30 Nov 2014

BLOGGING TIPS: All things Instagram


Instagram is by far my favourite social network right now, and whilst it's not seen as one of the best for building your blog it certainly comes in useful. I like pretty pictures, so I spend hours browsing various feeds looking for new people to follow (and cute cats). I thought it was only right to include it in this series as it is definitely growing in popularity and I have found a lot of the blogs I now love through it.

Photography tips
The most sensible place to start would be the photo itself! My biggest tip for taking Instagram photos is to use as much natural light as possible so that your images appear cleaner, brighter and sharper. This is my biggest struggle right now, the lack of light at this time of year is driving me crazy! If possible try to avoid using the in-app camera as it can reduce the quality, same goes for front facing camera so it could be a good idea to practice taking your selfies without it. When composing your photo (we all do it) try to avoid any unnecessary clutter - much like when taking photos for your blog.  There's nothing wrong with a few strategically placed props, but no one wants to see your dirty laundy in the corner of the room.

Editing
When it comes to editing my go-to app is Afterlight which can be bought for 69p on the App Store. It provides the capability to edit in pretty much any way I would want from an iPhone app with some gorgeous built in filters. Typically I just up the brightness a tad then use the "Glacier" filter on a low level. I bought Afterlight before Instagram added more in app editing features and I probably wouldn't have bought it had these functions already been available. If I don't have Afterlight or can't be particularly bothered I have a similar routine in which I raise the brightness and then use either Valencia or Walden. If the in-app filters aren't your cup of tea there are plenty of free apps to download such as VSCOcam or Whitagram. On the whole I would say to avoid over-editing photos as they just look a bit.... fake. It can also add a lot of noise (like static) to your images and make them look considerably lower quality than the original.

Hashtags to use
Hashtags are one of the best ways to get your profile out there on Instagram and it is much like Twitter in that respect. Personally I try to avoid going overboard with the hashtags and I'll admit that I do delete them after a little while. My favourite hashtags to use include the typical #lbloggers, #bbloggers and #fbloggers which allows me to connect with other bloggers who use Instagram - I've found some of my favourite blogs this way. There are a lot more specific hashtags like #catsofinstagram (full of adorable cats if you hadn't already guessed) so it's worth taking a look at what the accounts you like tend to use as well as testing them out for yourself. Be sure to like and comment on other photos that you like, network, network, network!

Who to follow
I could rattle off a list of Instagram-mers to follow that's as long as my arm - or longer - but I'll limit myself today. I posted before about my five favourites and here are a few more favourites that you just have to follow: KatyMitten, WishWishWish, DailyOverview, BritandCo and of course ME! Hey, I couldn't write about Instagram without a bit of cheeky self promotion.

NEXT WEEK: Summing up the blogging community as a whole and why it is so important to be a part of.
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29 Nov 2014

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: Bookish Babes

book lover christmas gift ideas
As 2015 is looming I've been reading like crazy to try and beat my Goodreads challenge for 2014. I'm nearly finished so I'm sure I'll manage, but the sudden burst of reading has really reignited my love of books and so a gift guide for all of those Bookish Babes in your life felt like a very good idea. I tried to avoid being too specific with the books as not everyone will have the same taste as me, but you'd be amazed at the kind of stuff you can find on Etsy - I'm obsessed with this Redrum mug from The Shining.

The Book Was Better t-shirt - £6.99 from Etsy
More often than not the book was better - so this t-shirt is purely factual. For £6.99 I think this is a total bargain and I'm really tempted just to order one for myself to wear to the cinema. It frustrates me to no end when people claim they absolutely love a film series but haven't even heard of the books! This would basically be like an act of kindness - more people need to know about the wonder of books.

I Like Big Books mug decal - £1.47 from Etsy
Curling up with a big cup of tea and a book is one of my favourite things to do. There's something so comforting and cosy about losing yourself in a book whilst sipping on a warm drink! I know I'm not the only one who feels this way so adorning your favourite mug with this cute little decal would be a great way to declare your love for the written word. It's stupidly cheap and with a cheap cute mug from the likes of the pound shop it would make an excellent gift for very few pennies. If you'd rather something ready made, why not try this one?

Read More Books brooch - £7.00 from Etsy
This is adorable, end of. Okay not end of, but seriously the cuteness alone should be enough to encourage your mouse over to the "add to basket" button. I don't really own any brooches as I never know when to wear them, but this would look great pinned on a bag or even a Kindle case.

Alice in Wonderland poster - £23.00 from The Literary Gift Company
The idea of having an entire book on one poster amazes me, and whilst this is expensive I think it would be such a thoughtful gift. The Literary Gift Company have a few pre-made ones, or you could order a custom print from Not On The High Street here. I think having someone's favourite book made in to one gorgeous print shows that you care about the books they usually have their nose buried in. I would definitely struggle to choose just one book!

Book Journal - £10.00 from Paperchase
Despite Goodreads pretty much taking over when it comes keeping track of what books you've read, the idea of having a physical written copy of my read list just makes me happy. It's a lot more personal than posting on a website which is why I think it makes a fantastic gift idea for the book lover in your life.

Cushion cover - £15.00 from The Literary Gift Company
The day I have the perfect reading nook will be a very happy day indeed, and this cushion cover will definitely be in there. I wholeheartedly agree that paradise would probably look very much like a library (but with cats) and most book lovers would too.

Are there any bookish buys on your Christmas list this year?

x
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28 Nov 2014

MONTHLY ROUND UP: November

Lazy outfits for university // date night at Bloc // reaching 900 followers
Christmas candles are out // Rainbow Valley charity ball // Costa Christmas treats
Girls night out // spending the weekend in the best city // university photoshoot
There's only one month left of 2014. Just one. How weird! I swear each year just goes by faster and faster. Life is crazy busy right now and shows no sign of stopping until at least January, if not February. I enjoy being busy but I do like having a bit of time to relax so I think January will be spent in hibernation...

Deadlines are fast approaching and I feel like I'm spending every waking hour writing reports or trying to figure out supply chains (I hate logistics). This semester has been kind of tough going in comparison to last year but I'm giving it my best shot! Not long left till it's all over which I'll be welcoming with open arms.

Some highlights of this month included visiting family in Manchester for the first time since April, reaching an astonishing 900 followers on Bloglovin and lots of yummy food. You can't beat a catch up over a pizza and a pitcher of cocktails! I have a few meals planned in December as well as a bit of ice skating, lots of work and Christmas. It's going to be non stop but it should at least be fun!

What did you get up to this month?

x
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26 Nov 2014

OUTFIT: There's a power in what you do


Dress (worn as top) - H&M
Skirt* - F&F
Jacket* - F&F
Shoes - New Look
Necklace* - Thomas Sabo at Joshua James (post here)
My impulsive tendencies mean that the rise of supermarket fashion is right up my street. I love being able to browse whilst I pick up a pint of milk (and a bar of chocolate or three...). When F&F asked me to be a part of their #PartySOS campaign I jumped at the chance as I'd been seeing some gorgeous bits and bobs on Michelle's blog in the past few months so I knew I was in for a treat.

My usual dilemma when getting dolled up is what to wear to keep myself warm - especially in the winter months. Scotland is pretty cold right now (layers are essential) so I knew that some sort of smart blazer or duster jacket would be a great addition to my wardrobe. A lot of my outfits heavily feature black or grey so I thought that adding a pop of colour with this gorgeous orange jacket would be a great way to jazz up my typical ensemble. I absolutely adore the fit of this, it's perfectly slouchy without being too oversized and despite being quite lightweight still provides the warmth of an extra layer. I think it would also look lovely in the summer as a night-time cover up, I imagine this colour would work well with a tan! For the rest of my outfit I wanted something edgy but not too bold so I chose this gorgeous faux leather skirt. I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of this as it's a really thick material that is also buttery soft. I'll be getting plenty of wear out of this skirt as I've already been pairing it with casual tees for a more dressed down approach. I also ordered a gorgeous pair of leggings from their great range of party wear just in case I wasn't brave enough for the skirt however I'll be saving those for a later post!

I wore this outfit to a family party over the weekend when I was down in Manchester. It was my aunt's birthday last week and my cousin had planned her a big surprise party which was a great night! It was pretty difficult to resist sharing my location on various forms of social media but I managed to wait until she knew about the party before giving anything away! During the day I also spent a bit of time shopping in the centre but it was quite disappointed and insanely busy. I do hate a wasted shopping trip! It's probably best that I save my pennies thought as I will be heading to London in February for fashion weekend... so excited. My bank account isn't though.

Hope you're having a nice week!
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25 Nov 2014

TUESDAY TEN: Christmas Jumpers

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10
Continuing with the kind of unintentional Christmas themed Tuesday Tens, this week it's time to share the cutest knitwear to cuddle up in. With Christmas jumpers I love something funny (or punny) but can't resist adorable animals - anything with a penguin on and it's on my wish list. I think I might get number 8 for the Christmas Jumper Day in work and use my staff discount as it's really cute without being overly garish.

Some of the best jumpers I've seen this year have been in reference to some of my favourite films like Elf (3, 7) and Home Alone. I really really really want the Mean Girls Glen Coco jumper (6) but I wish it had more candy canes! Mean Girls is actually one of my favourite things to watch at this time of year purely because of the Jingle Bell Rock scene. I may or may not attempt the dance sometimes too. Sometimes.

x
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24 Nov 2014

BEAUTY: Skincare from The Body Shop

Tea Tree Blemish Fade Night Lotion - £9 from The Body Shop
Vitamin E Moisture Serum - £12 from The Body Shop
Recently I haven't been able to get enough of The Body Shop's skincare, it's working some serious wonders for me. I've publicly declared my love for the Vitamin E range before so when I was after a new serum it was my first port of call. I was also looking for a new moisturiser and ended up with this Blemish Fade night lotion from the Tea Tree range which I wouldn't normally go for.

The Vitamin E Moisture Serum is my first ever serum skincare product and I'm kicking myself for not jumping on that band wagon sooner. I had imagined serums to be overly oily and not something that I'd need but this little tube has shown me the error of my ways. This is a pre-moisturiser treatment for both day and night that aids hydration as well as providing some of those lovely antioxidants that I look for in my skincare. One small pump provides plenty of product for my whole face which when applied before my moisturiser leaves me with beautifully soft and plump skin. It's a whole new level of hydration.

As I said before the Tea Tree Blemish Fade night lotion wouldn't be my usual choice as my skin doesn't usually like Tea Tree too much but as I've been struggling with a bit of scarring I thought it would be worth a shot. I'm not too sure how I feel about this yet as I've not noticed any massive difference, especially on my chin where the majority of my scarring is. It does make a bit of a difference on emerging blemishes which seem to shrink overnight but this does irritate my skin slightly which puts me off using it. It's nowhere near as bad as other tea tree products have been for me however it is not the most comfortable experience. I'm persevering for now but if I don't see any results within the next few weeks I think I'll be on the hunt for something new.

Have you tried either of these? If so, what did you think? If you have any recommendations of products to help fade my scarring they would be very much appreciated!

x
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23 Nov 2014

BLOGGING TIPS: Using Facebook and Pinterest for your blog


When it comes to blogging Facebook & Pinterest aren't always seen as a valuable tool for networking. They're fun to waste a few hours on - but how can you make it work for you? There are lots of things you can do to try and boost your outreach on these platforms as well as meeting other like-minded bloggers. It's not all pretty living rooms and vaguely agricultural Facebook games...

IS HAVING A FACEBOOK PAGE WORTH YOUR WHILE?
The "page" feature on Facebook seems to be pretty hit and miss within the blogging world, some people swear by it as a method of promotion and helping readers keep up with your post however I personally don't find it all that useful. I have a Facebook page for my blog where my posts are shared as soon as they're live thanks to Bloglovin automatically pushing them and I also share random little snippets from time to time. I find that my page requires a lot of effort to be put in with little reward to really be seen. Despite having nearly 400 likes at the moment it's a bit of a rarity for any of my content to reach any more than 25 people - I blame Facebook's shoddy algorithms and determination to suck every last penny out of page users!

For other people it is a different story and I would encourage you to give it a go before you give up on it altogether. Facebook allows you to schedule posts which is a really useful feature and something that I make the most of on other pages that I manage. Be sure that your posts include photos as these seem to have a much higher reach than posts without. It's good practice to try and engage the reader by asking questions and encouraging interaction, it's all about virality (shares) these days!

Something I like the most about having a page is having the ability for readers who don't use platforms such as Bloglovin or GFC to keep up with my posts, in particular my family and friends "IRL" who I know like to have a nosey because they text me about my posts sometimes! If you're comfortable sharing your blog with your personal network then be sure to invite your friends to like your page - who knows what opportunities & contacts that may provide!

NETWORKING ON THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Another amazing feature on Facebook is the group function. Groups are pretty similar to pages (in fact I think they used to be the same thing) however they allow a large number people to share their content in a slightly more private, or even secret setting. Every time I publish a new post I share it in a variety of Facebook groups such as UK Fashion & Beauty Bloggers, FBL: Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Bloggers and the group that I set up for Scottish Bloggers too. This ensures that my posts reach hundreds of bloggers across the globe and is one of the biggest drivers of traffic aside from Twitter. A quick search of the site brings up hundreds of similar groups for you to get involved with and it's worthwhile checking for a local group in order to hear about meet-ups & events that may otherwise go unnoticed!

GET PINNING
I waste many an hour on Pinterest (follow me here!) and whilst it is a fantastic source of inspiration it's also a pretty decent tool for promotion. Much like Facebook, Pinterest is also home to hundreds of group boards where bloggers can share their content. I love these boards as I think I'm quite a visual person so the photographic aspect of Pinterest really appeals to me. Examples of great group boards include the Scottish Bloggers Board and this Blogger Group Board.

As well as pinning to group boards be sure to set up your own board just for your blog and keep it up to date with all of your latest blog posts. I have the Pinterest extension for Chrome so in just one quick click my posts are pinned, however not everyone uses this so it could be a good idea to install a "Pin It" button on your blog - this tutorial is very helpful!

If you use Pinterest then you will notice that it is predominantly portrait photos that are the most popular on the site, so be sure to have one that's bright and shows off what your post is about. When I remember I like to make a separate image for Pinterest that has the title of the post and my blog url written on it so that my post doesn't get lost in a sea of repins. In order to build your following it's important to pin regularly and split your content up in to a number of categorised boards to make it easy to find. You can see some examples of my boards on my profile here.

I hope this post was helpful for you - please let me know if you think I've missed something out!

Next week: The final dedicated social media post will be all about my personal favourite - Instagram. From apps, to hashtags and people to follow be sure stay tuned if you want to up your Insta-game.
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22 Nov 2014

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: Crazy Cat Ladies


Every Christmas or birthday without fail I get some sort of cat related gift or card, and I totally love it. One of the best trends to trickle up to the high street recently is the open acceptance of being a crazy cat lady and so I've been able to find an abundance of suitable gifts in order to allow me to publicly declare my love for all things feline. Some are a bit garish (that clutch for example) but they're all just plain awesome. Fancy treating your favourite cat lady, crazy or not? Here are a few ideas:

Cat lady acrylic necklace - £16 from Not On The High Street
At the moment there are some pretty amazing pieces of acrylic jewellery out there but this necklace has to be one of my favourites. It's not too ridiculous but still a super cute piece of jewellery. Other equally pretty pieces include this dainty little charm necklace and this geometric number.

All I Care About Is Cats... t-shirt - £18.52 from Look Human
If you add food in to this list it would be absolutely perfect for me. Even though they may steal your food and cover your clothes in fur cats don't judge (at least not vocally), laugh when you fall over or make sarcastic comments. Cats over most people any day!

Cat Ears ring - £5 from Claire's (pack of 3)
Not only are these rings adorable, they're also from the Katy Perry collection at Claire's. That hits two birds with one stone for me! This would totally double up as a tool for prodding people who annoy you or pull your cat's tail, so really you don't even need to think about it. Plus the little sparkly ears are cute.

Furry Cat Clutch - £19.99 from New Look
Okay. This is totally over the top and kind of tacky in a beautiful way BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It's on the edge of being creepy, I'm not entirely keen on the eyes but I think it would make such a cute gift for a cat loving pal. Imagine taking this on a night out? Amazing. Plus it has a tail! And it comes in black for a slightly more subtle approach...

Nyan Cat mug - £6.99 from eBay
Ever since I set eyes on this mug I have had that stupid song in my head. You know the one. There are so many amazing cat themed mugs out there but as someone who had Nyan Cat on for god only knows how many hours I find this to be a fantastic bit of geekery. For a slightly less rainbow affair you could also have Grumpy Cat drinking a Starbucks or this cute little cup - those whiskers!

Grumpy Cat leggings - £24.99 from Truffle Shuffle
Personally, I truly believe that Grumpy Cat is my spirit animal. And just downright hilarious. If I'm honest I don't think I'm brave enough to wear these out of the house but they would be the ideal attire for a lazy day in the house, if only they weren't black so that they wouldn't end up noticeably covered in ginger fur! If Grumpy Cat is your spirit animal too why not go for this amazing cushion cover or my absolute favourite Christmas jumper ever?


Don't forget your feline friends too! How about this fetching bow tie, or even better a fancy schmancy hat to wear for Christmas dinner?
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21 Nov 2014

TECHNOLOGY: Protecting your tech

Samsung M3 1TB USB 3.0 slimline portable hard drive* - available on Amazon
I am so incredibly clumsy you wouldn't believe. Once, I dropped my phone in a snowy park on the way home from school and didn't realise until a very kind lady phoned my mum to say she had found it. Despite being left in the freezing cold snow overnight it somehow still worked, but not for much longer. Technology rarely lasts with me (mostly down to overuse and/or dropping things) and despite having become considerably more responsible with my gadgets in the past few years I still like to make sure I have a decent plan in place should the worst actually happen. It's an absolute miracle that I've had an iPhone for nearly two years and haven't cracked the screen yet.

COVER YOUR BITS
Something I think is incredibly important is insurance. My mum and dad have both worked in insurance at some point and when I first moved out last year they were sure to push me to insure my stuff. If it wasn't for insurance my car would have a massive dent in it, I probably wouldn't have a phone and god knows what state my laptop would be in. Covering your gadgets through a provider such as Insurance2Go ensures that should the worst scenario happen (dropping your phone in your drink is an entirely possible situation) someone has your back.

BACK, BACK, BACK IT UP
One of my more recent technology disasters happened when I was working on an absolutely gigantic piece of coursework a week or so before submission. I was doing well, ahead of the schedule I had set myself, and then my computer crashed. I had saved recently, but the file on my computer had corrupted and I didn't have a back up. Cue tears. Lots of tears. Now I back up everywhere - my laptop, USB stick, shared portable hard drive at home and two cloud drives. My newest gadget is this nifty little Samsung M3 slimline hard drive* with 1TB of memory, it's so light and compact that it's perfect to carry in my bag to university for that extra level of security. Plus, it's a good place to keep all of my many episodes of House for easy viewing no matter where I am. Priorities.

OTHER USEFUL THINGS
There are some really simple things that make a massive difference when protecting your gadgets from harm, common sense for one! I used to carry my camera everywhere with me until one day I very nearly dropped it in a puddle, now I only carry it when I know I'll need it which may result in a missed photo opportunity or two but saves me from having to replace my kit. Other little things such as screen protectors and protective cases are great purchases that aren't all that expensive. Definitely worth the few extra pennies in the grand scheme of things!

Have you ever totally destroyed one of your beloved gadgets? Smashed screens, spilt drinks... I want to hear it all!

Disclaimer: Insurance2Go compensated me with the hard drive and 1 year's Kaspersky anti-virus in return for this post. This doesn't impact my views and all words & thoughts are my own. INSURANCE IS IMPORTANT PEOPLE!
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20 Nov 2014

FASHION: Thomas Sabo at Joshua James

Thomas Sabo rose gold charm necklace
Thomas Sabo rose gold charm necklace
Rose gold chain, charm carrier & four leaf clover charm* - Thomas Sabo via Joshua James
Back when I was in school charm bracelets were all the rage, nearly everyone had a Links Sweetie, Pandora or Thomas Sabo charm collection jingling on their arm. For my 15th birthday my lovely friends all chipped in and bought me the cutest little charm bracelet with a beautiful silver cat charm (obviously) and I wore it to death, then one Christmas I also got a beautiful pearl charm bracelet with yet another cat charm which I also adored. Since then, Thomas Sabo had kind of disappeared off of my jewellery radar as I tended to turn to statement costume jewellery instead of special pieces with a bit more meaning.

Fast forward a few years, add in an obsession with rose gold, and here we are with this beauty from Joshua James. I forgot just how beautiful Thomas Sabo pieces were and this hasn't left my neck since I opened the box. I love how elegant and understated it is, it's perfect to wear every single day and works perfectly with my rose gold initial necklace that I got for my birthday. I was a bit worried that the charm carrier would be really bulky but it is in fact perfectly dainty and helps to draw the focus to the charm. Seeing as four leaf clovers are a symbol of luck I knew it would be the perfect choice, I need all the luck I can get this year when it comes to university!

I'm already planning what charm to add to my necklace next, I'd love a rose gold initial but for some reason I can't find a C?! It's probably best for my bank balance that I'm not seeing one just now, or else it would be winging it's way to my flat ASAP! I love how versatile the Thomas Sabo charm ranges are as the charms are actually so easy to interchange, with others I found it to be a bit of a hassle if I wanted to switch them up but the lobster clasps makes it fuss free.

With Christmas just around the corner I think that a little treat from Thomas Sabo would be the perfect gift for someone special, jewellery is a bit of a fail-safe idea but at least with the charm options available it allows you to personalise your gift so that it shows how much thought you've put in to it! I absolutely adore this cat and mouse charm, which is totally predictable of me but I don't even care. Plus, if you spend over £75 you'll get a free jewellery box which is a fantastic extra as well as making sure there's a safe place to keep it in!

Do you have any jewellery that means a lot to you?

x
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19 Nov 2014

BEAUTY: Benefit Boi-ing Concealer


Boi-ing concealer in shade 01 - £17.50 from Benefit
My first ever blogging event was actually the launch of Benefit's Fake Up concealer stick, which I fell in love with for a very long time. Fast forward to a few years later and here I am with a new Benefit concealer that I treated myself to in Debenhams when I was also buying the Cheeky Sweet Spot. Originally I was planning on purchasing Erase Paste, however the lovely girl on the counter suggested that Boi-Ing might be a bit better suited to my needs; covering the occasional blemish, scarring and my under eye circles.

Boi-ing comes in a small yet sturdy black pot with a twist off lid, meaning that you don't have to worry about it falling apart in your make up bag. I struggle a little to get right to the edge of the pot when applying with my finger as is recommended however when using a brush this is no issue.

On first impressions I thought the shade looked a little too warm for my typically pale Scottish skin, however it's actually perfect and blends in seamlessly with or without foundation. The consistency is very creamy without being overly heavy with a slightly fuller coverage than other concealers I have tried which is perfect for concealing little imperfections. It certainly has an impressive staying power and manages to last through even the toughest 8 hour shifts, and even longer with a decent primer such as the Porefessional.

I do sometimes find that it can crease slightly under my eyes after a few hours, although this can quickly by fixed by using a finger or brush to blend out slightly. I have a feeling this is due to me being a bit too heavy handed when applying as it usually isn't an issue. I'm not entirely sure how well this would work for someone with oilier skin than I have, however even on my slightly oily eyelids this works wonders so it's just a case of trial and error I suppose.

On the whole Boi-ing is a pretty impressive concealer, it really provides the whole hog for me. I still love the infamous Collection Lasting Perfection but for now I am pretty smitten with Boi-ing. At £17.50 it isn't the most expensive concealer out there but certainly isn't the cheapest.  If you're after a concealer that's a bit more heavy duty then I would definitely suggest trying Boi-ing on for size.

x
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18 Nov 2014

TUESDAY TEN: Party Dresses

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
6 - 7 - 8 - 910
With Christmas fast approaching it's difficult to avoid the influx of sparkly party wear in every shop window. I do love a pretty dress, but I don't really like spending money so I like my dresses to be versatile and comfortable. This year I fancy something that is sparkly and festive but not too over the top which could prove to be difficult! As much as I would love a sequin dress like number 2 I don't feel like it's the most adaptable piece.

Christmas Dinner leaves no room for bodycon, but some of my favourite dresses that I've found this year (such as 5 & 6) unfortunately are. I think 6 could possibly be sized up but I'm not sure that would work quite so well for 5. If we're following this method that could also rule out dresses with cut out stomachs too... or I could just power through regardless. Food over fashion, always.

Which is your favourite from this week's ten?

x
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17 Nov 2014

OUTFIT: I could show you incredible things

Dress - Coast
Shoes - New Look
I couldn't resist sharing the newest addition to my growing party-wear wardrobe which is this beautiful dress from Coast. Coast isn't a shop I usually go for as the kind of parties I am invited to rarely require such fancy evening attire however I attended the Rainbow Valley charity ball on Saturday night which gave me the perfect excuse to get dressed up. I'm so in love with this dress but it doesn't work too well with a big meal... Annoyingly it was a little tight around my chest (not normally an issue I have) but the size up was falling off so I just had to roll with it. It's perfect for some swishy dancing a la Dirty Dancing and I seriously can't wait to wear it again. Tulle for the win.

Luckily when I was picking up this dress I popped in to New Look to hunt for some shoes to match and found these beauties with a reasonable heel but not ridiculous enough that I couldn't dance in them. These were in the wide fit section however I have pretty small feet and these were not wide in the slightest, I dread to think how my feet would have turned out if they hadn't been wide fit! My poor toes.

Sadly after a weekend of drinks and dancing it's now back to reality at university. I have about a month left before we break up for Christmas which is making me stress out big time about getting work finished. Once it's all finished it will be fantastic though! I can't wait for my deadlines to disappear and to not be working all hours of the day (retail at Christmas sucks) so that I can binge watch Gossip Girl guilt free - although at the rate I'm speeding through I'll be finished all six seasons by the end of the month... Oops.

Hope you had a nice weekend!

x


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16 Nov 2014

BLOGGING TIPS: Making the most of Twitter


Now that I've covered all of the topics I wanted to talk about under the heading of content, it's time to move on to community. One of the most important aspects of blogging is community and it's essential to respect that. From personal experience I have found that the best way to build your blog (as well as making some pretty amazing friends) is by getting involved in the community and I think that one of the more prominent platforms to aid this is Twitter.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK
When creating your Twitter profile it's essential to make sure that your bio clearly conveys who you are. Include little things like a general location, links to your websites and other social media profiles as well as an up to date profile picture. It can be tempting to follow hundreds and thousands of random profiles in hope that they will follow you back, but in the long run it's better to only follow people who's tweets you really care about. Communicate with people you'd like to get to know in order to build your network and maybe even make some friends. I first met Hayley through Twitter and she's now one of my best friends!

GET CHATTING
One of the best ways to get yourself & your blog out there is to join in one of the many Twitter chats. No matter what your niche - or even if you have no niche - there will be the perfect chat for you. Twitter chats typically last an hour and are a great place to find new blogs to read and people to talk to. Some have set topics which that particular chat will stick to on that day, with a variety of questions to spark discussion, whereas others are for more general discussion. Elaine from XOMISSE has this fantastic calendar that details all of the chats and what time they take place, but a few notable chats include #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers) on Sundays & Wednesdays at 7pm, #bbloggers (beauty bloggers) on Sundays and Wednesdays at 8pm and #fblchat (fashion, beauty & lifestyle) on Tuesdays at 8pm.

TWEET TWEET (BUT NOT TOO MUCH!)
One of the most off-putting things when I'm browsing Twitter is a constant stream of tweets all linking to the same blog post. Sharing links to your new posts is one of the greatest things to use Twitter for however there is definitely such a thing as overkill and oversharing. If I look at someone's profile and all I see is links to their posts I probably won't follow them, Twitter is a social media platform and so requires some work on the social side. Be conversational! Interact with your followers and people that you follow. It's difficult to use Twitter successfully if it's all one sided, so be sure to get involved. It's okay to tweet things that aren't about your blog - even if you made the account purely for blogging purposes!

GET SCHEDULING
My favourite feature when it comes to Twitter is the ability to schedule tweets when using apps such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. I don't always have the time or signal to allow a regular stream of tweets so I always try to have a few tweets scheduled - especially if I have a new blog post live! This stops me from worrying all day about maintaining a consistent Twitter presence, and helps to make sure that my new shiny blog post that I spent hours on does get seen. Typically, when sharing a post I will schedule approximately 5 tweets a day to try and hit a varied amount of Twitter users. I will usually have tweets around 9am, 12-1pm, 4pm, 6pm and 9pm so that I'm still getting my posts out there but not spamming my followers timelines. If you struggle to find spare time in the day to tweet out links to your posts I would definitely recommend trying out a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite in order to help - I personally prefer Tweetdeck as I find it a bit more user friendly but I am trying to make the transition to Hootsuite as it provides a few more handy features.

#GETYOURTWEETSSEEN
Hashtags aren't just those annoying things that seem to be on t-shirts everywhere nowadays - they do actually have a pretty important use. When sharing content that you want people to see one of the best things to do is include a few relevant hashtags to expand the reach of the tweet. Depending on what you're posting about, there'll probably be a specific hashtag as well as a few general ones to include. Usually, I opt for #lbloggers, #bbloggers and #fbloggers but from time to time I will also use #scottishbloggers and #fdbloggers for my foodie posts. Have a look at what other prominent (and relevant) tweeters are using then see if you can adapt them for your own tweets. Having a read through the tweets of a certain hashtag is also a fantastic way to find new people to follow & blogs to read!

WHO TO FOLLOW
Finally, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite tweeters that I currently follow: Becky, Lis, Jayne, Terri and Joelle.

NEXT WEEK: In the second installment on social media, I'll be talking all about Facebook as a blogging tool and my undying love for Pinterest.

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15 Nov 2014

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: Boss Ass Bloggers & Social Media Mavens


I've probably mentioned before that I love a bit of pop culture, especially when it comes to buying gifts. At the moment I would definitely consider the social media storm to be pop culture, and it would appear that the high street agrees with the influx of hashtagged clothing, social media themed home decor and some amazingly handy gadgets - selfie stick anyone? Here are a few of my picks for the beautiful bloggers in your life:

Acrylic hashtag necklace - £9.39 from Plastique
I actually think this necklace is pretty adorable, I love the gold finish and it seems like a slightly more subtle way to show your love for the world of Twitter than say.... this top. I also think this dainty "@" necklace is super cute too, or why not go the whole hog and make sure everyone knows exactly where to find you with this personalised Twitter username necklace?

Instagram pillow - £23.09 from Etsy
How cute would this look on Instagram? Instagram-ception... I absolutely love a filter or two and think this little pillow would be such a great gift idea for the selfie sharer in your life. If Instagram isn't their thing why not go for the Facebook like or Tumblr instead? There's even Pinterest too, but make sure it fits in with your perfectly pinnable white floorboards and monochrome colour scheme...

Blogger pencils - £3.50 from La La Land
Okay, I know that my blog would be nothing if it wasn't for a good ol' to do list - and what better thing to scribble my notes with than these amazing pencils?! If there's a blogger in your life who is as reliant on note-taking as I am then these are a total no brainer. Everyone needs to know how much of a big deal I am on my blog...

I'm a Blogger top - £15.02 from Look Human
If you want everyone to know just how fabulous you and your internet space are then this is the top for you. It comes in a variety of colours like the classic red & white and Look Human also have loads of other awesome blogging-related goodness. I particularly love their extensive pop culture range - I would love this Doge blanket. Such comfort. If sassy tees are your thing then I also love this one, I just wish it was true for me.

Go Away I'm Blogging mug - £9.95 from The Literary Gift Company
I actually got this mug for my birthday and it is the best thing ever. It's the first thing I reach for if I'm making a cup of tea (it breaks my Cath Kidston collection's heart) and I swear hot beverages taste much better from this. If you're hard at work or hardly working then make sure no one disturbs you by always having this awesome mug on hand! Tweeting more your thing? Then there's the perfect mug for you too.

Fisheye, macro & wide angle mobile lenses - £5.39 from Amazon
Okay this would be a great gift for any photography buff. I for one am pretty happy with the iPhone camera but it seriously sucks for close ups. I hate when I see the perfect photo opportunity but don't have my camera on me so this nifty set of lenses would be fantastic for on-the-go snapping (and uploading to Instagram!). They're not just for iPhone so never fear - your Android or other brand can have snazzy fisheye shots too!

What are you getting the blogger in your life this Christmas? Or are you just going to treat yourself instead? I'm totally tempted...

x
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14 Nov 2014

BEAUTY: Microdermabrasion at YUU Beauty Glasgow






On Wednesday afternoon I headed in to the city centre for my first ever facial at YUU Beauty's Glasgow salon. Despite having been in plenty of salons, usually for manicures or blogger events, I have never had any sort of skincare treatment and was understandably a bit nervous about what lay ahead of me.

When arriving at the salon I headed down the stairs in to the bright and welcoming reception area and was greeted by the lovely salon manager Leanne who would be performing my treatment. I then filled in a few forms regarding medical history, allergies etc and had a seat in the waiting area. The salon itself was really bright and clean, something that I definitely look for in a beauty salon. They offer a variety of treatments from gel nails, laser hair removal, massages and more. I for one am pretty tempted by HD Brows, I've fancied them for a while and would definitely trust Leanne to do them for me!

After a very short wait I was shown in to the treatment room and had a wee chat with Leanne about my typical skincare routine, what products I use and my main skin concerns. Leanne was clearly really knowledgeable about the products & treatments on offer in the salon so knew exactly what course of action would be best to treat my concerns. With the changing weather my skin has been really dry, so Leanne suggested that we try a microdermabrasion facial with a moisturising mask afterwards.

I climbed in to the amazingly heated bed (seriously, I never wanted to leave) and had my make up removed, something I wish that someone else would do for me every single day... The first part of the treatment involved cleansing the skin and allowing it to dry before exfoliating with a small wand that has a grainy surface to remove the build up of dead skin cells. This was a bit of a weird experience as it felt like a small vacuum was running over my face, but it was strangely relaxing.

After this Leanne applied the mask to cool and restore moisture to my skin. This is where I really struggled to stay awake! Whilst the mask worked it's magic Leanne massaged my neck and shoulders, which I really needed. Seriously relaxing. A while later the mask was peeled off (it was so weird seeing the imprint of my face, it looked like something out of a horror movie) and Leanne applied a gorgeous smelling serum & moisturiser by Juliette Armand to finish off. I'd never heard of Juliette Armand before but after my experience with the brand in YUU Beauty I'll definitely be looking in to purchasing some of my own. My skin is feeling pretty amazing right now, my dry patches have vanished and it just feels so plump and hydrated. I was told to expect a possible breakout after the facial as it draws impurities out of the skin however so far I've been pretty lucky and managed to avoid any blemishes.

Finally, Leanne was sure to explain all of the details regarding after care which was incredibly helpful for a salon newbie like myself. Before I left I was given a prescription sheet of the recommended skincare as well as the products that had been used during the treatment. I can't express enough how helpful she was and the way that she explained everything was really reassuring. I never understood before how relaxing a facial really could be, but it was a fantastic experience and I could definitely see it becoming a habit. My experience at YUU Beauty left me very, very, very pleased and I would seriously recommend the salon to anyone in Glasgow - or you could always visit one of their Edinburgh salons too. I'm already trying to decide what I'll be heading back for next time!

x
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13 Nov 2014

RECIPE: Triple layer chocolate & orange cake





Sometimes when baking the results aren't quite what you expected or hoped for, which I find usually happens with my presentation more than anything else... Let's just say, this cake wouldn't be winning any points for presentation if I was in front of Hollywood & Berry - but it went down a treat. This was my first time using my amazing Kenwood Patissier mixer that I won at the Glasgow Blogger Bake Off last month which was pretty damn exciting! I'm officially in love with an appliance... does that make me old? My mum had been dropping hints about making this cake for her, and when some yummy chocolatey baking treats from Dr Oetker appeared in this month's Degustabox* I thought it was worth a shot.

Ingredients

For the sponge
250g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
250g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g softened butter
Zest & juice of 1 large orange
2 large eggs (I used 4 medium instead)
150g soured cream

For the filling
150g butter at room temperature
300g icing sugar
150g orange curd
Orange food colouring & orange extract

For the ganache
250g dark chocolate
1tbsp sunflower oil
300ml double cream

Method
1. To start, preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (gas mark 4) and grease 3 round baking tins of identical size. I only had two, so I just had to wait a little bit longer for a second round of baking.
2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then mix in the sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Beat in the softened butter until the mixture is combined - might be best to use an electric whisk here to avoid sore arms.
3. In a separate jug mix together the rest of the wet ingredients - orange juice & zest, eggs and sour cream - and pour in to your dry mixture. Beat the mixture well until it is fully combined.
4. Split your mixture evenly across the three lined tins and smooth the surface. Stick in the oven for approximately 20 minutes when the surface is springy to the touch or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out on to a cooling rack to completely cool off.
6. To make the filling cream together the butter and icing sugar until fluffy and light. Then whisk in the orange curds, extract and food colouring until fully combined then set aside to use later.
7. The ganache is where I totally went wrong (see picture below) but the original recipe from Woman magazine says to melt together the chocolate, oil and cream over a low heat and stir until combined. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature or until it's spreadable. I think my mistake was not allowing enough time to cool properly, I'm just an impatient baker!
8. If needed, trim the tops of the cakes so that they stack flat. Spread the filling in between each layer then cover the stack with the ganache - if it looks like mine below them leave it to cool for a second and re-spread once it's set a bit more. This seemed to save mine!

The finished result wasn't the prettiest looking cake, but it was lovely and fudgy with a fantastic rich flavour. Chocolate & orange is one of my favourite flavour combinations and this cake combines them perfectly. Let me know if you give it a go - I'd love to see some prettier versions!



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11 Nov 2014

TUESDAY TEN: High heels

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10
I haven't bought a new pair of heels in well over a year now, and I'm starting to get withdrawal symptoms. I don't wear heels particularly often and I do have my three favourite pairs that I typically opt for, but I'm starting to lust for a new addition to my small collection. Usually I like a chunky heel, I'm a small girl so need the height but hate sore feet and the constant fear of tripping so need a platform for balance - hence why 4 & 10 are slightly unusual choices for me.

Personally, my favourites are probably 1, 3 and 7... which are all pretty similar. They also look really similar to two of the three pairs I usually wear as well. I'm a creature of habit I suppose! I think black tends to be the safest choice for me as it goes with pretty much everything I would wear.

Which pair do you prefer?
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10 Nov 2014

BEAUTY: Benefit Cheeky Sweet Spot




Cheeky Sweet Spot gift set by Benefit - £29.50 online here
When I saw the Benefit gift sets back at the Debenhams AW14 press evening I knew that I would be adding a couple to my Christmas list. In the end, I decided I couldn't wait and instead used a voucher that I had burning a hole in my pocket to treat myself to a couple of little treats from Benefit - the first of which being the Cheeky Sweet Spot gift set which had caught my eye a few times.

I'm not a big user of blusher, I own maybe two or three and use them very rarely. For a while I've been saying that I'd like to get in to using blushers a bit more and when I saw what Cheeky Sweet Spot had to offer I knew it was a step in the right direction. This amazing set includes all of Benefit's infamous Box O' Powder blushes as well as their Watt's Up highlighter which I have been desperate to try.

The packaging of the gift set is just downright adorable. I love the whole sweet shop theme that Benefit have got going on with their Christmas gifts this year, it's festive but not glaringly so. The blushers are packaged in a sturdy tin that happily fits in to my make up bag, which was a bit of a surprise for me as I had expected it to be a bit too chunky! The set also includes one of their typical blusher brushes, which I find great for contouring due to the shape, but it's not the best for applying blush.

The blushers included are Dandelion (4g), Bella Bamba (5g), Sugarbomb (6g), Rockateur (5g), Coralista (5g) as well as the popular Hoola bronzer (5g) and removable 1.5g container of Watt's Up. Considering that a typical Benefit blusher contains between 5-8g of product for £23.50 this really shows the value of this set - one of the main things that drew me to it.

As a total newbie when it comes to blusher I love the fact that this gift set includes a little booklet that explains the best way to use each of the products to the best of it's abilities. The variety of shades included will hopefully allow me to create a number of different looks (even with a bit of a tan) and I'm really impressed with the buttery quality of the powders. Dandelion and Coralista are my favourites so far, but I'm excited to use Hoola and Rockateur for a more night time appropriate look in the future. Watt's Up is a beautiful champagne highlighter with a fantastically creamy consistency, it's perfect for day or can be layered for a more intense look at night. It's one of the best cream highlighters I've tried so far and I think I'll be investing in the full size once I've made my way through this little compact.

The value of this set alone is enough to make me recommend it as a cheeky treat or the perfect gift for a blush-loving bestie however the quality of the blushes really cements that. I'm seriously impressed by this and I think it's relit my love for Benefit... what to buy next?!

x
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9 Nov 2014

BLOGGING TIPS: Working with PRs


PR opportunities can be a bit of a taboo subject in the blogging world, especially when it comes to the Twitter chats, but it's something that can't really be ignored. I'm not going to be preaching about how to go about blagging freebies but I thought it would be useful to discuss some of the important points to consider when building relationships with PRs who you are in contact with.

ATTITUDE AND ETIQUETTE
Having the right attitude is essential in life, never mind blogging. When working with people from a public relations company it's really really really important to remember that this is their job, they are trying to get exposure for a brand. It can be frustrating when an e-mail is addressed incorrectly or your name is spelt wrong but chances are you are not the only person that e-mail has been sent to. At the end of the day you have still been including in the list of recipients, and you should be happy about that. The opportunities that PRs often bring are perks, not rights. They are people too!

If you're not happy about something, deal with it privately. It's not proper social media conduct to blast people publicly all over your social media profiles. I am guilty of a rant from time to time, but on the whole I try to avoid naming and shaming. A lot of the time, it is not the person you are directly in contact with's fault but some sort of restraint set by a client that is causing an issue. Whilst you definitely shouldn't underestimate your worth it's also important that you don't throw a total Mariah Carey diva strop when you don't get what you want. In the future they may have an opportunity that is better suited to you, so being polite and respectful is the best way to maintain the relationship. Laura penned a pretty great post about some do's and don'ts when working with PRs here.

KNOWING WHEN TO SAY NO
Not every opportunity is the right fit for you, and as tempting as it can be to write a post about *totally irrelevant thing* for £*rather attractive sum* it's not really worth it for either party if you're not passionate about what you're writing. Your readers can tell if you've just whacked out a quick post that you do not care about in the slightest - it will be totally transparent and I personally find it pretty off putting. You alone know what you love, you know what your readers will find value in and you know what is worth putting the effort in for. On that note, it's also important not to undervalue your time and effort when writing posts. Is a chance to possibly (but probably not) win something really worth it? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. It's your choice! I can't pay my rent with posts shared on social media, nor can I solve my skin issues with competition entries. Know your worth and make sure it is appreciated.

TIPS & TRICKS

  • Make sure your contact details are visible and it is easy for people to get in touch with you in order to discuss potential opportunities (or just have a nice chat - I do love a chinwag)
  • Be professional - being rude gets you nowhere. It's polite to show your gratitude for the opportunity, even if you're not going to take it.
  • Honesty is the best policy, don't pull a figure for your stats out of thin air. If something isn't right for you, say it.
  • Try and avoid the green eyed monster, there are limited hours in the day and limited budgets for samples but a seemingly unlimited number of bloggers out there.
  • Network! Sometimes I'll get an e-mail about something that I don't think will work for me, but might be great for someone else I know. If that's the case then I send their details across just in case!
Next week: Moving on to the community side of the blogosphere, starting out with a post all about Twitter!
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8 Nov 2014

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE: BFFs


It's November, Halloween and Bonfire Night have been and gone so it's officially time to go Christmas crazy. I was going to go for the conventional gift guides this year - "for her", "for him" etc - but instead decided to go for a few more specialist guides instead. First up, a few things that you might want to treat your partner in crime to.

Partners In Crime necklace - £19.25 from Etsy
Back in the day I used to buy quite a few BFF necklaces from Kylie at M&Co however they were all beautifully tacky. Personally, I still think they're really cute gifts and it would probably make my life if I was given one! There are a variety of necklaces out there, such as these cute pizza slices, but I think this one is absolutely adorable for you and your go to partner for adventures.

You're My Favourite Bitch mug - £9.03 from Etsy
You can't beat a mug. Who doesn't love a mug? Even better if said mug has a sassy phrase on it for all to see. I also love this Mean Girls mug and this expletive declaration of love too. Drink your tea, wine or other beverage of choice from something that really shows off how much of a boss you are.

What Would Blair Waldorf Do? digital print - £2.81 from Etsy
If there's one thing that my friends and I love it's Gossip Girl, so the second I spied this it was a no brainer. If you want something done, Queen B is your girl. I would love to have this print above my desk as a little motivational reminder that hard work (and sometimes devious planning) pays off. Another print that I love is this one from Not On The High Street, moving away from home showed me which friendships really mattered so this quote speaks to me a fair amount.

Benedict Cumberbatch hair bow - £12 from La La Land
If there's one thing many girls love, it's collages of gorgeous men. Although I haven't yet found the perfect t-shirt plastered with Hugh Laurie's face (I do have a phone case!) La La Land have a great selection of other beautiful people such as Mr. Cumberbatch, such a pity that he's now engaged... If Benedict isn't your besties' thing then they also have Ryan Gosling, Tom Hiddleston, Johnny Depp and more.

New Girl pencils - £3.50 from Etsy
Another television favourite within my circle of friends is New Girl, I don't think a conversation passes without a quote, and seeing as we're all top students (obviously) then these pencils will be perfect to take down notes, doodle and other important things like that. If you'd rather something a little less whimsical than Jess Day's life mantra's then why not try Elf, Harry Potter or Mean Girls?

Best Bitches t-shirts - £8.33 each from Etsy
Whenever I am asked my most embarrassing fashion moment one specific day automatically springs to mind. Let's set the scene - primary school, casual Friday, me and my two best friends and three matching t-shirts. We thought we were the coolest people out there, but in reality we really really weren't. However, these t-shirts are probably a bit more acceptable than our glittery pink "Am I Bothered?" affairs.

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6 Nov 2014

OUTFIT: People fall in love in mysterious ways



Top - Clothes Show (similar on eBay here)
Skirt - River Island (old)
Boots - New Look
Necklace - gift (similar here & here)
I feel like I wear this skirt all the time but luckily I've only actually posted about it once so I can hide my outfit repeating ways for now... For some reason I've got a bit of a thing for clothing that references pop culture at the moment. I don't want to spoil some of my upcoming posts but I feel like the intertextuality adds something a bit more interesting to an outfit than some random word on a t-shirt would. You can tell I have actually been paying attention in my fashion communication lectures for a change! On the topic of Mean Girls, did you see this reunion shoot for Entertainment Weekly? So awesome.

One of the biggest pieces of coursework I have this year is a fashion magazine (that actually gets printed next year, v. exciting) and yesterday was the day of my group's big photoshoot. We worked with a really lovely photographer from the local college as well as fantastic model and despite the elements being slightly against us I think we ended up with some amazing shots. I'm really excited about it all and can't wait to see the finished product!

Deadlines are really creeping up on me right now so I'm starting to feel the pressure, but I'm not feeling overly stressed yet. Luckily part of my coursework involves blog posts, so I've still been able to keep up with it all and not feel like I'm totally abandoning my degree (or blog for that matter). I'm not sure why but I just feel really excited about the potential opportunities my blog and my course brings at the moment, there's nothing in particular that's really made me feel this way but I'm just in a pretty happy place!

x
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