Just Because

I can’t imagine that there’s anyone who hasn’t been told at least once in their life, and most likely by their mother, that ‘just because *this person* did that, doesn’t mean you have to. If they jumped of a cliff, would you follow?’ while you rolled your eyes because it really wasn’t a big deal.

These were always things that we wanted to do; places we wanted to go or styles we wanted to copy, not things that we felt obliged to do, but as you get older, everything suddenly becomes more about what you feel like you should be doing, rather than what you actually want to do. Sure, some of these things are things that we think we should be doing for good reasons, but then there’s also a good number of things that might not always be good for us, and these are the things that we should maybe give a miss, at least every now and then.

Just because other people stay late at work, it doesn’t mean you have to

When I started my new job, I thought that just because the guy who sat next to me came in an hour before me, and often stayed past when I left, it meant that I wasn’t doing my job well enough, and frankly that’s just not true. So long as I come into work, do the hours I’m contracted to do and complete all the work that needs to be done, that’s good enough. If others want to come in early, stay late or take on extra work, that’s on them, but I did enough of that in my previous jobs and now I like that I’m able to walk away when 5 o’clock hits and not have a care in the world.

Just because you’ve made plans, it doesn’t mean you can’t cancel them if you’re not feeling it

If you’re tired, having a bad mental health day or for whatever reason you don’t feel up to it, you shouldn’t feel bad about cancelling plans. People might not always understand it, but that doesn’t matter. Put yourself first.

But as well as the things you shouldn’t be doing just because you thin you should, there are also things that you can do even though you didn’t do what other people did..

Just because you didn’t go to university, it doesn’t mean you can’t get to the same place as someone who did

I’ve actually just started working with a girl I went to school with. She went to university, and got her job through a graduate scheme. I went straight into work after sixth form, and after gaining skills and working hard, I am just one level below her, and with another year of experience and study support through work, I could move up into the same position she works in with a university degree. Sometimes there’s more than one path.

Just because you haven’t got a huge following, it doesn’t mean you don’t a good following

You could have a million followers, but if one a few hundred actually bother to support you, then you might just be better off having a few hundred followers who cheer you on at every possible moment. I mean, the Instagram algorithm is screwing us all over anyway..

There are however many billion people in the world and every single one of us is unique, so just because one or two people make you stop and think you’re missing out on something or doing something wrong, do you think that’s right?

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Things I’ve Learned While Trying To Beat The Algorithm

Instagram; it makes us all sigh just a little bit, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. It was the first social media platform I used to promote my blog, and you know what they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so its an amazing place to express yourself, but since the introduction of the infamous ‘algorithm’, interaction and growth has been pretty sucky, and everyone and their mums have been theorising various ways in which to take back the platform for the greater good.

I am, of course, one of these people. Having failed to reach my end of the year goal for 2017, I’m determined to do it this year, and I’ve already written about my plan to make this my year on Instagram, now we’re a few months in, I’ve already learned a few things along the way.

People actually like seeing me in photos

I used to avoid photos of myself like the plague – they never seemed to get even a fraction of the likes that any of my other photos did – opting instead for photos of clothes hanging up or as flatlays, but it turns out that people actually like little old me in photos! My outfit photos lately have been super popular, so I guess you’ll be seeing more of me on the ‘gram.

Timing isn’t always everything

I use UNUM to plan my Instagram feed, and even on the free version of the app you do get some insights, one of which being you’re supposed best time to post based on previous likes and comments. Well, I gave it a go, and I can quite safely say that its totally hit and miss. Sure, certain times of day are always going to be better than others – I tend to post on my lunch break at work, and that seems to work for me, probably cos that’s when most people are checking their phone anyway, but even when I followed what the stats told me to a tee, it didn’t guarantee the post would be super successful.

Posting what I love makes me so much happier with my feed

Since the new year kicked off, I’ve been concentrating more on making my feed something that I love to look at, even if no one else did. Yellow is my favourite colour, and integrating it into my feed has made me super happy. I’ve also been using a cute textured throw blanket as a backdrop for product photos to mix things up a little and not shying away from my Disney side so that every aspect of my personality and life shine through in my photos.

Support and shoutouts are super important

If I’m being totally honest, I think the biggest factor in the growth of my following so far this year is thanks to supporting other accounts and other people doing shoutouts for me. I did a Twitter request for people to send me their Instagram links so I could go on a follow spree, and I followed about 100 accounts, most of which returned the favour (although I didn’t expect or ask them to), and I’ve also gained a lot of followers when other bloggers and accounts have included me in shoutouts on their stories, which I am so grateful for. Asking for help, especially when you’re about to hit a milestone, is nothing to be frightened of, and people who support you are always happy to help!

Quality over quantity

I’ve been working so hard on improving the quality of my photos this year. Rather than just taking photos on my phone, I’ve been utilising the 50mm macro lens on my Sony a5000 to take most of my photos and I’ve been so happy with the photos I’ve been taking, and I think I’ve definitely been seeing an increase in likes on *most* of my photos since then. I say most because, y’know, the algorithm is still against us all..

So I’m quite proud to say I’ve gained about 300 followers this year, give or take a bunch of follow/unfollowers (ugh), and I’m really hoping I’ll reach my 2018 goal fairly soon, but we’ll see! If you want to join me over on the gram, you can follow me @lottiedoesdisney!

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4 Shops for First Time Buyers – That Aren’t IKEA

Whether you’re buying your first home, or just moving/re-decorating, its no secret that it ain’t cheap. I mean, its a big enough purchase as it is, but all of a sudden you’ve gone from buying one thing to having a shopping list longer than your arm and a bank account that’s crying just a little bit.

For this, the world has learned to love the wonder that is IKEA. Its the answer to a whole bunch of your home needs and is pretty friendly to any budget, but despite my love for the big blue stores, there are a couple of things that you either can’t get, or I wouldn’t get there, and now I’m actually in the process of becoming a home-owner, I’ve suddenly realised that there’s a world of other stores out there that can also save me a pretty penny.

Home Sense

Sure, it can be hit and miss, but Home Sense is an absolute gem if you’re prepared to do a bit of digging. Stock is completely random, but its big brands for low prices, and you can grab yourself a real bargain – Matthew and I really wanted the pastel blue Smeg toaster and kettle for our kitchen, and would you believe that we randomly came across one tucked on a bottom shelf in our local store for £40 off the RRP! You can also find a lot of brands that are known to be a little pricey, such as Joseph Joseph and Le Crueset, for crazy good prices and there’s always a good range of Pyrex and Tefal. We’ve also picked up some amazing throw blankets and cushions for prices you won’t find in the likes of John Lewis or Next.

TK Maxx

TK Maxx actually own Home Sense, so a lot of the stock can be found in the home section of your local TK Maxx if you don’t have a Home Sense nearby, and unlike Home Sense, TK Maxx have an online store, so you can shop the deals without even leaving the house!

Supermarkets

Do not underestimate the home section of your local supermarket. Both George by Asda and Sainsbury’s home have some really nice ranges of kitchenware, bedding and soft furnishings, and even if their styles don’t take your fancy, they’re also a great place to pick up your basics – white plates, drinking glasses etc – for a good price.

Home Bargains

So the actual home decor stuff can vary from super tacky to actually pretty good – we’ve just bought some decent nest tables for £20 – but even if the home stuff doesn’t take your fancy, Home Bargains is an amazing place to buy a bunch of the things that you probably buy from the supermarket all the time for even cheaper than your rolled-back, price-matched prices; cereal, biscuits, chocolate, ketchup, all branded stuff for lower than your own brand equivalents, so its a great place to do your shopping once you’ve spent all your money on furniture!

Do you have any favourite places to nab a good deal?

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How I Manage My Combination Skin

My skin is super weird. I mean, I’m quite lucky to have relatively few problems compared to some, but my face seems to take it to the extremes when it comes to having combination skin. Some days, I’m so dry and flaky I practically have scales, other days I’m more oily than a 3am kebab, and sometimes I flit between one and the other in a matter of hours, its fab.

That said, however, the more I’ve learned over the years about my skin and what works and doesn’t work, and the more products I’ve tried and tested, the more I’ve been able to manage the different phases I go through, which is great. It does, however, mean having pretty much two of every product, but I’ve got those nailed now.

Dry skin days

Most days tend to start as dry skin days, and so my mornings start with Nip+Fab’s Glycolic Cleansing Fix, which was an impulse purchase at the time but now I cannot imagine my life without it. For starters, it smells amazing, which is odd because they never mention the scent on the packaging but its SO GOOD, but even if it smelt like nothing at all, the product still speaks for itself. The formula seems a little strange, but you get used to it – its quite runny but also gel like, and it also foams up with a bit of a scrub, so I either squeeze a little bit onto wet hands and rub it onto my face, or I take it into the shower with my Magnitone, squeeze it onto the brush head and go to town. It leaves my skin feeling so refreshed but also smooth and moisturised and ready for the day.

My toner of choice most of the time is the wonderful Pixi Glow Tonic, and when my skin is dry this is no exception. I was a bit late to the Glow Tonic party, and worried when I finally got to try it that it would turn out to be over-hyped, but it does wonders for my skin and I noticed a change almost instantly after starting to use it regularly.

Of course it goes without saying that when my skin is dry, I need a good moisturiser and I’ve yet to find anything that works so well for my skin as Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturiser. I love that even the tiniest little dollop goes such a long way, which is handy because this stuff doesn’t come cheap, so the longer I can make a bottle last, the better, but despite the price tag I can’t flaw the product at all – it smells nice, it makes my skin super soft without being at all greasy and it absorbs quickly.

Oily moments

What’s weird about having oily skin now is that I didn’t really have oily skin that much as a teenager, but you know what they say about karma.. When my face is feeling oily, all I feel like doing is washing it, and even though I’m not a teenager, this is where I use Nip+Fab’s Teen Skin Poreblaster Wash, which is designed for exactly this situation. It comes in both a day and night version, I have both but tend to use the day one the more just down to preference. Sadly it doesn’t smell as glorious as the Glycolic Cleansing Fix, but its certainly not awful and it foams up well and leaves my skin feeling lovely and fresh.

My other cleanser for oily days is Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin, which is a solid sorta paste that I grab a chunk of, mix it up in my hand with some warm water to an easier to use consistency and rub it straight onto dry skin. Because its got some exfoliant ingredients it does a great job of picking up and washing away and dirt and grease, plus it smells great.

When it comes to a toner, I also go to Lush and my favourite toner from their collection, which is Breath of Fresh Air. Because it contains sea salt, it dries up oil with a simple spritz and wipe, and its got a calming fragrance to it which is part of the reason I love using it before bed because it puts me in a good mood for sleep!

It might be a pain going between two different skincare routines, but when the products are so great, its not so bad..

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A Little Lush Easter Haul

I feel like its been a while since I’ve done a Lush haul post, because believe it or not, despite buying a good number of products from the Christmas collection, I never actually blogged about them, even though I think it was the best Lush Christmas to date! But enough about Christmas (psst! 287 days..).

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually bought anything from a Lush Easter collection before – I normally grab a few Valentines Day bits, but seem to miss Easter entirely, so when I went into the Trafford Centre store over the weekend and saw the multicoloured goodness of this year’s offerings, I knew I had to get a couple of things to try, and having had a good Etsy payout earlier in the week, I felt the spend was justified.

So I picked up four things for myself on this occasion, but I think they’re all so stinkin’ cute and I cannot wait to try them out!

My first buy felt like a bit of a two for one deal, and this adorable little chick actually splits into two separate halfs. I noticed in store that they had these Free Rangers in a few different colours, and I don’t know if there’s actually any difference between them, but I liked this little orange chappy so he was the one who came home!

My next choice was the Cream Egg bubbleroon because just LOOK AT IT!! Its like Lush went inside my head and picked out the best colour scheme and turned it into a cute little sandwich of a bubble bar and it smells AMAZING. I imagine I’ll stock up on a few of these before the collection leaves stores because its so pretty and I think I’ll be sad to use this up!

Which Came First? This bathbomb is actually pretty huge, and a dreamy pastel design.

This final buy was a total impulse purchase – I’d gone to pick up my usual shampoo bar (Seanik), but as soon as I saw this little fluffy tail and ears on a yellow shampoo bar all sensible-ness went out the window and whether or not this bar turns out to be any good for my hair or not I don’t really care – its so cute!

I can’t wait to give all these goodies a try in the coming weeks! Have you used any of these before?

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A Week in the Life of Lottie – Saturday and Sunday

So Saturday was a pretty crazy day and due to my phone dying on the drive home from up north, and being too tired when I got in, I decided to combine the two days into one blog post!

Saturday was not in any way a normal day in my life, but I guess it might just be the biggest day in my life to date. You see, the real reason Matthew and I drove up to Cheshire on Friday night wasn’t just to visit his mum after her house move, but actually so that we could put down a reservation fee on a new build that we fell in love with a few weeks before. That’s right you guys.. WE’RE BUYING A HOUSE!

The house itself, being a new build, isn’t finished of course, but we’ve visited so many showhomes of the same property that we know that this is the one, and whilst we were at the development we did get to poke around a completed one that someone else has bought, just so that we could take some measurements and get some ideas for when our house is finished, and then we had to go through a lot of paperwork and sign a number of documents, but I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty because I foresee a lot of house-buying blog posts coming in the future! I am just so happy and excited, I can’t tell you..

Well after all that we were pretty hungry, so we went to the Chill Factor to have a Nando’s for lunch, because we figured the Trafford Centre one would be pretty busy – I’ve never been to Chill Factor before but it is SO COOL. After lunch, we did actually go to the Trafford Centre to pick up Mothers Day cards, I treated myself to some Lush goodies because I got a big Etsy payout this week, and then we went to DFS to look at sofas, although we got caught up in some post-match traffic around Old Trafford so that took a little bit of time to get to. We’ve actually had our sofa picked out for quite some time in the hope that we would be getting a house soon, but now we can actually say we have one, and had all the measurements we needed, it was working out the logistics of what style of the sofa would fit the space and where etc, but I think we’ve got it sorted now.

We then stopped off back at Matthew’s mum’s, where Matthew finally found his childhood Disney pin collection which he’s been looking for for ages, watched a little bit of Crufts and then drove back to Bournemouth!

Today, despite being super tired from Saturday’s antics, we were both awake just before 7am, but I didn’t get out of bed for at least 45 mins, then went and had a shower before my mum woke up and I gave her her Mothers Day present. As the sun was out, I took the opportunity to get some blog and Instagram photos taken, which I’m happy I did because the sun quickly disappeared behind a lot of cloud..

This morning I had a family friend coming round for a wedding cake consultation (oh yeah, do you guys know I’m a cake decorator sometimes too?), so I spent a bit of time playing around with some sketches and getting some inspiration from Pinterest before she arrived, and she was here for about 2 hours chatting cake stuff, wedding stuff and just having a general catch up because I haven’t seen her in about a year or so.

After she left, I spent some time doing general admin type stuff – writing up the weekly newsletter for the #HappiestFitbitClub, editing blog photos, doing some Etsy bits and packing up orders etc, before having some lunch and watching last night’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

My sister brought our cousins round early afternoon to help put together the Mothers Day afternoon tea we had planned – my job was to make the cupcakes – and the rest of the family came to ours at 4pm. Big family dinners are quite a common thing for us, and they tend to be fairly loud affairs with 13 of us round one dinner table! Once the extended family had left, we watched the only tv show that we still watch as a family since my sister moved out, Only Connect, and then my sister left too and Matthew and I watched Sherlock Holmes while I did a bit more Etsy work and some writing and we’re just gonna chill for the evening now.

This week has been pretty busy, but I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along with me! Normal blog posts will resume from tomorrow!

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A Week in the Life of Lottie – Friday

It’s Friday guys, we made it! Last 5.30 alarm of the week, which was torture as I actually went to bed pretty late last night and I was super tempted to just reset it for 7am and skip the gym, but I knew how much I’d regret that if I did it, and as per usual as soon as I stepped out of the front door I found my motivation.

I was really feeling the effects of a good week of solid workouts, so I kept it relatively easy at the gym, hopping on a bike for a bit, then spending some time on the resistance machines and TRX and focused on chest and back. In a week I try and make sure I’ve hit every area at least once during my various gym sessions, and this week I definitely feel like I’ve done that.

This morning was a little grey so I decided to wear my new yellow jumper from Tu Clothing at Sainsbury’s, and I got a bunch of compliments on it during the day so I figured it was a hit! Work was a totally regular day, although at one point there was a very heated debate among my team about fried breakfasts – I don’t even know how it started but it got quite loud..

While I waited for Matthew to finish, which today was only half an hour after I did, I nipped to M&S and grabbed us a pizza to cook for dinner as we were in and out as quick as we could when we got home.

I’m coming to you from the drive up to visit Matthew’s mum who’s just moved into a new house in Middlewich, and because Matthew and I also have some business to attend to in the area (this is very exciting and I will tell all tomorrow!). The weather is absolute poo so the drive will probably be slow and we’ll arrive quite late, but the last time we saw the house it wasn’t completely finished so it’ll be nice to see how it is now – although it was only today that they moved in so it certainly won’t be in a completely normal state!

Hello weekend!