How to Find Your Perfect Bag

I’m usually a one-bag-girl. Not in the sense that I only have one bag, oh hell no. But when it comes to my everyday bag, I don’t switch up my bags very often. I will most likely wear one bag continuously, until I find the next bag of my liking. Any particular reason? Yes, laziness.

Not going to lie, I’m basically Mary Poppins when it comes to having too much stuff in my bag, meaning that transporting this ‘stuff’ from one bag to another every. single. day. can be a tad impractical. Keys, purse, mirror, lipstick(s), tissues, hand sanitizer, a pen, paracetamol, Kindle… and usually an abundance of receipts that seems impossible to not exist in my bag. About 98% of the time before I have to leave on a morning, I am running around like a headless chicken, so believe it or not – I don’t have the time to transport my ‘stuff’.

What’s important when shopping for your perfect bag…

I bought this bag for the intention to become an everyday bag, meaning that it needed to be big enough to hold my ‘stuff’ previously mentioned. However, seeing as I am quite a busy girl, hopping from coffee shop to the library (and, let’s be realistic, probably to another coffee shop), I also wanted a bag big enough to be able to hold notebooks and my laptop if required.

The colour of your bag is everything

One thing that instantly drew me to this bag was its colour. Anyone who knows me well will know that natural/neutral colours are my absolute go-to, meaning that khaki is most definitely one of my preferred colours when it comes to my style. It matches every other colour in my wardrobe (brown, grey, black, white, beige shades), and its classic style is perfect for all-year round.

The tip when searching for a bag you are planning to wear copiously is make sure the bag is a dark(ish) colour. This means that you are guaranteed to be able to wear this bag with almost every outfit. And as a bonus, any dirt or even dye from your jeans won’t be as noticeable – win win!

My Top Tip

When I search for a bag, I also like to think about the hardware tones. It seems a little extravagant, but this really is one of my most important tips when it comes to nailing your bags. Firstly, I consider what type of bag I am searching for (casual/daytime, a work bag, evening, smart, special occasion). Knowing that this bag was going to be for everyday, I then thought about the jewellery I tend to wear on a day-to-day basis – which is gold. Choosing a bag with gold hardware accents will complement the jewellery I am most likely to wear, meaning the bag will match almost any outfit I choose to wear. This is a smart way to make sure you get the most wear out of your bags.

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SHOP THIS BAG

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Images: Harry Dyer, Rachel Jefferies

February Favourites

Hello all!

This blog post I am wanting to share the products I have been absolutely loving throughout February and want to rave about it to you all. Read on for some secrets and product recommendations on how I nourish my hair and skin. And who knows, you might be loving it this March!

Haircare

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Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

Okay, so I could not rave about this product more if I tried. This little magic potion is called Bumble and Bumble (or Bb.), and will do absolute wonders to your hair. Before I first used this brand, I had read that the ‘invisible oils’ consisted of Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Safflower Seed Oil, Grapeseed Oil – all great for your hair, however it did make me wonder how that would sit my hair. I was worried it was going to be a greasy, oily product that leaves an unwanted residue in your hair. Oh how I was wrong. So very very wrong.

I have always desired to have silky-smooth hair, however bleaching my hair has left my strands quite textured rather than soft. Yet after using this product, I have had comments about how soft and nourished my hair look/feels (which is always a brightener to my day may I add).

The only down-fall to this product, I’m afraid, is the price. I stumbled upon Bumble and Bumble through receiving it as a free gift from Stylist Live, however since looking into this brand, this miniature travel pack costs a whopping £33. WHAT?! This leaves their bigger bottles retailing at £23 for shampoo (sulphate free), £25 for conditioner and £20.50 for heat/UV protection hair primer spray. Ouch. £68.50 on hair products + student budget = I don’t think so. Although the price is a little steep, this product really is that brilliant, and I will definitely be purchasing it at some point. Even if it is with Boots points!

Shop Bumble & Bumble here

Skincare

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Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

I’ve never actually used a Clarins product before, however I have fallen in love with this facial balm. I have been using a small amount of product before I apply my make up, and its thick formula almost sets a base for my make up. Half a pea-sized application and this miracle product brightens, tightens and preps my face, smoothing out any pores before applying my foundation. Anything else to rave about? Yes, you can also use a little more than usual and it will also act as a facial mask. Uhh… how brilliant is that?!

I also received this product from Stylist Live’s goodie bag that came with the Bumble and Bumble set. If I’m honest, a product like this normally wouldn’t have caught my eye (especially at £30), but being lucky enough to try this little gem out for free, perhaps I won’t be so quick to judge a product by its price. I am absolutely loving it.

Shop Clarins here

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NSPA Skin Glow Mud Mask

By far the best face mask I have ever come across. And I’m really not exaggerating! This mud mask is my go-to when I fancy pampering myself. The pot of goodness dries on your face (and cracks when you make a facial expression. Top tip: Don’t look in the mirror with it on – you will crack up, in both senses).

Removal with warm water and a damp flannel leaves your face feeling incredible. Smooth, tight and cleansed are the right words. Not only is this a pot of genius, but it is also cost-effective as you get multiple uses out of the pot. Not to mention it’s only £8. I have roughly had about 4-5 applications and I’m only half way through the pot! Definitely worth a purchase.

Shop NSPA here

Make Up

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Urban Decay Ultimate Basics Palette

Urban Decay. Where do I start? Perhaps at the fact that it’s possibly my most favourite make up brand of all time. And this palette is no exception. I received this as a gift from Harry for Christmas, and it was by far one of my favourite presents. A palette of colours anyone would ever dream of, all with pigment that holds more promise than a pinky finger ever will. Whether it’s a natural day-time look, or a dramatic smokey eye, this palette is a MUST for your make up bag. Trust me on this one.

Shop Urban Decay here

 

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

This is a potion, UD got that right! I can’t tell you enough how much I love this eyeshadow primer. Its purpose is to prevent your eyeshadow from creasing or smudging, which is especially vital if it’s a special occasion and you need your eyeshadow to last! Although £17 may seem a little hefty, I can promise you it is worth it. And the great thing is, you only need a tiny bit each use so it lasts ages!

Shop Urban Decay here

Let me know if any of my February Favourites have made it into your March Favourites at all, or if you already dig these products!

Rach x

A New Chapter

Why hello there, stranger.

So, it has felt like an extremely lengthy time since I last published a blog post… and that’s probably because it has been an extremely lengthy time. Normally I would bombard you all who kindly do take the time to read my blog posts with apologies, excuses and how I am embarrassed at how long it has been. However this time, I’m not sorry. And I’m not embarrassed. And without the cheesy cliche embellishment that nobody wants or needs (and nor does this blog), I’m coming clean.

the truth is, I just didn’t feel like writing”

I have had an abundance of people say to me “Rachel! When’s your next blog post coming out?”, and as flattered as I have been to hear readers are genuinely interested and follow my blog’s progress (a concept I still can’t get my head around), I would reply with “aww how sweet, I plan to post one shortly” – knowing it probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon. I tried blaming it on just being busy and not finding the time to write, and I tried blaming the fact I don’t have ‘blogger’ equipment to reach the standard I aspire. But the truth is, I just didn’t feel like writing.

If I had a pound for every time I sat down to finish just one, from the handful of unfinished blog posts I have lying in my drafts, well let’s just say I probably wouldn’t have to pay for a latte for the rest of the year. (Just take a look at my blog name if that has triggered any confusion). I just somehow found each post increasingly difficult to finish. Or just to even create content I was happy with. My inspiration had depleted to zero, and it took me a long time to stop feeling guilty about it. It was becoming more of a duty rather than something I enjoy. And that’s when I asked myself, I have created this blog as a hobby, as a creative outlet, as a way to put my writing ‘out there’. So why was it becoming almost a chore?

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“Your blog should reflect you”

Despite saying all of this, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy blogging – it would be terribly ironic of me if that were the case. I enjoy blogging, however I think I have concluded that the content I was making wasn’t one hundred per-cent what I wanted to blog about. I am aiming to spruce up the content, style and appearance of my blog, meaning that what I put onto my platform will reflect more personality, but in a more tidy and polished sense. That, I think, is the art of creating and tailoring a blog, making the work you publish onto it a much more enjoyable process. Your blog should reflect you. And that’s not completely how I felt mine has been doing.

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After this sort of ‘break from blogging’, it has enabled a reflection on not only my blog, but the efforts I put into something I love. I’ve always been a strong believer in, if you’re not happy about something, then make the effort to change it instead of sitting and complaining. Because, let’s be honest, the alternate attitude gets you nowhere in life. Certainly not half as near as where you could be if you don’t take the time to put effort in to change something you’re not completely satisfied about.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I am back to the good ol’ blogging, which I will be adapting to my aspirations (to their maximum feasibility). Because let’s face it, my dream blog can’t happen overnight.

I hope you all enjoy the future plans I have for Coffee and Chapters, I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

Rach x

What I’m wearing:
Outfit 1:
Black top: H&M
Sunglasses: Quay Australia @ ASOS
White skirt: River Island

Outfit 2:
Grey crop top: Topshop
Black lace detail shorts: Zara
Sandals: Warehouse
Bag: Michael Kors

Image credits: Georgia Lidington and Kevin Jefferies
Editing thanks to: Aneesha Grewal

Are Humans Greedy For Wanting More?

Autumn. Thinking about it, I have never really appreciated autumn before. It’s the same with spring, in fact. Autumn and spring just seem like one of those transition seasons that you don’t really remember once it’s passed; you’re too busy reminiscing the sand between your toes, sun clinging to your skin. Or the competitive, stubborn chill trying to wrap up inside your coat with you, Christmas lights glowing in between pines of the festively decorated tree. Autumn is the acquaint of winter. Much like spring is the neighbour of summer. Problem is, everyone’s waiting for the leaves to already change colour, dry up, fall off branches and autumn to be over, in exchange for crisp, frosty, Christmas winter nights that were made for festive films and hot chocolate, right? And after the best parts of winter is over, everyone is then impatiently waiting for spring to make the ground beneath their tapping-foot-and-crossed-arms pose turn dry, and for the British “sunny” weather to bronze (or crisp, rather) their bodies. But the more I think about how humans are constantly waiting for the future, whether the previous anticipated moment is present or not, the more deluded it seems.

We long for winter during the closing of summer, and then we yearn for summer once we get fed up of the cold weather. Hmm, seems logical, doesn’t it?…

My theory to all of this narcissistic nonsense is that humans are just selfish. But maybe that isn’t a strictly fair answer (nor is it scientifically true). But c’mon, what else is it when you think about it? It’s greedy for humans to desire everything we don’t have, meaning that we can’t appreciate the things that we are lucky to have in the present. Or even to appreciate fully the things we have wanted for so long (for example, seasons). But it’s not just seasons we are constantly chasing our tails for- all year round too. We get bored of old clothes, we get bored of eating the same meal over and over, and most of all, we get bored of being bored. However, perhaps the constant need for something different than the present is our motivation for the future. Too many times people (even myself), have said “I can’t wait until Christmas!”, because it gives us something to invest our time in and look forward to. We do it for ourselves. The more conscious we may be about the fact that humans do this, the more people may appreciate things. Maybe instead of focusing solely on the future, we can appreciate the present; where the autumn coloured trees fall beneath our boots, or the moist dew that hazes over fields as newborn lambs are welcomed to the world. Are we capable of being satisfied with now, rather than wanting more later on?

Photograph: By Rachel Jefferies

7 LANGUAGE TECHNIQUES – WORST TO BEST

Language (or sometimes known as imagery) techniques are used for impact when it comes to any type of creative writing. Some I prefer more than others, and it’s okay to be critical on the least favourites… right? I’m aware this probably seems incredibly sad of me, to rank my worst to best language features, but what else am I meant to do on a bleak Sunday evening? (Probably something normal like Netflix or something). Anyways, moving on…

7. Onomatopoeia  

Does anyone else just find onomatopoeia annoying? Even the spelling of the term itself is annoying. I just think it is much more sophisticated to describe a sound and its effect on the situation, rather than literally writing POW! CRASH! THUD! It ironically takes away the impact on the text, don’t you think?

6. Simile

Although similes have their purpose, they’re one of those techniques you used to overuse in secondary school, because you learnt a fancy new writing technique. The time when you use every opportunity to describe grass as green as emerald, or the night as cold as ice, or the wolf’s teeth were as sharp as knives. Inventive, huh? Make sure you use it cleverly, not proudly.

5. Alliteration

Whenever I was asked to analyse a piece of text, the first thing I would usually look for was alliteration. It’s used on such a regular basis, however the sneaky hidden ones (usually in a piece of literature) are the most effective. Obvious alliteration reminds me of cheap advertisements, but examples such as classic literature and poetry that include alliteration always interpret these techniques in an abstract form. After all, I wonder how many of you noticed how many times I’ve just used alliteration. Answer: 3

Here’s a perfect example of alliteration; John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

4. Hyperbole

I SLAVED AWAY AT MY ENTIRE 1600 WORD ESSAY FOR FIVE GRUELLING DAYS. THAT’S 120 HOURS. SO MANY TIMES I WANTED TO SURRENDER AND GIVE UP BECAUSE THE IMPECCABLY DULL ESSAY TITLE WAS SO SOUL DESTROYING.

My point exactly. Hyperbole gives any writer the ticket to making the most boring of things interesting. That sentence originated as; The essay I was set was boring. Unrealistic examples like mine can be more comical than intensifying; would anyone in their right mind really dedicate 120 solid hours on a 1600 word essay? I think not.

3. Rhetorical Question

Do you agree with it being one of the top language techniques? Ha. There you go. Exactly the reason why I love rhetorical questions so much is that you can ask anything relevant. And what’s even better, is you can ask anything and you don’t (expect) an answer, so no one can give you an earful from asking so many preposterous questions. Genius if you ask me. (Unless it was a rhetorical question…). Moving swiftly on. I also think that rhetorical questions, when used correctly and effectively, can be one of the most powerful attributes to language, especially when it comes to texts such as persuasive speeches and articles. They change the way the reader’s outlook on a certain subject is. You can ask them for their opinion with the underlying tone of your own, influencing their (supposedly silent) response. Mwahaha.

2. Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition. What a great word in itself. But yet, what an even better imagery technique. The creativity this term unleashes in the most abstract of ways, if used to its full potential gives a text such power and effect. A beautiful example is John Keats’ The Cold Heaven:

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this

1. Metaphor

My favourite thing in the entire English language. Metaphorical language is so beautiful and symbolic. We use metaphorical thoughts every single day, and the incredibility of analogies to refer to a metaphorical thought; tying English language with the creative thoughts of psychology. Simply amazing.

Comment below if you agree/what your favourite imagery techniques are!

Self Inflicted? More Like Book Inflicted

Have you ever watched a movie and wished your life was situated like the characters’? Or read a book and wished you held the same characteristics as the narrative’s? We all do. We all wish that our lives were slightly different, slightly more exciting, slightly more lucky when it comes to love. But isn’t it amazing how well books, movies, music can influence you so immensely? To make you wish that you had a similar life to a description on a page. Is that the power of literature, or the power of your imagination? You’ve all read a book, but have you read into a book?

One of the incredible beauties of reading a novel in my opinion is the way the writer can make you think, feel, agree or even disagree with a character. No two persons read the same book. A book is always interpreted in different ways, whether it’s due to personal experiences, how well you can relate to what the book is communicating, or whether you like/dislike the style of writing you are reading. However I find it astonishing how a book, words on a page, written by a complete stranger to you, can have such power, making you think about everything that is happening inside the pages between your fingers, escaping your own real life for that moment. Books that portray characters so well,  having the ability to profoundly creep into your mind during your everyday life is also incredibly fascinating. I have read books in the past, that when I reach the end, I am so disappointed that I won’t get to hear about the rest of the character’s everyday life, it genuinely takes time to detach from the fictional characters that I have built a one-way relationship with. Crazy isn’t it? I mean, becoming attached to fictional characters. Sound’s pathetic when you say it out loud, but it’s perfectly normal because it’s not just like a movie where you witness their actions in third person. No, a character in a book is much more than that; you learn intricate details about the character, you learn about their past (and potentially their present). You not only witness relationships around them, but if the narrative is first person, you understand, you empathise how they feel. I don’t know about you, but I reckon that is some pretty impressive stuff.

Another crazy, yet weirdly normal experience I have had with previous books are wishing I was more like the character that is narrating the story. Wishing I had their charismatic qualities, or clumsiness (may sound like a bizarre personal trait to want but trust me, books sell it to you). Thing is, authors create likable characters. They want you to fall in love with the character you read about, because when the twist comes, you are emotionally affected. It’s how books are made entertaining. So this means that you aspire to be like the characters you read about. You want to be as lovable as Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte), you want to be as grateful as Hazel Grace (The Fault In Our Stars, John Green), you want to be as fiery as Amy Elliot Dunne (Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn). And although you want to be similar to characters you read about, you also want sub-characters to enter in your life as easy as the author tells you they apparently can (to the protagonist). You want someone to adore you the way Gatsby adores Daisy (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald). It’s the greed we feel when our imagination has no limits, and expectations rise when we read such novels.

Isn’t it amazing how much a book can affect your perception on the world, make you crave something you don’t already have? Everybody wants their life to be a collection of perfect moments we desirably witness through literature and even films, blurring the lines between expectations and reality. Comment how a book has influenced you, possibly being the reason why it might be a favourite book to you!

Tips on How To Write a Narrative

Have you ever just stared at a blank page, biting your nails and rolling your eyes impatiently, waiting for ideas to come to you when trying to start a narrative? Me too. Instead of staring at my computer screen, achieving nothing productive, instead, I searched online some tips on how to start a narrative to try to provoke some ideas for my own narrative. I managed to successfully write my narrative with a continuous flow of ideas, so here some of my top tips to getting started!
Make sure you have created a full profile about your character– You can’t write a narrative without knowing your characters inside out; their name, age, personality, likes, dislikes, their reactions and mannerisms etc. You will find knowing these tiny intricate details about your character will help build the narrative when describing scenes, whether it’s in first person, second person or third person.
Decide and plan the basic frame of your narrative– Decide whether you’re writing your narrative from a first, second or third person perspective, as well as what tense you want the story to be in. This is very important as it could determine where you start your story- that something has already happened and the reader is in the middle of it, then flashing back to the past to finally get to the present of the situation you are in now? Or a story of past events?
Think ahead– You don’t need to know the exact details of your story, just the basic frame of it, and make up the finer details on the way. Keep a notebook next to your computer, so that when you are writing, if any ideas or description quotes spring to your mind, make sure you write them down so you can later on refer to them- trust me, this helped me a lot!
Set yourself in the scene– To help write your narrative, perhaps write about something you do often or you can relate to. For example, my character in my story was sat on a bus, and I get the bus regularly. By knowing what the character feels like and what situation they are in, it enabled me to be able to describe the intricate details that people are familiar with, but don’t necessarily notice until you point it out.
Don’t rush–  If you are frustrated about not knowing where to go with your narrative, don’t get too annoyed. Try and think of some ideas, but don’t force ideas and panic- it’s okay, writer’s block is common, so don’t fret too much! Just keep a notebook next to you at all times, even just in your bag in the house, or even on your bedside table, so that if you ever you experience something or think of an idea you could use, jot it down in your notebook, or so you don’t you probably will forget it, or forget the fine details about it at least. A lot of writers use their dreams or inspirations from their dreams to write a novel, so keep a notebook handy.
Don’t rely on dialogue too much to start off your narrative– While starting a narrative with dialogue is a strong start, don’t rely on it too much- it is so common, you don’t want to fall into the trap of copying everyone else. Try to find a more original start to your story, you can do this by deciding depending on what your story will be about. Don’t be afraid to try something new or daring.
I hope that a few of my tips help, good luck and enjoy writing!

CARDIFF LIFE

So as stated in a previous blog post, I was accepted into Cardiff University in August… and how time flies, because it’s already October 4th, meaning that I have now been studying at Cardiff University for two whole weeks! Anxious with what to expect (or should I say, what not to expect) at first, I have settled in, making friends, studying and decorating my room. I was unsure how I would feel about moving away from my family and friends at home, and even though I am excited to go home in two weeks, I am loving the university life. Although it is time consuming having to cook, clean and do the laundry yourself, it is all part of the university experience, and it is relaxing when you know you can have what you want for dinner, when you want it, (and not having to wait ages for your tea to be cooked when you’re wanting to go out at a specific time like back at home).


  
I am lucky that Cardiff is such a great city with so much to do. Everything seems accessible (even if you do have to use your leg power and walk to the majority of places due to not having a car), however there are shops, sight seeing venues and Cardiff Bay (which I am yet to explore). However during some free time, a friend and I went into Tourist Mode and walked around Cardiff in hope to find something/ some place interesting. The stone buildings in Cardiff are so beautiful, and the wide streets with trees synchronised parallel give a London-esque type feel. A walk through the interesting streets of this beautiful architecture could cure any boredom on a sunny day. We came across Cardiff City Hall, where we were allowed to look around inside. The beautiful interior design of marble floor and pillars felt like royalty, and the grand rooms designed for events such as business meetings, conferences and wedding receptions (as the receptionist informed us) held such character.


  

BOOK BARN INTERNATIONAL

The other week I had a few days off of work and I decided to take a trip to the Book Barn International on Wells Road in Bristol/Avon. The sun was shining and I had such a tranquil afternoon, browsing through the thousands of books and endless shelves. I went alone because I love exploring new books alone, having quiet time to myself to engross myself in potential new reads. I sat down in the vintage cafe that is located in the Book Barn, where I ordered some crumpets and a cup of afternoon tea. I read a few pages of the books that I had picked up and put in my basket, deciding whether the books were suitable/interesting enough to purchase. The cafe even included computers where you can search up a specific book you may be looking for, and you can request them to look for it in their warehouse if it comes up on the computer. I came away from the Book Barn almost four hours after arriving, feeling pleasantly relaxed and a carrier bag with thirteen new books to add to my full bookshelf at home. I would definitely recommend the Book Barn International for second-hand books (and they even have some brand new books) for just £1 each. Bargain if you ask me! An afternoon well spent.

BEERWOLF BOOK PUB

Cornwall might as well be be in the dictionary as a synonym for relaxing, because it is a place particularly attracted by slow-moving coast-loving holiday makers, dipping in and out of unique, vintage shops (like me!). Last year I discovered a cosy little pub hidden behind the buzzing town of Falmouth, Cornwall, which is not like any old pub. This pub is the most perfect pub I have ever come across; a library book pub. A room with shelves full of books, available for customers to buy or just read during their tranquil visit. Quiet music fills the quirkily peaceful home (heaven) to book-lovers just like myself. And seeing as I come to Cornwall every summer, I was surprised that I hadn’t discovered it before. I am currently sat in the chilled atmospheric pub with a cup of tea, Cornish pastries and my head buried inside of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (a brilliant read so far), escapism at its finest. Gutted that places like this don’t exist in my hometown, Bristol, so spending all day in here alone on my family holiday seems slightly more justified (however does reading and drinking tea even need to be justified?!)