Even though January is now long gone, I’m still settling into the new year and taking time to plan ahead. One of my main focuses this year is obviously going to be this blog, but as we always come into a new year, I start looking into more ways to improve and grow Formidable Joy. Here are my blogging goals for 2018.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Blogging | My blogging goals for 2018 | Blogging goals

IMPROVE STATS & READERSHIP
This one is an obvious one but this year I really want to focus on getting my content out there. In 2017, I was guilty of sharing my posts on Facebook and Twitter only – and occasionally Google plus. I stuck to three tweets per post and one Facebook update. This is not enough, despite me thinking so at the time. In 2018, I want to think outside of the box in terms of sharing my content and also share on social media more in general. I’m getting back to tweeting a lot more – but Instagramming less. It’s hard to find the time and it feels weird sitting down scheduling non-blog post content in advance (since I don’t know what I’m going to be thinking about in the week or what weird stuff is going to happen to me to share on Twitter!), but a staple schedule of at least the basics is a must.

PARTICIPATE MORE IN THE COMMUNITY
I want more blogs to follow and I want to support more blogs with comments, likes and shares. I feel like in past years, blogging has become a habit for me to do. I’ve always enjoyed it of course but I focused so much on my own blog that I often forgot to read other blogs. I want to turn that around this year. Oh, and if you have any blogs to recommend, do comment below!

IMPROVE MY PHOTOGRAPHY
I’m in the process of saving money currently, so this one is well on it’s way to being completed. I’ll either be putting my money towards a proper camera, or be upgrading to a phone that has an excellent camera – or both! The next step is to get more creative with my flatlays in general, but luckily, I have always had an interest in photography so this shouldn’t be too hard.

START A NEWSLETTER
I’ve started a blogging Facebook group and I think the next step for my blog is to start my own newsletter. This is only something I’m thinking about at the moment and it’s only something I’ll do if I feel I push my content and improve my readership enough – there’s no point starting a newsletter that no one is going to read! – but it’s another goal, if perhaps for later in the year.

RELAX
I’ve also vowed to relax and enjoy blogging more. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it – because it’s one of my favourite passions – but I want to take the guilt out of not being able to stick to a rigorous every-other-day blogging schedule or not being as good as other bloggers I see. Basically, I want to improve my blog, but not at the expense of my mental health. Blogging is a fun hobby and even if I do want to turn it into a business, I need to remember to not let it stress me out too much either.

Do you blog? What are your blogging goals for 2018 or what would you like to see on Formidable Joy this upcoming year? Let me know!

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I haven’t been shopping in so long so that when I picked up a few bargains at TK Maxx this week, I couldn’t help but do a mini TK Maxx haul post!

I’ve been trying to save money and only really shop at work (in exchange for using a £5 off voucher by handing in a bag of old clothes – so throwing out old stuff to buy new stuff!) but it’s pretty hard to not mooch into TK Maxx when I work right next door to one. Normally I’m okay since I’ve been so skint lately but I was bored on my lunch break so I gave in..oops!

Still, I got a fair bit for only £15 so I can’t really complain…

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First of all I’ve picked up this sweet Max Studio nude palette. I do have a W7 palette at home already, but on a day to day basis I only use a few staple colours (which therefore run out pretty quickly) and I’ve been tempted to be a bit more creative with my daily look lately. This palette offers a whopping 24 natural shades which I can’t wait to play around with, although as the squares are pretty small I’m a bit worried it won’t last long – we’ll see. The set also comes with a double ended eyeliner (I’m forever running out of eyeliner so this helped sway my decision) and a little brush, but I don’t like using those types of brushes so will use my own. This palette was only £4.99 which I thought was a total bargain – I was expecting it to be at least ten quid!

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | My Mini TK Maxx Haul

I also picked up two mini W7 Blush With Me kits, which come in a really cute tin. I picked up two different shade sets – the first is Honeymoon, which offers four dainty and feminine rosey/natural shades, and Getting Hitched (I just realized both are related to weddings…) which shades include really natural almost-not-even-there colours, which is ideal for me as I’m quite pale. Each tin comes with a little blusher brush too, and each cost £2.99.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | My Mini TK Maxx Haul

Finally, I also picked up a Daily Health Tracker. I didn’t find much in my favourite asile (the stationary one), but luckily spotted this at the till. It’s small enough to fit in my bag and each page is really simple and straight to the point. In the book, you can record a mini to-do list and your schedule, but health wise you have areas for goals, fitness, water intake, mood and a sleep tracker. It’s simple but meets my needs, especially as I’ve been after some sort of health tracker for a while now. This was just £3.99.

So I got a fair bit for just £15 (okay, £15.01 for those of you who might have realized it didn’t quite add up!) and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of each item. I needed a proper blusher and I’ve wanted a health tracker for ages now. The palette I didn’t need desperately, but it made sense because I’d be replacing my current one soon enough and since I want to change up my makeup a bit now that we’re in the new year, the timing is right.

What do think about my mini TK Maxx haul? Let me know!

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One of my favourite things about having a smartphone is all the amazing apps that are available; from budgeting to finding the nearest public loo, apps are a lifesaver more often than not. I last wrote a post like this in 2016, so I thought it was time for an update to share what my favourite apps are in 2018.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Tech | My favourite apps for 2018

LIFESTYLE | TOWNFISH
This app is still in its beta phrase – and I’ve been helping to test it out – but so far, it’s been super useful for me when I’m in London. Relying on locals, the app lists all cool and quirky events going on in the city and is really great if you’re in London at a loss of what to do and need to find something pretty damn quickly. You can also ask questions or ask for recommendations, and the app shares blog posts like where to celebrate pancake day in London or free things to do in the city. Keep an eye out for this app for when it launches properly.

BUDGETING | MONZO
I recommended this app in 2016 but still find it totally relevant. With this app, I have my own (funky pink!) prepaid card to help me budget my money. Whenever I get paid, I now top up the card with whatever essentials I need to spend money on that month; petrol, parking, food shopping etc. Anything left over in my bank account I try to save. It’s useful because the money I need is already set aside so if ever I’m skint, I don’t have to panic about important things like that. It’s really popular too – I see people coming into work and using their own Monzo cards all the time!

FITNESS | 30 DAY SQUAT CHALLENGE
Paired with taking up Pound Fitness again, committing myself to the simple 30 Day Squat Challenge will ensure that I will have the best bottom ever pretty soon..! (Hopefully)

DRIVING | WAZE
The satnav in your pocket! I adore Waze, a cute satnav driving app. I still use my actual satnav for long journeys but Waze is ideal on a day to day basis as it updates as you’re driving to reflect traffic and suggest other routes to take, you can send ETA’s through it (quite possibly my favourite part), ‘bib’ your friends when they’re online and earn points with the more you drive. So useful. Plus the avatar’s are really cute. Mine is a little zombie because I’m forever doing early morning delivery shifts at work and therefore driving half asleep in the morning looking like a zombie.

LIFESTYLE | STRIDES
A new year means a new you, but for those of us who don’t bullet journal, keeping a level head and remembering all our new year habits is hard. I’ve started using Strides, which is a basic little app that records your new habits. It’s very satisfying to hit seven days in a row or being able to look at the calendar to see more green (completed) than red (failed) dates. I use mine to track eating vegan, learning Romanian, doing exercise, hitting my daily water intake goal and not speaking to my ex, ha. It has really helped to motivate me and for anyone struggling in the new year, even beginning to record one small habit can help anyone keep a level head or routine when everything feels too much.

MONEYSAVING | CHIP
Another money saving app is Chip – something I’ve blogged about so many times because it’s just that amazing. Since using downloading it, I’ve saved nearly £300 without even realizing it. The app links up to your bank account and judges your spending to work out what can be saved each week – so it will vary from a couple of quid to £50! And, if it’s too much, you can cancel the withdrawal. It’s such a smart app and it’s the only way I’ve ever managed to properly save. If you’re interested, you can use my referral code JLB3BY to earn 1% interest on all your savings. 1% might not seem like a lot, but every little helps. Plus, since you save so regularly, the interest will soon build up. You can read about the app in more detail here.

What are your favourite or most useful apps? Let me know!

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I have a confession to make. I’m what most people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. In January, I always pledge to try Veganuary and manage to go a full month of each year without any form of meat and dairy – but once 1st February hits, I begin to struggle.

The first time I messed up – back in January 2016 – I felt like a complete failure. I’d accidentally picked up something that wasn’t vegan and didn’t realize until much later on when I’d already scoffed it down. Then, in February, I pledged to try and be as vegan as possible still, but this still didn’t stop me feeling guilty when I gave into my cravings from then onwards.

It was meeting my ex boyfriend that made me try and go fully vegan again. As he was vegan – and I spent so much time at his place that I practically lived there – it was really easy – except for the days when I wasn’t with him. Now that we’re no longer together, it’s even harder.

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I find it hard to commit to being vegan for a few different reasons. Firstly, it’s convenience. When I have money and go shopping for lots of vegan goodies in advance, eating green is like second nature to me. But when I’m skint and have nothing planned for lunch at work, it’s so much easier for me to run to Wilko’s and grab a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar than, well, fruit or otherwise.

My second reason is my cravings. I still get cravings for things like McDonalds, Chinese food or pizza on a regular basis. I think this is because I pencil being vegan in with being healthy – and when I’m on a health kick, working out and eating healthy, it’s only a matter of time before I think I deserve a treat like a burger or a pepperoni pizza. And of course, if I’m PMSing or I’ve had a bad day, it’s so tempting to go to the McDonalds drive through on the way home from work!

My final reason is that it’s hard to eat vegan when I’m at home, especially when my Dad is cooking one of his famous Sunday roast dinners or ordering our traditional Saturday night curry. I have learned to get better at this though – these days, I’ll swap chicken for a vegan pie and have pretty much the rest of a roast dinner, and often I say no to a curry altogether.

I think what stops me committing fully is that I’m not doing it for the animals. Well, I am in some ways, but I’m also mostly doing it for the health reasons. I know where meat and dairy comes from and I’ve read the facts, but perhaps I haven’t watched enough documentaries to put me off meat and dairy entirely. I’m still at the point where I’m ignorant to where it comes from – I know, but I don’t think about it – and so I don’t feel as guilty when I give into a craving.

However, I’m learning to take on a more healthy approach to being what some people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. I prefer to think of myself as a transitioning vegan and I’m a lot less harsh on myself now. You can never be 100% perfect, and even those who have been vegan for years may accidentally mess up from time to time.

Since joining some Facebook groups, I’ve learned that as well as cutting out meat and dairy and all non-vegan products from your life, essentially, being vegan means being as vegan as possible. It’s impossible to be 100% entirely vegan – simply because of things out of our control – but it’s also so much better to just try. It’s important to accept your mistakes and remember tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t make you wrong or make you a failure. It makes you human.

Even if you eat vegan six days a week and have one day off, you’re still miles ahead than complete meat eaters. You’re still making a difference and you’re still doing something good.

I’ve also downloaded a habit tracker app, so I can see an overview of the days which I’ve eaten completely vegan and which days I’ve slipped up – seeing a calendar filled with green and red dots puts it all into perspective for me and makes me more and more determined to turn all those red dots into green ones.

But, mostly, I’ve come to accept that I try my hardest to be vegan and that even if I do mess up, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure or doesn’t mean I’m not a vegan. It just means I’m trying my best.

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Single or not, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to treat yourself. Even if you’re not in a relationship, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t receive gifts – Valentine’s Day is the day where you show appreciation for the most important person in your life and in all honesty, this person should be YOU.

There may be a lot of pink involved (hey, who doesn’t like overly feminine fluffy pink heels? Oh, okay, so not everyone likes them, but this is my wish list at the end of the day), but I’ve still compiled a small wish list/guide of some things you can buy for yourself (or hint at your other half to buy) as a treat this Saint Valentine’s Day.

Who said you had to rely on cupid to do all the dirty work for you?!

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | 6 ways to treat yo' self this Valentine's Day | Valentine's Day | Single Pringle | Victoria's Secret | H&M | Lush | Sophie Kinsella | Lime Crime | Treat yo' self

ONE | VICTORIA’S SECRET WICKED UNLINED UPLIFT BRA, £38.89
This beautiful beautiful bra from Victoria’s Secret is exactly the kind of subtle but luxurious thing to treat yourself with. Even if no one will see it, the pink ivory design with velvet is what dreams are made of. I don’t know about you, but if I’d be wearing this out in public I’d pair it with jeans and a really soft oversized jumper for the ultimate feminine feels.

TWO | H&M’S SANDALS WITH FEATHERS, £34.99
Unpractical? Sure. But who says waltzing around the house in these pretty fluffy heels in just your underwear (or maybe a matching silk kimono) won’t make you feel like a million dollars this Valentine’s Day? If you are in a relationship, complete the look with lashings of mascara to create vintage lashes and a plump red lip. If you’re single? Do it anyway. We’re women. We don’t dress up or wear make-up for men. Single or not, these heels will certainly make you appreciate yourself (and feel feminine and sexy).

THREE | MISS DIOR EAU DE PARFUM, FROM £52.00
I’m not one who’s big on perfume, but I found a tester of this in the new issue of Cosmo and was impressed – especially since the design of the tester resembled the way you spray perfume (very smart advertising). This fresh rose-like scent (can you tell I’m not very good at describing the scent of things?) is really rather feminine without being too overbearing, and is perfect for this time of year as we transition from winter to spring.

FOUR | LIME CRIME’S M$LF VELVETINES SET, £24.47
Lime Crime is a brand that’s been on my radar for a while now, not least because they’re a) entirely on brand right now and b) entirely vegan too, so I’ve just been looking for an excuse to treat myself to something Lime Crime. This cute – and somewhat edgy – set of lipsticks includes four neutral shades, perfect for ‘a modern woman on-the-go’. Oh, and M$LF stands for Moms I’d Like to Follow – now I’m no mother, but I can understand the hard work that goes into raising a child, so if buying this set is showing my support for hard working mum’s everywhere than that’s certainly an excuse to drop money on this. And if nude colours aren’t your thing? You can mix and match with other shades too.

FIVE | LUSH’S WHOLE LOTTA LOVE BUBBEROON, £4.75
It’s a bubble bar. It’s designed like a heart. It’s Lush. What more do I need to say?!

SIX | SOPHIE KINSELLA’S SURPRISE ME, £7.03
And finally, there’s no better treat than a good book. Paired well with a bubble bath (and Lush’s Whole Lotta Love Bubberoon!), make sure to take time for yourself this Valentine’s Day and get lost in a good book. Surprise Me tells the story of happily married Sylvie and Dan who panic when they realize just how long they’ve got left in their happy marriage; sixty eight years to be exact. To keep their relationship fresh and spontaneous, they decide to create little surprise for one another. But of course, life isn’t that simple and soon enough a scandal from the past is uncovered…

If you’re single and dreading Valentine’s Day this year, or even if you’re in a relationship but you’re other half isn’t great at buying gifts, without a doubt take note of this wish list. From a plush velvet bra to a book you won’t be able to put down, take the matter into your own hands make sure you get at least one thing you want this Saint Valentine’s Day.

What do you think? Will you be treating yourself to anything from this list? Let me know!

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