Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A letter to my younger self (part1)

Dear Connie,

As a 22 year old you may think that I am a proper grown up and that I must be like all the other grown ups around you. I know that you often find yourself in the company of many intelligent, impressive and inspirational men and women who seemingly have their lives together. Trust me when I say they probably don't feel the same way. I know that you see yourself right now as very little, that what you say and do right now doesn't matter because it is little, and the world is very big. I'm writing to tell you that this isn't the case. All the stuff that you do and think and feel right while you are young, shapes you into the 22 year old woman I am now. Your heart doesn't change, all that changes is your experiences. There are lot's of thing I could tell you, but I don't want to give a lot away. Your life is an adventure and you should look at it like one.

Your family is always ALWAYS going to be a major influence in your daily life. They are simultaneously going to be your biggest fans, but will also be the people who challenge you and call you out, as well as you doing and being the same for them. 

Your Father is always going to see you as his baby girl, and I'm not going to lie it will start to get annoying at points after you turn 16. But know that as well as still seeing you as his little ballerina princess, he also see's you for who you are and who you could become. He will always remind you of how amazing you are and although you may joke about what you inherited off him, one of the best things you will get from him is a heart for compassion. Dad will struggle sometimes, and that is because he always puts others needs before his own. Dad is and always will be one of the hardest working, selfless human beings you will ever meet. Remind him that he needs to make time for himself though, cause he will tell you the same. You are able to talk to him and help him as much as he helps you. You will always be his baby girl, but you will also be one of his best advisers.

Mum, like many of the other women in our family, is insanely impressive. She will amaze you with where she will go and what she does and yes it is intimidating. There will be times where you feel that you can't live up to her or like you can't fill her shoes but she is immensely proud of you. Like Dad, she is always on your team and she always wants the best for you. I know that when you hit your teens you may feel like yelling or being mean but, please, don't do it. Trust me when I say that mum knows you so well, better than you know yourself sometimes. Let her be mum for now, and eventually she will not only be your mother but your best friend too. You will love being able to talk openly with her in a way you never knew you could or would.

Your brother will always know how to wind you up. I think it's just a universal, unwritten law that little brothers HAVE to know how to wind up their big sister. And don't deny it, you wind him up too. You will find at points that you and your brothers lives take very different directions. Now, I'm not saying that your bro has an easy time of it all, he doesn't and you need to be there to help him when he doesn't but you will go through a lot. He will always seem to get the good stuff; the better grades, the bigger friendship group, better love life, social life. There will be points were you even think Mum and Dad like him better than you. This isn't true. As much as your brother winds you up, you are his big sister. And he is fiercely loyal to you. He has your back, and he looks up to you.

There are going to be points where you feel you can't tell your family things. Things you think about yourself, about your life, about what you have done or what has happened to you. It may take time, but tell them. Being honest with them will help you be honest with yourself.

You will never be the smartest in your class, but you are wildly intelligent. You will never think that you are the prettiest of your friendship group, but you are incredibly beautiful. You won't have the same amount of money or confidence or popularity as some of your peers, but you work hard, you push yourself and you will always try to be kind.

You will go through some really rough spots in life, but you will also experience some wonderful things too. Remember not to focus on the bad stuff, but always look for the good as there is always some good in the world, no matter how small. Know that you are allowed to take each day at a time, and that one day in the past has no standing against what your future holds for you. Look back over everything not as a definition of who you are, but as the learning curve that taught you the skills you have now and have shaped and will continue to shape you as you grow and learn.

Oh and also, when your like 13 please trust Mum when she tells you that baggy ripped jeans with a loose, studded belt with slogan tee's, fishnet fingerless gloves and too much eyeliner isn't a good look. I know you think you look edgy and cool, but you will look back at that time and you will wish you had listen to Mum... 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 27 November 2016

How do I Adult? - Same fish, new pond...

If you were to take a look at my About Me page, you will see that I recently graduated from the University of Hull. As much as I adored my time at university, by the end of my third year I was very ready for that period of my life to be over. I honestly never wanted to write another essay again for as long as I lived and I was tired of the university environment. It seemed childish to me in my final months, and I felt so ready to work and behave like an adult and surround myself with other adults. My only problem now is, I have absolutely no idea what being an 'adult' means. 

When I was a student I was comfortable. At times frustrated, but there was a comfort in that frustration. I was in the same boat as the rest of those in my class and we supported each other. Legally yes I was an adult, I could make my own choices, I lived away from home and I was as independent as I wanted to be. But we lived in a suspended world; a world where we were no longer kids, but we weren't quite ready for all of the responsibilities of the real world. Student life was a comfort, and we always had the university, our peers, or our families to fall back on. Once I left that comfort I felt alone. I felt lost and surrounded by unfamiliar territory.  You've heard it said that someone can feel like a big fish in a little pond and then a small fish in a big pond? Well,  I would never be so arrogant to say I was a big fish while I was at uni, but I knew my pond and as a fish as part of a wider group of fellow fish I knew and understood my environment. As a graduate,at first I felt like a fish without my shoal, in an ocean that I had heard about but had never experienced for myself. Its a BIG world out there and there are so many things I never knew I had to deal with and never anticipated would be so difficult. 

Poor Little Fish

My choice to stay in Hull definitely showed that in reality I wasn't fully prepared to say goodbye to my old pond just yet. And I think it also shows that I wasn't fully ready to fully leave the security of my comfortable little pond, otherwise known as my student lifestyle.  When I was a fresher and the City of Hull was chosen to be City of Culture 2017 I decided to stay after I graduated in order to gain experience and use the connections that I had already and would develop over my time at the University of Hull. The plan stayed, but the reality of it became difficult when I realised that many other 2016 graduates as well as many other previous grads, also had the same idea. Of course we all have a strong connection to this city, and we all love it (and for good reason) but the sheer number of Hull grads and remaining students who wanted to get involved meant that suddenly rather than just being peers and classmates, sometimes we were each others competition when it came to finding work. 

Finding work has been one of the most stressful things I have had to experience so far as a graduate, and probably always will be from what I've heard. The idea that you have to compete for a role against several other candidates, and sell yourself in a way that is confident but not too cocky is tiring, complex and confusing. What is the best answer when your asked 'what is your greatest weakness?' What is a 'good' handshake? How long should you wait to ask about salary? There are so many questions about interviews that make most people quake in their boots. Throw in anxiety into the mix and boy oh boy, it makes the whole experience simply delightful *insert eye roll here*. For me,I want to work somewhere where I know I will be happy,confident and supported as well as challenged, taught and pushed. My worst nightmare is being stuck in a monotonous role where I am never challenged and never given opportunities to improve or prove myself. I want a reputation which precedes me; that I work hard, that I'm good at what I do and what I'm not good at I learn how to be. But to find that environment and still be assured that if I, for one reason or another, have an anxiety attack or if my depression rears its ugly head  I'm still in a safe space or that I can take time to ensure I and my work are okay is scary. When I was a student there were numerous times where my mental health wasn't taken seriously and I was made to feel like I wasn't doing enough or I wasn't doing my best. And those experiences have transferred into my concerns about future work. Meaning that not only am I afraid that I won't find a job which challenges me, but what if I find a job which challenges me and I can't handle it? I may be 22 years old, but when my mental health is at its worst I feel like a little kid and I'm lost. 

For a recent interview, which I was very anxious about, my father gave me this piece of advice... 
"walk in there like you've been doing the job for years. If you can convince yourself that you can do and have basically been doing this job already, your interviewer will believe you can and have been too."
Although this advice was about an interview, I feel it applies to  the whole experience of 'adulting'. If you act like you can, you will eventually believe you can, and those around you will believe the same. I have had some great chats with people who are 10, 20 years older than me and they still feel like they have no idea what they are doing, and yet to me they seem like the most together people on the planet. Even though I'm no longer in full time education, I'm still learning. I will never stop learning. The change may be scary, but without change, I will never learn anything new. Yes, I might be applying for some of the same jobs as some of my peers, and I may be having to find work temporarily in a place I hate in order to cover my rent, but you know what my friends are in exactly the same boat! They are looking for work, as I am. They too are stressed about rent, about council tax and how on earth you pay it, about the constant battle between affording to buy either cheese or wine. At first, I felt like I was a lost fish, in a big ocean I didn't recognise and didn't know how to survive. But in actuality, I had just become part of a much bigger shoal, where we all face similar challenge and we can support each other. This new environment will become our home and we will not only learn how to survive it but together, as we learn and as we grow, we will thrive.

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

My Winter make-up look 2016

I don't wear make up when I can help it, there is something so appealing about a day where I can have a  fresh faced, relaxed, smudge free appearance.  But when I do wear make up, I do enjoy the process of putting it on. I enjoy blending nice colours on my eyes and I love a good strong brow, but I am definitely not an expert and I have so many friends who regularly come to my rescue when I have committed a beauty faux-pas (you guys know who you are). HOWEVER sometimes, I do get the occasional compliment when I have managed to get my makeup on fleek so, I decided I would give you a step by step guide on how I am doing my winter make up.

First things first I want to quickly mention that in order for me to be happy with my make-up I always start by ensuring that I try to keep my skin healthy. If your skin ain't happy, putting make up on it will only make it angrier. I know that a typically normal human being would only really have time for a face wipe and maybe some moisturiser quickly before bed and then you know washing your face in the morning or when-ever you feel like you need to wash your skin, I know that's what I have done for most of my life and sometimes is all I still have time for. I would recommend trying to incorporate some real skin-care-rehab time though, maybe like once a week or every two weeks, as well as investing in some products to cleanse and clear your skin. I use Clean and Clear blackhead clearing face lotion and Deep Cleansing lotion after I remove my make up and then use Nivea Soft Intensive cream before bed.  I also try to give myself a face mask whenever I have the time and use Biore Nose Pore Strips when I have a spare few minutes, like when I'm at home writing. Skin care needn't be a big deal, you can incorporate it into your regular daily routine. I also always try and moisturise before I put on any foundation as this means you can avoid damaging your skin and steer clear from your skin getting dry. Simple have a great range of moisturisers you can use before applying your makeup and they often contain SPF which adds to the protection you are giving your skin. 

So after you prep your skin (i.e. wash and moisturise) then you can start to apply your foundation. I have used this foundation for a REALLY long time, and somewhere in that I lost the label on the bottle so I have completely no idea what it is any more, all I know is that it works. I vaguely recall that it was a Rimmel product and after some research I think it is Rimmel London Match Perfection in True Ivory (cause I am currently pale as hell) and I used my vegan Royal and Langnickel Stipple Brush to apply and then my beauty blender to blend and make the whole look softer.I love this foundation because I hate wearing really heavy make-up and I always try to keep my skin coverage as light as possible. This foundation gives me coverage but doesn't make my skin feel claggy and greasy and heavy. I also used Max Factors colour correction stick to hide red spots and blemishes. Again I use this sparingly and I'm careful to blend as well as I can and keep it sparse. 

Next is the brows. I'm not gonna lie, with the change in hair colour it has been a major transition in how to fill my brows. I am also in dire need of a shaping session as I have been blessed with my fathers wild eyebrow gene. So sometimes, they still come out a bit too dark. But I'm working on it, okay!
I really like Maybelline New York's Brown Satin eyebrow pencil and blender in Dark Brown. It's so precise and doesn't go on too heavy, which means you can build the shape you want effectively. I like to do my brows at this point because I can fix any mistakes without ruining too my hard work elsewhere. It also means that I don't look like an alien when I put on my eye make-up cause with eye make-up on and with no defined brow, one's forehead looks disturbingly bald which can then lead to an overly dark brow. Above all, one wants to avoid a scouse-brow. I also then use my foundation to make a sharper brow line using the point of my blender as an applicator. I need a new concealer for my brow bone and my under-eyes so if anyone has any recommendations please do leave a comment below. 

My next step is to work on accentuating my eyes. I think my eyes are my best and strongest feature so I always work on making them the focal point of my face. I started with the Nudes Palette from Maybelline New York and I used the metallic dusk colour, I couldn't find it's actual name, and used this to cover my eyelid with my mini flat smudger brush. I then used my angled shader brush to brush the colour Fawn into my crease from the Revolution Ultra Eye- shadow matte collection to give my eye more shape and definition. I also used a smaller smudger to add the Nutmeg shade to my inner eye, my brow bone and then blended Fawn on my lower lash line for a smokey effect

Then for added definition around the lash-line and for that 'on fleek' feel I was earlier referring to I used my Bourjois Felt Tip Liner in Ultra Black 24hour Stay for a strong cat eye along the top eye-lid as close to the lash line as possible. I then finished off the eyes with 2 coats of Maybelline New York Colossal Go Extreme Volume Waterproof Mascara cause as its so winy and cold, you don't want your eyes to water and end up looking like a panda.

Then to finish off the rest of the face I used my precision blender to contour my cheeks and nose after applying Collections Precision Contouring stick in Light 1 and then accompanied that with Maybelline's Master Sculpt and used my contour brush to apply it to my cheek bones, temples and under my jaw. Then for highlight I used a combo of Master Sculpt and Revolution's Strobe Highlighter on my upper cheeks, my nose, my forehead, my cupids bow and my chin. This was set with my Rimmel London Match Perfection Powder with my large powder brush and all that was left was to apply my lasting finish lipstick by Kate Moss in shade 30 with my lipstick brush.

And this is the overall finished look...

I hope that you found this post at least a little bit helpful, honestly I have never had to think so much about what I put on my face. As I'm sure you can tell, I did tell you this wasn't my area of expertise. 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 20 November 2016

A night to remember...

Last week I was able to attend an event that I had been excited about for a really long time. I was invited, along with the other members of a theatre company I work for, to attend the first Theatre Social of Hull 2017's City of Culture where like minded people met and talked about their work and the future projects they wanted to create and perform in, and for, the wider community. It was a truly special evening, not only because of all the familiar faces I knew but because of the many I didn't! It was so encouraging to see so many people from so many different backgrounds coming together for one cause, to get to know each other and support the arts in Hull.

2017 is fast approaching, and honestly I cannot wait for the new year to start as there is so much I am looking forward to. I graduated this year from the University of Hull with a degree that I love, surrounded by my peers (whom I also love) and in a city that I adore. Hull stole my heart from the moment I came for my open day in 2012 and I doubt that I will ever fall out of love with this wonderful city and community. Yes I went through some of my toughest moments in Hull, but that is part of why I love it. Hull made me the woman I am today. Being able to see so many people, from so many different areas of expertise and creative vision all gathering to talk about what they can do in and for Hull was truly impressive, and in hindsight almost moving. 

If you look on the Hull 2017 website you will see that Hull was awarded the opportunity to be city of culture because Hull is a city that "demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture." This was clearly seen on the 10th on November, because never have I seen so many theatre people gathered in one room without the phrases "limitless", "free" and "alcohol" or "food" being advertised also*. It was exciting to see people gather, and be sociable with the Hull theatre-making scene.

There were wonderful special guests who were more than happy to chat to everyone, and ask as well as answer questions about their work and that of others. For me, one of the highlights was getting to meet the 'face of 2017' Kofi Smiles, who was selected from a crowd of almost 200 hopefuls who auditioned for the role last month. Kofi, who is just lovely by the way, was chatty and excited and great to talk to about the projects and areas he would like to see and share. We also bonded over that fact that I also auditioned for the role (auditionee number 50 - no biggie) and how nerve wracking the whole experience was, but ultimately I think the right person was chosen and I think Kofi will do a stellar job. 

As well as meeting Kofi, it was wonderful to also meet the representative for the Hull Independent Producers Initiative or the HIPI , Helen Goodman,  and Justine Potter and Usman Mullan from the BBC Writers Room, as well as members from several local companies who were, as always, friendly, passionate and excited for what's to come.

I think the evening was a real success and was so encouraging, especially as an unemployed graduate and theatre enthusiast who is desperate to be involved in any way she can. I met so many people who, if nothing else, urged me and others to keep going and to keep on creating and contributing to the theatre scene. I enjoyed my night thoroughly and cannot wait for the next one.

Bring on City of Culture 2017!

photo of The Pub Corner Poets performance of ANGRY! at The New Adelphi club - 2015 - cast and audience

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


*It is worth noting that we were given vouchers for a free drink at the venue Silvers bar and restaurant which probably did motivate a few...

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

My November Book List!

As I mentioned in my previous post I always have a current favourite book which I have been reading at any particular time. However, I read so quickly and I love falling into an imaginary world that is entirely my own so much that I can never have just one favourite book. So I decided to share with you my November favourites and encourage you to buy, or borrow, as many of them as you can and read them, devour them, experience them and love them as I do.

Let's get started shall we:

1 - 'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I love Chimamanda's writing and adored 'Half a Yellow Sun' and 'Purple Hibiscus' both of which which I read in my A level year for my English Lit class (I recommend both of these books also). I have always found her writing engaging, absorbing and interesting, especially since I find myself drawn into a world that, other than the information in the book in front of me, I have no knowledge of. I think, feel and learn about an environment and a people or person who in any other circumstance I would be entirely unable to relate to. However, her key themes are often universal and you can't help but care for the characters. Chimamanda is also a highly intelligent, wonderful, brilliant woman and her TED talk on why we should all be feminists contributed a lot of material in my dissertation as well as in the rest of my life. Although difficult to get into initially, once you connect with it you can't put this book down! 

"As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.
Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalised world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet." 

2 - 'The Bees' by Laline Paull

I bought this book as it was one of the recommended books in Waterstones in the summer of 2015 and I wanted books to bring with me before I went to Tanzania. I remember spending 2 days while I was there not only surrounded by the most beautiful scenery and the most fantastic close up encounters with some of Tanzania's wild animals on safari, but also being totally absorbed in this book during quiet times and wanting not to focus too heavily on the crazy traffic. If I remember correctly I read the entire thing in one day because I was determined to see how Flora's story ended and I have read it over and over again since. My biggest fault with it is that is seems to give the implication of a political message without ever actually giving one. However, that is possibly irrelevant as the story is a narrative of a completely natural and everyday life cycle told with the emotion and feeling that comes from a human mind in an animal environment. It isn't about people, its about bees! And yet, there are moments of familiarity throughout, which is maybe where the political vibes come from. I'm probably not doing the book justice, I would recommend you read for yourselves and that will give you a better understanding of what I am trying to say.

"Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden...

Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world."

3 - 'Go set a Watchman' by Harper Lee

When I saw that this book was out I HAD to buy it. It did take a while for me to get around to reading it, but boy when I did, man oh man, my head was reeling. I love it when a book really gets me thinking and I find my self arguing with my own subconscious. And this book did just that, it was crazy. I haven't felt so energised and emotionally responsive to a book in this way for a long time, and found myself re-reading this book this month as a way for me to sort things out in my head in response to so many things that are common topics of debate today, especially in the news. It takes you on so many twists and turns and is a welcome sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird". If you haven't already please PLEASE read this book. If it does nothing else it will definitely make you think.

"From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic. "

4 - 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

Okay yes, this is going to reveal just how much of a potterhead I am but with the movie coming out (the premiere of which is tonight people just saying) I couldn't not re-read this book this month. The Harry Potter book series has a big place in my heart for many reasons. Not only because it is a brilliantly and carefully written children's fiction but it also has themes, issues and plots that engage and matter to so many adults! J.K. Rowling is an inspiration to me, her life, her story and her skill are all fascinating and I highly suggest you research her if you can. I am always so eager to engage with any extension of the Potter universe, as it just adds more and more information and detail to such an already complex and significant world. I love this book because it feeds my imagination and remind me that "just because it's in your head, it doesn't mean it isn't real" (Albus Dumbledore). I love this book, as well as The Tales of Beedle the Bard however I have entirely different opinions when it comes to The Cursed Child but I will write about that another time. Fantastic Beasts is silly, completely fictional (or so the muggles believe) and serves no other purpose than to bring people just a little bit closer to their dream alternate reality. Read it, go on, whats the harm ...

"A copy of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief, which means that the pounds and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore. - Albus Dumbledore"

I hope that you find as much joy from these books as I do, and if you have read them or you have your own book recommendations for me or anyone else please do let me know in the comments below and I will be sure to give any suggestions a look.

(all reviews are from goodreads.com)

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 13 November 2016

What did I do to my Hair ! ?

I have always loved my hair. I was very fortunate to be born into a gene pool which blessed me with strong, thick hair and I was lucky enough to have parents who didn't let me damage my hair when I was a teenager by over using heat utensils, product or dye. I've had my hair long, I've had it short and of course I have had a few crazy colours dyed into it. However, when I have dyed my hair, I have always had my hair coloured darker. As a child I had quite fair hair but as I grew older my hair got darker and as the rest of my family have brunette hair I decided I might as well speed along the process and dye it dark. 

However, recently I decided I wanted to make a change. So I did some research, did a few tests to ensure I wouldn't have a reaction, asked advice for professionals and only after saving up (I am on pretty tight budget at the moment) I booked an appointment. 

When the day arrived I was actually pretty nervous. I started to worry that it wouldn't suit me or that it would look really fake. I also could not stop looking at my hair and its pre-change colour. I mean, it didn't look particularly nice as in preparation and to protect it from the dyeing process I hadn't washed my hair for two and a half days, but it was my hair and it was what I was used to. It was familiar. But I'd booked my appointment, I had set an ENTIRE DAY aside in order to change my hair so... this was it. I was going blonde!

I was greeted at Blowouts by my hairdresser Frances, who was lovely throughout the entire process and answered all of my questions and boy did I have a lot of questions. The first main step was to bleach my hair, after combing out all knots there may be, my hair was divided into two parts and a second hairdresser ( Dillon, equally lovely) joined Frances and began the lengthy bleaching process. Separating my hair into small, thin parts, they placed foil under each section, brushed on the bleach and folded it in half once in order to avoid a heavy head and ensure easy removal. This process took around 45 minutes as I have a lot of hair. The foils were then left in for another half and hour, after which they were removed and my roots were bleached afterwards for a further 20 minutes. I was told the roots should always be done last (especially if you have un-dyed hair) as your scalp is sensitive to bleach and as your roots are usually untouched by damaging products, they are the quickest to bleach. Apparently the biggest mistake one can make when bleaching your own hair is to just apply it all on equally - Frances mentioned she had helped customers who had damaged their hair so badly this way that their hair had snapped off and looked like a troll doll... I have to say, I didn't experience too much discomfort while the bleach was in except for a little tingling, which is to be expected. The worst part honestly was how heavy and hot my head felt. It was fascinating to watch my hair change though. The entire process was made slightly easier by the fact I had a steady supply of green tea coming in and I had brought my current book favourite 'Americanah' by chimamanda ngozi adichie.

Whilst I waited I asked Frances for her best tips for ensuring my hair stayed healthy even after such a drastic change. I thought that maybe you guys might appreciate them too so here are five tips for protecting dyed hair:

1) Know that your hair will feel different after the change. This is normal, you will adjust and often hair just needs time to get healthy again.

2) Use conditioner! You may think that your shampoo is enough to keep your hair clean and strong, however in order to protect your hair from damage from the weather, pollution, heat, cold or whatever else it encounters you need a good conditioner. Use a 2p sized squeeze for each wash, focusing mainly at your roots especially if you are prone to greasy hair, and let sit in your hair for around 2 minutes before washing out, around the length it would take you to perform your best shower karaoke number.

3) If you are dyeing blonde (or a lighter shade) silver or violet shampoo and conditioner is your new best friend. Frances recommended Violet Shampoo from Fudge, I however love the Sheer Blonde range by John Frieda. It smells great and I used it a few days after my appointment and my hair feels so soft and looks far less brassy and yellow. 

4)Use heat protection. Again Frances recommended Fudge, I however would recommend the Aussie 3 minute miracle deep treatment 'Take The Heat' which I use once a month. I don't use many heated hair tools unless I have too, I air dry my hair, I leave plaits in overnight or I sleep with curlers in if I want a particular texture the next day. However, as I do use straighteners occasionally having this care treatment means I help my hair recover and I protect it from future treatments. Products containing argan oil are also a great investment if you want stronger, shiny, healthy looking hair.

5) If you want to keep your colour looking great and constant, get your roots fixed by a professional. Usually one should arrange for a touch up 6 weeks after the last session, however it can depend in how fast your hair grows. 

Once my hair was bleached completely, it was washed out, and then began the toning process. This was just like any other dying process and the dye was applied directly to my hair without foils. I was initially concerned that the toner was far darker than anticipated and that I would leave looking exactly the same as I had walking in which would have made the entire day a complete waste of time. However I was reassured by Frances that it always look far darker than it truly is (this is still the case, my hair still looks dark when wet even now). Again the application process was lengthy, due to my huge amount of hair, and once all my hair was covered it needed to sit for another 20 minutes. Luckily by this point I had been joined by my friend and housemate Cai and she saved me with coffee, muffins and company so that I wasn't too frustrated by having sat in the same chair for almost 3 hours. After the toner my hair was washed with violet shampoo and conditioner and then began the styling.

I didn't want any major change with the length or shape of my hair, I had just completely changed its colour, so I asked for a short trim, to remove any damaged ends, more shape around the face and a long fringe which when straight hits just around the centre on my chin when my hair is parted in the middle. Again, due to the sheer amount of my hair, this look some time. My hair was then blow-dried and styled by Olivia and there it was. All finished, my newly blonde barnet.

Overall I really enjoyed the experience I had at Blowouts, and the experience of becoming blonde. So far I have had many people compliment the change and most excitingly they seem to say that it doesn't look too unrealistic to be my natural colour. It is a big change and I am still getting used to it, but for anyone else looking to make a big leap in how they look, I'd say do your research and if you still want to afterwards, go for it! I think that it was worth my time and my money to pamper myself and give myself a little mini make-over. Now if you don't mind, I am heading out with some friends. After all, I have to test if blondes really do have more fun...

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, See you soon


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Movember: Let's talk about men's health.

Movember has been a movement breaking boundaries in the discussion about men's health for over ten years. Starting in 2003, the Movember movement started to get men talking about their health (focusing mainly on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention). As you may have noticed from my first post on this page 5 Self Care Tips, I care about good mental health, and working towards good mental health. What you may not know is that I know first hand about what poor mental health can feel like, including at its most extreme. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have also struggled with eating disorders and self harming. I even got to the point in my late teens where I tried to take my own life. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and family who worked with me to help me get better and now, although I do sometimes struggle, I am a lot better. But there are so many who aren't in that position or feel for one reason or another that they can't talk about their mental, physical or emotional health; that is why I wanted to dedicate this post to writing about such a fantastic cause.

Now you may be saying to yourself "But Connie, Movember is about men's health... You are not a man, why are you writing about this?" My response is, you are right, I am not. But I know plenty of men. I know men who do struggle with mental health issues, I know men who have family histories of cancer, and I know men who I know nothing about health wise. I know and love so many of these men in my life that when I imagine any of them going through what I did, or any other kind of health issues, without being able to feel like they can talk about it, it breaks my heart. That is why I am writing about Movember. Because as much as I care about women's health, as a woman, men's health is important to me, as it should be for everyone. I want to contribute in any way that I can to breaking the taboos about health, in all forms. We need to encourage and support awareness and discussion about it and that is a issue which effects all genders that all genders can get behind.

Recently I have seen several campaigns online involving Movember. Two that particularly stood out have been hashtags #ManUp and #BoysDoCry which have been used alongside videos and testimonies to promote awareness about men's health (mainly focusing on mental health) and I have been genuinely moved by what I have seen and read. I often see young men around my age struggling because they feel they need to fit into a certain mould of masculinity that damages their self esteem, their body image, their confidence, their physical and mental health. I have heard stories from friends where they have suddenly realised they knew nothing about another male friends well being after the end of a relationship because he just didn't talk about it. He didn't know because "guys just don't talk about that stuff". What I would like to say is, some men may not, but they should feel like they could, and if they actively want to then they can.

Prostate cancer kills 35 men every hour, prostate cancer kills 1 in 20 men and with suicide being so alarmingly high globally, its shocking to know that 3 out of 4 suicides are men. To make that more alarming, if one were to follow statistics that means that one man commits suicide every minute.

If you head over to the Movember web page and read some of the stories on there you will see that often something as simple as talking helps in a way no-one could predict. In order to help men lead happier, healthier and longer lives we need to bring an end to the idea that men can't talk about their health and the idea that they have to look 'strong' at all times.Our fathers, partners, brothers and friends are facing a health crisis and it's not being talked about. As a wider community, we cannot afford to stay silent. Although I know first hand, about the ignorance and taboo around health (mental health in particular) I also know that finally talking about it was one of the most freeing, helpful and life changing steps I ever could have made.

So if you are struggling, if this post has affected you in any way, or is you have a story to share, if you don't feel well, if you are in pain or if something isn't quite right Don't keep it to yourself. Tell your family, tell a friend, tell your GP or check out https://uk.movember.com/mens-health/general and get talking about your health. Ladies, this goes for you too. Your health and your well being should always be top priority. 

Please do leave a comment and share with your friends. Please do tweet me or tag me in photos on Instagram using the hashtags #ManUp and #BoysDoCry. And please do donate some money to the Movember campaign. It is such a worthy cause and helps so many men around the world.

My brother (the chap to the left) is fundraising himself and is growing a mightily fine moustache in order to help get people talking. https://uk.movember.com/mospace/13339753

To see more of my photo's and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Bonfire night!

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

I know I will certainly remember this one! What an AMAZING night at Hull Vineyard Church's Bonfire night celebration. Over 2000 people were all gathered around the biggest bonfire I have ever seen and ate, drank and watched the amazing fireworks. It was a great night and I really enjoyed seeing my friends, eating delicious food and listening to some great live music too. I will be talking through the evening but first I will break down what I wore...

Although many of my friends would tell you I am a walking radiator and therefore am always warm (seriously though like I am rarely cold) I anticipated a chilly evening ahead, especially as I wasn't going to be spending too much time indoors. So I knew I needed to dress sensibly. My Faux fur scarf is from ASOS, and my faux leather knee high boots are from Boohoo. My Dress is a black, cross over dress from F&F as are my black tights and my grey winter coat with tan inlay which by the way has lasted for years and is still just as warm and in top condition. My hoop earrings are from Topshop, my watch from H&M and not pictured but definitely worn were my tan, woollen finger-less gloves.

As suspected, by the time I set off it was dark, cold and raining so the warm scarf and the snug, thick coat was clearly a good decision. However, once my friends and I arrived at the church grounds it was clear that staying warm wasn't going to be a problem. The bonfire was absolutely huge! Two trucks full of fire wood (recycled local waste) had been delivered a few days earlier and once that baby was lit, boy did it burn. Even from so far away you could feel the warmth from it on your face. As time went on the crowds gathered and the site was filled with bustling people, huddling together for warmth and to get a look at that fantastic fire.  It wasn't long until people started to get peckish and as more and more people arrived, more and more pressure was put on the wonderful food stalls to dish out some top nosh!

I was fortunate enough to arrive before too many people had arrived and the lovely people at Go Dutch Pancake House, Cottage Catering, Pie and Hull Vineyard were more than happy for me to take photos and, of course, try their lovely food. I was so excited for the food that evening I barely ate all day, specifically so I could fill up on some of the tasty food being served.

I quite frankly stuffed my face. I haven't eaten that much in ages and all of it was absolutely delish! Everyone seemed to really enjoy both the food and the service they received, even if after a while the queues got a bit long.

At seven fifteen however, the real show started. A twenty second countdown started and with the final 3, 2, 1 began the fireworks. And the crowd was not disappointed.


Overall, I had an amazing time. I got to hang out with great friends, eat delicious food and celebrate one of the UK's favourite winter celebrations. I am so glad I was able to go along and enjoy all that Bonfire Night 2016 had to offer.

Big thank you to Hull Vineyard for hosting, to Go Dutch Pancake House, Cottage Catering and Pie for the great food, and to all of my friends who made the experience so thoroughly enjoyable.

If you guys got up to anything fun this bonfire night or if you would like me to write about anything in particular, please do leave a comment and let me know.

See more pictures of my great Bonfire Night on my Instagram or Twitter page @Connie_cookie 

Thanks, see you soon 

Find Pie at : 

Find Cottage Catering at :

Find Go Dutch Pancake House at :