Thursday, 18 August 2016

Why I'm Quitting Blogging

I'm not going to lie, this post has been simmering in the back of my mind for some time. It's one of those subjects that I didn't really know how to go about as I have a mixture of emotions right now towards blogging. However, I think it's time I get all of these thoughts onto paper (or out in the online  world rather) so I can get a clearer head on what direction I want to be going in.

I've been blogging for around 3-ish years now and over this time I've had an incredible time meeting
some amazing new people, bonded over shared interests and attended some inspiring events, such as meeting French designer Roland Mouret.

The blogging industry, even after the short years that I've had my little space of the internet for, has changed so much. From my point of view, the industry has become overly saturated with people posting the same or very similar content which, in my opinion, has made blogging mundane. Also, the fact that some people (not all of them) put up false personas on their social media channels, yet when you meet them in real life or at blogging events, they act like complete shits or, worse still, they blank you all together even though you've been talking on Twitter for ages.. Vix Meldrew's post on this definitely hits the nail on the head here. For this reason, this is why I don't feel that I fit into this industry anymore.

I've also just started a full time job from being a graduate student and so far, it's proven tricky to manage my time producing content, particularly when it comes to shooting different outfit posts which was actually my original focus of my blog. So in this aspect, I feel that I let myself down when I  don't have the capacity to produce quality content. and then to try and fill the gaps, I find myself blogging just for the sake of it.

I didn't want this post to be a rant or have a bitter tone to it, I just wanted to be clear of my reasonings to anyone else out there curious as to why I'm quitting my blog. Right now, I don't feel that my blog positively contributes towards my life anymore; I feel as though I've kind of grown out of it. I'll still be posting on Instagram (@oliviastocks in case any of you were wondering!) #OOTDs, recent purchases and of course sticking to a 'theme', but for now, goodbye Ramblings of Olivia, we've had a good time.

Liv x 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

I've Graduated!

So as of the end of July, I'm currently a media and communications graduate!

After a challenging but memorable three years, the day to don the Harry Potter-esque gowns came quickly and it was an amazing day filled with family and friends. To get to this point after 3 years of hard work, all-nighters and stress was an achievement in itself as I, I have to admit, thought about giving up and leaving my course when it got tough half way through second year.

I gained First Class Honours as well, which surprised me in itself, however after reflecting on Sophie's post, which is all about why it's good to be proud of yourself, I've come to realise that it's ok to 'blow your own trumpet' once in a while and feel good about what you've achieved after all the hard work you've put in.

Pre-university,  I was always known as the shy and quiet one who stayed modest despite achieving in academic or personal life as I didn't want to come across as overly confident or boastful. However, through this experience, I've learnt that it feels good to give yourself a mental high five once in a while as it definitely keeps you reaching for your goals and motivating you to climb higher whether that's in a personal sense or career progression.

Dress- Next
Shoes- Dorothy Perkins (old)

I've recently started a full-time graduate job, so there's something else I'm proud about. There's plenty of graduates who are out of work right now, searching for their dream job or getting something 'just for now.' I'm entirely lucky in this aspect as I'm really enjoying what I'm doing and looking to what the future holds as corny as that sounds! However, this did come with plenty of hard work and determination and hundreds of email applications but that's for another post!

For now, I'm happy where I am and extremely proud of all that I've achieved. Graduation day holds a special place in my heart celebrating being part of Birmingham City University Class of 2016!

Have you done anything recently that you're particularly proud of? 
Liv x

P.S- I struggled to find the perfect dress for graduation as it had to be quite formal but still look nice and summery, but this fabby Next find is so pretty. However, as we all know that I'm as pale as milk, I got a St Tropez spray tan from Banatyne Spa to get that sun kissed just-got-back-from-Santorini-look, lol jk, I still looked the same... We

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Why You Need This Summer Dress In Your Life

Following on from my previous fashion-based post (if you haven't already seen it, make sure you do!), Primark has set me a style challenge to create a few summer outfits for under £50.
Although I *may* have  cheated slightly and bought way more than I thought I would, these outfits give you serious bang for your buck as this dress is a nifty £13 alone. Most outfits come just under £30 each along with shoes and accessories which obviously saves us dollah for all of those cocktails that we obvs need- God bless Primark.

I actually spotted this dress first on lifestyle blogger, Hannah Gale, and being a basic bitch, I kinda felt like I needed it in my life too so here I am sharing this sexy cheap number with you guys, don't say I don't treat ya ;-)

Dress- Primark*
Shoes- Next
Bag- Ted Baker 
Choker- Primark*
Sunglasses- Primark*

I'm obsessed with bardot tops and dresses at the minute as I think they're so flattering on literally anybody, they're so cute and feminine and it's one of the biggest trends of the summer so obis have to get on that band wagon... 

Florals are also the print of summer so it'd only be right to have more of the flowery goodness in your wardrobe right? Plus, it's one of those statement patterns that you cannot go wrong with; simply just add a bit of jewellery and some wedges and you're pretty much good to go. 

I love the midi length of this dress as it's not too short in that you're wondering if you're bum cheeks are on show and it's not a maxi where you can still show off your shoes. The shape of the dress is also really flattering as it's not figure hugging which is a bonus if, like me, you're conscious of your shape and don't like anything too tight that makes you look like 5 months pregnant. Also, it's a major winner for hiding a food baby after one too many glass of prosecco and BBQs! 

All photos taken by Charlotte Smith, follow her here
What do you think of this dress? What have you been buying from Primark lately? Let me know in the comments section below! 

Also, guys and gals....I'm doing a Primark giveaway and gifting one of you lucky lot a £50 voucher to spend in The Fort's new Primark (nearby to Birmingham City Centre), so all you have to do is to head over to Twitter, follow me (@livistocks) and look out for my 'Retweet to Win' tweet! Winner will be picked at random. UK/West Midlands-based entrants only please.

Good Luck! 

Liv x 

*Disclaimer- Primark have gifted me the products marked with *, however, as always, all views and fashion loving ramblings are my own 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Primark Playsuit of Dreams

If you know me by now, you'll know that I'm the biggest fan of Primark. Not only is it a great place for students and graduates to shop in order to steer clear of the overdraft whilst still looking cute, but they also are one of the best high street retailers who bring out trend-led stock and could-be designer dupes.

So when Primark asked me to style up a few summer outfits for their 'Summer Style Blogger Challenge' I could hardly contain my excitement to delve in and put together a few summery ensembles.
I visited one of Primark's newest branches at The Fort shopping centre and I was pleasantly surprised and it has definitely become one of my fave go-to stores. Not only is it huge but there's so much stuff and although I did visit on a Saturday, by the afternoon, I was glad to see that it didn't look like a jumble sale unlike some other stores I've visited.

I can't wait to show you what I picked up and I think I'm going to do a blog post on each of the outfits or you'll have something which potentially resembles a novel and you might get bored, lol soz.
So here's the first summer-y outfit.....

Playsuit*- Primark
Sunglasses*- Primark
Sandals*- Next

I picked up this black and white striped (surprise, surprise) playsuit which was an amazing £10. Normally I don't go for playsuits from Primark as I'm a bit on the tall side so there's often a problem with er, the camel's toe sitch going on. However, this beauty has flared shorts that makes it seem like a dress so it doesn't have this problem at all.

This playsuit can be worn pretty much at any occasion; I've worn it to work with some tights and loafers, I've dressed it up with heels for cocktails with the girls and here, I quickly threw it on for a Pokemon walk, as my boyfriend insisted that we had to go!

Although the neckline is a little bit on the plunge-y side, if you don't want to show off that much skin, you can always put a little came underneath or one of those bandeau bras across which in my teenage days, I thought looked cool paired with Primark's see-through leggings- thank the Lord for my increased sartorial interest...

On a side note, how cute is this choker?! Yes, I've finally jumped on the 90s style band wagon and bought this sexy thang for a mere £2.50 and literally goes with everything and looks especially good paired with bardot tops and dresses that I'm totally into this season.

I'm doing a Primark giveaway and gifting one of you lucky lot a £50 voucher to spend in The Fort's new Primark (nearby to Birmingham City Centre), so all you have to do is to head over to Twitter, follow me (@livistocks) and look out for my 'Retweet to Win' tweet! Winner will be picked at random. UK/West Midlands-based entrants only please.

Good luck! 
Liv x

*Disclaimer- Primark have gifted me the products marked with *, however, as always, all views and fashion loving ramblings are my own

Saturday, 16 July 2016

My Favourite Snapchat Accounts

Hope you're having a good weekend guys! I thought I'd do a round-up post of my favourite Snapchat accounts as you probably all know that it's one of my best ways to procrastinate and who doesn't love a cute filter?! (Follow me @livistocks)

I'm also obsessed with Snapchat as it allows you to follow the real lives of the glamorous ( I'm looking at you Kimmy K), it doesn't make me self-loathe myself the same as Insta or Twitter potentially does and there's no restrictions of over-sharing like some of the other social platforms.

OK, I do get bored/annoyed/a teensy bit jealous of the continuous flow of bloggers who open so-called 'blogger mail' on Snapchat (some of the time I swear they've bought it themselves lol) and maybe when some people go on and on and on.  However, Snapchat is great for getting a glimpse of somebody else's life from the comfort of your own home and it's even better when you're in those ancient Primark pjs, where the festival filter leaves you feeling sexy af.

Anyway gals, on to my list of people who I genuinely follow  stalk on Snapchat...

@HannahFGale-  Hannah has been one of my favourite bloggers for a long while now and her sassiness and her zero shits attitude is hilarious. Instead of doing weekly blogs on her YouTube channel, she now tends to do mini life updates on Snapchat which normally features her two adorable cats, Rudey and Granger, her gorgeous selection of summer dresses and her ramblings of her general life. This gal sure does cheer me up after a hard day's work!

@LydiaEMillen- One of the glamest people I know from the blogosphere is this beauty from Milton Keynes. She's one of the newest bloggers that I've recently followed but her dreamy outfits and exotic holidays definitely give me a dose of inspiration and a serious case of wanderlust.

@Kylizzlemynizzl- This is Kylie Jenner's Snapchat account FYI, the queen of social media. I love being able to see a tiny bit of her luxurious life, her cute dogs, her 'glam squad' and of course her giant collection of handbags, clothes, shoes and her ridiculous fleet of cars. I hate the Kardashians but I actually love Kylie.

@InTheFrow-  Victoria is one of the very few bloggers that I've followed right from the beginning and it's been great to see her blog and YouTube channel progress into industry success. Not only does she put together some amazing outfits and showcases her love of designer labels but she generally seems interested in her Snapchat viewers and regularly interacts with them which is always nice to get involved with.  

@Man_Repeller- This lady is so inspiring and just as cool as her quirky style. Her wit, humour and 'realness' that comes with her other social channels makes her Snapchat account one of my faves. Although her style isn't something that I'd usually go for, her creativity and attention to detail has always been something that I admire. 

@TheBlondeAbroad- Travel is something that I'm passionate about and Kirsten from The Blonde Abroad blog is always exploring somewhere new, be it beaches festivals or a jungle and giving me serious wanderlust. Her snaps are funny, real and I love her holiday #OOTDs. 

@Queenofjetlags- This is the Snapchat account of Noor De Groot from Amsterdam who runs the blog Queen of Jet Lags and showcases her personal style and all the glamorous locations she jets off to around the world. I love the fact that whatever adventure she's on, she brings us with her and snaps regularly throughout the day. 

So that's my list of fave Snapchatters, who're your favourites? I'd love to know more so let me know in the comments below who I should follow! 
Liv x 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Lifestyle Update: Learning to Love My Blog Again

As you've probably guessed already, I've been pretty distant from my blog for the past couple of weeks.  The main reason is that I've started a new job at a creative agency in Birmingham as a website content writer and it's taken a few weeks to adjust to. For starters,  I'm not used to the full time working hours since I recently graduated from university, however, it's such a good company, I've made some great new friends and I'm really enjoying it, so there's that. 

However, the second reason is that I've simply fallen out of love with my blog. It's partly down to the fact that I'm lacking inspiration for content ideas, struggling to balance my work, social and blogging life (although I'm definitely going to be reading Hannah Gale's post here to help me out) and also, I think I've lost the confidence of my blog's ability due to fact that I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to others. 
OK, I do know that following this route is disruptive to your self-esteem, but when you see the level 
of success from InTheFrow, Sarah Ashcroft, WhatOliviaDid and a handful of other well-known bloggers (although I get that they've worked their butts off to get where they are today), I seem to think that I'll never grasp just a bit of their success and do amazing things as an extension of my blog. I'll have to admit that I've been pretty down about it over the past few weeks and it's made me not want to share my thoughts on the blogosphere, instead I've neglected my blog and chose to go on a social media detox.

Update: It's done me the world of good as I've actually interacted with real people *shock horror.* It seems that a couple of weeks without having to worry if that Instagram shot of a cacti or those pretty shoes have received a decent amount of likes has actually made me way more motivated and way more inspired to take my blog to the next level (cheesy huh?) I actually recommend everyone to go on one when they feel bugged down by the online media world as it puts things in perspective, gets you back to reality and gives you a clear head to allow you to set goals and objectives that you wish to achieve.
Top- River Island (similar here)
Jeans- Primark
Hat- Topshop (shop here)
Bag- Ted Baker (shop here)
Shoes- River Island (old)
This has literally turned into a novel but I felt that I had to pour my thoughts and emotions into a blog post incase any of you out there are experiencing similar feelings. I actually feel better for sharing this and feel as though a weight has been lifted and I'm ready for the next chapter that my blog will bring- wow, you're really killing it with those cheesy sayings Liv... 
In the next few weeks, I plan to move across to Wordpress, change my layout, publish at least two blog posts a week and *wait for it* relaunch my YouTube channel and post a video every Saturday. 
I'm going to plan more and try to keep a positive mind about my own abilities and banish negative thoughts that can affect my plan of action to take on the world (lol). 

As my nana always said, 'the world is your oyster', so with that it mind gals, go rule the world with your kick ass-ness. 

Lots of Love, 
Liv x 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Three Days in Dublin

 A few weeks ago, I went on a girly trip away to Dublin, Ireland. Although I never really fancied journeying across the Irish Sea before, we actually had such a great time and Dublin is definitely one of my favourite cities I've ever visited.
Being students, we booked this trip on a budget so flew with Ryan Air for £20 (although we were delayed 4 hours on the way there..) and we opted to stay in Oliver St. John Gogarty's hostel in the Temple Bar district. I've never stayed in a hostel before but it was located in the heart of all the lively Irish bars which made up for the fact that it was very basic.

Temple Bar and O'Neils were our favourite bars by far; the friendly vibe mixed with live Irish folk music made this trip so memorable. Locals and tourists alike seemed so welcoming and happily joined in singing..... and the food....

Whilst we didn't do that much, it was just nice to wander around and just have a relaxing couple of days with some of my oldest friends

I tried to take a few photos of Dublin when we were out and about however my camera ran out of battery and I forgot to pack the charger (#bloggerrookieprobs) and anyway, I didn't really want to solely focus on my blog as I just wanted to have fun with my girls. However, I've got a handy little guide for you if you're thinking about visiting Dublin sometime in the future.

Where to eat/drink:
Temple Bar District 

As first-time visitors to the city, we thought we'd stay in the tourist district of Temple Bar to see what the atmosphere was like, and as I said above, we weren't disappointed as everyone was so friendly and made us feel welcome. Even though drinks were a little on the expensive side (we paid 10 euros/ £8) for an Archers and Lemonade, I don't think they were any more than London's prices but even so, we didn't mind the price as we were on holiday. The atmosphere was incredible as every bar had a live guitarist blasting out both traditional folk music as well as acoustic contemporary classics such as Kings of Leon's 'Use Somebody' and Oasis' 'Wonderwall' which got people happily joining in.

Mexico to Rome 

 Not very authentic but this food was very tasty all the same! I'm a lover of both Italian and Mexican food so I wasn't stuck for choice here. I chose to share garlic flatbread with my friends and then I had a tomato and garlic seafood linguine, both of which were so tasty that I forgot to take photos of them.... Luckily, my friend Lauren snapped a photo of her meal, pasta carbonara, which she said she really enjoyed so I thought I would share this instead.
Mexico to Rome, 23 Essex Street E, Dublin 2, Ireland 

The Bakehouse 

Located on the pretty banks of River Liffey, this brunch place is super cute if you want a meal or a light snack. We went for breakfast and the pancakes were amazing and were reasonably priced (9 euros/just over £7), whilst my friends had omelettes which looked delicious. The pancakes were super fluffy and not too stodgy which was good and the strawberries/berry coulis/maple syrup and bacon were perfect accompaniments. I'd really recommend here if you like brunch, tea and cake as the homemade cakes looked amazing (carrot cake, walnut muffins, chocolate brownies), although we didn't try them as we were far too stuffed!
The Bakehouse, 6 Bachelors Walk, Dublin 1


This was the first pub we visited during our break and we loved it that much that we went back for dinner on our last night. The atmosphere was really good here and the range of drinks were varied- we opted for fail-safe Bulmers Cider instead of the favoured Irish tipple- Guinness! The carveries here were amazing and I think O'Neills were famous for them. My friend Lauren got the turkey carvery and enjoyed it whilst I had the steamed Galway mussels in white wine sauce which were so tasty and you got so many for 10 euros.
O'Neills, 2 Suffolk St, Dublin 2 

The Woollen Mills 

Overlooking the Ha'Penny Bridge, this was one of my favourite eating places of the trip and we only stopped in for tea and cake! The restaurants prides itself with using only locally sourced Irish produce and everything is homemade and fresh and is crafted in an open kitchen which I particularly liked. It also has a roof terrace that overlooks the river which I can imagine to be a really nice place to have a glass of wine or cocktail on an evening. Woollen Mills also has its own bakery full of tarts, homemade bread, muffins and pastries which look amazing but we just paid 5 euros each I think to have a cinnamon bun type thing and a pot of tea which was a really nice break from sightseeing.
The Woollen Mills, 42 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

What to do:

Sightseeing bus 

As we hadn't been to Dublin before we thought we'd do all the touristy things to see as much of the city as possible. One of the best and quickest ways to see all of the sights was to ride on an open-deck hop on & hop off bus as it gave us the freedom to get off at selected sights as well as leisurely ride around Dublin. There's so many companies offering 1 or 2 day passes but we went with CityScape who offered us a student price of 10 euros for a 2 day pass instead of the usual 20 what other companies seemed to be charging. The driver also gave us a informing yet light-hearted commentary of the sights as we passed and it was great learning about the city without having aching feet from walking everywhere!
Locations are various- You can purchase passes from any of the surrounding tourist information points.

Guinness Factory 

I have to be honest with you, I'm not a fan of Guinness, or any beer in fact. However, as a first-timer to the country of the black stuff, we thought it'd only be right if we paid a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. I was actually pleasantly surprised; it was really informative yet really interactive and we had a good few hours wandering round learning how they made the beer, how they advertised the product (as a media student I was particularly interested in this!) and we even had the chance to be trained in the 'Guinness academy' where we learnt how to pull the perfect pint. The visit was nicely finished off by having our free pint of Guinness in the factory's Gravity bar which offered amazing panoramic views off the city. I'd really recommend a visit here even if you're not fan of the stuff.
Guinness Storehouse, St James' Gate, Dublin 8

St Patrick's Cathedral 

 As it had just started to rain we decided to venture inside one of Dublin's oldest cathedrals (built in 1220) and we had a nice wander around to look at the tombs, memorial statues and the gorgeous stain glass windows. We were also treated to a couple of songs from the cathedral's ladies choir which was beautiful and so relaxing just to stand there taking the views of the building in.
St Patrick's Cathedral, St Patrick's Close, Dublin 8 
Dublin Castle 

My friend Georgia and I stumbled across the castle as we were wandering around and although we didn't go in, we loved how pretty it looked! It was a really sunny day and the castle's gardens were nice as well to walk around.

Other things that we wanted to do:
Below are a list of things/activities we wanted to do but as we were only in Dublin for a few days we sadly didn't have time for. However, if we ever got to go again here are the things we'd want to visit! These could also be handy for any of you wanting to cram more into your Dublin trip!

Dublin Zoo
As one of the world's largest zoos, we of course wanted to visit here as there are so many different animals from all over the world casually roaming around. Providing that the weather is dry enough, this would be a lovely day out.
Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8 

Kilmainham Gaol
This is one of Ireland's most famous former prisons which once housed political and military prisoners during its opening in 1796 until it closed in 1924. I think it would be so interesting to see how prisoners lived in their tiny cells with limited resources so I think a future trip here is a must.
Kilmaiinham Gaol, Ichicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 

Seeing Riverdance has been my dream for ages and it was only when we saw an advertisement of the show on a billboard that we realised that the show was in Dublin. However, we realised that it was opening night on our final day and sadly it was sold out so we couldn't go. We were a bit gutted as we got so excited and I think it would've rounded up our short Irish trip off perfectly, ah well, maybe next time!
The Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin 2

Titanic Belfast
If we had more time, I would've wanted to go the Titanic exhibition in Belfast and do a day trip there. Paying homage to Belfast's maritime heritage, the exhibition shows where and how RMS Titanic was built, lets you walk the ship's decks and hopefully find your own Jack Dawson aka Leo Decaprio (a girl can only dream right?!...)
The Titanic Exhibition, Queens Road, Belfast, County Antrim, BT3 9EP

I hope you enjoyed this mini guide and has perhaps inspired/helped you plan your own trip to Dublin. Let me know if there's anything else that I should visit!
Liv x 

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