Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts on Being Thankful

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Even though I'm spending the entire day at Parliament in London today, I'm still trying to grasp a bit of the Thanksgiving spirit! It's really weird being here and not home, not because it makes me feel very homesick, but because I could almost forget it was Thanksgiving if my mom wasn't here. Since I'd like to still do a bit of celebrating, I thought I'd do so here, because clearly the Brits don't celebrate Thanksgiving, hence why I'm on a school trip all day. 
This year I'm thankful for a great many things, but mostly the fact that I'm getting to do something I've always wanted - study abroad in England. I've talked about it before so I won't harp on it too much, but I feel so blessed to be getting to live here and go to school in a place that I've come to love with people that I adore and travel to amazing city after amazing city. The only problem is that I never want to leave, and I think that's where being thankful today comes in, because I'm trying to be thankful for the time and experiences I've had instead of being sad about the little time I have left, which is much harder than I thought it'd be. 
It feels so silly now how scared I was before I left and how much of a production leaving was, because if I could go back now I'd laugh at the way I didn't want to go, because now I never want to come back. I mean, I miss my home town, and my friends, and my family, and the familiarity of knowing everything about where I live, but I mean, it's England, it's the Brits…it's basically Hogwarts..who would want to leave?
-getting back on track- 
I guess my point is that lately all I've done is throw fits that I have to leave and make plans for when I'm coming back (May 2016 can't come fast enough), but my goal for today and for all my time left is to be thankful for the time I've had and appreciate the way I've gotten to really achieve a goal I've been chasing and working towards for a long time. I'm sad, I really am, but I'm also happy that I've been able to come, and make friends, and travel (and take really legit insta photos), because some people never get to do even that, so for that I am thankful. 
Other things I'm thankful for: 
good parking spots
British accents
sunny days and clear blue skies
mixed berry ale
chocolate and macarons
Ralph Lauren
Harry Styles
best friends
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Five

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Happy Friday! I am currently on my way to the Manchester Airport to pick up my mom! I am super excited that we'll get to spend this next week together here in Nottingham, in Edinburgh, and also in London. I think we'll have a bunch of great adventures, and I just hope she appreciates me waking up at 5 am to surprise her at the airport. While on this two hour train ride, I thought I'd fill you in on some of the things I've been loving lately since I haven't done a Friday 5 in a while! 

1. Invoice Generator 
I have been working with more brands recently, which is really exciting, but also really scary because it's all very new. I needed to make an invoice for a sponsored blog post and I had no clue where to start, but this invoice generator save the day! It's free and incredibly easy, but it also looks very professional if you ask me. I'd definitely try it out if you're in the same boat as me! 

2. George Ezra - Blame it On Me
Okay, yes, I will admit I jut recently heard this song…like yesterday, but I'm obsessed. I love George Ezra in general - that voice is like heaven - but I am really addicted to the sound of this one right now. However, I'm also a big fan of Budapest and Benjamin Twine. 

3. One Direction - Clouds
I wrote a post about the while album here, but this is a relatively new favorite. It didn't catch my attention at first, but the more I listen to the album, the more I like this song. It's very catchy, but very well written, too. 

4. Mockingjay Part 1
I saw Mockingjay at the midnight showing on Thursday with some of my uni friends and I'm 94% positive it's my favorite so far. Maybe it's because I read the books so long ago I was actually surprised by this installment, or maybe it's because it's so different from the first two on account of the fact that there are no games in this one, I don't know. I just really enjoyed the fact that it felt new and exciting, whereas the other two felt too similar. 

5. Toffee Popcorn 
I feel a bit strange throwing this in, but I'm in a serious toffee popcorn phase. It just says holidays to me and it's sweet enough, but not too sweet…perfect middle ground. Plus, Tesco has their own selling for a pound, which is just steady fueling my addiction. 

What are you loving this week?
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Album Review : One Direction - Four

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Today is a wonderful day. I know, weird to say that about a Monday, butttt, One Direction have released their new album, and I'm obsessed. Because I pre-ordered about 7 years ago (feels like it), I have gotten a new song every day since last week. That means I had the advantage of falling in love a week early, but also that I got to be a bit ahead of everyone who is going to buy it today. 
I've spent the morning listening to all the songs I hadn't heard between lectures and I'm really impressed. The sound of the album, as well as the lyrics, are just very much more mature. It fits my music taste better than Midnight Memories did, and I really like that they've slowed things down a bit and simplified them, instead of continuing on the radio pop sound, although I still love their other stuff too. 
Track list: 

My favorites: 
1. 18
Co written by Ed Sheeran, which really makes the lyrics stand out. It talks about love when you're 18 and how even though it my not be the most long lasting, it's the most exciting and all encompassing, and I'd whole heartedly agree. I think they've grown up a lot with this one, and the production of the song is really good as well.
2. Fool's Gold 
My current favorite. While I love the way the song sounds, lyrics really make this one for me. I love that they're are writing about things that are a bit older and more relevant to my life, because it just aces them a lot more relatable. I mean, I clearly loved them before, but they've really stepped up in terms of lyrics this time round. And also their voices sound like liquid gold, so. 
3. Night Changes
Again, lyrics. The song is catchy and I love singing along to it, but I relate to the lyrics, which makes it even better. And I just love the chorus…the sound is really good, very much more serious and grown up than anything they've done before, and it really really works. 
4. Act My Age
I love the sound of this one. There's a bit of an Irish dance type feel in the chorus, which sounds a bit weird, but it really works. It's a different sound for them and I like it. And also, lyrics. #yesyesyes 
5. Where Do Broken Hearts Go  
I really love the sounds of this one. From the first time I heard it I knew it'd be a favorite, and I've been listening to it constantly. 
6. Spaces
I think anyone who has ever been in a relationship will relate to this one, and for that reason alone, even if the sound sucked, I'd love it. But of course, the song sounds awesome and really show cases their voices very well. 

Not my favorites:
1. Girl Almighty
Although the tune is catchy, and I listen to it just like the others, the lyrics on this one aren't my favorite. It just feels a bit like a last minute add on that wasn't their best, but it is catchy and fun to listen to all the same. 
2. Stockholm Syndrome 
The beat is good, but after Harry said this was about a nympho in an interview, I was over it. I just can't. Not a favorite. 

Overall, I really love this sound and production of this album. It's simpler and more mature, and in general I think they'll get a lot more respect for it than some of their earlier stuff because it's not the bubble gum boy band pop that people like to judge them by. The lyrics mean a lot more and the sounds is more compatible with other artists who are their age, so I'm really proud of them with this one. I'd definitely recommend you give it a listen if you're a bit hesitant, but it's 100% my favorite album so far.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Nighttime Routine + Products

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Today I thought I'd stick to something really simple - my nighttime/shower routine. I've seen lots of these types of blog posts and videos going around recently and I find them quite interesting, so I thought I might as well join in! If you're a bit of a nosy rosy like me, here goes! 
I'll start by saying that I've got quite dry skin that very rarely breaks out. My main problems are redness and very puffy, sometimes purplish under eyes, but other than that, I think I've gotten pretty lucky in the skin department! As far as hair goes, I've got lots of it, but it's very fine and not voluminous at all. Getting a good tease out of it is a struggle, but I'll save those secrets for a morning routine post! It tends to get greasy quite easily if I mess with it a bunch during the day, but no more than anyone else's, so again, pretty lucky! 
Routine wise, I generally shower every other day, unless I've let my hair air dry, in which case I shower every day because it gets greasy. If I can be bothered, I'll usually take my makeup off with a cleansing oil/butter before I shower, but if not, I'll just hop in the shower, shampoo, shave, condition, wash body, wash face, rinse. Très simple. 

I've talked about my Ponds before, but I'm still seriously obsessed with it. I swear by its magical anti redness/puffiness powers and I never want to be without it, ever. It layers so well under my makeup and just makes my skin look so much better, even on no makeup days. It's very inexpensive and can be found at most drug stores, but it's certainly worth a try if you're looking for a new moisturizer. It's incredibly moisturizing, but not oily, and doesn't feel cakey on my skin because it sinks in really quickly. Total win. 
Nivea just brought out their sensitive skin range and I was all over it. I bought this when I arrived in London and I have really enjoyed it in the 2 months since. I use it in the shower either after I've used the cleansing butter below to remove my makeup, or sometimes in the morning when I want a really quick clean. It does exactly as it says, cleaning your skin without stripping it, and it feels heavenly on my skin. Even though cleansing milk sounds a bit grim, it actually does feel a lot like rubbing milk on your skin, but in the best way possible, especially because it's just so darn soft. For those of you with dryer skin types, you'll know how nice a "soft" cleanser is, and this is it. 

I am in love with the chamomile cleansing butter. It sounds a bit weird, but you just rub it on dry skin, and then when you add water it soaps up a bit and gives you a really good but gentle clean. My skin feels really refreshed after I've used this, but also moisturized, not all tight and dry, like I've experienced with other cleansers. It's great on my dry skin, but I think it'd be pretty good for all skin types as it doesn't leave any trace of oil behind, and it also takes off makeup incredibly well! 
As weird as it sounds, I'm already into youth serums and things at the age of 20. I think it never hurts to be proactive and treat your skin well when you're young so that it looks better when you're old, and I'm starting with the drops of youth serum. It's easy to use, I usually use about a drop and a half from the dropper right onto my finger, and you just rub it all over your face. You don't need much, because you layer your moisturizer over it, and it just helps your moisturizer to sink in and really work. I've only been using it a month or so, but I've noticed my skin is still really soft in the mornings, as opposed to dry and itchy. 
Sidenote: These are the only products that can't be found at the drug store. I got them from the Body Shop, so they are a bit pricier, but I think they are definitely worth it. 

Can we just all agree that these sorts of shampoos are the best ever? Probably not the best in terms of hair care, but being that I've got relatively young hair that isn't dyed, I think I can get away with it. The conditioner is my favorite as it smells like strawberry candies, but I really love both of them. They remind me of childhood bath time and I smell a bit like a tropical smoothie when I get out of the shower, so it's a win-win. Also, they've got detangler in the conditioner, which is something I seriously need, and it works like a charm! So yes, I know it's a bit backwards with child's hair products and youth serums, but that's just how I like it!

What are your favorite haircare/skincare products? 
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Little Big Town + Walmart Soundcheck #LittleBigTownWMSC

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Happy Thursday! I was recently emailed about Little Big Town's collaboration with Walmart Soundcheck, and I thought it was pretty cool, so I wanted to share it with you today! It is basically a promotion of their new album, but I really like the way they're formatted it. All 4 members of Little Big Town are sat down and they perform some of their new songs live, but they also perform a few old favorites and talk about their writing process, what inspired this album, and what it's like on tour. I love music in general, but I especially love getting to see behind the scenes snip its and see how the band interact with each other when they aren't in a formal interview. The Walmart Soundcheck performance is done in 3 different "episodes" and in each one you can tell how much fun they have and how passionate they are about their music. It's funny and cool and their music is great, plus each episode is only about 4 minutes, making them very easy to watch when you've got a bit of extra time. 
My favorites off their new album, Pain Killer, are "Day Drinking" and "Quit Breaking Up With Me", but they also perform a few of my older favorites, like "Pontoon" and "Boondocks", in the performance as well.
All in all, I think it's a really cool series, and I'd love to see Walmart pair up with some of my other favorite artists as well. It's a cool, easy to watch format, and I really enjoyed it. Plus, they are currently running a giveaway for an autographed guitar and you can check out those details here - Little Big Town Guitar!

Their album Pain Killer is out now and I'd highly recommend you check it out if you're a fan of country music!
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Thank you to Walmart and Lunchbox PR for sponsoring this post, however, all opinions are my own! 


Monday, November 3, 2014

My Truth About What It's Like When Someone You Love Dies

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Sometimes when I tell people about my sister, they make comments about me being so happy or seemingly unaffected by it now, and I'm writing this post today because that's both frustrating and really untrue. It's not through any fault of theirs that they see that (although it is quite ignorant to think that I'll ever be unaffected by it), but more because I never really say anything about the really sucky parts. In an effort to be honest about what it's like to live after someone dies, I'm writing this post, both because I want people to know, but also because as I've said many times before, writing about these things helps me to work through it in my head. And even though it's been two years, I've just really started working through my feelings about it. 
When I say "the sucky things," I don't mean the obvious sucky things, like the sheer fact that you have to deal with never seeing or talking to someone you love ever again for the rest of your life…that's really freaking heavy. I mean the things that can make you resentful and bitter. The things no one talks about because they're scared that people will tell them they're selfish, myself included, but it is what it is. 
Firstly, I should say that both my sisters have had fatal illnesses, for those of you that didn't know. My little sister had Leukemia and my older sister had Cystic Fibrosis, which she eventually passed away from, two weeks before I left for college. I don't mean to say that casually, but there really is no other way to say it. 
First thing that really frustrates me about that whole situation is that people automatically assume that I had the walk in the park while they went through those things totally independent of me. And that is an absolutely wrong assumption. Even if I was a total psychopath who didn't care about their only two siblings being sick, them being sick interrupted my life in material ways too. Imagine for me that your two siblings are both sick in different hospitals in different count how many parents you have. Assuming that we all both only have two, dividing that between two sick siblings leaves 0 extra. And I'm not trying to say I was neglected during that time, but I'm just trying to make the point that in that situation you become the last priority, and that is really sucky, even if you know it has to be that way. And yes, I have great grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, but please understand that that is not the same. 
Also, she died two weeks before I left for college, a time that should've been one of the greatest in my life, and it was pretty sucky. I didn't want to go out, I really wasn't in the mood to make new friends, and I basically cried in the shower all the time because I was too ashamed to cry in front of everyone else. Now don't get me wrong, that's no one's fault, least of all hers, but I'll never ever get that back, and I feel robbed. I hate that. 
On to issue number two…have you ever tried to measure up to someone with cancer, or for that matter any other serious illness? If not, I'll just let you in on a little fact, it's not fun. It's like doing double the work for half the attention. And I know we aren't supposed to say that, we're supposed to say things about how that sick person is such an inspiration and how we're okay taking the back seat and flying under the radar, but we're all humans, and we all know that while we may say that on the outside, no one feels that on the inside. 
Now try to imagine trying to measure up to someone who lived that life, with a terminal illness, and then died. You never can. And I'm not discounting my sister, at all. She was amazing and strong and made everyone love her with her easy confidence and wild personality, but she also sometimes sucked, and was mean, just like everyone else, because she was a normal human being. The only thing is that everyone forgets that now because she's gone, and it's extremely frustrating for those of us that are still here and remember that. It's hard to constantly be measured up against someone that you will absolutely never measure up to. And not because Mallory was a superhuman and I'm a lackluster human, but because she suffered her whole life with CF and then died, and I've been healthy and I'm still here. And don't get me wrong, everyone I know would say they don't compare us, but let's be real, when you say things like "Mallory would understand," "Mallory would do this for/with me," "Mallory would never say that," you're comparing, and it's awful, because I'm not her and I never will be and that's 100% fine, or it should be anyway. 
And slightly unrelated to that is the very frustrating way people try to prove their connection to her by saying things like Oh, this was her favorite movie/favorite food/favorite thing, when it absolutely wasn't. Or people who try to pretend they knew her so well and were so close to her when they weren't. Or when people say "Mallory would want me to do this" or "Mallory would say this", because lots of times, they're just doing what they wanted to do or saying what they wanted to say and just using her as an excuse, and it drives me up the wall. 
The most frustrating thing though, is when people write things about our family. My sisters have been featured in several newspaper and magazine articles, and at the risk of sounding like a spoiled teenager I'm just going to say it, if you didn't know our family, you would never know I existed. I almost never read things anymore because they never care about my opinion or point of view. They don't want to know what it's like to be the only healthy one going through those things, because they don't really address the fact that I ever went through anything at all. They write as though I lived happily in my own little bubble while they went through treatments and were there for each other and had such a close relationship, and I just did my own thing, oblivious to their struggles. I assure you that is not how it happened. 
I don't mean to be really negative or selfish, but I just want people to realize that people don't cease to be people when they die. They weren't perfect and their lives weren't perfect and it's especially frustrating for me to be compared to that and have to listen to that and I think people that have ever gone through what I've gone through will understand, even if everyone else thinks I'm being dramatic and whiny. No one has it easy in these situations, not my parents, not my family, not my sisters' friends, not anyone, but I am frustrated with always getting shortchanged, because when people do that it makes me bitter and resentful towards everything that we all went through together, me included. It shortchanges all my feelings about all the things I struggled with, having to deal with the idea that not just one, but both of my siblings might die, actually die, while dealing with all the pressures of life and high school at the same time. They had the support of everyone from friends and family to hospital and school staff to support them and talk to them about their feelings and fears, and I'm just feeling sucky right now about the fact that people only ask me about mine when I get visibly upset about them. 
And lastly, I am afraid of everything now. I think that's just a side effect of losing someone you love, but it's become such a huge element in my everyday life and I don't really know how to fix that. I'm afraid to miss anything, but yet I'm so worried about the future that I can somehow never manage to live in the moment. I'm so afraid to fail and be disappointing or embarrassing that I work myself up to a panic about any mildly serious life decision. I avoid relationships like the plague, not just with guys, with basically everyone, because I'm scared to ever get attached and lose anyone ever again. And it sucks because I was never like that before. And it sucks even worse because all these things that have happened to me have changed me, and my life, but no one recognizes them, because I'm "the healthy one." 
I don't really know where I'm going about this. I think I'm just going through that frustration/anger stage of grief at the moment, but I just meant to say that there are a lot of frustrating things about death that no one really ever talks about and then I got really frustrated and brutally honest, but this is my blog, and this is my real life, and I guess it's time people knew it.
I don't mean to whine or be negative and bitter and selfish, but I miss her. And I'm just trying to deal with all these things at the same time and still love her and miss her and not be angry when I think about her, and I just really don't know how to do that.  photo sarah-sig_zps54eac73d.jpg
P.S. - Please do not take any of these things as me hating on my sisters and shortchanging their struggles. They are both awesome and amazing and very strong and I would never say that they aren't, but they are also both normal people who are/were sometimes bossy, and mean, and spoiled, and selfish, just like me and everyone else in the world, that's all I'm saying. 

Best Mates

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When I first started blogging, I loved writing every post and planning posts weeks ahead. These days, I miss weeks because I just can't be bothered. I feel like I get too worried about things like traffic and picture quality and what people might think when they read it (especially because basically everyone I know now knows about Sarah Smile), and I don't like it. I want to write about the things I'm loving and what I'm interested in at the moment, so even though I've got multiple travel posts all written up, today I feel like talking about my best mates…all the lovelies I get to live with while I'm here. 

Two weeks ago, we had a formal dinner in my hall which made me feel very Hogwarts. We got all dressed up and brought our favorite the cheapest wine we could find to the table and had a blast. You know when you meet people that you just constantly laugh with? That's them. 

The bae Finlay! Jk…we just laugh because when I uploaded our selfie to FB everyone had a fit and thought we were all coupley and commented loads of embarrassing things! 

Some of the group! #cantstopgiggling 
My American BFF Erin

Helena and Sally! 
My best friend Caroline loves the word "Cheers," so I had them do this for her. 
I'm obsessed with them…it's casual. 

This weekend, I've had loads of movie time, a few Fifa lessons, and spent too much time drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music instead of doing coursework, but I've loved every minute of it. 
Tank Trouble is a game on the internet that I'm obsessed with. This photo was taken right before I beat both of them - at about midnight. #dedication 

playing Fifa and listening to Taylor Swift…perfection. 
I feel so blessed that not only do I get to live out something that I've dreamed about for years and travel to places I've always wanted to see, but that I also get to spend my time with such precious people…plus, they're all total babes (;  Studying abroad can be hard, and I miss my family and my friends at home so much, but I wouldn't change a thing about coming here. It feels a bit like summer camp, and I miss home, but I'm already dreading having to go. 

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