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My 2018 Goals

We are three quarters the way through January, so you might be surprised to see a post about my 2018 goals and resolutions. However, I am trying very hard to stick with them this year and I thought putting them on here might help me keep going. You know – guilt me into sticking with it!

I have two sections to this: my goals and my resolutions. The goals are something that I can achieve and cross off the list, but the resolutions are an ongoing part of my year. In the past I have been pretty rubbish at keeping my resolutions. This year I tried hard to make them managable and achievable. I have even started a sort-of bullet journal to help me track my blog posts/workouts etc.

My Goals

  • Move in with my boyfriend (see my post here for more info!)
  • Publish a research paper (I’m doing a PhD and this is an important part of the process)
  • Finish my secret project. It is only secret because I use a pseudonym on here and writing this one out would tell you all my real name!

My Resolutions

  • Write a blog post (at least) once a week. I really am trying to get back into blogging!
  • Do yoga at least once a week. I used to be so into yoga (specifically Yoga with Adriene), but I barely did any in 2017.
  • Write for at least 2 hours a day, five days a week. I’m in the third year of my PhD now, and I definitely need to start cranking out the words so I better keep to this one!

Wish me luck!

 

I’m Moving!

I’m moving. Well, not actually until July but I’m moving! I have lived in my current house since September 2015 and I have really loved it here. It was the first time I had lived on my own, and in a proper house too. But, the time has come for me to move in with my boyfriend! I’m so excited!

So, why am I moving if I love it here so much? The main reason is actually a practical one. My PhD funding ends in August and I don’t have enough money to kept renting alone. However, it isn’t JUST because of money. I have been with my boyfriend for coming up three years and we have spent most of that living 200 miles from each other. It will be really good to be able to spend more time together, without having to spend hour on train or in the car to do so.

We have started looking online at places. It is still much too early, but it is fun to look and see what we can afford. We’ll be moving to a new town so we’re trying to do lots of research so we don’t end up somewhere horrible! This is another slightly scary aspect of this moving process is that I’m moving back down south and I’ll have to try and make new friends. God, I hate making friends as an adult! Anyone got any tips?

Anyway, I’m very excited! Is it too soon to start packing my things?

My Bathtime Routine

Winter really is the season of the bath. The nights are drawing in and the cold weather makes the idea of a warm, bubbly bath seem so much more tempting. It is time to break out the candles and face masks.

I am a big fan of the bath. Like lots of people, I find them a great way to relax on an evening and a good opportunity to do a little pampering. Another perhaps more unusual reason why I enjoy baths so much is that I can actually see what I’m doing! I am very, very shortsighted so being able to keep my glasses on is great and makes shaving my legs much easier and less precarious.

I would love to have slightly fancier bath and body stuff but, as PhD student, that isn’t really an option but you don’t need luxury products to get totally relaxed. In this post, I will chat all about my current winter bathtime routine.

bathtime routine products (2)

Ambiance

When it is bathtime, I like to make my bathroom a calm and relaxed place to be. I do a quick tidy up, get my towels all ready, and light a candle. This Oliver Bonas candle is in the Green Tea and Lotus Flower scent, which I love but warning – it can be overpowering in a small room.

Bubble Bath

Every bath needs some bubbles and my current bubble bath of choice is the Imperial Leather pearl rose and forget-me-not. Despite the name, this is not overly floral but the fragrance is pretty and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. This bath cream provides the bubbles and the luxurious bath time feeling we all want for only a couple of quid!

Face Mask

I am rubbish at remembering to use face masks so I find baths the perfect time to apply. I have very dry skin so I only use this L’Oréal pure clay detox mask on my T-zone. You don’t need to use much and it helps to keep my skin clear and blemish free.

Body Scrub

Honestly, I don’t really use body scrubs very often but this Scrub Love coffee scrub came in a recent BirchBox so I thought I’d give it a try. You don’t have to use it all at once as the pouch is re-sealable, which is useful. However, I don’t plan on using it again. It was incredibly messy and although it smelt nice (of coffee and orange oil) in the bath, it left my skin smelling like instant coffee all day long. Also, the scrub did not seem to improve the texture of my skin that much. So all in all – it is a pass.

bathtime routine lisabeth westwood

A Good Book

Whilst my face mask is doing its business, I like to relax with a book. I always have one on the go and I’m currently re-reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford Chronicles. Gaskell isn’t for everyone, as her books mainly focus on lower and middle class life in the North of England, but if you like nineteenth-century writers, like Jane Austen or the Brontës, give Gaskell a try.

bathtime routine cranford lisabeth westwood gaskell

After the bath

I won’t bore you with the details of my haircare or shaving routine. After my facemask is off and I’ve caught up with the goings on in Cranford, bathtime is over. My after-bath routine can be described in one word: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.

I first use the Le Petit Marseillais’ body oil with shea butter, argan and sweet almond oil. This is a French highstreet brand that I love and always get my mum to stock up on when she goes away. I’ve been using their shower gels and handwashes for years! They all have such beautiful fragrances and feel much more expensive than they are. After the body oil, I slather myself in Aveeno shea butter body lotion: this stuff has worked wonders for my eczema and dry skin!

Once all this has sunk in, I’m relaxed and ready to snuggle up in my dressing gown with Netflix. I’m currently re-watching Call the Midwife with tissues at the ready! To me, that is really the perfect winter evening routine.

bathtime routine lisabeth westwood

*links are for information only.*

November Favourites and Highlights

November isn’t actually over year but I have had such a good month that I wanted to talk about it now! Here’s a run down of my highlights and favourites from this month.

Crisp morning walks

Lisabeth Westwood winter woods chilly

I love this time of year: it is getting chilly but too cold, the mornings are still light, and I can walk to work not completely bundled up in scarves and hats. I live a few miles from my university and I’m loving my morning walks at the moment. I get wrapped up, stick on a podcast (current favourites are Crtl Alt Delete and No Such Thing as a Fish), and set off to work. I love the crisp, fresh air and I often make a slight detour to walk through the park for that extra autumnal feeling.

Bourgois Rouge Velvet Lipstick

Bourgois lipstick

Lipsticks. There are just so many out there and most don’t live up to the hype. However, I have been loving the combination of this Rouge Velvet lipstick (03 Hippink chic) and the BarryM lipliner in Runway. It is really longlasting, i.e. it doesn’t leave you with that horrible lipstick ring round your mouth after one sip of coffee. I love this colour – I’ve really been channeling my inner Alicia Florrick (another November favourite, I watched ALL of the Good Wife recently).

I’m going to New York!

I’m so excited for this one! I have wanted to go to New York for as long as I can remember. As a child of the 90s, Friends and the like made NYC look like the place to be. I was lucky to win an academic prize that will fund a research trip to the Big Apple in March. It won’t be all fun but I’m really looking forward to planning my stay. I have the hotel booked (I’m staying at the AKA Wall Street and it looks so fancy), next is flights!

Teaching

I won’t sugarcoat it, teaching is hard and I only have a few seminar groups a week. I’m so impressed for all those primary and secondary school teachers out there, it is so much work! Despite all that work and marking, I have loved teaching this year. My students are so nice and seem to be engaged with the subject, the latter is really all that I’m interested in. The extra money has definitely come in handy this month too as Christmas is fast approaching.

L’Occitane Shea Handcream

Birchbox handcream Lisabeth Westwood L'Occitane

I mentioned this handcream in my review of the November Birchbox and I have really been enjoying it. I get very dry skin in winter and my skin has been loving this cream – it is so rich and moisturising. It is the perfect size for on the go but I have mine on my desk. I think I even prefer it to the Body Shop hemp handcream and that has been my favourite for years!

 

My First Impressions: BirchBox X Vogue

I recently subscribed to the Birchbox. Each month you get a five beauty bits, makeup, skincare, and haircare to try for £10 per month: most of them are minis – but you get a decent sample size.

I have to be honest, I’m often a bit disappointed by the contents for example, in two of my recent boxes I got coffee scrubs (that I can’t use because of my eczema) and sometimes the makeup is in colours I’d never wear (shimmery dusky pink eyeshadow anyone?). BUT I was very happy when I opened the November box and I’m going to share my first impressions of the products below.

Birchbox Lisabeth Westwood

Seche Vite: Dry Fast Top Coat

Seche Vite Birchbox Lisabeth westwood

I had heard lots of things about this Seche Vite top coat. Lots of bloggers and YouTubers have raved about it so I was very excited when I got a full-size bottle in my Birchbox. I immediately got out my nail varnishes and went to town. Initially, I was impressed: my varnish dried really quickly and my nails looked pretty and shiny. However, less than 24 hours later, the varnish on one of my nails had flaked off entirely and now (3 days into wear), it looks absolutely terrible. Granted I have only tried it with one nail varnish so I will give it another go with a different brand but I was so disappointed.

Rating: 1/5

Benefit: Hoola

Benefit hoola birchbox Lisabeth Westwood

I have used Benefit’s Hoola before so this is less of a first impressions. It is a good-sized mini but the packaging isn’t great quality – the lid doesn’t stay closed – so I wouldn’t want to travel with it. I don’t wear bronzer very often but I love this one. It is matt, a nice neutral colour (no scary orange bronzer here!), and has great wear time. I’m excited to start bronzing up my very pale face again this winter.

Rating: 3/5 (would have been 4/5 but the packaging let it down).

Percy & Reed: Smooth, Sealed & Sensational Hair Oil

Birchbox Percy & Reed hair oil Lisabeth Westwood

I have wavy/curly hair and use a hair oil everytime I shower as otherwise my hair would be frizz-central. I gave this a whirl yesterday and I was very happy with the results. It smells great and left my hair soft, frizz-free, and didn’t make my roots oily.  I’m excited to add this product into my haircare routine and, as you only use a few drops each time, this mini should last me ages. I’d definitely invest in the full-size.

Rating:5/5

Birchbox: Brush Cleaner

Birchbox brush cleaner Lisabeth Westwood

I don’t know about you but cleaning my brushes is a task I absolutely hate. It takes ages and you end up covered in eyeshadow and goop. Therefore, I was keen to give this brush cleaner a go – anything that will make it quicker to clean my brushes so that I can go do something more fun. It worked really well, especially with eyeshadow brushes. You just spray a little brush cleaner on the brush and swirl it around on silicone pad. Easy and clean to use, it has changed my brush cleaning life.

Rating: 5/5

L’Occitane en Provence: Shea Butter Hand Cream

Birchbox handcream Lisabeth Westwood L'Occitane

This handcream is the perfect addition to your handbag. It is small but a little of the cream goes a long way. As it has shea butter in it, it is a very thick, nourishing cream so it is great for winter when your skin gets dry and uncomfortable. As I mentioned earlier, I have eczema but this didn’t irritate my skin and the fragrance is subtle.

Rating: 4/5

 

How to Write More and Enjoy It

For those that don’t know, November is NaNoWrMo (National Novel Writing Month). Thousands of people will be picking up their pens to write that book they have been planning for years. Maybe you are thinking about starting that first novel or perhaps just want to write more words, more often for your blog or university/school work. This post will breakdown a few tips and tricks that I have learnt whilst doing my PhD.

For the past two years, I have been writing about 10,000 words every six to eight weeks for my PhD supervisions. It can be pretty intense and when I had just started the PhD, I was often rushing to get things done, staying up late, and getting up far too early to meet deadlines. Over time, I have got better at writing by simply learning what makes my writing sessions more productive and less stressful. For more on productivity, check out this post.

Academic Year and You

1. Know what you want to write

I’m sure everyone’s English teacher at school advised you to plan your essay before you start. It might be boring advice, but it is excellent advice. If you don’t know what you want to talk about or the angle that you plan to take with your blog post/essay/whatever, it is going to be much much harder to write. Personally, I find that my ideas develop as I write – it is part of my process – so I’m not suggesting that you should have every sentence thought out. Just take some time to think ahead and you’ll save yourself hours in the long run.

2. Just write something, anything!

When you are trying to write, few things are more terrifying than the blank page. Although I think planning can really help, at some point you have to start writing so just go for it. Don’t overthink things and just get some words out! We are all guilty of trying to craft the perfect sentence or paragraph, of agonising over every word, of deleting and rewriting over and over again. I try not to re-read whilst I’m writing; instead, I just get as many words out as I can and then edit later. For the first draft, any words are better than no words.

3. Set (sensible) goals

When I have a deadline approaching, everything (even cleaning the bathroom or taking out the bins) seems more appealing than writing. I have to persuade myself to write, and I do this by setting myself a goal for the day. It is important to make the goal acheivable but not super easy: I tend to go for 500 words as I can usually manage it even when inspiration isn’t flowing. Then tell someone your goal, like a friend, colleague, or partner. You’ll then have someone to hold you accountable and to celebrate with! The prospect of writing seems so much less daunting when you know exactly what you want to acheive that day.

For some people writing comes naturally but for others (myself included!), it can take time to learn what makes you a more productive and happier writer. These three tips have improved how I work and made writing a much more pleasent process.

Happy writing!

Library shot PhD

Unpopular Book Opinions

I just logged back onto my Lisabeth Westwood Twitter account for the first time in a year! I had a few notifications from people who might not have realised that my blog was on a hiatus. Back in January, I was tagged for this post by Lydia Wilkins and actually wanted to do the tag – even if it was 10 months late!!

What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like? 

The Harry Potter series. I’m 27 so was the perfect age for the Harry Potter series when it came out in 1997 and I did read – and enjoy – the first four books. My favourite was the Prisoner of Azkaban. But the fifth one was just so BORING. I got the book for my 13th birthday and couldn’t get past the first 100 pages. I had completely stopped caring about Harry – honestly, I found him pretty irritating. I just didn’t really get the hype.

A book or series that you love but everyone seems to hate?

I wouldn’t say people hate her work but people make fun of me for reading Penny Vincenzi novels. She writes these huge novels following the lives of different women. They are my perfect holiday read – especially Forbidden Places, which is set in World War II and I must have read it over ten times. Such a guilty pleasure.

A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did not want them to end up with, or an OTP you didn’t like?

Hmmmmm. The one that came straight to mind was Bella and Edward from the Twilight series. I was talking about this last night actually! Maybe it was just that the character development wasn’t particularly strong but the fascination with Edward never made sense to me.

A popular genre you hardly reach for?

Crime? I did like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo triology as I though Lisbeth Salander was a really interesting character (great name too!). Other than that, I have zero interest in reading about murders and dectectives.

A popular or beloved character that you did not like?

The Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes.

A popular book trope that you are tired of seeing?

The whole girl meets bad boy and falls in love but gets hurt. Then she realises that her one true love is her sweet, shy best guy friend (who has – of course – been secretly in love with her since they met).

A popular series that you have no interest in reading?

Game of Thrones. I tried and failed to read the first one. I feel the same about the TV series too – there’s too much drama. It also gives out the wrong impression about the Middle Ages: it wasn’t an inherently violent period.

What film did you prefer to the book?

Trainspotting! I read the book when I was seventeen and travelling to a university interview. Irvine Welsh is a great writer and I’ve got a lot of his books but the Danny Boyle film is so so good. Ewen McGregor plays Renton perfectly and the soundtrack is excellent.