Tattoos have been something I have always loved and found myself drawn to. I got my first one on my 18th birthday, the second just after my 21st and my most recent one was in January this year. I know that I only have three and some people are covered head to toe but you guys voted to hear more about my tats and what they mean!

If you like tattoos, I did a Pinterest tattoo post a while back which is linked here, if you need some inspiration.

My Roman Numeral Tattoo

This was the first tattoo I ever got. It was done at a small place in Cambridge which, since meeting Avalon, I wouldn’t recommend. I think my naivety really showed with my first which is probably to be expected. I would totally recommend speaking to as many people as you can with tattoos that you like and find someone who suits you. Make sure you speak to the person doing your tattoo before you get it because everyone has a different style!

The Meaning 

My roman numerals stand for my mum’s birth year – MCMLVII is 1957. If you know my age, you can probably figure out that my mum was 39/40 when she had me. A controversial topic to say the least but I’m sure we can agree that she was older compared to a lot of other mothers when they have their first child. Side note: I am also her only child. For me, the tattoo means a lot more than just being my mum’s birth year. Those who are very close to me are probably aware of the deeper side of this tattoo which I’m not totally prepared to share with the world. Briefly, it is a reminder. A reminder to love, to care and when it comes to having my own children – to be the best mother I can be. I wanted this tattoo to remind me to be a good person and treat others well, as well as treat myself well too. It keeps me in check for my present and my future, essentially.

I had wanted to get this tattoo for absolutely years and the meaning behind it is so lasting and personal that I know I will never change my mind about it – making it the perfect first tattoo.

Price, Pain and Experience

When you have your first tattoo, you’ll probably do what I did and gear myself up for some indescribable, catastrophic pain. This isn’t great for your nerves beforehand but honestly helped when having it done. If you prepare yourself for the worst, it is almost guaranteed to be better than you expect. A rib tattoo is a weird pain too. It feels like a sharp(?) vibration across your bones and at points it was unbearable and others it was fine. A proper mixed bag. I paid £70 for mine and it took around 35-40 mins. Quick, easy and relatively pain-free.

The people were lovely in there but compared to my following experiences, they have nothing on Avalon and how comfortable she made me feel. I wouldn’t go back to the place where I had this tattoo done, in short.

My Geometric Cat Tattoo

Now this tattoo is the one that the majority of people like the most. I had wanted a cat tattoo for about 6/7 years but never decided on the right one. My cat, Bradley, is like my little furry best friend. He means the world to me and I am a certified crazy cat lady because of it. I wanted something that would always remind me of him but for some reason, it took me another 3 years to get a tattoo booked in! My tattoo ended up being my 21st birthday present to myself. This time I went to a place closer to home that was recommended to me and it was totally worth it. Another obvious tip, but look up their work. Avalon had an amazing Instagram page which made me significantly more confident to go and see her.

Again, I went for a ribs tattoo because I like to have tattoos in places where I can cover them if I need to as unfortunately not a lot of places are as open-minded as they should be about tattoos, ey.

The Meaning

I have briefly mentioned already but my cat, Bradley, was like having a best friend or sibling that always wanted cuddles when I was growing up. I often found myself in a lot of traumatic experiences when I was younger and having him around was like a living comfort blanket. He is my first pet and he made me the cat-obsessed woman I am. The hardest thing is knowing he is ageing while I am at university and I don’t have him around to care for. The geometric design was chosen because I loved the simplicity and I knew that I was much less likely to end up disliking it.

Price, Pain and Experience

Funnily enough, I was accidentally double booked for this tattoo so I got a £10 discount. I believe it was supposed to be £70 but I only paid £60 in the end. The pain was definitely worse this time, despite it being on my ribs again. I definitely hadn’t geared myself up like I had the first time around! However, it was a really quick tattoo (about 30 or so minutes) and it was never unbearable to the point where I had to stop.

The one thing I found harder was my lack of things to focus on. I often find that I can control how painful I find something by focusing on something else and when getting my first tattoo, I so conveniently happened to be lying where I had a lot to read. This wasn’t the case the second time and it meant I often ended up thinking about the pain. Not fun.

My Flower Tattoo

This is my most recent tattoo and the artsiest of them, for sure. It is a lot more visible than my previous two but I kind of like that as I can still keep it covered when I want to.

The Meaning

This was definitely a more spur of the moment tattoo for me. Again, I had wanted something to represent my auntie for so long but I could never decide what was fitting. One day this idea clicked and I booked in instantly. Compared to my previous three-year gap, this was just a few months which is crazy for me!

My auntie suffered from Marfan and passed away in January 2004. She was only 39 and it breaks my heart that she passed so young. She was an incredible woman and I really wanted to have something keeping us together. The story behind the flower is actually really personal too. My grandma puts down one flower, unique to all the others, whenever she visits her grave. This is something she has done for years now and it means there is always a little part of me and her, amongst all the others. I, therefore, decided to stick with having just one little flower to reflect this.

Price, Pain and Experience

I paid £50 for this tattoo which is a total bargain in my opinion. The pain was something I was really nervous about because I had only had rib tattoos before so I had no idea what to expect. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how little this hurt. Like, you could barely feel it?! If you’re interested in tattoos but the pain puts you off, the inner arm was perfectly fine and I would definitely recommend it! It probably took around 30 minutes and like my others, was quite small so I didn’t have to sit through it for a long time.

Avalon is extremely talented (her Instagram page is linked here) and this kind of tattoo is much more her style than my previous one. She did a fantastic job and the detail when you see it up close is phenomenal.

I would also like to say that I have always had my tattoos heal amazingly well. I use bepanthen on them 2/3 times a day and on the first day, I wash the tattoo gently at night, just with lukewarm water and recover it with cling film. However, every tattoo artist recommends different things so I could be totally wrong!

Do you have any tattoos? Are there any you really like or would like to get?

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I’m a self-confessed lover of romantic gestures and cheesy media constructed holidays like Valentine’s Day. However, one thing I can truly appreciate is that if we indulge in all these commercial holidays, we are inevitably left financially torn by the number of gifts we have to buy.

I personally feel like Valentine’s Day is one of the hardest holidays in terms of deciding what to get someone. If you wish to stray away from flowers, chocolates and a card, what are you left with? These gifts are at the forefront of every supermarket currently and it’s hard to even begin thinking about any individual and unique gifts that you can get your significant other.

I like to think of myself as a very good present buyer but I could be very wrong about this! and I wanted to come up with a little list of affordable gifts for this time of year – in case you are in the mood, and in the market, for spoiling someone you care about.

If you’re interested, I have done a few Valentine’s Day and Relationship style posts before including:

20 Date Ideas
Under £20: 36 Date Ideas
How To Keep The Spark In Long Distance Relationships
My Valentine’s Day

I’ve included a few things you can buy and a few ideas that you can make or do yourself if you’re feeling a little creative!

Order Their Favourite Meal

I think one of the obvious things about Valentine’s Day is that you’re very aware of the distance between yourself and the person you love if you’re apart. To bridge that gap, sometimes the best thing to do is order their favourite food for them when they get in from work or have had a bad day. They’re guaranteed to know that you’ve been thinking about them and who doesn’t love a Chinese?! This gift doesn’t just apply to long-distance couples, obviously! Ordering in a loved one’s favourite meal (or attempting to make it yourself) is a great sign of love. It may seem like an obvious gift but it honestly makes me so happy whenever Adam orders me a little treat to my house whenever I need cheering up and I know he would feel the same way!

Pillowcases

This may just be the kind of present I am obsessed with but I think couple’s pillowcases are so sweet. A few years ago I bought Adam the infamous “her side, his side” bedding just to reaffirm that I should, rightfully so, have 80% of his king size bed. What I have seen recently are these great pillowcase sets that are great for a little present. If you are moving in with your partner soon, I feel like this would be a really sweet present if you’re not into gushy, romantic gifts. The ones in this photo are from John Lewis and will set you back £12. I have linked them here if you’re interested. John Lewis also has ‘Beauty and Beast’ and ‘Mr and Mrs’ covers that are just as great. You can also find so many personalised and adorable versions on Etsy if you want to take a look.

Date Jar

If you aren’t fancying buying anything, a date jar is a perfect DIY gift that will only take an afternoon. Date jars are all over Pinterest and there are some great guides on how to make the perfect ones for you. I have seen some that colour-coordinate which are right up my street. For example, pink being indoor activities, blue being outdoor activities and so on. If you have the time, I think this is a great addition. Date jars are perfect for people who want to mix up what they do when they get to spend some time with their partner and you can come up with so many different ideas that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Anything from making your own pizzas, to going for a walk to ice skating. Perfect for avoiding the odd tiff too!

Mr and Mrs Related Gifts

Mr and Mrs/Mr and Mr/Mrs and Mrs gifts are great little gifts to get someone for Valentine’s Day. Something like these two John Lewis marble coasters can be a lovely little addition to your house without being too cheesy. They’re slightly pricey for a coaster at £8 each, but who doesn’t love marble homewares!? I also love the fact that you can buy his and hers separately, making it perfect for different gendered couples, as opposed to the typical heterosexual options. This his is linked here, and her, here, if you’re interested. There are, obviously, so many more different takes on the ‘Mr and Mrs’ gifts and I found a few more favourites which I had to include. These sleek passport holders are a must, for example, as well as being a perfect hint towards some time away in the future! I also love this initialled plant pot which is perfect to give as a gift with their favourite plant or flowers in.These also double up as great wedding gifts too.

 

Coordinates Keyring

I have a massive love for gifts that feature coordinates and so I had to mention one on this list. I think they are one of the most thoughtful presents you can give, or receive, because they are special to you two and can have a lovely meaning behind them. You could use them to showcase the place where you met, where you said I love you, where you got engaged or your favourite holiday you’ve been on together. There are loads of possibilities and the receipent is guaranteed to feel special because you’ve chosen a particular moment in your shared history to focus on as one of your favourites. Which really, is dead sweet. These are on Not On The High Street for £6 keyring but I have seen several places do similar things. You could also get a necklace or bracelet if a wasn’t for you.

I hope that gives you guys an idea of the kind of little gifts you can make or give to to somebody to let them know you love them! Are you doing anything for Valentine’s Day? Have you bought or made any presents that you love? I would really like to know!

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When it comes down to makeup, my obsession begins and ends with highlighters. I could pretty much bring myself to give up any other makeup product if I had to… Maybe. But there is something about highlighters in particular that I love. There is nothing quite like having a ridiculous glowing face any time of the day and using going out as an excuse to pack it on and “glow to the Gods”.

Highlighters are the industry’s favourite product at the moment so I thought I would share my highlighter collection and talk about some of my holy grail products that I have discovered recently.

The oldest highlighter in my collection is my MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle. Hey, remember when that was a thing? Remember when MAC was a thing too? No shade to them but they really dropped the ball in the makeup game recently, haven’t they? MAC where you at? All jokes aside, this is a really good product and it is one that I always go back to. It is just something you can pretty much always rely on to be great. I would say though that I bought this when I was first getting into highlighters and it is far from the glow that some of my other products give. If you love a blinding highlight, this one probably isn’t for you. It is buildable into an amazing glow but it is far more suited to a day-to-day look. The colour is very peachy-pink and I think it works best on a pale to slightly tanned complexion as it can be little bronzy too. The downside to MAC is obvious. It isn’t cruelty-free and for a company now, it is just a shame to see them not take the steps forward to becoming so. However, if you do want to reminisce about this product, it is linked here. The highlighter is £24.50 and has a 4.3/5 rating on the MAC website.

My new holy grail product is undoubtedly the Cover FX Customer Enhancer Drops. I swear this brand is an Instagram favourite. This is something about products with a pipette and people putting little drops all over their face that totally sucks me in. Honestly, that is how The Ordinary products reeled me in too. Now it does make me take a sharp intake of breath whenever I admit to how much this product costs. If you’re peeping behind your hand to see, I don’t blame you. This 15ml bottle cost £34. Mmm… I know. £34. The best thing to do is to watch Beauty Bay and other various online retailers because you can often catch these on a great offer like I managed to originally. Be warned that people will go crazy for them at a lower price (understandably) so you have to dive right in there. Although for someone who is very and I mean very restrictive with money, I can totally defend the price tag. This product is the most unbelievable highlighter I have ever used. Forget those crazy Instagram videos that suggest these types of product require smothering half your face. I would never even use one drop of this. I honestly open the bottle and dab my finger on the side where the product is and use that. That little bit alone will be enough for my nose, cheekbones and my cupid’s bow. So, realistically, that £34 price tag is steep but it is going to take years to work through this solid gold gift to the makeup community. I have the shade Sunlight and I am obsessed (admittedly, it is very gold and bronzey for someone with my skin tone, but as you don’t need much, it works fine!) There are so many gorgeous shades that suit every single skin tone which I love too. You can find it on Beauty Bay here.

Next, I want to briefly mention the amazing highlighter palette that I received from the incredible Bella Inizio in her giveaway. I have been trying this out recently and I am really enjoying it! I have never used Revolution makeup before and so it has been great to trial their products. I did a blog post about the other amazing things I received so I have linked it here if you’re interested in reading some more. The Beyond Radiance palette features 3 different shades, mainly suited for lighter skin tones – although the more bronzey shade may be gorgeous on olive skin. I have been primarily using the middle shade as I really enjoy pink highlighter shades. It isn’t the most pigmented, crazy colour but it is gorgeous and subtle for a day-to-day look which is perfect if you’re not after the intense highlight the Cover FX drops provide. The best bit about this palette? It is only £8 which is an absolute steal if you ask me. I have linked it here.

Finally, I have to mention another favourite palette of mine. This was a gift from one of my really close friends and I have been obsessed with it for ages. Not only does it have some incredible eyeshadow colours but it also features 4 beautiful highlighters in such a great colour range. This BH Cosmetics Carli Bybel palette is honestly to die for. On a scale, I would say it sits perfectly (intensity wise) between the MAC and the Cover FX which makes it amazing for everyday looks as well as night time looks too. I get use out of the first three shades, which range from a lovely light dusty pink to a more intense bronze glow which is amazing if you have a tan. I probably reach for this the most out of all my highlighters as it is guaranteed to look great no matter what the occassion is.  It is currently out of stock on Beauty Bay but it originally retailed for £18. I have linked it here for you to check out.

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As I find myself stuck in an endless Instagram scroll through an unbelievably gorgeous model’s page, double-tapping on each and every classic beach bikini photo, fruit breakfast on a balcony with a view and candids, I feel bad.

Somehow, and for some reason, I can feel absolutely horrible about myself and my appearance, just by scrolling through someone’s page. Ella, you shouldn’t compare people’s lives. Obviously, this is something we all know to avoid but it doesn’t stop it happening. It doesn’t stop adults, and it definitely doesn’t stop teens, from comparing and contrasting every little detail in our own lives to that of a 200k-followed goddess.

This is often when I know I need to close Instagram and do something different. Instagram is, unfortunately, a perfect tool for procrastination, happily eating away at our boredom. That is what makes it so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of comparison. However, it is so important to know when to stop and walk away.

Also, my form of comparison may be the examples I have used, but, it equally works for artists, musicians and other people alike. Your talents, looks, and personality all shine through in their own way and overusing Instagram can be way too toxic for our own good.

Now, I’m not doubting the clear advantages to Instagram. It is, undeniably, a great social media platform in many aspects. It allows those with a creative flair to showcase their work, for bloggers and influencers to interact with others, to be a personal photo diary and more. However, with all great things, there are the disadvantages that have to be addressed.

There are countless reports on the detrimental effects of overusing Instagram on people’s mental health and honestly, I don’t think it stops there. Young people, especially, can vouch for friendships and relationships being tested by a partner’s choice to like certain photos, for example. Friendships can be damaged by others feeling left out too. When I was doing some research for this post I saw countless articles on “how to see what your boyfriend has liked” and advice articles about “what to do when your significant other isn’t liking your photos”. Obviously, this isn’t healthy and doesn’t lead to happy relationships.

None of this is something that should be taken lightly. Any negative impact on someone’s mental health should be discussed and it should potentially start with addressing our unhealthy addiction to social media, particularly Instagram. For example, “The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement surveyed nearly 1,500 people ages 14 to 24 about how social networking sites and apps impact their mental health, including anxiety, depression, self-identity, and body image, and found that Instagram has the “most detrimental” effect on young people” (Vogue 2017).

Now that doesn’t look great.

Undoubtedly, this is all about finding a balance and learning to look behind a photo. Try to avoid spending countless hours flicking through photos of your ex-best mate who is now buddies with your current best mate, comparing your figure to personal trainers or Victoria’s Secret models, or even feeling jealous over someone’s material possessions. We all know that none of these actions have happy consequences. So, first things first:

  • Learn to unfollow the people that bring you more sadness than goodness. If you’re worried that you might offend someone, just message them if needs be (the unfollowing on social media debacle is a whole other blog post).
  • Their skin probably isn’t that smooth, their tummy that taut and their body that flawless. That is just what the photo is showing you. Heck, if it is, good on you pal, I’d show it off too.
  • They might be posting that amazing summer holiday photo while they’re in bed in pjs and scruffy hair. There are two sides to every photo!

And, thankfully, there are some people that show us that Instagram isn’t to always be taken at face value. There has recently been a huge influx of various different models posting reality photos in comparison with the edited or heavily posed ones they may normally post. This is the type of normality that I really appreciate in influencers and I’m sure others do to. There is nothing wrong with aspirational photos of great abs and killer legs but I also want to see that other people don’t have washboard stomachs when they sit down. It is just relatable. And, more often than not, what we need to be able to decipher between Instagram and reality. You may have come across Essena O’Neill, for example, who recaptioned all of her photos with the behind the scenes reality (news story here) or fitness model, Imre Çeçen, who shared posed v reality shots of her figure (news story here) – both I totally recommend checking out.

I don’t want any of these thoughts to suggest that I don’t love Instagram, because I do. I love seeing other people’s photos and sharing my own, and that is what makes it such a successful platform. However, I want to encourage everybody to remember to put your mental health first and sometimes have a break from the pitfalls of social media. Teen Vogue phrased it perfectly, “Look, at the end of the day, it’s simple: if makeup makes you feel good, wear it. If you think it’s fun to apply and play with and test new techniques, by all means, do so. But double-tapping a photo on Instagram and thinking your life would be better if you looked like a girl thousands of miles away doesn’t have anything to do with the makeup that’s on her face” (Teen Vogue 2015).

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Now that I have submitted my final two essays I can get round to writing this post that I have been really excited to do!

2017 was just such a rollercoaster. What ever happened to us? We said goodbye to so many icons and legends, we faced political chaos and Mother Nature well and truly hurled some real shit back at us. On top of this (and significantly more trivial, I must add) there were way too many trends that made me audibly roll my eyes. So, without further ado, here are 6 things we need to leave in 2017.

Side note: This is a pretty light-hearted post – do let me know if you would like me to delve into more serious topics like politics, feminism etc – so, in general, I’m just referring to silly trends rather than global issues that I am more than aware need addressing.

Snapchat Streaks

This is probably the one trend that makes me feel 102 years old. I do not understand Snapchat steaks and I don’t understand why they’re even a thing. On the occasional chance I use Snapchat and notice a little emoji next to someone’s name, I have to do a quick little Google to figure out what the hell it means. Why are there so many different ones?! It’s like another language. It actually baffles me that this is a trend and it is something we really need to leave behind in 2017. I’m fairly sure I have seen news stories about various horrific circumstances where children have broken down or lost their minds that they lost a steak. Is it really worth sending meaningless photos to each other constantly to maintain a “streak”? Na, not for me. I even looked up news articles on Business Insider from teenager’s perspective who labelled them an example of “friendship” and ending them has “consequences”. Honestly, if you have a friendship that can be broken over a Snapchat streak, it isn’t worth the time.

X Factor/Big Brother/Britain’s Got Talent

I think it has slowly become obvious that these shows are on a downward spiral. I don’t deny that they do still feature some incredible acts with talents that really should be shared and celebrated but in a desperate attempt at harnessing views, I feel like there is significant emphasis on shock acts who get voted in every episode over people with exceptional talents. I just find it heartbreaking that people who deserve a real shot are booted for no valid reason. I remember when I would spend my evenings watching every show, and now The Guardian quotes that “The 14th series of The X Factor kicked off with the lowest viewing figures since the show first began in 2004”. I feel like these shows are holding on for as long as possible and it just doesn’t have the spark and entertainment value that I used to love.

Fidget Spinners

It bothers me so much that fidget spinners became a craze in 2017. They are often used for stress relief and to benefit people who suffer from attention disorders. Unfortunately, the craze left a lot of schools and other educational institutions banning them and the potential benefits they could have for others was shattered. At first, I was mildly impressed with some of the tricks people could do but after seeing them everywhere – in shops, on clothes, adverts, I was over it very quickly. What saddens me more is the original inventor lost the patent because she couldn’t afford to renew it and struggles to make ends meet. I know it is one of those “life is tough, shit happens” moments but I feel like she is deserving of the money from such a craze and isn’t benefiting at all from her creation.

Donald Trump (Especially The Tweeting)

I mean… I don’t really need to say too much here, do I? I am so fed up with every single day seeing another article about his racism, utter incompetence and sexist views. It baffles me how he ever got to be President and the huge step back it has been for the country. What I find even more troubling is that even though, en masse, people ridicule him on social media and protest where they can, if you open any tweet of his, there are often strings and strings of positive, supportive replies that believe what he is saying is true. I opened one of his pathetic responses to the assumed attack on Haiti and other nations where replies included, “We finally have a leader who is not afraid to make the tough decisions. Who cares if he uses colorful language sometimes?” and “have all the trust n U,Mr. President.Thank you 4 not allowing our nation 2fall”. It just baffles me. How?! Can we just leave him in 2017 and have the Obamas back please!

Mermaids and Unicorns

They were kind of cute at first and then it totally transcended into the world of weird and annoying. I can’t begin to count how many times I picked up a mug or notebook thinking it looked nice only to be faced with a horrible pun about some weird cat-mermaid hybrid. I mean what?! When did that become a thing?! I mean, just imagine… “Oh what a lovely water bottle, I could do with one of these. Oh… ‘Mermaid Squad’…” No. No no nope. Not for me. “Ahh maybe this water bottle will do! ‘Being a unicorn is thirsty work’. Ohhh….right”. These are both slogan water bottles on New Look and as cute as some of them can be, it is just overkill now and I’m not here for it.

Social Media Witch Hunts – Social Blade

Well, 2017 was definitely the year for social media witch hunts. I think this is probably one of the top things that I hope we can leave behind. It is unnecessary, and often very bitchy and cruel and not something that we should be comfortable participating in. There is a fine line between calling someone out on something bad they’ve done and launching a personal and scathing attack that would leave anybody feeling broken. I have seen some social media attacks that have shocked me so much and I can’t imagine that person being sat at home, reading tweets that are telling them to kill themselves and other nasty comments. A good example of this in the blogging community is the misuse of Social Blade. I know that one genuine influencer was harshly attacked for supposedly buying followers as one day they had a sharp spike in engagement and so on. In fact, what had actually happened was that a high profile YouTuber had mentioned them which created a flurry of support to head on over. This wasn’t the only example I saw too. I could say a lot more on this but I’ll save it for another time!

Ahh, well that was a good ol’ moan wasn’t it! I feel like I got to express how some trends of 2017 (and prominent figures…) were not beneficial to us at all and it would be great if we could wave goodbye to them in 2018! What trends in 2017 did you hate? Anything you wish we could leave behind?

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