April Favourites

I haven’t done a favourites blog before, but I wanted to do this so that I could share some of the things I’ve been obsessing over this month. This might become a monthly feature- I might even do this in video format in the future, because I love watching favourites videos on YouTube! Let me know if that’s something you’d like to see. So, without further ado, here are the things I’ve been especially loving…

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THE HAPPINESS PLANNER

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Okay so this section is a long one, sorry about that but it’s just because I have a  lot to say about this particular item!

You might have already heard of The Happiness Planner– it’s been featured on blogs and vlogs before now, and people are really loving it. If you don’t know what it is, this is a journal and planner designed specifically to help you to lead a happier and more positive life. There are a few different versions- you can get one which goes from Janurary- December, you can get a mid-year diary which is similar to an academic diary, or the one I have (partially because I couldn’t wait for the mid-year version to come out!) which is a 100-day planner. You fill in various questions at the start of the journal- things that make you happy, things which cause you stress or unhappiness, things that you might want to change or improve and any goals you want to be working towards. It’s a great way to detach yourself from your emotions and take a look at your life from a new perspective. When I filled these sections in, even though I already knew the answers to all of the questions, seeing it written down helped me to identify patterns of things that I needed to change to be happier, and things I needed to include more of in my everyday life.

I fill this in at the beginning of each day, and it really does help me to have a more positive and more productive day. I think that people go into their day with such high expectations, wanting to achieve a certain amount and feel productive and good about themselves by the end of the day, and if they don’t get everything done that they had wanted to, they feel like they’ve failed, or wasted the day. However going into your day without a plan makes it super difficult to get the most out of it- in this planner, you write your schedule for the day, the tasks you want to get done, your meals and exercises, and a focus for the day: so you can choose to focus on “mindfulness” or “smiling more” or “trying not to complain” (these are just some examples of the sorts of objectives I set for myself). There is also an inspiring quote at the top of each day. Then, at the end of the day, you can reflect on what was good about your day, and what you hope for tomorrow. At the end of the week, you can rate your happiness levels in different areas on a scale and add up your score, and reflect on what was good about your week, what wasn’t so good, what you’re grateful for, and what you’ve learned. At the start of the week, there’s a week-to-view page where you can put in your schedule, which I find so useful in planning out my week in advance. I put in the days I’m working, and the shifts my boyfriend is working, so that we can reserve a day or evening to spend together, and I can see where I can put in some extra hours at ballet, etc.

This planner has genuinely really helped me to be more productive and more positive, especially though some hard times recently when I’ve suffered disappointments, rejections and setbacks. I get up in the morning, do my skincare routine and drink some lemon and hot water, then I make myself and my boyfriend a coffee and get back into bed and spend some time with my planner reflecting on the day before, and planning the week ahead. It’s a little morning ritual that has become a sacred part of my day, and has improved my life. If you want to be more positive, happier and more productive, I highly recommend purchasing one of these journals- you can get them here.

GET FIT AND HEALTHY NOTEBOOK

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This is another product from the people behind “The Happiness Planner”. I follow a carefully put-together diet plan which I have designed so that I can be my healthiest self- I have such a busy lifestyle that I need to make sure I’m getting all the energy and nutrition I need. I also make cross-training a priority for similar reasons. This notebook is just a very cute and handy way to keep track of these things- I write down my meals and exercises, and I like that there’s a section to record mood as well. I only wish that there were sections for snacks, because I need to snack between meals to keep my energy and especially focus up, and I plan them in advance to make sure I’m eating the right things. At the moment I’m squishing them between the ‘meals’ boxes- but this is still a very useful notebook, and I just love how cute it is.

GAYNOR MINDEN POINTE SHOES

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These have already been mentioned in my What’s in My Dance Bag post, but I’ve recently switched back to Gaynors from the time being after wearing Grishko for a while and I am just really enjoying the change. These shoes are just SO much more comfortable for me than traditional shoes- I say for me because I know some people don’t like the feel of these shoes, but on the whole they really are more comfortable. I think it’s because there are so many sizing options, it allows me to have a  wide box but a narrower middle section and super-narrow heel- I use the sleek fit, because my pointe shoes always slide off at the heel, and I still need heel grippers! They also come with built-in suede tips, so no darning- I am awful at sewing, I hate it, and this looks so much better than my haphazard darning attempts. These shoes look so elegant and just really suit my feet, they feel like a dream after wearing a pair of Grishkos that I think were just too hard for me, and so baggy in the heel. I am enjoying them so much at the minute, although I am experiencing undue pressure on my big toenails and they’re getting bruised. I need to find some padding that prevents this adequately, or I may have to try a different shoe. I am going to look into getting a gel pad that just goes over the big toe and see if that alleviates the problem, because part of what I love about Gaynors is that you don’t have to wear a lot of padding in them. I know that there is a lot of controversy about these shoes, but I think that we are all mature enough to know that different things work for different dancers! If you are curious about these shoes and want to try them out, I say go for it. You might absolutely love them, and if not, you can just switch back. Check them out here.

LIME CRIME VENUS PALETTE

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I have actually had this eyeshadow palette for ages, but I’ve been reaching for it a lot recently over my usual trusty Urban Decay Naked 2. This is supposed to be a ‘grunge’ palette, and the colours are so perfect for that look, so I was expecting to be wearing it a lot more in the autumn and winter than in the warmer months. However, coming into spring I’ve been using this a lot because the beautiful pinks are just perfect for a spring look, as are the softer browns like “divine” with a little of the darker shades in the crease.

These eyeshadows are amazing, and I think that the palette’s a really good price based on the fact that the products are such great quality. These eyeshadows are really pigmented, you can see the colour payoff where I’ve swatched it just with my finger above. I also like the big mirror, I often use it to do all my eye make-up and brows because I’m so short-sighted that with my glasses off, I can’t get close enough to the mirror on the wall to see without hitting my brushes on the mirror! So yes, loving this one, and surprisingly perfect for spring!

No 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Oil

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I am so lazy about taking my make-up off- it really does come from working late nights. I get home at about 3am, utterly exhausted, and if the thought of taking off my make-up does drift across my wrung-out brain, I just about have time to laugh at the prospect before falling asleep. However, my skin is so much better when I make the effort to remove my make-up properly. Oil-based cleansers make such light work of dissolving make-up (including the toughest of eye make-up and mascaras), so I have been trying to use these more- I love the effort it saves. This No 7 cleanser was one of the only oil-based cleansers I could find that you can just go in and pick up off the shelf in Boots. I imagine there’s more choice if you’re willing to look at skincare counters and boutiques, but that would undoubtedly be considerably more expensive, and this product works very well. The only thing is, this cleanser uses mineral oils, and natural plant oils are apparently much better for your skin, so I am keeping my eyes peeled for a good oil cleanser that doesn’t use mineral oils. In the meantime, though, this is making removing my make-up super easy. I did actually make my own oil cleanser at one point, which was very effective and not difficult, but I want to find one I can go and buy ready-made, not having to buy various oils separately and blend together. FYI: For best results massage onto dry skin then remove with a clean facecloth and clean warm water. Loving it, give it a try if you haven’t used an oil cleanser before!

HARRY POTTER MAGICAL CREATURES COLOURING BOOK

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I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and I also love colouring. I already have so many colouring books, including the original Harry Potter one. When I saw this Magical Creatures colouring book, I had to have it! I haven’t coloured any of it in yet, but I’m so excited about it that I had to include it in my favourites! The pictures are so beautiful and I can’t wait to start colouring it in. Excitement levels for this at least 8.5/10.

BENEFIT: HIGH BEAM, IT’S POTENT! AND “THAT GAL”

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I bought these miniature Benefit goodies from Boots as they were four for £15 (I also got the Bad Gal mascara). I actually worked as a beauty artist for Benefit once upon a time so I was already familiar with these products, but forgot how much I love them!

High Beam is SUCH an underrated highlighter! As someone with super-pale skin, some highlighters barely show up on me, so I like this one because it’s so light and bright. It’s a creamy liquid formulation, so it gives a gorgeous dewy highlight. I dab it on under my eyes to help conceal my dark circles, along my cheekbones, under my brows, along the bridge of my nose and on my cupid’s bow. This miniature is lasting me really well but I’ll probably invest in the full-size product as soon as I can afford it.

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It’s Potent! is one of the only eye creams I know of that specifically targets dark circles- most eye creams are aimed either towards wrinkles or bags under the eyes, whereas my really big problem is dark circles. I suffer with them quite badly- my all-over-the-place sleeping schedule doesn’t help, nor does the fact I definitely don’t drink enough water, but this has made such a difference already. I am definitely going to be buying the full-sized product. The Benefit skincare is pricy compared to high street stuff, but it’s actually really affordable compared to other premium brands and so good- I feel like people completely overlook it, because they think of Benefit as being all about the make-up but the skincare is actually some of the best I’ve used. Definite thumbs-up from me.

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“That Gal” is a really lovely primer which I used to enjoy using when I worked at Benefit and forgot all about- seeing it in Boots was such a throwback moment. I have loved using this again. I feel like people who don’t have oily skin or visible pores tend not to use primer- for people whose make-up slides off quickly, a good mattifying primer makes all the difference. This one isn’t mattifying; it’s more cooling, moisturising and brightening. It’s great for normal or dry skin- you can use it if you have oily skin, just mix it in with your usual primer, or use a mattifying primer then mix this with your foundation. It feels amazing on the skin, and looks so good under foundation. Another really underrated product. I love it.

DEEP HEAT CREAM

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Now, you will have seen me raving about Biofreeze and Voltarol Emugel as my go-to pain relieving creams in my What’s In My Dance Bag post. Something I have loved and used for years is Deep Heat; I just don’t think that anything else compares when it comes to relief of muscular aches and pains. It really gets into the muscle and gives you that “aaaah, that’s better” feeling. The reason it’s made its way back into my favourites is because I’ve only just really re-discovered it. One of my ballet teachers absolutely hates the smell of Deep Heat (it does have a very strong smell, but I love it!) so I’m not allowed to use this in my ballet school. I once saw him kick a girl out at the beginning of class because she’d used some beforehand and he walked in and said “Who has used the sports cream? Get out.” However, I found some in my drawer and have been using it at home, and I’ve remembered how good it is for aching muscles.

BOOTS CUSHIONED PLASTERS

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Ok, so any non-dancing visitors to this post will be thinking that this is a really weird favourites, but anyone who has danced en pointe will know the importance of knowing a good brand of plasters! Most of them come off when you sweat, or don’t provide enough protection, etc. These cushioned ones I bought because I had some blisters that had rubbed through to blood so they were raw and open, but was in the middle of important rehearsals, so I needed protection with a bit of padding. I had used spray plaster but the areas concerned had actually rubbed down pretty deep and it didn’t do much to stop the bleeding or protect my feet (it also stung so so bad, don’t spray that stuff on a fresh wound!). I wasn’t sure these would be as sticky as normal fabric plasters, but they are actually really sticky, they stayed on better than anything else I’ve used! They even stayed on in the shower. So yeah, a bit of a weird one, but they have earned a spot in my favourites!

LOREAL SKIN PERFECTION MOISTURISER

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I have struggled to find my perfect moisturiser. I’d say that my skin is normal, with a tendency to sometimes get dry, but is also prone to blemishes. Because of this many people I’ve sought advice from at skincare counters, etc., will recommend me products for blemish-prone skin, which are all aimed at preventing excess oil. I have valiantly attempted to trust their recommendations and get along with the products they gave me, but they only dry out and irritate my skin, or at best just don’t give it enough moisture. My favourite moisturisers have always been those aimed at ageing skin, because they provide a lot of moisture without leaving heavy residue on the skin. However these can be so expensive because they contain all sorts of high-tech, innovative ingredients used to slow signs of ageing that I really don’t need.

I was so happy when I discovered this moisturiser; it’s part of a range of anti-ageing skincare by Loreal, and there are different versions for different age ranges. This pink range of products is for younger skin, and I feel like I’ve finally found what I have been searching for! It gives me the moisture I need without making my skin oily or leaving any residue. After I use this moisturiser, my skin feels so soft, with no hint of greasiness, and actually looks smoother and brighter straight away! Because it soaks in so well, it is perfect under make-up. I’d say that this moisturiser is worth trying for most skin types; the only people who I’d not recommend it to is anyone with either very oily or very dry skin, in which case a specialist product for those problems would probably work better. This is the first moisturiser I’ve ever gone back to re-purchase, and the lady at the till in Boots was singing its praises as well. This moisturiser is good quality without breaking the bank, usually priced around £15, but the last couple of times I’ve been to buy it it’s been on offer for £9.99. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

NESPRESSO PODS

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So Jake’s parents bought us a Nespresso machine for Christmas. We are huge coffee lovers (hot beverages of all varieties are taken very seriously in this house) and we have gotten so much use out of it. I love getting up in the morning and making a lovely frothy cappuccino to take back to bed, or a double espresso pick-me-up mid-afternoon! These three pod flavours have become stand-out favourites: Arpeggio is the purple one, and has a lovely strong, smooth and super-roasty flavour.This is the “get me out of bed” go-to capsule! The pale pink pod is Rosabaya de Colombia and is a more subtle, sweet and floral taste. I love this one mid-morning. The golden-brown pod is Caramelito, a caramel flavoured espresso. This one is delicious in a latte, or iced latte, especially with just a touch of maple syrup. Loving these, and if you are in central London, you can head to the Nespresso store at Piccadilly Circus (right outside the station, at the end of Regent Street) and taste them before you buy.

 

So that’s everything I’ve been loving this month! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my favourites, give this post a like if you want to see more like this in the future. Leave me a comment letting me know what you’ve been loving in April, or if you’ve used any of these things too!

Let May be a month full of progress and opportunities! Until next time,

 

Jessica x

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