Friday, 27 April 2018

3 Ways I'm Boosting My Creativity

3 Ways I'm Trying To Boost My Creativity - Cains Brewery Village
Throughout early April, I interviewed for a new job at work. The job was within the marketing department and focused a lot on content creation and social media. Despite my best efforts, I didn't get it and surprisingly, I wasn't disappointed. Here's why;

I've never been a person who's known what path I want to take. I've always been somewhat creative and my mind is constantly thinking about new ideas and drawing inspiration from everything in life. At first, to me, this job was just an interest. With all of the ideas and inspiration floating around in my mind, I thought it would be great to channel it into something different - No harm done. However, the further along I got through the interview process and the more preparations I made, the more I realised that what I really wanted to do wasn't to channel my ideas into a new job, I wanted to channel it into my own work. 

I wanted to see the creativity shine through on my blog, in my writing and on my Instagram but the more I produced things for my interviewers approval, the more I realised it was actually my own approval I'd been seeking - I wanted to be creative for myself. I started by changing my edits and honestly, that's kind of what sparked it for me.  So, when I didn't get the job, instead of leaving the meeting room upset and disappointed I was happy that I'd finally found what I wanted. To channel all of my creativity into my own platforms. So, with my little story in mind, I wanted to share a few ways I've been trying to boost my creativity since then. 

photography + editing

I mentioned in my edits post that I'd been learning a lot about Lightroom from Peter McKinnon and through watching his channel. In the past few months, my Youtube suggestions have shifted completely from 'Applying the perfect winged liner' to 'Making your videos more cinematic'. I've not branched into the world of Youtube or film-making but I'm loving watching what others create and learning how I could do it if I ever chose to. I'm just really enjoying seeing what different people create and gathering inspiration from everywhere.

following new accounts

Speaking of seeing what others create, I've recently started following a bunch of new accounts on social media including Youtube and Instagram. I've finally curated a feed of people who inspire me and who I'm interested in seeing or hearing from - This includes but definitely isn't limited to photographers, film-makers, bloggers of all sizes, travellers and everyone in between. I want my time on social media to be useful, informative and educational and switching up the accounts I'm following has really helped.

consuming a variety of content  

As well as consuming content online, to boost my creativity even more, I like to consume a variety of content. I have a monthly subscription to Cosmopolitan which I continuously draw inspiration from as well as podcasts I've started listening to every week. I don't draw inspiration from this content in order to follow trends, I do to be inspired to write, to photograph and create.


 What do you do to boost your creativity whether it's for work or a hobby? 


Monday, 16 April 2018

Why I Felt Inspired To Change My Edits

Why I Felt Inspired To Change My Edits
Photographs are personal. I don't just mean personal in a sense that they've been taken by you but personal in a sense of, right from the idea to the composition and all the way to the edit, that photo is your vision. 

For the longest time, I've been feeling uninspired by what I thought was my *vision*. Not only had I been editing my photos with the same 'copy and paste edits'  for probably the past 12 months but, when you actually looked at my photos, you could see that they weren't just copy and pasted edits, they were a copy and pasted vision. They were a copy and pasted vision of the same blush and blue tones, marble backgrounds and quite over exposed photos. With each new photo I edited and posted, I wasn't 100% happy. Gradually I posted less and less until ultimately, I didn't really want to share photos at all. 

That changed a few weeks ago when the ever-so-lovely Chloe from LadyWrites launched her new Instagram chapter. She'd put 110% effort into creating photos that she absolutely loved and eagerly shared them with her now 10K audience in anticipation. Of course, in true Chloe style, they were bloody brilliant and I take my hat off to her for believing in herself. From that moment, I was inspired. Chloe had taken everything she'd been doing day to day, thew it up in the air and basically said 'This is what I want so I'm doing it' and for me, that was the turning point.

I went for a little search around Instagram to see what other people were up to and the photographs I came across were incredible. There were so many creators showcasing amazing imagery. Everything from landscape photography to street photography and jaw-dropping flatlays to brilliant portraits were suddenly in front of me. From seeing what Chloe had done and then seeing all these beautiful images, it was time to take the plunge and reinvent my photos. 

Lightroom seemed to be the preferred editing software of many photographers and though I'd played around with the app a few times, I didn't really know much about what it could do for my photos aside from making the sea look more blue. A few clicks and complicated Youtube tutorials later I stumbled upon Peter McKinnon - A photographer, filmmaker and all round cool guy from Canada. Not only were his films and photographs absolutely amazing, he also had a whole host of tutorials, tips, and must-knows when it comes to Lightroom. Slowly but surely, I couldn't believe I hadn't used it sooner.  

I'm not by any means a photographer but I enjoy taking photos and I want to get the most of them. I wanted to add creativity to these photos and figure out my own style, so that's exactly what I did. I downloaded Lightroom onto my desktop and set up a free trial (Highly recommend!) and from then on, I spent most of my weekend just playing around. I started importing photos from my travels and 150+ photos later, I'd created a couple of presets and and figured out how these could make my editing process seamless. Over the course of the weekend, I'd edited 200+ photos - even ones that I'd previously disregarded - and made them into something that I was excited to look at. 

Watching Peter's videos reminded me is that photography is a creative process and everyone sees the world differently. When it comes to editing and post production, it's easy to slap a filter and call it a day but taking care of the photo, nurturing the colours and light and putting my own stamp on it, is something I've truly fallen in love with. 

The only thing that was left to do was to show these edits to the world. After consulting Jac just to make sure I wasn't going crazy, I uploaded the first photo to my grid. The new edits weren't *that* different to previous ones but the change was noticeable and at first, I was nervous that nobody would like them. The more and more I posted, the more I realised that I didn't care. The fact I loved the photos was more validation than I ever needed and right now, I'm the happiest and most inspired I've ever been. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on the new edits that are floating around on my Instagram and how you feel about your photos and edits!


Thursday, 12 April 2018

How To Discover New Music

How To Discover New Music
If you've read any of my previous music posts, you'll know that on my phone, I have a 'Favourites Playlist'. Whenever I hear a song I like whether it's on TV, the radio, an album, you name it, I'll add it to the playlist. Now, unless I'm in the gym or getting ready to head out, it's very rare that I'll sit and listen to music for long periods of time. Because of that, I find myself listening to the same 6 songs at the top of my playlist all of the time. That was until a few days ago when I did something wild, I put the playlist on shuffle.

I know what you're thinking, that's not a big deal, but for me it really is. I don't shuffle music in my own playlists. I don't know why, I think I just like the idea of knowing what's coming on next but back to my point, some absolute gems that had been stashed away at the bottom were all of a sudden filling my dressing room. It was brilliant. 

So, after rediscovering my love for Thirty Seconds To Mars and Imagine Dragons, I actually wanted to talk how you can discover new music.

Find similar artists Sounds pretty obvious but I really underestimated how good 'See similar artists' sections on Google and the like can be. I remember back in the day to when I got my first iPod - a bright pink Nano - iTunes brought out Genius which would basically play a song and then afterwards, play one that went well with it. I'm pretty sure it wasn't *always* accurate but it was pretty cool and got me really excited about what it would come up with. 

Learn an instrument I have always wanted to learn how to play guitar for no reason other than I think it's really cool. I tried teaching myself from tabs back in my teens while my friend Laura took lessons but, of course, it didn't go well. These days there are services online offering lessons over Skype and so many Youtube videos right at our fingertips - Definitely a step up from Guitar Hero which, spoiler alert, I'm also terrible at. 

Stream music I'm quite happy to admit that some of my most well spent money each month is on my Deezer subscription. I use it every single day and listening through the Flow playlist has brought so many artists to my attention that I wouldn't necessarily have heard of before. Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music offer similar services and, like Deezer, curate mixes and playlists of music they think you'll like to hear based on what you currently listen to. 

I'd love to know how you discover new music and what you've been listening to lately!

Monday, 9 April 2018

3 Tips For Selling Your Clothes Online

3 Tips For Selling Your Clothes Online
I finally did it. After planning it for weeks and continuously talking myself out of it, I finally sorted through my wardrobe yesterday. I hate myself for putting it off because every time I finish doing it, I can't believe that I didn't do it sooner. Alas, it's finally done and I can go about my spring not worrying about the monstrosity behind those sliding doors. 

Truth be told, I didn't actually have to let go of an awful amount of things. Mostly because my clothes actually fit me for once - hallelujah - but also because I like to have these clear outs at least once a year to make sure I'm not hanging on to things that I don't really need so over time, there's less and less to toss. 

Since a lot of the things I'm choosing to let go of are worthy of a second home, I thought I'd share some tips for selling your clothes online whether it's through Facebook, eBay, Depop etc. 

Considering the quality Before I choose an item to sell online, I always ask myself 'Would I be happy to receive this?'. If the item is in good condition with no stains and it just showing minimal wear and tear then sure, I'd be happy. On the other hand, if items have holes in, are starting to wear away and are covered in stains then you really need to consider the fact that if you don't want it, a buyer probably won't either. In these cases it's far better to recycle rather than just throwing it in the bin or wasting time trying to sell it. 

Take good photographs I can't even tell you how many savvy sellers are upping their photo game on the likes of eBay and Depop these days - Gone are the times of snapping  your items on a hanger hooked over the door. These days, it's all about making the items look as appealing as possible. In some instances, sellers will model their items but, if you look anything like me, you'll probably want to find a mannequin torso to make those items as appealing as possible. These can also a great investment if you're buying second hand yourself in case you want to make alterations or customisations. 

Keep the description to a minimum Being totally honest, when I first started selling my clothes online, I used to write out incredibly long descriptions listing everything from where I purchased the item,  to that it was coming from a smoke free/pet free/damp free household. The more I did it, the more I realised people don't actually care. If there's anything that a potential buyer wants to know, in my experience, they'll ask the question. Keep the description short and to the point. Think along the lines of what it is, how old it is, the quality and the size. Brief but effective descriptions are the way forward - Buyers don't need to know that your Aunt Sal bought it from BHS a few years back but you only wore it to your mates house party. 

With all of these tips in mind, I'm probably going to have a sort through my clear out pile and see what I can actually sell and what is in desperate need of recycling. I hope you've found these tips useful. I'd love to know what you do to get the most out of selling clothes online.


Thursday, 5 April 2018

Two Must-Haves from Maybelline

Two Must-Haves from Maybelline | Maybelline Superstay | ItsHollieAnn
You know how sometimes there are those products that absolutely blow your mind? They do exactly what they claim to, have a great price point and are completely user friendly? Know what I mean? Well, allow me to introduce you to my latest must-have beauty products that tick all of these boxes and that, quite frankly, I can't shout about enough. Two must-haves from Maybelline. 

First, the Maybelline Superstay foundation. I picked this up after watching Tati's review - No word of a lie, I hadn't even finished the video before I grabbed my keys and headed straight out to buy it. Since then I've been using it a heck of a lot and still, four months later, I can't say enough good things about it. For me, the texture is silky smooth and a little bit goes a long way. I find that when I dot it on my face, it blends out flawlessly and doesn't dry faster than you can blend which definitely gets a gold star from me. On my skin, it stays put all day and doesn't tend to cling to dry patches or create much excess oil - Something I struggle with, with a lot of other foundations. I tend to prolong the wear with a little powder under the eyes and a spritz of setting spray but honestly, even without, you're good to go pretty much throughout the day. 

I have to say, I find the shades of this foundation a little darker and warmer than others. Originally I picked up 30 Sand which I should have known would be too dark but I was far too eager. It wasn't drastically different at first but since it oxidises quite a lot, I was a funny shade of orange in no time. Thankfully when I went back a few days later I managed to pick up 10 Ivory and since then, it's matched almost perfectly. It's still a touch too warm so I may pick up an even lighter shade soon. Overall, it's a 10/10. 

Next up is probably the product I've been most shocked by in a long time. The Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink lipstick. I picked this up because I loved the Superstay Foundation and because I was in semi-desperate need of a new matte lipstick. I swatched it as usual and went for the shade Lover because, you know, I really needed another dusty pink lip colour. After getting home, feeding the cats and washing my hands, I noticed it didn't actually come off so I washed them again. I actually washed them three times, all with soap, and not once did this lipstick budge. I was intrigued. 

Continuing my test in true beauty fanatic style, I put it on my lips determined to see whether it was some kind of lipstick mirage or whether it actually would last and if so, what was the catch? There was no catch and it really did last. It didn't dry out or flake, it didn't fade or smudge. It didn't come off until about 11.30pm when I forcibly removed it by means of Cleanse and Polish after lots of food and a few proseccos. 

I know what you're thinking but yes, it's real and I have no bad words to say about it. The colour payoff is brilliant, it doesn't bleed, it sets quickly but doesn't leave your lips feeling dry. I can put lip balm over it and it doesn't effect it's opacity and to top it all off, I get so many compliments when I wear it. I can't say enough good things about it and one by one, I'm slowly building up a collection because, hello, when won't there be a good occasion to wear it? To make sure this wasn't a one off, I swatched another 4 whilst at Boots a few days ago and still had the same results. Another solid 10/10.

I have to be honest, sometimes I struggle with drugstore beauty. There's a lot of choice out there but I find that sometimes it can take a lot of time to find products that work really well. 

I'd love to know if there are any hidden drugstore gems that you've found or heard about!


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

6 Things Every Traveller Must Do

7 Things Every Traveller Must Do
I constantly think about travelling. It's one thing that I love researching and undoubtedly my favourite way to spend my time. Since we're currently trying to plan our next few getaways, I started thinking about the things you can do on each trip to get the most out of it.

Plan ahead I know some of you will be screaming at your laptop that you're more go-with-the-flow type people but even if that's the case, it's nice to have an idea. I touched on this briefly in my post on travelling as a couple but making lists of landmarks/restaurants and anything else you want to do ensures you don't leave anything out. 

Sample local food and drink I'm a massive foodie and one of my favourite things to do whilst travelling is try out the local cuisine. Spanish and Greek cuisine are at the top of my list but the traditional food we tried in Egypt was absolutely delicious! I prefer seeking out a small, local restaurant as oppose to chains mostly because they're usually family run, using the best recipes passed down through generations and to me, that's so amazing.

Sightseeing It sounds pretty obvious when you think about it but sometimes, especially with more beach-vibe destinations, it's easy to laze about by the pool all day to give yourself a break. However, no matter how tempting the bottomless margaritas are, it's well worth exploring every destination you are lucky enough to visit. When I was younger, we travelled to Cyprus and though a visit to the ghost town of Varosha wasn't high on my to do list - hello tanning? - it turned out to be so incredibly interesting and I'm so glad my family dragged me away from the sun lounger for a few hours to experience something I'd never seen before.

A roof down road trip If the roads in the US weren't so terrifyingly confusing and busy, we would have 100% done this by now. Something about driving down the open road with some great music on the radio is just everything I'm currently lusting after however there are so many cool places to stop along the way that it'd probably take us weeks to get from A to B.  As well as the US, France and Spain are high on my list of places to drive around.

Socialise with the locals If you've read my posts on reasons why travelling is good for you or why I fell in love with Kos you'll know that the locals make up a huge chunk of why I love travelling. In Kos, we dined at the same family run Taverna a few times during our trip and what made it so special is how much the owner, Romeo, loved to chat and talk about his family and his life in general. He also pointed us in the direction of other amazing places to visit that we probably wouldn't have found otherwise. 

Treat yourself Like me, many travellers are on a small budget which means we never get to experience the luxury of five star hotels and apartments, celebrated restaurants or expensive shopping destinations but even while on a budget it's nice to splurge a little. One of my colleagues gave me a great tip of booking into a small luxury hotel for a few nights of a trip. That way she saves money by not doing it for the whole time but still gets to rest her head in some incredible places. 

I love the thought of some of these things and as we speak I'm trying to fathom how to afford a luxury nights stay on a weekend trip to Paris. A girl cal dream right?


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

5 Positives For The Most Monday-Like Tuesday

5 Positives For The Most Monday-Like Tuesday
What a day. Though today has actually gone pretty quick, I still can't help but feel a little bit sad that the Easter bank holiday weekend is over. It's no longer acceptable to drink prosecco at 3pm or to scoff an entire Easter egg before dinner - We're back to reality until we're graced with another bank holiday and let's be honest, May 7th couldn't come soon enough. 

Truth be told, I'm actually writing this post after seeing countless people on Instagram describing today as the 'Mondayest Tuesday ever', myself included. So, instead of wallowing in self pity like I currently am, I thought I'd share some positives to pick me up out of my mood.

It's not Monday Despite today being the most Monday-like Tuesday there ever was, I'm actually quite grateful for the fact it's not Monday. It's hump-day tomorrow and then downhill to the weekend once more. I really can't complain about a four day week considering they come around once in a blue moon. 

I had a brilliant weekend Even though it went by so bloomin' fast, I had a brilliant weekend. I got to catch up with my family on Saturday and go out for cocktails with the ever-brilliant Jac that evenig. I relaxed so hard I almost forgot what it was like to do stuff and I also had a great roast at my in-laws. Not bad for a weekend - It's certainly more than I'd usually do. 

I'm making an effort offline After my post a few weeks back about making more of an effort offline, I'm really trying to put it into practice. My friend Alex and I are *trying* to get another catch-up in the diary and next week, I have my friend Chris staying on his way back up North after convincing him that a Whatsapp conversation simply wouldn't suffice. 

Our next Vegas trip is so close I seriously can't believe how quickly this trip is coming round. I think it's mostly because I've tried not to think about it too much but after my recent Vegas post I'm so ready to get on that airplane. Let's not forget how excited I am to hashtag #BAEcation. 

My other half booked Mallory Knox tickets Now this is something I'm ridiculously excited about. They're one of our favourite bands but somehow, we forgot to book tickets for their upcoming tour despite me mentioning them in my 2018 music post. We've not been to a gig together in ages so it'll be nice to get back into it, especially seeing a band we both love so much. 

I hope your day was great whether you were stuck in work or still enjoying a long weekend. Even after sharing these positives, I still couldn't find the motivation to go to the gym so I did an at-home kettlebell workout which didn't kill me off so there's a cheeky 6th positive. Let me know what positives you've got going on right now!

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