Monday, 14 January 2019

CHANGES IN 2019


2019.
Another year, another time to make resolutions - or preferably, changes.

One thing that I noticed about my goals for previous years is that they remained just that; goals. They never amounted to anything because I still had it in my mindset that they were things I wanted to do and not things I do regularly. This past year has brought me so much in the face of minimalism and truly allowed me to see beyond my own words. These 'goals' I created last year were only ideas written on a blog post or spoken in a video - but I never took action to turn those ideas and dreams into plans. So my late 2018 goal was to make 2019 the year that I actually get off of my backside and do something worth while

I have all of these wonderful visions for myself and my future, yet I've remained in a continued state of laziness and misunderstanding. Becoming more in touch with my inner peace and learning that I am whole all by myself has led me to a psychological clearing - I haven't just decluttered my home but my mind as well - there are no more distractions, and I've freed up space to be more positive, to have more gratitude, and to be a hell of a lot more productive.

Over the past six months or so I've effectively been retraining my brain to see the world the way I choose to, in a way that works best for me and allows me to respond the best. It has been an accumulation of motivation, but not quite enough to give me an instant kick up the backside that I have needed for quite some time. The real shocker? Well, that came from the realisation that when I eventually graduate from my masters course I will be twenty-five.

Twenty-five.

It hasn't really sunken in yet that I will actually be that age one day, and I can't help thinking about all of the little life dreams I had many years ago for myself at twenty-five. Back when I first came to university in 2014 I was a wee eighteen year old with high ambitions, but very little life experience - and my aim in life at that time was to graduate at twenty-one, jump straight into a job and cross other bridges when I get to them. I never even considered my life at twenty-five, where I'd be or what I could see myself doing - my life was totally different

I was totally different.

It was fortunate that from the age of nineteen to twenty-two my chapter in life for depression, self-loathing and fueled hatred was written. Because I no longer see those years to be the prime of my life or the years where I'd experience the most and always look back on with youthful envy. Even though I would say I have experienced more than your average fair share - it goes without saying that each and every one of those experiences has led me here today. To a place where I can honestly say happiness is a big part of my life, where I no longer look in the mirror and see hatred and bitterness staring back at me, but a beautiful soul instead, and with many many scars and wounds still yet to heal, but beautiful nonetheless. I spent so much time and so many new year's trying to leave behind parts of myself that I was either ashamed of or hurt by - when I should have shown them some love. Embracing all the parts of you - even the past ones that no longer fit into your own mold - brings you patience, self-love, and inner peace. In 2018 - the year where the chapter of depression ended - I finally let go of the self-destruction button that I had pressing down for so long. I wondered: "what will my life be like if I wake up and just, be happy? If I let go of wanting to change myself and who I am and just embrace it instead, I wonder what will happen?

What did happen? I matured, I found myself. 
I found peace. 


The chapter was a rocky road that ended the moment I turned twenty-three in my mind (about a week before my actual birthday), and everything that was destroying me before had become easier on my shoulders when I stopped wishing for something else and learned to love what I already had. So even though this post is in celebration of a new year and the changes I'm making in 2019, the real celebration is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Everyone says that their lives begin the day they go off to university or get their first real job, and I used to believe that for myself too - but here I am today, twenty-three years of age, a university graduate and now a masters student saying that this now, is where my life begins.

And on that sweet note, I would like to share the changes I'm making in twenty-nineteen.


1. Exercise.
How often I have said I want to exercise and get fitter and have a flatter tummy and toned arms,  somehow unable to yield such goals. As I mentioned before, it wasn't until I stopped wanting to change myself that I was then able to. I embraced every part of myself and my natural appearance, no longer desiring to change or alter myself for others - and through my eyes exercise looks different now. I see myself getting stronger and faster, with a fire of determination in my heart - and I have accepted my body will change as a result of that. 

The change: evening workouts, increased cardio, and stretches. 

The mindset: any amount of exercise is better than none at all, each will increase my fitness. But pushing myself to progress will teach me discipline again, which is something I need back in my life.


2. Hobbies.
Why push myself to "complete" hobbies or excel unrealistically? As a writer, I should know by now that each and every word expels from my very core - everything that I have experienced, wondered, or am yet to experience. So why have I been pushing myself to force words that are not yet written within myself? One quote has always stood out to me: "Either write something worth reading about, or do something worth writing about." And I realised recently that the reason I have not been able to finish my book, build my online dream or go travelling - was because I have been struggling to find the end to a chapter long written - my own, and all this time I have been living in it. I needed to finish writing my own chapter before I could begin to write anything else. 

The change: dedicated time to progress my hobbies as I choose.

The mindset: I appreciate that hard work, grit and passion are the most important qualities of progression, and I will have to embrace them all to get to where I want to be - but I am also approaching these hobbies with a healthier mind compared to last year - I want to change my life for different reasons; healthier reasons, and that's how I know this time I will succeed.


3. Travel.
I've been watching a lot of Eat, Pray, Love. - type films lately, and I think the real wake up call has been the realisation that I'll turn twenty-five when I graduate from my masters. I sat and asked myself: "when I get to twenty-five, do I really want to have spent the last seven years of my life just working for a couple of degrees?" It isn't that the degrees aren't important, because they are important, and a big stepping stone in my career - but life isn't just about building a career. The comeback chapter of my life after the last I want to be filled with happy experiences. I don't just want to live my life to go to work and study, I want to be enriched with experiences of travel, nature, adventures and the written word. I want to meet people and have conversations with them from around the world. I want to spend my money on experiences that I will treasure forever, not things I will tire of quickly. I want to taste the fruits of different countries, to see the sun rise through a different window. I want to live.

The change: six months "no spend". Which means to only buy what is necessary, and save the rest.

The mindset: saving money for my future is important, and I will be reasonable and sensible with the money I do spend on travelling, but it is also important to enrich my years with experiences - and travelling is one of them, either by myself or with others I want to see the world. 


4. Self-love.
I would say I am confidently already at the stage of knowing what true self-love means, so the changes this year are not to discover it, but to repeat it. Self-love isn't a destination but the continued practice and reminder that everything you already are is all you will ever need. 


5. Mental health.
What an important change to end this post on, my mental health has changed dramatically over the past year, and more so in the last few months. I can see now the importance of a positive and healthy mind because like the tree of life - it gives life to everything around it. It is the center-part that connects the roots, the foundation, what came before - to the branches and leaves and what comes after. Without my roots, I would not be here today and so I appreciate and embrace them. To be happy, I realise that the universe and the earth will provide me with everything that I need - it will give me water to grow and be healthy and from there, my branches will form and leaves will appear and I will be able to live an enriched, fruitful, happy and beautiful life. 


And so this concludes the written celebration of a new chapter beginning in my life - I am sat here writing the end to this post with a smile on my face because I know good things will soon follow. 

I am excited to see what this year brings me, and what I bring to this year - but most importantly, after years of darkness I am excited to see the sun again, and to thrive, to wonder, and to live.



- Chloe.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

CRANBERRY + PUMPKIN SPICED PORRIDGE

Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 5 mins

Hello lovelies!

Isn't it wonderful that the weather outside it slowly creeping colder and the leaves on trees are starting to brown and crisp - autumn is finally here and I am excited!

Sure it's becoming more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings when it's cold and you're all cosy and tucked up in bed, but now that it is colder I'm feeling much more in the spirit to have porridge for breakfast! Generally I throw in some cinnamon and golden syrup but I wanted to be a little more adventurous with my meals and create my own recipes.
Here's my first breakfast one:



CRANBERRY + PUMPKIN SPICED PORRIDGE
Ingredients:
- 1 cup gluten free oats (you can use regular oats if you prefer, but gluten is difficult for your body to digest and I never include it in my breakfast meals! Gluten-free breakfasts are a kinder way to kick start your metabolism and keep you filled, without feeling bloated or tired afterwards)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup dairy free milk (I prefer unsweetened soya so there's no added refined sugars i.e. the healthiest option. You could always try hemp or oat milk if you are looking for more of a neutral taste!)
- 1 handful dried or fresh cranberries
- 1 small handful pumpkin seeds
- Ground cinnamon (to taste)
- Ground ginger (to taste)
- Agave syrup (to taste)


Method:
1. Add the oats, water and milk to a medium sized pan, stir and put on low-medium heat. (I have an induction hob and put it on temperature 3 or 4).
2. Stir mixture frequently as it heats up to avoid burning the milk or your porridge sticking to the bottom of the pan.

NB: I don't add any of the other ingredients until after the porridge is cooked and served. I'm not sure if the other ingredients will affect how evenly the oats cook, so I prefer to play it safe and mix them in afterwards.

3. For the perfect porridge consistency, I prefer to take them off of the heat when you can see the oats have thickened and become more porridge-like, but are still a bit runny. Generally the oats will continue to cook after you've served them, so if you cook them completely in the pan they may thicken up too much in your bowl and end up being chewy. To keep the moisture make sure before you serve, the porridge is thick with a slight runny consistency.

4. Add your other ingredients! (agave syrup, cinnamon and ginger, pumpkin seeds and then finally the cranberries on top!)

And there we have it! Such a warm and festive feeling breakfast that is filling and sweet with a little spiced kick! This has quickly become one of my favourite porridge combinations as it's naturally sweet, but not sickly! For me breakfast should be filling, give you lots of energy and have a fruity-sweet taste and this recipe does exactly that!



Nutritional information about these ingredients:
Oats are a really important ingredient for natural sources of iron, zinc, protein and carbohydrates. They're good for slow releasing energy, and when made into oatmeal (porridge) they can be really filling! 
Soya milk is one of many plant milks available and a must-have for many vegan diets. Most plant milk providers such as Alpro, Koko and even some supermarket own brands will fortify their plant milks with essential vitamins and minerals.
1 cup (250ml) of plant milk will generally provide you with around 33% of your daily recommended intake for calcium, vitamin D2 and B12. (check the labels of plant milks for individual nutritional information) - (do not solely rely on liquids or supplements for intake of essential vitamins and minerals. The absorption of these is better when combined with foods - especially where these vitamins and minerals naturally occur.)
Pumpkin seeds are exceptionally high in iron and are a really good "just throw it in" ingredient for extra health benefits in your meals.
Cranberries are good antioxidants! (always choose fresh over dried as dried are more concentrated in sugars and not as nutritional. In the pictures I only had dried but fresh cranberries would work perfectly also).
Ginger works to boost your immune system.
Agave syrup is a natural sweetener and a perfect alternative to refined syrups such as golden or maple.

(Disclaimer: the information provided is from a variety of sources. I am not a qualified nutritionist, health expert or dietitian. I am simply a human being with access to the internet and personal experiences with foods.

A lot of information about ingredients I research from the internet, as well as a personal favourite Instagram account: www.instagram.com/plantsforfit  | by Rafael who is a vegan athlete and posts about science based nutrition.)



Hope you all have a wonderful day!


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Saturday, 11 August 2018

B. Glowing Clay Face Mask | Product Review


Hello lovelies!
With the weather here in the UK getting hotter and hotter by the minute, my face is forever battling between makeup and oils, and I'm left at the end of each day feeling a little bit sweaty and a tad gross.

There's no greater feeling than taking your makeup off each day after being at work for so many hours - and coupled with the hot weather of summer, your face can be left feeling so heavy, sweaty and un-fresh. 

I've been craving a good face mask for some time now and to my surprise in my collection of skincare and makeup products I didn't have any sort of cleanser in sight! I know - an absolute shock because a good cleanser is a necessity! So I took myself off to one of my favourite and most easily accessible cruelty-free places that offer vegan friendly products: Superdrug.

They have wonderful ranges of own brand products all of which are cruelty-free and mostly vegan, but they have also launched a makeup and skincare line by the name of B. which is 100% vegan friendly and of course, cruelty-free certified.

It just so happens Superdrug had an offer on their B. products at buy-one-get-one-free, so I snatched up the best looking cleansing products I could find - and I wasn't disappointed!
Firstly I picked up their Creamy Foam Cleanser, and secondly their Glowing Clay Face Mask, which I shall be reviewing today!

Retail price: £6.99.


After application.

This is such a beautiful feeling mask and it's everything I hoped it would be for my skin! And if you're in questioning about which type of mask to buy I would definitely recommend a clay mask as they tend to be the best for cleansing your skin whilst exfoliating and removing dead or dry skin cells at the same time.

The direction for this mask is to apply to clean, dry skin - so after you've thoroughly taken your makeup off and cleansed your skin you can go ahead and apply directly to your face with either a brush or clean fingers. You're supposed to only leave this mask on for 10-15 minutes however if you've applied it thicker on your target areas (i.e. T-zone) I would suggest waiting until it's fully dried on your face before washing the mask off. At first, you can feel the product really getting to work on your skin and it almost has a burning-but-in-a-good-way-sensation whilst the product is drying. Once that stage of the mask is over you can really sit back and enjoy that tightening feeling while the rest of the product dries.


Wash mask off with a hot wet facecloth to increase exfoliation. The water will rinse off the mask, the facecloth will exfoliate your skin, and the warmth will make the process kinder and easier on your face.

The method I use for taking off my mask is what I find most comfortable and wouldn't necessarily suggest it for all skin types - especially if yours is susceptible to irritations from excess scrubbing. However you can always remove the mask with lukewarm water and simply wash it off!

Personally I don't like my face being splashed with water for so long as a clay mask can be quite tricky to rinse off - so I tend to run a clean facecloth under the hot tap and gently scrub away at the mask until it all comes off my face. It only takes me about three minutes to fully get the mask off and my skin is left looking so much more radiant and healthy!


After I've had the mask on for several minutes and gone through the process of rinsing it off, my face is left feeling healthier but also quite red! So I always apply a complimentary moisturising product immediately after the mask. My personal favourite is the Arbonne Calm Gentle Daily Moisturiser, which helps to calm my sensitive skin and restore it back to a healthy state. It also helps to alleviate some of the tightness in your skin caused by the mask. 

Honestly this mask is one of my favourite things to use on my skin at the minute, and Superdrug are really upping their game with products recently! I use this product no more than three times per week as it can be quite harsh on sensitive skin if used too frequently, plus my skin is always left feeling fabulous for a good few days after I've used this product so you don't need to use it all the time! 

B. Glowing Clay Face Mask retails in-store and online for £6.99 at Superdrug - but without a doubt you can always stumble across offers at Superdrug such as 1/3rd off, 1/2 price or even Buy One Get One Free!



Let me know in the comments if you've tried and tested this product and what you thought of it! Or you can tweet me @chloesharman

Don't forget to follow this blog for more beauty and lifestyle posts!

Hope you all have a wonderful day!


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Friday, 10 August 2018

BEGINNING MINIMALISM



Hello lovelies! It may not be the start of a new year, but it is definitely the start of a new chapter in my life. After recently incorporating minimalism into my daily life, I've began to see all of the wonderful things to come from having less.

I've been known to be quite the collector in the past and things just got way out of hand when I moved into my own unfurnished flat for the first time. I made the mistake of thinking I had to fill every empty wall and each cupboard in my kitchen. I went a little crazy with the furnishing and as a result I have spent far too much money that I could have saved. One of the biggest things I've thrown my money away on is clothes.

So. Many. Clothes.

All of these items I had gathered over the past few years while being away at university, each one of them completely unnecessary. It's fair to say I hit the awkward teenage phase of trying out different styles whilst at university, and thus began the endless amount of shopping. One minute I'd decide I was 'this type of person' and buy near enough a whole new wardrobe to fit that decision - to then realise it was either too much effort to upkeep or simply not for me. I always found myself coming back to the basics.

This is where I began my minimalism journey.

I took out all of my clothes and laid each item out on my bed, asking myself simple and strict questions:

1. Do you like this item?
2. When was the last time you wore it?
3. When do you see yourself wearing it again?
4. Does it actually fit you right, and make you feel comfortable yet unstoppable?

I sorted through my clothing collection and donated over 107 items to charity, some still brand new and with the labels on. I've always had a tendency to splurge on new clothes and spend so much money, to then fall out of love with them almost instantly. Do I ever return them? No. Do I ever wear them again? No. Yet I still could not stop myself from shopping. 

After graduating from university in July 2017, I did stop shopping for about nine months. In that time I spent most of my days just working and living, and so I was always in uniform at work and pyjamas at home! It was such a revelation when I thought about the last time I'd been shopping or ordered clothes online. I couldn't believe how long it had been and so I treated myself to a trip to Primark. I bought so many unnecessary items just because I liked them - mostly for my upcoming holiday, yet still I did not even wear most of them. Reflecting on those shopping trips now I would much rather have all of that money back and in my savings! It came to the point where I was just so sick of spending money on clothes for them to end up unused and wasted.

Then minimalism came into my life and it changed me! Suddenly I wasn't looking at my wardrobe as 'bare' or 'basic' but 'essential' and 'timeless'. There are still a few items I would like to purchase to complete more of a capsule wardrobe, mostly to replace the items I didn't fit into anymore or were worn out - which I donated and recycled. I started doing more research into sustainable and ethical clothing brands and asking myself the question "who actually made my clothes?". There are so many wonderful companies out there with compassion at the forefront of their business. They are transparent, honest and ethical. Choose slow fashion, not fast fashion.

One of my favourite rules of minimalism is to not buy until you need and I have held off on buying the items I want for my wardrobe until I absolutely need them! For example, going back to university means I cannot wear my pyjamas 24/7 and therefore need some daily essentials such as vests, t-shirts and a backpack. I haven't purchased them just yet, and won't do until going back to uni is a little closer!

__________

Clothes may be the place where minimalism began for me, but it has changed other aspects of my life at home! Not only am I opened up to the world of sustainable and ethical clothing, but I truly appreciate every single item I own. I treasure and value them because I know just how lucky I am to have the opportunity to buy and enjoy these things when so many people do not. Minimalist living lets me create a space that is freeing, peaceful and homely - and free from clutter. What a lot of people don't realise is that most of what we hold onto and allow to clutter our homes also clutters our minds. What I have found out about the things that I have donated, recycled and removed from my life is that they were all remnants of the past - times when I wasn't myself or I was going through something difficult. I didn't realise it at the time but I was holding onto so much negativity in the form of clutter, and it had to go. Embarking on this journey I didn't just want to de-clutter my home, but also free up my mind. My mental health became the most important thing in my life to take care of at the beginning of 2018 and in just a few weeks of de-cluttering, I have managed to improve it massively.

Saying goodbye to old habits can be hard, and sometimes when we have little things that remind us of a certain time in our lives, we want to hold onto that forever. It is okay to have a memory box, a drawer in your bedroom full of memories and keepsakes. Minimalism doesn't mean you have to get rid of everything, it just allows you to evaluate what you do own, and decide what is important for your life, your positivity, and your productivity but in a practical sense.

__________

Minimalism also isn't something you do once, it is a recurring evaluation of what you own and how you go about your daily life. It is natural in this day and age to over time collect things we do not need, and while minimalist living can help to eliminate the majority of that, it is still common to have a build up of unnecessary things. Whether that be old purchases, clothes that no longer fit us, or unwanted gifts - over time it is natural to change your mind and grow out of some possessions. Each day we are learning and growing as people and you may find you reach another point in your life where certain things surrounding you no longer fit into your lifestyle. Personally, I love de-cluttering and reorganising and so I am looking forward to more of what I have already done!


I want to end this post with a couple of my favourite minimalism encouraging quotes!


"Minimalism is asking why before you buy."

"Minimalism is not less than you need. It's just less than you're used to."

and of course... "Less is more."



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Sunday, 25 March 2018

5 Ingredient | Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies | VEGAN


PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 10-12 minutes
COOLING TIME: 5 minutes

They're chewy, chocolaty and delicious, and so affordable to make. This recipe makes around 10 medium sized cookies (if you don't eat half the mixture waiting for others to cook!) and they only take 10 minutes per tray to bake.


After some experimenting and adaptation of existing recipes, I quickly found my staple recipe for chocolate peanut butter cookies. I was never a fan of peanut butter on its own and it wasn't something I could imagine myself taking a liking to, however I found a recipe online which seemed easy enough to do, and all that was required from me was a few adaptations of the recipe to make it vegan! I really wanted to give PB another chance to shine after hearing so many wonderful reviews of it in different recipes. 

Originally I made these without the cacao powder - which is fine - but the peanut butter taste was still too strong for my liking. I did however quickly realise that when you add something sweet (i.e sugar) to peanut butter it completely changed my opinion of the taste. I think for me it was just too nutty and savoury and needed that sweet side.

So after my first batch there was still something missing to make these cookies the dream that they now are. They were the perfect consistency and size, not complicated to make and took no real time at all to churn out - but something was missing...

Chocolate.

Of course it was chocolate!! What else would make something a thousand times better? So when it came round to making these again I decided to throw in a couple of tablespoons of raw cacao powder, giving these cookies the perfect colour and balance of flavours. 


One of my favourite things about this recipe is there's no funny ingredients - everything is so basic and easily accessible with very little fuss to use. In about 20 minutes you can whip up a batch of these wonderful cookies to share (or not to share!). 


(I could literally sit and eat these all day. Try with a side of plant milk to wash them down!)

__________________________________________________




METHOD:
What you will need:
Ingredients:
-   1 ripe banana (riper bananas will give more chewy cookies)
-   1 cup Billingtons Golden Caster Sugar (labelled vegan)
-   1 cup Peanut Butter (Personally I have tried Whole Earth's Smooth PB which is my favourite! However in the pictures, I actually used Meridian's Smooth PB which gives a slightly sweeter taste so feel free to experiment!)
-   3 tbsp raw cacao powder
-   1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda for US)
-   Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

What you will need:
Equipment:
-   2 medium baking trays (generic basic value trays)
-   Cup measures: 1 cup, 1 tbsp, 1/4 tsp.
-   Large mixing bowl.
-   Cutlery: 1 fork, 1 spoon, 1 spatula.
-   Cooling rack.

PREP:
-   Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
-   Peel and mash the ripe banana with a fork into the large mixing bowl.




-   Measure 1 cup Whole Earth's Smooth Peanut Butter, followed by 1 cup Billington's Golden Caster Sugar and add to the mixing bowl (DO NOT BEGIN MIXING).
-   Add 3 tbsp's of raw cacao powder.
-   Add 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and a sprinkle of cinnamon (optional) to the bowl and begin mixing with a spoon.




-   Ensure your ingredients have distributed evenly and there are no clumps of sugar!
-   When your mixture is ready and your oven in preheated, you can begin to size out and shape your cookies.
-   Using the tablespoon measure, roughly collect 1 tbsp of mixture per cookie (as shown) and transfer to the baking tray. (The mixture should be doughy but quite sticky so you may have to shake the tbsp measure for it to come out!) Shape the mixture into a circular shape measuring roughly 4-5cm wide, by about 1cm in thickness.


NB: On the medium sized trays you can only fit 4 cookies as they expand and flatten during baking.

-   Pop the first tray of 4 in the oven at 180c for exactly 10 minutes (12 minutes for 2 trays of 4). Timing is very important with these cookies as they can quickly burn!

-   Your cookies should look as if they are rising like little cakes - don't worry! They won't have cake texture as they flatten during the last minute of baking! When the timer hits 10 minutes watch your cookies very carefully for the next 2 minutes and when they look like they are beginning to flatten take them out of the oven.
-   Leave the baking tray on a heatproof surface for a few minutes while the cookies cool and finish cooking. They are extremely fragile when you first take them out so don't try to transfer them to the cooling rack just yet!
-   After a few minutes lightly touch with your finger to see if they've firmed up - then you can use a spatula to place them onto a cooling rack. In about 5-10 minutes they'll be cooled and firm enough to eat.




You should have enough mixture for 10-12 cookies (three rounds of 4) with a little bit left to munch on while they bake.




I'd definitely consider this as a base recipe which you can build on by adding different accent ingredients. NB: Try to remember to balance out the wet with the dry ingredients - too wet and they'll not hold their shape, too dry and the cookies will be too firm to eat.

Suggested accent ingredients:
- chocolate chips
- mixed crushed nuts
- cranberries
NB: stick to smaller ingredients as larger ones can affect the cookie integrity and shape.
- You could also add whole nuts and press them into the tops of the mixture for a prettier appearance.

__________________________________________________


Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe at home and how they turned out! Any questions can be left in the comments too - or you can tweet me @chloesharman

Happy baking! Enjoy!




For more recipes and vegan finds head over to my instagram account at
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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Arbonne: CALM Gentle Daily Moisturiser | Product Review



Hello lovelies!

One of the greatest gifts in life is a really good moisturiser! If you have extremely sensitive skin like I do, you'll know how much your skin suffers in the colder months of the year! Well here in the UK it has been going on/off cold then colder! One minute there's sunshine and hope for spring - the next we're caved in with snow and turning our radiators up to full. My skin just doesn't know how to adapt and heal right now! For the past few months I feel like my skin has just been so inflamed, red, dry and itchy (especially around the temples). I decided to purchase one of Arbonne's products from their Calm range and see if this would help ease my discomfort!

Arbonne's Calm range is specifically designed for those with sensitive skin, which may require more of a gentle touch when it comes to skincare - there are currently four products in the Calm collection.

View Arbonne's Calm Collection here:
http://www.arbonne.com/Pws/ChloeSharman/store/AMUK/catalog/Calm,515.aspx  }

Honestly, this product is amazing! It's gentle enough to use every day and has worked miracles on my dry and itchy skin! I couldn't believe what it had done for my redness as well - after taking off my makeup in the evening and washing my face, my skin is usually so red and inflamed, and it generally stays quite red when I wake up in the morning. The redness is worse when it's colder and I can't help that! But after using this moisturiser in the evening I've found it really does calm down my inflamed skin and is the perfect product to use after a cleanse. Whenever I take my makeup off, I don't like to use too many products because honestly my face has been battling with makeup all day and I don't want to further aggravate it - I just want to cleanse it of any dirt and let it rest! This moisturiser is so wonderful because it doesn't clog any of my pores or break me out, it soaks in very quickly - which is amazing when you're going straight to bed - and it feels so lightweight, milky and soothing on your skin. It's also non-sticky! (I hate moisturisers that feel sticky on your skin because they don't soak in well enough! Who wants to stick to clothes and bedsheets? Haha!) 




As I mentioned this moisturiser is gentle enough to use daily, and I find myself using it both morning and night! I don't just use it on my face either - I use it on my hands when they are feeling a little dry, and even my lower back because that itches quite a lot when it's really cold and icy outside! It's just an all round wonderful moisturiser that eases my dry itchy and irritated skin! Of course this product is made even more wonderful by the fact that it is certified cruelty-free and vegan!

This retails at £30 SRP.
Visit www.chloesharman.arbonne.com to order!
(All personal earnings from my Independent Arbonne Consultant page are donated to a variety of animal charities and organisations!)

Let me know if you try this product and what you think of it in the comments below! Or you can tweet me @chloesharman

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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Goals For 2018!


It's coming up to the end of the first month of 2018 and I couldn't be more prepared to face the rest of the year. After what has possibly been the worst year of my life so far, I happily waved goodbye to 2017 with my middle finger, and welcomed 2018 with hugs and lots of coffee. 

Finishing university last year and beginning my life as a single adult in the 'real world' hit me hard, and after challenging myself year after year with higher education, I just wanted to take some time off to live my life and see where it went. Turns out, having no real plans or deadlines or set challenges really doesn't agree with me very well. Instead of being "free" like I imagined, I derailed to an extreme where all I was was an existence. I had no goals, no drive, no motivation to get up in the morning. Where had all of my passion and energy disappeared to? Why was I not more willing to better my life and aim for the best? Now I'm not entirely to blame for my own derailing, the fact that life happens and you've just got to take the shit that is thrown at you and try to deal with it in a healthy way was definitely a major contribution.

BUT.

Everything happens for a reason.

^ Something I have always believed in. ^

Now I'm not sat here, claiming to have the perfect life and the perfect mental attitude, in fact there is a long way for me to go before I can momentarily take a look at my life and say: "yes, I am truly happy."  But I can see so much happiness and success in my future and the feeling that I get that tells me it's not so far from now, is all the material I need in order to build a bright future for myself. To quote J.K.Rowling here: 
"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

I have been at rock bottom. I have stayed there and scraped my face across the floor for some time until literally one day happened where I just didn't want to be in that place anymore. Enough was enough. Luckily for me I wanted to better my life just as the new year was approaching, once Christmas was over and done with I could finally take that big deep breath I'd been gasping for, and exhale so much negativity and dark air. That 'light' that everybody talks about seeing when they turn over a new leaf, or find the strength to get up in the morning, or when they're beginning to climb their way out of darkness - I see that light.

It's so warming and welcoming, enticing and exciting, bright and happy

I suddenly realised that all of these little things that I enjoyed doing in my spare time I finally had room for. How was I ever supposed to put my heart and soul into my passions in life and the things that I loved when school, college and university were all sticking their beaks in? I couldn't catch a break or a spare five minutes to really connect with these things. Instead I kept them hanging just within reach until education was over, until I was finally ready to pursue my dreams. 
But you see, this is where that little 'Everything happens for a reason...' saying comes back around.

Without university I would never have had the opportunity to build my life to where it is today, I would not have been as strong or independent as I am now, as experienced in life as I am now - and most importantly, I wouldn't be ready to pursue these passions. 

Everything in my life has been leading me to these moments here in front of me. 

I had to go through so much to get here, but here I am ready and eager to face new challenges, and to really push myself.

I am ready to live my life.

And so 2018 begins, with new goals and challenges, and turning dreams into plans. So what better way to commit to them (other than actually doing them) than publishing them online. Written confirmation. 



Here are my Goals For 2018:
(in no particular order)

1. Finish my novel. Take me back to June 2014 when I sat down on my bed with my laptop, filled with so much inspiration to write my own teen fantasy fiction novel. Possibly one of the greatest genres in my opinion, I just really wanted to create my own unique world full of magical powers, spiritual encounters, history, romance, drama and action. A little bit of everything really! I instantly fell in love with writing and creating stories - so much so that it became the only thing that I ever wanted to do for a career. It took me a good two-ish years to finally admit to everyone that I didn't want to be an interior designer like I'd planned and gone to university for, but actually an author of fiction novels. At this point I had one year left of university to which I completed and saved up to live in my own flat - and now finally I have the time, energy, and mental capacity to indulge myself in my own little world, and fall in love with my own characters for a change (haha!). You see, I will never become an author if I do not write, and something that I have learned over the last six months is that I need structure and discipline in my life - something to keep me focused and motivated. Timetabling myself one or two long sessions a week where I can dedicate my time to my novel is something that I am setting myself a goal for. I want to end 2018 with a finished novel in hand.

2. Pursue Blogging & YouTube. Again, something that has been tiptoeing in my life for many many years, only to be pushed aside by coursework and LIFE. Well not anymore - I feel such a great energy surrounding my little dream of building up my blog and YouTube channel, I get such a strong sense that they're going to become something that I am truly proud of. It's a tough cookie to crack and the amount of hours and hard work that goes into something like this is incredible. But something you thoroughly enjoy will never really feel like work. The art, creativity, uniqueness and personal touch that can be put into an online dream is something I've always wanted to fully pursue. Not to mention the writing side of this - it's such a different style to novel writing and again, is something that I can put my heart and soul into. I can combine so many of my passions and portray them to the world in a variety of ways. My cruelty-free and vegan lifestyle, my passion for travelling and writing, spreading positivity, and sharing what I love with the world - just to name a few. This kind of thing has to be consistent and I have to remain focused - once again, something that I am timetabling into my weekly routine. 

3. Travel. Psht, who doesn't want to travel? Of course I would love to see the world, but realistically on my budget that's impossible right now. What I mean when I say I want to travel this year is simply head out to all of these little places in the UK that I've never been before, and also return to some that I have and now love. I want to visit Stonehenge, and a variety of castles. I want to take myself off to London for the day in search of new vegan finds. I want to return to the one place in the world that I feel at home, and explore new places that I can call home too. Climb mountains, explore caves, embrace my inner Lara Croft and discover secrets about the world. I want to fall in love with nature again and tread ground that will leave a mark on my life. I seek adventure, places that help clear my mind of negativity while feeding me so much passion and excitement. I want to leave my mark on the world and let the world leave its mark on me. 

4. Spend more time with family. If the past few years living away from my family and being independent have taught me anything - it's that however far away you travel from them and how much you create a life for yourself, the love that one family can hold is so powerful and so precious. It's through the hard times that you're all brought together and the love is at its strongest. But this year and onward, I don't just want to be there for the difficult times. All of these memories that I want to create and places I want to explore, I don't always want to do alone. Finding people in this world that you connect with and care for is one of the greatest gifts about being human in this life, and luckily for me I am blessed every single day with such a strong and loving family whom I love and care for very much. I definitely appreciate my family so much more since branching out to make my way in the world. And this year will be the starting year where I can spend more time with them. From booked holidays later in the year to casual visits home and regular FaceTime calls on weekends. Even a spontaneous trip to the seaside or family dinner out, I want it all and I want to embrace every minute of it. No more university means no more cancelling plans last minute, or being stuck away from home when I want to visit. This is my life now, it doesn't belong to education anymore and I have full control over where I go, what I do and the people I see. Family is so important, and I'm not just talking about blood relatives but the people who have been in my life since I was small, the people who I may have not long since met but whom I love so much already - the people who have brought me so much happiness. 

5. Put myself first. This one is the biggie. Challenging myself in all of these other aspects, working harder and being more committed to the things that I want to pursue is easy compared to this last one. For several years I have been dealing with some personal mental health issues, from depression and various anxieties, to a much deeper problem I didn't begin accepting or trying to understand until recently. While publishing that part of my life is not what I want to have out there on the internet just yet - I do want to share that I am not perfect. Over the course of 2017 mental health awareness grew so strong and I think 2018 will be one heck of a year for people that struggle with mental health issues to seek help and push themselves to get better. I am one of those people. After being at rock bottom and scraping my face across the floor for a good while, I realised I no longer wanted to live my life that way - things had to change. So I began making plans for 2018 - not huge plans and life goals but small steps in order to get some form of routine and structure back into my life. I understood that it was these little things that were just as important for getting better as well as seeking professional help. 
    No.1 - I give myself at least one full day per week where I don't schedule anything - no work, no writing, no blogging or shopping etc. The day is mine to just spend in bed if I need to, or open if I want to do anything else. I leave the day completely open and just for me. Generally this day is Sunday because I'm already not at work and all of the other things can be scheduled around my shifts during the other days of the week. It's perfect for me because it gives me time to clean up around the house, pamper myself as well as mentally and physically preparing myself for the next week ahead.
     No.2 - I have a nighttime routine. Small steps - they're important. Something as simple as washing and cleansing your face, brushing your teeth, taking a multivitamin and settling down into bed with a cold pint of plant milk while watching YouTube videos. I've had this routine for over 3 weeks now and it's become the thing that I do not skip out on. Sometimes I push work-type tasks back a day if I'm too tired from my paying job, or I'll do more on one day to free up another, but I always make sure to stick to my nighttime routine. 
     No.3 - Setting monthly goals. Okay I know I'm sat here creating goals for the whole year but these are all broken down into monthly and/or weekly goals. For example, I will spend a couple of weeks saving up some money and then spend it on a particular travel goal by incorporating that into one of my monthly goals, and arranging it for one particular week. Similar rules apply for more regular goals - I will create a timetable every month to ensure I am working on my novel each week, posting on my blog and YouTube channel regularly, and spending more time with my family. The whole point behind these goals and timetables is to keep myself in a set routine and bring back some much needed structure to my life. When I have things to work towards and goals to achieve I tend to do better - I remain focused, which is exactly what I need to do in order to get better. I keep focused on the positives.




***



There we have it. My goals for 2018. While they may not seem like much to some people or fit the stereotypical 'new years resolution' category, they're the goals I want to achieve before the year is out. This time 2019 I want to be at a place in my life where I am so proud of what I've made of myself and the things that I've achieved. As scary as the future can be I want to enjoy making plans for it and challenging myself to achieving them. 

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." - Earl Nightingale. 
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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

CLIMBING SNOWDON: WALES 2017



Nothing calls to me more every day than the beauty of the mountains. Literally any mountain will get me wanting to ascend to the very top and connect with the surroundings. It's the pull of adventure and exploration that really grinds my gears - when I start I simply never want to stop. The Lara Croft within me comes out to play and all I ache for is discovery and excitement and the thrill of such mountains. I want to cover so much ground, make my own paths and understand the land that I walk on. I want to connect with the mountains - listen to them as they feed me their stories and bask in their greatness. 


It's strange that throughout my life I have never truly felt like I had a home in the sense that I was always moving houses growing up and my life changed around me a lot - nothing ever welcomed me the way I longed to be welcomed - I needed a place where truly I could be myself and be happy. It wasn't until the first ever hike by myself that I knew what it was like to truly feel the meaning of happiness. 





For me, it's a warm feeling I get that can only ever be described by two words:

Love, and well - happiness, of course.





Those are the two waves of emotion that I feel when I'm exploring in the mountains, or when I sit at the peak and close my eyes, and when I listen to the wind blowing and the birds singing and perhaps even distant water running - I feel peaceful, delighted, welcomed, happy and in love.


















But most importantly - I feel at home.













It is times like these when I am sat here writing this post after coming home from my shift at a bar that I see the captured moments from my hikes and long for my feet to ache from climbing mountains instead of serving pints and stacking glasses. I miss the adventure and hear it call to me so often that it gets to the point where I can no longer retain my sanity if I don't fulfill those needs. However, it isn't often that I have the time to spend a full day climbing another mountain, and so an exploration of woodlands keeps me at bay.

So to be presented with an opportunity for a week away with my family where sure enough we will be surrounded by hills and mountains galore - I couldn't pass it up. As it happens, I was still studying at university back then and the fresh surroundings couldn't have been more welcomed by myself. I found new energy there and it gave me the strength to carry on.

New light - New vision - New mountains to climb.

















With every mountain I visit or place I explore, while there's a sense of uncertainty of unfamiliar ground, and the excitement of a new discovery - there's always a routed feeling that I belong there, wherever I am, whatever mountain I climb. It's the same feeling of home and happiness.







Perhaps soon there will be another exploration on the horizon for me, another place to add to my list and new grounds to call home. For now I will dream of that day and relive the greatness of the hikes since passed.

"There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory."
- Sir Francis Drake.

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