



Charlotte has had a gorgeous blog redesign.
I haven't tried much of Lush's make up range but Terri's review of the Shades of Pink Lip Bar has made me desperate to get one!

Other Favourites
Kellie's apology to Caitlyn Jenner is spot on! I have to be honest and admit my first words were exactly the same.

Book Review // Children of the Jacaranda Tree

c/o Orion
I'm really eager to learn more about Midde Eastern history so Delijani's novel, based on the realities of Iran's political unrest, seemed a good place to start. Although it's fictional in terms of characters and personal events, the locations and national circumstances are true.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree,
Delijani's first novel, tells the story of three women and their families affected by the political unrest of Iran in the 1980s. As the story progresses, we learn how the women, all kept captive within Evin prison for their roles in political activism, are linked: Azar, whose daughter is born within the prison walls; Firoozah, who copes in prison life by working with the authorities; Parisa, whose young son has forgotten who she is. Although the novel is based around these three women, the stories are mostly played out through their families, and the effect their mothers' imprisonment had on them many years into the future.

I'll be very honest: I got confused. There are so many characters, all of whom are linked in a variety of ways, and the web got me into a right pickle. Evidently this is something that was mentioned before publication as there is a "Who's Who" at the beginning that I had to regularly refer to. This confusion was doubled by the format of the stories: They switch back and forth between families, locations and time frames. As I read, characters disappeared and reappeared according to the story which made for hard work.
However, Delijani's use of language is absolutely beautiful. The way she describes Iran through the use of sights, sounds, scents and tastes is masterful and really builds up a multi-dimensional image of life for the families at the time. Despite this, there is no sugar coating. Her writing lays out the realities of Iranian life bare and forces the reader to inspect them carefully: This is what life was like.

As beautiful as Delijani's writing is, I just couldn't get past the muddling in my mind. I found it difficult to appreciate the story as I couldn't grasp how families and events were linked, which unfortunately hindered my enjoyment of the novel. For this I give it three out of ten.

If you're also interested in Middle Eastern history, I recommend I Am Malala. Different in the sense that it's a memoir, and based in Pakistan rather than Iran, it's nevertheless a poignant and moving glimpse into what happens when people speak out against tyranny in Asia. 


Thorpe Park in the rain

As a reward for being a super-duper employee, Rich was given 2 tickets to Thorpe Park courtesy of his work. How amazing is that? Every business should reward employees with theme park tickets! Unfortunately, it was heaving down with rain, but did we let that stand in the way? Of course not!

We bought tacky ponchos and I was delighted to find they sold pink ones! Funnily enough, theme parks are usually best in the rain. They're a lot quieter and people tend to accumulate in the covered areas so the queues are much shorter. We went on Saw in the pouring rain and it was hilarious! I made the mistake of leaving my hood up and it flew right into my face so I could see absolutely nothing! At least I stayed dry! Rich was shouting "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!" around the whole ride as the rain lashed his face and afterwards he looked like he'd just stepped out of the shower!

Caution: Cockroach photo ahead!

Camera Roll // May

I know I say this every month but seriously, how is it June already? Birthday month! Woohoo! 

Sneaking into first class because I'm a rebel like that // This is why I straighten my hair!
The cutest puggy in the world (not mine, unfortunately!) // FLUFFY PIGS!
Me and Rich at the top of Clifford's Tower, York // Ponchos at Thorpe Park
That yellow sign says "Remove ALL earrings before boarding the ride" May take a while! // I'm the Queen of the Jungle! 

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