Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Outdoors.

lot of my childhood memories involve being outside. My parents, but particularly my dad, was really into hillwalking and while I'd go to school on a Monday morning and hear tales of how my classmates had spent their weekends going swimming or play video games or reading, I had spent mine in the coutryside. To this day, those memories of being in the middle of nowhere and running around in fields and climbing trees and exploring little makeshift paths and country roads are the very encapsulation of my childhood. We have never been a particularly close family so maybe that's why I hold those memories so close to my heart. It was our time together. 

My family, my parents' best friends and their sons used to always go hillwalking on the 2nd of January. It was our little tradition to bring in the year ahead with beautiful scenery, crisp Winter air and if I remember accurately, often a little more than a light sprinkling of snow. I have the most vivid memory of it starting to get dark (or maybe it was just one of those Winter days where it had never fully gotten light at all) and being near a water dam. It was very still and we had found loads of bullets on the grass. Remembering this now, I can only assume they were from hunting but at the time, my sister and I were in such awe at them and filled the pockets of our waterproof jackets with them to take home as a souvenir.



Like most teenagers though, laziness, vanity and the crippling fear of being seen as uncool by openly admitting you enjoyed anything overtook and I decided spending my weekend hanging around parks and train stations and city centre lanes was much more fun. For the best part of a decade, I didn't see the countryside unless it was absolutely necessary and even then I didn't get any joy out of it despite there being some of the most amazing scenery in the world (in my humble and patriotic opinion!) within a half hour drive from my front door. 

The only positive memories of being outside at all during my teenage years was in my final year of school when I took part in a 5 day residential stay at an outdoor centre just outside of Fort William. I remember not really feeling part of the group I was in, it was only myself and three other girls from my school, none of which I was that close to, and I don't know what came over me, probably just being outwith my comfort zone , but for the first time in my teenage years, I though 'Do you know what? I'm going to give this everything I've got and not assume I can't do it, or give up before I've even tried.' And I did. And I loved it. I built (and sunk) a raft in freezing cold Loch Eil, I absailed down a cliff edge, I even climbed Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. I mean, I took an allergic reaction to a peanut M&M a couple of hundred metres from the peak and had to get taken to A&E by mountain rescue, but I still did it. Retrospectively, I now realise those 5 days shaped me a lot.



As I've gotten older, my tastes in most things have became less concerned with what's cool and more driven by what I enjoy and what genuinely makes me feel happy and as shocked as I'm sure teenage me would be, I have regained a lot of my love of the outdoors. When I was 20, my best friend was working up in an island off the west coast of Scotland called Uist and her mum and I decided to take the 9 hour trip to surprise her for her 21st birthday. I've known her mum all my life so she picked me up at midnight and in our pyjamas, we set off for Skye to the ferry port. After a few hours of chatting, I folded my seat back, pulled my travel blanket up and over my head and off to sleep I went. I remember telling my friend's mum to waken me when it got light so I could see some of the views and not miss the scenery entirely. 

Just after 5am and I'm woken up. But now how I expected. A deer had ran into the quiet country road we were driving along just as the sun was rising, causing her to swerve to avoid it and ending up coming right off the road. Thankfully we were both fine, a little shaken but not hurt, but neither of us knew where we were. We called the AA and were towed to the nearest garage, 6 miles away, the beautiful, picturesque loch side village of Port Agusutus. From there, we took 3 buses. It was a scorcher of a June day, and while I wouldn't ever want to say I'm glad that happened, I got to see so much beautiful scenery that I wouldn't otherwise ever have seen and all this was before I'd even reached Uist, which having visit twice now, I stand by is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. 

When I was 22, I volunteered to help open a branch of the company I work for in Inverness, Scotland's most northernly city, a little over 3 hours by train from Glasgow. I'd been to Inerness once before for Rockness music festival but was too completely intoxicated for 3 days straight to fully appreciate any of my surroundings so when this opportunity arose, I took it 'to gain valuable experience opening new stores' although secretly to get an free trip to Inverness and lap up all that contryside beauty on the train. 

These days, my idea of of a great weekend day wouldn't be going shopping or for lunch or to the cinema like a lot of people my ages would be. My idea of a great weekend day would be an adventure. A walk, a cycle, a countryside drive. I'm not sporty, I never have been and doubt I ever will be, but as I've slowly but surely started to regain the love for the great outdoors and the amazing country I'm so lucky to live in, just the very idea of spending time outside is becoming evermore appealing to me.



At the weekend just passed, I spent 3 days at Millport, a small island only an hour's drive and 10 minute ferry crossing from Glasgow with my family and friends. My parents have a holiday home there and having spend huge chunks of my childhood there, it's still my happy place, even to this day. On Sunday, my sister, her girlfriend and I set off to cycle round the island. At just short of 11 miles, it's the idea distance and pretty much the main activity for day trippers. Leaving the town, I had just a tshirt and jeans on, feeling the sun on my arms and the wind in my face and feeling so grateful for the beautiful day. Less than an hour later, at the top of the island, the most exposed part, the heavens burst and the most horrendous rain came on. 

From sun on my arms to raindrops rolling down my neck under my waterproof jacket in just an hour, I couldn't help but laugh and smile. So maybe it wasn't the ideal cycle weather, but I just felt free and happy and energised and that's a truly irreplacable feeling. Doing something outdoors makes me feel small and insignificant to the rest of the world, but in the best way possible. It makes me think about how much else is going on outwith my life and it just makes me feel peaceful and gives me perspective. Recently, I've been enjoying using just the act of being outside as somewhat of an escapism and while it seems like a tiny thing, it works wonders for clearing and focusing my mind and I'm so very glad I've started to regain that childlike wonder and eager curiosity for the great outdoors.


Friday, 2 September 2016

My 5th Blog Birthday - Mistakes & Lessons

What would you say if I told you that this Sunday, my little blog will be 5 years old? That's so crazy, right? It doesn't seem anywhere near that long ago that as a bored student, I decided to try my hand at something I knew absolutely nothing at all about and start a blog. That was September 2011 and I didn't for a second believe that it'd stick with til the end of the same year never mind that half a decade later, I'd still be doing it and more importantly, still enjoying it.

I've always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a little girl, and I started a blog to give me a place where I could write on my own terms, write what I wanted to write and make my own rules. Blogging has definitely been a learning curve for me (as I'm sure it is for most bloggers) and it has taught me so much, both personally and professionally. I was completely clueless when I first started and I've developed a lot of skills I didn't even know I had. With an learning curve though, naturally comes regrets and lessons.

One thing that really baffles me in retrospect is that I started my blog as a fashion blog. I was a fashion student at the time and wanted to showcase my style but soon felt restricted and uninspired. Not to meant that taking photos of your own outfits is hard! Don't get me wrong, I still adore fashion and personal style is still something I love reading about and experimenting with but I've also found other topics that I enjoy writing about too, such as feminism, social issues and personal ramblings.

Blogger lesson : You change as a human being as time progresses, especially over a period as long as five years. It's perfectly natural for your blog content to change to reflect that and boxing yourself into a corner doesn't help.

Another big regret would be my original blog name. As I'm sure a lot of you will know, I've only been 'Once Upon A Sophie' since May of this year. Before that, my blog was called 'Filthy Paws & Silky Drawers', a nod to the film Grease. I'll pause while you cringe. I regretted that name within a matter of months. It was too long, it wasn't catchy or an obvious enough reference and as it didn't contain my name, I found that I struggled to establish myself on social media and at blogger events. I'm so happy with my new name though and feel it represents me and what my blog is all about perfectly, I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to change it. 

Blogger lesson : if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right & it's your blog so make changes as you see fit.

Something I still struggle with is dedicating enough time to my blog. I so often have ideas that I'd love to blog about but one thing leads to another, life gets in the way (ie. I plan to write then someone suggests a night out and that takes priority!) and the moment passed and before I realise it, it's been 3 weeks since I last posted. I've always been open about the fact that my blog isn't, nor do I want it to be my career, but I still find myself using that excuse to put everything else first then feeling awful about my blog.

Blogger lesson : There's no shame in setting time aside specifically to blog rather than just trying to fit it in round your life and blogging is the very embodiment of 'you get out what you put in'. Don't be annoyed about the results you don't get from the work you didn't do.

As a young clueless little blogger out there alone in the world, I had absolutely no idea the importance of social media. None whatsoever. I didn't even get a Twitter account until March of 2013, a year and a half after I started my blog and I didn't have a blog email address til the end of 2013. I wasn't even that aware people used social media to promote their blogs or interact with other bloggers and I certainly didn't understand that your social media presence is just as, if not more, important as a blogger than the content of your blog itself. Nowadays, I break out in a cold sweet if I've not tweeted in a few hours and the very idea of trying to promote my blog without social media is quite frankly hilarious.

Blogger lesson : Investing time in your social media is so important to the success of your blog and getting your blog out there for people to see matters, because trust me, they won't just happen to stumble upon it.

Finally, I regret having no little to no consistency for the first few years. I'd post similar blog posts three days in a row, at all kinds of weird times of the day or night when nobodies online, then it'd be weeks before I posted anything again. I didn't pay any attention to creating a 'brand' for myself. Heck, I didn't even know that was a thing bloggers did. I thought any old photo of a product would do, I didn't spend any time of ensuring it was actually a good photo. I didn't plan and I didn't organise my blog at all for a very long time. I've never been someone would benefits from a strict schedule but I've gotten a lot better and try really hard to be consistent and to utilise my resources well.

Blogger lesson : Readers, followers and companies enjoy when bloggers have a consistent brand and individual posts don't matter as much as an overall impression does. 

Even 5 years later, my little slice of the Internet isn't perfect and it probably never will be, but for as long as I continue to enjoy creating my blog, it'll always be a learning experience and that's kind of empowering. I can't thank everyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media enough for their support over the past half a decade but hope you enjoy what I put out and hope you're looking forward to the next 5 years as much as I am - CHEERS!


Friday, 12 August 2016

5 Days in Barcelona

Hey all. At the end of last month, I took a little trip to the amazing city of Barcelona. My mum & I were off work at the same time and didn't have a much planned, so decided to look for a last minute deal and found ourselves an amazing offer for 5 days in the Spanish city. Ever since studying the work of Antoni Gaudi at school, I've always wanted to visit Barcelona and see it in all its glory and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

Here's some photos from our trip...







































Combine the world renowned architecture with beautiful scenery, glorious weather, friendly people, interesting history and of course, delicious food and you have yourself quite the city break. I really enjoyed the unique relaxed but fast paced vibe of Barcelona and would love to visit again one day as it seems like one of those cities that there's always more to explore!



Friday, 22 July 2016

Is Supporting Other Women A Feminist Obligation?

As a feminist, and particularly a feminist with somewhat of an online presence, I'm often met with misconceptions about what the movement promotes. Some are deeply ingrained in social norms and expectations which in a way I can't blame people for believing, while others are petty and superficial. One in particular weighs on my mind a lot though, that in being a feminist, one should blindly support all other women. We should support women regardless of their beliefs, not matter how problematic they are or who's rights they infringe upon. Or even that we should support all women even if we are simply not interesting in their 'output' (for lack of better terminology) whether that's music, art, literature, social theories, anything really. 

To me, blindness supporting all women simply because we share a gender does more harm than good for feminism. I grow up in a predominantly female household, I attended an all girls high school, when I studied for my degree, all my classmates were female and I now work in a job where women largely outweigh men. Perhaps it's being so comfortable and not feeling threatened by the success of other women, that I don't feel automatically obliged to support them any more than anyone else based simply on their gender.



Following Brexit, that I'm sure will go down in history as one of Britain's most almighty boo-boo's, it's almost unsurprising that the traditional politician types, the middle aged, straight white men are dropping like flies so while I don't support the Conservative party, I was pleased to see that two of their proposed replacements for prime minister were female. The same principle applies to the American presidential race. Neither would be my dream candidate, and while there's a lot of her policies I don't support, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm backing Hillary Clinton all the way to the polls. To some, this might seem like blind support but it's not. It relates back to representation. Across the world, members of all types of under represented groups have nobody to look to for inspiration, nobody who shares their identities making their own dreams seem even more unlikely. Of course I'll favour a non-female candidate if I agree with their vision, but when it's an immoral, manipulative man vs. an immoral, manipulative woman, gender is enough to be the deal breaker.


(Nicola Sturgeon put it far more eloquently than I ever could.)

It happens all the time in the blogging community too and those who try to break down systems and create a dialogue are having their feminist identities questioned. If I see a blogger posting something problematic which I feel is disrespectful or spreads ignorance or falsehoods, I can't support that. There seems to be an unwritten rule throughout a lot of the blogging community that to call someone out on their problematic views is worse than is worse than having problematic views. We may share a gender, we may share interests but if we don't share an vision, you don't have my support. There is one discernible different though. If I see one blogger posting something I don't agree with, there are hundreds of other bloggers out there and I can take my readership elsewhere. However, politically, our options are naturally more limited. 

I'm a big believer in calling people out if they're being rude or ignorant or disrespectful (while simultaneously picking your battles carefully) and I've gotten to a point in my life whereby I want people around me to do the same for me. I don't think in most circumstances gender alone is enough to base support on, especially as it promotes the misogynist ideal that women should be taken for face value and that what they stand for & believe in comes second. However, what I am in favour of is supporting women, and many other many other under or misrepresented groups, for the sake of representation and equality. It's a tough one but I'd love to hear your thoughts...





[Side note : I understand the blogging community is not entirely female, but the majority of bloggers I run in the same circles with are. I don't mean to cause any offensive or exclusion through this statement, or this blog post as a whole.]

Friday, 15 July 2016

My Struggles With Self Care

Self care. It's a funny one, eh? It's kind of always been a thing that us human types do, putting time aside to look after our emotional well-being, but only maybe in the past few years have we decide to give it a name. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a bit of new age psychology so I guess it might seem odd that the whole concept of self care kind of scares me a little and I struggle to indulge. When life is busy and you've a million and one other things to do, having even a little time to yourself doesn't always seem important and it can sometimes feel like valuable time that could be better spent. 

I know I struggle most with self care when I'm busy, stressed or feeling low, which of course it when I need it most. I don't by any means live the busiest of lives, but with my job, I can't rely on being able to do the same things at the same time every day, week etc. and creating and sticking to a routine is hard. 




Tumblr, Pinterest and the blogging world is full of self care ideas and as much as I want to embrace them, the majority of them just don't feel relatable to me. I understand different techinques work for different people, but there's a lot of them I can't takr seriously or imagine how it could be applied to my life. If I'm feeling so low that I find it a huge challenge, both physically and mentally, to even drag myself out of bed, I'm skeptical of how just much taking a bubble bath or doing a spot of adult colouring is really going to help.

Perhaps there's some element of confidence in it, not feeling like I'm worthy of spending time solely on myself and my emotional well-being. As a fully fledged adult, I can now look back at those turbulent teenage years that we'd all rather forget and praise the Lord that my self-esteem is at an all time high compared to some periods in the past. Generally, I'm quite confident, in my appearance, my character and my views. I don't often feel inadequite or like I need to justify my choices. So why do I feel like I don't deserve to set time aside to do something mindless like colouring in and why do I view it as wasted time?

Another possible reason is that I'm a very 'closed book', for lack of better terminology.  
I don't talk to my friends or family about my feelings very much (not without the influence of a lot of alcohol anyway) and I tend to shut myself off. One of my friends has even nicknamed me 'caramel' cause he says I'm hard on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside. I have a massive complex about never wanting to appearing needy or vulnerable or not in control and although this was funny the first time around, it makes me feel a little sad that even my friends have running jokes about how shut off I am. I guess then maybe by openly engaging in self care, I almost feel like I'm shouting out to the word that I'm not feeling how I want to and that vulnerability scares me.

Because it feels more comfortable for me to just be alone when I'm feeling down, I tend to opt for lesser recommended techniques - eating junk food and watching a film or TV series or lying in bed in the middle of the day staring blankly into space and thinking of every worst possible scenario for all the woes in my life. Compared to some of the self care techniques I've read, this isn't anything particularly inspiring or original but it feels the most natural for me. Afterwards or during it though, I'm always hit with a huge surge of self-loathing and the realisation that this isn't healthy and that maybe, just maybe, one of those self care techniques that initially made me cringe would've been more productive. It seems like I constantly fool myself into thinking these self destructive things is actually self care.

I love the concept of self care and have learned the hard way that ignoring your natural instincts to take care of your emotional well-being and mental health will inevitably end badly, but I can't help but feel a little detached from the concept of self care. I'm currently trying to find techniques that I can incorporate into my life and that will leave me feeling recharged and rejuvenated rather than even lowing that when I started, so anything you can suggest, blog posts, videos or ideas that have helped you, please share. 




Tuesday, 14 June 2016

How To Be A LGBTQA+ Ally

From a position of privilege, it can sometimes be easy to think that prejudice doesn't exist or isn't really as bad as it's made out to be. However, this weekend's unspeakably tragic shootings in Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida which left 50 people and at least that again injured certainly suggests elsewhere. The biggest act of terrorism in the US since 9/11 and the countries deadliest ever mass shooting, homophobia is alive and well in our society and while we may temporarily make our Facebook profile picture a rainbow flag, in a months time, most straight people will go back to their comfortable lives, never thinking twice about kissing their partner in public or even holding hands. There's a lot straight people to can to help move LGBTQA+ rights forward so today we're going to talk about how to be the best LGBTQA+ ally you can be.



Understand Stereotypes & Why They're Harmful
Joking that'd you'd love a gay best friend might seem harmless, but when it then leaves non-camp gay men who don't particularly care for Lady Gaga and have zero interest in fashion feeling like they don't meet societies view of what a gay man should be, this is when problems occurs. Same with gay women. As shocking as it may seem to some, women can have short hair and not be gay. Women can have long hair and be gay. Open your mind beyond the stereotypes that society and the media has trained us to use as a benchmark of true gayness. 

Heteronormativity
To put it in very basic terms, heteronormativity refers to the belief that being heterosexual is the 'norm' or 'default'. Society conditions us to think of straight as 'normal' and anything other than straight as deviant from this so-called norm. Everything from the selection of 'Mrs & Mr' wedding cards vs. 'Mrs & Mrs' or 'Mr & Mr' in any card shop to clothes for young girls with 'Looking for my Prince Charming' printed across front. Stop assuming people are straight, because statistically speaking, there's a good chance they aren't. 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Good for you, your Facebook profile picture is a rainbow. That's your part done now, right? Wrong. Very wrong. It's all very well and good to think of yourself as an ally, but when you continue to make jokes about gay people, consume homophobic media and supports hateful politicians, how good of an ally are you really being? Have the courage of your convictions, call people out, boycott brands and refuse to stand by as people around you spread hate.  

Language & Labels
Know your terminology. Know how demisexual varies from of pansexual, know what cishet means, know what using Mx rather than Miss or Mr means. Know it and use it. Same goes for pronouns. If someone prefers he/his pronouns over she/her pronouns, you damn well use he/his pronouns. This is non-negotiable. Similarly, labels. As a whole, labels are generally pretty badly thought of. Most people don't like to be strictly categorised. However, many LGBTQA+ people take comfort in the security of labels, knowing other people who identify as that label can relate to them. Respect their choice to use or not use labels as they see fit.

Listen, Don't Talk
If you aren't LGBTQA+, you don't get the struggles. Sorry, but you don't. Same way if you're white, you don't get the struggle of people of colour, or if you're able bodied, you don't get the struggles of disabled people. A huge part of being an ally for any group is knowing that it's often important to just shut up and listen. Don't speak on other peoples behalf. Don't butt in. Don't attempt to offer a 'different perspective'. 

In the wake of of the shootings in Orlando, the world seems united against homophobia but I can't help to ask, for how long? Love is love I'm told by trending hashtags, but murder is murder and terrorism is terrorism too. If you happen to be in the privileged group that have never had to question your safety based on your LGBTQA+ identity or awkwardly correct someone as they assumed your sexuality, you probably don't ensurely 'get it', but that's okay, that won't stop you helping to progress LGBTQA+ rights by being a better LGBTQA+ ally.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler

Since I cut 7 inches off my locks a few years ago, I've gotten really boring with my hair styles. It's either down straight, down curly, half up or in a pony tail. Hardly riveting choices, I know. Normally when I see hair tutorials on YouTube, I don't even bother clicking but recently I watched Lucy & Lydia's remake of Little Mix's 'Hair' video and got a major case of the heart-eyes-emoji over the Lee Stafford Chopstick Styler.


It's a super narrow curling wand with no clip, designed to create tight ringlets. Now I know what you're thinking. Tight ringlets? It's 2016, not 1997, but hear me out. 1990's nostalgia is sweeping the fashion and beauty world and shows no immediate signs of slowing down and once shaken out and messed up a little, these curls are a perfect nod to that trend.

It doesn't have temperature control but the wand heats up to a whopping 200 degrees, meaning that although this look requires small sections of hair, it's really quick per section (about 8 to 10 seconds) so doesn't actually end up taking much longer than big curls and they really last until you next wash your hair. Just remember to use a heat protector spray though, I like the Lee Stafford Poker Straight Flat Iron Protection Shine Mist myself.



It's been a long time since I was this excited over a hair tool, but this little beauty has filled a hole in my collection that I didn't even know I had and best of all, it's only £19.99. It's not a look I'd wear every single day but it's definitely a statement which I can't wait to rock throughout the Summer for lazy afternoons in a sunny beer gardens or for a glamour night out!


Friday, 3 June 2016

Dementia : My Experience

Dementia. Nearly a million people in the UK have it, yet it's so widely misunderstood by sufferers and medical professionals alike and often incorrectly accepted as just a natural part of ageing. This week is dementia awareness week in association with Dementia Scotland and I wanted to share my experience with it.

Ada Muriel Davis passed away in 2012. 18th of March 2012. I was 21. I remember it clearly. It was a Sunday. My mum came into my room to waken me for work. She told me before I'd even gotten out of bed. Her tone was sad but unsurprised, and as though she knew I wouldn't be surprised either. I wasn't. I was due to start work at 10am and this was about 8am. I didn't cry. You might judge me for saying this but I wasn't even particularly sad. Not straight away anyway. We knew it was near and as hard as it was, we'd prepared ourselves.




My gran lives 200 miles away and had all my life. We saw her every Christmas and periodically for long weekends through the year. I have fond childhood memories of the long car journeys and of playing in the fields near her home with my sister. In every memory of visiting her, the sun is shining. My gran was much like my dad, loving and caring but not affectionate. Never felt the need to show off about it. My other gran lives nearby and because of this, we've always been much closer.

It was about ten years before my gran passed away that she began to show signs of forgetfulness. As a family, we can now laugh about some of the funny things she'd say. One that we always talk about is when she was visiting and my mum was unpacking shopping from the supermarket. She had a multipack of crisps and asked my gran if she wanted one, who which my gran asked how you know which flavour they are. She hadn't realise that it's a big bag made up of smaller bags of crisps rather than just one giant bag of crisps with assorted flavours all mixed in together. This antidotes still make us laugh til this day. 

As time progressed, these slips of the mind became more frequent and harder to laugh off. My dad, her son, began travelling down more often. Despite not being particularly affectionate, he was fiercely protective of his mum. He could see things getting worse. She started to struggle on her own so far away from any family but was adamant that she didn't want to move back up to Scotland. Despite the tremendous efforts of her beloved life long neighbour Dorothy, my dad liked to make sure for himself. It was initially small things, forgetting to open a piece of junk mail, still having last week's crossword to finish off, not putting a bookmark in and losing her page. But it quickly progressed to much bigger things. Long out of date food, meals that should be frozen stored in cupboards and bed sheets and towels unchanged for weeks. He found a cupboard full of delivered but unopened medication that she hadn't been taking for months. More than an entire plastic bags worth. After a few attempted to explain these mistakes to her, my dad realised she didn't see anything wrong with how she was living. She was as independent in her 90's as she'd been at any other point in her life. 

A few days after my dad drove the 400 mile round trip to drop her back home after Christmas, she took a bad fall. She fell getting into bed and only after banging on the wall did her neighbours know something wasn't right and went to check on her. She spend from then until she passed in hospital. Every Friday night for three months, my dad drove down alone. Visited her in hospital. Stayed over in her house by himself. Visited her again on the Saturday. Stayed over in her house by himself again. Visited her on the Sunday and drove home again on the Sunday night, just in time for the 40 hour working week ahead. He only missed two weekends, one was my 21st birthday and the other was the weekend of the day she died. When my mum woken me and told me, my dad was already packing up the car. 

She was always a proud woman. She was well spoken, firmly opinionated and took pride in her appearance, dripping in gold and jewels and sporting a blue floral walking stick. In many ways, dementia is almost a kind disease, or kind to the sufferer at least. My gran didn't realise she was anything other than independent, able and healthy and although hard for my family and in particular, my dad, she passed away as proud as she lived. It's seeing someone you loves mind deteriorate, their control of their life slip away and their independence slowly dwindle and feeling powerless to help or stop it that's so heartbreaking and utterly frustrating.

Dementia Scotland, amongst others wonderful charities, are fighting to raise awareness of dementia and fund research into potential cures or treatments. It's an truly awful disease that will affect 1 in 4 of us. I take great comforting in the knowledge that my gran didn't see herself in the way we tried to hard to prevent but the day we can make this fate less and less likely for more and more people, I'll be a very happy lady.



Tuesday, 31 May 2016

May Beauty Favourites

Hi all! I've not done a monthly favourites list since January, so after such a long period away, it felt only right that I put together a May one. Here's some of the beauty products I've been loving recently...

Wilko's Premium Powder Brush (£4)
I hear so much talk of Wilko's on the blogesphere but unfortunately there isn't one near me. Recently though, I happened to be near one and I couldn't help but pick up a few treats, one of which was this powder brush. The brush I normally use to powder my face is really small and dense whereas this is much fluffier. It's so soft and I love how much easier it is to sweep all over my face. I'm thinking of buying another one to use for light bronzing in Summer. For £4, it's such amazing quality.

Barry M Flawless Brightening Primer (£5.99)
Primer isn't a make-up product I often feel passionately about, I don't use it every day and even when I do, what's there really to get excited about? This one however, is everything I look for in a primer. The purple works to brighten dull or tired looking skin (ie. mine, every day of my life!) and it applies like an absolute dream, smooth, non-greasy and a little goes a long way. Although I don't use primer every day but this is really heavy duty, great for long days or nights out.

Maybelline Forever Strong Super Stay Gel Nail Colour in 'Surreal' (£5.99)

I'm not normally a huge fan of pastel nail polishes, I find them hard to co-ordinate and I just can't be bothered with having to apply 4 coats to build up the colour. This shade from Maybelline though isn't a true pastel, but more of a washed out lavender shade which I find easier to wear. The formula is really thin but opaque, quick drying and long lasting. It's the perfect Spring nail colour for me!

Rimmel London Kate Moss Sculpting Palette in '003 Golden Bronze' (£6.99)

This cute little rose gold palette from the folks at Rimmel London contains a highlight, a contour powder and a blusher. The highlight is a leaves much to be desired (way too dark for a highlighter in my opinion!) but the contour is a great one for pale skin and the slightly shimmery warm coral blush is perfect for this time of year. I've been wearing them both with and without fake tan and I love it both ways.

New Look Pure Colour Baked Highlighter Powder in '70 Light Pink' (£6.99)

Now on to a highlight I do care for. Very much so in fact. From one of the high street's most underrated beauty brands, Pure Colour by New Look. If you like that super smooth highlighted look, this one's for you, it's shimmery but not glittery and it's so finely milled that it applies beautifully, I'd think it was much higher end!

Urban Decay Matte Revolution Lipstick in '1993' (£15.50)

Finally, a repurchase cause I lost my first one, Urban Decay's Matte Revlotuion Lipstick in the shade '1993'. Like half the make-up obsessives of the world, I'm all about sepia inspired make-up at the moment and this is my perfect brown lipstick. It's not completely matte, but I think I prefer that tiny little bit of creaminess, and it fades out really evenly. The only downside is that it can be a liiiittle melty if you leave if in your pocket!

What beauty products have you been loving throughout the month of May?




Monday, 23 May 2016

Pastures New

Hey. Hi. Hello there. It's been a while, eh? My last blog post was 82 days ago to be exact. I've had my blog since 2011 so naturally have gone through stages before of not posting for whatever reason, some times blog related, sometimes not, but this has been the longest. And let me tell you, as happy as I am to get back into it, I needed that time to reevaluate a lot of things, again some blog related and some not.



Delicious vegan quesadillas at Stereo, Glasgow

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with Lis from Last Years Girl and Laila from Tape Parade. I've written in the past about blogging events and feeling nervous around new people, so was anxious but excited. We went for dinner while Laila was up visiting Glasgow and over a fabulous vegan meal, chatting and laughing away for hours like old chums. Lis and Laila's blogs, amongst a handful of others, are ones I really enjoy for their confidence, variety and originality, qualities I've always strived to deliver on my blog too but often struggle with. I left that night feeling two very juxtaposing feelings. Inspiration and guilt. 'I want to be the type of blogger who portraying a version of myself that makes people feel inspired in the way I feel inspired right now' I thought to myself as I walked home from the subway on that warm Spring night. 'So why am I not?' came next. The guilt. I know I have the skills and ideas to do it. So why am I not doing it? Guilt is a feeling I'm faced with a lot.

My most recent post (oh the irony of the word 'recent') was about blogger identity and I had lost mine almost entirely. I wasn't proud of the content I was creating and my 'brand' was all over the place. My Twitter identity was a prominently societal and pop culture commentary with the odd bit of blogging thrown in, while my Instagram was unintentionally themed to suggest I am the picture perfect beauty blogger, a filtered version of the most vain elements of my life. Truth be told, I'm neither. Well, more specifically, I'm both. And I'm so much more too. I want my blog to portray a more rounded and varied picture of who I am and what I'm passionate about.

When I started by blog, I loved the name. It's something I'm so often complimented on at blog events and when new people follow me on social media. They love it. Me? Not so much any more. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but I outgrew Filthy Paws & Silky Drawers a long time ago. I'm not that girl I was in 2011 any more. I've thought about changing my name for a while now, but struggled to think of something else. What if I regret it? What if I should've just stuck with it? What if my stats and followers dramatically fall cause people don't realise I'm the same person? 

At the stage I was at at the start of this year, I was so unhappy with my blog and what I was doing that I knew anything would be better. This year has been hard, I'm not in a particularly good place in my life and I'm not going where I want to be going at the pace I'd like to, but my blog is all mine, to do exactly what I want and I really want to turn it around. I know I can and I know I will.

I've cleaned up my filthy paws and hung up my silky drawers. That chapter is over and it's time for something new. Once Upon A Sophie...