Why Hate Valentine’s Day?

It’s that time of year again, when the entire world is split into three camps: the lovers, the haters and those who couldn’t care less. Despite the day’s focus on romance, there seems to be a huge amount of bitterness and hostility between the lovers and haters of Valentine’s Day, and I’ve never understood why. Personally, I love Valentine’s Day – I don’t go out of my way to plan something special every year, nor do I buy or expect expensive gifts and gestures. I just really like the idea of a holiday that’s sole focus is romance.

Matthew and I are both thrifty (well, you have to be when you’re a poor student) romantics at heart, so Valentine’s Day has never been a chore for us. Last year, we made a huge blanket fort, watched films and slept in the living room. It was memorable, cute as hell and it meant we could spend the whole night being totally together. Sure, we could have done that any other day of the year too, but our blanket fort felt like a great idea for Valentine’s Day. This year, we’re making our own pizzas, having a glass of wine and watching a film – for us, that’s perfect.

Valentine's Day Flowers - Why Hate Valentine's Day?

The busy parents, unhappy singletons and those who are struggling either physically or mentally, simply can’t and/or don’t want to celebrate, and of course I understand that. However, there are also some popular yet trivial problems that people tend to have with Valentine’s Day, and although I recognise them, I really do not understand them.

I love my partner every single day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day:

Of course, me too! But, I also don’t see any harm in saying “Happy Valentine’s Day!” instead of “Morning!” when I wake up – either way, Matt still gets a kiss and a cuddle.

You can’t celebrate when you’re single:

Sure you can. Go see your mum or your grandma and, if you have some money, buy them a bunch of flowers. Celebrate with your single friends. Why not just have a night in, with your favourite food and favourite film? Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, not just romantic love. Celebrate familial love, friendship and self-love.

It’s a day for couples to rub their relationships in other people’s faces:

Definitely not. If love, or seeing love in others, bothers you then you’re clearly going through some hardship that you need to take control of. If you’re not and simply seeing happy couples genuinely bothers you, you have issues and your hate should not be projected onto the happiness of others. That’s your problem, sort it out.

It’s just another money grabbing holiday:

Yep, probably, but who is making you spend money? Romance isn’t expensive gifts and extravagant date nights. It can be a homemade meals, or making your own Valentine’s Day cards. Self-love doesn’t have to be expensive either. No need for fancy spas: run yourself a bubble bath and paint your toe nails.

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There’s no need to hate Valentine’s Day. Even if you don’t celebrate, you have to admit, it’s a pretty cute idea. Love is in the air today, so don’t shoot it down.

What do you think of Valentine’s Day?

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You can read my previous post here.

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

The Wall Street Crash

My lovely friend Kat, who’s a qualified makeup artist and is studying a degree in the subject, recently asked me if I’d be the model for a 1920’s makeup competition that she was taking part in. Now, if you don’t already know, I’m ridiculously uncomfortable in front of the camera. I can tolerate the odd “Matthew, take a photograph of me in front of this beautiful landmark” type thing, because I know it’s my camera and I could always delete it anyway. Again, when I’m feeling pretty fly (hands up if you just mumbled “for a white guy”), I’ll take a cheeky selfie. But, the idea of putting that power into the hands of a professional, meaning I’d be unable to double check and delete any images that made me look bad, gave me the jitters. She’s my friend, though, and I was absolutely over the moon to help her out. Either way, I got to dress up as a rich 1920’s lady of leisure and that was pretty exciting.

For me, a full face of makeup is made up of my trusty mascara, winged eyeliner, translucent power on my nose and a bit of red lippy. Being put into the hands of a makeup artist, who literally has a suitcase full of makeup with her, was pretty daunting. I was met with primer, foundation, a ridiculous number of different eye shadows, false lashes and lots of other things that I don’t even know the name of. Honestly, it felt weird but I definitely wouldn’t look too out of place during the 1920’s.

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The brief was “Wall Street Crash”. Kat’s plan was to do a full face of 1920’s inspired make-up, before sitting me down alongside lots of other models, as all of the makeup artists performed their special effects magic. I was expecting a pretty tense atmosphere but I actually had a really good time – Kat covered me in fake blood, cuts and bruises, whilst I just sat there and watched the world go by. There was such a range of different looks going on in the competition room. Some makeup artists went for realism, like Kat, and some took it to the other (far) end of the spectrum with stilettos in eyeballs or shards of glass sticking out of the model’s skin.

Kat’s overall look was incredible. It showed how I was trampled during the people’s rush to the banks, hence the huge bruising to one side of my face. It looks bloody painful, right!?

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Ouch…

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Didn’t she do such a good job!? If you want to have a look at her makeup artist Facebook page, you can click here! She posts all of her makeup work – from beauty makeup to special effects – on this page, so it’s definitely worth a like.

What do you think of the final look?

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How I’m Improving My Sleep Hygiene

Me and sleep aren’t friends. We haven’t had the best relationship for around 6 years now but, as I’m getting older, I’m becoming less and less able to bounce out of bed in a morning on 3 (or sadly, sometimes way less) hours sleep. To try and improve this, me and Matt have been making a real effort to manage our sleep hygiene – and no, that’s not whether or not you’ve had a bath before bed! Your sleep hygiene is the habits and patterns you practice nightly, that are helpful towards improving your night’s sleep.

Improving Sleep Hygiene

I’m grouchy in the mornings (you probably already guessed that I’m definitely not a morning person!) but, when I’ve had no sleep, I’m a completely different person. Working on improving my sleep hygiene has been absolutely vital to my sanity, my relationships with everyone around me and my health – you’d be surprised what insomnia can do to your skin and hair!

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So, how am I trying to improve my own sleep hygiene? Here are my five tried and tested tips for a good night’s sleep:

Make your bedroom an irresistible sleepy kingdom: Black out curtains, shut your bedroom door, fresh bedding, your favourite ‘bedtime’ scent – think lavender mist or, my favourite, Lush’s fairy dust. These are all going to help make your bed seem inviting, even on the worst nights when you just know you’re not going to get any sleep.

Maintain a regular bed time: Try and trick your body’s “internal clock” into thinking that you have your shit together. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends!) is going to really help create a consistent sleep schedule.

Don’t eat too late: However tempting it may be to cook yourself some chips at midnight, they aren’t going to settle in time for you to comfortably go to sleep.

Associate your bed with sleeping (and sex): I used to read in bed, watch films in bed and just chill out in bed on my phone. I got used to being cosy, without the prospect of sleep. Avoiding all of the above has helped associate the act of getting into bed with going to sleep.

Avoid naps or nap early: I confess, I’m a napper. For the worst part of a year, the only sleep I had was during a nap in the afternoon! After that, I kind of got into the habit of napping… They’re definitely a bad idea if you’re trying to start up a sleeping pattern!

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These tips have massively helped me improve my own sleeping pattern, so if you’re having difficulties of your own, I do hope they help you out!

Do you have any other tips?

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You can read my previous post here.

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

DIY Polaroid-Style Photographs

I absolutely love Polaroid pictures (cue, shake it like a Polaroid picture!). They are timeless. Even though instant cameras have been around since the 1940’s, they’re still hugely sought after. They’re bloody expensive though.

I’ve searched high and low for an instant camera that doesn’t cost a bomb to replace film. 10 shots on your fancy new camera just isn’t enough! There’s no way I could fund my obsession at £8.99 per pack of 10 shots. I take thousands of photographs a year and even though I obviously don’t want to print out every single one of those, it would be nice to print more than 10 without having to sell my kidneys for some cash.

So, I thought I’d make my own.

DIY Polaroid Photographs

Using Photoshop, I made a template of a Polaroid style photograph. This is basically a set of cleverly-placed white rectangles, layered accordingly so that I can sit my own photographs in the centre. Using layers means that, whenever I use this template, I can simply drag and drop my photograph from one open project to another. A bit of a re-size is all it will need, as the layers will make sure everything appears cropped.

Tick, done!

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They’re so versatile. I really love them. I love them so much that I just knew I’d want to share a template with you! So, I’ve attached the Photoshop file that includes the Polaroid template.

Download my free template here!

To create your own Polaroid-style photographs, download the attached .zip file and open the extracted .psd file with either Photoshop or Gimp (a free photo editing software that you can download here).

Once you’ve opened it, you’ll find a variety of layers. All you need to worry about is opening your choice of photograph(s) and dragging them into the template file. To do this, open the image in either Photoshop or Gimp and drag it from one open window to another.

More than likely, it will be added as a top layer. This means that you’ll no longer be able to see the Polaroid frame. To fix this, simply locate the layers window (a list of ‘images’ with names such as Polaroid Frame, Outline etc.) and rearrange them. Make sure your image replaces my example photograph! My flower photograph, which is titled “Replace Image” should be beneath your newly added photograph.

Then, all you need to do is print and cut out your photographs! I bought some photo paper from the Poundshop of all places… I’m sure you’ll be able to guess how much it was. It’s great stuff too.

DIY Polaroid PhotographsDIY Polaroid Photographs

 

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What do you think? If you use the template, let me know because I’d love to see what you do with it!

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

My Day in Photos | Museums Quarter

The Museums Quarter is a unique collection of museums in Hull’s Old Town, surrounded by really beautiful grounds. I’ve been visiting lots of museums for my 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge, so I’ll tell you about these museums at a later date.

A few weeks ago, I visited this reasonably hidden little gem to take some photographs of the grounds! It was really cold and my little fingers couldn’t last long in the winter air, so I only got a dozen or so but it was worth the trip.

Even the walk into Old Town is lovely. The streets are cobbled and the buildings have so much character. I sometimes forget how much I do love Hull until I wander around here…

Here are a couple of snaps:

Hull Old Town Museum QuarterHull Old Town Museum Quarter

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-Morgan

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I Didn’t Make A New Year’s Resolution

Last year, I had one New Year’s resolution: I wanted to learn how to play the piano.

For some reason though, when I make resolutions in the new year, I don’t take into account the difficulty, free time and plans of the year ahead. This seems to be a case for a lot of people, where your mind goes blank and all of the resolutions you’re making – for one split second – seem manageable and doable alongside your work and your family.

Sure, I can fit gym in 4 times a week after work, and I have time to make smoothies for lunch before I leave, and I’m sure it’s not hard to quit smoking, and I bet I have time to learn Spanish, too. Easy.

I eventually realised I don’t have time to learn how to play an instrument right now. I was in the middle of mountains of coursework and reports throughout the early months of 2015, and come summer I was due to start a full-time software development internship. Fast forward to today, work takes up my entire day. I get home, cook tea, tidy up, blog, shower and then it’s time for bed. I’d have to sacrifice my blog, and it’s too dear to me to let any new extra-curricular activity come between us.

Home Office Blogging

This year, I didn’t bother making a resolution. Resolutions don’t tend to last anyway. By the middle of January, the excitement goes away and normality creeps back in, as do the bad habits. Instead, I intend to just keep going. Maybe try to feel a bit better about myself. Maybe try to enjoy the daily grind a bit more. Maybe give myself a bit of a break. But maybe not. Either way, entering a new year doesn’t magically make a difference to anything. It doesn’t matter. Why do we want to say good-bye to what could have been the best year of our lives?

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Do you think you’re gonna stick to it?

-Morgan

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Why Leslie Knope Is My Spirit Animal

 Be the Leslie Knope of everything you do.

I’ve only very recently finished watching Parks and Recreation, but it was one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. Each character has such growth, personality and depth. It’s quite easy to fall head first into Pawnee, becoming completely immersed in the success of the Parks Department.

For me though, Leslie Knope made Parks and Recreation a show I won’t forget, and one I’d be glad to come back to.

Parks and Recreation Leskie Knope

Leslie is passionate, strong, optimistic, over-achieving, ambitious, opinionated, intelligent and an absolutely breath of fresh air in comparison to floods of other (unrelatable) female characters. She made me finally feel like having strong qualities isn’t something to shy away from.

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Dedicated to this wonderful (fictional) lady, here is why Leslie Knope is my spirit animal:

She is the best friend that anybody could ask for. Her love for Ann is beautiful. Leslie’s compliments to her dear, much loved friend Ann are a highlight of Parks and Recreation. If I’m even 25% of the friend she is, I’m pleased.

Leslie Knope Ann Compliment QuoteLeslie Knope Ann Compliment QuoteLeslie Knope Ann Compliment Quote

Her unconditional love, respect and absolute support of her husband is the thing dreams are made of. Look up happiness in the dictionary and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a picture of these two.

Leslie and Ben Parks and RecreationLeslie and Ben Parks and Recreation

 I can relate to pretty much everything she says and does. I’ll find myself grinning, mumbling to myself “oh, that’s so me…” (Except she’s 100% more incredible than I could ever be). We both totally don’t overreact.

Leslie Knope Parks and RecreationLeslie Knope Parks and Recreation

She loves her job with a passion. Her ambition is something everyone should aspire to. She doesn’t ever give in.

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Optimism at it’s finest.

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What a woman.

-Morgan

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