Ok. Officially it’s still winter for a few more days. But when you’re strolling through London in your spring/autumn jacket (and you’re too warm when it’s zipped up), and with sun shining in your eyes, the last thing you think about is winter. Screw the calendar. It’s most definitely spring to me! I would like favourites to become a monthly feature, but writing a February favourites list halfway through March somehow felt super wrong, so I decided to sum up the whole of winter (so up until the start of March, basically) in one post. Things that helped me survive the short, wet days. The low temperatures. The winter-induced low moods.
Without further ado, let’s get started
It absolutely had to be Stephen King’s On Writing. It was recommended to me by Mr Arguably Honest (who has some mean book recommendation skills), as I have gone back to writing fiction a few months ago and was looking for a bit of guidance. Most books about writing seem to be big piles of mush, but Stephen King managed to make his both useful and enjoyable to read. Trying to talk about writing in a compelling way is definitely a challenge, so kudos to him. The first part of the book is Stephen’s biography, which is written in such an engaging, almost novel-like way that a writer reading it feels all ‘OMG, no way will I ever write this well’. Which is probably true anyway. Most of us will never reach the level of mastery Stephen King has reached. The second part is more of a guide on how to write and how not to write. Useful to any writer, experienced or not.
I would say I learnt two important lessons from this book. The first one is that perseverance is probably the most important thing on the road to literary success. Because getting published straight away isn’t very likely. Remembering that big people in the business such as Stephen King and J.K. Rowling struggled to get their writing into bookstores is important. The second lesson was to stop looking at pricey creative writing courses, and instead just sit your bum down and start writing. And so I did, having recently hit 45,000 words mark on my very first novel.
I have two picks here, and both are skincare.
Organic Surge Blissful Daily Moisturiser helped my skin survive both the wet and windy English winter, and the dry and freezing Polish one. It’s not overly heavy, but not the light, summer-y type either. It leaves a tiny bit of residue, but I simply apply it, get dressed, and by the time I’ve my socks on, my face is ready for the make up. The smell is quite strong, so if you hate your skincare having a smell, you might want to rethink it, but if you don’t, it’s very pleasant and citrus-y. It’s also mostly natural and has an ECOCERT certificate, if you care about it. It’s also inexpensive, at just under £13 when bought directly from Organic Surge. Which, considering what’s in it, I think is a bargain.
The second skincare product that I’ve loved this winter is the Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse. I absolutely love Caroline. Discovering her blog was the best thing that ever happened to my face. Updating my skincare based on her guidelines cleared my spots away, and got the acne scars to start fading. Looking in the mirror now brings a smile to my face, rather than a grimace it used to. So when I found out that Caroline was releasing her own cleanser, in line with her double cleansing philosophy, I knew I needed to have it. I couldn’t get it straight away, because £24 is a bit much on a student wallet. But, I have to admit, this was literally the first thing I bought when my scholarship for good grades came through. And Caroline didn’t disappoint. The first step part is a solid cleansing oil, which melts when it comes in contact with your skin, and then melts the make up away. The second, creamy part provides a lush second cleanse. It’s just a lovely pot of cleansing goodness. I only have two gripes: the price (it’s totally worth the price, it’s just slightly out of my budget for the amount I get), and the smell. It doesn’t really have any, but this lack of smell somehow is a smell, and I don’t like it much. However, it’s a brilliant product and I’d recommend it to anyone.
I wish it was something super cool, fancy, or whatever. But no. My favourite food this winter was popcorn. The one in the picture is what I take to work/uni as a midday snack (and it’s really nice, I have to admit), but the hero of the winter was the Sweet and Salty one from Tesco. It’s £1.05 (why do they even bother with that 5p?), and it’s really hard not to finish the whole pack in one sitting. So hard I rarely even tried. But on a dark, rainy evening, there’s absolutely nothing better than a cup of tea, a bag of popcorn and a book, or a good show on Netflix. Well, maybe if it’s hot chocolate instead of tea…
The award goes to… Gilmore Girls. When Netflix released the Year in Life short series, they also popped the whole 7 original seasons on. Which, for some unknown reason, made me randomly re-activate my subscription. I’ve no idea where the sudden urge to watch Gilmore Girls came from, but it happened. It took me, I think, 3 months to watch the whole 7 seasons and the new series, and, as you probably have guessed, I fell in love. I guess otherwise I wouldn’t have watched all of it (then again, I have once subjected myself to 5 seasons of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which was akin to masochism, and made me hate Shailene Woodley). But Gilmore Girls, I fell for. I’m not actually sure I’m that big on Rory, I think I’m more of a Lorelai type of girl, but the show as a whole stole my heart. It made me cry, it made me laugh out loud, it made me roll my eyes and shout at the screen. In other words, it made me feel things, like only the best of shows can. So if you’re looking for something funny and cosy to watch, I totally recommend. And it’s on UK Netflix.
I didn’t really know how to title this category. ‘Holiday’ wouldn’t really encompass it. ‘Trip’ wouldn’t either. I decided on simply choosing the sort of favourite thing I did. Maybe I should have titled it ‘thing I did’, rather than time. Whatever. Let’s go with ‘time’ for now. Which was definitely my weekend in Scotland. I visited a good friend who I met online but who somehow I never saw in person before, and it was such a brilliant 3 days. I got to see Glasgow, Edinburgh (which was on my list of places to visit), and Loch Lomond. I immediately fell in love with Scotland. Which is much easier than falling in love with London, I daresay. Edinburgh is just one of those places that you take one look at and ask ‘Ok, soooooo, when can I move here?’. It’s so beautiful that words can’t describe it. And I’m a writer, words are my friends. Of course, we got absolutely soaked, because, come on, Scotland in February, it has to be windy and rain at the same time, but I loved it still. I only got a day there, but I’m so totally going back.
It’s something that doesn’t fit into any category I could think of, so I went with random. And it’s This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. I’ve seen it numerous times on various blogs, but it’s £16, and I was like ‘woah, that’s a lot for a bottle of smelly water’. But when I saw a sample of it was being sold with one of those ad catalogues that pretend to be magazines, I decided to give it a go. And it proved to live up to the hype, so I used my (rather large) collection of Boots points to buy the full size. You basically spray it on your pillow before you go to bed, and it helps you relax and fall asleep. It’s because of the nice oils/essences that are inside. I don’t really know how it works. Obviously, you inhale them, and it helps you relax, but why exactly? Who cares. What matters is that it does work. I find that two spritzes, one on each side of my pillow, are quite enough. It helped me sleep through colds, and stressful and intense exam season. I don’t use it every day, but when I’m feeling restless, it’s something I turn to. One word of caution, though. If you hate the smell of lavender, steer clear.
So here are my winter favourites. Even though they’re the things that helped me survive winter in one piece, they’re not particularly wintery, so you can go ahead and make them your spring favourites! Let me know what helped you survive winter. :)