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Thinking About Studying at The Open University?

I never thought I would be 16 and out of education, but I was and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.

Luckily, my Dad had an idea and within 2 days he had preliminary enrolled me at The Open University. Due to my age paperwork was sent out for my family and I to sign and within a few short weeks I turned 17.  It was May 2012, I had no A-Levels and yet I was about to begin a BA (Hons) Business degree. As I recall, I was extremely excited, despite not having a clue.

The OU is fantastic if you change your mind.

After my first year studying Business, I found myself wanting to study English. I put in a request, filled out more paper work and my degree was changed to BA (Hons) Open Degree, which enabled my year of Business to still count towards my qualification. This choice gave me the ability to pick and choose any module from their offering; from beginners French to intermediate Health and Social Care, my options were wide open and this prospect really helped me to study at my interest level each year… I ended up choosing only English focused courses though.

You are alone.

It’s really important to know before you enroll that you will have to motivate and teach yourself. Tutors are an email or phone call away but ultimately you have to be driven to succeed and able to work from home. All of your course material is online or in textbooks, which they post to you and there is a serious amount of reading; online forums and tutor groups are also at your disposal.

Personally, I would rather learn and study alone than in a large class; I have relished in being able to study when and how I like, which ensured I could work and socialize without restriction. A definite bonus to The OU is that you are not restrained by seminars or lectures. The downside is that you don’t experience the typical uni life, something I know many would not want to comprise.

No Exams

I chose modules that didn’t require exams and so through my 5 year study I never sat one. Every module I studied required an examinable part which was an assignment that counted as 50% of your overall yearly score but you wrote and submitted it like any other essay, it was just independently marked apposed to tutor marked. Of course, some modules did require sitting exams however, if exams aren’t your thing they can be easily avoided through OU study.

Part-Time/Full-Time

Each year, you have the option to study part-time or full-time. Part-time being 60 credits a year, full-time being 120. I did 4 part-time years and 1 full-time. Having the choice was great but ultimately studying part-time was my preference.

Study Resources

Like any other university, there is a student support team to answer any queries you may have.  PDF’s of your module books are made available in addition to your hardcopies, which makes keyword search effortless. You also have access to a huge online library. Online activities are integrated into your study but are an aspect I personally didn’t enjoy however, they were useful in implementing concepts.

I did it!

Now that my degree is over, I can confirm that it was a struggle but I can also confirm that The Open University was my perfect choice. It allowed me to rediscover the work ethic Prep School so strongly instilled in me and it enabled me to spend my days at home with my family which is a major priority. I am still awaiting my results however; my degree will be BA (Hons) Open Degree.

The fact that I was able to study my degree sans A-Levels, study at my own pace and at my own interest level was amazing. I would highly recommend it and looking back, I miss it already.

 

EKD X

Chantecaille Summer Must-Haves

When it comes to summer makeup, I prefer to use cream products instead of powders, mainly because I don’t want a really heavy look but also because creams create a natural radiance which feels weightless on the skin.

The Chantecaille Radiance Gel Bronzer is my summer must-have as it blends so seamlessly with a brush or fingers and provides a long-lasting beach glow like no other; I’ve used it every day for the past few weeks and I adore it. This gel bronzer is ultra-moisturising and adds a natural luminosity to the complexion, ideal for those beachy days.

Initially, I combine a small amount of the gel with my primer to create a sheer tanned base then after applying my foundation, I blend it across my cheeks and over the highpoints of the face to create a sun-kissed glow. It’s such a lightweight product that surpasses any of my other cream bronzers; since the gel consistency is like an additional layer of skincare, it gives you that no-makeup makeup look we all love.

Now, you know I can’t resist a bright lip especially a glossy one and so when I came across the Chantecaille Lip Sleeks, I knew they’d be winners.

These innovative lip sticks are so hydrating it almost feels like I’m wearing lip balm. Each have a bright and beautiful shiny finish which I love, especially for summer! The Lip Sleeks are so comfortable to wear and provide such a fun and flirty luminosity, I’ve found myself reaching for one every day! Plus, because they’re so lightweight you don’t even need a mirror to reapply them throughout the day.

I have 3 shades, the first being Flamingo – the perfect shade of baby pink. The second is Orchid – a bright fuchsia which complements all skin tones and lastly, my personal favourite Grenadine – a balmy raspberry red.

Teamed together, these Summer essentials ensure I look radiant, luminous and beach ready!

 

X EKD

This post was created in collaboration with Chantecaille Beauté and even though the products were gifted, all sentiments are sincere and my own.  X EKD

Beauty Sleep

Seeing as I proclaim to live a #chicvibesonly life, I decided it was about time I picked up some luxury bedtime necessities to enrich my sleep and since Blair Waldorf spent all 6 seasons sleeping on silk, I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t. So, I ventured onto the online haven of Amazon and ordered a silk pillowcase… Prime delivery has a certain allure, don’t you think?

After spending an embarrassing amount of time ironing said pillowcase, I was then struck with the thought that I didn’t have a supportive pillow with which to use it. For someone who spends countless hours watching Netflix or writing blog posts from my bed, my pillow game is not strong at all and my neck knows it.

This is where my Eve Sleep pillows come in… Not only are they hypoallergenic, but they’re made from a contouring memory foam that offers optimal support for even the most restless sleeper, like myself. I’ve struggled with neck and back pain for numerous years, especially first thing in the morning and I’ve found this discomfort to be substantially reduced now that I have pillows that support me in all the right places.

I’ve been using them for almost three weeks now and I’ve already had to steal one back from my mum who couldn’t resist the idea of sleeping on ‘the best pillow ever!’ after I gleefully bragged about them over our morning Weetabix. Another winning feature of Eve Sleep pillows is the 30-night home trial, which means you can ensure it’s the right choice for you.

I’ve found my Eve pillows to provide amazing comfort whether I’m sleeping on my side or in a star fish slumber on my front, plus they also have that cool as the underside feeling which I love! I can definitely confirm that they are more comfortable than my feather or fibre pillows – something I never thought I’d say and, to my delight, I’ve found sleeping on a silk pillowcase positively wonderful!

Between my sumptuous silk pillow case, Eve Sleep pillows and my favourite evening skincare – the Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate, I’ve been waking up with glowing skin and no neck pain.

I think I’ve nailed beauty sleep!

 

EKD X

 

This post was created in collaboration with Eve Sleep and even though the pillows were gifted, all sentiments are sincere and my own.  X EKD

The Gucci Belt

I had my reservations about this ostentatious accessory until my best friend got one last year; it was mid-March when I decided I needed one too. I was styling outfits in anticipation of my trip to Italy when I felt something was missing from my wardrobe. Despite that I’d purchased my Gucci Marmont loafers three weeks previous I found myself scrolling through Gucci.com once again to find that missing chic piece.

Now, I know that an impulse buy should be something like Haribo at the WH Smith checkout however, every once in a while a ridiculous impulse purchase is acceptable. Throwback to 2011 when I spent my entire wage on Chanel ballet flats after trying them on for a whole 4 minutes….

I’ve had the Gucci belt about 3 months and solely wear it over coats and with high-waisted skirts and since life is all about Gucci vibes right now, I am still happy with my purchase.

Is it worth the money?

At £240 I think it is. This belt elevates any outfit and is a very easy piece to style – plus it’s really good quality and has no signs of wear and so I do believe it’s totally worth it.

Is this a piece I would sell?

Not right now, but potentially. This isn’t a long-term investment piece however, as long as I still love and enjoy wearing it, the belt shall stay in my collection.

 

*Huge tip: Save yourself some time and have a thorough try-on because I actually bought 3 belts until I deciphered the correct size for my intentions!

 

X EKD

A Guide to Networking

I know the prospect of networking can sometimes make us (ok, me) sweat nervously on our upper lip however, the saying is true… It really is all about who you know.

As intimidating as it might be, putting yourself out there and meeting new people is a brave move we should all be making. Perhaps you’re just starting out fresh from University like myself or maybe you’re thinking about switching careers or perhaps you want to expand your business; learning to navigate a networking event will help to reduce the SULA and ultimately increase career confidence. We need to push out of our comfort zones and get used to feeling uncomfortable because that is when the good stuff will start to happen!

From attending the Cosmopolitan Self Made Summit, I have pages of notes all about the art of networking and so I thought I would share the key takeaways:

1. Don’t be afraid

It’s totally okay to attend a networking event alone! Introduce yourself and find some common ground, the first few minutes are crucial as you want to settle in early so you can start making valuable connections; an easy question makes for a great opener!

2. Nail your opening lines

Having your opening lines prepared is a fantastic way to reduce the nerves, as you won’t confuse your pitch. A few lines about yourself that include your USP is a great way to contribute to the conversation. Don’t forget to be yourself though, since you are your strongest selling point!

3. Positive body language and eye contact

Maintaining eye contact and showing encouraging interest is crucial to networking as you don’t want to be remembered as the person who looked bored. Take every opportunity and listen to what they have to say, even if it’s not what or who you initially came for; having an open mind could lead to something wonderful!

4. Take notes and business cards

Have a notebook and pen ready at all times; you will always want to jot info down… You will not remember it when you get home – I assure you. Carry business cards wherever you go, not just at events – you never know who you might meet in the queue for your skinny latte.

5. The follow up

Send a brief yet meaningful email to those you met at an event. If you hit it off, invite them for a coffee to continue the conversation. People respond to confidence but do be transparent about your intentions. Avoid making career connections via social media as you don’t want to be unprofessional.

 

From listening to the experts at Self Made, it became clear that this invaluable skill will only improve with practice and with practice comes confidence… So next time you want to skip out early from an event, go introduce yourself to someone.

 

X EKD

The Dos and Don’ts When Baking a Surprise Birthday Cake For Your Mum’s Best Friend

My mum forgot her best friend’s birthday. Now, stop with the judgment – we’ve all been there. I for one can totally relate since this has happened to me on numerous occasions…

Consequently, I found myself power walking to the shop clutching an old restaurant receipt with a haphazard list on the back, in an attempt to soften the whole forgetting birthday situ. Mum and Best Friend were due home in a few hours, so I hurried back from the shop armed with double cream and luxury strawberry jam. Luckily essential baking ingredients are always readily available in our pantry, despite the fact that we rarely bake. I then proceeded to whip out the Kenwood Kitchen Aid and cover my #chicvibesonly outfit with an apron, which happened to be adorned with little dogs. In hindsight, I feel I can offer some crucial advice when baking a surprise birthday cake for your mum’s best friend, so here goes:

Do

  • Go for a classic flavour – you can’t go wrong with a Victoria Sandwich, or so I thought…
  • Always use your Nana’s recipe. (Mary Berry will do)
  • Surprise your mums best friend when she forgets their birthday. Even if they’re on a diet. Everyone will still eat and appreciate.
  • Whip the cream with a small amount of icing sugar to give it sufficient hold.
  • Add fresh strawberries to the center filling – it makes all the difference to the flavor.
  • Put it straight in the fridge and only fill once throughly chilled… See below reason.

Don’t

  • Don’t forget your best friends birthday.
  • Don’t bake a surprise birthday cake for your mum’s best friend whilst it’s 26 degrees outside. The cake and filling will quickly droop into jammy mess.
  • Don’t over fill. See above reason.
  • Don’t worry if the cake smells like eggs when it comes out the oven – unnecessary panic leads to over compensation when filling. See above reason.
  • Don’t believe advice online that claims icing sugar will give whipped cream hold.

 

So, I made a surprise birthday cake for my mum’s best friend and overfilled it in a hot kitchen thus, it sank into a strawberries and cream slush. It was an overflowing gooey mess and as a result, resembled a Year 3 art project. However, it tasted delicious and luckily my mum’s best friend is a gem and loved it regardless. It wasn’t quite Fortnums cake trolley status, but it was damn good! 

 

x EKD

 

The Cosmopolitan Self Made Summit and Leaving My Comfort Zone

For the past 5 years, you would’ve found me slouched at my desk with uni books sprawled across the floor, as I endeavoured to study for my English Open University degree…

Studying from home in my pyjamas has been my comfort zone for so many years that recently, I’ve began thinking about my next steps and posing questions like, where am I going to live? How am I going to manage? and, will anyone actually hire me? With all that came the ultimate panic most soon-to-be-graduates feel when they arrive at the last few weeks of education and start to contemplate leaving the assured zone of comfort.

My impending freedom almost feels too daunting to celebrate as the overwhelming panic of essay stress is beginning to evolve into the anxiety of actually building a life. This is when I found myself on Eventbrite, investing in my future by paying £50 for a ticket to attend the Cosmopolitan Self Made Summit, which described itself as ‘the event that will change your life.’

I attended the Summit last month and it was filled with 300+ empowered women who, like myself were eager to learn. Silk bound notebook at the ready, I grinned enthusiastically through the day whilst introducing myself to strangers and taking as many notes as my keen hand could make. I learnt the art of networking and I also met some fabulous Cosmopolitan editors. Not only did I leave feeling exceedingly inspired with an encouraging list of potential career opportunities, I left feeling ready.

The Self Made Summit gave me an insight into the fashion, beauty and Cosmopolitan life I so keenly desire and now, I’m ready to take on the challenge –something I certainly wasn’t ready to do just a few months ago.

I can genuinely say I agree with their headline; the Self Made Summit did change my life, as the opportunities coming my way this summer would’ve never been possible without me putting myself out there at the Cosmo event. Thanks to that day (which was terrifyingly wonderful), I feel prepared to take risks because, what growth and success ever happened inside a comfort zone? I still don’t know how I will manage and I can only hope that somewhere will hire me but now, I feel ready to find out.

Today, you’ll find me a few yards from my comfort zone, nervously sweating on my upper lip and sassing in gold Gucci shoes. I still feel the overwhelming panic but somehow, it almost feels exciting.

 

“It takes talent and tenacity to succeed.”

 

EKD X

EKD Turns Three

As I fumble through BlogSpot haphazardly trying to understand how to insert a picture, I can’t help but wonder who will actually read this website. Skimming through my camera roll, I search for a photo to head the post and end up going for a cliché picture I took whilst in Starbucks two mornings previous. I remember the buzz of anticipation I felt when I sent that first post live; it was poorly written and the accompanying image was poorly lit, but I had started EKD and that is when I experienced the thrill of creating and publishing my writing for the very first time. That was May 10th 2014.

As EKD turns one year older, I got thinking about the last 3 and how emilykatedale.com has progressed. My namesake site is something I am truly proud of, I put my all into each and every post… My September Issue articles are the most challenging to compose, ‘Investing in Fashion?’ is my favourite to read and surprisingly, my most viewed post of all time and one that still gets daily hits is from January 2015 titled ‘How to Look Good Nude’ – I fear this is because people assume it will give them some instruction on looking good nude, while it actually offers an insight into Tom Ford lipsticks… I know nothing about looking good naked, sorry.

EKD has not only improved my ability to self edit, but it has also given me a voice, helped me discover my style and provided me with a creative purpose that has become more important to me than I could’ve ever imagined. I’m slowly learning to embrace change and with that, I’m also endeavouring to push myself out of my comfort zone (not enough to google secrets on how to look good nude though).

My hobby through university has evolved into my career portfolio and therefore, one can hope that someday soon I’ll find myself eagerly balancing on the first rung of the publishing ladder, gradually working towards the highly coveted Carrie Bradshaw status I so excitedly desire.

I’ve written over 200 posts for EKD in the last 3 years, 83 of which are resting uncomfortably in drafts on my old BlogSpot site, still embarrassed that I ever posted them and around 30 have been deleted from here overtime. However, as I read through some of my first postings, I can’t quite believe how far I’ve come…. Thank you for continuing to read and follow what I have to say.

Here’s to May 10th  – may it be #chicvibesonly

 

X EKD

 

A #chicvibesonly Graduation Gift From Links of London

As I write my final university assignment I find myself almost giddy with anticipation about finally graduating. I can’t help but wonder what shoes I should wear or which Tom Ford lipstick goes with a graduation gown…

Although, with the distress of finding the perfect dress comes the indulgence of picking out a graduation gift. Naturally, I wanted to choose something that will last a lifetime seeing as that’s how long my degree seemed to take… Therefore, I began considering jewellery and that’s when the redefined Links of London Sweetie Bracelet became my new #chicvibesonly accessory.  What I love most about this bracelet is that it can be personalised, which was the kind of distinctive attribute I was looking for.

When it came to designing my Sweetie, I took to their online ‘bracelet builder,’ which allows you to choose from a huge selection of charms and rings to create and visualise your bracelet. I instantly added gold-tone rings, since I like to wear both gold and silver jewellery. As I scrolled through the various charms available, I was truly spoilt for choice and so I dashed to the nearest Links of London store to get a richer view and that’s when I discovered the Rainbow Zebra

For someone who never used to wear colour, I now can’t get enough of it and as I feel more like myself every time I wear a bright tangerine ruffle t-shirt, I can honestly say the multi-coloured zebra is the essence of me! This colourful sterling silver wonder is my favourite charm from the Sweetie collection and one that I knew I just had to have. Once in store, I learnt that some charms can be engraved and so unsurprisingly, I went for ‘EKD’ on the sterling silver disc because, are you even chic if your jewellery isn’t monogrammed?

Choosing an extraordinary gift for a special occasion such as a graduation or milestone birthday can be really challenging, as you want something you will never fall out of love with… Rings and charms can be easily interchanged with the iconic Sweetie Bracelet and Links of London will even re-string it and so you’re guaranteed to have a timeless bracelet that you’ll reach for everyday. As you know, I build my wardrobe around investment pieces and so I’m really excited to add this to my collection because I know I’ll be wearing and personalising it for years to come. The Links of London Sweetie is luxurious, fun and exudes my personal style… it’s my perfect graduation gift.

If I were a floral arrangement I would be this vibrant posy and if I were a Sweetie charm, I’d be the multi-coloured zebra! Also, I’m thinking Tom Ford True Coral lipstick and THESE AMAZING SHOES for my graduation, what do you think… #chicvibesonly right?

X EKD

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Flowers: Wild About Flowers (Hathersage, Derbyshire)

Silk Notebook: Silken Favours

This post was created in collaboration with Links of London and even though this bracelet was gifted, all sentiments are sincere and my own.  X EKD

A Note on Personal Style

Over the past few weeks, I couldn’t help but pose a question of personal style. What makes an authentic personal style? Wearing three new-in pieces from Zara, is that personal style? Is imitating your favourite fashion blogger who wore flatforms with a red blazer and leather pants whilst posing down a whimsical Kensington street… is that personal style?

To me, personal style is creating outfits that you love, that you put together from your own vision whilst you were ironing your bedding on a Sunday afternoon, watching Sex and The City reruns… Perhaps it’s inspired by your favourite designers but ultimately, you wear exactly what you want to wear and with any luck, something that makes you feel remarkable.

I’ve never been happy with my style, I might have had a cute bag and shoes but the clothes part was never that great. In recent times, I’ve began to truly ascertain my own personal aesthetic and as a result my style has developed tremendously. Not only has my confidence grown but I feel more like myself every time I strut down the street in a yellow headband, gold shoes and a feisty I couldn’t care less what people think attitude.

Last week, I found myself on the train at 6am and as I began my early morning journey to LDN, two girls sat two seats across kept turning around to laugh at me. Now to give you the full story, I was sporting my favourite Charles Tyrwhitt mens shirt that’s monogrammed with EKD, paired with a navy trench which was cinched in at the waist by a Gucci belt. I had on some black Joseph trousers and my yellow satin headband. I carried my Lady Dior handbag and I was wearing my gold Gucci Marmonts – I felt absolutely fabulous and I felt like myself. At first, these laughing girls (who at one point filmed me on their Snapchat) really bothered me but as I retouched my red Tom Ford lipstick, I decided not to care. Incidentally, I was on my way to a Cosmopolitan event where I had Cosmo editors commenting on my ‘fantastic style’ …So screw the laughing fools from the train!!

Colour is what I can now associate with my style; something that has always been terribly lacking in my closet. I’d die for black any day however, life is too damn short to wear black! A red lip, yellow headband and a bright orange ruffle tee is what I now reach for on the daily and it feels better than #allblackeverything ever did.

I feel like buying the golden Gucci shoes was the best step I could’ve made in terms of my personal style, as they have really allowed me to explore wearing new and outlandish pieces. The Gucci belt was somewhat of an impulse purchase a few weeks after the shoes… but I haven’t stopped wearing it since. For someone who feels extremely uncomfortable in figure hugging attire, this high-waisted accessory is my go-to for cinching in the baggiest of men’s shirts. It’s a chic addition to any outfit and a piece I have paired with almost everything.

I’m finally at a point where I’m excited about getting dressed in a morning and I actually love the direction my style is going. My tips in regards to your personal style would be:

1. Wear whatever makes you feel incredibly confident, even if it’s different.

2. Personalise your favourite clothes – because are you even chic if your shirt isn’t monogrammed?

3. Wear colour!

4. If in doubt, belt it!

5. A men’s shirt never hurt anyone and an oversized cuff is SO damn chic

6. Never underestimate the power of a #chicvibesonly outfit!

 

As my own wardrobe is becoming more colourful, my life is too and what more does one need? Well, a Dolce and Gabbana crown would be nice…

X EKD

OUTFIT 1
shirt, trench (Old), belt, headband, bag
OUTFIT 2
Skirt, belt, headband, cardigan
OUTFIT 3
Shirt, T-shirt, scarf, trousers 
OUTFIT 4
Skirt, top, belt, headband