Hafsah's Journal

Popular Posts


Tea | Favourites

Today I bring you a post about a passion of mine: tea. As we all know it fixes about almost everything, and I love buying, drinking and discussing the stuff! Here are my top three hot drinks at the moment (apart from a cup of good old Yorkshire tea) :

1. Chai teabags by M&S - I've tried many 'chai' teabags and most taste strange - the spices are almost fake tasting and are simply too strong for a cup of tea, whereas this particular tea has a kick whilst tasting blended.

2. Green tea with Manuka by Heath & Heather - it's taken me a while to enjoy green tea - I never drink green tea on it's own - it has to have some component for me to even consider it! I love manuka honey so I gave this a try and it's great - it makes a good breakfast drink.

3. Echinacea by Heath & Heather - I've left the best to last - I discovered Echinacea about a year ago, and it's been a cupboard staple in my house since. Having individually wrapped teabags makes it easier to take the tea to work - and it's the first thing I reach to if I'm feeling run-down because Echinacea is great for boosting the immune system and fighting off colds!

What are your all-time favourite teas?


Current Beauty Favourites | October 2016

I've rounded up a few of my favourite and most used beauty products at the moment.

Midnight Muse Body Mist from H&M
This Vanilla and Patchouli Amber fragrance is amazing! It's a unique fragrance, with warm tones and is quite strong for a body mist. It's a lovely fragrance for autumn and it has great staying power. It's super affordable, at £2.99, compared to the pricey Victoria Secret's body sprays. The only other patchouli scented item I have are incense sticks so I was happy to see it in a perfume.

Brow Drama by Maybelline
This sculpting brown mascara is a holy grail product, and is the only product I use for my brows at the moment. I used to fill them in with a Rimmel brow pencil but I find it takes time and patience to get the right amount of product. Now I'm ready to go with a couple of strokes of this product through my brows, as it gives colour & sets them in place for the day.

Superstay 14 Hour Lipstick in Lasting Chestnut by Maybelline
This has been my go-to colour since April I think! Despite being quite a dark autumnal colour, it is the perfect brown for me to wear everyday. I've read mixed reviews on this before, with many people finding the texture too drying, but I haven't had any problems. It stays on all day too, maybe not 14 hours but I don't need to reapply after having my lunch!

Stay matte but not flat powder foundation from NYX
 I picked this up in the spur of the moment, when a new NYX counter opened up in the Boots where I live. My intention was to use this instead of foundation, on days where I want to wear less makeup, but now I use it as a face powder. Particularly on busy days where I don't have time to re-powder. It gives a flawless finish and makes my foundation and concealer stay put all day.


University tips | Lectures and getting support


I really enjoyed writing about my study tips in my last university advice post, so I've decided to write another one because I have a lot to say! As I said in my last post, my advice might not suit people doing creative/science courses because my course was very academic, so bear that in mind when reading.

Towards my final year I used my laptop a lot more when making notes for my dissertation and assignments. This sounds super obvious, but if you are someone who prefers writing notes from lectures, seminars, books, all by hand, then you will know that transferring these notes to a word document can be very time consuming.

Therefore, I started to make notes from my reading straight onto a word document, and referenced as I went along. It made organising my notes and writing out my essays so much easier because all the information was in one place, and all I had to do was move my notes around the page and put them into my essay plan.

I still continued to write my lecture notes by hand, but I would print the lecture slides so I could make notes around the bullet points. My lecturers were really helpful as they uploaded their lecture slides on the on-line portal beforehand, and this helped me as I was able to listen and understand the topic instead of trying to scribble down all the information from the slides.

Google is your friend - Google books was a saviour at times, it's always the worst when your university doesn't have a subscription to that journal you need or that e book so it's good to have a little search on-line.

Also, just because you're doing a degree doesn't mean all the on-line resources you use have to be degree level, if you need a quick refresh on something for example the causes of the First World War have a little look on BBC bite size. It's easy to understand because it's at GCSE level & there's no harm in using resources like that if you are struggling to get your head around something. Just don't put it in your bibliography!

Communication is key - if you're struggling to find a source or just need some help then send your lecturer a polite email and they will help you out! Also don't forget that you have your peers! My course had a Facebook group where people would ask questions and keep everyone updated if a seminar was cancelled (the best notification you can get if you've forgotten to do the reading and prep but not the best news if you're organised, for once).

Make use of available support - most universities have skills tutors, who are staff dedicated to help you with the skills part of your course. As I did History, our skills tutorials were based on topics such as writing introductions/conclusions, planning, how to make notes, referencing, presentation tips, time management etc. We were also able to make appointments with the skills tutors, who can give you 1 to 1 support with assignments or organising yourself when it comes to deadlines!

I hope this post can give you some ideas, and if there is anything you would like me to talk about in regards to my university experience, then leave a comment below.



Pinspiration | Pink Interiors



Recently I have been loving pops of pink in interior design. I've found my favourite pictures from Pinterest that use pink in the most fun ways. Pinks complement white and fresh greens well and I love the funky and vibrant feel that's brought on by hints of the colour. The mix of pale pink-washed walls and big leafed plants bring an exotic feel, whereas pink accessories and furnishings show off your personality and can bring a plain room to life. I can envisage my future home looking very similar to these images, but I don't know if I would be brave enough to splurge on a bright pink sofa!
What do you think of pink in the home, is it your cup of tea?
If you'd like to see what I get upto on Pinterest then follow me on uk.pinterest.com/hafsahsjournal


Beauty | Long-Lasting Makeup

It has been a very long time since I last wrote a make-up review but I've put my beauty brains back on to share a few tips that have really been working for me in terms of making my face stay on all day. 
I have medium to oily skin type, which I don't really mind because it gives me a natural radiant look but when I have a full face of make-up on it can be a battle to keep the shine at bay at times. I've had too many moments in the past where I've caught my reflection in a mirror in the middle of the day and I've cringed at the state of my face, which can only be described as an oily mess. 
So to reduce those moments of questioning why I paid £14.50 for a foundation that won't last past midday on my face, I have been following four steps religiously. (And there wasn't anything wrong with the foundation, it was just my face, as expected.)

  1. My first step is to always moisturise at least ten minutes before you start applying your make-up. It's really important to use a good moisturiser even if you have oily skin, skipping out on a day cream will only make your skin oilier. I like to pat my moisturiser in and leave it for ten/fifteen minutes to sink in fully, so it doesn't interfere with my face make-up. My daily moisturiser is the All Bright Hydrating Day Cream from Botanics, which has SPF 15. I try to use something with SPF on my face everyday, because my skin is very sensitive in the sun, and despite having an Asian skin tone I get burnt easily if I'm not careful. Also, I am so impressed by the Botanics range from Boots in general, I have been trying so many of their skincare products, and there are always great offers on the range too!
  2. Next I like to prime my face. This is a recent addition to my make-up routine but it makes all the difference. I currently use the No7 Beautifully Matte Make Up Base from Boots. I bought this because I had a No7 voucher but I also use a No7 foundation so I thought they might work good together, and they do! I use a pea sized amount and rub into my t-zone. It's great at hiding pores, fine lines and most importantly keeping the excess shine away. I like to apply my foundation right away as I want it to stick to the primer as much as possible. Primers are also very good as they act like a barrier between your skin and foundation, so less make-up sinks into your pores which is always great. Even better, this particular base has Salicylic acid 'to help fight against spot causing bacteria'. 
  3. The next product is a holy-grail and is definitely the first product most people would think about when wanting to set your make-up. I love Max Factor's Professional Loose Powder, in Translucent, for setting my concealer and mattifying. I usually dust some all over my face using my real techniques powder brush, and I concentrate more product on my t-zone, which I brush off after a few minutes. Turns out I've been 'baking', but it works so I'm not complaining! This step makes a huge difference in the lasting power of my base and reduces the need to re-powder during the day, which was really good when I was working in retail because I did not have the time to be retouching my makeup during the day!
  4. This last step is not something I do everyday, but when I need extra staying power I go for a few generous sprays of the Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. This setting spray also works to make your makeup look flawless; the moisture causes the different layers of products to combine and makes any lines less harsh. Sometimes makeup doesn't look great as soon as you've finished applying it because it can take around twenty minutes for it so set properly onto your face, instead of looking like an unnatural layer. And this spray really helps speed this process up. 

I'd love to know if there any steps you take to keep your face matte and flawless all day :)


Blog Makeover and Photography

As you may have noticed my blog has had a huge makeover. My blog had been neglected for a long time and I wasn't enjoying writing posts, so I thought a little refresh would help me get back into it.

So back in January I bought my new blog design from the lovely Kotryna Bass, who has lots of great designs on her website and Etsy page. This is the second design I've bought from Kotryna and I absolutely love it, and she was super helpful in setting it up for me which was so great and kind of her!
I'd love to know how often you update or make tweaks to your blog design.

I finally feel happy with how my blog looks because it reflects me, which in turn motivates me even more to post new content as much as I can! The homepage of this new design is heavily based around photography, therefore, I've definitely set a challenge for myself because I am more of a confident writer than photographer. At times I've had a handful of photo-less drafts waiting to be published but taking those pictures has seemed such a chore. But I've been taking this challenge head on, and I'm beginning to enjoy planning photo ideas, finding props and taking pictures. I also have a super helpful friend who has been helping me with my photography and editing, and making gifs like the one above, which was definitely not me!

I'd love to know your thoughts on my new layout :)


Studying at university | Tips and advice

Staying on top of your work and meeting deadlines play a big part in having a good time at university. I studied History, so most of my studying was based around reading, analysing, writing and finding relevant sources. I've compiled a list of tips and advice on how to study best.

Take some time to learn about how you study best - look back to how you studied at school, when were you most efficient?

  • Do you need music to study or absolute silence? I have never been able to read and listen to music in headphones at the same time, I'd end up learning all the lyrics! Having the radio on quietly in the background got me through lots of my essays and dissertation. 
  • Do you concentrate more on your own or do you get more done in a group setting? If the latter then setting up a study group with course friends is always a good idea.
  • When do you study best, are you an early bird and like to get everything done in the day, or do you prefer staying up? 
All these things could change over the 3/4 years of your course but knowing yourself and being honest will always make life easier; there's no point setting up a study group at 10am when your brain functions best after lunch time.

Study where you feel comfortable  - but not too comfy because you don't want to end up having a nap!

  • I mainly worked on my desk in my room but I liked to change it up here and there because staring out of the same window for hours on end was not fun!
  • If you like the buzz of coffee shops then they're always great places to work; I loved going in to make notes, plan essays and blog posts, whilst having a little treat, or two.
  • Or maybe you work best in the university library, where you are (hopefully) encouraged by the rows of studious people around you. In my final year I found a few nice corner spots in the library and I always felt a great sense of accomplishment when I managed to do lots of work there.

Keep hydrated and snacks at the ready - this is the most important study tip in my opinion because food can become a big distraction.

  • I always had a bowl of grapes or popcorn on my desk just to reduce time spent procrastinating about food. 
  • And even better opt for brain foods like walnuts, almonds or a fruity smoothie. 
  • And obviously a tea or a coffee, whichever kick starts your day (it's a tea for me please).


Book Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I bought this book back in January, whilst browsing through and looking for new reads for the year. It came up in my recommendations as I have bought lots of young adult books (Rainbow Rowell and John Green-esque) from Amazon, so I glanced over a few reviews and it went straight into my basket. And I absolutely loved it!

Everything, Everything is the story of seventeen year old Maddie, who has never left her home because she has a rare condition called SCID, which means she is allergic to everything. She lives in a safe bubble, where she can only breathe in filtered air and the only people she knows are the ones who take care of her; one is her nurse and the other her mother, who is also her doctor. With no communication with anyone her age, she immerses herself in books to pass her time until a new family moves in next door.

Despite her condition, we see Maddie develop a friendship through posters in her bedroom window and IM's with her cool new neighbour, Olly, who is equally as intrigued by her as she is by him and his family. And as in most coming of age stories, we see her struggle with the thoughts of wanting to turn this friendship into something more.

This is how it's described on-line:
Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love."

It is definitely a book about first love and teenage angst, but has serious underlying themes that come to the surface, such as grief, isolation, alcoholism and illness. It also highlights the fragile but very important relationship between a teenage girl and her mother, and whether you have a life-threatening condition or not, you will definitely be able to relate to the feeling of needing independence and your own space.

I also love the fact that Maddie is half African-American and half Japanese; I haven't come across any other YA novels where the protagonist is a woman of colour so this is something I'd love to see more.

Everything, Everything had me hooked, I couldn't put it down so it was a fairly quick read for me. However, I do wish it was longer and more detailed particularly towards the end of the book. There was so much more I wanted to know about Maddie, Olly and certain twists in the storyline that I felt the second half of the book lacked slightly in the 'feelings' department than the first. But in no way was I disappointed with the book, I just wanted more!

If you've read this I'd love to know your thoughts, and if you have any good YA recommendations, particularly ones with diverse characters please leave a comment!