Here Comes the Sun

31 August 2016

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
During the bank holiday Monday in the UK, we experienced something incredibly rare: good weather. I certainly wasn’t expecting anything too amazing, especially for the North – but it was actually sunny all day! I’m still in shock. As the weather was on our side, my friends and I decided to experience one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful National Trust parks and visited Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden in Ripon. It’s stunningly beautiful, especially with the sunlight highlighting the best of the nature.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is a park I’ve never visited before, but was excited to visit somewhere new, even if it meant walking for five hours. It was great to just spend time with friends, just hanging out for free. One of the best features of the park is not just the enormous lake and beautiful gardens, but the herds of deer that freely roam the area. I live in a quiet village so I’ve seen the occasional deer before, but usually just one and from the distance. In Ripon, I saw about thirty at once and there’s really nothing more exciting than seeing such remarkable animals in their natural habitat.

I don’t consider myself a big nature outdoor-sy person, I’m the first to run from the sight of a bee and cry if there’s a spider in my eyeline – but I really enjoyed the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens. From watching swans fly across the lake, to purchasing the best ice cream cone I’ve ever had, to walking through the river and trying not to fall; there’s something for everyone. People of all ages can walk around, and there’s dogs everywhere! The highlight of the day was definitely seeing deer close-up, as well as spending a great day in the sun.

What did you get up to over the bank holiday?

My Summer Bling Wishlist with Gemporia

26 August 2016

Baildon, UK
I can be really weird when it comes to jewellery. Sometimes I forget I own it, sometimes I completely drench myself in diamonds and sometimes I like that one staple piece that blows an outfit out of the water. Either way, I love anything that sparkles, and have a soft spot for the super shiny and any pendant pieces. Since we’re still technically in summer and I’m slowly becoming obsessed with accessories (I’m even thinking of creating a Pinterest board dedicated to them), I thought I would create a wishlist just for my favourite bling bling.  Gemporia recently contacted me about their line and I was very pleasantly surprised at the quantity of stunning pieces available from their website. I was expecting a fairly simple site with a few pieces that I would obsesses over, but there are pages of stunning jewellery items that I adore! 

One thing I love about Gemporia is that they ensure their business has a positive impact on the people and environments around it. As you know, charity work is very close to my heart so you can read more about Gemporia's work here. They believe that beautiful jewellery shouldn’t cost the earth, nor should it be massed produced or run of the mill. This is why they go direct to the source to bring customers the finest gemstones Mother Nature has to offer, from some of the world’s most remote locations! I began this wishlist with just ten items, and ended up with over thirty. Then I decided that may be a little too much for one blog post, so I got it down to an easy eighteen, but trust me – it was not easy. Everything is just so pretty!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

What’s your favourite item? Let me know below!

This post is in collaboration with Gemporia.

Annika Nail Polish | Review

24 August 2016

Otley, UK
Since I stopped wearing acrylics, it’s my duty to now hunt down as many nail polishes as I can. So far I’ve been doing pretty well, but I do occasionally struggle with polishes that won’t chip within the first two hours, like most I’ve tried. There are plenty of brands out there that provide luxurious quality varnish… that costs more than a bottle of champagne. Barry M and Rimmel are two of my favourite brands from nail polish, but I recently tried the Annika Nail Polish line* by The Edge Nails it’s not just the name I’m obsessed with.
I’m always open to trying new products, especially from brands I’ve never heard of or bought from. When I received the Annika Nail Polishes I was absolutely thrilled to try them out, and finally get some colour on my bare nails. The line includes 30 different colours, from jet black to bright yellow and I received Bella Ballerina, Pretty Pixie and Beauty Queen.
My first impressions of the colours was that they were brighter than I expected and would look great on my nails as long as the formula is strong enough. It’s really common to find nail varnish that’s a stunning colour, but is almost like water when painted on the nails – major disappointment. I get that quite a lot with glitter nail polishes, and hate applying layers on layers, as I’m impatient and it takes too long to dry. With the first layer of Bella Ballerina, the lightest shade, I was actually quite surprised at how visible it was, despite the colour.
Regarding the formula of the Annika Polishes, it’s thick and light without being too watery. The polish is easy to take off and doesn’t stain my nails which is a big yes in my book. I’ve also found that the varnish dries very quickly and doesn’t pool on my nails. I don’t have the biggest and best nailbeds (hence why they’re not splashed all over this post), so to have a polish that takes well to my nails is a colossal advantage.
Luckily, the colours also dry the same shade when they dry, and most importantly – they don’t chip. Overall, I would say Annika varnishes have a lasting power of 7 to 10 days. I usually apply two layers, because the colour is bright and pigmented enough for just two; plus I often find that whenever I put on more than two solid layers on my nails the varnish struggles to dry and ends up getting smudged no matter how long I wait. I wouldn’t go as far as saying Annika Nail Polishes are chip-proof, but they last long enough for me, as I get bored of the same colour quickly.
If I had to pick a favourite colour, it would be Pretty Pixie, simply because I think I could wear it in almost every season and get away with it. Beauty Queen is definitely more wintery, and Bella Ballerina is certainly more summery – whereas Pretty Pixie is a happy medium for me. Overall, I would totally recommend this nail line to anyone who is looking for an affordable line of colourful polishes that are a great quality and so pretty! Plus, I absolutely love the name ;)

*The three Annika Nail Polishes pictures above were gifted to me by The Edge Nails

Totally Thrifted

21 August 2016

Alton, UK
I recently spent a whole day at Alton Towers, also known as my favourite place on Earth, and I always want to wear something comfortable but inexpensive as I'm the one girl that loses a jacket (or a shoe) whenever I go anywhere. I managed to put together an entire outfit (minus the accessories) from thrift shopping and I have to talk about how much I'm falling in love with it. 

I haven't bought too many things from thrift shops in the past because I never grew up shopping in them, and would always go on shopping trips to the enormous centres in the nearest city, which usually don't include local charity and thrift shops. I actually live in a tiny village in West Yorkshire, and there are charity shops everywhere; and as you know, charities are my life. Literally. I hear a lot of bloggers talk about thrifting and I decided it's time to really make the plunge, digging around in those shops is a lot like shopping in TK Maxx, it takes time and real dedication - there's so much stuff!
Alton is pretty far from where I live, so number one thing was a comfy outfit. To get there I had to set off at 06:00, not my favourite time of the day, but as a new-found morning person it's not the worst. I knew I would sleep in the car because heat + nice tunes + rocking motion = Anika asleep. I wanted to wear jeans on the trip because I absolutely loathe leggings and cropped or really short tops and I had already fallen in love with this poppy-printed cotton tank top I'm wearing. Black jeans are my new go-to, so of course, I looked in twelve thrift and charity shops until I found some! The ones I got were some vintage super-stretch jeans (sadly the label is faded) but I'm so glad the colour is still there! For me, that shows the great quality.
My hoodie was a little too big, but that's ideal for me as oversized clothing is my total weakness. Comfort is number one for rollercoasters so a cosy grey number is perfect! The weather always varies, we're in the UK, what else is going to happen? So I needed something I could tie around my waist or stuff in my bag when the sun decided to appear. Luckily it did make a small appearance and brightened the day. There's only one water ride left at Alton Towers (BOO!) and it's still likely you end up drenched. Although there's always that one person who never gets wet and I need to figure out their method because I'm the complete opposite. Anyway, I knew a cotton zip-up would dry off quickly, especially if the sun is out, and it happens to pair with the rest of my outfit pretty well!
Overall, I'm loving thrift shopping, it could be my new thing! Have you every thrifted? What did you get?

Why I Quit My Job | Journal

18 August 2016

Leeds, UK
This post is going to be reeeeaaaaaaallllly long. The minute I left school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Work in a standard nine-to-five and continue my passion for blogging while earning a steady wage. Well, after a year of that life; I decided to give it up. 

I remember the moment I applied, it was December 2014, and by January 2015, I was a Customer Service Advisor in the Head Office for one of the biggest building societies in the country. The job seems ideal at first, but I found it very difficult to fit in. After a month, I figured the team and managers are like this with all the newbies, eventually they'll be my good friends and going to work will feel like The Office. I was wrong. As my time there progressed, I began to realise I really don't fit in with this team and the managers have made it very clear they don't appreciate my work. But, this is common in workplaces so I continued working. 

When I was hired, I was a temporary member of staff for three months. To my leaving date, I never finished as a temp, my contract was just "extended" every so often, even though I didn't receive anything in writing to confirm this. In my view, as long as I'm getting paid, I'm happy to work. As ISA season rolled in, the workloads became unnaturally heavy and it was obvious the entire investments department didn't have a clue what was going on. After having the most successful ISA of 2015, this particular company didn't plan work thousands of pieces of work to flood in, which resulted in more temps being hired and staff moved all over the place. 

I was treated like a slave and workout from 7am to 6pm, with one break and plenty to do. Others didn't do as much as I did but they still one achievement awards. I was denied holidays and opportunities because my manager didn't like me or appreciate my skill. After a while, I sensed this isn't right. I approached HR and they did absolutely NOTHING. 

It was hard to handle the harsh reality of the nine-to-five, and the even harsh reality of dirty and unprofessional businesses. During the summer, there was no work - as in I would sit and stare at my lock screen all day. During the winter and spring, work would flood in and it seems to startle the managers every year even though it's a building society... of course ISA season will be busy. No one was ever prepared, and the department was incredibly corrupt. Managers had favourites, seniors were inappropriate with temps and the entire team would argue and gossip all day. How it still stands today is beyond me, thank goodness I never opened my own account with them. 
My mood was greatly affected by work, and friends and family began to notice. It started with headaches, and they were never subtle. The headaches were from the moment I woke up until the second I fell asleep. Nothing could shift the pain, and doctors put this down to stress and tension. In general, I was never in a good mood and unenthusiastic about everything - even Chris Evans. I never looked forward to the day and each moment was a countdown to 5pm. I'm a strong believer in happiness and doing whatever makes you smile. This job is the one thing that stopped me from smiling. Joking about an evil boss and nosey coworkers is fine, but dreading everything about employment is not normal. 

In many situations, quitting a job isn't an option, and this is something I considered all the time. "I bet there are loads of people that hate their job" was my reasoning and stopped me from crying at my desk every morning. However, I slowly realised, I have the option to leave this place and if it makes me so unhappy, why don't I take it? It's silly for me to feel guilty (even though I still do) about the circumstances of other people when there's nothing I could do to change them. 

After a long chat and plenty of tea, my mum and I constructed my resignation letter and I handed it in the next day. I can tell you, the moment I handed that letter in, my mood lifted. Towards the end of my notice period, the headaches went away. Even though my boss started to act nicely towards me because she knew the one employee who banks millions a day, would be gone. 

I now work with my mum, helping her to build her two amazing charities, Clothing Solutions & Beaneezy - please give their Facebook pages a like if you can, it would really help us! I've never been happier and can not blog basically all the time, and avoid the tension headaches and 6am trains to Leeds. 

Have you ever quit a job? 

Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation | Review

15 August 2016

Leeds, UK
For as long as I’ve been wearing makeup, I’ve struggled to find a good foundation. There have been some that work really well, but are slightly too dark, a little too light or have the wrong tones in. I’ve even mixed foundations to see if that works, but it is way too much effort for an early morning. My skin has also become a lot oilier since suffering from acne, which will also be due to the increase in moisturisers and creams I use on my face. After a while of struggling, I almost stormed into Debenhams in search of a new foundation.

My first stop was MAC, an obvious choice because it seems to be one of the most popular makeup brands in the world. One of the first reasons I didn’t buy from MAC is because the assistants are incredibly rude – they didn’t even help me! I asked for the most mattifying foundation and the young woman showed me some eyeliner. So immediately, I walked off and was kindly greeted by Lizzie at the Estée Lauder booth.
“What’s your most mattifying foundation?” I asked. Well, this was the beginning of something special. After using the foundation finder I received the best-selling Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup foundation, skipping home to try it out. My first impressions are really good, I like how well the product spreads and the medium-to-full coverage it provides. The great thing is, that you can build on each layer of the foundation, to provide full coverage. I used a brush to apply the liquid foundation, and one thing I’ve found is that it doesn’t stick to the fibres of the brush, making the brush easier to wash and the foundation easier to apply.

Estée Lauder promises the Stay-in-Place Makeup (SPF 10 – bonus!) has the ability to stay flawless for fifteen hours; through heat, humidity and non-stop activity. So far, so good. I’ve used the foundation during a busy work day, with and without powder, and it’s managed to stay in place the entire time. The best thing about Double Wear is that I never have to top up, which means I’m never worrying about creasing or any coming off. It was quite common for previous foundation to come off on clothes, and as I have dark skin, I never wore any white. Times have changed. Now I have Double Wear, I can wear what I want!
The only downside to the foundation is the price, it is £31.00 per bottle, quite steep in my opinion. I’m not much of a spender, so when I have to really splash out on something it’s worth it. I’m on my first bottle, so depending on how long it lasts, I’ll decide if I’d like another. The lid is very simple but doesn’t have any sort of applicator inside, so it’s all down to you. Luckily, not a lot of product stays in the lid (unless you tip the bottle upside down), so I just tip a little only my hand – apparently you’re not supposed to but it works for me.
I have to give this product five stars as it’s become my holy grail of makeup products. There are a crazy amount of shades available, and with the foundation finder – it must be impossible not to find the one for you. It’s without a doubt the greatest foundation I’ve ever used, no wonder it’s the best selling in the UK! Despite the opening, I love everything about this foundation, especially the way it dries so perfectly and can be applied even easier. The price is totally worth the product, and it’s Estée Lauder – how can I say no.

Have you tried out this foundation? What did you think?

How I Became a Morning Person

11 August 2016

Bingley, UK

A lot of the posts on Anika May begin with “I’m very lazy”, and honestly that hasn’t changed. I still like laying around and doing nothing. When I was working full time, I was never (ever) a morning person; in fact I dreaded the sound of an alarm each daybreak before the same routine into a chilly train station and miserable march to the workplace with a whole bunch of strangers. Since changing my environment, I’ve found it beneficial to get up earlier and get used to it, giving me more hours in the day and a head start on the healthy lifestyle I’m aiming for.

A protein-filled breakfast
I could easily have a bagel, pilled with Nutella and marshmallows for breakfast everyday but I know it’s not the best start. Although it tastes great, it’s stodgy, fatty food that only makes me lethargic and feel even lazier. Not only am I introducing myself to a firmer diet (which I’ll be documenting), but discouraging my love for no-no foods. A new breakfast cereal I’m becoming obsessed with is Weetabix – super simple. I could easily make a fancy Instagram-worthy acai bowl, but I just don’t have the time on a morning and I like something warm too.

Yoga, pilates and running
I’m growing more towards working out, but it’s still not my favourite thing in the world. I like to motivate myself using Pinterest boards and YouTube videos, some of my favourites include Yoga With Adriene, Blogilates and Fitness Blender. Working out in the morning gives me energy for the day, and a much better mind-set. I can listen to my favourite tunes while watching the sunrise and warm up easily in the winter. I used to work out in the evenings which meant taking off my makeup from the day and lazily doing sit ups until I ended up on my phone – not anymore.
Pep talks
Don’t get me wrong, waking up at 6am or before is not stress-free. Especially during the winter months when it’s a lot darker at that time in the morning. Although my body clock has adjusted now, I really struggled to abandon the warmth of my humble bed. To this day, I still have to give myself around 10 minutes to actually come round for a night’s sleep, but in the beginning it was all about pep talks. Pep talks lead to motivation and that’s the best method for me to actually start moving. Giving myself a real reason, really helped me to get up… “Let’s do this.”

Extra time
I’m forever complaining about the lack of time in a day. Sometimes there’s just so much to do and never enough time to do it! One of the biggest benefits of becoming a morning person is having the extra few hours in a day. I don’t work out every day so being able to get up and hop onto the computer to schedule a blog post of finish the odd report is so much better than lazily lying in bed trying type with one eye shut. The sense of accomplishment after a long day is unbeatable.

A better diet
As mentioned earlier, I’m really trying to bring in a newer, healthier diet and waking up earlier is incredibly advantageous. In the morning, I don’t eat an enormous meal so I’m already feeling better. Lunches can be a bit of a hit or miss, sometimes I just really need a burger. However, as I go to bed earlier, I never want to fall asleep on a full stomach so my dinners are much lighter – a massive improvement. I still need to work on the Sunday roasts… but I’m getting there.
Warm baths and showers
Isn’t being cosy just the best? Whether it’s day or night, a steamy shower is just what I need. I love to go all out when it comes to baths, and usually take them before bed if I have the time. Baths are amazingly relaxing, especially with a solid playlist and scented candles everywhere. A shower is the perfect wake-up call, as long as you can bare stepping into the ice cold artic that is anywhere outside of the bubble of happiness.

Rewards and treats
It can be really hard to get up sometimes, really really hard. I don’t always like it, but know it needs to be done. On the days where leaving the duvet seems impossible, but I managed to get through it, I give myself a little prize. Why not? On occasion, it may be a cheat meal, or rather a new dress from ASOS – just something to make me smile. It’s so important to treat yourself whenever you can, and I much prefer to do it when I feel like I have actually done something reward-worthy. If I plan a treat in advance, it helps put me to bed on time too.

Are you a morning person? 
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