Hey there lady friends, I'm back! Sorry for the accidental break in posts there - it wasn't intentional, but I've been pretty crazy busy of late cos real life just kept getting in the way. I've had some work stuff to sort through and me and the fella have been organising our summer break, so that took up a lot of time, but also we've been dotting around the States for a couple of weeks and, tbh, I just wanted to make the most of it. Soz. Sorta.
So here we are, with a whole new little series for you. I um-ed and ah-ed with the title for a while, but Monday Musings was always my fave (that autocorrected to 'face' and no word of a lie, I laughed for about a whole minute), and my little pool of Twitter friends - love you guys - picked it in a poll I ran as well. Hashtag winning.
But why Monday Musings, you ask? Well, I like words a lot, and I felt like I needed to focus on what I love with my blog rather than trying to do everything all the time. With this series, I'm gonna rant on about the very best things in my week, from shopping to travel to OMG you need to watch this, and also occasionally let off some steam about the things that have irked me a bit. You'll probably get to know me a little better, too, so I won't just be another random blogger writing about ooh buy this. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind. It's just not very me.
I'm cheating a little this week, as I've had nearly two weeks away from you and there are so many things I want to tell you. So, as a little treat to you, welcome to a cheeky double bill of my first ever Monday Musings.
1. I Like to be in America
I love you, America, I love pretty much everything about you. Except obviously Donald Trump, your inexplicable love of guns and, possibly most of all, your slightly insane approach to customs and immigration. Because that's just a nightmare. Seriously, they made me take of my Primark sandals and put them through the scanner 'just in case.' I mean, do I really look like the type of person who's going to try and hide something in an £8 pair of sandals?
Anyway, I made it through all that without being strip searched or arrested (always a plus), and kicked off my mini work tour in New Orleans. We were only there for two days, but I managed to go to the first day of the Jazz Festival, had a little overnight jaunt in the French Quarter and got some great shopping done. Not gonna go into too much detail as I'm planning a separate post on all things America, but it was absolutely awesome. New Orleans is probably one of my fave places in the world. Ever.
After that we stopped off in a couple of places in Florida, and Key West was particularly lovely. I had a fab girly day with some friends and hit the beach for a bit before eating ALL the food and drinking ALL the cocktails. Perfect!
Last on the list was Charleston (South Carolina), which is just a beautiful old-fashioned city. I did a Sephora binge there because meh, why not, and got particularly overexcited by the 24hr supermarket at 3am. But I don't understand why red Doritos are cheese in America? That's wrong, cheese is orange. Red is Chilli Heatwave. Heartbreaking moment for me when I realised they didn't seem to have Chilli Heatwave, but I perked up when I saw the Pringles. Sometimes it's the simple things in life.
2. Sharpie Stationery Binge
Just for a change, I went a little crazy for the stationery. I think it's because I was in America and, tbh, I don't really understand the dollar conversion so I always think I'm getting a ridiculous deal. Like, $10 is only about 4 quid, right? Right? I joke, I'm not really that bad. But it does just look like Monopoly money to me, so I never feel like it's real… quite dangerous.
Anyway, I spied all these bad boy Sharpies and pretty much lost my mind. SO. MANY. COLOURS. I snapped up a little fine liner rainbow, then three metallic markers (gold, silver & bronze) for good measure because I'm a horrible cliche. But just look at them!
3. Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins
The other week I went to Mexico and got myself on a tour to see Chichen Itza. I wish I could tell you more about it, but the tour guide audio headset thing mainly crackled at me so I couldn't really hear a lot of the stuff he was saying…
It took two and a half hours (!!) on a coach either way to get there, so thank God for headphones, air conditioning and a big blanket to sleep under, but it was totally worth it. The Mayans were an ancient civilisation who did loads of really weird things, but they built amazing cities that you can still visit in the Yucatan region of Mexico. I'm not going to give you a potted history (that's what wikipedia's for), but it is seriously incredible and if you ever get the chance to go you absolutely should. I came away with a mini Chichen Itza model for the boy because he couldn't come. Maybe we'll use it as a paperweight? It only cost a dollar.
Why oh why do we not have Sephora in the UK? Actually I just had a moment of, wait, we don't, do we?! If we do, I've never seen it… Anyway, Sephora is a little dreamboat and probably the most dangerous shop ever created by man. It's pretty much impossible to leave one empty handed, as I learned earlier on this year in Venice.
I went in thinking of buying a new daytime foundation, because I wear Esteé Lauder Double Wear for work/evening and it's cracking, but a little heavy for everyday wear. I've been using a Clinique CC cream with added SPF for a while, but it can make me a little shiny and I wanted something that would make me look a bit more polished but ideally still let my skin breathe. So I tried about 30 foundations on my hands, until I couldn't actually tell what colour my skin was anymore. And then I went for the jawline. It's lucky they keep makeup remover and cotton pads dotted around the shop, because I was starting to look like a tiger.
I fell a little bit in love with NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint (image courtesy of NARS website), so I coated half my face with it and left it for a while to see how it 'settled'… look at me pretending to know what I'm talking about, I almost fooled you there didn't I? Anyway, it felt amazingly light and really sort of velvety, so I came back the next day to buy it. And they didn't have my shade. I nearly cried.
But THIS is why Sephora makes it into my list this week. The lovely ladies in the store make me two takeaway pots from the tester, even though I said I wouldn't be able to come back to the store as I have a snowy UK to get back to. One girl then spent a good half an hour with me looking at other brands and helping to colour match me in case I liked something else better. How good is that customer service?! I felt a bit like a princess.
I learned that Dior doesn't like my skin tone (which probably makes my bank happier), but got a couple of other testers from Bobbi Brown and something else, I forget what. They don't seem to have quite the same matte finish though, so I'm still swinging towards NARS at the mo.
If you've got any great foundation ideas for me, or have tried the NARS one before, hook a girl up and let me know what you thought! I did still buy some stuff in Sephora, but that's coming at you in it's very own little post, so keep watching this space.
5. Summer House Hunting Trip
I've got something really exciting to tell you. This summer, my boyfriend and I are hoping to buy our very first house! We've saved up all our pennies for a deposit and have a meeting at the bank to hopefully secure an 'agreement in principle' so keep your fingers crossed for us! It's so exciting but also incredibly grown up and I'm not quite sure how I've managed to get here, but there we are.
We've managed to take a couple of months off working over the summer so we can hit the house hunting hard (thank God for flexible jobs) and have booked ourself into some lovely cheap places we found on Airbnb. Ideally we want to live somewhere that's not too ridiculously expensive but is still within commuting distance to London. We've got a couple of ideas of places to look, but any and all ideas are welcome if you know somewhere that won't bankrupt me!
6. Twitter love
Here's a confession for you. I deleted my Twitter account about 2 years ago because I never used it. I couldn't ever seem to find anything I wanted to see and, to be honest with you, just got a bit bored. I'd been on it since the start but it just started to feel like yet another social media account to write some rubbish on every now and again.
When I started my blog, I got my ass back on there and OMG why did I ever leave?! My old username was still available, so it sort of feels like nothing's changed, but Twitter is amazingnow. Like, you can add photos and videos? And make lists? Either I was really, really bad at it before or Twitter has upped its game so darn much.
I've found loads of really cool new blogs to read, and started getting to know some gals who blog too, which is so nice when you're new to the game and none of your real-life friends are doing it. I know I'm really new, but I already feel like I'm being accepted into a whole new community and it's giving me all the warm and fuzzies.
Also, my mum's on Twitter (hi mum) and she is my absolute #1 fan - if you've looked at my feed, she's pretty much liked, retweeted or replied to 75% of what I write. So a huge thanks to my new friends (and my mum) for giving me big virtual hugs every day. Love you all!
7. Chicfetti free prints
Because I'm getting all excited at the idea of having my VERY OWN HOUSE (keep your fingers crossed for me!), I've been all over decorating ideas and DIY hacks on Pinterest. If that floats your boat, check out my Craft Corner board, cos there are some really fab ideas on there.
During a bit of a binge, I came across an amazing website called Chicfetti where you can download some really cool photo-sized prints. For free. All you have to do is follow them on some kind of social media, and you get access to their entire free library. I got a bit carried away and downloaded about 30 of them. They're banging. I have major plans for these babies and some dirt cheap IKEA / Primark photo frames when I, y'know, actually have somewhere to put them.
Quick one here, but I'm over the moon because I finally hit 1,000 followers on Pinterest! Woohoo! I upgraded to their 'business account' when I started up my blog and read a few online tips, and now I'm getting so many notifications and repins and followers. It's mental, my account had pretty much stuck at 900 followers for the last few years, but now we're off again. Love it. Check me out here.
9. Southampton Bloggers Summer Event
As an offshoot of my newfound Twitter addiction, I've got in touch with some cool new people and bagged an invite to the Southampton Bloggers Summer Meetup. Beyond excited!
It'll be so lovely to actually meet people doing this whole blog thing, and swap tips and talk about all the things my boyfriend just doesn't understand. He's perfect, but trying to explain SEO and hits and Buffer? Forget it. I can't wait to get to know people who love the same things I do, and hopefully I'll make some friends I can keep beyond social media.
And that's a wrap!
To be honest, I really struggled with writing this as there were so many things I wanted to tell you about, but I didn't want to bore you by ranting on for half an hour. I hope you've enjoyed it, but please, please get in touch and let me know your thoughts. This is a work in progress and something I want to make really great, so tell me what works, what doesn't work, what you'd like to hear more about and what made you do the blank emoji face.
Please drop me a comment below, or send me a tweet and we'll get nattering. Love to you all xx