Thursday 11 August 2016

Driving Lessons: Tips, Tricks and Advice

I absolutely hated my driving lessons. I dreaded each and every one I had, as I just wasn't that keen on the whole thing and let's be honest here, I wasn't that great either. Mix that in with two of my best friends being soooo into cars, driving and everything in between - it was a pretty potent mix. I mean, while learning myself, I also heard how brilliantly they were getting on and how much they were loving it. That and car care tips... (Toothbrushes to clean the badges anyone? Furniture polish on the seat-belts?) This is what being friends with boys is really like, it's not as wild as people make out.

But, having passed my test (second time lucky!) I thought I'd post a few tips and tricks when it comes to driving lessons, and also just some reassurance that if I can do it anyone can. I wouldn't say I'm an appalling driver now, but my first few lessons certainly were abysmal and I definitely wouldn't have been my own passenger. So, the first point I want to make is; you're not the worst driver in the whole world ever, like I thought I was. Your instructor has probably seen it all, so a stall or few thousand is nothing to be ashamed of, plus things can only get better, right?

If you can, I'd definitely suggest having lessons during spring/summer as for me, with it being both pitch black and chucking it down with rain during winter, it didn't particularly help my mood. The lessons that I did have while it was light outside were considerably more enjoyable, as for one I could see more than 3m in front of me. 

When it comes to instructors, if you're not happy, move!! One of my friends had a really nasty instructor who shouted at him when he didn't do things right, and was known to slap the dashboard in front of him, which, let's be real here, definitely wasn't necessary. Not all instructors are like this!! If you've had a couple of lessons but aren't getting on with them, be polite, tell them you're not going to continue with them and find someone else. You haven't (or shouldn't have?!) signed a legally binding contract or anything, so you're more than entitled to find someone you get on better with.

My biggest piece of advice however, is to get on with your theory asap. Start reading and going over it once you've started your lessons and then just book it. As long as you've done some practice tests and had a go at the hazard perception, it's really nothing to worry about. The relief once you pass though is surreal, and for me, it really spurred me on to hurry up and take the practical test. It gave me a real surge in both motivation and confidence, I felt like I did know what I was doing and I wasn't so hopeless after all!

Have you passed your test?

Tuesday 9 August 2016

4 Things Working In Retail Has Taught Me

I've been working my little 8-hour florist weekend job for the last two years now, and it's fair to say I've had a good dose of working in retail. I mean, I've survived two Christmases, Valentine's Days and Mother's Days - I've experienced the full brunt of stressed, inconsiderate clientele. I work in a local supermarket, so nothing overly glamorous, but it's not been too bad at all. I mean, I wouldn't say I love working there, but I don't hate it either. While working there I've certainly realised a few things, so for today's post, I thought I'd share them with you...

Now, I know this statement isn't overly revelatory but I couldn't write this post without including it. Yes, I understand that 'everyone is unique' etc but some of the things I've witnessed/been asked to do are definitely on the strange side. Take the other day, for example, I served a lady who paid for £90 of her £115 bill in pound coins and 50ps. NINETY POUNDS?! As you can well imagine, the customers queuing behind her weren't too happy, and neither was I when I realised this mountain of change was definitely not going to fit in my already-stuffed till.

Aaaah, you're told it's time for your break and you're excited to get a cup of tea, a snack, check your phone and chat with your coworkers. Nope, by the time you've got upstairs, taken your phone out of your locker, sat down, it's time to get back to work again?! Why do those 15 minutes go faster than alllll the others?!

Where I only work one day a week, and the staff turnover is pretty high, I always find myself being called the wrong name? One day it would be nice to have an entire shift being referred to as Becca. But, having been called Beth for the last 3 months it's kind of stuck, and I can't bring myself to correct them. It's waaaaay past the point of that and it looks as if I'll be sticking with 'Beth' for the duration.

Some customers are rude. There are always going to be people who want to have a moan, whether it be valid or not.  But rather than cause a scene, it's much simpler to just smile and apologise, even if what they're saying is total baloney. Yes, this is the 'weaker' position and you'll hate taking it, but having a shouting match with an elderly lady, in the middle of the shop floor, is perhaps not the best for business. 

Have you ever worked in retail?

Sunday 7 August 2016

7 Blogging Tips

Blogging is really rather popular at the moment and hence there are many new and exciting blogs popping up every day, you don't want yours to get lost amongst the crowd. I mean, yes there may be many beauty blogs out there, but not all of them are written by you, so they're not all going to be the same. Have a niche, write about what you love, don't get caught up in the latest blogging trends and become a carbon copy of your favourite blogger. 

I genuinely think you can tell when a post has been rushed and only published for the sake of it. I'm sure your readers would much prefer to read one well-written post a week than seven that have been half-heartedly churned out during your lunch break. 

This one is slightly contradictory, but if you only ever post about black, volumizing mascaras for example (niche, I know) then why not do a more broad beauty post one day? Sometimes it's nice to read a post that you wouldn't necessarily expect from a blogger, it makes a nice change. And who knows, your blog may evolve if you realise you prefer writing about something different! 

I'd say this was pretty vital. A website that is easy to use and not too flashy is often much better than one that should come with an instruction manual for those browsing it. For example, perhaps have all of your social media accounts/widgets/links in one place, so that if someone wants to follow you, they can do so with ease, all without having to scroll any further, or having to uncover a hidden page tab.

Yes, you'll enjoy seeing your blog grow and change, but setting expectations is not an overly great idea. Having an idea of where you'd like your blog to be in X day/weeks/months is all well and good, but don't be disheartened if you don't reach it in time. That being said, ambition is great and having an idea of what you'd like isn't necessarily a bad thing, just don't get caught up in the numbers. Hence, I'd argue that goals are better than expectations, but more than anything, just enjoy it. 

If you haven't already got an account for your blog, make one! There's always lots of blogging related things going on over there, and it's a great place to promote both your blog generally, and your recent posts!

Not only in terms of your blog's readers and followers, who may or may not, be intrigued to read on, but also in terms of Google searches. People who've never even heard of BF&L may stumble across it if they search something I've posted about previously. So, in order to maximise traffic use titles that'll spark interest, but are also snappy and relevant. 

What's your number one blogging tip?

Friday 5 August 2016

Room Tour

I never know what to say in these sorts of posts, other than welcome to my room I guess? I spend waaay too long in here, not that I'm particularly ashamed of that, especially as I'm finally 99.87% happy with it, and all the decor. I wasn't sure whether to list where everything is from, under each picture, but a lot of what's featured isn't for sale anymore, sorry! 

That being said, you can read about the memo board here, and if you're super observant you may even be able to spot the bits I picked up from the Homesense event (post here) dotted around the place. A lot of the furniture in my room is from the mothership; Ikea, as well as quite a few of the accessories. I stuffed the blue cushion (featured on my bed) in my suitcase and it travelled all the way back from Florida with me last year. I spotted it in Target and just couldn't leave it behind.

The prints on my wall were all from Etsy, I just searched monochrome prints and bought the first four I liked the look of. They're nothing fancy by any means, but I like how they look on that otherwise bare wall. One other thing to note is, of course, the chairdrobe. What is a room without one?! If you're not aware, a chairdrobe is essentially just a chair that's stacked sky high with clothes, and I'm sooo guilty of having one.  

I was just trawling through the BF&L archives and just found two other room tour posts, and oh my. how my style has changed!! If you're interested you can view those here and here

Are you guilty of having a chairdrobe?

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Clear(er) Skin

I hate my skin. Okay, not all of it, just my poor, now acne-scarred, face. I had really bad acne a few years ago, managed to clear it up, and honestly, had never been happier. But only in the last six months or so have the horrible cystic pustules started returning (sexy), so I've been trying my absolute best to keep them at bay. I don't want to jinx it *touch wood* but I think I've been doing an alright job, so I thought I'd share what I've been doing, and hope that someone in the comments can share a miracle cure! (Also, the above photo is with no makeup, and in comparison to how it looked around Christmas time, it's amazing).

The first thing I've really changed is my water intake, I've upped it tremendously. I try to drink at least the recommend 2L a day, if not more. Doing such has definitely helped, and I just generally feel much better for it. This also feeds in well to my second point; I've tried to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. Yes, I love desserts, chocolate, sweets etc, but I've (painstakingly) reduced the amount of such I eat. I've also stopped guzzling lemonade and juice, as the sugar content in those is pretty crazy. (Okay, I know I'm sounding like the fun police here, but these are just the things I've been doing to try and sort my skin out, I'm not forcing you into my subsequent dull diet!)

In my opinion, however, the thing that's had the best impact on my skin is the antibiotics I'm now taking. I know doing such sparks a lot controversy in the dermatology world, but so far I've had nothing but good results. I know it's not a long term fix, I mean, I can't take these tablets forever, but for now, I'm happy with the progress they're making. That being said, my face is pretty scarred so if anyone has any tips for smoothing out the texture and colouring of my skin, that'd be much appreciated!

Do you have a miracle acne cure?

Monday 1 August 2016

3 Gym Tips For Those Who've Never Been

I feel like a bit of a fraud writing this post considering I haven't been to the gym since way before Christmas, and I could come at you with a whole heap of excuses, but let's be real here, I've just been a bit (very) lazy. That being said, I did spend quite a lot of time at the gym last year and hence feel as if I can share a few tips for gym newbies.

During my first 'sesh' (am I a proper gym lad now? lol) I was so worried that everyone else was watching me and laughing at my feeble attempts at exercise. Nope, oh how wrong I was, no one cared, and still, no one cares. Everyone sorta does their own thing, and just gets on with it. So, go on, you do you while they do them. 

Yep, this is one I really should have done. Don't get me wrong I listened to start of with, but as the instructor got to the 46387th weight machine I did sorta switch off. I thought I'd never use them and I was eager to get started and have a go on 'fun' stuff myself. Don't do that. Listen. Especially if they recommend techniques and what weight to use per set, it'll help when you attempt it for the first time yourself.

The second we were released into the gym I felt I should have a go at everything, and see how long I could run for before feeling like death etc. Again, learn from my mistakes, don't do that, especially if you're not use to that level of exercise. My legs were a little (extremely) sore the next day, but what was I expecting having spent far too long on the leg press, doing weights that my spindle-legs certainly aren't used to...

What do you think of the gym?
How was your first ever session?

Thursday 28 July 2016

HOW TO: Blog Organisation

So, BF&L has been around quite a while now, and if you go back a few years I'm sure you'll find quite a few dodgy posts. That being said, I've kept the same sort of organisation system this entire time and in my opinion it works rather well. This being said. I don't like to force myself to publish half-hearted content. So, if I'm not feeling like posting, I won't. 

For me, blog organisation centres around three main things; notepads, a diary and tweet scheduling. I always find myself with multiple blogging notepads on the go, each with pages of ideas, lists, things to do etc. I find that if I don't write a post idea down as it comes to me, I tend to forget about it. Then, when it comes to writing a post, all I need to do is turn to one of the aforementioned notebooks, flick to the most recent page and choose a topic to write about. 

This is also where the diary comes into play. I like to write my posts a few days in advance to make sure that I'm totally happy with them by the time it comes to pressing publish. So, having a calendar or diary really helps to lay out what's going up when, and thus what to finish off first. Also, with all my upcoming posts written before me, I can distribute them evenly throughout the week. For example, rather than posting 3 recipe posts consecutively, I can spread them out by posting a lookbook and a beauty review in between them, for example. 

The other thing a diary helps with is tweet scheduling. I love using twitter to promote BF&L, and always tweet a new post's link as soon as it's up. But this even happens when I'm out and about, and have no access to the internet? Nope, it's not magic, it's the beauty that is scheduled tweets. If you know when a post is going up, you can tweet the link and schedule it for when the post is live. Amazing, ey? Personally I use Hootsuite, but I know there are many other websites that offer the same service and I would wholeheartedly recommend giving it a go. Especially if you have readers on the other side of the world, who are asleep while you're awake and posting, and will have missed your tweets during the day!

How do you stay blog organised?

Tuesday 26 July 2016

The Holiday Preparation Routine

So, my holiday is very rapidly approaching and I'm a solid 10/10 excited. I've mentioned a bit more about what I'm doing in this post if you're interested in having a read, but I'm sure I'll be tweeting as and when I can, so if you're interested to see what I get up to, that's definitely the place to be. 

I always find myself doing the same sort of, albeit basic, beauty routine before a holiday. It's not the most complex of things, and doesn't take much time at all, but I end up doing it nonetheless. I like to make sure my skin is as smooth and soft as can be before I hop on the plane. You may think that sounds strange, but what's the first thing you want to do when the plane touches the ground in a hot country? Put on a bikini and head to the beach or pool. So prepping my skin way in advance definitely aids that happening, as you don't want to be hunting through your suitcase for a razor and body butter while everyone else is out having fun.

Another thing I like to do before I go away is tan. My boyfriend thinks I'm ridiculous for doing this, but where I'm so pale I do tend to stick out like a sore thumb and I'd much rather fake it than burn myself to a crisp.

My hair is always pretty dry, but spending a fortnight on the beach in the sun brings a whole new level of dryness. So, before (and while there) I like to apply a hella lot of hair mask and try and make my hair as strong and shiny as possible. At the moment I'm quite enjoying this Tresemme one, but I'll often just slather my hair in argan oil instead.

Finally, I like to redo both my fingernails and my toenails in a 'holiday colour'. This year I'm definitely into bright corals, and I haven't reached for a white or black polish all summer (these are my usual go-to's), which is pretty crazy for me. 

Do you have a holiday beauty routine too?

Sunday 24 July 2016

This Week I... (#48)

Swam in the sea for the first time this year. Wow, what a scorcher it's been this week. Amazingly, despite being the definition of pale, I've not really sunburnt at all, go Becca! Swimming in the sea was so much fun, despite my boyfriend not bringing swimming shorts?? To the beach?? On the hottest day of the year?? (I should probably add here before anyone hastily jumps to the wrong conclusion, no, he didn't skinny dip in broad daylight, he just wore his normal clothes in the water).

Wandered around some ruins. My Dad and I ventured to what's left of an old royal castle, and it was actually a really nice afternoon. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not usually the heritage site type, but it was a really interesting experience, and it was nice to do something different. Also, the clotted cream ice cream we had afterwards was very much needed, and sooo delicious. 

Was forced into another bike ride. My boyfriend is a very avid cyclist, and it's fair to say I don't quite share his passion for it. I mean, I don't hate cycling, but there are many other ways I'd prefer to spend an afternoon. That being said, I had promised to go out with him, and so this week I finally did and enjoyed it marginally more than I expected.

Updated my blog design. I think I'm finally getting to a point where I'm totally happy with it, hooray. The only thing I'm stuck with is my header, what do you think? Does the new one look better than it did?

Had a spontaneous late-night Sprinkles. You know sometimes you just reaaaally fancy something, and you feel like you can't stop until you've had it? For some, it may be hard drugs, but for me this week, it was a white chocolate, strawberry and banana crepe. And, oh my did I enjoy it. If you haven't been to a Sprinkles before go!! Yes, you may leave feeling slightly full, sick and guilty about the state of your arteries/heart/teeth (or all of the above) but it is so worth it.

What have you done this week?

Friday 22 July 2016

The America Wishlist

Very shortly I'll be jetting off to the US of A and I am soooo ready to eat nice food, be in the sun, do a hella lot of shopping, and just generally relax and not worry about boring, mundane things. This year has been very stressful - A Levels I'm lookin' at you - so it'll be nice to just do nothing and essentially just lie on a beach for a fortnight. That being said, we do have some exciting things planned, Busch Gardens anyone? 

Okay, so beauty things first; I've heard sooooo much about the Glow Kit and while I'm Stateside I'm definitely going to be checking it out. It costs $40, making each highlighter $10, which seems a pretty good deal to me - especially if they're as good as everyone has said. From one Anastasia product to the next... Their Dipbrow Pomade is something I'm very keen to get my hands on, and I'm hoping it lives up to the hype! I've currently got my eyes on the shade Taupe, as it looks similar to Mac's Omega eyeshadow which is what I use currently for my brows. If anyone's tried the shade Taupe I'd love to know what you think! Lastly, Sephora's lip products have had a fair bit of recognition lately, and I've decided that I need to try one (or ten) for myself. 

Bath and Body Works' Pocket Bacs are possibly my favourite item that they stock. Yes, they're just a hand sanitizer, but they smell soooo good. I've bought some on each of my trips to America so far, and I genuinely can't knock them, especially at only a dollar or two. 

I live on my iPad. I watch Youtube and Netflix on it, I spend hours scrolling Twitter on it, I use it as my alarm clock, I catch up on blogs on it, can you tell I use it a lot? Unfortunately, it's stopped charging very well but considering it's 4 years old and a hand-me-down from my Dad, I'm not too shocked. So, while in Florida I may have to treat myself to a new one... That being said, it may work out cheaper just to get it here, so we shall have to wait and see if I return with a good ol' Apple purchase.

And finally, the foodie bits. Pink Lemonade is my favourite drink everrrrr and I literally drink gallons of the stuff while I'm away. It's really refreshing and the fact it's not available in the UK is honestly a crime in my opinion. Lucky Charms. What would an American Wishlist be without a quick mention of the aforementioned cereal? It's amazing, enough said. Now, the sugar cookies are a bit of a random one, but I always see them on my Twitter feed and I'd love to buy a box. 

What other American products would you recommend I pick up?