Sustainable Gift Guide

Sustainable Gift Guide

If you know someone who’s trying to be more sustainable, or maybe that’s you, I’ve compiled a gift guide to help you choose the right product!

Please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. This will in no way effect the price of the item; it merely gives me a commission from the sale.

Sustainable Gifts

Whether it’s make up or essentials, there’s ways to be sustainable while using the products you love.

Reusable Make Up Pads

Make up wipes cost a fortune but also create a lot of rubbish. What if you can still remove make up while being more sustainable? I recently purchased these make up wipes from Amazon which allow you to wipe make up off (you can also buy make up remover) without discarding the pads. All you need to do is pop them in the wash bag in with your clothes and voila! You can purchase a pack of 16 pads here.

Bamboo Razor

We all tend to use razors at some point, but if you’re like me you’ll buy a pack of three plastic lady shavers and bin them after a few months. This is a much better option for the environment – and your skin. You can buy the bamboo safety razor here.

Bamboo Toothbrush

Maybe not a gift you would usually give your loved one but it is a gift to the environment to battle against the amount of plastic toothbrushes we use each year. In the US alone, one billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year. You may only see it as one toothbrush but it all adds up. There are plenty of places to buy your bamboo toothbrush but I bought mine on Amazon.

Sustainable Gift Guide

Pencils

If your loved one is an artist, these recycled newspaper pencils are the perfect quirky gift. On Etsy they come in a pack of five and they’re made from 100% recycled paper.

Straws

Even as an adult I still love using straws in my drinks. But to be more eco-friendly I decided to buy some long lasting ones from TK Maxx. You can obviously find these in lots of health food stores, supermarkets but if you’re like me and barely go out, I recommend getting these metal straws.

Wax Wraps

Wax wraps are a great and Eco-friendly way of storing food without using nasty plastic Tupperware. They can store your lunch, fruit or even be wrapped around jam jars. I got my own from V-Eco food wraps where you can get some beautiful patterned wraps.

sustainable gift guide

Flask

If your partner has to commute to work each day, why not buy them one of these colourful flasks? They’re perfect to keep drinks hot for twelve hours or cold drinks cold for twenty-four!

Collapsible Travel Mug

This has been n my to-buy list for a while. I think they’re such a clever idea! You can just collapse the mug into your bag when you’re not using it and it pops back open when you want to fill it up. You can find these at lots of supermarkets now but if you’re looking to buy one online you can grab yourself one of these.

sustainable gift guide

I hope these have given you some good ideas on what to get your partner or friend or family member to help them become more Eco-friendly.

Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

I feel like I haven’t written a book review in a while so to start the year off on the right foot I’ll be reviewing Fiona Thomas’ book, Depression in a Digital Age.

This book has everything you need from Spice Girl references to Fiona’s rambling thoughts that help ground you and make you feel a little less alone.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

I really felt like I was taking a journey with Fiona while reading this. I felt sympathy for her when she went through her mental health breakdown and couldn’t work.

I myself have left countless jobs for mental health related reasons which has led me to a life of freelance work.

I completely emphasized with how she felt so overwhelmed with her workload and there’s a chapter in the book that really spoke to me.

Fiona talks about taking a break from work because it’s making her so stressed. However, she also stresses out when she takes a much needed break, worrying that people will miss her and need her.

I really resonated with this when I took a week’s holiday from freelance work to go to Morocco in November. Although I was so glad to get away I was worrying about money, about whether my clients had sent me thousands of emails, etc. Turns out when I got back and switched my work phone on, I had one email, and it was a promotional one. I felt a little disappointed no one had needed me and I’d wasted precious time on holiday worrying about my workload.

I think a good lesson to take away from Fiona’s book is that you can stress as much as you like but it won’t change the outcome or how quickly you can complete a task. Take a step back, breathe and relax. Everything will get done in the end.

Overall, Fiona’s book taught me it’s okay to let others help you. It’s okay to speak out about your mental health and not everyone wants the same thing.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

While some people are perfectly happy working 9-5 and getting home to get ready for the next day, not everyone feels the same. Sometimes our mental health stops us from doing the mundane tasks. Sometimes it prevents us from working on ourselves.

Not everyone’s journey is the same and that’s what I’ve learnt from Fiona. While our paths may be different, we share one thing in common. We just want to be happy. We want a life full of adventures. We don’t want to be bound by our mental illnesses. And that’s why Fiona’s story is so inspiring; she used her mental illness to help others.

In the book Fiona also talks about feeling like an imposter. That she isn’t qualified to do her job. The thing is, as a child I always thought I would grow up to feel so big and confident, like I could do anything. But I’m still little old anxious me. That won’t go away. We grow up to think adults have their shit together, when really we are all in the same boat, trying to paddle upstream to get to where we want to be.

Have you read Fiona’s book yet? She is currently writing another book all about being freelance which comes out later this year and I can’t wait to read it.

You can follow Fiona on her socials:

Instagram: @fionalikestoblog

Book: Depression in a Digital Age

Twitter: @fionalikes

Female Creatives Series: Q&A with Author Jessie Allyn

Female Creatives Series: Q&A with Author Jessie Allyn

Recently I came up with an idea to support female creatives and give others some empowerment. The planet, excuse my french, has gone to shit, so I wanted to make some positive posts and asked some people on Twitter whether they’d like to participate. My first interviewee is Jessie, an author and creative.

My first guest in this female creative series of posts is Jessie Allyn, an author and creative. Let’s see what she has to say!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Jessie Allyn. I am a writer who focuses primarily on fantasy and romance. My goals for the future are to get my first book published by next year and then open classes to teach other writers step-by-step how to write/publish their own books.

2. What do you do for a living?

Writing is not what I do for a living, but what I do for a living allows me to write.

3. What made you decide to do what you do for a living?

When I graduated college, I graduated with a Secondary English Education degree (I was an English teacher). But life has a funny way of not aligning the way you thought it would. I jumped from college to working with a pharmaceutical company, to working with a customer service call center, to working as a tutor for students with learning disabilities, to now managing a retail store. For me, these jobs are just a means to an end. I take on these jobs in order to support myself, my family, and my writing career. Because not everyone can afford to be a full-time writer like they dream to be…at least not in the beginning.

4. What would be your advice for someone looking to go into your profession?

Writing is hard. It’s not something most people can make a living off of. So if you want to be a writer, you need to understand that you write for your love of writing, not because you want to be a famous author one day. People glamorize being a writer, but they don’t know how hard it actually is. They don’t know how long it takes to craft a book, how many times you need to query agent after agent, how many rejection letters you might get, how much money you will spend on marketing, how many unpaid hours you will lose to edits. Writing is not a get rich quick scheme, it’s a labor of love. Every book that is published was fought for. Every writer put themselves out there, in all this stress and chaos, not because they wanted to be famous – but because they had a story to tell. So my advice, to anyone who wants to become a writer, is to write for yourself first and the rest of the world second. In the end, you might be the only person to pick up that book and that needs to be enough for you.

 

Female Creatives Series: Interview: Jessie Allyn

5. What are some of your hobbies or skills that you’d like to improve this year?

I am constantly taking seminars, attending virtual classes, listening to podcasts, and working with other editors/writers in hopes to better my writing craft. So for this year, I am hoping to get to a place where I can confidently create my writing course and launch my classes for other writers out there. My goal is to be able to take someone who has no idea what to write, help them work through their entire writing process and then help them through the entire publication process. There are so many things about writing and publication that you aren’t taught and that information is super hard to find these days. So my goal is to improve my writing craft to the point where I can take all of the knowledge I’ve collected over the years and make it accessible to anyone who needs it.

6. Can you list 3 books that empower you and that you recommend every creative reads?

Julie Kagawa’s “Talon” Series – She has an amazing way of writing from multiple perspectives without breaking the flow of her novel (something I envy to this day).
Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” – This was the book that taught me that not every story needs to end in a happily ever after.
David Clement-Davies’ “The Sight” – This book is probably the book I credit the most for how “alive” my characters feel. I learned from this book that if you make your characters multi-dimensional, it doesn’t matter if they are humans or wolves – people will find ways to relate to them.

7. I always ask this one as it’s fun to wrap up with! If you were stranded on an island, what 3 things would you take with you? And which 2 people?

A knife, a flint striker, and some sort of water purifier. I’d bring my significant other and probably The Rock (I mean, he’d be super helpful on an island and more people would probably search for him than me haha).

If you want to find out more about Jessie and her work, you can visit her website here.
Thank you so much to Jessie for participating! Don’t forget to subscribe for more Q&As, tips, reviews and more!

Reasons Your Website Isn’t Getting Views

Reasons Your Website Isn’t Getting Views

Have you been struggling with gaining new followers and visitors to your site? Down below I list the reasons why your website isn’t getting views and what you can do to improve the situation.

You Aren’t Marketing Yourself

As a blogger, it can be difficult to know how to market yourself to stand out from the rest. You have to have a certain level of confidence in your work in order to believe in it, and therefore, to market it.

If you’re writing blog posts you aren’t passionate about, you won’t be passionate about marketing it. The first step to gaining views is to decide how you want to be perceived, and this starts with your brand.

You Don’t Have A Brand

Maybe the reason you aren’t getting views on your website is because you simply do not have a consistent brand. For my website I have a logo and I’ve named all my social media accounts the same thing. I have a consistent logo on all social media channels so when someone mentions me or my blog, they will have the image of my logo in their head.

Reasons Your Website Isn't Getting Views

You can hire a graphic designer to create a look for your website or to create a custom logo. My wonderful friend Chelsea created one for me which I adore! It describes me perfectly and I wouldn’t change it! To market your brand, you have to have a consistent theme or be known for your niche.

You Don’t Have A Posting Schedule

Another reason your website isn’t getting views could be that you don’t post at a time when your followers are online. I asked my followers on Instagram a series of questions recently about the times they’re online, what content they want to see and what days they’re most active. I learnt that my followers tend to be online at night time on weekdays and they prefer my original content instead of graphics.

Not only is it important to post your blog on WordPress or your website at the right time, it’s also important when you post to your social channels. These handy graphs from Sprout are a great way to see what traffic you could be getting by posting at the correct times. Please bare in mind these are from last year.

A way you can see what time your followers are online is to do the same thing I did. Or you can do your research on what country gives you the most views and aim to publish a blog post or Instagram post at a time that suits them. It’s all about analyzing your audience.

You Aren’t Targeting Your Audience

Another reason your website isn’t getting views could be that you aren’t targeting the right audience. The internet has so many blogs and websites for people to read. You need to make sure you stand out and your audience – your followers – are the key. Take a look at what they blog about or like to read – host polls on social media asking what your followers prefer to see from you and when.

If you’re looking to change your niche, I recommend going through all your social media channels and following people who also blog or have a website similar to yours. The odds are they will be interested in the same content that they write about – I know I am.

Start following these people, interacting with their posts and networking. This is how you can get organic views to your website and target the right audience too!

You Don’t Have The Right Tools

It’s obvious that if you see an appealing looking blog with a great aesthetic, you’re going to click on it. After all, that’s why we scroll through Pinterest for hours on end, right?!

There are so many free apps you can get to improve the visuals for your website. I currently use Canva which I use for my clients as well. It’s easy to use and you can use so many graphics and illustrations for free. You can also upgrade your plan so you get even more options.

Changing it up so you have eye-catching visuals will make a huge difference for your website.

You Don’t Have The Right Social Media Channels

You might not be getting the views you want because you haven’t downloaded apps and promoted your articles or website on the right platforms. I predominately get my views from Twitter and WordPress followers. So my goal is to gain followers on here.

I know a lot of bloggers who gain hundreds of views through Pinterest and if you have the swipe up function, on Instagram. I do gain a few followers and views through Instagram but it’s very rare.

You have to do your homework, see what works for you. I used to get so many views via Facebook groups and promoting on my Facebook Page. Nowadays, I get less than half my views from there. But that’s where it all started for me, so you have to know your audience, have a brand and know exactly when to post in order to get the views. I hope this was helpful in some way, and by all means, if you have any tips feel free to share them in the comments section of my blog.

If you want more advice on how to promote your website, check out my recent blog post.

If you’re still confused and need help growing your audience and gaining views to your website, contact me via email at greenv745@gmail.com and I can help you create content and market your brand. I am a social media manager myself and have several clients I work with on social media and generating new, organic followers.

Book Review: The Man In Forest Hills

Book Review: The Man In Forest Hills

I was recently asked by basketball player and author Alex Owumi, if I wanted to review his audio book, The Man in Forest Hills. Alex has always been a great friend and has helped increase my blogging audience over the past couple of years. I admire him and his journey and wanted to review one of his books!

Book Review: The Man in Forest Hills

The Man in Forest Hills is set around the character Thomas Kent, a detective based in Boston. He wakes up from a coma after being shot to find out his family are gone. He thinks it’s something to do with one of the high profile cases he’s worked on in the past and starts trying to dig into the mystery further…

I don’t want to give away any more spoilers as there’s a lot that goes down in the book!

I really enjoyed actually listening to an audiobook and being able to do other things; it was also a really good book to start off with. It only took me two days to get through although I did have to pay close attention to all the characters!

What I really enjoyed about this book was the suspense. Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger, making you wonder who was behind the murder of Kent’s family. As a reader, you also struggle to determine whether Kent is playing good cop or bad cop by trying to avenge his family’s murder.

If he murders the people who have harmed them, is he then in the wrong? Or is he doing a good deed to make sure they don’t murder again? It’s a very moral oriented story. We have to pick whether we are backing Kent or we want him to go to jail.

As the chapters go on we also see flashbacks to before Kent’s family were murdered; we also see his time in the police academy and how his story has unraveled to leave us where he is now. By giving us this glimpse into Kent’s past, Owumi has let the reader into his world; these flashbacks intrigue us and we find ourselves wanting to know more.

Overall, I felt like the story line was well thought out and I can’t wait to read the rest of Owumi’s books!

You can purchase Alex’s books here.

You can also read Alex’s thoughts and tips on his blog.

Hope you enjoyed this review! Remember, if you have a book you want reviewed, email me at greenv745@gmail.com

Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Hi guys! So last week I posted a review of Melvin Burgess’ Junk. I read that before Clean because Juno referred to that as her inspiration.

About Clean

Clean is centred around Lexi Volkov, the daughter of a wealthy hotel owner who so happens to be spoilt and can get whatever she wants, when she wants. Which essentially means she can also do drugs with her boyfriend Kurt whenever she wants.

However, Nikolai, Lexi’s brother kidnaps her and takes her to a special clinic on an island where she can do the ten step progam to get clean.

She meets a lot of different people (with money) who are there for other addictions such as anorexia and OCD. Lexi needs to decide whether she wants to recover or waste her life away. Her new found friends may just be the answer she needs…

Review

I’ve been to a few events where Lexi has been said to be very confident and commanding. I thought she would be a total bitch – and she is at the start – but really she has a soft centre to her.

She seems to want to hide all her secrets and blames everyone for her mistakes. She doesn’t realise she has a problem until it’s nearly too late.

What I love about this book is the character development of all the addicts. Juno really can get into the mind of an addict and it’s amazing. At times we just want to tell Lexi to put the coke down and step away. But we see her go through the ups and downs all the way to the end.

I warmed to all the addicts at the centre, even Sasha. Everyone has issues but it’s how you deal with them that counts.

I loved the writing and the characters. And obviously the fact it’s set in London. What more could you want?

Have you read Clean? What did you think?

Book Review: Junk by Melvin Burgess

Book Review: Junk by Melvin Burgess

Hey guys!

I read Melvin Burgess’ book, Junk ages ago and wanted to share my thoughts about the book.

About Junk

Junk is a book about a group of teens who get caught up in all sorts of dodgy dealings, from drugs, to stealing to even prostitution. Two teens run away, Gemma who is loud and confident, and Tar, shy and quiet. They fall in and out of love and we see their lives unravel through the years.

Review

I thought Junk was incredibly clever and well written. It is written in first person and has lots of the characters’ opinions and view points in. It was a book that needed to be written. We see how easy it is to get into drugs, smoking, alcohol and more when Gemma and Tar start to live with two other teens in a squat.

We see Gemma become reckless and full of herself after she leaves her parents. Whereas Tar, beaten up by his dad and abused by his mother, starts to make friends and a life for himself. But that all seems to change when Gemma meets Lily, a quirky girl in her own world. They become instant friends and Gemma decides to live with Lily and her boyfriend Rob. Tar, being the hopeless romantic he is, chases after Gemma and decides to live in the squat with them.

Everything is fine at first. Until they start smoking hash and then get on to Heroin. Their personalities change over the years. They become less caring, depressed and even more irresponsible.

I think it was important for Burgess to put this book out there to one, explain to people what addiction is and how hard it is to come off, and two, how anyone, literally anyone, can get into the same situation Tar and Gemma found themselves in. Like Melvin said, he didn’t want to write the book at all, but he knew he had to.

I thought that the character development in this was phenomenal, even if it wasn’t a good character development. It showed us how peoples personalities can change when on drugs. After all, these kids were impressionable, they were both only 14 when they left their parents.

It’s no wonder Tar got addicted to drugs so easily coming from the family he had. But he should have recieved help before it got to that point. But at the time, he didn’t think he needed help, he just made out as though they were having a bit of fun and could easily come off the drugs if they wanted.

But unfortunately it’s not that easy. Things don’t always go to plan. And that’s what I love about this book; the way Burgess is so honest with the readers. He doesn’t shy away from the topic of drugs, sex or anything. He openly discusses it and I found the book to be an eye opener.

I look forward to reading Melvin’s other books!

Until next time, love, Vee x

Christmas Markets – Frankfurt

Christmas Markets – Frankfurt

Last weekend we visited Frankfurt and its Christmas markets. We packed jumpers, coats, hats and scarves but the weather was just the same as the UK.

My aim was to have a Baileys hot chocolate, come back with a mug and have a pretzel the size of my face – which I did.

We arrived really late on Friday night and stayed at the Bristol Hotel next to the train station. After someone (Oliver’s dad) forgot the directions, we eventually made it to the hotel after 45 minutes but it should have taken 5 😂

We woke up, had breakfast and walked to where the Christmas markets are. We stopped in a store that reminded me of Flying Tiger before heading into the markets to grab hot chocolate with amaretto.

We stayed out for a few hours to take pictures, buy drinks and get some food. There were so many stalls, from food, drinks to hardware and Christmas ornaments. I’ve never seen a market so big. We also walked over a bridge the other side of the river where there were a few flea markets and we also went into a large church with a choir performing.

We went back to the room for a while and caught up on I’m a Celeb before going out again at 7pm to see the markets in the dark.

We ended up having a Maccy D’s. We always like to see the difference in food choices when we go away. You can make your own mcflurrys and get different types of burgers. In France you can even get seafood.

On Sunday we got up, had breakfast at the Bristol Hotel and headed off to the markets again. This is when I bought my pretzel (it only cost €3.50). I also managed to get myself a Baileys hot chocolate! First time I’ve ever tried Baileys and I definitely approve.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed attending my first European Christmas Market. It was so festive and I can’t wait to go to a new Christmas Market again.

A few tips for anyone thinking of going to a Christmas market:

  • If you buy a mulled wine or hot chocolate, you’ll pay more for the mug and get a token. If you take the mug back, you’ll get some money back. If you decide to keep it, just swap it for a clean mug.
  • Bring warm clothes such as a coat and hat but don’t worry about bringing gloves and scarves as it’s currently the same temperature as it is in the UK.
  • Check times of when markets open and close before you go and see if you can find any secret markets or indoor stalls.

A Trip To Marrakech

A Trip To Marrakech

Hi all! As you may have guessed from my selfie spam on social media, we went to Morroco for a week away. We stayed at the Riu Tikida Palmeraie in Marrakech, a short shuttle bus away from the centre of Marrakech. We went for the all inclusive because we wanted a paid for summer holiday with no fuss or hassle. We only took £50 spending money and managed to get snacks, KFC (yes we are those people on holiday) and souvenirs.

For the first few days we stayed at the hotel, lounging about on the sunbeds and swimming in the indoor swimming pool (which was completely empty for some reason). We binged on food and drink because let’s face it, you have to on all inclusive to get your moneys worth.

On Friday we decided to go into Marrakech centre and took the free shuttle bus from the hotel. I wanted to go to Majorelle Gardens as it looked so beautiful on the photos I’d seen. We could have been dropped off there but we decided to go all the way into the centre so we would know where pick up and drop off is. We walked quite a way as the gardens are a little further out and paid 70 Dirhams each to go inside which is less than £10. I was only interested in the gardens and not the museum so we only paid for that. The gardens were completely stunning and it was lovely to see how peaceful it was away from the bustling city centre. I would definitely recommend a visit.

After strolling through the gardens for around an hour and encountering some wildlife, we walked back into town and headed for KFC. Our legs were hurting from walking and I was way to hot in my leather jacket even though everyone was wearing huge puffy coats.

I really wanted to visit the palaces but we got lost on the map so instead we headed for the souks which was quite an experience. We got lost several times and were bombarded with questions from local sellers and stall holders. I didn’t particularly enjoy the souks but it was good to have ticked it off my list.

For the next few days we had some rain but also some gorgeous days with highs of up to 24c in November. It’s the perfect time to go because our hotel was fairly cheap, there was hardly anyone there and we experienced some lovely weather.

We headed back into the souks on Sunday night to see it in the dark and to buy some items with our leftover money. We bought Oliver’s parents a little tealight holder and I got a fake designer bag because I’m that girl.

Our last few days consisted of going to the local supermarket which came across as a Costco and spending some quality time in the sun drinking. It was sad to come home to reality but at the same time I can’t wait for the next adventure. Down below are some tips for anyone wishing to visit Morroco/Marrakech.

Tips

  • For women, it is best to cover the shoulders and knees to draw less attention to yourself but don’t worry about being too strict, it’s only for mainly going to the religious spots and palaces. I dressed conservatively to avoid attention.
  • If you’re staying in an all inclusive like us you don’t need to bring too much money with you unless you want to eat out a lot.
  • Take a water bottle to be more sustainable but to also keep hydrated as it can get quite humid, especially if you are walking a lot.
  • Ignore people wanting to sell you things, you will say no thank you ten times over if not.
  • People will pretend to shout things such as “you’ve dropped your purse” to get your attention so they can steal from you.
  • I noticed a lot of people were quite nasty and rude and only wanted money so keep your wits about you; don’t let anyone show you directions or carry your bag, you will be hassled until you give them money.
  • Don’t take pictures of monkeys and snake charmers because they will demand money from you.

Don’t forget to have a great time! Have you been to Morroco? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

Poetry Review: She Must Be Mad

Poetry Review: She Must Be Mad

Hey guys. In this week’s blog I’ll be reviewing Charly Cox’s poetry debut, She Must Be Mad.

She Must Be Mad is a book about revisiting young love and painful times. There are three sections within the book; She Must Be In Love, She Must Be Mad, She Must Be Fat and She Must Be An Adult.

I have to say, I didn’t relate to a lot of the things Cox describes in the book because I’ve never had drunken night out or anything like that.

The mental health part of the book resonated with me and also some of the weight issues. I still struggle with how I look, I always will, but we learn to accept ourselves as we are.

Cox also describes what being an adult is all about and how it’s not what we expect it to be. She has a lovely writing style and makes the reader welcome in her world. She’s not afraid to tell her story in detail and that’s what I love about people.

Cox tries to make you feel less alone in a world that tells you want to be and how to act. She comforts you with her words of wisdom about when she went through her youth. The part at the end about being an adult actually made me want to cry because this year I turn 20 and I’m petrified. I don’t want to face being an adult and I don’t want to let go of my teens. But knowing others feel the same way I do is reassuring.

If you want a heartfelt read about youth, lust, love and mental illness, then this is the book for you. Until next time, love, Vee x