Books · Reviews

REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

Jessie Burton’s debut novel hooked me from the start, or rather, the end.

The Miniaturist begins with a curious prologue set in 1687 – a funeral, gossipy neighbours, a silent figure moving through a mostly empty church, the presenting of a strange gift, and a symbolic focus on a starling trapped in the rafters. It is a creepily evocative beginning that, unfortunately, I forgot about along the way.

I found that Burton is a marvellous story-teller. I was hanging on her every word. She has a detailed way with words that is both tense and bewitching – I was desperate to know what happened next.

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The characters are realistic enough for my liking. They have contradictions and hypocrisies like you or me which makes their motivations seem reasonable. Burton’s main character of Petronella Oortman learns the secrets of the Brandt household as the readers do – we are firmly on this journey with her. Like Nella, I found myself wanting to know more about her distant husband Johannes and the Miniaturist.

Burton wound the secrets of the Brandt household like a rope into a tight knot. As we read on, the knot becomes looser and looser – it almost reads like a detective novel. I could never be sure who was at the centre of this knot of a plot. Was it Johannes? Was it Nella’s sister-in-law Marin? Was it the Miniaturist? Or was it Burton herself as she seemingly couldn’t tie one character to the events of her layered plot?

Uncomfortable events and subject matters are tackled expertly by Burton; she does not shy away from the horrific truth of religious 1600s attitudes towards people who are different/don’t conform to societal norms. It’s a truth that can still be applied to today. As such, I found comments and actions by other characters to be incredibly uneasy. I was moved to tears by Burton’s impeccable narrative.

The book is not without its faults however.

There were times where Burton felt as though she couldn’t decide if she wanted to write in third or first person. Whilst the story is told in third person, Burton slips into a style of writing that would feel more at home in a first person narrative – this would trip me up as I read and I found myself needing to re-read sentences. As a debut novel, I can mostly overlook this.

The most striking fault I found with The Miniaturist was its ending. Remember that knot of rope I compared the plot to? By the end of the book, that rope was limp and frayed.

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Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

I was left with many questions after closing the back cover. What happened to the other characters? How did certain characters end up together like that? It was so confused, important plots/characters left so alone and seemingly forgotten that the book felt unfinished. I would gladly read another 400 pages to understand more about the plot and the characters’ minds, especially that of Johannes!

There is no denying that I learned a lot about the character’s of the Brandt household, however, there was only one character I wanted to learn about. The Miniaturist herself. Sadly, I felt rather abandoned by her and Burton, and I wondered what even was the point of the Miniaturist in the first place? If the emphasis had not been on the Miniaturist in the title and blurb, then perhaps I wouldn’t be so bothered by the weak and threadbare revelation about her that eventually came.

The Miniaturist is everything I love in a book: love, betrayal, history, corruption, mystery, danger and societal critiques. If I had not been left confused and wanting by the end of this book, I would’ve happily given it 5/5 stars. Instead, I leave it with a rating of 4/5 stars and an eagerness to read it again in the near future.

Lifestyle

#NationalFitnessDay: My Gym Routine.

Hello!

Today is National Fitness Day and I’ve started going back to the gym after a summer break! As such, now seemed like a good time to share with you my gym routine and exercise habits to celebrate.

Honestly, many are surprised when they find out that I go to the gym simply because I’m fat and people assume that I’m lazy and inactive. Going to the gym isn’t the only thing I do. I love playing sports – tennis, badminton, volleyball, netball, all sorts! I have an active job too, so I’m really not as inactive and sluggish as my plus-size frame makes you think I am.

 

I tend to go to the gym about three/four times a week. I don’t go to lose weight as such, but rather for personal enjoyment and health purposes. For most of my life I’ve been living with a number of health conditions that make it difficult for me to lose weight – going to the gym is a simple way of keeping on top of my cardiovascular health and improving my strength.

So what’s my typical gym routine?

  1. Bike: 10 minutes at level 4. This is my usual warm-up, averaging around a speed of 55 RPM.
  2. Treadmill: 15 minutes at various speeds and inclines. I start with 5 minutes of walking at 5km/h, then 5 minutes of walking at the same speed with an incline of 5%. The last five minutes are either 6km/h of walking with no incline, or 4km/h of walking with a 10% incline.10787735_1527445460877431_626281565_n
  3. Cross trainer: Alternating between 1 minute of high intensity exercise and 1 minute of medium intensity for a total of 10 minutes.
  4. Chest press: 3×12 reps at 11kg
  5. Leg press: 3×12 reps at 39kg
  6. Shoulder press: 3×12 reps at 4.5kg
  7. Seated row: 3×12 reps at 10.1kg
  8. Plank: 3×20 seconds
  9. Squats with kettlebell: 3×12 at 4kg

All of these exercises take me about an hour in the gym but I prefer to spend an hour and half there from 6:30am to 8am. With the remaining half an hour, I tend to go back to the treadmill for a slow walk on a high incline (anything over 10%), a gentle jog with no incline, and then a cool down set by the treadmill.

During the evening of gym days, depending on how tired or busy I am, I like to round off the day with half an hour of beginners yoga to stretch out and take care of my muscles.

Are you fitness fanatic or a total fitness phobic?

Thanks for reading guys and I hope you have a good national fitness day!

Bethany xo

 

 

Beauty

My everyday make-up routine.

 

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Hello!

Tonight I’m off out to celebrate my friend ElectricEmily‘s birthday! [Insert firework and streamer emojis here] So I thought this would be a good time to go through my everyday skincare and make-up routine with you.

Now, I would like to mention that my everyday make-up routine doesn’t hide my flaws. I have terrible skin; it’s oily, I have large pores, I have spots galore that refuse to go away no matter what I try, and I have acne scars. But I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I can’t be bothered to spend my mornings trying to fix those things. I put on enough make-up to make me feel good and get on with my day! Life is far too short to spend ages in a mirror trying to camouflage my acne…

This is me sans make-up…a rarely seen beast in public…

The first thing I do before I apply any make-up is wash and cleanse my face. Since I’m going out tonight I decided to use a face mask. I’m using one of LUSH Cosmetics’ new jelly face masks Bunny Moon (£6.95).

After leaving the mask on for fifteen minutes, I rinse it off with warm water and a washcloth in circular motions. Once the mask is off, I pat my face dry and lightly mist it with some toner. I like to use another LUSH product: Eau Roma Water (£4.95/£9.50). Eau Roma Water tones and calms my sensitive skin with rose and lavender water after washing, whilst also cleaning away any remaining face mask or cleanser.

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Next, and you guessed it – it’s another LUSH product! I use Magical Moringa (£25.95) as a combined moisturiser and primer. It becomes incredibly matte and smooth on the skin, so even someone with naturally oily skin can use it without making the oiliness worse or having the product slip off. Magical Moringa also helps to even out the appearance of my pores.

Now that my skin care is complete, I can move on to applying make-up! I don’t always use concealer but my favourite so far is the Soap and Glory Kick Ass All is Calm concealer coming in at £8. This is a rather scary-looking green concealer that helps to tone down redness. I get a lot of redness on my cheeks and chin, so I apply concealer to those areas with a blending sponge.

If you thought I was done with the LUSH products then you’d be wrong! I switched from my old usual foundation in 2015 to LUSH’s colour supplement and I love it. It’s lightweight, build-able, durable, and mixes easily with foundation for when you just want a light as possible coverage. I like to use shade Jackie Oates (£10.95) – it’s their palest tone and it’s made with oat milk and aloe, making it incredibly soothing on sensitive skin. A little pot lasts a long time and I usually only need to buy a new pot once every six months.

To set the colour supplement and make my skin more matte in appearance, I like to use Rimmel London’s Stay Matte powder (£3.99) in shade 001 Transparent. (Yay for that pale life!)

Then on to the details! Firstly my eyebrows. Today I want a slightly more defined look so I’m using Benefit Cosmetics’ Ka-Brow! in shade 3 (£20). My mascara is Rimmel London’s Wake me Up! (£7.99). This mascara has added vitamins and cucumber to keep your lashes looking luscious and it actually smells like cucumber!

Next, I sweep Benefit’s Hoola bronzer (£24.50) on the apples of my cheeks and blend with a brush because it’s slightly too dark for my skin tone. I do have my eye on the new Hoola Lite though!

Finally, it’s time for lipstick! Whether I use bronzer or blusher for my cheeks influences my lipstick choice. If I use bronzer then I like to have a colourful lip, if blusher, I have a more natural lip colour. Today I’m using MAC’s matte lipstick in shade Mehr (£16.50) for a touch of pink.

TA-DAH! That’s my face totally made up for the day/night! What are your go-to products?

Bethany xo

 

 

Lifestyle

Lessons from University!

That’s me in the back of both of these photos as a fresh faced, and slightly less fresh faced, fresher…

It’s officially been three years since I started university and graduation is only a month away. Freshers’ is in full swing; new students are creeping around and looking like fetuses (I swear Freshers are getting younger every year…), drinking away their student loans, and avoiding that one person who always seems to be having a breakdown in the kitchen.

I’ve learned a lot in three years, not all of it strictly related to my course subject. Here’s my guide on surviving uni if you’re starting or returning this year:

  1. Get all of your partying and slacking off out of your system in the first year. The first year grades hardly ever count towards your actual degree grade so you can afford to goof off…but it does determine whether or not you can go on to do your second year. Proceed with caution on this one.
  2. It’s better to attend all of your lectures BUT…most lectures these days are audio recorded. Most lecture slides are uploaded online on your university website too. If your university is one of those that uploads class resources online then it doesn’t matter if you miss a lecture or two. Don’t rely on catching up online most of the time though – some lecturers are tardy with uploading resources (accidentally and on purpose.) It’s better to attend lectures so you can ask any questions you need to and join in discussions to help you better understand the content.
  3. Email your lecturer BEFORE class if you can’t/don’t want to attend. You don’t have to tell them you can’t be bothered today, you can lie and say you’re sick if you don’t want to go…just as long as you email them! When attendance makes up some of your grade, doing this is crucial because you might find that your lecturer will mark you as present anyway for explaining your absence before class.
  4. Write up your lecture notes after class. I didn’t do this in my first year and it left me with hurriedly written notes that didn’t make any sense, that I couldn’t read, and just didn’t understand. By the time I went back to my notes weeks/months later when I needed them, I had forgotten what any of it meant. 12750374_1689349431320753_867068295_nWriting your notes up after class means the subject is fresh in your mind, you have neater, more thorough, and far more helpful notes for when you need to go back to them for essays.
  5. Make your written notes fun. Write jokes in them, use colour, use sticky notes, use stickers, use anything that will make them more interesting to look at as you read them back. Plus colour and decoration is more likely to help you remember a piece of information as you write it. Just don’t sacrifice the quality of your notes for decoration.
  6. Second year is so boring! The partying days of first year are over but the importance of third year isn’t upon you yet. It’s a comfortable middle ground with new topics to learn and new experiences are coming your way…but on the whole it can be so dull! Do what you can to make it more interesting without letting yourself fall behind in class.
  7. Don’t leave all your coursework and revision two weeks before it’s due. Just don’t do it…I’m having horror flashbacks to second year just thinking about it…
  8. Schedule regular one-to-one meetings with your lecturers and tutors. Especially in the weeks before you hand in coursework or take an exam, and after you receive grades/feedback from said coursework and exams. It’s a good opportunity to get advice on what you can do better and go through parts of the module you’re struggling with. Since it’s on a more personal and tailored session than what you can get in lectures and seminars, it’s more likely to help you. When I started making and attending one-to-one sessions, I went from getting 2:2 and 2:1 grades for my work (which were brilliant) to getting firsts – which was even better! I seriously urge you to make these appointments because lecturers and tutors don’t want to see you fail or fall short of your abilities as much as you don’t, so they will be more than willing to have these sessions with you.
  9. Writing your dissertation doesn’t have to be stressful…as long as you don’t let it. Pick a topic you enjoy and know plenty about/know there are many academic texts about for research, start planning early, and make a schedule to arrange your time effectively. Writing something you’re passionate will always make things easier and more fun. 16124109_1240018016051742_8550685690495500288_nGet the relevant support from your lecturers, tutors, and friends and never spend an all-nighter trying to write it. As explained with number 8 on this list, tutor support is invaluable, meanwhile sleep aids in concentration. Stuck on an element? Rest, go to bed, ignore it. Come back to it fresh-faced and you’ll find it easier to tackle your essay. Brainstorm your ideas so you know how to link each section to the next. DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL THE FINAL FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE DUE DATE. Writing my dissertation was the most fun I had in the whole three years because I enjoyed it and I kept on top of it – I was surprised by how easy I actually found it, even if it was daunting to begin with.
  10. You’re going to love the whole experience. I didn’t think I’d like university, let alone love it. In the weeks and days leading up to my first day I was having panic attacks every day and I would’ve done anything not to go. When I came home on that first day, I wanted to drop out – I was so sure that university life wasn’t for me. Quickly I began to love it, I enjoyed every moment, I made fantastic friends, and I never wanted to leave. It’s the most fun three years I’ve ever had and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. Enjoy it and embrace it.

Are you a Fresher or a returning student? What are you looking forward to most or what have you enjoyed the most so far? Let me know and I wish you all luck over the next few years!

Bethany xo

 

Books · Reviews

Top 5 books in ’17

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Ever since I learned to read I wanted to consume every book I could get my hands and eyes on. In order to fulfill that wishes, I decided to study English Literature for my GCSEs and A-Levels, then study Creative Writing for my degree. Of course, in those subjects, I got to read a LOT. But after a while, I stopped reading completely.

I think I read one book in my GCSEs and A-Levels combined, and read one book for my degree over the entire three years. My passion dried and shrivelled. Reading because I had to took all the enjoyment out of it for me; I didn’t like being told what I could and couldn’t read.

Once I finished studying, I joined Goodreads, took advantage of the sale season, and before I knew it I was back into the reading swing of things!

It might only be September, but I already have a list of books I’ve read this year that I want to share my love for!

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Hear me out on this one! Never be put off by the title or the length of this story. It’s one of the most wonderful, touching, funny, and dramatic things I’ve ever read and I adore it.

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The characters are so realistic and natural that following their lives over the course of the eight years the novel is set, I found myself wishing the novel was longer! I was itching to know more, to stay with these characters for longer. For the time I was reading this book, they were friends and I was rooting for every single one of them.

Sure, there were moments that were hideously tedious, you would expect that from a book that’s 1.4k pages long, but those tedious moments were few. War and Peace is a classic novel for a reason and I absolutely implore anyone to read this book and discover that reason for themselves.

It’s an intrinsically human story that explores relationships, love, the value of war, and spirituality and I’m sure that you won’t be disappointed by it!

Victoria – Daisy Goodwin

Oh, Daisy…What have you done to me?! Honestly, this section of my post is purely an open love letter to her…

Most of you will probably be aware of the ITV drama series Victoria that’s currently airing its second season. Well, the lovely Daisy Goodwin who wrote the drama also wrote a novelisation of the series.

I loved the first season of the show so when my parents bought me the novel for Christmas last year, I ended up reading the whole book shortly after new year in half a day. I absolutely could not put it down!

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Daisy’s writing is gorgeous, emotive, and refined. She managed to portray emotional nuances between Victoria and Lord Melbourne with great care that still gives me writing envy today, whilst setting up the burning love of Victoria and Prince Albert – evoking the youthfulness and vitality of the characters and what is to come for them.

Victoria is a novel that explores the private lives, thoughts and feelings of real people and fictionalises elements in such a way that doesn’t lose historical integrity whilst making it relatable to a modern audience. It’s an elegant balance between fiction and non-fiction that has been ruining my life for the past year.

This book and series, aside from being one of the most stunning things I’ve read and seen, has also helped me make new friends, so it’s a book and show that will always stay with me for many reasons.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Daisy! Now excuse me whilst I run away to buy all your other books…

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

This book was a treat for the soul!

It’s a charming story about the blossoming love between Steffi who is a selective mute, and Rhys, who is deaf, and their shared desire for independence.

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The book explores serious themes about mental health and disability without becoming heavy and difficult to read. It remains light and optimistic – something I find so rare in media about such subjects. More than once I had to put the book down to take a breather because I found Steffi and Rhys’ relationship and their way of communicating too cute to handle all in one go.

Once I finished reading, I felt incredibly light and refreshed as though I had woken from an invigorating nap. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a refreshing read and even thinking about it to write this post makes me want to read it again!

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

Reading this novel felt like sitting barefoot on a pier, feet dangling over the edge so the sea tickles your toes, with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face.

The Little Paris Bookshop is probably one of the most life-affirming books I’ve read this year. Every character seemed to have their own problems, secrets, and foibles that could be easily recognisable in the everyday.

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People in this book make mistakes and assumptions and it’s okay because they’re human and so are we. Personally, I saw this book as a story about embracing life and it’s little things. I felt as though no matter what happens in the future, or what happened in the past, it would never be too late to make a change or do something different.

It’s a stunning, sunny, sometimes sad little book about love and life and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks after finishing it!

The Sisters – Claire Douglas

READ. THIS. BOOK.

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If you like thrillers and mysteries, this book is definitely for you. I was kept guessing at every turn of the page – it threw me this way and that – I never expected anything. By the time I expected a plot point, I was thrown into the thick of it so quickly that I felt like I had whiplash!

There is a definite crescendo to The Sisters and a shocking ending that left me feeling winded, stunned, and mildly horrified. I was telling my friends to read it for ages after because I needed someone to talk to about it!

It’s rare that a book makes me feel somewhat unsettled and for that reason I don’t think I’m going to get over how much I love it.

What books are you loving this year? Are any of these on your TBR list? Are there any books similar to these that you think I’ll love? Let me know and thanks for reading!

Bethany xo

Things to make you smile

My Autumn Favourites…

Autumn is well and truly in full swing and I’m feeling the autumnal love! It’s always been my favourite season and here is my list of reasons why:

  1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back
  2. Rainy weather and the sound of rain against the window
  3. Sweater weather!
  4. Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens!
  5. Back-to-school stationery sales
  6. Ugg boots are back in fashion
  7. Crunchy leaves on the ground
  8. Changing colours of nature
  9. Being in bed with tea and cocooned in blankets before 9pm is socially acceptable again
  10. Cinnamon flavoured everything
  11. Seasonal LUSH Cosmetics products are on the horizon
  12. The excitement of Christmas approaching
  13. Stodgy, delicious, warm comfort food
  14. Glittery and sequined clothes galore ready for party season
  15. Hot baths feel even more rewarding after a day out in the chilly and we weather
  16. Discounted sweets after Halloween
  17. Autumn and Winter themed scented candles
  18. Warm street food from holiday markets
  19. Autumn feels like a fresh start thanks to school’s re-opening
  20. Baking, baking, and more baking!
  21. NaNoWriMo
  22. The air always has that autumnal smell to it…You know what I mean, right?
  23. Bonfire night
  24. That extra hour in bed when the clocks go back
  25. When you can see your breath in the air and you pretend to be a dragon

Clearly and undeniably autumn is the best season! What are your favourite things about autumn?

Bethany xo

bullet journal

My Bullet Journal essentials

It has been almost a year since I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Ryder Carroll‘s Bullet Journal, and even though I was a little intimidated at first, I haven’t looked back since! (Thanks, Kerry…!)

 

But what’s a Bullet Journal? Well, to me, it’s a diary, to-do list, and a notebook all in one. It can be as creative or as basic as you want, or need, it to be because the concept is so flexible. The flexibility of the Bullet Journal (BuJo) format meant that I could easily keep up with it unlike other diaries I’ve had in the past.

For more information on the BuJo, how to set one up, and what it’s all about, check out the official Bullet Journal website and this Buzzfeed article which really helped me when I first started!

Now, after a year of experimenting, I’ve come to have a few essentials with me whenever I set up a new log or page, and I thought I would share them with you this evening!

  1. A 30cm ruler

This is a fairly basic, unexciting piece of equipment but one that is SO useful that I probably wouldn’t set up a new page without one.

I’ve tried to journal with a 15cm ruler but alas, it was too short for what I wanted to do. I often ended up slipping on the page, mis-aligning myself, and drawing big, wobbly lines across my work.

A 30cm ruler is long enough to cover two pages of an open journal with some left over, so making daily, weekly, and monthly layouts are quicker and easier since you don’t have to keep moving your ruler up and down and you won’t lose the last mark you made!

2. Papermate Flair pens

These pens were the first pens I bought for my journal and I don’t think I will ever use anything else!

 

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What I love about these pens in particular is that they are highly pigmented without ghosting or bleeding through the page. How many times have you written or drawn something to find out that you can see everything through the other side and the ink has ruined the next page? Or you’ve been writing only for the ink to smudge when you move your hand or turn the page?

I’ve never had those issues with these pens even though they’re similar to colouring-in pens you might have had as a child. The nibs are firm and average in size making them ideal for a range of writing, drawing, and colouring projects.

I like to use Leuchtturm1917 journals so the ink quality, ghosting and bleeding may vary depending on your paper, so be sure to test them out first if you can, just in case!

3. Double-sided sticky tape

Honestly, I hadn’t considered double-sided sticky tape until my darling friend Emily bought me some for my birthday this past June. Admittedly, I was confused by this gift and totally skeptical because who buys someone sticky tape as a gift?!

BUT NOW I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!

Double-sided sticky tape is amazing and I love using it to decorate the covers of my journals, attaching tickets and postcards, and for making collages.

Not only is this tape a stronger than ordinary glue, it lasts longer, it’s quicker and easier to use, it’s less messy, it doesn’t make the pages of your journal wrinkle like glue can, and you don’t need any drying time!

Frankly, it’s miracle stuff…

4. Stickers

If you’re anything like me then you aren’t artistic in the slightest.

I don’t have the patience to draw or sketch and so I never practiced, but because I never practiced I’m not very good. Trying to draw in my journal is fruitless. It leaves me with nothing more than over-erased pages and a heap of frustration because what I see in my head isn’t being translated to the page by my hand.

Decorating my pages became a lot quicker, easier, and fun when I started using stickers and stopped trying to flex a creative muscle that didn’t exist in me.

 

My favourite place to buy stickers at the moment is Hobbycraft – they offer flat ones, 3D, and layered stickers so there’s something for everyone’s needs! I found that 3D stickers were great for bulking out my journal, making it look thicker and older – an aesthetic I quite enjoy in diaries and journals.

Is there anything more satisfying than a thick, heavy journal?!

5. Washi tape

One thing I’ve noticed in Bullet Journal circles is that newbies have no idea how to use it but those who have been doing it for a while absolutely adore it!

I like to use it in decorating pages. In my mind, washi tape is just one really long sticker! You can use it to frame photographs, add a different dimension to pages, cut it into banner shapes for headers, and much more!

 

Washi tape is growing in popularity and it’s now popping up almost everywhere. I’ve bought tapes from Paperchase, Hobbycraft, Poundland, and even Primark! They’re usually fairly inexpensive depending on where you buy and often come in multipacks so you get more for your money.

My obsession with washi tape is so great that I’ve had to buy a perspex storage box to keep them organised and I fully expect to be drowning in tape before the end of the year!

6. Postcards

Sadly, I’ve never had the need or opportunity to send postcards. I don’t go abroad and I very rarely go on holiday, even when I do it’s never for long enough to need to buy and send a postcard.

But now I see myself buying them every time I go into a stationery shop, simply because they’re so good at decorating the cover of journals and hiding a multitude of BuJo sins!

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I like to buy my postcards from Paperchase since they have many cute, funny, and vintage designs as well as inspirational quotes and photographs of famous landmarks.

It’s very rare that I don’t find a postcard in Paperchase that I like. Better still, they only cost around 80p on average, meaning you can usually buy a card to transform your journal with just the change in your pocket!

Whenever I make a mistake that I can’t erase or turn into something purposeful, whenever I spill something on my journal or have a blank page I don’t know what to do with, I always have a postcard on hand to cover the offending area. It’s a pretty and hassle free solution!

If you can’t afford to buy a journal with a beautifully decorated cover, adding a postcard to the front of a plain journal can easily transform it into something more appealing.

They’re simple but effective little things.

7. Vintage/decorative/scrapbooking/wrapping paper

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Any kind of paper as long as you think it’s pretty will do the job! I love using different kinds of printed papers to make collages in my journal when I have empty pages or a mistake that I want to cover – it’s another alternative to the postcards.

I also find that collages break up weekly and monthly pages which keeps my journal looking a little more interesting – it isn’t just page after page of to-do lists and calendars!

Again, I like to buy my papers from Paperchase, mostly because I love the designs, but you can buy decorative papers almost anywhere, especially in the winter when there’s more wrapping paper available for Christmas!

Collages in your journal can act as a backdrop for photographs and quotes you love and act as a mini scrapbook which means you get to keep all of your favourite things in one convenient place.

 

After 11 months of journalling, those are my Bullet Journal essentials and I think I would be lost if I didn’t have any of them!

What are your journalling or crafty essentials?

Bethany xo

Updates

Nine months of silence.

Hello again!

It’s been nine months since I was last on the blogging scene and that’s because Life got very busy very quickly, but also because I forgot the login details of my last blog! (Oops.)

Here’s a quick over-view of the last 9 months:

  1. I finished university!

Three years went by far too quickly for my liking. I’ve met some amazing people who I hope will be in my life for a long time to come – they made my university experience something I’ll never forget!

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Not only have I met these two gorgeous people in the photo above, but after a lot of hard work, tears, and a gratuitous amount of cheap booze, I managed to write a first class dissertation. Then I pushed my overall degree into a BA with first class honours with my other two portfolios – a feat I never thought I’d achieve at my emotional rock bottom three years ago!

2. I turned 21

Now, I’m not usually one for birthdays. If I’m totally honest, my birthday usually fills me with dread because there’s so much pressure to have a good time. This year, I was determined to do what I wanted to, not what I thought I should be doing.

I don’t like parties, I don’t like going to clubs, I don’t like a lot of things if we’re totally honest. But this year, I did all the things I do like doing.

I sank myself into a pink, rose-scented bath, I went to a french restaurant for breakfast, I wore a dress way too over-the-top with lots of tulle and sequins and I went to the garden centre with my parents. We watched TV, ordered a takeaway for dinner and watched my favourite film. The only thing slightly out of the ordinary and unexpected was the surprise visit from my wonderfully eclectic Aunt.

Low-key suits me just fine and I think I’m going to stick with that philosophy!

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3. Started going to the gym.

Admittedly, I don’t go as often as I want to and I haven’t been this summer because of other commitments that I’ll get to in a minute. But I do go to the gym.

I would like to lose weight in the hope that my health conditions will improve – not because I’m unhappy with the way I look. In fact, I got most of my confidence from being fat and I embrace that completely, but if I can make my health problems better and keep my self-confidence then that will be a huge win!

Weirdly, I love going to the gym too! There’s something incredibly attractive about being up with/before the sun and spending some time moving, on your own, with plenty of space and time to be with your own thoughts and ideas.

Here’s to a future healthier me!

4. Began taking some online courses

For a long time now I’ve wanted to be a teacher. So now I’m taking a level 3 CPD course in being a teaching assistant! Weirdly, I’ve missed studying so this is something I’m really enjoying doing in my own time.

I’m also taking a course in British Sign Language which is both interesting and fun to learn – I’m hoping it will make me look more appealing to future schools who might need SEN teachers.

5. I’m working on a novel

As I mentioned earlier, my dissertation was awarded a first-class grade with the comment that my work was “close to the standards of professional publications in the field,” which spurred me further to turn my dissertation into a full length novel!

It’s a mystery-drama novel with supernatural elements and a fairly complicated plot and structure (at least for my type of writing it is!) So this novel is certainly going to be a labour of love. That being said, I can’t wait for the day I finish it and can share the final version with the world, whether it’s from self-publishing or through a publishing house.

I’ll take whatever opportunities come my way!

6. I found a job!

After two years of searching and applying, going to interviews and being rejected, I finally have a job! It’s not glamorous – aprons, hairnets, and baseball caps isn’t my best look, I admit. It’s not overly impressive – making and serving pretzels and cleaning isn’t what I wanted to do after getting my English degree, but it’s a job. It gives me the money and the time to be able to train to do what I want to and that is enough for me right now.

Now I just need to learn to stop burning myself on the oven…

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So far, I really like the people that I work with and that makes things a little better, even if my heart isn’t fully into the job.

I haven’t been in this job long and so far I’ve been training, but starting next week I go part time so I can focus on the projects I mentioned before. Which also means I’ll have more time to focus on blogging too! I can’t wait to get back into the blogging circle and I hope you’ll enjoy what I write!

Happy Autumn everyone, I hope you have a blessed season and I’ll see you all next week 😀

Bethany xo