Dear Me, A Letter To My Teenage Self.

Dear Jess,

Well, I guess that's what you were called back then. I am now 23, sat in my bedroom in a house I am renting and in some ways, not much has changed, I still live in Stafford, spend an unholy amount of time on the internet, oh and I still love listening to those songs that were on my iPod shuffle, except now I don't have to use the shuffle feature to pick my favourite song, which I am so glad is not a thing anymore. Back then my music taste was a mix between Dear God by Avenged Sevenfold and Complicated by Avril Lavinge. Come on Complicated was one of her best songs! Oh and the sly, a bit of Nickelback, I mean photograph was a catchy song. I still wear too much black clothing, still love dying my hair and sarcasm is still my number one go to. I bet you'd be shocked riiiiight? MSN has long gone and been replaced with a number of other platforms Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook to name but a few, and thank god they were not a big thing when you were growing up (to save you from even more embarrassment!) 

I am writing this letter (or blog post to precise) to let you know how things do change when you get older, school might be some of the worst times of your life (the worst so far for sure!) But when you're gone, you can begin to be a new you, and what happened in P.E or Maths class is pretty damn irrelevant now. You'll be happy to know you gained some confidence in yourself and started reaching out and talking to people, like in shops and everything! Back then when your friends had to order in the shop for you, as you were too scared. You are now that friend. 

You'll be glad to know all of those items which your mum called clutter you still have, and they make you smile everytime you see them. I mean tickets from your first gig are pretty impressive to still have 10 years later. The weird photos you took of Josh Franceschi on a camera so bad that he basically looks like some next level blob, but you remember that night like it was yesterday. The people that were in your life during some of your darkest times sadly aren't really around much anymore, but sometimes I guess that's for the best. Despite hating education, you will be happy to know you actually made it through university. 

Those people you met on the internet all of those years ago are still your friends on social media, which is pretty cool and it has been fun to see them grow too. Alex even married the guy she met online all of those years ago, cool right? Although you're no longer spending your life online on chat rooms or pouring your heart out to strangers (ok maybe, I am still doing this) you are still finding yourself and learning the majority of this online thanks to the world of blogging. The future does get better, I promise you now. Those people won't even be in your life in 4 years time. You'll pass them in the street and feel a sense of freedom you were looking for all of those years. Some will achieve more than you and probably look down on you like you always did, but right now you are living your best life. 

You do all of those things that people used to insult you for, you still dye your hair bright colours, have those piercings, finally got those tattoos you always wanted (maybe, slightly modified...) but you're still wearing those band tees and with your Dr Martens and rocking the quirky as ever style. 

Turns out some things never change huh? 

Lots of love your slightly smarter and older self,

Olivia xoxo

Festivals Around The World.

Festivals in England primarily consist of either one of two things. It's a complete mud pit and you basically may as well be the mud by the end of it or it's scorching hot but us Brits don't know to handle this and end up moaning about how hot it is, would we even be British if we didn't moan about the weather several times a day though? I've booked some time off from work during the next few months and was curious to see what awesome festivals other countries have to offer. I was surprised at the huge range of choice and decided to share my top 3 with you! I'd love it in the comments if you could let me know your favourite festival, be it the UK or anywhere around the world! 

La Tomatina - Spain: 
I briefly touched on this festival in my 'when in Spain' post, but there is so much more to this festival than what I mentioned previously. The festival as you may have guessed from the title is something to do with tomatoes. It is, in fact, a tomato-throwing festival which takes part at the end of August in Valencia. This year it's on August 29th, in previous years it could have to up to 50,000 take part. Since ticket sales came in, it is limited to 20,000. It reminds me a little bit of being in school when a food fight breaks out, expect this is the point rather than something that will end in a punishment. 

Around 11am on the day of the festival, trucks of Tomatoes arrive, then according to La Tomatina Tours the following happens "Technically the festival does not begin until one brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top. In practice, this process takes a long time and the festival starts despite no one reaching the meaty prize. The signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of water cannons, and the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every man for himself." The tomato fight lasts around 1 hour and then the big clean-up begins! If you're heading on holiday to Spain or are looking to book a cheap holiday to Spain this year, La Tomatina is festival you must go to! 

Tomorrowland- Belguim: 
A dance festival that started back in 2005 which hasn't stopped growing since it began, with over 400,000 of festival goers attending last year! The festival full of fun, colour and is known as one of the biggest EDM festivals in the world, with DJs taking over this festival for two weeks in July. For people the eye capturing the set is one of the many reasons people flock to Tomorrowland. Trip Advisor has a page full of reviews and helps you to find out what will be in store for you during your time! It is even referred to as the Disneyland of music and from the amazing pictures that flood the internet, I have to agree. Have you ever been to Tomorrowland? 

Notting Hill Carnival- London: 
It's pretty shameful that I have something within a few hours of a train and I didn't even know it existed until recently. According to Visit London, "The Notting Hill Carnival was first held in 1966 as an offshoot of the Trinidad Carnival, celebrating Caribbean culture and traditions in London. When the Notting Hill Carnival first started, around 500 people attended the Caribbean festival. The carnival has since become the largest street festival in Europe, attracting hundreds of thousands to London, and continues to grow in popularity. Expect to see some 50,000 performers in the parade and more than 30 sound systems, with more than one million people attending over the carnival weekend."

Notting Hill Carnival takes part on August bank holiday and is a huge street festival, filling the streets with colour, Caribbean music and food. The festival is filled with performers and on the last day of the carnival there is a massive parade for the Grand Finale. The best part of this festival is that event is free! A great way to bring people together. 

Have you been to any of these festivals?

*Collaborative post

Alternative Bag and Shoes You NEED.

It's been forever since I've done a wishlist styled post and to say these were a regular feature on my blog, I am slightly sad they've become non-existant for a while. I am currently on the lookout for a new bag after two of my favourite bags were no more. One of which was 110% my fault, when I had a *little* soy sauce spillage in, and no matter how much you try to remove it, that smell isn't going anywhere. Then, my beloved holographic bag from Attitude Clothing after only six months one of the staps snapped, and I was pretty gutted to be fair. So that leads me to look on just about every 'alternative' site to seek out a replacement, and as much as I'd love to buy them all, my bank balance and my somewhat version of willpower say no. 

Jessie bag from Irregular Choice
Love Stings bag from Skinnydip.
Moon Spells bag from Attitude Clothing.
Kawaii Cat backpack from Attitude Clothing
Star Kissed backpack from Blue Banana.

Arch Enemies from Irregular Choice.
Pizza creepers are from Tuk Shoes.
With Love sandals from Irregular Choice.
Glitter creepers are from Tuk Shoes.
Silver heart shoes are from Attitude Clothing

Would you purchase any of the items on my wishlist?  

Subscription Box Sunday: Introducing Stickii

Subscription boxes, love them or hate them, there is now just about a box for everything from stationery to clothes to food and booze, you can pretty much find a box for any hobbies you may have, I mean there is your standard beauty boxes, on to boxes for self-care and even my favourite, the pasta subscription box. I recently set myself a mission of some of the best subscription boxes in the UK (and I assume most of the world) can buy. I have decided to create a series of a variety of boxes and review them for you, obviously, the content of these boxes may vary dependant on how recent the box I have is, but hopefully, you get the gist.

So what is Stickii? 
If you haven't guessed already, Stickii is a subscription box (more like an envelope) full of stickers, a stationery addicts dream right? Under a different theme, each month, which I think is pretty cute and you can pick from three categories. I obviously went for the cute theme because who would I even be, if I didn't? The theme of this box was milky way carnival, which is a unique and fun theme to go with and included  Each month the stickers come in a ring binder page so you can buy a ring binder and keep them all together. 

First impressions:
When I saw the stickers were in an envelope I was a little worried there wouldn't be much inside, as for some reason I was expecting a box, but I was wrong, using an envelope saves rubbish and makes the overall price of the package cheaper and fits through my letterbox as a nice treat for when I come home from work. I pulled the stickers out of the wallet and found 5 big sheets, one of which is 3D! 2 mini sheets and a little packet of cut out stickers. As well as a few stationery items including little notes and a paper clip. So great for having a sticker filled house. I think it would be an ideal present or package to receive if you have a bullet journal. For $10 a month I can't complain as it is jammed packed with goodies and can tell a lot of thought goes into each month. 

Stickii Club has three choices of packs each month and they will fit a theme within your chosen category. Cute, Retro and Pop are the choices of themes and I bet you can't guess which one I went for (hint, it's the cute one!) This concept to me is pretty cool as it means the box is a little more tailored to you as a person. You can change this up if you fancy a change or you can continue getting cute stickers forever, yes pls. I think the variety of themes means that people of any age can enjoy them. 

What did I think of my first box?
On monetary terms, I think this box is a steal for the quality and quantity of items you receive. Overall I loved the box and would order again, I mean they won me over at cat stickers! I have since found out that Stickii box does share spoilers of their boxes online, which if you wanted to know the themes of the boxes before purchasing this would be ideal. Now I am off to cover absolutely everything I own in cat stickers.  

Would you order a box from Stickii? 

My tattoo collection 2018

**This post features super cute bunnies, which may lead to you wanting one, sorry in advance. 

This post has been in works for some time now, but whenever they've been close to healing I've gone and got myself some more. I decided today to share with you my 8 tattoos and the pain ratings for them too, and go a little more in-depth about them.  Back in 2015 I decided to take the plunge and get my first tattoo, it was one I'd wanted for a while and with the help of some my tattooed friends, I went for it. I visited a studio called Vivid Ink, which now I know was a little more on the pricier side, but the studio looked amazing and the artist Mel was lovely too.  

My first tattoo was an infinity symbol which is linked to anchor and says 'I refuse to sink' which to this day is my tattoo with the most meaning behind it, a lot of my tattoos are random colourful and cute pieces that I fell for and they have little/no meaning behind them, which makes this one even more special. As someone who has self-harmed for a number of years, when I managed 6 months clean I booked in for this tattoo over the scars and I felt so overjoyed when I saw the finished piece in all of its glory. This tattoo took around an hour and a half and it felt like the longest 90 minutes, ever. I'm not sure if this was due to the silence or the anxiety I had before about how bad it would be. In hindsight, it wasn't really that painful at all. Overall, I'd probably say it was my least painful tattoo. Rating the pain around a 2/10. 

It took me another year and a half to get my next tattoo and after that one, I didn't really stop. This one was another wrist piece which again I wanted some meaning behind it, and it is a feather that says believe, it's watercoloured and was done by the amazing Charlee Darwin at Tattoos at 58, the colour is still popping almost a year and a half later. This tattoo took around an hour, and Charlee kindly went over my original tattoo of the infinity symbol as it had faded a fair bit. This cost me around £50 from what I can remember and was worth every penny. I didn't find the tattoo itself to be very painful until it got to the writing of 'believe' the B was super painful. Overall, I'd rate the pain of this tattoo a 3/10.

The following month I went back to Tattoos at 58 and visited Flim Flam who did my next two pieces, one of them I saw on her flash sheet and knew I had to have it, a giant (and adorable) hot air balloon which set the colour scheme for the majority of my other tattoos. It cost me £70 in total for a 3-hour sitting, always worth visiting a tattoo apprentice as they offer discounts most of the time and are still really skilled. The pain wasn't too bad at all for this one, it was more the time of the sitting, I felt like it was really long and despite chatting to email for the majority of the time, it still felt really long. Towards the end, the pain started to get worse for the colouring of the balloon but I think it was due to how much work and detail it had within. The rating for this giant balloon was mainly a 3/10 but reaching a 5/10 towards the end. 

During the month of April 2017, I decided it was time to get another piece based on my love of bunnies, and if you don't know about this, where have you been? The idea behind the piece was an adorable bunny in a heart. I had to get the bunny changed on the design that Emily did as it didn't have the adorable lop ears that I wanted. I believe this tattoo was around £70 also, and for the amount of detail and cuteness of this tattoo, I was chuffed. I would rank this as my 2nd most painful tattoo due to it being so close to the joint in your arm and the number of black outlines within. I would rate this a 7/10 on the pain scale.

Fast forward a year and I found out about a local studio I hadn't heard of before called Blacktide Collective and in the space of a month I treat myself to 4 beautiful pieces created by Heather two of which were for her portfolio, which was the doughnut (yes, I really got a doughnut tattoo) and an adorable skull bottle in a more traditional style to the other tattoos I have. I had the bottle tattoo done first which set me back £80 which is a bargain price. This tattoo is all alone on my left arm, but I am unsure what I would put near it. Again like the balloon the pain was ok, until near the end. Overall pain rating 6/10. 

When I arrived home from this tattoo I went straight back on their page and saw a doughnut tattoo which was available and I knew I needed to get it, this was somewhat a tribute to my brand, this one has to be my most painful tattoo to date, pretty much all of it was unbearable, due to it being so close to my elbow. I feel like this took the longest to heal out of all of my tattoos, I can confirm I will not be putting myself through that pain again on the other arm, no thanks. I'd rate this tattoo on the pain scale, a high 8. I do not know how anyone can stand the pain of having their actual elbow tattooed. Rewind back to two weeks ago and I had two more tattoos done in the same sitting. 

A little watercolour bunny to blend in with the feather which I am very happy only took around 30 mins and wasn't too painful due to it mostly being colour. Then I wanted something that travelled up my arm to cover any remaining gaps, so I decided to go for some hearts and bubbles along with a large range of confetti to fill in between. I have 19 hearts and bubbles in total and I love how well it blends with my doughnut. I would completely recommend going to Blacktide Collective as they make you feel at home and Heather is so lovely. For the whole sitting, I'd say the pain rating was around a 5, I found it more an achy pain and they healed quickly. 

You'll be shocked to know, I am already planning my next tattoo, however, I am going to get something on my leg. Stay tuned for the next leg of my tattoo journey. 

Would you have a tattoo? If so what would you get? 

Home Decor, Small Changes Can Make The Biggest Difference?

I am forever moving around the furniture within my house, from my bed to the pictures hanging on the wall. Living in a rented house can often feel like any changes that are done to the interior can be a waste of money as you may move and your money will be gone, so it really is the little changes that make a huge difference to your home. I recently painted my front room and added a bookshelf full of adorable ornaments, purchased a sign which you can add your wifi password to, I mean are you really in another house if you don't ask for the wifi password at least once? Then just gave the bits of white a little going over and finally painted the door again too. Those changes were minimal and have turned the room into a completely new living space.

Living in a rented space often feels like a blank canvas, all of the walls are a strange cream shade which for some rooms it works well, but other rooms you just want to inject a pop of colour. I love bright colours but apart from in the bathroom, I think every wall in my house being a bright colour would give me somewhat of a headache (when did I become my mum?!) which is a shame because I would totally be okay with having a rainbow coloured room. I went all out in the bathroom and purchased two large tubs of teal paint and within two days the bathroom had a complete makeover, with a bathroom in a rented house you can't do a whole lot expect to add colour and possibly storage, so I went for the colour card. 

Next, I am looking at redoing my bedroom which would be a huge task if I was going to paint the whole room, so I decided instead to create a feature wall using a wall mural, this was inspired by my recent trip to Zizzi, as all of the restaurants seem to have them! I have found a number of places online who sell them and they're as easy as peeling them back and sticking them. I've seen some lush map wall murals from Wallsauce as well as some other alternatives like a brick wall and sea life, oh and you can also use your own photos.  

I am a huge fan of being creative in my rooms, I love to paint things in fun colours and I love to have the alternative pieces, I mean I am currently sat on my bed staring at the inflatable flamingo that I thought it would be cool as a chair, oh and a bookshelf filled with pop vinyls. I'd love to know what home decor projects you have coming up in the comments. 

*Collaborative post

The pros and cons of online dating AD

In 2018 online dating is bigger than ever before, allowing people to meet who wouldn't have otherwise met. Allowing you to meet people all over the country who share the same interests as you, when you live in a small town it is hard to meet those people who you really click with. Plus the chances of you meeting someone you already know or who one of your friends has already been on a date with is high. With online dating, for the most part, it eliminates this and allows you to meet someone you really click with. I mean it's not every day you meet someone who ticks most of your boxes.

Online dating is great for those who may not have enough confidence to start speaking to someone online, I know that was a big thing for me personally, with anxiety it is a lot easier to speak to people online first and then meet in person, as it feels like you have those key points to talk about. When I asked on Twitter a little while back how people met their other halves, it ranged from work, at the gym all the way back to old-school social media such as MySpace and Bebo all the way forward to a variety of dating websites and people are happy to share their stories. It's no longer something you need to hide from your friends and family because most people try online dating at least once.  

Of course, with every pro, there is always a con. Online dating does come with its cons, I mean in most cases you are meeting a stranger. Years of watching Catfish has put me on edge, that you are going to meet someone completely different to the person you speak to online. Obviously, Catfish is one end of the spectrum as it often turns out to be people they know in real life and is definitely dramatized, but the point is it can sometimes be someone completely different to the profile, looks wise or age-wise. We've all been there, right? I can often make it past the looks barrier if they're still the person they said they were, as who doesn't big themselves up online, but when there is more to it and they've used another person's pics or are a completely different age, it changes the ball game.

When these situations happen it is awkward as to know what to do next right? I was recently informed of a dating app called Meetchu which rules out that issue altogether and allows you to have video calls and has a function that you can record videos of you speaking verify your identity and for them to do the same, giving you that extra bit of security when going to meet someone and I know that is a huge thing for me. Meetchu has kindly offered my readers 1-month free premium which you can access here. As Catfish say if they don't want to video call in this day and age, there is more than likely something they are hiding.

Overall, online dating offers a lot more pros than it does cons, allowing to learn about a person before meeting them encourages to learn more about them beforehand and eliminates some of the awkwardness as you feel like to an extent you already know the person and it allows you to be more fussy with who you chose to meet up with, as I mean finding a potential partner is difficult and can take time for sure. Although the awkwardness element isn't completely eased it allows a little bit pressure to be taken off. Giving you more time to enjoy the date and less time worrying about the awkward silences (that feel like they're going on for an eternity although it's actually only a minute or two) My most important piece of dating advice is to have fun, you can try so many new experiences and go to places you didn't even know existed until the date and you learn a lot about yourself whilst dating which I found helped me for future dates. 

For more of my online dating chronicles, you can read my finding love online post. 

*This was a paid collaboration, all thoughts are my own and I do truly think online dating rocks!

Working from home, what's the deal?

Recently I celebrated my one year anniversary at my workplace, and damn that year has gone fast. I enjoy my job and the people I work with as they're all pretty laid back and we have similar interests. I have 'weird' shift patterns at work Saturday through to Tuesday and on the weekends it is only a few of us in the office and I know a lot of us wish we could work from home as nobody else from other departments is in. I often wonder what it would be like to work from home and if I would get the same level as work done. As someone who suffers from mental health issues, I do think on my bad days it would be easier to work from my bed on a laptop, but on my good days, I enjoy the social aspect of work. After reading some research from National work from home day (there really is a day for everything, isn't there?) I was curious as to why some people can work from home and others can't. 

I found out that the major reason as to why people can't work at home is due to security reasons, which makes total sense from a business point of view. As you can never be too careful with that stuff, but I often feel like my quality of work would be better from home, sitting at a desk for the majority of a day can often be draining mentally and physically. Plus the office can be loud and it can be hard to zone out. Start up Donut wrote a great article surrounding these issues, based on a survey created conducted by Seareach they advise "Flexible working leads to happier, healthier, more productive employees … allowing employees to work from home is a really effective way of empowering them to manage their stress levels and stay in control of their overall health. Plus, if an employee does get sick but is still able to work, instead of infecting the whole office, they can work in the comfort of their own home." Being able to work from home I feel is something that may benefit me but like some workplaces mine needs to have a reason to allow you to do so.

I can see the pros of allowing employees to work from home, but I can also see the cons too. Allowing some staff to work from home but not all, can be a challenge as it may end up with other colleagues resenting those who can. As well as, the teams would not be as close as they are with everyone working together on a daily basis as they would see each other less. Overall, I would prefer doing half and half, as somedays I love going to work, seeing the people I work with and learning new things. However, on those days when I am struggling with my mental health or have had a bad nights sleep and much prefer my own company working from home would be ideal. But also I know that I can lack drive and motivation a lot of the time and I wonder if working from home would enable this even more, or whether it would spur me on to work harder? I mean music playing all day and having my bunnies roaming around sounds ideal!

 I would love to know your thoughts on this post in the comments below, would you prefer to work at home or in the office? 

*This is a collaborative post, but all views are my own.