Wow! 5 years! Where has the time gone? It's been 5 whole years since I started this little blog and what a good few years it's been. Since setting up my blogspot all those years ago I've gained friends, skills, and so much confidence. The world of blogging has its ups and down but the good far outweighs the bad and I can honestly say this is the best hobby I have ever ever had!

So why did I even start blogging? Well a mixture of reasons really. I was finishing off with my A levels and I had nothing to work on or look forward too. My education was finished as far as I was concerned and I wouldn't have a reason to create anything anymore. I loved being at college and the thought of just mindlessly drifting into the world of work scared the life out of me! Would I have a reason to take photos anymore? Would I even want to? So that was the kick up the bum I needed to get something set up.

I was reading blogs well before this time though. Some I still read religiously, others not so much, but I'd gained inspiration from them all. When I started blogging 'influencers' weren't a thing. I followed girls who loved to write, girls who loved to take photos, and girls who could style up a bin bag if they wanted to. Everyone had a passion for what they did and I wanted a slice of that. I never picked a niche, if you read this blog post you'll know that I'm not a fan of just picking one thing and I'm so glad I made that choice. Maybe I could have specialised in something and that would have made my blog more popular but at the end of the day this is my diary, my life, and I want to record everything.

So where do I see my little space in the future? Blogging is changing so so much. It's no longer about doing what you love and more about making everything perfect. Maybe thats a bad thing? I don't know, but I do know there will always be a place for old school bloggers like me and there will always be space for new bloggers too! I never want to give up blogging and as long as I have the time gracebee.co.uk will always be where I come to share my thoughts, my feelings, and my life in general.

Thank you so so much to everyone who has read my blog, left comments and just generally supported me in the last 5 years. It's been a blast! Here's to the next 5!


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5 YEARS OF BLOGGING!


I feel like I've been blogging forever - in a good way. It's been the best hobby I've ever had and the only one I've really stuck at. Through blogging I've made friends, developed my communication skills, worked with some great brands, and pushed myself to attend events alone. It's been a major factor in who I am today. 

I definitely don't plan to give it up anytime soon and so I thought I should probably set out some goals for the next year at least. I love blogging and I want my blog/ social channels to develop with me. 

So here are my aims...

- Talk to more bloggers and make more local blogging friends
- Finally hit the big 2000 over on my Instagram account
- Start posting weekly youtube videos
- Get a sponsored job - controversial I know!
- Attend at least one blog related event each month
- Hit 500 Bloglovin followers
- Create a new outfit of the day post once a month
- Post every day on Instagram
- Work on some collaboration posts with other like minded bloggers
- Finally organise the blogger meetup I've been talking about since forever!
- Start to open up and write about my thoughts and feelings more
- Try to vlog more
- Encourage engagement on all of my platforms and get at least one genuine, non spammy comment on new content 
- Attend a London blog event completely 100% on my own
- Meet more bloggers in the real world and not just through a screen
- Work with 3 new brands this year
- Actually complete blogmas this time! I know it's still a long way off but I'm going to plan ahead
- Reach 2000 followers on my Twitter account.
- Attend a blog event in a new city
- Hold a giveaway on my Instagram account
- Work with a plus sized clothing brand
- Hit 150 followers over on my Youtube channel
- Write more blog posts than I did last year. I wrote 91 posts in 2017 so it would be nice to write 100 this year!
- Create a lookbook video for my Youtube channel
- Link my blog to my Instagram account. This might seem silly but very few people know I blog so it really would be a big step for me
- Start scheduling tweets regularly
- Order some new business cards with my new logo on
- Create a facebook page for my blog. 

So those are the goals I plan to work on in the next year! I know to many more established bloggers these aims must seem trivial but to me they are things I would really like to accomplish!

Do you have any blogging related goals at the moment? I'd love to hear them!


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SOME BLOGGING GOALS


So I've had a bit of an up and down few months. For the most part life is good, I'm happy, I have a good relationship, I'm healthy (most of the time), things are okay. But I've had a lot of down days recently too. Days when I'm feeling sad, I feel very very sad. It doesn't take a lot to upset me and I've cried a lot over literally nothing. I guess the post graduation depression is real and I'm feeling it. 

Well today I don't want to focus on that because for every bad day there are so many more good ones. And they don't even have to be amazing to be good, sometimes I'll just have this sudden realisation that I'm alive and I can do whatever I want. Sometimes I'll just have a sudden burst of confidence and motivation out of nowhere and believe me that's a rare thing when you are on a job hunt. I think not being in the right job is also affecting me at the moment. I know what I want, I just need an employer to give me a chance to show them I can do it! I'm trying to keep positive but its just so hard when all I see myself qualified for is unpaid internships. 

But again, that's not what I really wanted to talk about. I wanted to have a chat about the little wins in life. The tiny moments when you know you did well. For me lately these have mostly been anxiety related. I've wanted to give a kind of update on that front for a while because I really believe I've come so far. I'm sure I'll find the time to do that one day but right now I'll just tell you about some of my little wins lately.

One of the biggest things for me with my anxiety was going places on my own. I hate being alone and I really hate being alone on public transport. I'm not sure why it's such a problem for me but I just really dislike it. The last few months however I have made such an effort to spend time alone, catch busses and trains alone, and go to blogger events all on my own. It's still a scary experience when you've only got yourself to rely on but I'm sure I will get used to it eventually.

I've also started applying for jobs a lot more frequently. I'm super scared of rejection and I think that has put me off applying for jobs in the past but I'm getting to a point where I'm not so scared someone will turn me down. I've applied for jobs I'm probably underqualified for because what does it matter? They can only say no. I haven't lost anything and maybe one day someone will give me feedback on why I didn't make the cut.

I've also started saving for a mortgage. Houses are expensive, like really really expensive, and I'm not even sure where to start with buying a home if I'm honest. The whole thing is quite overwhelming and just generally scary but it's got to be done at some point so I might as well just bite the bullet and start my home owning journey. In January Sean and I set up our help to buy ISA's and although we've barely got 1/5 of our deposit together, its something.

My little wins might seem seriously little to some, but right now they are the only thing I've got. I feel like since leaving university I'm not really working towards anything in particular and that's not a great feeling. I'm working the same job I was 4 years ago and as a graduate I expected so much more. But my life is only just starting, I have to much more to learn, and see, and do, and I know that I'll find my happy place soon.


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LITTLE WINS

Happy Easter! I hope you are all having a fab Sunday eating lots of chocolate goodies! I'm not going to lie, I've already eaten most of my eggs as everyone made the mistake of giving them to me early, ooops. So with the chocolate long gone I thought I would treat myself to something that lasts a little bit longer, some gorgeous pastel pieces.

It doesn't seem like it, but Spring is on its way and with the warmer seasons comes lighter brighter clothing and accessories. Although I'm a big lover of mostly black outfits, I do love a pop of colour here and there and so I've rounded up some of my favourite pastel items you can buy right now.

- Pastels for Spring -
So what's on your Spring wishlist? Are you busting out the colours or are you sticking with your Winter wardrobe for now? I know I'll be wearing jumpers well into the Summer months but I'm holding out hope that I can start to wear some pretty pastels sometime soon!

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EASTER TREATS - PASTEL WISHLIST


So you're going to Gdansk? First of all congrats on picking a city break that isn't the usual Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona ect. Secondly, prepare yourself for one of the cheapest city breaks you'll take in northern Europe. I'm sure you've already got an idea of things you hope to do in this pretty little city, but here is a list of things you really can't miss.

- Ambersky - Quite possibly one of the most touristy things you could do on your trip but you will love every second of it. From the gorgeous view you get at the top, to the classic jazz playlist on repeat, everything about this ride is a treat. 

- Free walking tour - If you've followed me for a while you'll know the first thing I do in a new city is a free walking tour. For one they are super budget friendly (you tip what you think the tour guide deserves) and they are a great way to find your bearings in a new place. There are a couple of walking tours in Gdansk by various groups but we took the main town tour which gave us a good run down of the history of the city.

 Art installation remembering the Polish post office workers who were executed by SS soldiers

Malbork Castle

- Malbork Castle - The castle isn't technically in Gdansk, it's actually about 30 minutes away by train but believe me it is well worth a visit. It's very easy to get to from the main railway station and fairly cheap too. Malbork is the biggest brick castle in the world by land area, so for that reason alone it should be on your to do list. Although the place is pretty huge, it can be toured in around 3 hours using the fantastic audio guide included in the entry price.

- The Beach - Yep Gdansk has its very own beach, several in fact, all of which are a simple tram/ bus ride away. Depending on what time of year you visit you might even be able to take a dip in the sea. I've been told the beaches get very busy in the summer as Gdansk is a Polish holiday destination similar to our Newquay or Brighton.

- Walk down Amber street - Mariacka Street or 'Amber Street' as it's most commonly known, is worth a look on any visit to Gdansk. Amber is a very common gemstone found in northern Poland and for that reason it is sold all over the city, but the highest concentration of workshops can be found on Amber Street hence the name. 

 Looking windswept on Stogi Beach

Mariacka Street / 'Amber Street'

- Take a photo in front of the Gdansk sign - Another ridiculously touristy thing to do but it's worth it just for the photo. As you can see the place was a bit muddy when we travelled there in March but I'm sure the place is much tidier in the summer months. 

There is so much more to do in Gdansk that we didn't get to see on our trip. The following places are a must for any history fan;

- Westerplatte
- Museum of the Second World War
- See a piece of the Berlin Wall
- Stutthof Concentration camp

So that was my to do list of things you need to make time for whilst visiting Gdansk. Have you been before? What would make it onto your list of things to do?


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AmberSky

10 THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO IN GDANSK


Lately I've had a few people ask me how to start their own blog. I've always been quite flattered but I'm never really sure what to tell them. I'm not an expert, I just love what I do; but I thought I would put together a handy little guide for anyone wanting to take the plunge into the blogging world.

I imagine starting a blog in 2018 is quite daunting. I created my little blog wayyyy back in 2013 when professional blogging was just coming to light. I didn't know you could make money really, and huge influencers with millions of followers just wasn't a thing. I started my blog as a hobby but it's a whole new ball game now.

So where to start now? Well I guess there's a hundred ways to go about starting a blog but here is my take on things. This is how I would recommend getting things going if you are just starting out in the wonderful blogging world.

Just Do It - Thats right, just go and create an account on a site that allows you to blog. I've always used Blogger but I've heard great things about Wordpress. Not sure which one to go for? Do a tiny bit of research to see what each site offers. Still not sure, just pick one, you can swap later if you really really want. Not sure how easy it is though.

Pick a Name - A lot of people say this is one of the hardest things about starting a blog. What the hell do I call my little space on the internet?! Believe me I spent a very long time trying to name my blog. Well here's the thing, you can change it whenever you want. I changed my blog name about a year after I started it and I'm really glad I did. 'Grace, that doesn't help me right now' I here you say, well okay why not just go for your actual name or a variation of that? It's the one thing in your life that probably won't change.


Pick a Niche - Fuck this. I see this on every 'Start a blog' guide and I think it's bullshit. Maybe you want to start a beauty blog, or a blog about shoes, great - go for it. This advice is perfect for you if you know exactly what you want to blog about but if you just want to express yourself and share your life ignore this. To me blogging is my online diary, my scrapbook, and it will never fit into one category. 

Equipment - Do you have a camera phone and access to the internet? Fantastic! You have enough equipment to start a blog! When I first started out, my DSLR was broken and my laptop was slow as hell but it didn't matter. I wanted to blog so I did. My photos weren't the best and the format of my blog was shite but I was blogging and loving it! You can pick equipment up as you feel you need it, but don't be put off by not having any at the start. The creative quality of your blog posts will matter a lot more than having a £500 camera to take photos with. 

If you want to see what I use now, 5 years on from starting my blog, I popped together a little list of blogging equipment I currently use. Bare in mind that I also took a photography course and built my equipment up over quite a few years. You might not ever need a 18 - 200mm lens, but I do. Always do your research before investing in expensive tech and if you are after a bit of advice on what equipment to buy don't be afraid to pop me an email or ask over on Twitter!

Social Media - For me an extension of my blog is my social media accounts. I use them to share to blog posts, connect with other bloggers and much more. I created my Twitter account a year after creating my blog and I started Instagram about a year after that. I also have a snapchat account I never use and a Youtube channel I try to make time for when I can. You don't have to use every platform but I would recommend using at least Twitter and Instagram. I would also suggest keeping your handles (social media usernames) the same as your blog. 


Your First Post - So you are all set up, what now? Its time to start blogging! What should your very first blog post be about? Well anything really. For me I started with a very very short post about me and why I wanted to start blogging. If that isn't your cup of tea why not do a 50 facts about your style post? Unfortunatly I can't help you out too much here, this is your new baby and only you know what you want to do with it.

Optional Extras - Have you got the blogging thing down and want to take it further? Okay lets look at some extras. You could learn how to edit. Even if you are still using your phone to take photos thats fine. There are loads of free apps out there to edit you phone photos, my favourites are Facetune and VSCO. You could also work on your Instagram theme. Its not that important but you'll probably attract a few new followers if your photographs look great together or consist of similar colours/ shades. If you've settled on a blog name you love, why not buy a personal URL? There is nothing wrong with having .blogspot at the end of your URL but its just a nice touch to have something short and sweet and your own!

So that is it, my ultimate guide to starting your very own blog! I would love to know if you take any of this advice before creating your own blog. Also if you are a current blogger please let me know if you think there is something I've left out, I want this to be a complete guide!

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO STARTING A BLOG

On Thursday, myself and 7 other ladies were invited down to Harvey Nichols (!!!) to take a sneak peak at the new Stila Spring collection. I'd not yet tried anything from them, but I'd heard good things about their products and so I thought this would be a really great introduction to the brand. 

The new Spring collection consists of 4 Kajal Eye Liners, 14 Liquid Eye Shadows, and 18 Liquid Lipsticks! Thats a lot of swatches, believe me! The collection is based around 'Bohemian Beauty' which is evident in their choice of shades and the shade names. Part of the new collection was even specifically designed with Summer festivals in mind.


Throughout the afternoon the products were passed between us so we all had  the chance play around and take some snaps. Whilst we oohed and aahed at the sparkle and shades of the products Sascha, the Stila Makeup Artist, ran us through the range and demonstrated how each of the products worked. 

Being a novice to Liquid Eyeliners I'll admit I was unsure about how I would be able to use them, I mean I can't even apply liquid lipstick without smearing it all over my face, so how would I fare with using a similar product on my eyelids? But after swatching the products and being shown how to blend them I'm fairly confident even I could wear them. Despite being liquid, the formula blends really well and can easily be built up if I wanted to go for a really striking look. I was instantly taken by several of the shades in the Eye Shadow range, however the two that really caught my attention were 'Jazabel' which is a warm rose gold tone, and 'Carefree' which is a fantastic coral shade. I'll definitely be getting my hands of those beauties as soon as possible!


As for Liquid Lipsticks, they are a product I've always struggled with. In the past I've found them gloopy and time consuming to apply. That being said I don't think I've purchased a Liquid Lippy priced over £5 and I think that might be the problem. Although there are some great budget products our there, I do think you do get what you pay for with makeup. So with that in mind, I paid special attention to the formula whist swatching the new lipsticks. Straight away they seemed a lot less thick than the previous products I'd used and they also dried a lot quicker too. As well as a standard formula Stila have also released a range of sheer Liquid Lipsticks which are a godsend for someone like me. Instead of applying like a block of colour, these Lippys are less opaque and dry very flat to the skin. They too can be built up quite easily. I was lucky enough to be gifted one of the Sheer Liquid Lipsticks in the fabulous shade 'Patina' so I will be trailing and testing that out over the coming weeks.


The last products to be passed around were the Kajal Liners. I've been a big fan of really thick pigmented Eyeliners since my teen years. I've worn a smokey eye for most of my adolescent life and so I was excited to be introduced to a high end version of a product that I've almost always used. I definitely wasn't disappointed. The Liners come in a twist up case which makes them really easy to apply, and they also have a smudge tip on the end making my go-to smokey eye a piece of cake. Now I clearly didn't listen properly during the demonstration because I attempted to pull off the lid around the smudge tip but ended up pulling off more of the case than I bargained for. I thought I'd broken it to be honest, and it wasn't until literally 5 minutes ago that I realised I had actually pulled off the built in sharpener! Yes they really did think of everything! The Kajal Liners come in 4 shades, a blue, a brown, a black, and a nude shade to be used on the waterline to really open the eye up.

Overall I pretty much fell in love with the new collection. The selection of colours and the vividness of the them all was just unreal. I'm a sucker for anything sparkly, and considering most of the products contained a large helping of what I can only assume was fairy dust, I think its safe to say I'll be back to purchase a few pieces in the near future.

Have you tried anything from the new Spring range? What was your favourite product?

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STILA SPRING 18 LAUNCH


Mother's day is almost here and like many others, I still haven't purchased my mom's present. I've been deciding what to buy her for a couple of weeks but now I'm running our of time to get her something really nice. Whilst on the hunt for the perfect present I thought I would put together a little gift guide for anyone else in the same position as me.

- Gifts for Mom -
         
What have you decided to get your mom this year? I'm still pretty undecided, but as I wont actually be here for the big day I'll probably grab some flowers and celebrate with her when we both have the time.

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MINI MOTHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE

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