What Has Two Years Of Blogging Taught Me?

This month marks two years since I published my first post on High Street Beauty Junkie. Little did I know then how much I would actually gain from it! I'm not talking about financial gain - I've done a couple of sponsored posts but that was never my blogging goal. I've gained confidence in myself, in my writing, in my photography and so much more. This week I wanted to share a few things that I've learnt through blogging over the last 24 months.

1. Progress is important, but it isn't the be-all and end-all. I feel like I've progressed really well in the last two years - I've gained followers and opportunities that I never really thought I would. It's been slow in comparison to other bloggers who perhaps have more time and determination than me. I love seeing my blog grow but at the end of the day it is a hobby, not a full-time job, which I've managed alongside uni and work. Any progress and growth in my eyes is great, no matter what speed it's achieved at. 

2. When blogging starts to feel like a chore, it's time to take a break - and that's okay! Blogging is a great hobby to have, but it's tough work to keep up all the time. Sometimes I'm just not inspired to write or I have no new content to upload and so I'll take a couple of weeks away from blogging until I get my mojo back. I used to feel guilty when I did this, as if I was neglecting my little space and my followers. Now I know that my wellbeing needs to come first, and if I'm not up to it then that's fine. Plus it means I come back full of new ideas and inspiration!

3. Hard work pays off and has opened up lots of exciting opportunities for me. Despite it only being a hobby on the side, I do put a lot of time and effort into my blog. I work hard to maintain it and try to post every week. From the hard work I've put in, I've been offered many great opportunities. From sponsored posts with clients such as Panasonic and Loccitane, to attending events in London, to reviewing a 4* hotel, it sometimes seems a little unreal that little old me earned these opportunities! I've also been featured in The Guardian, The Tab and in multiple listicles of top student bloggers, all of which have been very exciting and surreal.

4. Blogging has allowed me to meet some amazing people over the last two years. This goes hand in hand with the last point but along with events I've attended, I've also met some incredible people along the way. There are way too many to name all of them but I'll leave some of my favourite photos below! I'd be lost without our little Whatsapp group now and I'm so happy I've met bloggers that I can go to local events with.

Gift Ideas For Her - High Vs. Low Budget*

I'm one of those people who love buying gifts for other people - I'll put a lot of thought into it and love seeing the recipient's face when they open their present. It can be hard though, especially if perhaps you don't know the person you're buying for very well. Or maybe you just dread the thought of getting someone a gift that they're not going to like! In this post, which is written in collaboration with L'Occitane, I'll be giving you a few gift ideas for women, whatever your budget may be. Moreover, with Mother's Day just a month away, this post could be a lifesaver!

High budget: With their beautiful packaging and luxurious products, L'Occitane skincare items are guaranteed to make a great gift. It may be hard to know what a person's skin type is, and so my recommendation would be something like their almond oil for skin. The Almond Supple Skin Oil is light on the skin, smells amazing and leaves you feeling pampered with little effort. Perfect for anyone who deserves a treat.
Low budget: For lower budgets (less than £15) you can't really go wrong with The Body Shop. Their body butters are infamous - and for good reason. One of my favourite ones is the Shea Nourishing Body Butter - the larger sized 200ml tub retails for £15, but you can get a 50ml tub for £6. They often do discount codes for 25-40% off as well, so keep an eye out for that too.

High budget: If you've got a bit more to spend, a make-up piece that the recipient wouldn't usually treat themselves to can be a really nice gift idea. For example, Yves Saint Laurent is a luxury brand that do some amazing make-up - treat them to a high-end mascara such as Yves Saint Laurents' Baby Doll. Or if you know they're a make-up connoisseur, a high-end eyeshadow palette is the perfect gift, such as Urban Decay's Naked Smoky palette.
Low budget: Guess what - high street make-up can be great presents too! Sleek is a really affordable brand but still look gorgeous and are of a high quality. You can get some great eyeshadow palettes from them, or their blogger-favourite highlighting palettes. Even better, they all retail for £10 or less!

High budget: a simple piece of high-end jewellery can make the perfect gift. You don't have to spend hundreds to find the one - places like Swarovski and Beaverbrooks do beautiful jewellery for under £100. The necklace in the photo below is one of the first gifts I received from my boyfriend (over 2 years ago) and is from Swarovski. It's simple and goes with everything, and I still wear it now. The earrings are from Beaverbrooks and were a graduation present from my parents. I only wear them on special occasions, but I feel like I'm wearing something super luxurious when I do put them in. 
Low budget: Buying fashion items as gifts can be really hard. However, something like a scarf from a high street retailer such as Topshop or River Island is a pretty safe option as its universally loved. You can spend just £10-£15 on a scarf and it can be something that really makes an outfit, and so it can make a great gift option.

Of course these are just a few options for gifts for her - I'd love to know if you have any fab gift ideas that I haven't mentioned! Let me know what you'll be buying for your mum for Mother's Day too!

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An Evening With Kiehls

Recently, while I was in Sheffield, I was invited to an event at the Kiehls counter at House of Fraser in Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre. I've heard a lot about the brand but never actually tried any of it so I was keen to give it a go! On arrival, I was greeted with a prosecco and chocolates and from then I knew it was going to be a great event.

The Kiehls girls and the other bloggers were lovely and very welcoming considering I'm a northern newbie! We were given an introduction to the brand which started in 1851 and were told about its pharmacological roots as well as its more recent charity pledges. We were also able to sample some lovely treatments, including a hand and arm massage and a facial. 

At another station at the counter, we were told our skin type and what products would help our individual skin worries. I found out that my skin type was normal-oily (which sounds about right to me!) and I was recommended their oil-free range and also their Clearly Collective Dark Spot Solution for my acne scarring. I'm keen to give these a go once I've run out of my current products!

We were given a cute little goody bag each at the end of the event with some gorgeous samples and minis of some of the products we'd been shown. I haven't tried them out yet, but I'm excited to give them a go! It was lovely to meet the girls and just mingle and chat for a bit too. Thanks for a fab evening, Kiehls!

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Five Things You MUST Do In York

At the end of January, I surprised Tim with a few days away in the beautiful city of York for his birthday. Having only visited once before when I was 9 years old, I did a lot of research beforehand about what was best to do and see to make the most of our three days there. We had a really great time and managed to do a hell of a lot, and now I want to share with you what I thought was worth doing and why! I'm aware that some of these are super tourist-y - but they're popular for a reason! Here's my top five:

1. Walk along the historic City Walls: York is showered in history and culture, some of which can be explored by walking along the 3.4km of city walls. There are some fantastic views along the way to enjoy and best of all it's completely free. 

2. Climb up Clifford's Tower: built in 1068, Clifford's Tower is another cultural must-see. Situated on a hill, the views once you're up at the top of the castle are beautiful. Despite the fact it was cold and foggy when we went up, it was still a great way to see across the whole of the city. Admission prices are around £5 per person, which in comparison to other attractions in York is pretty good.

3. Visit York Dungeons: If you fancy a bit of a scare whilst also learning about York's history along the way, the York Dungeons are a perfect novelty attraction. Tickets start at £10 per person and include over an hour's interactive entertainment from amateur actors. I've never been a huge fan of learning about history but the York Dungeons manage to make it an enjoyable experience at the same time.

York Minster

4. Go for a drink (or four...): York famously accommodates 365 bars a pubs - one for each day of the year. Basically, there's a bar for EVERYONE in York. For a more student-y vibe, check out The Graduate, a small chain bar with some great cocktails (which are £3 on certain nights!). If you're looking for a more traditional pub, try out The Old Starre Inn which boasts its historic roots and has a really cosy atmosphere inside. For a cool bar with a great selection of beers and gins (and an amazing tapas menu) I'd definitely recommend Sotano's. It was one of my favourite finds in York!

5. Get lost: No I don't mean this as an insult. Accidentally getting lost in York on our first day (mainly due to my terrible navigation skills) was one of the best things we could've done. There are so many quirky little lanes and streets to check out in York that you might miss if you stick to a particular route. In my opinion, it was the best way to explore and get to know the city.

I really hope this helps if you're planning to visit York soon - and of course I'd love to know if you have any recommendations. I can't wait to visit again in the future!
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