TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 31, 2020

8 Ways to Create Healthy Boundaries Online

Setting boundaries is important for any healthy functioning relationship, not least our relationship with social media but it’s easier said than done when the thing we need a break from is permanently attached to our palms.

Setting boundaries is important for any healthy functioning relationship, not least our relationship with social media but it’s easier said than done when the thing we need a break from is permanently attached to our palms.

The online and offline worlds often become blurred, which can leave us feeling disproportionately disconnected from our reality. So, how do you find a way to navigate social media in a way that serves you? Like, really serves ‘offline’ you.

In this blog post, we discuss how setting boundaries online can protect our mental health and allow social media to have a positive presence in our lives.

1 Take ownership of your feed

To take control of the content you’re consuming, you have to take control of who you’re following. Your feed is your space, if something doesn’t contribute to your life in a positive way or make you feel good, use the power of the mute/unfollow button to preserve your happiness. If it doesn’t bring you joy block it out, literally. A purge is the best thing you can do sometimes! Treat your social media profiles like your home and don’t be afraid to ask people to leave if they cross the line.

2 Give yourself permission to unplug

Countless studies have indicated that spending too much time on the internet can seriously compromise our mental health, and whilst it’s not always practical to deactivate your social media or take a week-long hiatus, particularly if it’s your job, you can put a limit on your social media usage to allow you the opportunity to switch off.

Set a schedule for a time to step away from your phone and stick to it – if you feel like you’re waking up and going straight onto your phone, make that first hour of the morning your downtime to ease you into the day slowly, without social media noise and distraction. Make a cuppa, get ready, do some journaling or listen to a podcast – make being in the present your only priority before your mind dives straight into DMs and to-do lists.

Establish what an appropriate amount of time on social media looks like to you and determine how you’ll hold yourself accountable for switching off. Is it a screen-free Sunday, a daily social media curfew or a phone-free zone in your home? Decide what works best for you and your lifestyle.

3 Check in with yourself

Ask yourself what you’re looking to get out of this platform? Is it to network with other likeminded professionals, to stay in touch with your friends or find some entertaining content? It’s easy to fall into the trap of mindless scrolling before bed or first thing in the morning and in doing so, we quickly lose sight of the purpose and intention of consuming content in the first place.

4 Disable push notifications

The constant distraction of notifications on your home screen can exacerbate anxiety and stress. Set aside a time slot to check-in and reply to messages and allow yourself permission to be ‘unavailable’, even if it’s only for an hour a day. We don’t know who needs to hear this but: you don’t need to reply to every notification immediately.

5 Set app limits and downtime

If the thought of going completely phone free for an entire day isn’t realistic, utilise your phone settings to help establish some practical boundaries and hold yourself accountable.

Go to Settings > Screen Time > Down Time and App Limits to keep your social media consumption in check and to remind you when you’re meant to be switching off.

6 Remember not everything needs to be shared

Maintaining a healthy relationship with social media is as much about creating boundaries for yourself as it is about creating boundaries with others. Not everything you experience has to be public-facing and part of practising self-care and self-preservation online is holding something back for yourself. Let go of the pressure to share every part of you with the internet.

7 Stop comparing

If you feel yourself falling into the comparison trap, try to remind yourself that social media is, for the most part, a highlights reel – most people use it to project an ideal life, not a whole life. A post is just a moment, it almost never tells the whole story.

8 Connect with others IRL

Sure, nurturing an online community can be wholesome and uplifting stuff but virtual socialising can’t replace meaningful face-to-face connections and friendships. When you’re enjoying some downtime from social media, go on a walk with a friend or pick up the phone and call them (GASP) for a catch-up. It does wonders for those happy hormones.

How do you uphold a healthy relationship with social media and protect your mental health?

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 30, 2020

Weekly Wants: New In

Autumn is on the horizon, and you know what that means? New-season shopping! Enjoy this week's edit and let us know what you've got your eye on.

Autumn is on the horizon, and you know what that means? New-season shopping! The changing of weather, priorities and opportunities that come with a new calendar month offer a v satisfying scroll of your favourite online outlets, and this week we’re sharing the top tier items on our wish lists.

Team Zoella are fond of all things AW styling more than most, so expect some cardigans and layers that we’ll be phasing into our wardrobes over the coming weeks. For those of us not ready to let go of summer quite yet, we’re still loving the ease of chucking on a mini dress or linen trousers and a tee, so don’t fear fellow sun loving dressers out there- there are picks for you too!

And finally, the category we can never, ever get enough of homeware! Because if a second lockdown is on the way, you best believe our homes will be looking their absolute 10/10 best selves whilst we sit inside our four walls. Enjoy this week’s edit and let us know what you’ve got your eye on!

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 29, 2020

Introducing #DigitalDetoxDay: Switch Off For Mental Health

On Saturday, 5th September we’ll be stepping away from our digital devices and switching off for Digital Detox Day.

On Saturday, 5th September we’ll be stepping away from our digital devices and switching off for Digital Detox Day.

The collaborative campaign between Zoe Sugg, mental health organisation #IAMWHOLE and LUSH Cosmetics, aims to raise awareness about the negative impact social media can have on our mental health and encourages participants to form better relationships with our devices.
That ever-present digital connection and always ‘on’ mindset can end up making us feel more disconnected than ever, causing stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and insomnia, to name a few.

We’ve all seen our screen time stats and felt shook by the number of hours (and even days) we’ve lost to scrolling that great digital abyss. Doing a digital detox allows you to set healthy boundaries and gives your mind a chance to switch off, recharge and focus on social interactions in real life without digital distractions.

Together with LUSH, Zoe has created a bespoke Digital Detox Day sunset-inspired bath bomb, to raise vital funds for grassroots mental health charities. Let the calming scent of neroli fill your tub, quiet your mind and invite you to be present and in the moment. The ‘IRL’ bath bomb will be available in LUSH stores from August, 29th. Click here, to purchase one for yourself!

How To Get Involved With Digital Detox Day:

To join in, simply grab your best black pen and draw a circle on your hand with the word ‘OFF’ written in the middle. On the 4th September, upload the pic of your hand to your social channels to show that you’re supporting DDD on 5th September. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #DIGITALDETOXDAY and #IAMWHOLE

On the 5th September, disconnect to reconnect. Stay off social media for one whole day and enjoy the break!

When Digital Detox Day is over, you may decide it’s something you want to practise on a regular basis with recurrent digital abstinence. Pick one day a week to go device-free or social media-free, whatever works for you. The aim is to promote more positive habits around your social media usage and digital devices. Give it a go.

Will you be joining us for #DigitalDetoxDay?

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 28, 2020

We Tried: The Bettercup Menstrual Cup

Reusable and sustainable menstrual products have been around for decades but until recently have been eclipsed by their single-plastic counterparts. In this edition of our 'We Tried' series, the team took the plunge and got to grips with menstrual cups. Literally. Find out how we got on with the Bettercup!

With each individual going through approximately 11,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime, disposable sanitary products are no friend of the planet, this much we do know. But if you’re anything like us, the thought of trying a menstrual cup made us clam up. What about leakage and rinsing it out in the sink with an audience? So. Many. Intimidating. Scenarios.

It’s estimated that a whopping 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year, with the vast majority ending up washed up on beaches or in landfill.

What’s scarier than all of the above though, is the environmental cost of plastic periods, not to mention the financial strain on our uterus every time we have to shell out for overpriced tampons and pads. It’s estimated that a whopping 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets each year, with the vast majority ending up washed up on beaches or in landfill. It’s a sorry story for our shorelines but that’s not the half of it. A recent study from the US found that non-organic rayon-based tampons contain some pretty nasty chemicals – paint stripper, to name just one. How the hell is that allowed near our vaginas? Well, because the menstrual industry basically polices itself, meaning there’s little to no transparency about what goes into the products. Doing a bit of womb washing up a few times a month suddenly doesn’t seem such a big deal after all.

Reusable and sustainable menstrual products have been around for decades but until recently have been eclipsed by their single-plastic counterparts. In this edition of our ‘We Tried’ series, the team took the plunge and got to grips with menstrual cups. Literally. Find out how we got on with the Bettercup!

Lareese…

Hi, I’m Lareese and I’m a menstrual cup evangelist. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. If anyone was going to find an excuse to wriggle out of stuffing a cup up her vagina like some sort of contortionist and rinsing out my innards in the sink, it would be me. Trust me.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been mid-burpee in a body combat class and literally felt my tampon crowning and yet I settled for that life because, well, it’s a period not a five star eat, pray, bleed happiness retreat.Lareese

I’ve been interested in trying more sustainable period products for a while but you know what it’s like, another period rolls around and you’ll just do anything for an easy life, trying out a cup just wasn’t top of my 2020 bucket list. I was so adamant I wouldn’t get on with it that I just got stuck in a tampon rut. When I think about it, I never quite found my groove with them over the years. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been mid-burpee in a body combat class and literally felt my tampon crowning and yet I settled for that life because, well, it’s a period not a five star eat, pray, bleed happiness retreat. Little did I know that such a retreat does exist – and I only had to go to my bathroom to find it. It’s no Bali, but it’ll do.

Working from home during lockdown presented the perfect opportunity to give the cup a good go and honestly, I wish I made the switch sooner. There’s certainly a knack to getting it in there, especially on the first few goes – I quickly learnt that there’s really no elegant way to do it, just fold it up like a gift and present it to your vagina, and when I say present I mean literally shove it in its face. After getting over that first hurdle, I got a bit ballsy and headed straight out on a run. It was always going to be a risk – did I put it in right? Will I leave a Hansel and Gretel-like trail of bloodcrumbs behind me? Will it disappear into the abyss and burst out of out my eyeball? Nothing of the sort happened. In fact, the cup didn’t even budge one bit. I couldn’t feel it rattling around inside of me, it just slotted perfectly into place.

The next day, full of this new-found period confidence, I went down the beach for a swim. I popped the Bettercup in first thing in the morning and didn’t give it another thought until I emptied it before bed. I’d say that’s one of the best things about converting to cups – the freedom! I can leave the Bettercup in all day and it doesn’t hold me back from doing all the things I enjoy! No crowning cotton to deal with, no peeing on the string (you can pee and poo as normal with a cup in btw), no more getting caught out and doing a mad dash to Boots. Who knew periods could be this convenient? And I really did put it through its paces.

I’ve yet to navigate the rinsing it in a communal sink situ but I know wiping it down with tissue, reinserting and rinsing at my earliest convenience is still ok if I happen to find myself in a toilet with an audience and only one sink up for grabs. I’m so glad I’ve discovered a period product that works for me and the planet (I mean, it lasts for 10 years! That blows my tiny mind), and lets me live my blooming life without worrying. Periods are never going to be the most enjoyable event in our monthly calendars but this game-changing little cup is proof that they can certainly be better.

Danielle…

Let me start this off with the headline, which is that I am absolutely a ‘cup convert’. I’m so pleased I gave the better cup a whirl and I urge you to do the same!

So. I have a fairly regular period, lasts about four days with the heavier days being the second and third. Trialling the cup whilst working from home was a dream, as I’m sure, like many, my biggest concerns were the mess/getting it in and out which are all made easier in the comfort of your own bog. I’m a tampon girl usually, I opt for super (sometimes regular) and prefer Tampax pearl, which I think we can all admit are expensive and pretty crap for the environment.

The first time I put it in was a little tricky, I won’t lie when I say it is quite beefy and there is an element of shoving to get it up before it unfolds but it was not painful.Danielle

I came on during a Sunday afternoon this month, the first day is usually more of a “Hi I’m here” than a “WHAT UP BITCH MOTHER NATURE HAS ARRIVED” so I chilled out and decided I’d pop Mr cup in before I went to bed. I must admit I was pretty excited to come on and give it a go. The first time I put it in was a little tricky, I won’t lie when I say it is quite beefy and there is an element of shoving to get it up before it unfolds but it was not painful. Immediately I liked the feel and even though I knew it was in there it didn’t feel any more foreign than a tampon. My only worry at this point was getting it out (especially after knowing Zoe had some trouble).

When I woke up in the morning I was ready to see what the situation was and when I tried to pull on the little plastic bit to get him out it was like pulling a bag of sand with a headphone jack, absolutely not happening. This is because part of the cup’s deal is that it works with suction and you need to break the seal for it to come out easily. I had a small panic and took the advice so many left in Zoe’s YT comments which was to stand in the bath and ‘bear down’ LOL. The cup came a little further south and I was able to grab the base and pinch it leading old’ cup to pop right out. This then became my way going forward, and although it’s good to feel the little plastic pull so you know where the cup is, I always reach for the base of the cup to remove.

As previously mentioned I was now excited to see how the cup held up in my heavier days and I have to say it was fantastic. absolutely no leakage, left it in for hours at a time and the cup was never overflowing. I’m annoyed it’s taken me so long to try a period cup and I’m so pleased that all I have to bring with me when I’m travelling is the cup, it’s also discreet enough to have in your handbag so I’ll never be caught short again. This is probably TMI but here we are, my favourite thing about the cup is not having to worry about changing my tampon when using the toilet for OtHeR things. My stomach basically explodes during my time of the month which is super fun, and now I don’t have to worry about pulling out a dry tampon.

If you’re thinking about trying a cup DO IT. It might not work for everyone but it’s so worth trying!

Zoe…

I wanted to start my review with a stat that I saw on the BetterCup instagram page which had me SHOOK. ‘On average, each person will dispose of 11,000 tampons and pads in their lifetime”, that is a LOT of landfill and waste and that statistic alone made me excited to give the cup a go! Much like Lareese and Danielle, I’d heard about menstrual cups, but I just ignorantly thought I’d never get on with them so never tried.

I was actually first introduced to a menstrual cup back in 2012 when I worked for a charity trust. They had one in the toilets with a poster behind it listing all the environmental benefits, but it just looked absolutely terrifying. Fast forward 8 years and I’m sitting on the toilet, folding the better cup in my hands and squeezing it in. I didn’t really know what to expect with a menstrual cup but had a lot of fun researching different cups, different insertion folds and watching others reviews online before trying myself. I’m a tampon girl, always have been, so inserting the cup wasn’t alien to me, in fact, I’d say I pretty much nailed it… or nailed myself if you like. If you are a pad wearer and aren’t as used to anything being inserted, it might take you a little longer to perfect this stage, but I’ve heard that’s quite normal and that it’s something you get used to the more you do it. So the cup is in and I go about my day.

I’m already absolutely loving it. Cups can be left in for 10-12 hours depending on how heavy your flow is and the joy of feeling like I could go about my day until that evening when I’d be going to bed, was PURE HEAVEN. I didn’t feel the cup once it was in there either and I’d almost go as far as to say I almost forgot I was on my period.

My cup seemed to have completely disappeared into the abyss that is apparently my vaginal canal.

Moving swiftly into the evening, it was time to empty the cup, give it a rinse and pop it back in. Here is where I had trouble. My cup seemed to have completely disappeared into the abyss that is apparently my vaginal canal. I pushed down (hard), I got into every position imaginable, I pretty much fisted myself trying to grab the cup. I could just about reach the tip of the stem with the tips of my fingernails but as the cup is kept in with the help of a vacuum, in order to release it you must first break that vacuum seal, so pulling down on the stem doesn’t actually help in any way. It felt like my insides were being sucked on. After hours of trying, I eventually had to ask my boyfriend to help me for fear of having to make an appointment with my GP. After an hour of awkward poses, being naked from the waist down with the “big light” on and a lot of laughing so hard we were crying, it flew out across the bathroom. We sighed in relief at the sight of the safe arrival.

Day two, I didn’t even consider not trying again, I was not going to be defeated. I found it easy to insert again, didn’t feel it all day and, despite last nights issue, I was a cup convert! I felt like my life had changed for the better (or the BetterCup, excuse the pun). Evening rolled around, 12 hours was up and it was time to give removing it another go. I had a really good feeling about it too! Fingers reach in and…where’s the cup? It had disappeared again. SO high up I could barely touch it. Long story short, I tried removing the cup at 10.30pm and eventually it was removed (by my boyfriend again) at 2.15am. Hours and hours of watching every YouTube video about cup removal, googling “my cup is stuck” and reading every search result. This time there was less laughing and more panic. I really didn’t want to have to ask my doctor to remove it for me. I also felt so defeated and sad. I loved it so much but realised in this moment that trying it for a third time would probably not be the best idea.

I wanted more than anything to master the “pinch the base of the cup” technique and wiggle it out, but I just couldn’t get that far up. After much googling, I found a lot of people had mentioned that the length of your cervix can really alter the size or length of the cup you should use and that it’s good to measure it and find out. I also noticed that some cups can suction themselves to your cervix, so I’m thinking one of those two things probably happened with me due to the nature of how I’m built down there.

I found it very easy to insert, comfortable to wear, no leaking, can wear it all day, lasts 10 years, better for the environment. Zoe

I’m definitely going to try a few suggested “longer” cups and see if I can make those work for me, but I do feel sad that BetterCup clearly felt too cosy in there and didn’t want to come out. I don’t think my experience should put you off trying, however (it certainly won’t put me off trying again). I found it very easy to insert, comfortable to wear, no leaking, can wear it all day, lasts 10 years, better for the environment.

There are certainly more positives with my experience than negatives, but my one negative sadly prevents me from easily removing it, which is kind of a vital part in the process haha! The menstrual cup will not defeat me and as no two vaginas are the same, it’s about finding something that will work for me and my apparently cavernous cave of wonder.

Darcey…

Let me start this off with the fact that I was very, very anti-tampons, so I became a sanitary towel kinda gal and have been for years. I have always found tampons really uncomfortable, even if I shove them as far as they can possibly go, I would feel it still or it would just make it’s way back down until he was basically poking out. I hated the dryness too of pulling a tampon out on a lighter period, which I had when I was taking the contreceptive pill. So, when I came off the pill in January my periods became more regular and heavier, lasting 4-5 days with my second and third day being the heaviest. So I was after something a bit more sturdier than a sanitary towel to accompany my new flow. 

So when the team discussed trialling out a cup, I was intrigued, but also certain I wouldn’t get along with it. I mean firstly, it is bloody massive at first glance. I know vaginas are made to push out a child, but the cup can be intimidating that’s for sure. I also thought if I don’t get along with tampons, will I really get along with a cup? I was unsure but I wanted to give it a go! So the first day of my period arrived and I got my cup ready, sterilised and ready to be inserted. I had to hype myself up at the fear it was going to be impossible to get in, but to my surprise it quite literally slipped up there no problem. I’m not sure how or why I had the technique down so quick, but I couldn’t believe how easy it was! 

First time wearing the cup I only left it in for four hours and set a timer to remind me to go in there and check he hadn’t made his way up to my cervix (especially after Zoe’s cup experience!). Four hours passed and my timer buzzed, when I realised I had completely forgotten it was up there! I could not feel a thing. Taking the cup out first time was fairly easy too, but I was lucky that I was the last out of all of us to trial him out, so I had all the tips and tricks passed to me! I think with the cup is you have to be comfortable with just shoving your fingers up there, no messing around, to break the suction and pull it out. 

I then wore the cup to bed that evening and probably had it in for around 10-11 hours, I did find after a long wear the cup did travel slightly up, but not out of reach. I found using my pelvic muscles (I think that’s the right name ha) and pushing down made the cup go lower, to the point where I could just grab it and break the suction. Removal is fairly painless, but I do find sometimes the cup folds when I’m removing it, then reopens when it’s nearly out, basically stretching out my vagina at rapid speed which can be uncomfortable haha! But other than that, which I think is something you get better at with practice, removal and inserting has been fairly straightforward for me. 

All in all, I am fully converted. the cup is so convenient, I have no fear of leaking and it is so comfortable to wear. It’s great because you can just leave it in alllll day stress free, no faffing around changing it mid-day because you are off somewhere and need a fresh pad or tampon in. I haven’t tried cleaning out the cup in a public toilet yet, but I think that will be stress free too as you simply just have to wipe it clean until you have the privacy to rinse it in a sink. 

If you are thinking about trying a cup, I would definitely recommend it! The cup has honestly changed my period experience for the better and I can’t see myself ever going back. Also, it lasts TEN years!! Think about all the money you will save not spending a fiver a month on pads or tampons, which lack in effectiveness at the best of times combatting leaks etc. The cup is worth a shot, it may or may not work for you, but if it works it’s going to be a real game changer!

Will you be giving The Bettercup a go?

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 27, 2020

5 Tips For Getting Your Creativity Back With Beth O’Leary

Whatever your creative outlet might be – whether you’re a writer, a crafter, a baker – we all have days when we feel like our creativity has gone out the window. So, what can you do to get it back?

We chose The Switch by Beth O’Leary for the June Zoella Book Club and immediately fell in love with her cosy writing style and characters.

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Beth is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages. She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher.

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She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time. Today we’ve invited Beth on to the blog to talk about creativity and she’s given us 5 top tips for getting it back when you’re feeling blocked.

Whatever your creative outlet might be – whether you’re a writer, a crafter, a baker – we all have days when we feel like our creativity has gone out the window. So, what can you do to get it back?

This was the absolute dream! But it also meant… I really needed to come up with a new story.Beth O’Leary

As an author, there’s nothing quite as scary as the feeling of having no new ideas. When I got my first book deal for my debut novel, The Flatshare, my publishers bought another book from me, yet to be written. Suddenly I was under contract: I was being paid to write. This was the absolute dream! But it also meant… I really needed to come up with a new story.

One morning, my boyfriend walked in to find me sitting on the sofa, staring at the wall and squinting. ‘Umm. What are you doing?’ he asked. ‘I’m trying to come up with an idea for a book,’ I told him. ‘Is that how it works…?’ he asked.

It totally isn’t, obviously. Since then, I’ve learnt so much about how to boost my creativity. That idea for my second book, the book that would become The Switch and would be optioned by Stephen Spielberg’s production company – it definitely did not come from staring at a blank wall.

It only fully emerged when I’d stopped trying to force it.Beth O’Leary

It came when I had stopped thinking about the problem; it crept up on me by degrees, and it only fully emerged when I’d stopped trying to force it.

So, here are my top tips for getting your creativity back…

1) Stop trying. This is so counterintuitive, and if you are having to be creative on a deadline, it feels like the last thing you want to do. But I’ve discovered that if I step away from my laptop and completely let my writing go, that’s when the ideas start popping up again. See if this works for you: try taking a break for as long as you can, and just take the pressure off yourself. If nothing else, a bit of restful self-care time may well make the problem feel less stressful.

2) Get inspired. Try something out of your comfort zone – for me, that often means reading a genre I wouldn’t normally choose, like crime or historical fiction. Whatever your creative task, try seeking inspiration from an unusual location. Maybe it’ll encourage you to approach things from a different angle, and something totally random might just spark a new idea.

3) Give yourself headspace. It can be hard to let your mind wander in the modern world. Social media, emails, whatsapp messages that are waiting for replies… they all pull at our attention in the little pockets of downtime we have in the day. Try allocating yourself some time each day to just be. I recommend having a long bubble bath with your phone out of the room – I’ve lost count of the number of plot problems I’ve solved in the bath!

4) Sleep more. Often a really good night’s sleep seems to make it easier for me to think laterally and come up with something original. And scientific research backs this up: for instance, this Nature study set participants a mathematical problem, then sent them away for eight hours. Those people who slept in that time were twice as likely to spot a hidden, abstract rule that allowed them to solve the problem simply. Sleep also gives your brain the chance to dream, which often provides creatives with inspiration: Jimi Hendrix wrote ‘Purple Haze’ about a dream he’d had, and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight started with an image from a dream too. So, maybe going to bed earlier could be the key to unlocking your creativity again!

5) Write down what you do come up with. It might just be a fraction of an idea, or something you’re almost certain is no use at all, but jot it down anyway. Those little grains might well grow into something bigger. And if you keep doing this all the time, not just in your uncreative spells, then you could end up with a pool of material that you can come back to when the ideas aren’t flowing quite so freely. I have a document called ‘book ideas on the go’ which is full of scattered half-concepts, odd phrases and a lot of absolute nonsense. But the book I’m writing at the moment, The Road Trip, grew from a tiny idea on that very document, jotted down more than three years ago. Sometimes the kindling for your creativity has been there all along, just waiting for one tiny spark to set it going.

Beth O’Leary’s latest novel, The Switch, is out now in hardback, audiobook and ebook. Her next novel, The Road Trip, is available to pre-order now. You can find Beth on Instagram and Facebook.

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 26, 2020

Top Tote Bags For Heading Back To Work

Whether your heading back to work this year or simply need to replace your trusty haggard-looking black tote, we've picked 21 of the best we could find to satisfy all your sack needs!

Big bags, small bags, smart bags, fun bags. Bags for lugging your laptop around town, bags for going from desk to drinks. Gym bags, shopping bags, popping to the beach bags. Whatever the occasion a good outfit deserves an equally good accessory.

Whether your heading back to work this year or simply need to replace your trusty haggard-looking black tote, we’ve picked 21 of the best we could find to satisfy all your sack needs!

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 25, 2020

13 Questions With Atelier Stella Ceramics

We catch up with another talented seller who worked with us on the Zoella X Etsy Collaboration; Stella of Atelier Stella Ceramics to discover more about her charming pots creations.

First of all, how have you been coping with the pandemic this year?

It allowed me to have a much-needed reset – I’m a workaholic and I always take on too much and then run around trying to get everything done so the lockdown gave me a chance to stop. Mentally it was good to slow down without the pressure of work. I spent more time, cooking, baking and a lot of gardening.

Has it affected how you operate your business?

I feel like I was in a lucky position, having an online business and being able to work alone in my studio. I did close the shop for 6 weeks during the lockdown but then reopened and have been busier than ever.

How long have you been selling on Etsy for?

I opened my Etsy shop back in 2012 and run it alongside my own website.

What did you study to be able to work on your art for a living?

I studied Graphic Design at Uni and then worked in London as a children’s book illustrator/designer for 8 years before taking the plunge and opening my ceramic studio.

What is the Atelier Stella Ceramics mission statement?

Stylish, handmade ceramics to make you smile.

What’s your best seller?

The mini animal pots sell well with the piggy pots taking the lead.

What are you currently working?

The collection is constantly changing as I have so many new ideas I just need to find the time to make them! Next on the list are some new pieces for Christmas.

How did you find the process of creating products for the Zoella X Etsy Collab?

It went really smoothly, the Zoella/ Etsy team sent over some ideas of pieces they liked and mood boards for patterns colours. I did some glaze tests and came up with a prototype which was approved the first time.

What’s the best thing about working for yourself?

Being able to take the afternoon off to go for a sea swim when the sun is shining.

How long does your end to end process take when designing and selling something new for your shop?

It varies as some new pieces I design I add straight to the shop and others sit on the shelf for a while so I can think about tweaks or glaze ideas. But generally, I could probably get a new piece from a paper sketch to photographed and in the shop in about 2/3 weeks.

What inspires you?

The collection evolves with influences from vintage ceramics, folk art, ancient pottery and geometric shapes. I keep a sketchbook of notes and mix all my ideas to create something that is uniquely my style.

How do you relax outside of work?

Two years ago I set about transforming our overgrown garden, I’ve put a lot of time and love into it and I spend hours pottering, drinking coffee and staring at the flowers.

If you could give one piece of advice to our audience who want to start making their own products what would it be?

Take your time and experiment! It’s easy to copy what someone else is doing and get a quick product but if you make something from the heart that is yours, you will never tire of making it and will always be proud of your originality.

Shop the entire Zoella X Etsy Collection here

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 24, 2020

Zoella Book Club: Our Picks For September Through To December

Since we know how much you fellow bibliophiles love to get ahead with your reading, we thought we’d release our Zoella Book Club picks from now right through until the end of the year.

Since we know how much you fellow bibliophiles love to get ahead with your reading, we thought we’d release our Zoella Book Club picks from now right through until the end of the year. And boy oh boy what an awesome foursome we’ve got for ya! Your TBR stack is about to be shook.

September Book Club

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Following on from our commitment to shake up our old reading habits and make our Book Club a more inclusive community, we are thrilled to announce Queenie as our September pick. After winning book of the year at this year’s British Book Awards, we just know we’re onto a goodun here!

A darkly comic and unflinchingly raw take on life as a young black woman trying to navigate her way in the world, Queenie is about identity, race, independence and carving your own path. This is the kind of heroine 2020 needs – you’ll be rooting for her every step of the way.

October Book Club

Wonderland by Juno Dawson

From the winner of the YA book prize 2020 – aka Queen of (our) Hearts Juno Dawson, comes this modern-day reworking of a well-loved tale and a searing exploration of gender, mental health and privilege. This is one fictional rabbit hole we don’t mind tumbling down.

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.
Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.
Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

November Book Club

The Magpie Society: One For Sorrow by Amy McCulloch and Zoe Sugg

Say hello to your new major YA obsession! The Magpie Society is a young adult gothic thriller fiction series, co-written by Zoe and Amy. The first instalment in the murder mystery series will be told via the alternating perspectives of the two lead protagonists, Audrey – written by Amy – and Ivy – written by Zoe, with the narrative jointly plotted by both authors. Prepare to be well and truly gripped. Coming October, 29 and available for pre-order now. Salute at the ready!

A STUDENT FOUND DEAD ON THE BEACH.
A WEB OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.
SOMEONE POISED TO STRIKE AGAIN.
Illumen Hall is a boarding school of tradition and achievement.
But tragedy strikes when the body of a student is discovered on the beach – and on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie.
For new student Audrey, it is just another strange and unsettling thing about her new surroundings, along with the secrets the school seems to hide and its weird obsession with magpies. For her roommate Ivy, the death of her friend Lola is just one thing she desperately wants to get past – and having a new student asking questions and cluttering up her personal space is not helping a bit.
But the two girls are forced into an unlikely alliance when a mysterious podcast airs, with one sinister headline:
I KNOW WHO KILLED LOLA. AND ONE OF YOU IS NEXT.

December Book Club

Finding Love At The Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

Come Winter, we like our fiction like we like our pancakes. Fluffy, fluffy, fluffy. Sinking into a snuggly Christmas read is a tradition we all look forward to and we’re not holding back on the cosy festive feels this year, not after the 2020 we’ve all had. One read of the blurb and you’ll feel an uncontrollable urge to curl up under a blanket with a mince pie in tow.

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners with her…
Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a check-list of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer. Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

We hope you’ll read along with us. Let us know which Book Club picks you can’t wait to get into!

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 23, 2020

Weekly Wants: Lingerie

From nude to neon, pastel to playful, these are our current faves for when your bottom drawer could use a spruce up. You look great- we promise!

If you’re anything like us, the past few months have been spent exclusively in loungewear and without a lacy undie or underwired bra in sight. But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and we can’t help but feel eager to pop on a matching two piece or slinky number and make the effort, even for our eyes only.

Comfort = confidence in our book!

And style doesn’t have to mean a compromise on comfort, because you best believe we’re not about that ‘ugh I can’t wait to get this thong OFF’ by 10am. Oh no no, comfort = confidence in our book, and boy have we picked some good ‘uns!

From nude to neon, pastel to playful, these are our current faves for when your bottom drawer could use a spruce up. You look great- we promise!

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA AUGUST 22, 2020

Staycation Series: 7 City Breaks To Charm Your Socks Off

Paris and Lisbon may be off-limits for now, but the UK certainly holds its own when it comes to cosmopolitan hotspots and picturesque gems worth visiting.

When it comes to finding a staycation with plenty to see and do, little else can rival a city break. Paris and Lisbon may be off-limits for now, but the UK certainly holds its own when it comes to cosmopolitan hotspots and picturesque gems worth visiting. Holidaying on home turf – we think we can manage that just fine, Boris!

Bristol

Renowned for its creative vibe, craft beers, indie shops and colourful streets, Bristol is one seriously happening city. Home to some of Banky’s most iconic murals including Well-Hung Lover on Frogmore Street and the Grim Reaper at M Shed, you can experience the elusive street artist’s work first-hand and free of charge at various locations throughout the city.

When you’re done strolling Britain’s most walkable city, start rolling at Chance & Counter, Bristol’s hipster board game cafe. Make a day of it and order milkshakes and grub while you play before ambling the photogenic neighbourhoods and admiring the views of the iconic Clifton suspension bridge.

Where to stay: Number 38 Clifton, 38 Upper Belgrave Road, Bristol, BS8 2XN

Liverpool

Music fans will be hard-pressed to find a city that hits the high notes quite like Liverpool. Head to Matthew Street to discover the legendary Cavern Club – the cradle of British pop music and birthplace of The Beatles. Since its opening in 1957, the club has played host to The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Adele, so it certainly knows how to please a crowd.

With some of the best museums and shopping in the country, you’ll never be twiddling your thumbs here. Take a stroll down Bold Street to experience the creative spirit of Liverpool. It’s the place to be if you’re in the market for quirky homeware, vintage gems, second-hand books and pre-loved bargains. When you’re all shopped out, head to the Hot Water Comedy Club for a barrel of laughs, followed by an Indian street food feast at Mowgli. Whether you’re on the hunt for sport, food, Instagramable architecture or art galleries, you’re likely to find it in this beautifully diverse city.

Where to stay: Hope Street Hotel

London

The Queen’s stomping ground needs no introduction. Discover the greatest collection of art, design, fashion and textiles on the planet in the V&A museum, swoon over the pastel-coloured houses of Notting Hill, snap the street art surrounding Brick Lane and soak up nature in one of the many manicured royal parks dotted around the city. Regent’s Park really comes into its own in the Autumn months and Richmond Park is the perfect spot for deer-watching. A visit to Peggy Porschen aka the prettiest bakery in town is a must if you’ve got a soft spot for pink aesthetic and award-winning cakes.

Flower lovers can get their floral fix at Columbia Road flower market, on every Sunday – a whole street overflowing with buckets of beautiful bargain blooms, house plants and shrubs. If you’re feeling peckish after a weekend of sight-seeing, tuck into a delicious roast dinner at Hawsmoore, complete with giant Yorkshire pudds, goose fat potatoes and the best roast beef the city has to offer. This is Sunday done right!

Where to stay: The Hoxton, 199-206 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BD

Bath

If buttery beige Georgian crescents, quaint pebbled streets and sweeping countryside sounds like a bit of you, then look no further than the beautiful history-soaked city of Bath. With its postcard picturesque architecture and quintessential Englishness, it’s easy to see why this place left such an impression on Jane Austen during the time she was living here.

Feeling hungry? Bath does independent restaurants very, very well and a visit to Sotto Sotto before you head home is a must-try. Book in advance to avoid empty bellies. No trip to Bath is complete without immersing yourself in history and visiting the natural hot springs that give the city its name. Using hot mineral water that rose through the limestone beneath the city, the Romans created hot baths to bathe in the waters and worship the religious temple. You can’t bathe in the Roman Baths these days but you can take a dip in the natural hot springs at Thermae Bath Spa. A final word: you need to experience the superior teacake / sweet dough situation that is a Sally Lunn bun. Expect queues out the door but it’ll be totally worth it.

Where to stay: No. 15 Great Pulteney, Bath, England, UK, BA2 4BR

Cambridge

Come rain or shine, Cambridge will charm the pants off ya. Grab a boat for a punt along the river, wander the historical streets and university surroundings, lose yourself in the lush greenery at the botanical gardens and stop for a latte-sipper & world-class Chelsea bun at Fitzbillies.

This café has been serving famously sticky Chelsea buns since 1920. It would be rude not to! And because you can never have too much coffee when you’re walking 20,000 steps a day on a city break, make sure you get a cup of joe and a slice of something nice at Hot Numbers. It’s the perfect spot for people watching & brunching.

Where to stay: University Arms, Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AD

Edinburgh

With an abundance of history, sandstone buildings and breath-taking natural beauty, Edinburgh is not a city you’ll forget in a hurry. Visit the most famous of Scotland’s castles – you’ll want to be around for the gun salute at 1pm- and experience the stunning stained-glass beauty of St Giles’ Cathedral.

Outdoorsy types can take a hike up the extinct volcano summit to enjoy spectacular vistas from Arthur’s Seat, or have a leisurely wander around the remarkable royal gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. If it’s a rainy day, head indoors to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions for mirror mazes and shrinking rooms. It’s hours of fun for all the family!

Where to stay: The Bonham, 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, EH3 7RN

Brighton

As city breaks go, Brighton’s got it all. It’s got the beach (albeit a pebbly one), it’s got the night life and it’s got the independent coffee shops and the vibrant food scene. Grab an ice cream from Brass Monkey and mosey around the historic lanes. You’ll be spoilt for choice for places to stop and graze but if you’re in the market for a hot beverage and a banging doughnut or artisan toastie, The Flour Pot Bakery is a favourite among the locals.

No trip to this city by the sea is complete without a visiting the Taj Mahal style Royal Pavilion and iconic palace pier. During the winter months, you might be lucky enough to watch the starlings perform their spectacular aerial show above the West Pier. Every year, just before dusk, hundreds of the birds gather on the pier to roost but the real magic happens when they take flight in a cloud-like formation. Just look for the eerie skeletal ruins to the west of the Palace Pier and take a seat on the beach to watch the show. It’s a mesmerising sight!

Where to stay: Artist’s Residence, 33 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2GG

If you’re not digging the hustle and bustle of a city break this year, check out our round-up of the UK’s best beach staycations and zen AF camping getaways.

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