Wednesday, 1 March 2017

When did blogging get overwhelming?


It's been more than 10 years since I first started blogging. It's been 5 years since I started Whimsy Is Forever. And somewhere in those last 5 years, I lost the spark.

In the beginning, it was fun. Fresh. Exciting. The internet was a distinct hideaway from normal life, where you could meet people you wouldn't normally, and share the most random things on your blog. If you told someone in real life you were a blogger, they probably didn't know what that really meant, especially in South Africa.
If I look back at early blog posts, I don't know whether to be embarrassed or jealous. There was no agonizing for hours trying to get the perfect photograph. No days spent trying to think of what your readers wanted to see next. Just snap, write, post. Starting a new blog involves a lot of testing the water, seeing what works and what doesn't.

Then, somewhere along the line, things started to change. Press drops started to be a regular thing. Instead of just posting what was on our minds, we started to focus on product reviews, on press releases, on what other people wanted us to write instead of what we wanted to. Page views and clicks suddenly mattered. For some people, they found their niche. For me, my attempts to be a beauty blogger never quite sat right. The pressure to have a "perfect" blog was always there. I had to stop buying products raved about across South Africa following a press drop, as they were almost uniformly disappointing. And as a result of everything, I started to draw away from my blog. I started to lose my love for it.

In the last year or so, I started to play around and try going back to basics. Unfortunately, I was in the final year of my PhD so I didn't have anything resembling free time to just sit and enjoy blogging. But now, I'm finishing my PhD. Soon I will be graduating. And it is time for me to reconnect with myself, to rediscover who I am outside of the lab. To find what makes me happy.

So, don't expect to see any polished magazine-worthy blog posts on Whimsy Is Forever. If you want pretty photos and someone oohing and aahing over beautiful product packaging, click away. But if you want to see little snippets of my life, craft projects I'm working on, places I'm going to and things I'm doing, please stay.  I'd love to have you around!

It's time to inject a little more whimsy into my blogging life.

Laura


It's my birthday!



Today is my 28th birthday. Where exactly have the last 5 years flown???

Today I am grateful for all my friends and family, who have given me love in abundance. I have a feeling that this coming year is going to be an amazing one.

Monday, 6 February 2017

#FreshBreathQuest





This week, 6 - 13 February, is National Fresh Breath Week.
How fresh is your oral care knowledge? Take the Sunstar GUM Fresh Breath Quest (#FreshBreathQuest) this February to find out. There are prizes worth over R15, 000 up for grabs and for every person that completes the quest, Sunstar GUM will donate a toothbrush to Operation Smile South Africa

The main prize, valued at R10, 000, includes a Tsogo Sun mini-break (worth up R7, 000) and an oral care kit worth R3, 000. There are also 10 Sunstar GUM fresh breath kits available (worth R539 each), packed with innovative Sunstar GUM oral care products for fresh breath and a healthy smile.

To enter, go to www.ivohealth.co.za/freshbreathquest from 1 to 28 February 2017. Terms and conditions apply.

Sunstar GUM oral care products are distributed in South Africa by Ivohealth and are available from dentists, Dis-Chem, selected Pick 'n Pay, Clicks and pharmacies. 

Products pictured above:

Brush
1.     GUM Technique Plus toothbrush (R57.40)

Clean in-between
3.     GUM Original White floss (R51)
4.     GUM Easy Flossers (R50.31) 
5.     GUM Soft-Picks Advanced (R89)
6.     GUM Flossbrush Automatic (R104)

Clean the tongue
7.     GUM Tongue Cleaner (R51.35) 

Rinse
8.     GUM Original White mouth rinse (R84.18)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

John Frieda Frizz Ease Forever Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner

john frieda frizz ease forever smooth shampoo and conditioner review

Towards the end of last year, Rubybox sent me one of the new offering from John Frieda from the fabulous Frizz ease range. I've now been using this shampoo and conditioner almost exclusively for 6 weeks, so I feel like I can now offer my opinion on this duo.
Firstly, the big claim of reducing frizz for smooth-looking hair: I was moderately impressed. For the most part, I haven't been heat-styling my hair this summer (why bother standing under a hairdryer when my hair will air-dry in under an hour?). Normally, this does tend to result in a fair bit of frizz, fly-aways and weirdness (although my hair is naturally straight, so I don't have nearly as much frizz problems as my curly-haired friends)), which I haven't seen as much since using this duo. The shampoo gave a good lather with a small amount of product and didn't leave my hair feeling stripped. The conditioner felt rich and offered my waist-length hair enough moisture and nourishment.
One major downside for me: the packaging. Yes, it's purple and pretty BUT both tubes stand on their caps and look practically identical. I always shower without my contact lenses and can't focus beyond my own nose so I have on more than one occasion used the wrong product before I had to store the shampoo and conditioner on different sides of the shower. It sounds trivial but it really bugs me. Maybe it's just my tubes, but the caps are also really stiff - I have to use both hands to open the tube without accidentally making a mess and wasting product. I have also noticed that after a few washes (5 - 6) I need to use a different shampoo/conditioner for one wash as this duo does tend to leave a build-up on my hair, typical for products that claim to de-frizz.
Overall, I'd give these products a 4/5 for the products themselves and a 2/5 for packaging.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Setting up your new Bullet Journal

If you haven't yet heard of the Bullet Journal, check out the blog post I put up yesterday and then come back here. Know the basics? Then let's jump in and see how I'm setting up my newest Bullet Journal.

Personally, I found that the Bullet Journal is the perfect system for me. It's a blend of a to-do list, a planner and a personal journal. You can make it anything you need it to be and it can change with your needs. Thinking of giving it a try? 

For this journal, I'm using this teal softcover dotted Moleskine journal (this one). The cover is so wonderfully soft and I'm excited to use dotted pages for the first time, they're still really hard to find in SA. This is the large size, which is approximately A5. As you can see in these photos there is a small amount of ghosting with my fineliners (which doesn't bother me at all) and no bleeding through. The journal has an elastic closure, a ribbon bookmark and an envelope pocket at the back for you to tuck things into.


Moleskines have a space up front for your details, plus a spot to offer a reward for returning it (I'm broke so hopefully good karma is enough!).


On the first page, I've put my key. I use three basic bullets for 99% of what goes in my BuJo: square boxes for tasks, circles for events or appointments and dots for notes. A single diagonal strike indicates I've started something, the second finishes the cross for a completed task or event. A horizontal strike out indicates something has been cancelled. If I don't finish something, I add a > mark once I've migrated that task to a new day. I also have a few signifiers to add emphasis to deadlines and important things, or mark ideas.


The next two pages are where I'm going to write my index.


Then, I have four pages for the traditional future log. Basically, if I have to plan something in advance, it gets jotted down in one of these boxes.



Now, let's start our first monthly log. On the left, I have the traditional monthly log where I note important events, deadlines, etc. I can add to this as the month goes on. On the right I have space to add my goals for the month, as well as any general notes. When you start a new month, look at your future log and add in anything you wrote down there.


As December is not going to be very busy work-wise, I've decided to have a little bit of fun with my weekly layout. I've drawn in boxes to write my daily logging in. I haven't put in a monthly habit tracker (because I know there aren't going to be many low-calorie, no-alcohol healthy days this month!) but have added a few weekly trackers for my mood, amount of sleep, step count and water intake. I've put in a box for weather tracking and just for fun decided to record my favourite songs this month.


Now, of course, you can go really simple and basic with your logging. I decided to spend 20 minutes or so drawing out this layout while watching some series just for fun but this is by no means an essential part of bullet journalling (you'll see the original bullet journal had nothing of the sort!).

Are you thinking of starting your own Bullet Journal? Let me know in the comments section! I often also post images of my journal on my personal instagram (@lauravlaeren) so follow me there if you are interested.

Update:
A quick update to this post to show you what the above spread looked like once it was filled in!