Friday, December 8, 2017

30 Things To Do This Christmas

Yesterday was wonderful. I booked a day off to buy and decorate my first ever real Christmas tree. I did step in dog poo, smash a glass bauble and bought netted light curtains instead of tree lights, but whatcha gonna do? I mean I don't know about you, but I really think I'm bossing adult life right now. Just me doing adult things and making my first Christmas in my new home one I'll remember forever. 

When we work, exercise, blog, socialise and just try to be the best person we can, before we know it Christmas has been and gone and that lull between Christmas and New Years has just been left to decay and sit there, along with the tub of cheeselets and boxes of partially opened Christmas biscuits. Let's face it, there's always at least 5 on the go.

I want to make this Christmas the best yet, Squeeze every ounce of time out of my days off and just ya know, make it the best one yet. 

Just a gal hooking you up with 30 lil things to keep you occupied this Christmas so you can tell your colleagues on the 2nd Jan you've done more than eat. Well, maybe.

1. Go to a Christmas carol service, with mince pies, mulled wine and good people. Most churches host these sorts of events. There is one in Plymouth on the 19th and I am ridiculously excited. It's something I've never been to before, but it's sure to give me all the festive feels.

2. A day devoted to Christmas films, wrapping, and doing nothing. Okay, so we've probably already all done this. But there is nothing better than keeping cosy, not moving for the whole day and just generally loving life.

3.A Boxing Day walk. Nothing gets me ready for more food quite like a Boxing Day morning walk. It always feels so fresh and quiet on this day, and I love the anticipation of more food and films with the family.

4.A board games evening. With hot chocolates and snacks. 'Cos Christmas. It's the perfect reason to ditch your phone for the evening and enjoy the company you're with.

5.Do a random act of kindness. Buy a homeless person a drink, donate some clothes to charity or a local refuge centre. Take part in the shoebox appeal. Christmas is a time for giving and family, but it's also important to think of those less fortunate.

6. Bake mince pies and Christmas gingerbread cookies, eat them in one sitting. 

7.Go for an evening walk and admire all the Christmas lights on the houses. It's my favourite thing to do. I try to do the same when I drive home from work, but there's only so many times I can get away without hitting something.

8. Christmas jumpers all day errr day. It doesn't have to be Christmas jumper day to wear those ugly, but oh so beautiful things. 

9. Build a gingerbread house. This has legit been on my Christmas bucket list for 16373 years. Basically since before time. I can't think of anything more fun than building one by yourself or with a sibling or partner, if ya fancy a row.

10.Wrapping. Get the Pinterest boards out, the ribbons, masses of wrapping paper and even some foliage. I like to go ALL out when it comes to wrapping. I love getting crafty and making it look nice. Is it okay to ask for the ribbon back after tho? Asking for a friend.

11.Sales shopping. Whether you're a get up at 5am kinda gal on Boxing Day morning or like doing it from the comfort of your Christmas pit, there's always sales to be had. A great filler of time when the family have gone home and your only company is a tub of cheeselets.

12. Plan your new year. Once the festivities are out of the way, that lull until New year is the perfect time to sit down and think about your goals for the new year. There's never a time I feel like I have my shit together as much as when I have that written list of resolutions in front of me.

13. Go to the pantomine. If the 'he's behind you' jokes still get you, then the panto is an absolute must. Who said it's just for the kids?

14. Buy everything festive shaped. Christmas tree crumpets, tick. Mini mince pies, tick. ALL the festive food needs to be bought, consumed and posted on Instagram during the 12 days of Christmas. It will guarantee you at least 20 likes.

15.Head to your local Christmas market or go away somewhere for the weekend. Sample all the food stalls, hot chocolates, churros, mulled wine EVEN Yorkshire pudding wraps in Plymouth, say what. Eat your way around each stall until you can't walk anymore.

16. Buy a real Christmas tree, and decorate it. It's 100% more effort than a fake tree, BUT the smell and the fun of trying to make it look straight. It's worth every bloomin' second.

17.Turn on Christmas FM. Cut the fuss. Make the switch and revel in the Last Christmas' and All I want For Christmas for at least, hmm, all 4 weeks of December. 

18. Buy all the Christmas lush bath bombs. Use Luxury Christmas Pud bath bomb on Christmas Eve, bathe in it, enjoy the sweet scent of Twilight. No Christmas Eve bath time will ever be the same again without this one.

19.Crack out the new Christmas PJS. Head to Primark for a new set, hit up the ASOS next day delivery for a pair on the 23rd if you forget. There's nothing better than putting on a clean, fresh pair when you're waiting for Santa.

20. Ice skating. Whether you hit the ice, or just sit from the sidelines and pretend you went, ice skating is so magical at Christmas. It might not be the Rockefeller ice rink, but STILL.

21. Cracking the tub of Roses open at 10am. Ain't no time like the present. (DOES ANYONE EVEN LIKE ROSES THO?)

22. Treat yourself to a hot chocolate, cream and marshmallows. Swap that daily cuppa for a little cup of loveliness. Nothing says Christmas like a warm cup of cocoa.

23. Invite everyone over. Being a host and getting to buy all the festive napkins, plates, cups, balloons, festive food is just the best. £100? No problem. It's Christmas! Making your guests have the nicest time is just the best feeling. Not up to hosting? just order a dominos for everyone. It's a win, win!

24. Light all the candles, turn all the fairy lights on. I always hit up the Primark home aisle for a set of fairy lights, or 56.

25. Have digital free time. I'm actually *thinking* about not using or looking at social media once on Christmas Day. There's only so many engagements and #boydidgood posts a gal can see, and quite frankly I want to be in the moment this year and grateful for what I have around me. 

26. Crack out a Christmas buffet. I might go as far as saying I actually sometimes prefer a buffet to the actual Christmas roast. Well, probably not, but I do love a bloody good spread. The cheese, the crisps, the chocolate, the nibbles, I like it all. 

27. Leftover turkey sandwiches and chips. The leftover turkey is here to stay, there's plenty of it, if you're not a bubble and squeak sort of person, sandwiches are the next best thing. 

28. Make a Christmas cake from scratch, Ok, so you probably needed to do this one a couple of months in advance. We usually buy a pre-made fruit cake and then decorate it with marzipan, chocolate, basically the whole works. It's still just as fun and tastes pretty good too.

29.Christmas is a whirlwind, but it's also a time to take time out and rest. Christmas is for you to refresh and look after yourself. Make time for self care, general rest and time alone. It's so important to realise you don't have to be constantly pleasing people over the Christmas period. You do you.

30. Hang a Christmas wreath on your door. Go round the local neighbourhood and take a picture of every single door you spot with a wreath on it. I make this a yearly tradition now and I love that I can actually take part this year too. Perfect Insta content for the whole holidays. #ihavethisthingwithdoors

What are you most excited about this Christmas?

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

5 Easy Ways To Grow Your Pinterest Following

Mysterious and unknown. Pinterest had always been that one platform that I had no idea how to grow.

I'd had my account for over 2 years and only had 20 followers. Basically if you're posting less than once a week, don't bother. It was impossible. It was the impossible platform to crack.

So last year I set myself a challenge to really focus on getting some growth, experimenting and seeing what delivered the results. Within 3 months I was over 1,000 followers up and my blog content was starting to get repinned.

For an example, one of my pictures has been repinned 15,000 times. Can I get a hell yeah?

Without blowing my own trumpet, I thought I'd let you in on these easy ways to grow your following. Pinterest is not just a case of following 1,000 boards and hoping for the best though, you'll need to set a bit of time aside to start reaping the results.

1. Pin, Pin, Pin - Consistency Is Key

Consistency is the key to success on Pinterest. Without it, none of the below will help. This was trial and error for me. But I found that I had to pin around 3-4 times per day spread out over the day, pinning at least 10 pins at once.

There was a lot of early advice about Pinterest that pinning too much at once is bad. Well that really is a load of BS. If you're pinning high quality content, on a range of different boards I actually find that this helps me more.

Set aside little time slots each day, even 5 minutes 4 times a day, and you'll quickly start to notice a difference within a week.

2. Tidy Up Your Boards

I had a proper sit down and evaluated my boards before starting to grow them. I deleted old boards with not many pins, and deleted pins I didn't like anymore. I renamed the boards to help with search (this has been proven to help) and wrote short descriptions for each of the boards. Again, just picking out a few keywords and making it a bit more descriptive.

If I want to make any new boards, I now keep these private so I can only see them and then set them to public when they have 10+ pins in them. It again shows your followers or potential followers that you are active. Having boards that are full of pins looks far more aesthetically pleasing too.

3. Focus On One Key Board

When you're pinning you may have noticed the 'suggested boards' that come up amidst all of the pins. Well the key is getting into that. A bit like the google algorithm, no one really knows how it works and what the algorithm is to trigger getting yourself into that box. 

However, I found that by focusing all of my efforts on one key board this is how I grew my following in such a short, but intense period of time. It doesn't even matter if you're not posting across your other boards, or so I think anyway. 

The more you pin on an exclusive board, the more times your pins will be seen and the more active you are, the higher chance you'll appear as a suggested board to follow when others are looking for similar content.

It also has to be a board that a lot of people are searching for similar pins, but not something that has a high level of competition like 'Dream Home', 'Bathroom Interior'. I setup a Flatlay's board and I guess I should owe all my thanks to that. Plus my many hours spent pinning between work, exercise and life.

4.Take Clean, White, Pinnable Photos - Unique Content

It's great to keep pinning what comes up on your feed, but there's only so long you can do this without ending up pinning the same photo three times without realising. Unique content is what I believe is one of the top ways to grow your following. It goes without saying that for them to be pinnable they need to be the following;

-Clean images
-Not blurry
-White photos/or other clear backdrops
-Something you would repin
-Larger sized images (not small landscape or square)
-Keyword based or descriptive captions (helps with visibility and search)
-Link them to a really good blog post (top way to drive more traffic to your blog)

Having a following from implementing the above will also mean that when you do share some original content, there is more chance of it being pinned and pinned again. Ultimately, driving more traffic to your blog which is definitely the end goal conversion for me.

I do mostly pin stuff that is already on my feed, but mixing it up with original content too will help you to stay relative and get people clicking the follow button.

5. Collaborative Boards

This is a really good way to reach out to an existing base of followers with your content and ensure that that particular board is consistently updated.

I'm part of a Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle bloggers board with about 25 other bloggers. Not only is it a great way to see what other people have been posting about and give yourself inspiration, it also allows you to pin your own content and have a better chance of it being seen by more people.

You can always invite yourself to join other peoples boards or start them from scratch with a few friends. I wouldn't recommend having a lot on these boards on your feed, but at least one can really help with your growth in terms of reach, traffic and hopefully followers too.

Now for me to practice what I preach and get back into the Pinterest game. After all, remembering to post a few pins every week is the same as posting one image on Instagram everyday and hoping for the best, right? It's hopeless.

What have you found to help grow your Pinterest following?

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Monday, December 4, 2017

What Christmas Means To Me

Hello December you beautiful thing you. The Christmas wreath is already hung, the day off work is booked to get the Christmas tree and the Christmas jumpers have already made an appearance. As for my Christmas shopping, well. 

This year will be my first Christmas in my new home and I honestly couldn't be anymore excited about it. Last year was really stressful as I was going through the house buying process and every bit of spare cash was being squirrelled away for my house deposit. I feel like this year I get to start making my own traditions as well as enjoying it without any guilt.

I love this time of the year as everyone just seems happier. As soon as Mariah Carey comes blasting on the radio you can't seem to stop yourself smiling. Oh, and that one more mince pie, yeah don't worry about that, because it's Christmas.

'It's Christmas' is the best kind of excuse for anything. Totally justifiable too when you're delving your hand back into the tub of roses.

So what is it that makes Christmas for me?

We all love Christmas. The food, the films, the weather, the presents. But underneath all of that, what does it 'really mean'? 

Not only is it the best time of the year for a reason, it marks that one time of the year that I know I will get to spend quality time with my family. No stresses, no thoughts about work and no having to go out and do anything. I value this time so much now that I have moved out and it's making me more excited for Christmas than ever before. A few days of not having to adult and be looked after? Yes please.

But it's the traditions that come with that. The traditions we have had from growing up and the traditions that I will continue to create each year. We still put a glass of sherry and a mince pie out on Christmas Eve when I go to bed. 

My sister and I still leave our sacks out. We watch a Christmas film after our Christmas dinner. We always get Hotel Chocolat Christmas crackers. We always go for a walk on Boxing Day morning to walk off the food, ready to get started again when we get home.

It's the traditions that bind it for me and it's what I look forward to SO much. There's no other time of the year to look forward to so much stuff for a whole month. It brings happiness and warmth into my life for those few short weeks in December. I love it.

As this is my first year in my new home, I'm going all out. I'm getting my first ever real Christmas tree, I've bought The White Company decorations for my tree, £20 for a pack of 6 baubles. lol. life. I'm going to spend a few days watching Christmas films and wrapping. I'm also going to head to a Christmas carol service with mince pies. 

I have to look the part too for all the festivities. I'll add a new Christmas jumper to my wardrobe every year. I'll soon have enough for every day in December. 

Nothing helps me get into the festive spirit more than Christmas Jumpers. This year Boohoo are collaborating with Teenage Cancer Trust through 4 of their Christmas jumper designs (including the one I'm wearing). From the 4th, for each jumper that is sold they will be donating £5 to the Teenage Cancer Trust. So you can do good by kitting yourself out in your new jumper this year, and help someone else feel good during the festive period too. It's a win, win!

So in a nutshell, it's the family time and those precious traditions that makes Christmas for me. I'm sure as I get older the traditions will expand and evolve, and I'm just so excited for Christmas this year in my new home. Ya know, just in case you hadn't noticed I'd already mentioned that 16589 times. I'm sure it's something that will always make me feel warm and special when I look back on it in years to come.

Let the festivities begin!
Watch - Cluse

What does Christmas mean to you?

*Products marked with an asterix (*) have been sent to me for review. However, all opinions in this post are 100% my own
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Friends I'll Be Leaving in 2017

2017 was the year of self love and happiness for me. I'd spent ages searching for it. Something that I thought only depended on myself. If I'm not happy then it's my fault, right?

I've had some pretty low moments this year. Whenever I feel low I blame myself, I pick at myself, my flaws bubble to the surface and I compare. We all do it.

But something that has only just clicked with me recently is that my happiness is determined by those people I surround myself with. Every self help book tells you it, but you brush past it. It's the ulcer you know is there, but you can't be bothered to treat it. So you let it lie. Until it comes back again.

When people cancel. I think it's my fault. I let it happen time and time again, yet I still let them back into my life. Only to happen again. When will I learn? When will I acknowledge that my good nature is abused and hung out to dry. That these people do not deserve me. 

This weekend made it all too apparent to me that I can't continue like this anymore. Being there and making myself available to people that don't give a shit if they've 'accidentally' double booked. Only to let you know an hour before. That's always nice. But it's never been the first time.

It may have taken me the whole year to reevaluate what makes me happy and what makes me not so happy. But I'm here now, and these are the friends I'll be leaving firmly in 2017...

The Canceller

We all cancel. Sometimes we have to, I'll only ever cancel if I'm ill and I totally understand when people are ill too, it can't be helped.

But I'm talking about the serial canceller. The one that asks YOU if you want to do something, you don't even bother making the first move anymore because you know what it leads to.

It doesn't just happen once. You get excuses, lies and sometimes you won't even get a response until the next day. Shame. You'd already turned up at the place at 10am the day before like you arranged.

How does that make you feel? 

It makes you feel pretty shit. Firstly, you've got no time to rearrange and make other plans, charming. You're questioning whether they've dumped you for better plans (always a contender) and are you actually a person people want to spend time with? Are you even likeable? Do people even like you?

It continues. The canceller has been the biggest thing in my life this year and it makes me feel worse EVERY single time. 

But this time I won't be going back. I've had enough. I've identified this as being the biggest thing that makes me feel sad, and I'm not letting it happen anymore. Those friends can stick their plans, because I'm not being that person that's cancelled on anymore.

I'm done with being second best all the time.

The Me Me Me

I like to think I'm a good listener, but also a good talker. I love to ask a lot of questions as I'm a very inquisitive person, I'd always rather talk about someone else than me. I'm really quite boring.

But what happens when it becomes completely one sided? The friend that only ever talks about themselves, the amazing things that have been happening, the places they've been, and you're happy for them. But have they once asked how you are? No.

There's also a fine line between being really happy for your friend that they're achieving all these great things, but when it's done in a way when everything is about them, you start evaluating in your life what you have achieved. You compare yourself, which instantly makes it become an unhealthy relationship, and it only spirals down from there.

I've met A LOT of people who fall into this camp over the years and they never stay around for long. If a friendship isn't a two way thing and brings you down rather than lifting you up it's time to let it go. 

The One Who Never Replies

I'm 100% holding my hands up here and saying that sometimes I completely forget to reply. In fact one of my good friends I met through blogging, we take at least 1 month to reply to each other because we actually send essays to each other. But we both get it, there isn't anything pressing.

If it's a question, or some form of message that needs a reply and you get nothing, it's the worst. When they eventually reply you message back straight away, only to then have nothing for 4 more working days.

Messages take 10 seconds to send. No one is too busy to not message you back, stat. You are and should be important enough to deserve a response back. The 'I've been so busy' excuse is frankly pathetic. Cos WE ARE ALL BUSY. We all have jobs, we all have commitments, we all have different friends, but we find time for it.

Finding time in a day to reply to a friend is part of the friend package. And if you don't have that, then it's frankly not worth it. 

It's time for me to stop being 'so nice' and take the bull by the horns. So to speak. I don't have time for people that don't have the time for me anymore. Everyone's time is deserving, when time really is so precious.

There's nothing I hate more than negativity, but sometimes these things just have to be aired. If anything, just for myself. With every cleanse though comes a fresh start, and I think by getting away from people that bring me down it will allow me to push my happiness into the spotlight next year.

Remember, you are always number 1.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

How My Style Has Evolved In The Last 5 Years

It was only last week that I realised it had been 7 years since I turned 18. 7 WHOLE years. It's a lifetime away from the bodycon dresses I used to wear every Saturday night, the untouched eyebrows and the dangly feathered earrings, because cute.

I'm *probably* not the only one who looks back and silently cringes at how we used to look. How we used to dress. But also how times were different then, and so were we.

Some people never look any different. From weight gain and hair dye gone wrong, it's fair to say I've evolved over the years, and HEY hopefully for the better. 

Whilst things have changed and people have come and gone, fashion has always been that one consistent and stable thing in my life. It's always been there and I've always loved it. It's just that it's evolved over the years with natural progression.  I like to think I know my style and what suits me more than ever now. Just call me Trinny & Susannah.

So how has it changed I hear ya ask.

Well, you only need to hit the left arrow on my Facebook profile picture to see. Or scroll back on my Instagram to the beginning of time. Its not pretty, but it's me. We all make bad style choices, I still do now. I still get called Pat Butcher and told I've forgotten to change out of my pjs, I guess I've just learnt to be happy in what I wear, and if that's not the most important thing about style and being comfortable in what you're wearing, I don't know what is.

I now dress for myself. Not for others, not to impress others, just for myself, by myself. I wear what makes me happy, what makes me feel good, and an outfit that I feel like I could take over the world in. 

The days of heading to Revolutions in a cut out dress that barely covers my stomach are over. I'm sad about it too. Never did I think I would be a confident, twenty something who wore MIDI skirts. Who the frick do I think I am? Midi skirts make me feel smart, sassy and confident. I love dressing them up as much as I do dressing them down with sneakers and a jumper.

I barely wear anything above my knee now or plunging necklines. Congratulations to me, I am now officially that old person. I cringe at the thought of someone catching me wearing a mini skirt and someone saying 'she's too old to wear that'. Let's face it, it's gonna happen. 

The way I accessorise has grown up a lot too. The feathery dangly earrings and £1 bangles from Primark have already made their way to the charity shop. I rarely swap my pearl earrings for anything else these days, and I spend more on investment pieces that are timeless and classic. No matter how old you get.

The 18 year old bangle wearer has now swapped it for classy, yet sassy bracelets from Thomas Sabo. My 2 current favourite huns are the Friendship Bracelets - Little Secrets Bracelets which I have dressed with their Charm Club Charms for bracelets. A little N in case I forget my name, and a 4 leaf clover, because a girl really gotta have a bit of luck every now and then. I pair it with my Love Bridge bracelet, also pink (OBV) which features the cutest little skull. 

I can really see myself adding to this bracelet with sentimental charms that mark milestones and special occasions. There is more than 500 charms in their whole collection, so you can be as creative as you want. 

I really want to mark the time that I lived in Finland as this was a really big part of my life. I've even found a Finnish flag charm, so I definitely know what I'm going to add next. I love the idea that this bracelet will stay with me, and I can add to it for the rest of my life.

Little jewellery pieces like this finish off my outfit better than your mum's red lipstick and glitter eyeliner from collection 2000 that you've had for 3 years. They're sleek, minimal and finish my outfit off to perfection.

With jewellery, and skirt/trouser length covered, I guess the major last change for me has been colour. I no longer shy away from colour. I mean, I like pink, if you hadn't noticed? You'll rarely catch me without wearing some form of pink these days. But do you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

I no longer see getting older each year as a burden. I'm more adventurous with what I wear, I know what I like/what suits me and I've got to that stage in my life that I really don't care what anyone else thinks.

I just style it my way.

T-shirt - ASOS
Trousers - Topshop
Jacket - Missguided
Boots - Miss Selfridge via ASOS

How has your style changed as you've got older?

*Products marked with an asterix (*) have been sent to me for review. This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Thomas Sabo. However, all opinions in this post are 100% my own

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Fakery Within The Influencer Network

November has been the month of the so called 'blogger scandals'. The tweets dug up from a decade ago, and witch hunts to bring influencers crashing to the ground. Perhaps they deserved it?

It's common knowledge that the blogging community has become cattier than ever. Quite frankly it's embarrassing. But something that is striking me now more than ever is the fakery. It's a bad smell you just can't get rid. It lingers.

This is WAY beyond the real life vs Instagram paradigm.

I was at a 'place' a couple of weeks ago. Bloggers and influencers flock to there on a regular basis. To snap pictures against what probably is the dreamiest backdrop a gal will ever find. It's a bloggers dream. No denying it.

But it's not all that meets the eye. Firstly, to say I felt out of place is an understatement. I even got the memo about wearing pink, but nope. We paid the £5 price tag for a tiny, all be it dry cupcake to soak up the atmosphere on a cold table outside. LOL life.

Before we knew it there was 'influencers' descending on us. Sitting on the tables next to us, posing. Only leaving 5 minutes later with the shots that they had and uploading to Insta. We actually found these pictures on the influencers account afterwards claiming that they had been there. 

Like lol, no hun. I don't know what stopped me from calling her out then and there. It made me think. What is real that we see?

It was embarrassing. Way beyond embarrassing. It was everything that I would never want to be. I actually said 'I really hope I'm not like that'. DONT CHEAT THE SYSTEM. You pay for this £5 cupcake like everyone else to get the shots.

I have encountered 'influencers' like this before at events who turn up for the free s***, are nice to your face (or not) and then unfollow you as soon as they get home. 

Everyone is out to make a quick buck in this materialistic and quite frankly fake industry. It appears that being fake sells. But for how long?

How long are we going to continue buying into influencers who wear an outfit once, its up on depop within the hour and what comes with it is often no personality. More 'girls grab 40% off this top now' and *insert cliche quote*.

I'm fed up of endless beach shots, in bikini bottoms wedged up between bum cheeks (JUST BUY A GOD DAMN THONG BIKINI) when I'm slaving away in a 9-5 job and feeling guilty for looking between my curtains for the dominos delivery guy to pull up.

As influencers, you are ultimately a role model. You have responsibilities for you what you post. So it begs the question, do you think they are healthy role models? Do you honestly want to be like that?

It is not an attainable or easy lifestyle for your average, everyday person. It never will be. A person who works a 9-5 day, comes home to work on their own goals, still finds time to comment and reply to peoples questions, and bags their clothes up for a charity shop, rather than making money on something that they got for free is a role model.

Followers need to understand that these are not everyday lifestyles to buy into. That perfect bikini shot? It has been taken 153748 times, probably before breakfast and after a gym session. That 'jacket' they're promoting? They probably don't even like it. They've just been paid x amount to promote it, they're laughing. It's fakery at its finest.

That's why I'm buying into real people. Real bloggers who share their personal life, the high bits, as well as the low. The ones that stay true to themselves no matter how high their follower count reaches. The ones that exist past their Instagram account.

I've dropped a 'few' influencers off my Instagram feed in the last week. It's unhealthy, not realistic and quite personally a fake and unattainable lifestyle that I'm just not interested in.
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

2 Years On - What My Current Job Has Taught Me

Ey up, how did this happen? It only feels like yesterday my mum made a packed lunch for my first day in my big girl job.

It was a lifetime away from answering phone calls from angry train users, and slipping into the same monotony every day that felt like it would last forever. I never thought I would get out. But I did.

My new job was the challenge and breath of fresh air that I needed. I never thought I would make it past the first month. I wasn't cut out for this, I wasn't smart enough and that person inside my head keept telling me I wasn't good enough. And sometimes it still does.

But here I am, over 2 years later. It's funny how things work out. It's not been an easy journey, but I value the lessons I've learnt since I've been there.

I've cried. I've brought work home with me to finish, and start. I've done extra work to show my worth, and enough presentations to shake a stick out. I've sold my soul to the devil a few times too. Ya know how it is.

It feels like I've constantly had to prove my worth, but maybe that's not so much of a bad thing.

I must admit in hindsight I never thought I would last. When I left uni I didn't think I could manage a full time job after recovering from pancreatitis. My confidence had seriously been knocked and I sort of didn't know how to be around people anymore. It was really damn hard.

I knew the only way I could ever progress was to push past it and get out of my comfort zone. Be pushed into the spotlight and left to cope. Survive drowning in the ocean when you see no glimmer of hope.

That 3 month mark was my milestone. A milestone that I tell anyone to apply to any new job that they start. It will get easier. After 3 months everything starts to slot into place. Those 24635 questions you have no longer need to be asked, and you know what? It's all gonna be okay.

Knowing your worth and value to a company is not a reflection of your skills. It's that person inside your head telling you you'll never be good enough. I've moved up the ranks in the short time that I've been in my job and quite frankly I need to cut myself some slack sometimes.

Having said that, it's not always easy being a girl in a male dominated office. I've been blanked in meetings, left on the shelf and excluded when I really should be there. It's a societal issue that I've met, that ultimately makes me question my worth and value. 

You hear about the gender gap on TV, but you don't think it's an actual thing until you experience it. I have no doubt that I will always feel like that little girl who doesn't know a thing, but it makes me strive to always DO better. 

Paper trail is everything. As soon as the s*** hits the fan, the fingers start pointing. Here we go again. 

Ticking those boxes and organisation along the way will never land you in deep water when you're trying to fight your corner. Paper trail is the easiest way to show your innocence. That get out clause to say, HEY I have done my job.

A final lesson for me is to show conviction in what you're saying. Even if you don't have a clue what you're saying. Be confident. If you're confident in what you're saying, you're one step closer to convincing that person on the other line. They're ranting? Stop speaking and let them. They'll soon stop when they realise you're not reacting.

Despite the hardships I've encountered along the way it's shaping those early, hard years of climbing the ladder to success. We all have to do it.

Ticking those boxes, hardening and strengthening me for whatever experience is next.

Stand your ground, be confident in what you say and work damn hard. No workplace is perfect (or so it seems), and the wall to wall bants in my office definitely helps when you've been laid a bombshell 20 minutes earlier. Just take everything in your stride.

If you're sat there wondering what it is that I actually do with my life, make sure you check out my what I do for my day job post!

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

My Blogging Plans For 2018

2018. You beautiful thing you. I don't know why it does or should signify a clean slate, a reason to start again and work towards your goals. But it does, and I never feel like I have my s*** together as much as I do in the first week of January. Short lived, or not.

Before any new year, I stop, I brainstorm blog titles excessively and think about how I'm going to make my blog game better than ever.

My blogging pattern took somewhat of a bumpy journey at the start of the year. There was hectic life changes, and sometimes your blog really does need to take a back seat for a little while.

I now feel like I'm ending the year in a good place with my blog. My blogging game is back for good, or so it seems (ya gal did 9 posts last month, and what?), and this is what I'll be doing more of in 2018.

Revamping Old Blog Posts

In the 200 odd blog posts I've written, I've probably only revisited and updated 2 of them.

I have so much content out there already to look back on, and cringe at. I have probably 10 blog posts that attract a lot of regular traffic, both from Pinterest and organically from google. Great. Shame about the 90% odd bounce rate that they have. I think LOL, I wouldn't even read that.

I want people to be landing on my blog and staying. Like falling into the pages of your favourite magazine. The type you can still buy from your local corner shop. 

One biggie for me in 2018 will be revisiting those old posts, rewriting, editing and possibly retaking photos. In saying this I know that I've worked in my job for too long, but these old blogs may be getting a lot of traffic, but it's pointless traffic. What's my ROI, what is the conversion I'm looking for when people land on my blog?

I want people to be staying for longer than they currently are on my blog, so that's my main target for 2018. 

More Lifestyle Content

Fashion will always be at the forefront of my blog, but as life events have come and gone this year, I've been really enjoying ploughing out lifestyle content too. 

It's easier to write because it's me. What's happening to me and what someone else may relate to, or find interesting. I love reading lifestyle content too, so I guess that helps. We're all naturally nosy, right? We like to latch onto each others experiences and stories, and have comfort in that. 

As I navigate the hardships of adulting, expect a lot more of this to come next year. With personal posts that will make you think and list type posts that probably don't make any of you laugh. lol.

Wordpress Migration

I would like to. I've been thinking about making the move to Wordpress for a little while now. There are limitations to blogger, limitations in taking my blog to the next level. I also wonder if blogger will always exist, and if not, what's next?

I need to research this more thoroughly before I do so, and what impact, if any it could make.

I think Wordpress will allow me to up the stakes though, so its definitely something I want to do before 2018 is out.


Improving my blogging photography is the top of my list every year. Still trying.

I've switched up the way I post blogs and photos this year. Moving out also helped because HELLO white walls and copper everywhere. I share a lot of the pictures on Instagram that I use on my blog and it's definitely helped with getting my content repinned on Pinterest.

So 2018 is the year of brighter and whiter photos. More time spent on Pinterest and recreating photos. But also the year of sharing more photos of ME and bringing more personality across in them and my posts than ever before. 

I still use my DSLR on auto too, so if you fancy hooking a girl up with some tips, holla at me.

More Self Promotion

2017 has been the worst year for self promotion. The reason being that on a Sunday night I CBA to schedule 20 odd posts for the week ahead when I'd rather be slobbing on the sofa consuming a packet of biscuits and watching 13 going on 30 for the 178th time. Not gonna lie.

I've noticed the difference it makes to my social traffic though, so there is importance to it, even if x bloggers get fed up with the amount of posts you do.

The swipe up function on Insta would kinda help too. I've had a huge rise in traffic from Insta to my blog this year, and I think that this platform is quickly superseding twitter for me, despite the fact that no one even sees my posts anymore.

Scheduling posts, tweets, Instagrams or the captions the night before at least has to happen more. I'll hopefully set aside one lunchtime at work each week for this, it will save me from aimlessly scrolling through ASOS for at one day at least, eh?

Host A Blogging Workshop

Something I have wanted to do for the last couple of years is to host a blogging workshop in Plymouth.

I've been in the game for a while now, and the Plymouth blogging community has grown rapidly in the last year alone. I would absolutely love to organise a workshop with talks on SEO for blogging, flat lays, photography, the business side of blogging etc.

It is one more to add to my 12647 New Years resolutions, so we'll see shall we?
What are your blogging plans for 2018?

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

John Lewis Blogger Secret Santa

The only Secret Santa I have been exposed to before is the work one where everyone buys each other boxes of cereal because we think it's cool, and fun, FACT: it's not. I pride myself on the fact that I think I'm pretty good at getting presents for people, and I'm not talking about a box of Rice Krispies from Lidl.

Regardless to say, when John Lewis invited me to be part of their blogger secret Santa this year, I said yes. If anyone can find someone faster on social media and get onto their brothers, girlfriends, dogs Instagram by the end of the night, it's me. CIA agent or not, I was up for the challenge of getting to know A Glass of Ice online well enough to pick out some gifts that she would love.

After scouring through her social accounts and blog, I almost went back to the beginning of time in search of hints and finding out what she likes. The first step was obviously the John Lewis Secret Santa section, packed full of cute and novelty gifts, well within my price range. It's perfect for work secret Santa's where your budget may be £5-£10. With something for everyone, I'd quickly stumbled upon a gorgeous Wild & Wolf Pen, flashback to the post I read on her bog about national stationery week, I was holding onto anything I could here.

Confident with my secret Santa gift, I then navigated to the gifts section where I selected a favourite box of her chocolates and a Charlotte Tilbury palette, UHH dreamy or what? 

The response when she unpackaged her gifts on her Insta stories was a huge relief! Phew. It's great to receive gifts, but thoughtfully choosing something which is then loved really is the best feeling for me at Christmas. Mission achieved. 

I was then so excited to see what she had chosen for me. Let's take a peek inside shall we?
2018 Family Diary*
Copper Magazine Rack*
 GIRL DID GOOD! As I tore back the wrapping paper and saw the first glint of copper, I knew. I mean, it's not like I own anything copper in my home, right? ;) 

As an absolute candle fiend, I was over the moon to receive the dreamiest 2 wick candle from Rathbornes, it's going to keep my home warm and cosy on so many winter evenings. Perfect for a gal that hits the sofa as soon as she gets home, eh?

To finish off my little loot, I also received a 2018 diary, perfect for all those New Years resolutions I'll never achieve and planning my year ahead. I'm such a diary, to do list person, and even if you don't achieve it all, so what? I intend on scoffing these bonbons whilst I'm at it, because a) I love pink and b) I like sweet stuff. 

Gabrielle did a stellar job for my Secret Santa goodies, so a huge thank you to her and John Lewis for making it happen!

Christmas for me is all about giving, and John Lewis make that easy. No matter what you're looking for, what gifting conundrum you think you're facing, and whatever budget or hobby, it's catered for on John Lewis. Do something special this Christmas and watch their face light up as they unwrap that gift, there's no better feeling like it.

I hope you're feeling a little bit festive after reading this post, as I certainly am after consuming 15437 marshmallows whilst writing this post. The countdown begins...
What do you think of my gifts? Do you like doing Secret Santa?

*Products marked with an asterix (*) have been sent to me for review. However, all opinions in this post are 100% my own
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