What I’ve learned from six months of blogging

IT’S been a big six months!
When I first started this little spot on the internet, I had no idea how much I would love it.
While I put off starting this for months longer than I should have, I was really glad when I finally did.
It’s been a massive learning curve though! Here are some of the things I picked up on during the past six months.

What I've learned in six months of blogging | Extraordinary Days blog

It’s been a whirlwind ride!

Everything takes time:
From brainstorming ideas to writing posts, taking photos and putting posts together, blogging is a time-consuming process.
That doesn’t even take into account all the time you’ll spend on your blog’s Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin and Pinterest pages to promote your blog!
This is something I really didn’t expect when I started this blog. It’s a labour of love but it takes a while to put everything together!

You have to be organised:
It just won’t work if you aren’t.
I have to fit in a full-time job, about two and a half hours per day commuting, seeing friends and sleep. It can be done but it isn’t easy.
When I started writing this post I was on a plane, watching Captain America – you just learn to fit in blog activities with your schedule.
For example, I get my lovely family and friends to take outfit photos before events and I’ll take a range of photos in advance so they’re ready to use whenever I need them.

Other people are so inspiring:
There are so many people out there creating amazing content.
Whether they’ve been blogging for a few years or a few months, there are a lot of really cool people on the Internet!
Twitter and Bloglovin are the ways I use most to find new blogs. (Check out my Twitter feed here, I’m always retweeting awesome content from wicked bloggers I find!)

Don’t expect people to interact with your blog if you don’t do it with anyone else’s:
Your blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Unfortunately there are people out there that think just promoting their own content is enough – but interacting with others is an awesome part of the blogger community!
The best way to do this is read, read and read some more! And if you like what you’ve read, let the author know!
Joining a Twitter chat is also a great way to meet new people and bounce ideas off each other. Check out these great list of blog chats I found here and here – so useful!)
We’re all in this together!

Sponsored posts are a very fine line to tread:
While there are bloggers out there who can pull of doing a sponsored post (they’ve usually been doing it for a while and have a great reputation), it’s not for everyone.
I find it frustrating that so many new bloggers say yes to everything that gets sent to them.
Most of the time I have no idea if that’s what they actually think about a product or it’s what they want the company to read.
Building up a strong reputation first is important so people know they can trust you.

Some days you just don’t be feeling it:
Blog burnout is real.
There are times where you won’t want to even look at your computer screen, let alone create and promote posts. I went through a really stressful time last month (which helped me create this post about awesome ways to tackle stress)
On days like this, it’s OKAY to take a break, switch off for a day and do something you enjoy.
You’ll feel better in the long run and come back refreshed.

Have fun and do it because you love it:
There are a lot of people who give blogging a go and just don’t love it as much as others.
But for those who stick around, it’s because they absolutely love what they do.
It’s your little space on the Internet, do with it what you will!

I’m looking forward to another big six months!
I can’t thank you enough for reading this blog, whether you’ve been around from the start or whether this is your first visit.
Without you, this would be much more like shouting into the void and I love sharing my life and experiences in this way.

Do you have a blog? What have you learned? (Also, make sure to post a link to your blog so I can check it out!)

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Time for tea!

OH HOW I love tea!
I’ve never been a coffee drinker and while until recently my morning beverage of choice was a Red Bull, I’ve always enjoyed a cuppa throughout the day, especially in the cooler weather.
But as I’ve been making the switch to finally having less caffeine (like I’ve been saying I would for years), tea has become an even better friend so I wanted to share my favourite brews with you.

Time for tea - my favourite blends | Extraordinary Days blog

Time for a cuppa!

T2 Melbourne Breakfast:

This English breakfast-type tea is my favourite to have with milk. It’s got hints of vanilla which gives it a really sweet taste. Predictably, it’s much better than T2’s Perth Breakfast, which is more like an earl grey. Perfect with morning or afternoon tea or after dinner if you’re not up to dessert. At the moment I’m using loose leaves with a T2 mesh ball.


Red Seal Relaxing Tea:

Red seal relaxing tea | Extraordinary Days blog

Great for nerves.

This caffeine-free herbal tea has been a massive lifesaver in recent times. I found it in a health food store while I was looking for something to help me de-stress! (For other excellent ways to calm down when things get rough, check out this other post I wrote.)

The tea has passion flower, strawberry leaf, valerian and, my personal favourite, catnip. I know valerian root tablets work for me when I’m having trouble sleeping so I think that’s the ingredient that has the biggest impact for me, but not so much that it makes me drowsy at work. I’d definitely recommend this one!


Twinings Herbal Infusions Pure Peppermint:

Twinings peppermint tea | Extraordinary Days blog

Fresh breath is a plus.

Lately I’ve been turning to peppermint tea after big meals as it’s supposed to help with digestion. This light Twinings blend also leaves me with a tingly mouth and fresh breath, bonus! No milk needed for this one.

 

Planet Organic Female Balance Herbal Tea:

Planet Organic Female Balance Tea | Extraordinary Days blog

Worth a try!

I picked up this tea when I was searching for something to help out with my skin, which was completely breaking out! I’m not sure of how much a difference this one makes but it’s worth a try if you’re searching for another way to help your skin. It has liquorice root, sage leaf, nettle leaf, chamomile flowers and lemongrass.

And with all this tea, you’re going to need some cute things to drink it out of!
This lovely Kikki K set was a birthday gift from two even lovelier friends of mine, Helen and Kerrie. (But you can get a similar set of your own here and here!)

Kikki K teapot and cup set | Extraordinary Days blog

Such a cute little set!

Kikki K tea cup set | Extraordinary Days blog

Live bright. Be you.

Sammy | Extraordinary Days blog

My little photoshoot helper, Sammy.

Are you a tea fan? What are your favourite types?

 

What to do when you’re completely stressed out!

What to do when you're completely stressed out | Extraordinary Days blog

STRESS. It comes and goes but some times are worse than others.
When I mentioned that April had been a really crazy month for me in this post,  I was describing it lightly.
There were some intense problems at work and I took on some extra freelance writing as well and it was way too much!
Why I thought I could fit in hours of extra work on top of my full-time job, commuting for almost three hours each day and keeping this blog going, I have no idea.
I was exhausted, more stressed than I’ve ever been, irritable, unable to enjoy anything and I couldn’t make any headway in my work.
Luckily, things have calmed down a lot more now. At the very least it was a great learning experience and I am now more familiar with what my limits are.
But how do you know when you’re at that point?

I’m not an expert but these are some of the things I picked up on:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constant worrying
  • Feeling tense, or having lots of pent-up energy
  • Feeling guilty about time spend relaxing or not working
  • Irritability or feeling constantly close to tears


How to fix it:

  • Make a list of what’s bothering you and possible solutions. This may help you figure out what problems you can tackle first and which ones will require more work to solve.
  • Sleep more. You’re never your best self when you’re tired so getting some shut eye might help you keep calm.
  • Eat healthy meals and eat enough. Look, I’m not the healthiest person but I know I get agitated when I’m hungry so making sure you eat is important. Making it something healthy is going to help because you need good fuel to run that body of yours.
  • Up your vitamin intake. To help counteract all the stress you’re is dealing with, vitamin B can be a great stress-reliever and echinacea, garlic, zinc and vitamin C will increase your immune system’s ability to cope with any bugs.

    What to do when you're completely stressed out | Extraordinary Days blog

    Vitamin B and echinacea, garlic, zinc and vitamin C.

  • Talk it over with someone you trust. Sharing what you’re going through with someone you can rely on can help you get your head around what’s bothering you and they may be able to help you brainstorm ideas for ways to help. At the very least, it will get it off your chest. A problem shared is a problem halved, right?
  • Get moving. I absolutely cannot recommend this more. When I’m feeling wound up and anxious, getting rid of that excess adrenaline makes a huge difference. It can be as simple as a brisk walk around the block. I’ve also started walking regularly  and I feel so much better for it.
  • Try a herbal remedy. Okay, part of me doesn’t want to believe that herbs and flowers can help calm you down, but it’s worked for me. Valerian root can help you sleep (but may cause nightmares in some people, just as a heads up) and I found it in a tea that really helped calm me down. Rescue Remedy has been a staple in my purse for years and lately I’ve also been using Brauer Calm tablets (a homeopathic remedy for stress) and Tinderbox lavender balm (which is a calming, soothing scent and Tinderbox is a Western Australian-made brand, too!). Whether the placebo effect has made a difference in my case remains to be seen, but I figured that if it could help, I was going to give it as try.
Natural stress relievers | Extraordinary Days blog

Rescue Remedy spray, Brauer Calm tablets and Tinderbox Lavender Balm.

  • Try yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. Focussing on your breath can assist in calming the mind and stretching can get rid of any tension you’ve built up in your muscle. I wrote another post about how yoga apps are totally awesome!
  • Get colouring. It’s not just for kids any more! Heaps of adults are now spending their down-time colouring in. My lovely friend Lisha gave me Creative Therapy – an anti-stress colouring book for my birthday and it’s great! The monotonous activity is surprisingly soothing.

    Colouring books for adults | Extraordinary Days

    This is a great way to spend some time out!

  • Allow yourself some time every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes, to do something you enjoy. This can be as easy as reading a book, looking at cat videos or painting your nails.
  • Take regular breaks. I wrote another post about why it’s so important to take your lunch break. You deserve it!
  • Get some help from the experts. If you’re in a rough spot and really struggling, talking to your GP or another mental health professional about what you’re going through, or getting some more information from places like beyondblue or Lifeline should be your next step.

Hopefully with these tips you can help get rid of some of the tension in your life.
What are your go-to ways to relieve stress? Let me know in the comments!

Sneaker heels and aviator sunglasses

A FEW years ago I would have said these shoes were hideous and impractical, but somehow they’ve won me over.
I wore this outfit on my birthday on the 16th – how was that already over a week ago?
This month has been insane and has gone so quickly.
It was the first time I wasn’t able to get the day off on my birthday but I am lucky enough to have lovely colleagues who made my day great!

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

Just caught the last of the sunshine!

I picked up the sneaker heels in Valley Girl on one of my last trips to Melbourne and they fast became my favourite shoes to travel in.
I like the relaxed vibe they give to this outfit and I know they’ll give my boots a run for their money this winter.

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

The perfect outfit for a lazy day running errands or going to lunch.

And how great are the glasses?! I’ve been eyeing off reflective sunnies for ages but I just can’t pull off the completely round frames that every off-duty model seems to be sporting these days.
So when I spotted this aviator-style pair in Cotton On (during a strictly guilt-free birthday shopping trip on my birthday) I knew I needed them in my life!
These Jay Jays jeans are good, sturdy staples that have lasted for ages even though they were cheap.
When it comes to jeans I’m really not fussy – I’ve worn more expensive ones and they give just the same as cheap version.

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

These heels are surprisingly comfortable.

I picked up the top from a clothes swap event so I have no idea what brand it is! I love how it’s light and the shape the cuffed sleeves gives it.
On my wrist is my Fitbit – a lovely birthday gift from Michael – and it’s helping me keep track of all the running around I do. With a shirt this shiny I really didn’t feel the need for any more jewellery.
The lipstick is MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus – it’s such an awesome shade of pink! (Watch this space for a separate review of it soon.)
And last but not least, a simple black bag brings the whole thing together!

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

This lipstick is MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus.

What do you think of sneaker heels? Would you give them a try?

Why you should take a lunch break today

Taking a lunch break is far more important than you think | Extraordinary Days

It’s time to make a change! (Picture: supplied)

SOME things you’ve got to learn from experience.

A year ago I would never have thought something as small as taking a break every day at work could actually make a difference to my mood and mental health.

I would eat at my desk every day, never stopping to enjoy what I was having and never switching out of work mode.

I was always trying to fit more into my work hours and if I, god forbid, did stop for a rest I was always filled with guilt that I wasn’t making the most of absolutely every minute of my day.

It’s not until I went on leave recently that I realised just how important it is to actually take a break.

I’ve got a fairly stressful job and I’d pretty much run myself into the ground by the time I went on holidays.

You’re allocated that hour (or half hour) every working day, so why not take it?

It helps break up your day:

Feeling flat? Are the hours dragging by? That lunch break is yours to fill with whatever you like and at the end, you’re an hour closer to home time!

Okay, sometimes you end up more sleepy than when you started but getting some fresh air can help with that, even if it’s just a stroll around the block or stretching your legs for a few minutes.

It can give you a bit of peace:

Getting off the computer (or at least closing your work tabs) gives your brain a chance to have a break and, nine times out of ten, you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.

This is especially useful when you’ve got to tackle an important task or something that needs a fresh set of eyes.

I love taking a bit of time to catch up on my Twitter feed or see what other awesome creators are posting on Bloglovin! Bringing in a book to read or watching an episode of a TV series is also a great option.

It gives you a chance to get things done:

Have you been waiting all week to send an important email or buy event tickets? This is your chance.

I work over an hour away from home so my evenings are pretty limited but having a break during the day gives me a chance to feel like I’m not working 24/7.

Taking the time to tick one important thing off your list is incredibly satisfying.

It can help lower you stress levels:

If your poor brain is constantly working overtime, it’s not going to be functioning at its best.

Stress and anxiety build up over time and can cloud your thinking processes. At the very least, you feel like crap.

Making a habit out of taking a while each day to focus on doing something that makes you happy is a great step to take towards improving your mental health.

To be fair, there are some days where taking a chunk of time away from work in the middle of the day isn’t possible, but making the effort most days can be incredible.

Take some time out – you deserve it!

 

Do you take a lunch break? Or do you wish you did?

Second Liebster Award!

HERE we go again!
I was lucky enough to be nominated by the lovely Chanelle from Chanelle Hayley.
If you’re not familiar with this award it’s a great way to find awesome new bloggers and support each other, while learning a little bit more about the person behind the blog!
(I only just ticked over to 200 followers on my Bloglovin page but I still wanted to answer these questions!)

The rules:
– Link back the person who nominated you.
– Answer the questions they put to you.
– Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
– Create 11 questions the nominees can answer.
– Notify your nominees via social media or their blogs.

Without further ado, here are my answers to Chantelle’s questions!

What was the last book you read?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Biology, evolution and the history of mankind really fascinate me (I actually did a few biology units at university for fun in my first year) and this book covers everything from the start of our universe to the evolution of modern humans and right up to where we began to dominate the planet. A fascinating read and it’s written in a way anyone can understand.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
I have so many places in mind! Paris, Venice, London, Santorini… They all have rich histories I could spend years uncovering and visiting them once is just not enough! (If you’re dreaming of Paris like I constantly am, I wrote a list of 10 awesome things to do in the city of love.)

Favourite item of clothing?
This is a tricky one. It would depend on my mood on the day but probably something either covered in sequins, fluoro pink (like this amazing skirt OOTD) or shiny and metallic!

What motivates you? (Blogging, daily life etc.)
I love setting both short-term and long-term goals for things I really want. By keeping what I’m working towards in mind, this helps me take those first steps and continue on when things get tough. (If you want a bit more of a sticky beak into my goals for this year, I wrote a post on them.)

A fact about your personality?
I can be quite competitive! Sometimes I let this get the better of me when I feel like I can’t be as good as someone (incredible, successful bloggers for example) but I’m trying to turn this into my best asset and compete against my past self instead.

Your idea of a perfect date?
A warm evening, a few drinks, an amazing dinner and strolling around hand-in-hand with my lovely boyfriend. Possibly followed by ice cream!

What did your last text message say?
“Ok” – it was from the aforementioned lovely boyfriend. He’s not one to mince words!

Three of your holy grail beauty products?
These are all ones I’ve featured on this blog – I always love sharing my absolute favourite products with you!
– Lime Crime Unicorn Lipstick in Centrifuschia
– Nutrimetics Moisturising System (this SAVED my dry, irrated, eczema-raged skin!)
– Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (no more scrubbing to remove my make up!)

What nail colour are you wearing right now?
I’ve got light pink glue-on fake nails at the moment! I bought them from a discount store for THREE DOLLARS – making them so much cheaper than acrylics! (If you want to see how I make these look like a $50 set of nails, let me know in the comments!)

Do you have a favourite smell?
Probably some rich, masculine scent – I could breathe that in all day! Nurtimetics has this incredible cologne for men that I got for my boyfriend for Christmas.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
There are so many things I could mention! In five years I want to have a house, be married and be preparing to head back to Europe for another holiday. I see my blog being stronger than ever and myself being in a job where I can utilise my creativity and writing skills. (A magazine would be ideal!)

And that’s me done!
Now I nominate the following blogs:
1. So About What I Said…
2.A Blog for Amy
3. Re[Styled]
4. Almost Apricot
5. Little Grey Box
6. MarahCAR
7. Leather & Lipstick
8. Bubbly Beauty
9. Blame it on the Rain Beauty
10. Juliette Stephenson
11. Eleanormae

My questions are as follows:
1. What is the best holiday you’ve ever been on and why?
2. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
3. What is your favourite song?
4. If you could pick any celebrity, blogger or well-known person to be your best friend, who would you pick and why?
5. Is there a television series you can’t get enough of right now?
6. Who or what inspires your blogging?
7. What time of day do you create the best content for your blog?
8. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
9. What is your favourite social media? (Eg: Twitter, Instagram etc)
10. Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
11. What’s your drink of choice?

I can’t wait to see your answers! Good luck!

Ten things to make your trip to Paris unforgettable

I’VE been thinking a lot about Paris lately so I wanted to share some of the amazing things to do there, some photos and some tips!
It doesn’t matter if you’re only staying a few days or a few weeks – this list will help you check off the best things to do in this city.
In no particular order, here are my top things to do in the city of love.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Paris.

Get lost in the Louvre:
Although this is on most people’s list for Paris but it is possible to get away from the crowds in this massive complex.
When my boyfriend and I visited last June we ended up finding a beautiful quiet wing, which was infinitely better than pushing and shoving our way to see the Mona Lisa with the rest of the world.
This was mostly because we wandered in the wrong direction but it made for a perfect afternoon.
Make sure to book your tickets in advance though, especially during the height of the tourist season or you’ll be in for a long wait in the sun.

The Louvre | Extraordinary Days

Beautiful.

The Lourve | Extraordinary Days

The Louvre.

Walk as much as you can:
One of the best ways to see a city is to walk through it and Paris is no different.
Make sure to take a stroll along the Seine and look at the tiny book stalls that line the banks.
There’s something magical about walking along the river in the heart of Paris, especially in the evening.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

So many little streets to explore!

Pick a random place to eat:
I’ll say this for most of Europe – rather than agonising about where to eat, just pick the first decent place you see.
In my experience (especially in Paris), the food will be great and it’s more of an adventure.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

A beautiful place to be at night, too.

Go on a river cruise:
One of the best ways to see this beautiful city is from the water.
Many hour-long cruises leave from the port opposite the Eiffel Tower (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the city’s biggest attraction!) and have audio guides available in a range of languages.
This is a great way to learn more about the city’s rich history, it’s many bridges and some of its most important buildings and areas.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

The Seine!

Walk along the Champs Élysées:
This beautiful tree-lined streets gets about 50,000 visitors every day and it’s easy to see why.
All of the world’s biggest fashion brands have a spot there and there are plenty of more minor stores too.
With the Place de la Concorde at one end, you can great a great view of the Arc de Triomphe as you walk along this world-famous avenue.

Champs-Élysées Paris | Extraordinary Days

The Champs-Élysées is a busy street!

Climb the steps at Sacré-Cœur:
This one is not for the faint of heart!
Situated in Montmartre at the city’s highest point, this basilica makes for an amazing panoramic view across the whole of Paris.
Climbing the 270 steps up to it is not for everyone, so there is a funicular car for those who don’t feel up to the challenge.
Once at the top the interior of the basilica is open to the public, include the dome at the very top. (I’ve never been inside but it’s on my list!)

Sacré-Cœur, Paris | Extraordinary Days

Sacré-Cœur.

Go to Shakespeare and Company bookstore:
This tiny bookstore is almost hidden in a small street near the Notre Dame cathedral but it’s well worth seeking out.
Booklovers need to go here!
The shelves are packed full of a wide range of books and upstairs there is a reading area, perfect to while away some time in.
On the day I went with Michael there was a man playing something beautiful on a piano as a breeze came in through the open window – I actually thought I was in heaven.
If you’re buying a book don’t forget to ask for the attendant to stamp it with the Shakespeare and Company stamp before you leave.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Book lover heaven!

Go to the Pont des Arts (love lock bridge):
It’s a well-known tradition for people to visit this famous bridge, attach a lock and throw their key into the river (ensuring good luck and that their love will last).
However, in recent years the Parisian government has tried to make people aware that this tradition is also slowly destroying the bridge, as it cannot cope with the weight of thousands upon thousands of metal padlocks.
Just before I visited last June a section of the fencing along the bridge collapsed and fell into the river below because of the weight.
While that did mean there was a nice empty panel for Michael and I to put a lock on to when we arrived, I would think twice about this if I visited again because at the end of the day, I don’t want the city to take stronger measures to protect part of its history and take all of the locks away because the bridge is on the verge of collapse.
(As it was, when Mike and I were leaving the area we saw council workers with a ute tray FULL of locks pull up, ready to cut away bicycle chains full of locks that had been fastened to the bridge.)

Paris | Extraordinary Days

This section was quickly filled!

Take a day trip to the Palace of Versailles:
This is for those on a longer stay in this city and it was well worth a visit.
While our tour tickets cost about $100 Australian each, we got to travel from Paris in an airconditioned coach and have a guided tour throughout the palace and grounds.
A guided tour is something I’d definitely recommend as the guides know exactly what to point out in each room and the most important and entertaining information to give you.
I can only imagine what it would have been like in its prime!
As it was peak tourist season it was packed with people so anyone who is claustrophobic may want to give this a miss, or come at a quieter time of year.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Gates at Versailles

And last but not least, visit the Eiffel Tower.
This was a given and I’d be surprised to see a list of things to do in Paris that didn’t feature it.
This monument is truly worth a visit and if you don’t want to wait in line to climb up into it, spending time around the base is just as lovely.

2015/01/img_0168.jpg

Take me back!

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this list — I enjoyed writing it!
I can’t wait to book another trip back to this amazing city one day.

Do you have any things on your Parisian bucket list? Or something I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!