I for one am happy to see 2017 roll to a close. This year I went through some high highs and some seriously low lows. I learnt more about myself this year than I have in the last few, and I’ve felt emotions this year that I never want to feel again. I don’t think I’m the only one that feels this way about 2017. The energy whirled in the zone of negativity, but it showed me how strong I am as I come out the other side. I will not dwell on anything that didn’t change me in the best way possible. So with that in mind, I am happy with the place I am at now, and I am very ready to compile all my favourites in a reminiscent way ready for the next year to come. Bring on 2018; I have a good feeling about this one.
Warning: This post has a lot of words, and may be quite hard to read. Also, I say “love” and “favourite” a lot!
My 2017 Favourites
The main focus of my blog is trying and reviewing natural, cruelty free and vegan beauty and personal products. I absolutely love doing this! I have found some absolute gem products from doing this; things that I probably wouldn’t have tried if I wasn’t going to review them! I have found my passion in Natural Beauty and I have loved sharing my reviews with you all this year. Here is a list of my favourite products I have tried this year by category:
- Castor oil scalp treatment: I haven’t blogged about this, but it a process of applying Castor oil onto the scalp and massaging it in. It helps nourish the scalp as well as stimulate hair growth. I also enjoyed mixing my Castor oil with Jojoba.
- Scritching & Preening: This isn’t a product, but a process that is used by those doing the No Poo Method (no shampoo). I adapted this process when trying the Low Poo method, but the no shampoo thing didn’t catch on. Instead, I decided on natural products which have yet to satisfy me completely. However, since I cut all my hair off this year as I’m growing out my hair dye; I adopted any process that will help my hair to regrow. Enter: scritching and preening.
- Tea Tree Oil: For applying to my acne prone areas. I love this as it’s a natural way to dry oil my spots, and reduces scarring.
- Sukin Face Mask: Particularly the Charcoal Clay mask.
- Facial Oil: I love using a mixture of Rose Hip & Jojoba. It’s a light yet nourishing blend.
- Sukin Cream Cleanser: By far the best cleanser I have tried this year. Nourishing on the skin and removes all make-up.
- Sukin Super-Greens Moisturiser: A great one for acne prone skin.
- Schmidts Deodorant: By far my favourite deodorant of the year. I love all the scents, particularly Rose& Vanilla.
- Forever Living Aloe Tooth Gel: A new discovery, but one of my favourite toothpastes of the year. It’s fluoride free and very whitening on the teeth without harsh whitening ingredients.
- DIY Moisturiser: The only moisturiser I’ve been using on my body this year, and the most natural one available.
- Dr Bronners Toothpaste: I love this product; from the packaging to the taste.
- OrganiCup: My menstrual cup! One of the best purchases and natural switches that I have made.
- Natural Cycles Thermometer & App: I haven’t ever been consistent with any hormonal contraception, and I hadn’t lasted more than a month with anything until I came across FAM and Natural Cycles. I am now more in tune with my body and my cycles than ever before. A full in depth review will be coming soon, but I highly recommend every female research the issues with hormonal contraception.
This year I have tried to be more mindful and awake in all areas of life. I have tried to discover my emotions and feel them fully and wholeheartedly to heal them. Yet, I also seem to have watched more TV this year than I think I ever have from what I’m aware of. However, maybe I haven’t. Maybe I’m just more aware of it this year.
I threw myself at TV shows when things in my life got hard. At first it was as a distraction and knew it, as I started to look back mid-year I realised those days of distractions were a blur. I couldn’t remember extended periods of time because I was lost in the events and emotions of shows. That’s when I started mindful TV watching. I also changed the kind of shows I chose to binge on. Vampire Diaries was great, but I don’t want to watch a show that alters my emotions so heavily. So for the later part of the year I chose lighthearted shows. That being said, here are all the shows I have loved:
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: A hilarious must watch Netflix comedy. I didn’t rate this show much at first, but after 3 episodes I was in for the long haul. Titus Andromedon is everything. Even if you haven’t watched the show, you need to watch this clip linked here.
- iZombie: I loved this show. I’m also now obsessed with Rose McIver as an actress. Plus I think we’d be great friends. iZombie is available on UK Netflix.
- Gilmore Girls: I watched all seasons of this show from 2007 to the ten year 2017 reunion, and I feel like I grew up with Rory Gilmore over those 3 months. I wish I’d watched this when it first aired as I would’ve loved it as a child.
- The Vampire Diaries: Emotional to say the least. This show has the highest of highs and lowest of lows. The characters feel the strongest love for each other then the most unbearable hate. If you watch this, it’s an emotional roller coaster, but I love Vampires.
- You Me Her: This a Netflix show and has a strange story line to say the least. A married couple both fall for the same girl and end up in a 3-way relationship. I found it hilarious.
- Girl Boss: I’ve been following Sophia Amoruso since I read her book Girl Boss, so I was so happy when a show based on her life appeared on Netflix. A great watch, but the book is better.
- Fresh Meat: I study in Manchester so as I entered my final year, it was only evident that I watch Fresh Meat and relive my first and second year memories on screen.
- Pretty Little Liars: The Final! I’ve watched this show since it started and it’s fair to say it was time it came to an end, but I’m so happy I followed it through.
- Riverdale: I was late to this party, but it only meant I had an amazing show to binge watch over a snowy weekend. If you love Pretty Little Liar or The Vampire Diaries, you will love this too.
I’m not a high film buff, but when choosing films as favourites for this year; I pretty much chose films that have a good memory attached to them. Not all of them are new releases, in fact most aren’t. However, they made the list.
- Bay Watch: The new film released this year, not the old series. I watched this in the cinema and found it hilarious. Absolutely brilliant 10/10 must watch highly recommend.
- Notting Hill: An old school classic. British humour is so dry and brilliant and I love Hugh Grant. I watched this whilst eating vegan pizza so it makes the list.
- Mother’s Day: I love a chick flick romance comedy so I loved this.
- Mama Mia: I previously hated this film, but it’s a film that will definitely cheer you up. I watched it at the height of my home sickness when in Ghana on my tiny phone screen.
I love YouTube. I love how candidly people share their lives. Here is a list of YouTubers channels I have loved this year; both inspirational and aspirational in some ways.
- Allanna Davidson: I found Allana earlier this year and I love her videos because she is so real, authentic, down to earth and damn right funny. I love her beauty recommendations, and she has the best skin. I love her style too.
- Rochelle Fox: ICMOR (I Create My Own Reality) This is such an inspirational vlog series by Meditation teacher Rochelle Fox. I always feel better after watching her videos.
- Cartia Mallan: Again, I find such inspiration from Cartia’s videos. I love to watch her living her Australian lifestyle, and she has such incredible and individual style. I especially love everything she says about spirituality, and I’m in love with her apartment interior.
- Emmily Banks – Depths of Beauty: For all natural beauty questions, they are answered by Emmily Banks. More so on her Depths of Beauty blog, but the videos are great too.
- Lola Berry: A new discovery from the end of this year, but I’m obsessed with anything wellness and Lola Berry really shows that throughout her whole lifestyle; LOVE!
- Leaf TV: #WakeUpWith series. Another wellness channel that I love. From trying Wellness trends to healthy morning routines, I love it all.
- Byrdie Beauty: I found my obsession with beauty this year, and the Byrdie “Just 5 Things” series became an immediate watch. My favourites being Madeleine Petsch from Riverdale and Ashley Streicher favourite hair products and hair style tutorial.
- Madeleine Olivia: I have loved Maddie’s minimalism journey videos this year, and I also love everything she posts about natural beauty and ethical fashion.
- In The Frow: Victoria’s Vlogs are some of my favourites of this year. I love following along with her fashion filled lifestyle, and her closet is amazing!
- Samantha Maria: Sammie’s style is my favourite. I would say she is my biggest style inspiration on the net. Everything she wears is so up my street.
- Bonnie Rebecca: This is my favourite Vegan channel. I love her information filled videos, her “What I Eat in a Day” videos, and her interior style.
Blogs are where I find some amazing inspiration. My favourite type are wellness blogs that speak all about spirituality and health. However, I do love a few style blogs too.
- How You Glow: The How You Glow girls have the most visually appealing and amazing photography. I especially love their “How You Glow Profiles” of inspiring people.
- Depths of Beauty: Emmily reviews a whole host of natural beauty products and brands, and advises readers’ on which ingredients to remove from your lifestyle. I’m an Emmily Banks fan girl.
- Melissa Ambrosini: Melissa is one of the most inspiring thought leader’s of 2017. I loved her book and always with her Instagram stories too. Her blog is also packed with some amazing content.
- The Balanced Blonde: I started listening to Jordan’s podcast before reading her blog, and I have to say she has some amazing content. So real and down to earth, and really inspired me to strive for balance within my own life. For everything wellness, check her out.
- Samantha Maria: As mentioned above, I love Sammie’s style. So no doubt I love her blog too.
- Mind Body Green: This is a health blog that I love. It’s jam packed full of information that is so so valuable.
- Man Repeller: This blog has some of the best writers that I have found. The entire Man Repeller brand is amazing, and I just love the whole concept.
- Well and Good: Another health and wellness blog that I love. Can you see the running theme here?
- Oh She Glows: This is where I get all my favourite vegan recipes from. Some of the best I’ve ever found! Highly recommend.
- Byrdie Beauty: As mentioned above, I love Byrdie. It’s really played a part in my growing love for beauty this year. So much great information and the best blog layout that I’ve ever seen.
I’m obsessed with music, and this year I discovered some amazing artists that I’m so excited to share. I’ve pinpointed the specific songs so you can go type them into Spotify right away and give them a listen.
- Sofi De La Torre: Flex Your Way Out, D.G.I.T, Nike Grey, View of You 19 in Mexico, Give up at 2.
- Banks: Goddess, Fuck with Myself, Lovesick, Weaker Girl, Fuck Em Only We Know, This is What it Feels Like, Brain.
- Dua Lipa: New Rules, Blow Your Mind, Bad Together, Thinking ‘Bout You.
- Beyonce: Formation, Shining, Hold Up, Irreplaceable, Naughty Girl.
- SZA: Love Galore, Supermodel.
- Lana Del Ray: Summer Bummer.
- Bibi Bourelly: Perfect, Flowers, Poet.
- Madison Bear: Dead.
- Kehlani: Honey, Did I, Jealous.
- Taylor Swift: Call It What You Want, Gorgeous.
- Country Songs: Jessie James Decker – Girl On The Coast, Maren Morris – Rich, Sam Hunt – Body Like a Back Road, Jon Pardi – Head Over Boots, Sam Hunt – Break Up In a Small Town, Lee Brice – That Doesn’t Sound Like You, Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood – Somethin’ Bad, Olivia Lane – Quarter Life Crisis, Old Dominion – Break Up With Him, Carrie Underwood – Before He Cheats.
- R&B: Ciara – Work, Sean Paul – Temperature, Usher – Trading Places, Usher – Confessions, Usher – Burn, Destiny’s Child – Survivor, Rihanna – Break it Off, Camilla Cabello – OMG, 6 Black – First Fuck, Ne-Yo -Another Love Song, It’s a Vibe, Future ft Nicki Minaj – You Da Baddest.
I won’t go on a run before I’ve downloaded a podcast to listen to, and I prefer podcasts over music sometimes. I also won’t clean without one on. It’s an amazing way to get through any unfortunate task, although I do quite like to clean to be honest.
- The Balanced Blonde – Soul on Fire: My favourite podcast of the year! I love Jordan, she’s so real and authentic and sounds like such a nice person. I love the way she connects with her tribe and all the information she shares is so valuable.
- Your Own Magic: Probably the deepest and most spiritually connected podcast from this list. A new one from October that really speaks to me on a deeper level.
- That’s So Retrograde: This is a hilarious and easy going spiritual podcast with some amazing interviews. So much amazing information.
- Girl Boss Radio: This podcast is interviews with so many Girl Bosses and I just love Sophia Amoruso.
- At Home With – by Lily & Anna: This is a series of interviews with beauty or health professionals that speaks through the inside of individuals homes.
- Awaken Radio – Connie Chapman: Some amazing advice is given in this podcast. All about becoming better versions of ourselves. It’s amazing.
We all have apps. I’m very particular with what I allow to take up space on my phone as I see the apps so many times a day. Here are my favourites for the year, and they all serve a purpose.
- Natural Cycles: This is the app that links to my contraception: the basel thermometer. Natural cycles have created this app to work alongside their thermometer to register the temperate and know the ovulation stage of the cycle. More information here.
- MyFlo: This is my other hormone cycle/menstrual app. If you’re a female, I highly recommend that you download any cycle app. It really helps you keep in tune with your body. This app also tells you when you’ve reached each stage of the cycle: Luteal, Menstrual, Follicular and Ovulation. As well as this, it tells you how to cycle sync and work with your cycles and not against it.
- Wunderlist: The ultimate to-do list app. This one helps be keep organised with my life!
- Podcasts: Comes on the iPhone and allows me to listen to all my favourite, love it!
- Ecosia: An eco-friendly search engine, WHAT?! Ecosia plants trees from searches.
- UNUM: This app is how I plan my Instagram theme, and is the best social media tip that I have. It’s completely free and I also edit all of my pictures on this app.
- Instagram: Obviously!
- Pinterest: I’ve been obsessed with Pinterest this year. So much inspiring content, and were I find all of my vision board imagery.
- WordPress: This is where I check my blog from my phone. It’s easy to check the stats on, so I always have this one downloaded.
Books harbour so much knowledge and information. I learn so much from books as I prefer to read non-fiction. I have so many, but don’t tend to read as much as I wish I did. However, here are my favourites from tis year, and they are some great ones!
“Letting go is not a process that comes naturally to us. In a world that teaches us to cling to what we love at all costs, there is an undeniable art to moving on – and it’s one that we are constantly relearning. In this series of honest and poignant essays, Heidi Priebe explores the harsh reality of what it means to let go of the people and situations we love most – often before we are ready to – and how to embrace what comes next.”
“A collection of 51 consciousness expanding and vibration lifting pieces of writing, based on personal experiences and timeless wisdom.”
“In “Fear: Understanding and Accepting the Insecurities of Life”, Osho takes the reader step by step over the range of what makes human beings afraid – from the reflexive “fight or flight” response to physical danger to the rational and irrational fears of the mind and its psychology. Only by bringing the light of understanding into fear’s dark corners, he says, airing out closets and opening windows, and looking under the bed to see if a monster is really living there, can we begin to venture outside the boundaries of our comfort zone and learn to live with, and even enjoy, the fundamental insecurity of being alive.”
“In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.”
“Have you ever found yourself struggling with information overload?
“Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised?
“Do you ever feel busy but not productive?
“If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is to become an Essentialist.”
“Liberate your life, strip off the fear, wash away the self-doubt, and dress yourself in health, wealth, and love!
“Remember when you used to be that girl who just moved through the motions attended the parties, hung on to the toxic friendships, went to the mundane job (just for the paycheck), ate anything out of a box, and participated in the daily grind but inside, you were screaming and desperate to break free from what had become a vicious cycle? The girl who tried so hard to be outwardly beautiful, but didn’t stop to consider what was going on internally? If so, Melissa Ambrosini recognises you, because she used to be you. But today she lives every day from her heart. Today she chooses love over fear. In this book, Melissa teaches you that confidence isn’t just feeling good about yourself it’s the on switch to your dream life.”
“Light Is the New Black is a guidebook for a new breed of women who are here to be bright lights in the world – modern-day light workers, who agreed to be here at this time in history. In order to thrive in this new age, everything we do must be an authentic expression of who we truly are. Light Is the New Black will guide you back home to the callings of your soul, so you can light up the world with your presence.”
“How Not To Die gives effective, scientifically-proven nutritional advice to prevent our biggest killers – including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes – and reveals the astounding health benefits that simple dietary choices can provide.”
“Slow Fashion offers creatives, entrepreneurs & ethical consumers alike a glimpse into the innovative world of the Eco-concept store movement, sustainable design & business that puts people, livelihoods and sustainability central to everything they do.”
I live for mindfulness! It has honestly changed my life. Meditation and Yoga were something I started doing earlier this year and gradually steered away from. However, I know that they benefit me so much, so I will definitely be rekindling them in the New Year.
- Crystals: Rose Quartz and Selenite: I have fallen in love with crystals over the last few years, and althought I am still learning about their power, I find myself always drawn towards Rose Quartz and Selenite.
Rose Quartz: “Rose quartz helps with Unconditional love, heals and opens heart chakra. Helping in releasing/healing any issues from the past or present with love/relationships. The perfect baby for your self love journey. Rose Quartz help us with the daily practice of self love, self trust, and acceptance. Inward and outward love!” – Light, Love & Lace.
Selenite: “Selenite is perfect for cleaning other crystals while amplifying them at the same time. This piece will also assist you in opening your crown chakra and connecting with you your Spiritual Guides and Angels. Selenite crystals are also great for transformative energy/motivation, having a high vibration, while instilling clarity of mind, and also bringing one to a peaceful state.” – Light, Love & Lace.
- Guided Meditation Videos: Meditation was new to me this year. A few of my favourite guided meditations include: Boho Beautiful and Jason Stephenson – Sleep Meditation.
- Yoga with Adrienne – YouTube: Adrienne has so many Yoga videos to choose from, and I loved the 30 day challenges.
- Smudging the Space with Sage: I’m so new to smudging, but I love it. It has so may benefits and removed negative energies from the room or the space. I’m obsessed.
- Vision Boarding: I have made 3 vision board this year. I just love it, and my goals have been shifting this year as my belief in myself expands. I love to create physical vision boards over digital ones, and each of mine have crossovers. It has really helped me create a clear vision for my future. Highly recommend.
This list is mostly junk food, but it’s all vegan!
- Garden of Vegan – Vegan Pizza: The best vegan pizza I have ever tried, and has a vegan cheese on top too.
- Fresh Strawberries on Porridge: Simple but amazing, and one of my favourite things to eat.
- Booja Booja Vegan Chocolate Truffles: The best vegan chocolates around! Luxurious and kind of expensive but amazing!
- Thieving Harry’s: Vegan Veggie Burger: The best vegan burger I have ever tried.
- Blondes – Vegan Rocky Road: The best vegan desert I have ever tried.
- Vegan Vego Chocolate Bar: The second best vegan chocolate!
I’m obsessed with healthy drinks and herbal tea. I drink tea so much as it’s my preferred beverage apart from water. Here are some of my favourites from this year. I also love Green Tea and have drank that every day for more than 5 years now.
- Forever Living – Aloe Vera Drinking Gel: Drinking Aloe Vera has so many benefits; more information coming soon!
- Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Tea: I make this with fresh ingredients: fresh ginger, half a lemon juice, black pepper, and turmeric. This is amazing for the skin and body, and tastes great!
- Twinings – Cranberry and Raspberry Tea: An amazing sweet tea that curb sugar cravings.
- Clipper – White Tea: Similar to Green tea but with more anti-oxidants.
Although I style fashion and love style, I’m not a huge shopper. It’s the minimalist in me and also my love for shopping sustainably that hold me back. I like to wear things I absolutely love, so here are my favourites pieces from this year.
- Floral Trousers: These remind me of Summer, and double as pyjamas.
- Black Chunky Boots: Amazing for winter as they are comfortable, have amazing floor grip, and are easy to walk in.
- White Low-Top Converse: A staple!
- High Wasted Mom Jeans: My favourite are black denim! ASOS Farleigh.
- Oversized Vintage Denim Jacket: A staple in my wardrobe!
- Floral Bomber Jacket: This jacket is such big part of my personal branding, but unfortunately isn’t available to buy anymore.
And finally, my miscellaneous favourites.
- Natural Cycles – FAM Contraception: My contraception that I discovered this year. All natural, hormone free, easy, and life changing! I am more in tune with my body than ever!
- Walking and Breathing in Nature: This is my walking meditation. It completely refills and rejuvenates me.
- Vintage Shopping for Books: Some super cheap and amazing books can be found in charity or vintage shops.
- Visual Organisation: I have started printing calendars to plan my study schedule, and it has really kept me on track.
- Product Photography: I have fallen in love with blogging, and taking images of the products I review is a big part of that. I love it!
- Decluttering and Minimalism: This year I discovered Minimalism and it changed my life and my entire mindset. More information on this coming soon!
- Growing out my Hair Dye: I haven’t dyed my hair for almost a year due to finding out about the toxic ingredients in hair dye. I am so happy I did so because I love the colour that has come through.
- Pushing my Comfort Zone: This is something I have challenged myself to do; especially with Network Marketing. The comfort zone is always being pushed.
- Minimal and Eclectic Interior: If you follow me on any social media, then you will know my obsession with minimalist interior. I also re-pin images of white spaces on my Pinterest.
- My Vintage Stafford-shire Dogs Ornament: An eBay steal.
- Cosy Blankets: Especially in the Winter.
- Composition Notebooks: The best notebook for journaling, and is printed with soy ink.
- Posting Candid and Make-Up Free Images to my Other Instagram: @milliemelissabirch
- Hot Salt Baths with Lavender Essential Oils: Hot baths are my obsession, and the lavender sends me into such a deep sleep. I also love reading in the bath too. Amazing for the Winter time.
- Being Comfortable without Make-Up: I have worn make-up less than 20 times in the last 6 months. I just fell out of love with wearing it. I also learnt about the impact of the toxic ingredients, and my acne erupted in a way that I just couldn’t cover. So now I love to keep my skin free. It has also allowed me to be so much more comfortable with myself too.
Wow! What a hefty blog post!
Let me know your 2017 favourites in the comments below, I would absolutely love to hear them! x