2017: Most Popular Posts

How on earth is January almost over? I intended to write up a ‘2018 goals’ post but time has escaped me – maybe I still can. As always, a big goal for me is to keep up the momentum on The Fourth Month. I’ve been posting more regularly on The Fourth Month Instagram account so it’s now time to produce more content for the blog.

The Fourth Month journey began back in Summer 2016 when I broke my leg and was relegated to the sofa for about 5 weeks. Since then I’ve focused on books, interiors, wellbeing and general lifestyle posts. Like I did last year, I thought I’d share the top posts of the year to say farewell to 2017 and hullo to 2018.

5. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES BY SARAH J MAAS

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This review of A Court of Thorns and Roses was my first blog post in 2017 and you guys seemed to enjoy reading my thoughts. It was a book that left me feeling torn. I loved some of the characters and the magical world they inhabit but a lot of this story is problematic. Its troublesome Beauty and the Beast tropes (Stockholm Syndrome and sexual violence) made me feel uneasy but Maas created such a rich and exciting world full of powerful and mysterious characters with this series. I’ve yet to read ACOMAF and, at this point, I doubt I will. Check out my review and let me know what you think.

4. A PUBLISHING POSTGRAD UPDATE

The fourth most popular post in 2017 was my publishing postgrad update. It’s one of the few, if not only, personal posts I’ve written for The Fourth Month. This makes me wonder if you would like to see more personal blogs (let me know in the comments or send me a message). Since writing this in April last year, things have changed even more. I left my job at the Publishing Bureau to pursue work as a Library Assistant. Working with books and children is really my dream job! And, of course, I graduated with a Distinction in MSc Publishing in October last year, which was a massive achievement.

3. 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GOING TO UNIVERSITY

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Guest blogger, Zina, makes two appearances in the Top 5 of 2017. This is a witty and in-depth look at the trials and tribulations of University life. It’s a great read for anyone considering going to University but it also resonates with anyone who is at or has been to Uni. This uplifting list hopefully put a few minds at ease last year and I’m sure it’ll stay relevant every year as new students move on to higher education.

2. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: BOOKS BY FIERCE FEMALES

I am so happy that this list of fiercely feminist books made it to the top of my most-viewed posts in 2017. This post was requested by a friend but it has clearly been enjoyed by many readers. The list featured some of my favourite authors from Charlotte Brontë to Jessie Burton. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you would like see more bookish lists on The Fourth Month.

1. VANITY FEMME GLOW DUST REVIEW

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Stealing the limelight yet again, Zina’s review of Vanity Femme Glow Dust has made the top spot for 2017 (it was also the most viewed blog in 2016). This sparkly review of a cult-classic highlighter gets hits almost every day so I’ve asked my gorgeous make-up artist sister to start writing some make-up reviews in 2018. Follow her on Instagram and subscribe the The Fourth Month to make sure you don’t miss a thing.


Follow me on Instagram for more updates!

September favourites

You may have noticed some recent changes to The Fourth Month. I’m now residing at thefourthmonth.blog and pages like Food, Wellbeing and Shopping have returned to the site. In February, I wrote a blog about Changes, where I announced The Fourth Month would focus solely on the publishing industry and books. However, since I made this ‘niche’ for myself, I found myself completely uninspired. So I’ve decided to go back to my roots and The Fourth Month will be a mix and match of anything and everything once again.

In the spirit of embracing chaos, I am starting a monthly ‘favourites’ blog, which will be a list of random products from books and magazines to beauty and candles to delicious foodie treats.

Enjoy x


Breathe & Teen Breathe Magazine

I featured Issue One of Breathe Magazine in a blog last year (August 2016 Home Inspiration) when I first discovered this amazing publication. A year on and they have recently launched their sister magazine, Teen Breathe, which aims to help teens and young adults find a bit of peace and quiet in their hectic, social-media driven lives. The beautiful illustrations and peaceful content of Breathe magazines have resonated with me from day one. A year later and I’m still enjoying every issue. Not only does it look great on your coffee table but it’s bursting with ideas to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. I also think it’s pretty inexpensive as far as luxury magazines go. I recently subscribed so that I never miss an issue – I love it that much!

Get an annual subscription to Breathe for your Amazon Kindle.

If you’d like me to do a full review of the recent issues of Breathe magazine then please comment below or drop me a line at thefourthmonth@icloud.com.

Rustic bath shelf from Sainsbury’s

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Face cloths from Asda, candles from Aldi and Wax Lyrical UK, face mask and body scrub from Lush Cosmetics

I’ve been desperate for a bath shelf for AGES. I love running a hot bubble bath after a stressful day and some over-the-bath storage is the perfect addition to a soak in the tub. I picked this up in Sainsbury’s – their homeware selection is gorgeous – and I like to use it to show off my favourite bath time products: some rolled-up face cloths, Lush cosmetics and a couple of gorgeous candles. It’s like my own mini spa. There’s also room for a glass of wine (or two). If you’re on a budget, you can up-cycle an old wooden shelf for the same (if not better) effect.

Aldi Lime, Basil and Mandarin Candle

This Jo Malone dupe is getting ALL THE HYPE lately and I can see why. At £3.99, this supermarket candle will cost you 90% less than the real deal. While I’m not convinced about the ethics behind such a cheap dupe, I can confidently say that this candle smells just like the Jo Malone original and leaves a long-lasting, strong fragrance in the air. It also looks really luxurious and mimics the classic Jo Malone style beautifully. Ultimately, I will probably continue to splash out on a real Jo Malone candle once in a blue moon because you always get what you pay for but this Aldi dupe will definitely keep me going in-between – I’ve already bought three!

Mini lavender pots

I love a bargain! So I was pretty excited when I saw this set of three artificial miniature lavender plants in a cream wire basket reduced to £7 in Tesco. I skipped to the checkout and to my delight, these cuties were reduced even further – to £1.70! I couldn’t believe it. I love seeing these lavender plants perched on my kitchen windowsill every morning. I haven’t seen them in any local Tesco stores since and I can’t find them online but you can get a similar set from Melody Maison for only £8.95.

Try adding a couple of drops of real lavender essence to give some authenticity your artificial plants. Lavender oil has some wonderful healing properties which make it a great bedtime companion.

Lazy Sunday Coffee

Jamie and I recently bought a coffee grinder and French Press from IKEA so that we could enjoy freshly ground coffee in the mornings instead of instant. However, I often find fresh coffee too strong or too bitter but I was pleasantly surprised by Taylor’s of Harrogate’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ coffee. With hints of hazelnut and citrus, these coffee beans don’t claim to be “knock-your-socks-off, drag-you-awake coffee.” Instead, this is “coffee for lie-ins and Sunday papers, for lazy mornings with your feet on the sofa.” If I was a cup of coffee, this is what I would be.

You can buy three bags of Taylors of Harrogate Lazy Sunday Medium Roast Ground Coffee for £8.65 on Amazon.

On the subject of coffee, we’re thinking about getting a proper barista coffee machine for our Christmas this year. Do you have any recommendations or know of any coffee machines we should steer clear of? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Instagram.


What are you loving this September? The weather is cooling and it’s time to break out the hats and scarves again. Do you have any go-to products for Autumn? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

Online Marketing with Google’s #DigitalGarage

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen that I recently attended a couple of #DigitalGarage sessions ran by Google in Glasgow. These workshops are free to attend and are part of a larger project that Google is working on to get people feeling more confident about online marketing.

While I’m aware this is not specific to publishing, I do think it is really important for us publishers to stay up-to-date with the latest in digital marketing. I plan to use what I learned from these sessions with my own blog and for my social media internship over at Linen Press Books. In the meantime, I’ve summarised some of the key points from the #DigitalGarage below but I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

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What is #DigitalGarage?

“Free tutorials from Google on everything from your website to online marketing and beyond. Choose the topics you want to learn, or complete the whole online course for a certification from Google and IAB Europe.”

I attended live workshops but Google also offers free online training if there aren’t any workshops running near you. Sign up here and you can set goals, learn from experienced professionals, apply your knowledge, track your progress and stay motivated! If you are interested in a face-to-face lesson, then you can find out more about events (like the ones I attended) right  over here. They’re in Glasgow until the 31st March.

What did I learn?

  • You need to have a good website. Web platforms like Wix, Squarespace & WordPress make having a website easy and relatively inexpensive.
  • Don’t be obscure with your domain name. Indicate what you do and where you are. If you are a UK based publisher, make sure this is clear in your URL. 
  • Think about where you’re hosting your website. These things can cause delay in your ping rate and search engines will penalise slow hosting.

“Nearly half of all visitors will leave a mobile site if the pages don’t load within 3 seconds.”

  • Consider the speed and user-friendliness of your website. Search your website on testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com to discover how friendly your website really is. I won a Google notepad for The Fourth Month’s pingback speed and it was only 65/100. Not only does this link give you feedback on your website’s user-friendliness but it gives you advice on how to improve it. Tips include optimising your images with a free image compressor.

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What does a successful website look like?

  • Clear purpose and goals
  • Clear layout and navigation – no clutter, minimalist as possible.
  • Strong call to action – signpost, make it easy for the visitor.
  • Fast page loading time
  • Make mobile a priority – majority of users find you first on a mobile and remember most people won’t be seeing the desktop layout at all. Always consider mobile first.

Social Media

  • 38 million active social media users
  • 1 hour 29 minutes average daily use of social media via any device (but remember younger audience = higher usage).
  • People formulate an impression within 50 milliseconds of visiting your social media profile so think about your bio:
    • Keep it relevant & talk about your business
    • Keep it clear & consistent – say what you mean and stay relevant. Don’t promise them one thing and give them another.
    • Show you personality & have fun – people buy from people
  • Consider your audience! Remember who you’re selling to and research where they are. Fasted growing audience on Twitter is 65+! 

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Optimising your website

  • Think about keyword analysis & research – what are people searching for? Set up a GoogleAdWord account and use Keyword Planner.
  • Optimise your web pages – use the right terms in the right places. Put keywords at the top of the page, on your web address, in your title and as near to the top as possible but don’t repeat the same word over and over again.
  • Check out google.co.uk/trends to find out what your customers are looking for. Know what to focus your attention on promoting and when. Use google analytics to find out where people are arriving and, importantly, where they’re leaving your site.
  • How are people finding it? Adword? Organic searches? Social media? Email campaign? 
  • Achieving goals? What are your visitors worth to you? Maximise the value of your visitors to your site.

Collect data > create goals > measure insights > take action

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This post was in no way endorsed by Google. I recommend checking out the #DigitalGarage for a basic understanding of using analytics and trends to improve your online presence.

Remember to keep up-to-date with me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Get Cosy with Candleisima

This is the last time I’ll post homeware inspiration on The Fourth Month now that I have transitioned to only literary and publishing related posts. However, I saved a real good ‘un for last!

Way back in December, in my Christmas ‘Good Gift’ Guide, I mentioned two candles that I would like to try. The first being a Song of the Sea candle from Candleisima. I loved this slick, luxury aesthetic and, as someone who loves to be by the seaside, I was enticed by the idea of a candle scented with juniper, salt and seaweed. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Szilvia from Candleisima who kindly offered to let me trial a couple of scents. She sent me a small sample of ‘Song of the Sea’, which is as entrancing as I had imagined, and a large ‘Cranberry Bliss’ candle which reminds me of one of my favourite Yankee festive candles.

Candleisima candles are created by hand in small batches ensuring that all candles are of the highest quality with an extra helping of love added to the ingredients. One of the main selling points for me is that their candles are made of natural soy wax with cotton and linen wicks so you can enjoy your candle without any toxins. They use high-quality fragrance oils to help you relax and they are currently experimenting with soy wax and coconut oil to make all natural coconut candles. I am excited to try one of those! Like me, Szilvia is passionate about lovely handmade products with quality ingredients.

‘Song of the Sea’ was my anticipated fragrance and as I write this blog it is burning on my desk. Inspired by British sea shores, it is scented with juniper, salt and seaweed, which leaves my room smelling fresh and piney. As someone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer screen and not getting enough fresh air, this is a real treat. You can buy a small tin for £4.99 or a full-size candle for £9.99.

In contrast to the salty ‘Song of the Sea’, ‘Cranberry Bliss’ is a fruity delight with a hint of cinnamon making it a sweet addition to the home. It was part of the festive range alongside the spicy cinnamon ‘Silent Night’ and the crisp and clean ‘Winter Wonderland.’ These limited edition candles come in a red glass as opposed to the slick black that encases the other candles. I keep a lot of candles in my room but when I come home from a long day this is the only thing I can smell when I walk in the door is ‘Cranberry Bliss.’ It is powerfully scented with natural oils and smells like sweet, juicy cranberry sauce. I haven’t even burned this candle yet so I am super excited to discover how good it smells when I do. I can’t wait to run a hot bubble bath and get this on because I just adore the fragrance. You can still buy one for £10.99 but there are only 20 left in stock so be quick.

Other fragrances I’d love to try out include ‘Orange Choco Chip’; I have yet to own a chocolate scented candle and it’s something I’d like to try in the hope that it helps with some of my indulgent tendencies. Plus, Jamie loves all things chocolate orange so I think he’d really like this burning too. I would also love to get my hands on ‘Citrus Basil Salad’ because I am a huge fan of Jo Malone’s Lime Basil & Mandarin collection and I think they would be pretty similar.

All these candles are made with pure soy wax and cotton-linen wick so they are as natural as possible, with a few splashes of high-quality cosmetics grade fragrance oils for a measure of luxury. Szilvia is continually experimenting with new ingredients and products so I’m excited to see what she comes up with next and I’m sure she’ll go from strength to strength with these gorgeous candles. Every one of them is made in her home by order with her own bare hands and that’s the kind of dedication and heart that I love showcasing in my home.


Check out Candleisima and create a cosy atmosphere for your next reading adventure with one of their candles

Changes

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies – Unknown


Change is scary but it doesn’t always have to be. When I first started studying publishing, we were told that publishers have to be leaders of change so I’ve tried to embrace the changes I’ve faced in the past six months rather than be lead by them. A new home, new friends, new chapters in my relationship and my career.

The reason I’m wittering on about the joys of change is because The Fourth Month is evolving. When I started blogging in Summer 2016 my focus was on three main areas: book reviews, vegetarian recipes and ethical lifestyle tips: shopping and wellbeing. I mostly started blogging because I had broken my leg and couldn’t get off the couch. However, I have become increasingly frustrated with the broadness of the categories and I find it difficult to sit down and write without real focus. For this reason, I decided to give my blog a niche.

But what niche? I have decided that The Fourth Month will now focus solely on the publishing industry and all things literary.

I have loved writing reviews of cruelty-free beauty products, talking about homeware and giving wellbeing tips. If you like this kind of content, please follow Turadh Magazine, a wellbeing magazine with a focus on ethical living and mindfulness, that I am working on with my classmates. I am really excited about the blogs we are writing over there and I can’t wait to show you the finished product. We’ll be vocally supporting a cruelty-free life and independent shopping just as The Fourth Month has done until now.

I hope I don’t lose too much support with this change. I think it’ll be a much more enjoyable reading experience for you all. I plan to blog weekly about the things I’m learning in my degree, my work experience and about the publishing industry; this should be interesting for any writers or wannabe publishers like me! I’ll continue writing book reviews but am moving towards ’round-up’ and ‘to-be-read list’ blogs instead of individual reviews.

Please let me know what you think about these changes on Twitter and stay updated on Instagram.

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

My 2017 mantra is Read More, Worry Less. 2016 was a great year for me despite all the political and cultural upheaval that was going on but the big changes (graduating, moving to Edinburgh and starting a degree in Publishing) meant I didn’t read as much as I would’ve liked. I just managed to hit my thirty books target on GoodReads and I know that’s a relatively small number compared to some of you bookworms. This year I’d like to read forty books and to help reach my target, I’ve decided to embrace audiobooks. Until now, I had never listened to an audiobook and dismissed it along with eBooks as a poor substitute for the real thing but no more!

Here’s my review of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo which I listened to on Audible narrated by the author herself.

Recently, I put a plea out on Twitter for advice on audiobooks. Are they good? Worth the money? What kind of books would you recommend listening to? I got a month’s free subscription to Audible, which gives you a free credit towards any audiobook. I had heard The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo was an amazing read from a classmate and I had already proclaimed it as my most anticipated read in 2016 yet never got around to reading it. The lovely @readingandinked recommended it as an audiobook along with Amy Poehler’s autobiography, Lauren Graham’s autobiography and The Power of Habit, which are now all on my radar.

First of all, I am not a big Amy Schumer fan. I’m not not a fan but I’ve only really encountered her in Trainwreck. I’ve not watched her comedy sketches or her TV show so I was fairly in the dark about Amy who seemed to explode onto the comedy scene really quickly. I have friends who love her and I liked that she talks about body positivity and sexuality in a frank and fun way that I can relate to. Although, I am aware that Amy Schumer 100% does not speak for womankind – a point which she makes clear in her book – and that she cannot and does not pretend to represent everyone. However, I personally found myself drawn to her especially after her Pirelli Calander shoot with Annie Lebowitz. THOSE TUMMY ROLLS ARE EVERYTHING!

After listening to The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, I am officially a fan. Having her voice in my ears for eight whole hours made me feel like she’s my best friend. If you’re unsure about Amy Schumer, read this book. Not only is she as witty and self-deprecating as I expected but there were a lot of surprises including her difficult relationship with her parents: a boozy lothario father who becomes a tragic hero when he develops Multiple Sclerosis and a cheating and manipulative mother. She doesn’t hold back about relationships including a rather harrowing account of an abusive relationship with one boyfriend. I had shivers when she talked about her realisation that she was in a violent relationship. Like many women, she thought she couldn’t possibly be a victim. She was a strong, bubbly and intelligent woman yet she found herself in the hands of an abusive lover. Amy makes a plea to her readers to know that this can happen to anyone.

In fact, the whole book feels like a letter to young people (especially women). Each chapter brings another nugget of wisdom: it’s okay to have shitty parents, it’s fine to admit you’re weak, you’re allowed to make mistakes (like a regrettable lower back tattoo) and it’s cool to be a woman and enjoy having sex. Although, Amy surprised me by admitting that she has only had one ‘one night stand.’ I think her celebrity persona plays upon her open sexuality and I had a preconception that she had had a lot more sex than she actually has. Most of her experiences have been in relationships but by no means does she condemn anyone that has one-night-affairs. I liked that. She wasn’t saying GO HAVE SEX WITH EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING nor was she advocating for only having sex with long-term partners. It was more: you do you (as long as it’s consensual).

However, this book is not just a string of hapless relationships. Amy talks emotively about her father’s illness, about her determination to become a successful comedian (that girl put in some serious graft) and about just being happy with yourself:

Love yourself. You don’t need a man, or a boy, or a self-proclaimed love expert to tell you what you’re worth. Your power comes from who you are and what you do. You don’t need all that noise – that constant hum in the background telling you whether or not you’re good enough.

I love her advocacy for body positivity. She talks about being a frustrated teenager realising that she wasn’t the prettiest girl in the class and naïvely wishing she could actually give herself an eating disorder. She talks about going on a crazy diet with her sister and joining boot camps to lose weight. She also discusses her intense love of pasta. I can relate to all of this as someone who eternally struggles with their weight. One of her body positive rants goes a little something like this…

Enough. Enough with these wafish elves walking your impossible clothing down an ugly runway with ugly lighting and noisy music. Life doesn’t look like that runway. Let’s see some ass up there and not just during the specially themed plus size show. We girls over size 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, we don’t want a special day! We want every day and we want you to get out of our fucking way because we are already here. You are living in the past, all you dated, strange magazines representing the weird fashion world that presents bizarre clothing that no one I have ever met wears.

She also devotes a chapter to ending gun violence in America. Yeah, that might not be what you signed up for with Amy Schumer but it is amazing that she chose to shed light on such a massive issue. I won’t go into too much detail here because I recommend you read the book for yourself. It is emotive and empowering and I’m glad Schumer isn’t letting her light-hearted and funny public persona get in the way of some real talk. Here’s some articles about Amy’s stance on gun violence: Amy Schumer rips Senate ‘cowardice’ on gun votes and Amy Schumer Had a Brilliant Take on Gun Violence Last Night.

I could go on to list more of the surprising moments in this book – it’s not at all what I expected but in the best way possible – but I want to encourage you to read it for yourself. I’m not a reader of autobiographies so this was a first in many ways and I’m glad Schumer broke my autobiography/audio book virginity because it was a wonderful experience. I also recommend listening to her narration because it adds a sense of personal to what is already a very personal book. At times, it’s funny, uplifting and hopeful and sometimes it’s sad, informative and emotional. I definitely recommend this one.


Have you got any audiobook recommendations? I have a credit to use on Audible! Let me know on Twitter or Instagram.

Mad Dog, Cheese & Winchin’: Claire Barclay Draws

Claire Barclay combines my love of Scotland, cheese puns and adorable illustrations in one beautiful and colourful online Etsy store.

Claire Barclay Draws epitomises why shopping independent is the best. Nowhere on the high street would you find so many Scottish culture gems, like this Mad Dog 20/20 print,  AND cheese puns, That’ll Brie Nice, all in one place. Through her greetings card, jewellery, tote bags, art prints and bunting, Claire combines nostalgic Scottish banter with vibrant pop culture and the result is magical.

I always smile when I receive my purchases from Claire. She delivers every time with amazing fun products and it’s even reflected through to her packaging! Would highly recommend. – Fay

Claire is animg_3910 illustrator and designer who works solo from her “wee studio” in Glasgow, Scotland. She loves making work based on funny elements of Scottish culture as well as anything else that’s jazzy, colourful or cute! She creates a whole range or products including greetings cards, art prints, tote bags and jewellery all with her quirky doodles on them. Claire also works on custom orders such as family/pet portraits and wedding invitations.

Super cute and super great also the Claire Barclay Draws customer service is amazing and one of the main reasons I will be a returning customer 🙂 – Jamie

I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a bundle of Claire’s incredible designs and I can testify that the products are as adorable in person as they are on your computer screen. I received two awesome A4 prints, a gorgeous tote bag and a “cat lady” brooch.
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Designs by Claire Barclay and candle from Love Scottish Candles

Art

I’m originally from bonnie Ayrshire but after four years studying at The University of Glasgow, I’m a self-confessed Glasgow wean who is now living in Edinburgh. Claire’s Glasgow Girl designs were just so fitting for me so they were really what drew me in. Claire’s illustrations are personal and you can really engage with them. They’ll have you and your friends giggling with a sense of nostalgia that I don’t think many people are capturing in the same way Claire is.
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Claire managed to combine both my new home and my love of Glasgow in the two art prints I received: Edinburgh Girl and You Can Take The Girl Outta Glasgow, But You Can’t Take Glasgow Out The Girl. These make wonderful gifts for any Edinburgh or Glaswegian gals who want to show off their love of their city or memorabilia for a guest visiting the city for the first time. You can also have these prints personalised to showcase your own home city; I recently spotted a Paisley Girl print on Claire’s on Instagram, which you can buy in the Slug in a Bottle Shop that will be popping up in Paisley soon.
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For anyone that grew up in Scotland, there a few special items that will definitely capture your hearts and imaginations. I’m sure many a Scot’s teenage years were spent drinking one of the following: Tennents, Buckfast, Mad Dog, Lambrini, or Frosty Jack’s – which brings back fond memories of shoving my drunk boyfriend into the back of a taxi after he drank a bottle of ‘fabulous Frosty’s’ at a house party in Glasgow. Claire pokes fun of Scottish youth culture with a variety of prints, greetings cards and jewellery.

Fashion

Claire Barclay herself is a bit of a fashionista and self-proclaimed “jazzy outfit enthusiast” so the jewellery and tote bags she offers are just the cutest. I am so in love with my Glasgow Girl tote but, unfortunately, it has met a sad fate in an accidental washing machine fatality. As long as you don’t mix yours in with a hot wash of towels then you are sure to have a gorgeous tote bag with a long life and the ability to get everyone talking and smiling.

I keep my Cat Lady brooch pinned to my Alohomora Design tote and proudly display it at University every day. It is super cute and sturdy and, if nothing else, it sparks that age-old debate: do you prefer cats or dogs? If you are inclined to obsess over our feline friends then you need one of these little pins in your life. Claire’s brooches range from £3.50 to £9 depending on which design you’re looking for and they look awesome pinned to an oversized denim jacket. Other designs include Geeze a WinchGeein’ It Laldi and, for those of you looking for something less Scottish, there’s a motivational Be Happy brooch.

Claire also makes necklaces (like this quirky and colourful Unicorn Necklace) and earrings (my personal favourite: Taps Aff earrings)


Follow Claire on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out her Etsy page and don’t forget my 15% off code expires at the end of October so hurry, hurry!

How To Turn Student Accommodation Into Your Dream Home

Starting University is daunting but moving into student accommodation doesn’t need to be scary. Once you’re done packing the bare essentials (pyjamas and loo roll), fill your suitcase with adorable bits and bobs to give your new flat that cosy feel.  Here’s some of my favourites:

Inspirational Quotes & Prints

One of the things I did to jazz up my new room was frame some gorgeous illustrations. Get on Etsy and search for prints that reflect your personality. It could be something witty that’ll make you laugh when you see it or something more motivational to get you in the studying mindset. If you’re into a Live, Laugh, Love quote then who am I to judge? Be careful sticking them on walls because some letting agents will kick up a fuss – avoid blu-tac and sticking pins straight on to a wall. If you have a corkboard that’s a great way to showcase your favourite designs and throw up some family photos too. I like framing my prints and resting them on bookshelves and desks. My favourite illustrators right now are The Fuzzy Bee Paper CompanyClaire Barclay Draws and Lemmon Studios.

Candles

You’ll know by now that I’m addicted to candles. I guess it comes down to that Danish lifestyle concept: Hygge. Candles will turn any empty room into a warm and fuzzy place to snuggle up and read a good book. I’ve written a lot about my favourite independent Scottish candle companies but here’s some to get you started. If you’re a book lover like me, invest in a couple of Meraki Candles. For something a bit more luxurious, try MoBros Candles and use my 10% off code: APRIL10. Other candles I love are Love Scottish Candles and McKelvie Candles. Please be careful because not all landlords allow you to burn candles. Find out if it’s okay and if not they still make for gorgeous decorations and smell gorgeous even when they’re unlit.

Books

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Books, glorious books! Nothing makes a room feel more homely than a shelf stacked with your favourite books. I like books that are worn and weathered from a loving reader who has pawed the pages so many times and a cracked spine from an overly zealous reading session. There’s a reason this John Waters’ quote is so famous…

If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!

Books are the life source of any room and you can completely personalise your space by choosing which books you put on display. At the moment, I don’t have many books in my new room but I’m getting there. They’re mostly to-be-read like A Court of Thorns and RoseHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Improbability of Love but I will be fetching a fresh copy of Jane Eyre because no bedroom of mine is complete until Jane and Mr Rochester are adorning the shelves!

Soaps, Lotions & Potions

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You don’t need to spend a fortune to have some luxury beauty products in your new home. Having some sweet-smelling, pretty soaps and lotions adds a special something to your room. Between the chaos of starting your course and moving out, it’s important to take time out to practice self-care. That means burning a candle and pampering yourself with your favourite beauty products. Like I said in the Top 10 Tips For Acne-Prone Skin, I love Liz Earle and I’ve recently been enjoying the amazing Wee Tree Soaps too. They are cruelty-free, perfect for sensitive skin and only £4. Investing in nice soaps and lotions makes your room feel more expensive and gives you the chance to unwind too.


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