Saturday, 21 November 2020

Shop Small: Christmas Gift Guide 2020

Christmas is fast approaching and now more than ever it is so important to help small businesses. I'm so excited for Christmas this year and, I've tried to spend more time researching the perfect presents for everyone in my life and I've tried to shop small. This has become a rather large gift guide and, there are some absolutely amazing small businesses in here so you're sure to find something that suits everyone. I hope you find something that you like for the festive season and remember to shop small!

red christmas bauble on brown paper christmas present
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

For the Candle Lover:

Inside the Fragrance

Inside the Frangrance is run by the lovely Alisha who has some absolutely amazing scents to choose from. I have bought some of her wax melts for some people for Christmas and they look incredible - I love the design of the wax melts and they smell amazing. I'm a huge fan of all her Christmas scents and I love anything cinnamon related so some of her Christmas wax melts are a big win for me! 

Grace Etc

Grace Etc sells vegan-friendly and cruelty-free candles in some amazing scents! She sells Movie Night scented candles which sound incredible and perfect for someone who's a film fan too! If you're reminiscing about holiday season then there's also a Lime in the Coconut candle which sounds like the perfect scent if you know someone who wishes they were abroad! 

For the Foodie:


Vinny's vegan snack boxes sound incredible! You can purchase a single box or gift a subscription to someone if you want to make Christmas happen for every month of the year. They allow you to pick your own snacks for the box or you can leave it as a surprise. I think this is such a cool idea and I love that they support independent vegan food brands too. I'm such a big snacker myself and I always find myself wandering the food aisles for something new to try so Vinny gives you the chance to find a new favourite snack every single month!

Slab & Tipple

If you like chocolate then this is the Christmas gift for you! Slap & Tipple handmake all of their chocolates and they really do have a flavour for everyone! Some of my favourites are white chocolate with honeycomb, milk chocolate with salt (I'm a big fan of salted chocolate!) and dark chocolate with raspberry! They even have a vegan range and sell handmade fudge so if you know someone with a sweet tooth then check out Slab & Tipple!

Treat Trunk

If you know someone who is looking to try some healthier snacks or is too busy to create their own snacks then Treat Trunk have you covered. You can gift a one-off box or buy a subscription which means a whole bunch of healthy snacks will be delivered to your loved one's door. I love how they focus on picking healthier alternatives to what you might regularly snack on so it's a great Christmas gift that also allows you to discover some healthy and delicious brands!

For the Home Lover:

Benji's Shop

Benji's shop have some absolutely gorgeous bits and bobs that are perfect for Christmas! I have found myself scouring their website in the past few months looking as there are so many items that I love (*hint to any of my family reading this*)! They sell so many lovely pieces for around the home and their Christmas decorations are so cute too! Some particular favourites of mine are the Woodland Planter, Silver Moonshine Earrings and any of their mugs or bowls. I genuinely love the entire website so much so that I could buy everything on their website if I'm not careful!

For the Drink Lover:

Say it with Champers

If you fancy going one better than just a bottle of bubbly for Christmas then look no further than Say it with Champers. They let you the personalise the label of your bottle to tailor it to whoever you wish to gift it to which is such a cool concept! Personalised gifts are some of my favourites to receive and if you know someone who is a fan of champagne then this is perfect to make their gift extra special!

Friary Drinks

Friary Drinks have some absolutely amazing sounding drinks flavours that I have already purchased a few for my family for Christmas which I am sure they will love on Christmas day! Their Christmas range have so many incredible sounding flavours in their whiskey and gin liqueurs that are perfect for your festive tipple - ginger, apple, cinnamon, cloves, orange and nutmeg! If you want to buy an alcoholic beverage that screams Christmas then Friary Drinks have got you covered!

For the Fashion Lover:

Sew Totes

I absolutely love a good tote bag and use them all the time when I'm at uni as they're so handy for so many things. Sew Totes have the most adorable designs, I am a particular fan of the star sign totes as I'm a sucker for anything with Libra on it! Bry even makes personalised designs so you can create the perfect tote bag for someone in your life! They make such a fab gift and are perfect for Christmas!

So that's it for this mammoth small business gift guide! Like I said earlier there are some absolutely incredible businesses out there with some amazing and unique gifts that really will suit everyone. I hope you've found some Christmas present inspiration and found something that you love. I've personally loved shopping smaller this Christmas and found it so rewarding buying things I know someone will love but also supporting small businesses too!

Have you been shopping smaller this Christmas? How's your Christmas shopping going? 

If you're after more Christmas content then check out some of my favourite Christmas films on Netflix!

Saturday, 14 November 2020

6 Tips to Stay Productive and Organised at University

AD: This post contains sponsored content

I'm currently in my final year at university now (which is scary as the real world is looming) and in that time I have managed to survive my first couple of years and have learnt to adopt some ways that really help me to stay on track and keep organised. With the switch to online university, it's more important than ever to keep on top of your university work and find ways that work for you to stay organised. Here are the best tips that I've been using to stay productive whilst at university.

white notebook next to silver macbook and mug of coffee
Photo by Reina Lovefull on Unsplash

Ask for help

This is something I never used to do that much in first year as I was always the type of person who never asked or needed much help in school. However, university is a completely different way of learning and your lecturers are there to help you if you don't understand something, want some extra time to discuss a query, or even if you found something incredibly interesting and want to discuss it further. More often than not in my third year, I will email my lecturers or attend their office hours to sound out ideas for an essay if I'm struggling or want an opinion. They are more than happy to give you some advice and steer you in the right direction. This really helps me to stay on track if I get stuck and usually after a quick 10-minute meeting you have a much clearer idea of what to do and where to go next that it will stop you from getting stressed and letting everything else you have to do get on top of you as well!

Use to-do lists

I am such a huge to-do list user - I write one most days and I find it really helps me to get everything in my head down onto paper so that I know what to do and where to start. Even writing down the smallest tasks like 'do washing' or 'make bed' makes me feel more productive and organised as they're things you can do quickly and get the ball rolling. I also find adding things that aren't study-related helps to keep me motivated as there isn't a huge overwhelming list of university work to do. Writing things down helps you to visualise clearly what to do next and the satisfaction of ticking something off of your to-do list is always a great feeling too!

Plan your meals and food shop

This is something I'm still working on but making a list of what you plan on cooking for the week and then using that to make a shopping list is a great way to stay organised and also save you some money. This is especially important if you have dietary requirements or follow a vegan diet as you won't always know what's available on campus. I always walk into the shop and get suckered into buying food I don't need or random bits that don't make any meals so planning ahead and thinking about what you might eat is so useful for staying organised and maintaining a balanced diet that doesn't just consist of pasta and pot noodles, especially if you have dietary requirements too!

Stick to a routine

Making sure you have some sort of routine in your day is good for staying organised. I know that I am definitely a morning person so I make sure to get a decent nights sleep, go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up at roughly the same time each day. I find that whenever I have a day out of routine my motivation and energy crashes as it feels so out of the ordinary therefore I try to stick as much as possible to get up in the mornings and getting started with my day ASAP. 

Back up your work

During first year, it's made pretty clear that if you lose your work that is not a good enough excuse for not having work. If you want to stay organised always make sure you have your work saved more than once so if, for whatever reason, something goes wrong and you can't access it you don't have to start all over again. Personally, I always use google docs for whatever work I'm doing as I know that I can always access the latest version wherever I am rather than constantly saving different versions to memory sticks or emailing work across. 

Use a planner

I am a huge fan of anything stationery related so I absolutely love shopping around for my planner every year and it's something that is a staple for my university life that I'm not sure I could live without! Having a planner saves me at university as I can write down all my deadlines, make a copy of my timetable and write down anything important in my day. It really helps to block out your time and plan what you need to do and when for. I try and carry my planner with me all the time so I can quickly refer back to it or add something new if I need to. It's such a useful tool for staying organised as you can quickly make notes and keep track of where you are.

If you're in the market for a new planner or some new stationery to keep you on track this year at university then the people at Mal Paper have got you covered. They have some absolutely gorgeous pieces to help you stay organised and they're also giving away a £50 voucher in November and December if you enter their competition! All you need to do is sign up to their newsletter and tell them what your number one goal is! If you're looking to treat yourself, or someone else for Christmas then look no further! 

Those are my best and favourite ways of keeping productive and organised at university. It takes a while to get used to university life sometimes and you'll soon find what works for you but I hope you've found something there useful! 

What do you do to stay organised? Do you have any tips and tricks for productivity? 

Saturday, 7 November 2020

The 6 Beauty Essentials You Need

Note: This post contains gifted items. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used on this page where I may earn money for products mentioned in this post. However, I will only recommend products that I wholeheartedly recommend and believe are of value.

Now, I'm not someone that wears a lot of makeup on a regular basis, unless I'm going somewhere more snazzy. I try to do my makeup as quickly as possible as I can't be bothered for faffing around in the mornings with 16732 different makeup products. My routine takes under 10 minutes I'd say but can be done quicker if I'm in a rush. These are the products that I deem my absolute makeup essentials, though the products and colours I often switch up throughout the seasons. They form the basis of any good makeup look so I'd thought I'd share the beauty basics that you need to have stowed away in your makeup bag!

makeup items close up, cosmetics assorted on white background
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

Friday, 30 October 2020

100 Years of Solitude: Why Don't We Know About Latin America

Guest post by Elizabeth Sorrell


I was 17 when I read Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. I felt insecure that I had only read literature from Spain and wanted to branch out into Latin American novels and poetry. Little did I know that I was about to fall into a rabbit-hole of research on all things Latin American (I don’t speak Portuguese, so I have a major Hispanic bias). I have latched onto many different aspects of Central and South American history, politics, and culture: the Guatemalan Civil War, extractivism in Colombia, and the Ni Una Menos movement that started in Argentina are just a few of the topics that I have thrown myself into. 

I study English and Spanish, but I’m pretty sure I only would have done English if it weren’t for One Hundred Years of Solitude, so academically and emotionally, I owe it a great deal. 

low angle photo of temple with latin american flags
Photo by Filip Gielda on Unsplash

Many, many things annoy me about education in Britain, but one of the first grievances I had was that unless you specifically studied Spanish, you wouldn’t know anything about Spain or Latin America. We know about the French Revolution in the 1700s and the Weimar Republic in Germany, but most people in my year were not aware that there was a civil war in Spain and a 36-year dictatorship that followed. This was even more so the case for Latin America which remains a mystery continent to people who haven’t consciously set out to learn more about it. General knowledge of the Hispanic world is seriously lacking in Britain, and One Hundred Years of Solitude is one literary example as to why that is.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude follows a century of the Buendía family tree. It is set in the fictional village of Macondo in Spain, but many plot points are allegorical to Latin American history, particularly that of Colombia. Most copies of the novel come with a family tree at the beginning as the names can get a little confusing (there are multiple characters called Aureliano or José Arcadio or Remedios) but the idea of legacy and the clinging to names that have left such tragedy behind is very touching to me. 

It opens with Colonel Aureliano Buendía facing a firing squad and remembering back to the day his parents (José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula Iguarán) took him to discover ice at a traveller’s fair. Time is non-linear and the tradition of magical realism is at the core of this novel, with Úrsula living to the age of 120 and a child being born with a pig’s tail. But one of the most poignant examples of magical realism is the worker’s strike.

José Arcadio Segundo is the only survivor of a massacre of workers on a banana plantation for an American fruit company when they demanded better working conditions. The army opened fire on the workers until José Arcadio Segundo wakes to find himself on a train of corpses to be thrown into the sea like rotten bananas. Yes, an American fruit company was responsible for the dire working conditions of Hispanic labourers and repressed their attempts to unionise and protest. Gabriel García Márquez didn’t just make this up. 

La Matanza de las Bananeras is a real historical event that occurred in Colombia in 1928 when the Colombian army opened fire on a worker’s strike asking for a six-day working week and compensation for accidents at work among other basic demands that we in the UK take for granted today. The death toll of the workers ranges from 100 to 5000 due to censorship of the event, and there is little information on the details of the matter. Nevertheless, it remains in Colombia’s historical memory and One Hundred Years of Solitude has worked as a historical source to recount the event along with other writers such as Álvaro Cepeda Samudio. I think it is events like this and their coverage that dissuades us in the United Kingdom (and even more in the United States) from learning about our history with Latin American countries. It is not uncommon for American, Canadian, and British corporations to exploit the natural resources and labour in Central and South America, from extractivism on indigenous grounds to the Chilean dictatorship of General Pinochet being called a ‘strong friend of Britain’ by none other than Margaret Thatcher, not to mention her ending a programme for Argentinian refugees during their inconceivably violent military dictatorship. 

The concealment of Britain’s dark legacy of colonialism and neoliberalist intervention requires the ignorance of the countries that have been on the receiving end of it. A lot of the political discourse follows the usual 20th-century pattern of trade benefits outweighing the loss of civil liberties and thousands of lives in the process. I can understand why we didn’t learn about Latin America at school unless we absolutely had to for historical context. But to continue hiding from our legacy also robs us of learning about the incredibly fascinating elements of Latin America that are both beautiful and enlightening. 

We have seen the faces of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, we have all heard Latin American music whether it be reggaetón or Argentine tango, and confrontation of our dark past with Latin America can open us up to when the extremely diverse and varied continent has to teach us. 

Check out Elizabeth on her socials below!

Portfolio - Elizabeth Sorrell

Twitter - @sorrell_sorr12

About The Author
Thank you for visiting my corner of the internet! I'm Tash, a 21-year-old third-year English student and blogger who loves reading, travelling and writing!


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