The Blushing Notes Project & Free Digital Notebook!

Hello and welcome to my little space online! I just recently shared a post about losing motivation and getting it back, where I promised that my next post would be sharing a free digital download for my blog readers. And that is exactly what I'll be doing at the end of this post. 

Late last year I got into digital planning and notetaking. I've found it to be of great use for me, especially at uni. I'm someone who likes to handwrite my notes instead of type but I found that I was using so much paper. Switching to digital notetaking has been the best move I did for uni. Although I love using digital notebooks, my favourite thing is actually creating them! So that's the main point of my post today, to share with you my new project of digital planning. I already shared a few digital products on my blog a few months ago but when I started that little corner on Etsy I didn't really know what I was doing and wanted to do a whole rebrand. 

So my new project is called The Blushing Notes. You can follow me on Instagram at theblushingnotes for pretty digital products as well as study notes, and also find me on Etsy

And now for the exciting freebie, I have created a free digital notebook in blush. Before you download it's important you understand that this is a free template to use on the app GoodNotes. The download does NOT include the app itself. I recommend you download the notebook on a laptop then import it onto your ipad (I usually either airdrop it of email it to myself). Get your free Blush Digital Notebook here.




Losing Motivation and Trying to Get it Back

Hello and welcome to my little space online! For a long time now I've been feeling a little bit lost and unmotivated with my blog. Several of my last posts were written during bursts of motivation, which were few and far between. There have been so many times where I've written out a list of blog post ideas, started writing or photographing for fresh content. However, I found that I just didn't have the energy to actually commit to my ideas. I've been very focused on trying to balance work, uni and enjoying a healthy and happy life. I've noticed that since dealing with chronic pain, all my energy has gone into getting myself through each day doing things I need to get done (work and uni), and then trying to build enough energy to socialise as well. This means that I often don't have much energy left for things I used to really enjoy such as reading, writing, being creative whether it is filming or photographing. Once again, I have been trying to force myself to do things I used to enjoy including blogging. I don't know if it's just me, but I feel like people don't blog anymore, at least not in the same way. My absolute favourite thing about blogging was the community and engaging with different bloggers and readers.

When I first began my blog back in 2014, I focused the majority of my content on beauty related topics ranging from hair to makeup to skincare. I then began incorporating some more lifestyle related content, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing. In 2015 I developed a condition called NDPH (New Daily Persistent Headache) and I decided to share my journey of that on this blog. Unfortunately, I'm still living with NDPH and it definitely has a huge impact on my life. I have accepted that I will probably live with this for the rest of my life unless a treatment or cure comes out, but at the moment I'm focused to learning how to live a healthy and happy life alongside chronic pain. 

BUT, I am always craving a creative outlet, and for me, it has generally been through my blog. Another hobby I picked up this year was digital planning and notetaking. I did share a couple of posts about it on my blog and I think I'll start sharing more. My next post will be a free digital notebook to use on the app Goodnotes that you can download. I'm super excited to share it with you! 

I'm very keen to get back into blogging so if you have your own blog or a blog you love to read please leave the link in the comment section. I'd also love to know what your favourite types of posts to read are and your least favourites! Some of my interests include skincare, body care, organising/ decluttering, personality types, amongst a few other things. 

My Morning Skincare Routine ♥︎


Good morning lovelies, today I felt motivated to write a blog post all about my morning skincare routine. I don't know exactly why, but there's something about reading other people's routines that I find both calming and interesting, whether it be related to skin, makeup, hair, workout, health etc. I've always wanted to write my own personal routines but because I struggled so much with my skin I avoided sharing my skincare routine until I found one that was actually working for me. I won't go too much into my skin history because it would be quite long, but put briefly I did struggle with moderate acne in high school and for a couple of years afterwards too. I tried all sorts of products, food elimination, food incorporation and whatever DIY / alternative ideas I could find. Although I can't pinpoint one particular product or habit that has cleared my skin, I did finally manage to get to a point where my skin is almost clear. I still get a couple of breakouts on my chin and sometimes forehead, but my main concern now is the scarring that was unfortunately left behind. I am in the process of getting skin needling done to help with the pitted scars. My current skincare routine is quite stripped back in comparison to what it was in the past. But I'm still doing more than simply splashing water on my face (something I did try at some point). So here is my simple, daily morning skincare routine.

Step 1: Cleanse

The first thing I do in the morning is hop in the shower and this is usually where I cleanse my face. The cleanser I have been using every day is the Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel. I don't know exactly how long I've been using this but I know it's been more than 6 months. This cleanser is targeted towards sensitive, oily, blemish-prone skin. It claims to be 'cleansing, mattifying and soothing,' and I totally agree that it is. I find that after cleansing my face (using my hands, not a face brush) and gently patting it dry, my skin feels exactly that, cleansed, matte and soothed. It is not at all stripping or drying for me, and this is important because even though I am oily on my forehead and chin, my cheeks and nose are super dry. I am currently on my second bottle and I have nothing but positive things to say. Even the scent is lovely, very subtle but relaxing. Avène products are also formulated with 'Avène thermal spring water' which is just a little interesting thing I came across when I was researching their brand.

Step 2: Moisturise

The next step in my morning skincare routine is to apply a moisturiser. I know some people say that using a toner is essential but I have to disagree. If using a toner in routine works for you then absolutely keep using it. But for me, cutting out that toner step seems to have made a positive difference. Onto the actual moisturiser, this is one of those products that I tend to change up. Simply because I am trying to use up all my moisturisers so once I finish one I move onto the next one. Up until recently, I was using the Simple Spotless Skin Anti-Blemish Moisturiser. I really liked this moisturiser and had actually been using it on and off for a while. I felt that in combination with other products and certain lifestyle habits, this product helped to keep my skin clear. Personally, I quite like the Simple brand, their products are generally good and affordable. 

Recently I've been alternating between the Avène Cleanance Mat Mattifying Emulsion and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. I've only been using the Avène Mattifying Emulsion for maybe two months and so far I think it is a good product. Though I would only get it on sale on my current budget because it's not the cheapest (nor is it the priciest) and the tube is a bit small. The product claims to regulate the hyperproduction of sebum and claims to be both mattifying and hydrating. I actually find it to be a good balance for my skin even with my dry cheeks. Overall, I definitely am pleased with this product. The formula is not thick or runny and sinks in very nicely. I love how it feels on my skin, as it doesn't leave my skin feeling dry or sticky. It's got a very 'comfortable' feel. 

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is a product that I have repurchased several times. I actually have a post on it from a while back which I will link here. Firstly, I absolutely love the texture of this product, it's super smooth and feels almost cooling when I apply it on my skin. I feel like it just glides on. The only thing is that sometimes it stings under my eyes. I like the scent as it is fresh and subtle. Overall, a product I definitely like incorporating into my daily morning skincare routine.

Step 3: SPF

Now step 3 is actually my final step! If I'm entirely honest, I never used any sunscreen or SPF on my skin unless I was going to the beach. I don't particularly like the feeling of sunscreen and most of them broke out my face anyway. But after I started skin needling several months ago, I was told that SPF would be essential in not damaging my skin. I was recommended two different ones, one from Neutrogena and another one that I honestly cannot remember. But I ended up purchasing the recommended Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Clear Face Sunscreen Liquid Lotion (what a long name). Due to my previous dislike for sunscreen on my face, I initially thought that I'd just use this for the week after my skin needling appointment and then not again until the next one. But I ended up really liking this product. I've been using it every day as a staple in my routine. It's SPF 30, oil-free, non-comedogenic and suitable for breakout prone skin! Obviously, as someone who hasn't had the best of luck with skin, I am always nervous about applying new things to my face. Sunscreen was especially not my friend when it came to the skin on my face. But I have finally found an SPF that does not break me out and I'm ridiculously happy about it.

This is my everyday morning skincare routine. My evening skincare routine and my 'Self-care Sunday' skincare routine are a bit different. This routine seems to be working very well for my skin and I'm glad my skin has finally calmed down (for the most part). I'd love to know your skincare routines, let me know what you use in the comments below or feel free to leave a link if you've already written a post on it!

Laos!

Saibaidee! Meaning 'hello' in Laos, a beautiful country where I had the most amazing experience for two weeks. In early January I travelled to Laos on a volunteer program. During week one we volunteered at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Sayaboury as well as a local primary school. In week two we enjoyed experiencing the Lao culture and participating in many fun activities. There's so much to write about, though I'm more excited to share the photos! So in this post, I really wanted to share with you the highlights of my trip.

Day 1 and 2

On the first two nights, we stayed at a hostel in the capital city, Vientiane. This was an experience within itself for me as I'd never stayed at a hostel before. I was honestly a bit nervous about sharing a dorm with strangers (as in people who were not on the program) but I had a lovely group of girls with me which helped me feel more comfortable. Staying in a hostel was a new experience but definitely a positive one! The first two days we pretty much had the entire time to ourselves with no planned activities. So a group of us decided to visit Buddha Park, a sculpture park with many religious statues (I believe it was a mix of Buddhism and Hinduism). Some of them we were able to walk up, and I cannot even describe how steep the stairs were!





After we arrived back from Buddha park, me and three other girls, who I ended up becoming good friends with, decided on getting lunch and a Lao style massage. The massage experience was quite interesting and fun. Massages seemed to be a recurring theme on this trip as they were super cheap and really good. After that, we went to a little local restaurant and had a yummy lunch. We caught a tuk-tuk on the way back to the hostel, which was funny because we had a language barrier and the driver went the wrong way. He ended up calling someone else on the phone so that one of the girls could describe to them where we were staying. Definitely a fun and eventful first day!




Elephant Conservation Centre

For the next several days we stayed at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Sayaboury. My bed was so hard I got a bruise on my hip but I didn't even mind because the entire experience at the centre was just incredible! We had to catch this platform type boat to get there. The centre was situated right by the water and backed into the jungle.

What I love about the elephant conservation centre is that it is not 'tourist' focused. The elephants are in their natural environment and there is no elephant riding or logging at this centre. I am very glad that I was able to volunteer at such a wonderful place.

The first day my group was working on building part of the conservation centre. We had to hike through the jungle to get to our digging area. The hike there was far more intense than I expected but I still enjoyed it. Although the volunteering days were fun, the absolute highlight for me was when we got to see the elephants up close. Our group was lucky enough to witness the 3 and 5-year-old playing together, they were just too cute! Later on, we were able to walk with the elephants and the mahouts. When I felt the elephant it was hairy, which I was not expecting. I thought they would feel like rough skin but they actually have a fair bit of hair!







Free Week

During the free week, we went to see temples, caves and my absolute favourite, Kuang Si Falls. It was the most beautiful waterfall. We also enjoyed walking through markets, learning about Lao silk, going kayaking and tubing. I did feel a panic coming in the caves so I didn't enjoy that as much as I would have liked to. The idea was exciting but to be honest, I couldn't wait to get out, it was ridiculously hard to breath in there!























Towards the end, we enjoyed a fun pizza pool party and all of a sudden I found myself sitting on the plane and on my way back home. There were so many things we got to experience but I wanted to share my favourite moments and photos rather than write about every detail. The moments that I enjoyed most were the definitely the elephants and the waterfall. I also met some of the most amazing people on this trip and was lucky enough to make some great friends out of it. I'd definitely go back to Laos someday!




See you in my next post!

New Digital Monthly Planner 'The Laura' ♡

Hello, lovelies! In my most recent post, I announced my brand new Etsy store, PrettyPlanning. I talked about how I ended up in the world of digital planning in that post so if you'd like to read it you can do so here. I only had one digital notebook released when I first opened, which is the Peach Digital Notebook. I decided to release the same notebook in Pastel Blue for variety. 

Today I just shared my first digital planner and I really love how it turned out! I put lots of time and effort into this planner and made sure to include features that I would like to use personally. I decided to name this planner 'The Laura' as it was inspired by my co-worker and friend who loves planning and all things pink!

I wanted to give my lovely blog readers a special discount, use the code LOVELY25 for 25% off 'The Laura' planner!

❤︎ ABOUT THIS PLANNER 

- Monthly layout.
- Includes a home page with year overview, as well as two buttons that link to a spare lined and blank page (can be duplicated so you never run out of pages).
- Clickable tabs.
- To-do list.
- Habit tracker.
- Notes section.
- Blank section for drawing, creativity.
- Contains home button at bottom of every page for easy navigation back to the main page.




Important: This is a digital product that requires the app GoodNotes or a PDF reader similar. I recommend GoodNotes because it allows for the clickable tabs to function properly. If you own the Ipad Stylus you can handwrite in this, or if you prefer typing you can use the text function. 

I've been having the best time creating and designing these digital notebooks/ planners. My blog will still stay beauty/ lifestyle related but every now and then I will share some digital planning items!

Hope you enjoyed this post and don't forget to use the code LOVELY25 for 25% off 'The Laura' planner!

Digital Notebooks + Etsy!

Hello lovelies! For the longest time, I've been browsing through the app store trying to find something that I can use as a notebook for lists I like to write. I've tried so many and I just haven't loved any of them. It may sound like a minor issue but I don't like the layout or aesthetic of any of the ones I have tried. Some people may not be bothered by how an app layout looks and that's totally okay, but I find that the nicer an app looks (of course functionality is most important) the more likely I am to actually use it.  Not long ago I stumbled across 'digital planners,' which really interested me.  

Personally, I am not someone who plans my day to day activities as I like to be flexible and I generally don't forget things I need to do. The only things I tend to write down in a calendar planner are my work shifts and appointments if they're scheduled in advance. If my appointment is the next day or the same day I won't bother writing it down. But I know so many people who like to bullet journal and plan things out. I also realise that a lot of people are starting to take notes on Ipads and phones. I wanted to see if I was able to make a digital planner for myself and I did! I really enjoyed the process or creating and designing it so I decided to play around with different types of planners and notebooks. 

I thought it would fun to make a simple digital notebook for my blog readers to download if interested as I just really wanted to share it with you. On my Ipad I am currently using the first digital planner I made which has different different spreads, though because I don't plan my day to day activies I only needed a monthly calendar instead of a weekly or daily. But you can find all sorts of planners online, including Etsy. I'm not able to share this one online because I have used items that are only for personal use. But like I mentioned earlier, I did create a digital notebook which does not contain any items requiring specific licenses and that one I have uploaded to my brand new Etsy store



A little bit about the notebook...

♥︎ The notebook comes with a front cover that has a blank space for you to put whatever title you like. 

♥︎  It includes five clickable tabs so you can organise your sections.

♥︎  I have included 5 lined pages per section but these can be duplicated so you never run out of pages!

♥︎ I've included a contents page colour coordinated with the tabs so you can name your sections (the coloured squares are also clickable and take you to that tab). This main contents page also includes three navigation tabs, To-do, Lined and Blank. To-do takes you to a 'to-do' list. Lined takes you to a blank lined page for you to duplicate. And Blank is simply a blank page with no lines, perfect if you like to mindmap and draw things out!

♥︎ Each tab has an individual contents page where you can list what is in that section.

♥︎ If you have the ipad stylus you can handwrite in this which I think is awesome! I didn't purchase the pen so I like to use the text option.

♥︎ This is also great for taking uni notes if you prefer to go digital. When it comes to uni I prefer pen and paper personally, but I love digital notebooks for other stuff especially list making.

If you haven't used a digital planner or notebook like this before I encourage you to do a quick search to make sure there's no misunderstanding as to what this product is. 

Most importantly this product requires Goodnotes or an app similar (feel free to try other apps but of the ones I've tried Goodnotes is the only app I find works, for example, the clickable tabs). 
This product is designed for the Ipad, I have tried it on my phone and this works too I just find my phone a bit small!

If you have any questions about how to use this notebook or if you don't understand something please leave a comment of you can email me at cherriesandperfume@gmail.com.

My Etsy store- PrettyPlanning


Smoothie Boosters!


Hey, lovelies! If you've read some of my older blog posts you may or may not already know that I am a massive fan of smoothies. Particularly, when I can get creative with them by adding different ingredients to different bases (I normally use bananas as my base). Sometimes I get a bit too carried away or just don't put the right ratio and end up with an odd tasting smoothie. But most of the time it ends up delicious and that's why I love to play around with adding different things to my smoothies!

I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I was contacted by F4U (Formulated For You), a health food company based in Gold Coast, Australia, to try out their products. I was kindly sent three powders from their smoothie booster range, which I was allowed to choose. The first thing I was super keen to try was their açai powder. I was also intrigued by their lucuma fruit powder as I’d actually never heard of it before. And lastly, I decided to try their cacao powder as I’ve tried numerous in the past, some of which I really liked and some which I did not.


F4U Cacao Powder
I thought I would start with my favourite one, their cacao powder. As I mentioned, I’ve tried numerous cacao powders before, some I liked and others not so much. This one definitely falls into the 'I like' category. I've read that cacao powder has numerous benefits such as being a good source of macronutrients and antioxidants. The F4U cacao powder is organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and 100% pure.

Because I don't consume much refined sugar anymore (it makes me nauseous and breaks me out) I opt for cacao powder instead of sugary chocolate powder in my smoothies. When I first made the switch a long time ago I remember putting in the same amount of cacao powder into my smoothie as I would with regular chocolate, what a bitter smoothie that was! Pure cacao powder that doesn't have any sweeteners or additives, such as this F4U one, will obviously be more bitter. I was already familiar with the ratio this time thank goodness, and honestly, I think this may be my favourite cacao powder that I've tried. I found it to be more creamy in my smoothies than other cacao powders and no bitter aftertaste. I'm sure if I did the same mistake I did the first time it would be bitter, but with the appropriate amount, I really loved the texture and flavour of this one.

I thought I would share my current favourite nice-cream recipe in this post too. Now I promise this tastes better than it looks, but it was so hot and humid this day that the nice-cream melted during the photo taking process haha! I make this recipe both as a smoothie or nice-cream depending on what I feel like, just add or reduce the liquid to adjust the texture.


Ingredients:
♥︎ 1 x frozen banana (cut it up before freezing so it's easier to blend).
♥︎ 1 x tbsp peanut butter (I like the smooth one).
♥︎ 1/2 x tbsp cacao powder.
♥︎ Nuts, seeds or granola of your choice. I personally love buckinis, I think of them as healthy popping candy!
♥︎ Unsweetened almond milk (or liquid of your choice). Adjust amount depending on the texture you want. If I'm feeling a nice-cream I'll pour a bit less than half the amount of milk to the amount of banana if that makes sense.

Method:
1. Blend it up.
2. Pour into a bowl or cup.
3. Sprinkle some nuts or other toppings.
4. Enjoy!


F4U Acai Powder
The acai powder was the product I was most excited to try. Acai is known to be a rich source of antioxidants and I've read that it's good for skin health, which is a focus of mine always. The F4U acai powder is actually freeze dried from the acai berry juice rather than the berry itself, and there's no sweeteners or additives. This acai powder is also organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and 100% pure.

Since receiving my smoothie boosters in the mail I've been having a lot of fun creating different recipes and seeing how I like to use them. The first one I made with this was a simple banana and almond milk smoothie with a teaspoon of acai powder. I was a bit surprised at the flavour as it was not what I was expecting. I found the taste of the acai to be quite strong and not to my personal liking. Throughout the week I kept creating different combinations to see what worked for my taste palette using the acai powder. I ended up with a bit of a random smoothie combination but it actually helped dilute the taste! I used frozen mango, frozen banana, raspberries, almond milk, activated charcoal, a teaspoon of lucuma fruit powder (which I'm writing about next), and a small teaspoon of the acai powder.

I did need to use a lot of banana and mango with a little bit of acai powder to dilute the acai taste. It was still pretty noticeable but I definitely prefer this smoothie over the simple banana one. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this acai powder because the flavour was too strong. But if it's a flavour you like that isn't a bad thing.


F4U Lucuma Fruit Powder
I had never heard of lucuma fruit before looking through Formulated For You's products. I did a bit of research on lucuma fruit and found that it is a fruit native to Peru. I read that lucuma fruit is high in beta-carotene, vitamin B3, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium as well as other vitamins and minerals. It is described as having a 'slightly sweet, maple-like flavour.' Though I personally think it tastes a little bit like dried mango! I had never experimented with this kind of fruit in my smoothies before so I tried several combinations to see what I liked best. I found that this one tastes amazing in a simple mango smoothie. I pretty much tossed mango, ice, a bit of almond milk, a teaspoon of lucuma powder, and water into the blender. This was a very fresh and summery smoothie, which I really enjoyed particularly in this summer weather. Again, this product is also organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and 100% pure.

Out of the smoothie boosters that I tried my favourite was definitely their cacao powder. It is so smooth and doesn't have that bitter aftertaste (unless you put too much) so I will continue to use this regularly. I genuinely would recommend F4U's cacao powder. The acai powder, however, I personally did not enjoy taste-wise. I will pass this one on to a friend who may like the flavour more than me. Lastly, the lucuma powder was quite interesting and new to me. I will keep this powder and continue to experiment. It may sound odd but I actually think it would work in certain curries!

Thank you for reading my post, I hope you enjoyed it!