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Work in Progress

It's taken a lot of time for me to build up to this. I feel so out of practice that I just don't know where to start. That's always been a barrier for me, if I don't know how I just never attempt. No sense of purpose is another factor. Uni is finished and once again I'm back in the old repetitive progress of job hunting. It's exhausting and the thought of writing a cover letter actually makes me want to hide in a dark corner. 

Everything is a work in progress

Life, this blog. I needed a change. I'm not set on the logo as yet but I'll play it by ear and see if inspiration strikes. I got photoshop for Christmas and am having fun watching tutorials and playing around. 

Another thing I've recently gotten into is Twitch. All I stream at the moment is Sims 4, which is another thing I've recently dived head first into. I spent an ungodly amount of hours back in the day on Sims 2 and now history is repeating itself. There's just something about being able to control a virtual person's life, guess it's to make up for not being in control of my own.

There's not really a solid point to this post, other than I'm back kind of. I'm not forcing myself into a rigid schedule. And I also am not restricting what exactly gets written and published. So think of this blog as a lucky dip, you never know what's going to appear.

Current Reads: July Edition

With semester one of uni having ended it meant I could dedicate my time to more important things - such as reading. However, me being me I didn't bother to check the semester dates and it turns out semester two started this week. I'm a mess over here people, like actually. So before my life becomes more hectic and stressful I better find more time to read. These are the two books which I'm currently making my way through.

Paris Dreaming by Katrina Lawrence*
My fascination with Paris has been well documented on the blog and as such I'm always compelled by books which concern the city of lights & love. The book covers different stages of the author's life in which she was in Paris, from visiting with her parents as a child through to escaping there as an adult. Each chapter is a combination of what she got up to while in Paris with a kind of history lesson of French writers and notable figures. There is a bibliography at the end of the book and I know I'm going to want to read everything that's listed.

Each chapter manages to capture significant points in Lawrence's life, whether it be her career or personal relationships. Through the highs of lows of life, there's always Paris.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson*
While Paris Dreaming makes you feel all warm inside this book does the exact opposite. It has an uneasy sense to it, mostly due to a group of men who find it amusing to torment and chase a girl all because of her name. Aside from that, the story has a fantasy element to it which always intrigues me. It's set in Ireland and focuses on two opposing groups, each of which has their own mystical talents. Wren is the central character and has to go 'undercover' in enemy territory in order to locate a map which has the locations of spiritually charged structures. Losing these means losing their heritage and abilities.

I'm really enjoying it so far & find myself whizzing through it which is always a good sign. A good distraction from the tedious readings I have to do for uni.

What books are you reading this month?

Ashley xx
*Review Copy

What I Learned from having a skincare routine

The answer to the title of this post may seem obvious but for me, it was a new discovery. I'd never really had a regular skincare routine, the most I'd do was put on some moisturiser and occasionally even use a cleanser. As I've gotten older, and through blogging, I've learned that in order for my skin to look good I actually have to take care of it. Who would have thought? The problem, however, was in finding products which actually worked for me. There are so many skincare brands and products out there to choose from and for me having too many options just becomes daunting. Despite this, I'm always open to trying new things so when I was offered the chance to try out products from Dermaviduals* I took the chance.  

I've already written a post sharing my thoughts on the products and *spoiler alert* I saw improvements in my skin when I used them. Being the lazy person that I am I stopped using them for a couple of days at a time and always saw new breakouts. I'm not the best at maths but I could see that using the products regularly added up to my skin looking better.

I've become more focused on skincare that I have previously. Whenever my face broke out my solution was to cake on makeup in the hopes that it wouldn't be that noticeable. Back then I looked to cover up my skin rather than actually use products which helped my skin. My first years at uni were the worst, especially since there were a lot of food options which weren't generally the healthiest. I also tended to touch my face more often, leaning my face against my hand when I was trying to listen to what the lecturers were saying.

My skin has always been one of my biggest insecurities. I remember having breakouts at intermediate (maybe around 11 or 12 yrs old) and having fellow school kids (mostly boys) feeling the need to comment on my skin. I've always been quiet & shy and having to deal with this just pushed me further into my shell and I just didn't want to talk to anyone. From then on it's been an issue for me. It even got so bad that I went on medication for it.

After 13 or so years of dealing with acne, I'm finally making skincare a priority. Unfortunately, I've finished all the products from Dermaviduals but have just started using some Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Proofing products that were sent to me. Hopefully, I'll see an improvement but if not I'll be on the lookout for brands/products to try. If you've got any you swear by let me know.

Ashley xx
*PR Samples

Life Update | What's been happening the last month

It's been a while since I've written something non-academic and to be honest, I'm at a loss as to how to write this. I'm still in the essay mindset, trying to establish an argument and making sure everything is structured and flows well. This has been me for the last month or so. I've never been good at time management (or essays for that matter) so something had to give. Unfortunately, it wasn't the assignments.  

This post is kind of like a catch-up, though it is mostly one way. If you want to let me know what you've been up to though, feel free to. It's currently the mid-semester break and I'm trying to enjoy this time where I don't need to do any readings or assignments. It always feels weird at the start, I have this feeling I should be doing something else but then I remember there is nothing to do. It's weird. I don't have that much time off unfortunately, maybe like two weeks??? I'm doing distance study so the lines are kind of blurred. I think I'm half-way done with the degree I'm doing (I haven't got all my results back so I have no idea whether I've passed the courses) and I've just got two more courses to go, which I'm kind of dreading. They're covering the areas of museums which I'm not so interested in, like management, so I'm gonna have to try to stay on top of everything. Unlike this semester. 

To be honest there's nothing else that's been happening. One of my aims for this year was to starting learning to drive. There has been zero movement on that front and I'm struggling with the confidence to ask the parentals for lessons. Anxiety makes me terrified about everything basically. I'm also trying to be more active (by trying I mean doing nothing at all). Also, it's cold and I just immediately put on my dressing gown and follow my monotonous daily schedule. The only excitement I get is from watching what other people get up to via Instagram. Always a voyager.

So yeah. I'm not sure whether I'll actually get back to a "regular" blogging schedule for a while as I've still got the rest of the year to get through. My intention is just to post whenever I can. I'm more active on Instagram (ashleyruthblog) so you can just follow me on there if you're interested.

Until the next post...

Ashley xx   

Taking it Off | Face Halo Makeup Remover

I am a self-described lazy person and as such, I try to find the easiest and quickest ways to do stuff. For me removing makeup at the end of the day is a chore and the thought of doing it just puts me off putting on makeup at all. Going through the blog I discovered two makeup removers I must have liked enough to write about. The Neutrogena Deep Clean Micellar Gel to Foam was great, till I ran out of it, and I eventually got annoyed over how oily the Trilogy Make-up be Gone Cleansing Balm made my face feel. I needed a routine that only required one product and wasn't too laborious.

I first heard about Face Halo from Chloe Morello, obviously, and was intrigued with how it removed makeup without any additional products. Anyway, when I saw that you could get them off xoBeauty (for $34.50 NZD) and thought I would give them a try.

You can see from the info card above how the Face Halos work. I choose to soak it in warm water just cause it feels nicer especially now we're getting into the colder months. So far I have used it a couple of times and I really like it. When I swipe it across my face you can see the makeup coming off, it's easy to use and isn't that messy which is great. You clean it with soap after each use and every week or so just chuck it in the washing machine. It says each one can be used up to 200 times which I guess is cost-efficient (I'm no good at maths ok) since you just need that and water. 

Let's play spot the difference. Can you tell which one I've been using? Clue, it's the one that doesn't look like a fluffy cloud. They're soft which is an obvious plus and you can use both sides so you can make sure all your makeup is gone. In a true test of their abilities, I even applied glitter eyeshadow and most of it came off. This is pretty good considering nothing can take down glitter, you'll end up finding specks days later.

Will I use them again? Yup. They're easy, less messy and you can easily take one when you go travelling. Who knows, maybe I'll start wearing makeup again. I probably should, given how much money I spend buying products...

Have you used Face Halo Makeup Removers? Did you like them?

Ashley xx

Review | Waiting for Monsieur Bellivier

For those who are enamoured with Paris and love a bit of mystery, this one's for you. Books which are centred around the magical city or just France in general just automatically draw me in and every time I'm left with a longing to travel there. 

Waiting for Monsieur Belliver* interchanges between two main characters. Mancebo owns a grocery store and follows the same routine every day, not noticing what he is missing. His bubble is burst when he is approached by his neighbour, she suspects her husband is having an affair and wants him to take note of what he does. He takes his assignment seriously and in doing so discovers secrets about his family which shock him. Helena is a journalist and while at a cafe answers the question, Are you Waiting for Monsieur Bellivier? She is tasked with a mundane job for three weeks and eventually starts to question what she is doing and who is Monsieur Bellivier. She starts to get paranoid and encounters a man who has an interesting story.

The story is actually derived from an experience the author, Britta Rostlund had while in Paris. While sitting at a cafe and man approached her and asked 'Are you Waiting for Monsieur Belliver?'. He asked the question again when she replied no and she got the thought that it was a kind of code and what would have happened if she said yes. Mancebo's story is also inspired by real events with Rostlund going to a grocery store and buying a drink. The owner was sitting on a stool in front of the shop and returned to it after she purchased the drink and stared aimlessly over the boulevard. I find these facts very interesting and it's cool how authors can create a story out of briefly encountering another person or a situation. 

I enjoyed the story, the identity of Monsieur Belliver was kept secret until the end as well as how Mancebo & Helena's paths would cross. I have this bad habit of reading the last chapter so I had suspicions of who he was. I just get curious but end up being confused cause nothing makes sense. One thing I noticed was how the sentences didn't flow that well (I sound like such an academic), turns out it is actually translated from Swedish. It's still readable but I found myself stopping mid-sentence cause some parts just didn't make sense.  

3.5 stars

Have you read Waiting for Monsieur Belliver? What were your thoughts?

Ashley xx
*Review copy from Hachette NZ

Passion & Motivation with Emma Etc

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Passion & Motivations with... is a little series I started last month. If you haven't already check out the first one with Nana Wintour. This month's guest is Emma from emma etc. Emma writes about beauty, books & etc which includes fashion, music, TV shows, movies and podcasts. She has the most gorgeous blog and I'm so happy to include her in the series.

For you, does passion/motivation interweave or are they separate?
To me, you have passion for something you love doing, but motivation is what keeps you going. I think it’s hard to find motivation for something you don’t like doing, and I think that’s the difference. So motivation comes easily when you are passionate.

What areas are you passionate about? Career, side/creative projects etc.
I’ve just finished University and I’m still trying to figure out what my main passion is. Currently I work at a media company where I help manage a beauty website and I’ve just started interning on the side to gain more experience with digital content creation. In some way I’ve always been intrigued by the glamour of the magazine industry, but I don’t know if I’m the right fit for it. I have always enjoyed working for myself though. I’ve had my blog since 2013 and others before that – this is what I have more of a passion for at the moment because I get to create it entirely by myself and make all the decisions. I don’t get paid to do it, so in that sense it is purely about passion. Blogs are sometimes seen as silly things to some people, however to employers it can show you are hard-working, consistent and passionate about the subjects you write about, and it’s the way the media industry is going.

What is it about these areas that makes you motivated to achieve goals/get stuff done?
Seeing the end result time and time again after putting a lot of hard work in is something that motivates me to write and photograph my blog posts. It’s never been about the followers for me. I really have no reason to blog other than for the enjoyment of it. I think this takes so much of the pressure off, because I don’t care about reaching a huge audience – I would rather connect with a couple of people via Instagram DMs and blog comments rather than get lots of likes. It’s so refreshing to do something purely for the fun of it. The whole online blogging community makes me motivated and comforted because we’re all just creative people trying to make something interesting on the Internet, all the while experiencing the highs and lows of life.

How do you get through periods of feeling less motivated/passionate?
There are definitely times when I question why I’m doing what I’m doing. I think the moment something starts becoming a chore, you need to revaluate the situation and try and work out what made you excited about it in the first place. For me, taking a step back and having some time off from it really helps. If I’m feeling unmotivated, I will just consume other people’s content, read books and magazines, even watch TV and movies. Just experiencing life or someone else’s perspective of life is really comforting and shakes me out of a bad situation. Also, sometimes you might have to accept that you are no longer passionate about a certain thing, and that’s okay – just do what makes you feel good.

Where do you find sources of motivation & ideas? Other people/art/blogs etc.
I always find inspiration by looking at my favourite blogs, but you can’t just copy what someone else has done. The small things make a blog unique in my opinion, and even down to the style of writing. It’s always been important to me to make my own spin on something and not blend into the crowd too much, whether that’s through the weird references I make or whatever – if you’re slightly quirky or unorthodox, people will relate to you. So in that way I always go back to my own values, style, and way of doing things when trying to find motivation. It sounds pretty silly but I find a lot of inspiration on Tumblr, mine is like a scrapbook of everything I love and want to be. Pop culture from my past gives me the biggest surge of inspiration, nostalgia and comfort when I’m feeling low.

And finally, are there any future projects/goals your excited about in 2018?
I’m feeling a little lost this year so I’m not putting any expectations on myself. I’m just trying to experience life day-to-day and not get too overwhelmed, but I think by the end of this year I want to have a better idea of what I want to do with my life! Nothing major, then…

Thank you so much to Emma for her amazing answers. Make sure you check out her blog as well as her Instagram: emmaetcblog

Ashley xx