THANKFUL FOR 2015

I generally find writing quite easy. Once I'm in the zone - i.e sat in Starbucks with my 5th latte and headphones in to drown out the 50 million screaming babies - from the moment that I start tapping away, I don't really stop. (Bar a quick coffee sip and gluten free brownie bite obviously, #basicbitch). But I genuinely wasn't sure what I wanted to write about in today's post.

My natural instinct for the last post of 2015 would be a favourites, but I feel like I covered everything in my 2015 Beauty favourites and 15 amazing things in 2015 video. Yes there are favourite outfits, but let's be honest... that's what Instagram is for isn't it? Psst p.s we hit 10k followers on Christmas eve and as much as I hate myself for being a little bit excited about that... I just am. A little bit. Not gonna lie [insert monkey covering eye's emoji here].

Another thing that will no doubt pop up all over the blogosphere - yep, still want to punch myself in the face for using that term - is New year's resolutions and goals, but if there's one I've learnt from noting down my resolutions each year it's that a) I will never eat healthily (for a long enough time anyway) b) I will never exercise because I am a lazy cow and c) I will never stop putting pressure on myself to be the best I can be - and do the best that I can - and I think I've just accepted that that's OK. As a full time blogger and somebody that now relies solely upon myself to actually make a living, I find it near impossible to take a break and relax. Do I hope that in 2016 I'll spend less of my time totally stressed out and working every spare second of the day? Of course. Do I think that that will actually happen? Debatable. But maybe that's why things have actually worked out this year? (I'm aware that that could potentially sound self indulgent - which makes me want to punch myself in the face as much as the term blogosphere - but realistically, I think I'm just trying to justify to myself that nearly killing myself every single day is actually paying off.

So rather than set resolutions - I have a million and one personal goals (written in my new Kikki K notebooks obvs) but I want to keep them to myself for when I fail them - I thought I would list a few things that I'm really thankful for and a few hopes for 2016.

My family and friends 
For being my rocks, my best friends, for supporting me through everything and anything and making me cry with laughter on a daily basis. I could not do any of what I'm doing now without you by my side.

Being comfortable 
You only have to walk down the street in London to see a homeless person and despite not knowing their situation or how they ended up there, it will forever humble me and make me feel so incredibly grateful that I have a home, I'm comfortable and I'm surrounded with lovely, cosy things inside it. Not to mention the most amazing, supportive people inside it.

Health
My health is not only something that I rarely talk about, but also something that hasn't been amazing since I turned 15. It's been a pretty rough ride over the last 8 years and if I'm honest, things recently have been really tough. But I am so aware that there are millions of people out there that are so much worse off than me and right now, I'm just grateful that I can struggle through, do my job and get on with life (dosed up on all the drugs). One thing I did realise this year is that talking about things really bloody helps - I know, who'd have thought it? - I wrote about having coeliac disease here and to date it's still one of my most popular (and favourite) posts. I received so many comments and personal emails thanking me for opening up and saying that it helped them so much that it's definitely something I'd consider more of in the future because if I can help one person... well, that just blows my mind in all honesty.

Travel
This year I got to travel a little more. I saw Edinburgh which I absolutely adored and cannot wait to return again, and I also went to NYC for the first time. I have so much more that I'd love to - and will - say about NYC but I'm saving that for another time as I have a bit of a special video to come. But yes, I went to New York in February and had the time of my life (I also got engaged so you know, that helps too...) before returning last month and I can honestly say that that place will just forever have my heart. I am so thankful that I got to discover Manhattan twice and can't wait to do so more next year!

Blogging full time
Ahh, now this is a biggie. At the beginning of the year, I took a risk (for once in my life, The Granny next door, no more!) and decided not to go back into TV and try blogging full time for a couple of months. A couple of months turned into half a year and nearly a year later... it's just genuinely the best decision I've ever made. From the most incredible collaborations with brands that I've loved for years and years, to meeting and collaborating with bloggers and youtubers that are now great friends of mine and attending some fab events this year - The Gleam halloween party, Benefit Breakfasts, Fleur's makeup launch and just working with Jo Malone has been so wonderful let alone their beautiful events are just a tiny example - and for that, I can't thank you enough. Without you reading this little corner of the internet I really wouldn't be able to have done any of it.

You
You, yep, you right there reading this right now. I am so thankful for you. Every single comment on this blog, every single message/tweet/Instagram comment I receive, every time you even click on here to see what I've been up to ... I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart because as I said above, I wouldn't be able to do what I do without it. Besides the fact that it's a huge reason why I can blog as a job, every lovely comment has given my (non-existent) confidence levels such a boost and there have been so many times when I've felt like giving up on this - I think every full time blogger has this at least once a month - and your comments/love just make it so worth continuing on through the those times. So thank you, thank for everything!

Hopes for 2016!
  • To carry on working with incredible brands and grow this little space of the internet even further.
  • To spend much more time with friends and family (rather than holed up in my office with my head in my laptop)
  • To actually plan a little bit of my wedding rather than saying "ohhh, it'll wait" or thinking pinning 104858345 photo's is actually planning the wedding.
  • To stress less and enjoy every moment of life. Blogging and making this job work is obviously so important to me, but living life and enjoying every precious second is even more so. I want to work to live, not live to work.
  • To be happy. Ultimately - and most importantly - I just want to be happy.
Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I hope you have the most amazing New Year and are excited for a fresh start in 2016. Some changes are coming up for me and The Elle Next door - forever feeling like a total tit referring to my blog as if it's a person - over the next year so I really hope you'll come along for the ride with me.

Thanks so much for reading!

xx

GET READY WITH ME: THE PARTY EDITION

It's very, very rare that I actually "full on" dress up. You know, having a long lush bath followed by putting on that playlist that's going to get you in the mood to go raving with a glass of wine in hand. Maybe it's because I never ever go out and would much prefer Dominoes nights in with a Harry Potter marathon - which probably explains my use of the term "go raving" #TheGrannyNextDoor - but there's just something about Christmas and the festive season that gives me that little push to make a bit more of an effort. So with my ridiculously excessive Youtube subscription feed - vlogmas problems - ready to roll and a glass of red in hand, I started the - long and hard - mission of getting "Party ready".

And decided to photograph it/bribe (with Mince Pies and a Star Wars Cinema trip) my fiance into photographing the process for me. So here is my absolute go to Party wear Get ready with me. I really hope you enjoy...
Starting with the base, and for me there is absolutely no other option for a night out/party than Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation. With the most beautiful full - but totally natural - coverage that lasts for hours on the skin, plus the added bonus that it contains no SPF meaning it's perfect for Flash photography (and let's be honest, Instagram photo's), this is the perfect option for foundation which I genuinely couldn't recommend enough.
Once I've buffed my foundation in - I'd be a liar if I said I don't spend a good 5 minutes buffing it in - it's time to conceal the area's that the foundation couldn't cover. Now, despite Luminous silk being extremely high coverage, my eye bags are the colour of my soul my wardrobe, black. So this is where Mac Pro Longwear concealer comes in. This is one that's been raved about by so many bloggers but I just never really considered it. I highly, highly regret this decision now as it has quickly become one of my all time favourite base products. With industrial strength high coverage and wear time, this conceals (the majority of) my dark circles, completely eradicates redness and blemishes and once it sets, completely stays put until it's time for removal. An incredible concealer!
Once the concealer is locked into place, it's time to do the same for brows and my favourite product to tame my completely unruly brows is Benefit Gimme Brow. I have quite thick brows with just a few sparse areas so Gimme Brow in Light works perfectly to fill in those sparse areas and keep them in an arch shape, and not looking like they've had a fight with each other, flying off in all different directions.

Can we also just a give me a round of applause for the fact that I managed to talk about brows without using the phrase "On fleek"? [insert hand clapping emoji].
Eyeshadow is hands down one of my favourite makeup items. I love that there is just so much option, you can create such a huge variety of looks, and generally just completely change your look from day to night with a touch of a brush. Palette's are my ultimate favourite because they kinda take the guesswork out of makeup and my absolute favourite palette of late - which has somehow done the impossible of taking over from my Urban Decay Naked palette - is the Too Faced Chocolate Bon bons palette
An absolutely stunning mixture of wearable shimmer and matte neutrals, with a flash of colour in the form of a beautiful bright pink and grey teal colour. I started with Cafe Au lait all over the lid, blending Molasses Chip into the outer corner for a warmer, smokier effect. I then used Bordeux - the prettiest purple/brown matte colour - in the crease and underneath the eyes, really bringing the whole look together. Finally, adding the beautiful matte highlight in the form of Divinity to my brows and the stunning Satin sheets in the tear duct/inner corner to really make the eyes (are you ready for the most nauseating phrase in existence?)... pop!
No makeup look of mine is complete without a winged liner (which is never quite on fleek but let's just roll with it) and this is where the Make up Forever graphic liner comes in. A very opaque black ink that's ridiculously long lasting [insert hands up/hallelujah emoji here] but mostly, mostly it's just an absolute saviour for those just a little bit crappy with liner. I.e me!
To finish off the eyes, I'm going in with perfect duo (Brad and Angelina, who?) in the form of Benefit Roller Lash and Benefit They're Real. With Rollerlash providing the curl and length and They're real killing it in the volume and definition game, these two really are the perfect combo!
Eye's did - yes, I feel as nauseous using the term "did" as you do reading it - it's time to bronze up my extremely pasty face and to do this, I used Benefit Hoola. An absolutely beautiful, completely non-orange bronzer that works as the perfect contour/bronzer and applies seamlessly!
Time to make myself look even less like a corpse with a healthy dose of blush. My favourite bronzey, natural, healthy looking blush has to be Mac Warm Soul. A stunning colour that blends like a dream and immediately adds a natural flush to your face.
Blushed and bronzed, it's time to accentuate my non-existent cheekbones with the most gorgeous highlighter in the form of Benefit Mary-Lou Manizer. The most stunning highlight which is so finely milled but really packs a punch in the pigment department. This is definitely not a subtle glow so if that's what you're looking for, then maybe this isn't for you. But for a gorgeous, "going out" glow, this is easily my go to product.
Finishing off with the lips. Now, I know that big bold lips are a firm favourite for a lot of ladies when it comes to going out but for me, whether it's an everyday look or night time look, I would rather accentuate my eyes than my (already stupidly accentuated and Jay Z like) lips so I settled on my classic nude lip combo of the  Urban Decay Naked Lip liner and Urban Decay Naked Lipstick.
Time to set my 20inches of makeup in place and for that, I have been absolutely loving Bareminerals Perfecting veil. A gorgeous, finely milled and lightly pigmented powder that just makes your skin look flawless!
The final look, which was incredibly awkward and hard to pose for so let's have a spritz of perfume, paint the talons and get into my party outfit, yeah? Perfect, let's do it...
As I kept my makeup quite light and girly, I wanted a fragrance to compliment that and Victor and Rolf Flowerbomb fits the bill perfectly. A fresh, fruity but very sensual fragrance too, this classic always makes me feel amazing.
Time to paint my nails and whilst a bright red/glitter/silver/[insert your own choice of festive - but equally tacky - choice of nail colour here] was tempting, I opted for a slightly more classic plum/purple shade in the form of the gorgeous Essie Bahama mama. One of my all time favourites!

Time to get the glad rags on and get partying.

(Said nobody under the age of 90, ever...)
My look was based around this absolutely stunning Debenhams Black long sleeved pleated dress which yes is black, but the beautiful lace top - with the addition of the high neck - and the pleated skirt just makes it that little bit special. It's one of those dresses that are perfect for so many occasions and I know I will definitely get so much use out of it, for sure.
Now, I love clothes a lot. A hell of a lot. But I do have a very special place in my heart for bags and shoes and these Faith black lace up stiletto's just blew me away from the first moment I saw them. They're the perfect mixture of classic, with the pointed court shape, but also really modern with the delicate tie ups. Elegant, sophisticated, sexy but ridiculously stylish (and in the sale for just £31) these are definitely my baes go to "chic shoes" at the moment.
Finally, I went with a clutch that's quite different for me but I absolutely adore it. The Black Disco hard case clutch gives that bit of edge to what I think is quite a girly outfit and finishes off the look perfectly. I love the more classic structure mixed with the delicate chain and the fun glitter and black pattern just gives it the extra special party look. Perfect for a New year's celebration in my opinion. 
And once your makeups finished, your nails are painted, perfume spritzed and clothes on... it's time to head to your party (... preferably stopping in front of a cool bandstand on the way for some pretty snaps).
So that brings me to the end of my first ever full get ready with me. I have to say, this is definitely one of my favourite ever posts and I had so much fun putting it together. Each product I used - most of which are in the boxing day sales [insert hands in the air/high five emoji here] - I genuinely absolutely adore and couldn't recommend highly enough.

I would love to know what some of your go to party wear products/items are? Will you be heading down to Debenhams to stock up on a killer dress/shoes/box clutch that makes me far happier than it should do? I would love to hear your thoughts :)

As always, thanks so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post!

xx

*Post in collaboration with debenhams but love of makeup and clothes that make me feel sassier than Beyonce, my own.
© the Elle next door

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