I've Got All My Sisters And Me

I thought about an eloquent introduction for this post but then I decided to just go straight in for the kill... All my life I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing, strong women. Come to think of it, there isn't actually a more eloquent and accurate way to write that. I've been brought up by women who have inspired, influenced and shaped me into the stubborn, head strong little thing I've come to be. I was raised solely by my single mother, along with my three older sisters. I didn't know it at the time but I was truly blessed to have four automatic best friends in my life. As we grow older it blows my mind how similar our personalities have become. I see my opinions, traits and mannerisms shine through so obviously borrowed/stolen from my wonderful older sisters. I remember being a little girl and being completely in awe of everything little thing they did. From them listening to Stone Roses full blast in their room and having arguments with my mum about not being allowed to go to the Hacienda. To wearing ridiculously short mini skirts, cropped Oasis tees, a shiny silver bubble jacket and practising dance routines to East 17 in the living room. To letting me sneak in their room when they had their cool, older friends come round. To showing me how to do my make up and introducing me to GHDs and Mac Studio Fix. To dressing me for my first ever gig (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, if you must know) in a Ramones tee and making me feel like I was one step closer to becoming Karen O. To giving me the cast offs from their wardrobe and as times progressed, me giving them mine. They are and always will be my heroes and the opinions I value above any other.

Throughout childhood our circles of sisterhood expand rapidly. You figure out who you are and who you want to be through the friends you keep, it's as simple as that. Music, films, personal style, you'd be lying if you said your biggest influencers weren't your circle of killer girlfriends. You grow to love them like you would your own blood and they become you rock through whatever drama (mainly boy troubles, let's be honest) you may encounter. I feel like in my teens to early twenties, I was so obliviously "needy" to my friend's companionship. I would talk to them 24/7 and see them practically every day. I look back to 22 years old when I was living with one of my best friends, three more of them lived one floor down and two more lived just down the road. How lucky I was to have my circle in such close proximity, always near by to make me laugh, to wipe away my tears and help me forget my problems. I look back at this time in my life with such affection. You take it for granted when it's happening and you really never think such an amazing set up could possibly ever change, but it does.

As you grew older each and every one of your priorities change. Your career, boyfriends, mortgages, babies, marriage... Yep all that grown up stuff really creeps up on you when you least expect it and as time goes by your network of incredible women starts to break down and move away. It's not a personal thing, it honestly does just happen and you don't even realise it at the time because inevitably you're too busy with your own new found, oh so serious adult stuff too. Excluding two of my dearest friends, all of my beloved extended family of girls have moved out of Manchester. Dotted around various locations from London and Sunderland, to half way round the world in Australia. I remember each and every time one of those girls left Manchester I cried like someone had died. Seriously, I waved them off into the big wide world and wondered how I'd live my life without them. But you do.

This weekend just gone one of my best friends came back to Manchester for a few days all the way from Australia, we hadn't seen each other in two years. TWO YEARS! You're life can have a complete transformation in that amount of time and ours had. I genuinely felt nervous on my way to meet her because I was so terrified that as our lives had changed and in turn maybe we had too. What if this one girl who had been there for me through thick and thin didn't exist anymore? What if we have nothing to say to one another? But that didn't happen because that's a completely ridiculous notion. I guess it takes a while to catch on, but you're close circle of incredible women never really changes. No matter where they are in the world, you will always hold them as that wonderful network which know you inside out. You don't have to hear from them once a day, once a week or even once a month but they will forever stand by you. They will continually hold no judgement for whatever stupid mistakes you make and will be there at a drop off a hat if you called them and said "I'm not ok". Distance doesn't make the friendship and it's true that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I know they will forever root for me as I will for them and that's surely the barebones to any true friendship.

I recently became obsessed with a book called The Girls (if you haven't read this book, why not?) and there was one particular quote in it which really resonated with me; "Girls are the only ones who can really give each other close attention, the kind we equate with being loved. They always notice what we want noticing". Never has there been a more perfect way to summarise exactly how and why your circle of girlfriends are so amazing and so important. They will tell you when you look great, but I mean those times when YOU truly feel great and they will say so for the most obscure reasons only you and they can see (my friend Jess will forever point out every summer when my freckles reappear and be as excited about it as me.... And that makes me smile). They can tell when something's wrong from the slightest change in wording, in the smallest text possible. They will agree with you on the trivial instances your angry or upset and be able to know the EXACT reasons why without you even mentioning it. They will scrutinise and put the world to rights with you over a coffee date, no judgement held because no judgement is ever needed.

My circle of amazing ladies continues to change and grow. One of my biggest perks to blogging is the absolutely incredible girls I've had the pleasure to meet along the way, some I know will be life long friends. Whether oldest and dearest or new and equally amazing, just down the road or half way around the world, I watch us support one another everyday through whatever life throws at us and I've never felt as lucky as I do right now to have such an amazing set of friends surround me. I guess you could take this as thanks or praise to all the surreal women in my life. I definitely don't tell them enough how bloody amazing I think each and everyone of them is but then again I just don't need to...

I know, they know.

May girls continue to support girls.

Sophia x

Photography by the super, amazing Rosie Butcher

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Handbags And Gladrags

A bag, a bag, what's in a bag? A bag is pretty important and in my eyes they're worth investing serious dollar into, should you find your dream one. They're most definitely a high priority on my accessories list BUT more importantly it's what's in the bag that counts right? I mean that's effectively why we carry them around in the first place, is it not? To harbour all the items we just can't bare to be apart from, the kind of items that you just can't live without. The kind of bits and bobs that should you forget, you'd suddenly realise in a panic half way on your journey to work, immediately feel completely ill equipped for the day ahead and contemplate doing a U-turn all the way back home...  We all have them and I decided I'd let you in on my little collection of "please never leave my side" items. Some old, some new, some practical, some...not so much... So without further a-do, lets delve into my beloved Orla Kiely bag of dreams and have a right good rummage at my top 10!

1. Bastiste Travel Sized Dry Shampoo
Ok so first on my list is a really boring, obvious choice. It's something every girl should and will have in her bag, especially those of you with fringes (the struggle is real, I know). I didn't want to patronise you with a bottle of dry shampers BUT it is a product I can't live without and therefore it deserves a place on my bag list. My only issue with this stuff is I'm 100% certain it's addictive to use... I'm pretty sure my hair is 60% hair and 40% dry shampoo most of the time. Stay classy.

2. Paw Paw Moisturising Balm
Initially attracted by the name alone- cue various images of cute kitten paws- I'd struck lucky, as this stuff is in fact so much more than a super cute name! Paw Paw is less gloopy and "industrial strength" than Vaseline but more effective than EOS in my humble opinion. Made with papaya and manuka honey, it's 100% natural and keeps your lips oh so soft. Plus as nice as flavoured lip balm can be, they can also be a tad sickly and so with Paw Paw being scent free, it's great for layering up as much as you need to without flavour overload. At £6 a pop, it's definitely worth the investment and one tub will last you a far few months. 

3. And Other Stories Fig Fiction Hand Cream
I have annoyingly sensitive skin on my hands which means I can't be in a one metre radius without hand cream to...well...funnily enough hand! Which is exactly way I carry this dinky little tube of hand cream around with me however, there is an ulterior motive. I hold my perfectly moisturised hands up and admit, I'm completely addicted to And Other Stories' Fig Fiction scent. But like seriously addicted. I have the body Lotion, the body spray. Tubs at work, tubs by my bed. I can't get enough of this yummy scent! Plus if you haven't ever tried And Other Stories beauty and body care products before, I strongly urge you do. They're easy on the purse and amazing quality. I tend to buy in a lot of their nail varnishes because I found they last the longest without chipping and their colour selection is second to none. So there you have it... I'm a Fig Fiction/hand cream addict, feels so good to get that off my chest...

4. Hello Kitty Tangle Teezer
Oh my, I feel like you're really getting to know me through the tell tales contents of my little bag! Ok so I have a little thing for Japanese culture. You may have noticed this before from photo's taken in my room. There's Japanese trinkets all over the show! Cat stickers on laptops, geisha figurines and Hello Kitty everything. I have a real affinity to Japanese culture and how fascinating it truly is but unfortunately I've never had the opportunity to go! However my lovely boyfriend has many a time and with his return, he brings bags full of merchandise home for me. Hooray! Including my little Hello Kitty Tangle Teezer, now FYI this is actually available in the UK and how cute is it? A Tangle Teezer is, like the dry shampoo, a bag necessity but adorned with Hello Kitty? Well you've just raised the Teezer bar...

5. Oh K Kitten Pocket Mirror
I thought we might as well get all Japanese/cat related items out the way in one go... Next on my list is this adorable Oh K Pocket Mirror. I absolutely love this brand and if like me, you like covering your stationary/beauty essentials with cute animals (I would just like to take this moments to remind you all I am 28 years old) than this is the brand for you too! Available in Paperchase and ASOS, they have a knack of turning all your handbag essentials into a much more fun, adorable version of their former selves. From tissues, to mirrors, to hand creams... Sweet little add on's to any handbag's must have list!

6. Charlotte Tilbury "Tell Laura" Hot Lips Lip Stick
Time to be a little more refined again now! My favourite lipstick of the moment "Tell Laura"! I've recently started a love affair with the colour red and this lipstick provides me with my daily fix. I've always loved red lips but have never been able to find the right shade/product for me. I was recommended Charlotte Tilbury and I've got to say, I'd never look back. It's a miracle lipstick; it doesn't bleed or smudge, it doesn't dry out on your lips and it stays put! To give you a rough idea of how amazing it is, I could probably apply it in the morning at say 8am and by 5pm it would still look perfectly acceptable, with no need for a top up and not a smudge in sight! Hallelujah!

7. Whistles Mock Croc Coin Purse
I used to carry around a great, big chunky brick of a purse, I found it took up unnecessary space in my bag and ended up filled with old receipted/ train tickets dating as far back as 2011. I recently bought a new day bag which is a touch smaller than my average and so the purse had to go. I absolutely love this little coin purse from Whistles, it's been bashed around in my bag and has managed to stay looking as good as new. Plus I'm no longer able to accidentally start at 10 year collection of Northern rail train tickets... Little purse, big investment!

8. Clarin's Beauty Balm
During the week I try to avoid as much make up on my face as possible. As spoken about previously on my blog, I do suffer from bad skin and I'd rather avoid adding unnecessary make up to the mix! Instead when my skin needs a little pick me up I use Beauty Balm, this is such a great product to keep in your make up bag. It acts as a moisturiser and a primer all in one and leaves your skins feeling a little more full of life. I tend to use this just before I start to apply my make up as an alternative to moisturiser or primer and it leaves your make up looking pretty damn fresh through out the day!

9. Boots Tea Tree Blemish Wand
My little miracle stick! I carry this around with me for when I feel a unwelcome spot appearing on my face. Simply apply the clear liquid to the affected area and it will get straight to work getting rid of it. I swear by this wand, so much so that I've mentioned it before to you! At the risk of repeating myself, it deserved a second mention!

10. Tuppence Pressed Flower Phone Case
Last but by no means least, my phone cover! I'm obsessed with press flower cases at the moment and in particular I love this design from Tuppence. They're subtle, sweet and never look to garish. Plus they add a touch of summer to the inside of your bag and that surely can't be a bad thing.

So there you have my top 10 items that I love so much I take them with me wherever I go! My little "life survival kit"! Click on the icons below to shop them all.

Sophia x