Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Saying Goodbye to By Her Mirror



You may have noticed quite the radio silence on the blog this summer, and it's been with good reason; as I've been hinting on Twitter, By Her Mirror is about to go through a pretty major rebrand...

At the time of writing, there are still a fair few tweaks and changes to the new look that need sorting, a new logo in its final stages of design and I am also working to ensure I have a little backlog of posts ready and waiting for the new launch too. (These will definitely include posts on my travels in the USA this summer... I can't wait to tell you all about them!)

Most importantly, the name By Her Mirror is changing too. Having chosen it when beauty was the primary focus of this space, it started to feel like an awkward fit once it became clear this was instead a lifestyle blog. After an age spent mulling over options and Googling possible monikers to see if they were available, I finally found a name that worked:

This Last Moment.

At present the new blog is just a "Coming Soon" page, but behind the scenes I've been improving existing content and adding some new pages to the layout too.

If you'd like to, please feel free to bookmark the new URL; it will be live and kicking in a couple of weeks, with all social media channels switching to This Last Moment too.

In fact, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Bloglovin' followers will be pleased to know that there is no need to follow a new account, as the usernames of my current accounts will all be changed over the next few weeks!

I'm so excited to show you around the new blog, but for now... thank you. Thank you for your patience and your amazing support the last two or so years; I hope you are looking forward to the relaunch as much as I am! See you in a couple of weeks...


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Friday, 8 July 2016

My Guide to NYC



In June I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Big Apple with one of my best friends and truly, a better decision has never been made.

While I know from NYC locals that the city is not without its drawbacks (tourists being chief amongst them) I have to be honest and say that it has been a long time since a place has wowwed me in such a beautiful way.

My week there more than lived up to my expectations, so if you're planning a trip there sometime, this post is for you: the BHM guide to New York.

The Brooklyn Bridge

NYC QUICK TIPS


CHOOSE YOUR TIME OF YEAR
June in New York is hot; intensely so. Thankfully I was prepared for this to be the case, but if I were to book another trip I'd go for a cooler month (autumn being my preference).

GET A CURRENCY CARD
These are a pre-paid debit card that mean you're no longer stuck with wads of cash or faced with the embarrassment of your home bank blocking overseas transactions. Mine was from Caxton and made life so much easier.

BE A SAVVY AIRBNB-ER
I love Airbnb; when I lived abroad we stayed in them for a number of our trips and I've been a fan ever since. I prefer them to hotels because the locations and prices tend to be amazing; however, this trip we stayed in a hotel after Googling our chosen Airbnb's address and finding it was in a seriously rough area... Long story short: it pays to really do your research.

IT'S A SMALL BUT JAM-PACKED CITY
Compared with London, NYC felt surprisingly compact. Many of the landmarks and spots on my travel wishlist were within walking distance from one another, so it meant that I was able to tick off a few things on the same outing... But the subway is a help for longer treks.

The view from the Highline


WHERE WE STAYED


We went for the Chelsea Inn, a small hotel with an incredible central location that was offering deals as it was undergoing refurbishments. The hallways had yet to be re-done, but the rooms themselves were great. It was walking distance from Union Square (which had a fab market on Saturday and Wednesday) and the Empire State was visible from just down the block.



WHERE TO GO


I'm no longer much of a shopper, so my time was spent visiting as many of the landmarks and must-sees I had been eager to visit.

I visited some of the clich├ęd spots that you'll no doubt be familiar with already, so I won't go into masses of detail on these ones:
Central Park
The Flat Iron building
The Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park
Tiffany's on 5th Avenue
Times Square
Grand Central
American Museum of Natural History
All were beautiful, but here were some of my absolute favourite spots...

New York Public Library at Bryant Park
A huge and stunning space, this marble building made me seriously consider postgrad study for purely archaeological reasons. I wish I'd spent more time wandering around as it was pretty spectacular.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Another place I wish I'd had more time for! It was filled to the brim with great exhibitions and like many museums, the entry fee was a suggested donation. In particular I'd recommend seeing the Temple of Dendur (it features in the background of the paprikash scene in When Harry Met Sally).

Chelsea Market & The Highline
Great for foodies with an empty stomach, Chelsea Market is said to feature some of the best food in NYC. Eateries from all over the world rub shoulders with one another but even for those that are just wanting to have a nose around (like I was), it was a sight to see. Just nearby is the Highline, a former freight train track that has been turned into a little park above ground level. If you're a hipster, you're going to love it.

The Rockefeller Center
While many choose to go up the Empire State Building, I chose to go up to the Top of the Rock as I knew the views were amazing, with the added benefit of being to see the Empire State too. (The top photo of this post is one that I took from the observatory there.) It features three levels; the lowest is mostly indoors; the second is outside but with large transparent barriers to shield from the wind; the third is completely exposed (and for me, a bit scary... not the one for a windy day!) In the Rockefeller's basement are a variety of eateries if you are after some convenient lunch options and its plaza is recognisable from Elf and 30 Rock. I loved it.



WHERE TO EAT


It's hard to go hungry in the Big Apple - I can safely say there wasn't a single meal that left me disappointed or even remotely hungry during my stay! Again here are some of the places I ate, with a few honourable mentions detailed below...
La Petite Abeille
Juice Generation
Dig Inn

Tappo
A great recommendation from my bestie, this place offers thin crust pizzas that are at a great price and fab quality. Apparently this place is adored by NYC locals, so you know it must be fab.

Dough
I went to Dough three times in seven days and I regret nothing. The most delicious doughnuts I've ever tried, they are know for the Dulce de Leche flavour and it was a dream. Gorgeous as a pick me up treat after a proper New York downpour.

Big Daddy's Gramercy Park (or any damn fine US diner)
I knew I wanted to have a diner experience during my stay and again, this was a recommendation that lived up to expectations. I'm aggressively passionate about breakfast and if you love the sound of chocolate chip cookie pancakes, this place is for you.



And there you have it... The By Her Mirror Guide to NYC. I had an amazing stay there and can't wait to head back for a few days at the end of my USA travels! If you've been and you have some recommendations, please share them in the comments!



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Monday, 4 July 2016

In The Garden



I knew I wanted to try and film a Simple Pleasures video for you before I left the UK, so here it finally is: a walk around the garden on a bright spring day. Enjoy!



I hope this finds you well and enjoying weather is nice as here in sunny West Virginia! Have a fabulous week...

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Managing Homesickness



It feels only right to feature some of my favourite photos from my bedside table in today's post; I'm about 3000 miles from home and even though I'm someone who really loves travelling, this week saw a lot of headline-grabbing news occur in the UK and it's been tough to keep my chin up.

Homesickness affects us all at different times in our lives; it may be your first year at uni, your year abroad, your first time moving away from home for good, or any number of other instances.

I feel very lucky that for the amount of time I've been away from home my instances of feeling truly homesick have been relatively rare... But even I've had my moments of wishing I was back in my bubble.

If you're away at the moment, this one is for you; and as ever, if you guys have any tips I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Let's get to it.



RECOGNISE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES IMPACT ON YOUR MOOD


Often homesickness is less a sign that home is where you should be and more an indication that you are struggling with something in your new surroundings. I had it worst when I was working in France, hating my job and noticing the loss of the social life I'd enjoyed in the UK.

Home itself was no rosier or brighter; it just appeared that way because my situation at the time felt so bleak. The solution is usually not to fixate on home but to try and resolve whatever has cropped up in your current setting.


NOT EVERY MOMENT IS AN INSTA MOMENT


Bad days do feel worse when you are away from your bubble... but bad days end and dwelling on them will not help. Not every day of your experience elsewhere will be as fantastic as you might hope, and putting pressure on each moment to be perfect often leaves us enjoying our travels far less.

Keep your chin up, and know that after this rocky patch things will most likely to get so much smoother. I try and leave my lofty expectations aside as much as I can and just appreciate the ride, for better and for worse.



COMMIT TO BEING PRESENT


Sound advice for anywhere you are: give yourself to the situation you are in. As human beings we like to find ways to check out of things that cause us pain; it could be by ringing home as much as you can, hiding in bed, or just letting rip and complaining about what you dislike.

It can be hard to open up and to get to know the people that are around you, but you will always get back what you put in. Be patient and don't be afraid to fake it till you make it, saying yes to going out even when you don't feel like it, as often these are the times that you'll enjoy most. I hugely recommend putting your phone away and ignoring the FOMO; seeing your loved ones having fun may feel productive, but it is truly anything but.

If one area refuses to be fixed (be it work, your new flat or your new friendships), find another way to enjoy wherever you are. I fell for photography in France and it was a great way to connect me to my new country; simple things like attending local classes, trying a new hobby and exploring your local area will help make up for any frustrations and upsets that are happening in other parts of your day.


KNOW THAT TIME WILL PASS


If you try everything and still feel homesick, know that time is a slippery thing and all too soon you'll find yourself headed home. My seven months in France flew by and at the end I found I enjoyed myself most in the last two weeks before my departure. I am now two years older and wiser and it has made being here in the US a much easier experience. The odd wobble is to be expected, but I know that in no time whatsoever I'll be leaving and missing it hugely.


I of course welcome any guidance you have on this subject - have you had any rough experiences of homesickness? Come let me know in the comments!


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Sunday, 5 June 2016

My Evening Routine



You lovely people asked for it, so many months later, here it is - my evening routine. It features a couple of the ways I like to get the most out of my evenings, plus a healthy amount of downtime too. Enjoy!



And there you have it! What have you guys been up to this week? Come to the comments and fill me in, you know I love hearing from you!

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Monday, 30 May 2016

Thank You, May



I'm writing this on a beautiful Sunday evening, with a very warm and sleepy Oscar asleep on my lap. In the blink of an eye, I've finished at my job and it's a matter of days before my US adventure; where did all that time go?!


ON MY MIND THIS MONTH


I am of course very excited, but I am thankful too for what a wonderful month this May turned out to be... As well as a beautiful sunny in Bristol at the start of the month, I thoroughly enjoyed  my solo trip to London and had the pleasure of meeting up with the lovely Siobhan from Bless The Weather. Amazingly, it was the first time I'd ever met a blogging friend in person and it was a total joy; Siobhan and I wandered around Exmouth Market and how I managed to leave without stealing her adorable little girl Rory is a complete mystery...

I also had an amazing time at the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  If you were following me on Snapchat - my username is byhermirror - you saw a few sneaky peeks at what is an essential day out for HP nerds. My favourite part was seeing the Weasley kitchen, and the fabulous magical knitting device pictured above. If you're not following along with my Snaps already, I'd head over because this Friday will see me heading to spend a week in gorgeous New York and I truly couldn't be more excited!

May wasn't without is lows, however... I try to avoid making my life appear to be a white-washed, perfect version of reality on this blog, so I think it is worth mentioning that this month was also one of the most stressful I've ever had: comparable to exam season of university at times. I suppose I am trying to say that we should never, ever assume someone is doing amazing because they have a few more shiny pennies in their life, as Jess Lively would say. My big lesson was that I need to learn to manage my time and my mental wellbeing better, and to say no when I really, really need to as I seem to get more migraines when I am overdoing it!

But that aside, let's move on to some of my favourite discoveries of the last thirty or so days...

I am so close to moving to Bristol and this burger from Three Brothers has a lot to do with it...


 

ON THE INTERNET THIS MONTH


I fell hard and fast for Carrie's blog One Pleasant Day; beautiful photography and wonderful lifestyle content in abundance.

I'm obviously obsessed with listening to Lemonade and hearing reactions and critiques about it too... (My favourite track is Six Inch by the way!) I loved the dissection of the album that came from this episode of the podcast Sampler.

I've been finding myself increasingly drawn to blogs that push the envelope and showcase great writing and this post from The Guilty Girl was one of my favourite reads from this month.

I really enjoyed following along with #mymonthofselfcare, a beautiful project started by Siobhan and Eva. Its sentiment is beautiful and so apt for me at the moment; I loved reading their introduction posts too (Siobhan's is here and Eva's is here).

This episode of The One You Feed is pure magic.

I'm already devastated about my wonderful husband Barack no longer being US president and this really isn't helping.

And last but not least -  my new yoga instructor is amazing.


ON THE BLOG THIS MONTH


4 Beautiful Ways To Nourish Long Distance Friendships
Thoughts On: Life As The Single Girl
A Trip To London


Thank you as always for your patience - things are set to be a little inconsistent for the moment on this space, but I'll be blogging and vlogging as regularly as I can manage! Take care and let's hope we all have a beautiful June...




Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Trip To London


I loved filming this week's vlog for you - it involved some great breakfast and some even greater comapny, as I headed to London for my US visa interview... Enjoy!



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Friday, 13 May 2016

THOUGHTS ON: Life As The Single Girl



"So, Anna, are you seeing anyone at the moment?"

This is a question that crops up somewhat regularly; on this occasion, it was my grandmother asking. My answer was brief and varied little from any other time I am asked this. "Not at the moment, Nanny."

While my grandmother may have been asking with the most innocent of intents, I have found myself growing increasingly tense each time a friend, family member or colleague makes this same query. It is perfectly possible that every one of these individuals only seeks to make conversation, but I've come to realise that there may be something larger and even harmful at play here. Today I'd like to highlight the sexism I see lurking under the surface of this seemingly simple question.

The truth is that I now see being single as something I have to justify and almost apologise for. It is as if being in a relationship is seen as the "default" and being single is some kind of weird error; a blip in the system.

Think of the difference between the way we see the words "girlfriend" and "wife" versus how we feel about the term "spinster". Girlfriend and wife, though heavy with gendered baggage in their own right, lack the subtext of loneliness and sadness that we visualise when we hear the word spinster.

Compare this too with the fun, roguish stereotype of the spinster's historical male equivalent, the bachelor; somehow the female version engenders images of sad women at home with a multitude of cats, while the male term carries a sense of youth and sexual freedom. Why on earth should this be the case?




In fact I have realised that I began internalising this aversion to female singlehood from an early age. In both the fairy tale Disney films I devoured as a child and the sitcoms I loved as a teenager, the single girl was painted a sad, solitary figure, whose experience little resembles my time as a single woman. The princesses I loved (Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty) only found happiness and an escape from their difficult pasts by earning the love of a man. The female characters in the sitcoms I adored got off no better, and were often to hate being single (think Elliott Reed of Scrubs, Rachel from Friends, Grace in Will & Grace). The subtext of all these portrayals regularly implied that if a girl was single, she was not truly happy.  Rather, she was waiting for her true love to sweep in and rescue/marry/complete her, and only then would she find total happiness.

Even Sex and the City, widely loved and celebrated for its portrayal of four happily single women, focused almost in its entirety on the group's quest to find men. Particularly in its earliest seasons, the four protagonists were seldom shown as being truly comfortable living life without some degree of male attention. Instead, singlehood was often shown as simply the time spent between male partners; either nursing wounds from the last, or going all out to woo the next. This could well be put down to the show being a product of its era, perhaps, but I still think it is a crying shame that the biggest female-led sitcom of all time was so obsessed with men.



I think, too, of how quickly our society calls into question women who are not obviously interested in attracting male attention. Growing up I heard on numerous occasions of various women rejecting various men (both on and off screen) and noticed how quickly the assumption was made that the woman must be gay... As if rejecting one man is somehow the same as rejecting all men.

This is problematic for a number of reasons; firstly, it belittles the choices of gay women everywhere, implying that lesbian relationships are based on hatred for men rather than love for women. Secondly, it encourages the notion that the woman in question has an issue with all men, even when she is rejecting one individual who has treated her poorly. In fact, while writing this essay, I've begun to wonder how much idea that male desire should be the ultimate goal for all straight women (and ideally all gay women too, for that matter) feeds into the idea of rape culture. My initial thoughts are hugely so.





It's taken me a long while to share this post with you; I've deleted it, re-written it, scheduled it and then cancelled it on numerous occasions, all because I was so scared what sharing on this subject would say about me... To be perfectly frank with you, I was afraid I'd be dismissed as just another sad single girl. Only when a friend pointed out the irony of this to me did I feel I could finally hit "Publish".

Lastly, I've chatted with a fair few of my friends about how damaging the shaming of female singledom can be. I've known of so many beautiful, brilliant, bright girls who stay in unhappy relationships for seemingly no reason; who turn to Tinder even after finding it didn't work for them; who go through heartbreak over guys who are not the gods they believe them to be. I don't think that all of these situations arise solely because we are cultured to avoid being single, but I do think that pressuring girls to find a man and settle plays a part in this pain.


I'm so, so curious - what do you make of this topic? My fellow single ladies - do you feel shamed about your single status too? I am so eager to hear your thoughts!

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