My (rather practical) 30 before 30 list

30 before 30 list ideas

Well well well… it’s a weird thing turning 30 isn’t it? Not that I’ve turned 30 yet. It’s weird because I’m often told how young I look, to then see shocked faces when I reveal my age. And if we’re talking about what age I feel? I still don’t feel a day over 22. (No, not like that Taylor Swift song…)

But regardless of feeling my age or not, I turned 29 in January and decided sometime before it to set out a 30 before 30 list. Yes, it might be late, but I’m glad I’ve left it until now. I’ve watched/read other 30 before 30 lists to get me inspired and I’ve realised if I wrote it any earlier then I might have put down some unachieveable goals.

I’m talking about goals like; getting married, being successful in my career and starting a family, which are all great goals, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve never wanted to put an age on those type of goals, and I’m glad I didn’t. (Although I did tick off traveling, which would have definitely been on there…)

So my list might be a little different from the typically aspirational list. Instead, my 30 before 30 is more like a 30 things to do before 30. It’s more focused on practical goals and things I can do (and afford), which is critical as I only have just under a year to complete it…

30 before 30 list UK

My 30 before 30 list

  1. Go to a new country.
  2. Run 10km in under 1 hour.
  3. Learn new recipes (try 1 new recipe a week).
  4. Go on a boat tour of Canterbury.
  5. Learn how to make sushi.
  6. Make a new friend.
  7. Get better at French (and look into getting a qualification?).
  8. Read 30 books.
  9. See a London Theatre show.
  10. Hike a local area.
  11. Drive abroad again, at least once.
  12. Cycle to Margate (& back).
  13. Visit and explore Ramsgate Tunnels.
  14. Visit the Shell Grotto in Margate too.
  15. Go on a spa day.
  16. Go glamping.
  17. Eat at a fancy restaurant I’ve never been to.
  18. Visit London Zoo.
  19. Get another tattoo?
  20. Attend a secret cinema event or movie drive-in.
  21. Go meat-free for a week.
  22. Spend a weekend in Brighton.
  23. Treat myself to 1 beauty product a month.
  24. Meet my uni friend’s daughter.
  25. Plan my own 30th birthday party.
  26. Write a reflective blog post on my 20’s.
  27. Host a BBQ/party at our house.
  28.  ? ? ?
  29.  ? ? ?
  30.  ? ? ?

30 before 30 uk

Finishing my list

Clearly I haven’t finished my list yet. (Maybe one of my 30 things to do before 30 should be to actually finish my 30 before 30 list!) The real reason I’ve left 3 spaces is because I couldn’t think of any more. Although, there’s another benefit too.

As I begin to tick off my 30 before 30 list I’m bound to think of other things I wish I’d added to the list. So these last three points are reserved for any last-minute bursts of inspiration. (But I’m open to any suggestions too.)

And so it’s starting to feel real now. Filming my video (where I’ve added more detail on why I’ve picked my choices) and publishing this post; now it’s the time that I need to make a start on ticking these goals off! Wish me luck, I will be reporting back (in the form of vlogs and blogs).

Don’t be a stranger; if you’ve written or completed a 30 before 30 list don’t leave before leaving some of your ideas, thoughts and advice below!

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Visiting the Birchbox shop in Paris!

Birchbox shop front in Paris

It’s always a treat going to Paris, but on my third visit to the city (shameless brag) I had the extra treat of visiting Europe’s first ever Birchbox shop.  From a tiny subscription box to their second brick and mortar store – now that’s a pretty big deal. (In fact I used the same words when first seeing the news of its opening too!)

As a Birchbox subscriber from 2014, I felt it was my duty to give the Birchbox store a visit.  Although one is partial to bit of beauty shopping anyway, especially when one is in Paris!  So for any subscriber or non-subscribers out there who might be interested in just how a beauty subscription box has flowered into the physical retail store, here’s a bit of a run-down.

Birchbox store front in Paris

Where is the Birchbox shop in Paris?

Even I was impressed when I realised the Birchbox shop in Paris is located in the 1st Arrondissement.  Sitting in a trendy shopping area on Rue Montmartre, the Birchbox shop won’t be the only shop you’ll want to have a look around in the area as it’s in quite a trendy spot.

The nearest metro stations are Marcel Etienne and Les Halles, that are both on line 4.  In fact, as always in Paris, you are never far from some art and culture too; Centre Pompidou is just a 5/6 minute walk away.  C’est bonne!

What is in the Birchbox shop?

The exterior of the shop certainly suits its surroundings (in other words; it has a Parisenne style to it.)  The interior has a welcoming ambience, with an open layout and classic ‘clean’ decor.  It could easily be mistaken to be one of the classy French pharmacies I love dipping into whenever (and wherever) I am in the country.

There’s a lot of white, with a splash of pastel colours in places, with wooden shelving and floors.  Non-surprisingly, it feels quite ‘on brand’.

Counter inside Birchbox shop

Inside view of the Birchox Paris shop

What’s in the Birchbox shop?

All of the brands we’ve seen neatly packed into our Birchbox adorn the walls and shelves in the shop, but all in full-size of course.  Although there are some other brands too that we may never see in our subscription (namely Lancôme, but this is a French brand and I was in France, so I guess this makes sense.)

Towards the back of the store were sweet dispenser-like storage boxes that were filled to the brim of more beauty samples!  This is where you can create your own Birchbox in store – a temptation I didn’t resist and I just love the way this was presented.

Creating my own Birchbox

How could I not delve in and pretend – quite literally – that I was a kid in a (kind of) candy shop.  For €15 I jumped straight into making my own box, which consisted of 5 samples (as usual) to be handpicked by me!  Each category (face, body, hair, make up and surprise) had a choice of three items to choose from.

Birchbox Paris shop

As is tradition when I write Birchbox unboxing posts, I give a lowdown on each product I received.  Here’s the items that stood out for me (and those I took back home to the UK!):

  • Face choice:  DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
    I’d never tried a cleansing oil before, so this sample caught my eye immediately.  As expected it leaves my skin feeling quite supple and lovely.
    Other choices: An anti-ageing cream by Huygens or a cream for sensitive skin (brand forgotten – sorry!).
  • Body choice: L’Occitane Cherry Blossom Hand Cream
    L’Occitane’s hand creams are an absolute dream. I was lucky enough to receive another one in my Birchbox subscription, but I wasn’t to know that yet.
    Other choices:  I think I remember seeing a Spectrum Wonder Sponge and sadly I can’t recall the other choice!
  • Hair choice: Minu Shampoo and Conditioner
    This was an easy choice for me!  This is where I think I got more ‘bang for my buck’ as I could pick two items for one category.  Minu aren’t a brand I’ve heard of but I’m looking forward to trying these out.
    Other choices:  Baptiste Dry Shampoo for Brown hair (not my hair colour) or a Jeff Parlor spray (I had already received).
  • Make up choice:  Ciaté Nail Varnish
    This choice nearly had me stumped, but I’m a sucker for glossy reds and so I had to pop this nail varnish into my box.  (And lucky I did too because I received the other items anyway!)
    Other choices: Paul & Joe Hydrating Primer (I received here) or Eyeko Fat Eyeliner (I received here).
  • Surprise choice:  A scarf
    In an attempt to pull off Parisienne style, I had to go for the scarf.  I’m not usually a scarf wearer but I thought it’ll always remind me of Paris. (Ahh…)
    Other choices:  Some badges or toothpaste.

My created box from the Birchbox Paris store

Where next for Birchbox?

It’s clear to see I enjoyed my Birchbox Paris store visit!  At the time of writing though of course there is a Birchbox shop in London now too, which announced its opening just as I returned from Paris!

The Birchbox shop in Paris is permanent, however the Birchbox London store won’t be around forever and is currently only a pop up shop (open until Thursday 29th March 2018).  I am hoping this will either be extended (again) though, or decide to stick around more permanently.  Especially as I’m yet to make a visit too!

Nevertheless if you do find yourself in Paris, schedule some time for a browse around the Birchbox shop.  The look and feel of the space is relaxing and I didn’t feel pressured to buy, unlike some other beauty halls.  It’s nice to see how far this brand has come and more importantly, what its created in a physical space.

Have you been to the Birchbox shop in Paris or London?  Tell me your experiences in the comments below!

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I have not been asked to write this blog post, as I said, I just wanted to check out the Birchbox shop while I was in Paris!

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My Reading Challenge 2017: did I make it?

My failed Reading Challenge 2017

If you judge how late this blog post is then you’ve probably guessed already that I didn’t complete my Reading Challenge 2017.  Well, you guessed right, I didn’t – I may as well confirm this now.  Although it does start this blog post on a rather bad note, doesn’t it?

Oh well, I’m disappointed (and kind of embarrassed) that this is the second year in a row I’ve not managed to complete a Reading Challenge.  In my defence, I’ve had quite a busy year.  But let’s lift those spirits up a little bit and talk about the books!

Reading Challenge 2017

My Reading Challenge 2017 (what I actually managed…)

17.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Apologies to Reese Witherspoon, but Wild (the film) didn’t urge me to read the book.  It wasn’t until I listened to Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete podcast with Cheryl Strayed that I really wanted to read it. But not only this book, but other books Strayed has written too.  For purposes of my Reading Challenge 2017 however I’ll stick to this one.  (Well the truth is I’ve only read this one.)  It’s an epic true story of when Cheryl walked the Pacific Crest Trail – from California to Oregon, and how the pieces of her life fell away and lead to her decision to do it.  An incredible and at times emotional tale, I’m so glad I listened to that podcast otherwise I may have never read it.

18.  Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon
Oh look at that – this wasn’t even planned!  I probably couldn’t wait any longer before I dove straight into Emma Gannon’s memoir on how she grew up online. (Again, this read wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for her podcast.)  Emma and I are the same age, so plenty of the memories in this book and cringeworthy moments are quite familiar to me.  If you’re part of the generation that chatted to friends on MSN Messenger and learnt minor coding from designing your MySpace page, you need to read this book.

Reading_Challenge_2017

19.  Paris by Lonely Planet
Is it cheating to put a travel guide in my Reading Challenge 2017?  To be honest, I discovered Lonely Planet when I was backpacking and some of them are written so poetically, it’s like reading a novel anyway.  So that’s why I included this.  Plus I had my nose buried in it nearly every morning, whilst on the metro and in the evening when I was in Paris.  Just as lovely, yet informative, as their Asian counterparts that I’ve read, with some beautiful descriptions of Paris.  I usually never go on holiday without one.

20.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Have you noticed a pattern here?  I watch a movie, like it, then want to read the book.  I’ve got to say this one was definitely as good as the film, if not better.  The casting was also spot on with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, but I’ll keep to my review of the book.  Written fantastically from the perspective of two different characters; husband and wife.  If you don’t know the story (which lucky you if you don’t) it’ll keep you guessing and hit you with some twists you won’t see coming.  A story I couldn’t put down, even when I was in Paris.

21.  Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
One of the reasons I wasn’t able to finish my reading challenge could be down to a few chunky books I’ve tried to get myself through before the end of the year.  Such as Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.  I love Bruce, but he had me reading 528 pages to get to know more about him.  I don’t hold it against him though, as every story and memory was written in the same beautiful way he writes his songs.  He sets the scene on his trips and shows across America, throwing in his thoughts and feelings in a way that’s inescapable to think and feel just as he does.  I love Bruce even more after reading it.

Reading Challenger 2017

Total: 21/25 books read

So I didn’t make it, but I’ve read some pretty good books on the way.  One of the biggest things that slowed me down was getting stuck trying to read a book I wasn’t enjoying, which was rather chunky.  This was much earlier on in the year and although I felt I was catching up after the summer, I was short of just 4 books to completing my Reading Challenge 2017.  (3 if I pulled my socks up more during Christmas.)

Will I lower my amount of books to read in 2018?  Rather stupidly no, actually.  2018 will be the last year of my twenties, so I think it’s kind of apt to aim for 30.  If I stick to books I both enjoy and are not too big, I can make it!  What have you been reading?

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See ya 2017!

Happy new year!  I’ve already been back at work for four days (and survived), yet 2018 is already getting ahead of me.  I’ve posted about what I got for Christmas, but my 2017 highlights?  Ahh wait a second – I need to start looking back first!

This probably sums up how 2017 felt for me; quick!  Although I’ve made some pretty big achievements this year (okay, at least one comes to mind…) its passed so quickly, I’m not sure if they’ve really sunk in yet.

This is definitely something I’m guilty of as soon as New Year rings in I’m ready and focused (most of the time) on what I want to achieve in that upcoming year.  Instead I should be taking a breather and appreciating what I achieved in the year before it… it’s an endless cycle.  Here’s taking a stab at that, or simply my 2017 highlights!

Buying a house 🏠

I’ve been dipping out of other 2017 highlights posts that have been written in month order.  But screw that, I can’t wait until the end of summer to reminisce about David and I getting the keys to our first home together!

2017 highlights

We’d been saving for such a long time and it started to feel like we were never going to get on the property ladder.  But eventually, we scrapped together enough for a deposit and the whole process seemed to go through quite quickly.  (2017 was, as I said, quick!)

The next day we were literally ripping off the wallpaper and decorating our new place from scratch.  There’s still been some struggles on the way (particularly when building furniture from Ikea) and I don’t feel quite ready to post a house tour or video soon.  The house still has a long wag to go, but I feel relieved that we’re getting there, slowly but surely.  One payday at a time…  Oh and I used a drill for the first time.

2017 highlights selfie

Celebrations 🎉

There was plenty to celebration in 2017, including four weddings David and I attended!  (But no funerals thankfully!)  It’s always nice to share a special day with friends and it’s kind of surreal when that special day is your friends’ special day.

But, I can’t resist getting dressed up, because when else will I be able to?  (Spray tan, ASOS order and hair rollers in – check!)  I may have uploaded a few suited-and-booted couple snaps of David and I this year, which is a bonus (for me) as we don’t get many pictures of us.

David and I before a friend's wedding

We also celebrated David’s 30th this year – a date in the calendar he wasn’t too fussed about.  But instead of letting it pass by as ‘just another day’, I tried making it special for him.

One of the things I did was getting together with his parents making a photo album of his life so far.  (This sounds maybe a little too deep than as it sounds!)  It was a complete surprise for him, which he loved, before we swiftly enjoyed a few beverages at a local beer festival.

2017 highlights with my boyfriend

Travel

Travel has been a big part of my life, but since we’ve been saving for a house sadly its had to take a backseat.  Regardless of that, I’ve luckily still managed to afford a few short breaks this year.

I always have a great time when I meet up with my friend Lisa, a girl I’d met and lived with when I went backpacking.  We’ve met up every year ever since and this time we met in the French capital; Paris!  (Paris is always a good idea.)

2017 highlights Paris

Being my third time in the city, it was nice to see Lisa’s first Paris visit she soon fell in love with too.  Plus I got to see some more of Paris I missed last time, like the Palace of Versailles and going on top of the Arc de Triomphe.

David and I also managed to have a short break away together. Just after I got back from Paris (and moving into our house – it was an expensive end to the year!) we headed for Belgium, on an altogether different trip.

Tyne Cot Cemetary

We drove to Belgium and explored the First World War history in the area of Ypres.  This is a blog post I still need to write (it’s coming soon I promise!), but I realise it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  However I think it’s still important to remember and learning more about the war when we were there felt incredibly humbling.

Both of these trips do have something in common though; I drove abroad for the first time!  This definitely feels like a huge achievement, as I was feeling quite nervous about doing it.  But in another post I’m yet to write, it was a big confidence boost for me and I’m already thinking about where I’d like to drive to in Europe next!

Music

Ever since 2015, I’ve tried to make it to Glastonbury every year and make it to Glastonbury this year I did!  Although buying our tickets through the resale, it was a teeth clenching time to say the least.  (If you’ve ever had the stress of buying a Glastonbury ticket through the resale then you’ll know.  You’ll just know.)

2017_highlights_Glastonbury

All of the panic was worth it though and I had another unforgettable time at Glastonbury.  From surviving the heat wave on the first day to dancing to Craig David’s Pyramid set, it was awesome.  There’ll certainly be a Glastonbury shaped hole this year, its fallow year.

There’s another gig I can’t miss out as one of my 2017 highlights too – Demon Dayz Festival at Dreamland Margate.  I live not far from Margate and I’ve been surprised (and delighted) at seeing how many big acts the seaside town has managed to pull in not just this year, but in the past few years.

2017 highlights Demon Dayz Festival

I bought tickets in a matter of minutes since hearing Gorillaz confirm Demon Dayz festival.  With a banging new album released (my official review) it was a day I was looking forward to and it lived up to expectations.

My brother and I went together, enjoyed a Red Stripe at Ziggy’s Rooftop Bar (pictured above) before heading into Dreamland and genuinely having an awesome day.  I love you, Margate!

Sunset behind Ferris Wheel at Dreamland Margate

Looking forward

Although I think 2018 might be a year where the dust settles (from all the busyness), this doesn’t mean it’ll be any less quiet.  I’m soon to be 29, which means 2018 will be the last year of my twenties (!) and I don’t plan to waste it.

This month I’ll be drawing up my ’30 before 30′ list with fun, yet practicle goals I aim to tick off throughout the year.  Watch this space.

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What I got for Christmas 2017

What I got for Christmas 2017

It’s New Years Eve, everyone’s posting their 2017 highlights and I’m playing catch up with my What I got for Christmas 2017 write-up.  Okay, so maybe I’ve indulged a bit this holiday season.  When I have managed to peel myself off the sofa, I’ve been busy enjoying a few drinks with friends, or dining out, as opposed to just eating-everything-in-sight at home.  I just can’t stop eating.  Full-stop.

So despite me being behind everyone’s schedule (apparently), my 2017 highlights will be delayed until it’s no longer 2017 so I can embrace the ‘better late than never’ spirit and show you what I got for Christmas first!

What I got for Christmas 2017 flat lay

A few surprises…

Apparently, I’m a ‘difficult person’ to buy presents for.  Every year, my friends and family usually ask me what I want for Christmas, which means I’ve also grown used to a lack of surprises on Christmas Day.

It was eerily quiet this year though.  When we were entering mid-December I still wasn’t asked one question about what I want to see wrapped up in pretty paper this year.  So when I said ‘I really wasn’t expecting this’, I really meant I wasn’t expecting this!  (As I didn’t know what to expect.)

Example; as I unwrapped and caught a glimpse of a GoPro logo I let out a gasp and stared blankly at my boyfriend for at least 2 long seconds in disbelief.  (A happy disbelief though, of course.)  I gave a similar reaction when I unwrapped an iPad from my parents too – needless to say, I’ve done well on the technology front this year.

What I got for Christmas 2017

Gifts for Body & Mind

I can always count on my sister to get me a good read for Christmas.  This year she’s given me Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird,  a book I’ve ashamedly never read (I know!).  This will soon change in 2018, don’t worry.  I’m a lover of the sixties decade too, so In her own Fashion is guaranteed to keep me absorbed, along with the Woodstock soundtrack.  (Oh she also gave me a Rolling Stones patch and cute panda earrings on top of this!)

I’m definitely set for some good pampering sessions in the new year too, with David’s parents and grandparents spoiling me with a mixture of smellies.  An array of The Body Shop and Nature’s Ingredients will keep me exfoliated, moisturised and smelling pretty probably way into spring!

An incredibly thoughtful gift from David’s parents of new Dune ankle boots is already keeping my feet feeling happy and stylish, as well as…

What I got for Christmas 2017

Gifts for the home

With buying our first house this year, I was happy to see home inspired gifts, even from the person I share my ‘home’ with!  My feet will be kept warm and snug inside as well as out with the slippers David bought me.  Along with the gorgeous yellow furry throw (featured in all the above pictures and from David’s parents, but unfortunately I forgot to feature it in the video). You’ll find us hibernating on our sofa until warmer times whilst devouring the new Black Mirror series!

I’m keeping the festive cheer going too with my new reindeer adorned cereal bowl – because it would be a crime to hide it away until next year, right?!  Finally, David’s grandparents have kindly provided us with some funds to continue decorating our house too, which is a great help to us.  Ikea round 3?

Watch what I got for Christmas 2017:

Well that’s Christmas over and done with (why must it always pass by so quick?) and my last post of 2017 (ahh!).  Although I’ve not written one before, a ‘2017 highlights’ post will be up in the new year when I’m back to getting motivated (and finished eating all the leftovers in the fridge…).

Happy new year to any new and old readers of my blog, let’s see what 2018 brings!

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