THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-CARE

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Something that’s very present in my day to day life right now is anxiety, as having suffered from a young age, it’s unfortunately become worse over the past three or so years. I go through phases which are bearable, and I can sort of get along with day to day things – as long they’re controlled. However, the past few months have been pretty challenging for me with agoraphobia leaving me unable to leave the house on my own (hence the lack of outfit posts recently). It’s something I’m working on, but if it’s taught me one thing, it’s definitely the importance of looking after yourself and doing what works for you.

Today is #timetotalk day, a campaign which I fully support, as it encourages people to be more open about their battles with mental health, a topic that isn’t talked about as much as it should be. There’s an awful lot of stigmas that come attached to mental health in general, which to this day still bewilders me. It’s something that I’m very passionate about, after many personal experiences around mental illness have directly affected me and my family in the past few years. I’d love to raise more awareness on the subject, and I hope to do that in a future post.

Anyway, here are a few of the things that have been helping me the past few months:

– Accepting the problem. I’ll openly admit that when it comes to my own mental health problems in the past, I’m very much an emotional ostrich – I bury my problems in the sand and hope they’ll somewhat disappear on their own. In recent years I’ve learnt that this isn’t the case at all, and can actually prolong the problem (which is what I think has caused this recent spell of crippling agoraphobia). There’s this pressure to ‘be happy’ and while I think that’s all well and good, sometimes you just aren’t, and you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Accept you’re having a bad day, a bad month, a bad year even – it’s really not the end of the world. There’s always tomorrow and it will pass, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll get there. Somethings can’t easily be fixed, but you can learn ways to help you.

– Work out what you want. Our own mental health is something very personal to each and every one of us, with us all having difficult coping methods. I often hide away from everyone, pushing away my friends as a method of cutting myself off from my own problems, which I know it leads to me overthinking and becoming more withdrawn. But realising that has allowed me to change my ways. Now I know that some people prefer to be surrounded with friends while they’re going through bad times. It’s all trial and error, what makes you feel better and what makes you feel worse. But do whatever works for you (of course, as long as no harm is coming to you).

– Mindfulness. A relatively new concept, me and my family have been advised a lot recently to practice the art of Mindfulness. Now I’m planning on doing a more detailed post on this in the future, so I’ll be brief, but it’s basically a different way of training your brain to alter your thoughts. It kind of gives it away in it’s name, Mind-ful-ness, as it encourages you to think in the present. It’s very easy to fall into the habits of thinking about what if, or past mistakes, but mindfulness allows you to put all of your focus into the present moment. It takes some practice, but I’ve heard it’s a very useful skill to have – and there’s plenty of books out there now to help you along the learning process.

– Take some time out. We’ve all had those days where instead of letting ourselves chill out, we’ve thrown ourselves into a project or something to try and distract our minds. Whilst that may work for some, I’ve personally found that it’ll be the answer for a little while… until I totally burn out and find myself both mentally and physically exhausted. If you’ve got a physical illness like the flu, you’ll rest. Now, if you’ve got a mental illness, what’s the difference?

– Put yourself first. Sounds selfish, I know I know. But the importance of self-care is very much based on the idea that you need to look after yourself, because you sure as hell deserve it. If you follow me on Twitter, you may or may not know that unfortunately my family have had an awful lot to deal with in recent years and in the summer of 2014, I found myself taking on the role helping to care for an incredibly ill sibling of mine. Whilst it’s still very much an ongoing problem, I’ve learnt that my way of dealing with the issue wasn’t the best one (even if it did seem like it at the time). I put a lot of extra responsibility on myself, letting myself become exhausted, at the time when they needed my support my most and I couldn’t give that. Look after yourself, it’s so important that you do.

– Find something that you enjoy (and most importantly, that works for you), and do it. If you’ve read my blog a while, you’ll know that I took a little blogging hiatus around Sept/Oct last year, as at the time I spending a lot of my time at hospital with my family. I absolutely love blogging, and I find it to be very therapeutic, as I’m able to put my energy into creating the best posts I can. However, as some what of a perfectionist, instead of using it as an escape, I used it as an extra stress and found myself putting an awful lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. Whilst I still loved to blog, it didn’t work for me at that time, so I took a little time out and its the best decision I’ve ever made. Don’t put that extra pressure on yourself. Don’t want to blog? Don’t. Instead I’d read a book and immerse myself in that, or I’d do a word search, or I’d watch every episode of The US episode. Treat yo self.

– When Anxiety Strikes, a simple concept launched by a friend of mine, I keep this tumblr bookmarked at all times. It’s a wonderful resource page filled with positive, uplifting thoughts for you to remember on those darker days.

– And just remember, you’re just as important and worthy of happiness/peace as any one else.
Don’t ever forget that.

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Let me know you’re suggestions, I’m sure they’ll be a massive help to everyone!

(Ps. I’d love to know what you’d think about me doing more lifestyle/advice posts like this, there’s some many topics I feel like I could cover!)

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MY FAVOURITE BLOG READS

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It’s no secret that I read a lot of blogs, and having felt at a bit of a blogging loss recently, have spent days scrolling through Bloglovin’ and reading through many of my favourites. There’s a huge amount of blogs which I follow, all which I love, but there’s those blogs that I never get bored of reading time and time again. I’m pretty sure I’ll have missed some from here (chances are I’ll keep editing it as time goes on) but these are the ones that sprung to mind. I like to read a mix of lifestyle, fashion and beauty posts – with amazing photographing, excellent writing skills and a sense of personality being what draws me into a blog.

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 A Beautiful Mess, Alices Wonder Emporium, A Little Boat Sailing, A Little Opulent, amyalaska // Beauty Full Homes, Beauty Sauce, Bloomin’ Rouge,
Bonjour Luce // CharissaRae // Daisy Butter, D is for Dangerous // Essie Button //
From Roses // Georgia Luisa Meramo, Gh0stParties, Girl With Makeup,
The Goodowl // Hannah Louise Fashion, Hello October, Helloo Monica // iamcharlottemartin,
I Covet Thee, It’s Cohen, // Jazzabelle’s Diary, Jenny Purr // Kerralina // Ladylike Len, Lady Liquor, Like Neon Love,
The Little Magpie, Little Winter, Llymlrs, The Lovecats Inc, Love Cloth, Lydia Rose // Media Marmalade, Milk Bubble Tea,
More Than Adored // No. 21, Nouvelle Daily // Pages By Megan, Parisian To Be, PINKPOT,
The Private Life of a Girl // Rush & Teal // Salt and Chic, Sarah Nunn // Talking About M, Temporary:Secretary, That Grace Girl, Thumbelina Lillie, Thunderl0ve //
 Vivianna Does Makeup // What Olivia Did, WishWishWish //
Zoe London, Zoe Newlove //
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What are your favourite reads? (Or feel free to leave me your links & I’ll check them out!)\
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MY STYLE RESOLUTIONS

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1. Inject more colour into my outfits – After having a little wardrobe sort-out (more on this in an upcoming post) one thing that really stood out to me was the lack of colour in my wardrobe. I stick to the colours I know, not really trying anything new – and I’d really like to step out of my comfort zone and go for colours I wouldn’t normally.
2. Ditch the black tights a lot sooner – Even throughout the summer, chances are I’ll be wearing my black tights. I’m not overly confident with my legs, but having spent a little while looking through my old outfit photographs, it’s the ones I’m bare-legged that I love that little bit more. I may not have legs for days (damn you, a certain Miss Chung) but you know what? They’re not that bad.
3. Comfort isn’t always the way to go – I’m definitely a person of comfort, rarely doing things and that I don’t feel comfortable in. And the same goes for clothing/shoes, I stay with what I know, whether that be styles that I know suit me or ones I feel fit me more (anyone else buy skirts a size bigger purely for food room?). But with that, I can feel like my wardrobe can become repetitive and dull very quickly, and I’m always wanting to start over. Style is something that should be played with since it’s a method self-expression, and well, I really need to start going for things that look better some days; those tighter jeans, those shoes that need more breaking in but makes my legs look a lot longer. If you feel better about yourself, that’s what it’s important – no pain, no gain right?
4. Buy the basics – Despite saying I rarely own any colourful pieces of clothing in my wardrobe, I sure do own many patterned items. And this is all well and good.. if I had bought clothes plain enough to wear with them. I’m one of those shoppers who buys things that look good on the hanger, so I often glance past what most people call style staples. I really need to invest in some basics I can wear time and time again!
5. Trousers are your friends – Being vertically challenged, I’ve always put jeans and trousers as a massive no-go for me, mainly down to inconvenience. And the amount of skirts I own really outweighs anything else. But 2015 is the year I’m going to make more of an effort in trying out trousers and stop being such a lazy shopper (anyone else dislikegoing into changing rooms?!). A lot of the images I pin on Pinterest are of people wearing trousers, and if they can wear them, why can’t I?! Who really cares if they’re rolled up a few times (*cough* a lotta times *cough*)?
6. Where what I want to wear, not just what I feel like I should – I think as a fashion blogger, it’s incredibly easy to fall into that trap of wearing what the blogosphere are loving at the time. Most of the times, they may fit into your personal style and you’ll love it, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. And you know what, that’s perfectly fine. I need to learn to stick to my guns and concentrate on developing my own personal style much more this year. There’s always bloggers I read and think to myself oh how I’d love a wardrobe like theirs (I think we all do it), and truth is, there’s not a single thing stopping me.
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What are your style resolutions for this year? Let me know!
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POSITIVE THOUGHTS TO ENTER 2015 WITH

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Whilst it’s quite easy to look back on the previous 12 months, whether in a good or bad way, I like to use January as a time to look forward instead. I think it’s incredibly important to step into things with a positive outlook, and the simplest of sayings (you know, the ones we all find ourselves pinning on Pinterest) can be the things that give you that extra much-needed push. I’m in the process of making myself a little scrapbook of my favourite phrases, ones I go to when I need that little pick-me-up.

I’m actually hoping to focus many of my posts throughout January on starting your year to the best you can, talking a lot about mentalities, organisation and general little things that can alter your mindset for the future – let me know if there’s anything else you’d like me to cover!

And so I thought I’d list some of my favourites to focus on going into 2015:
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– Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
– Worrying will never change the outcome.
– What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
– Whenever you’re going through a bad day, just remember you’re track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.
– The storm will pass. It always does.
– I’m not giving up. I’m just starting over.
– A ship in a harbour is safe, but that’s not why ships were built.
– An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. The negativity of the world cannot bring you down unless you let it in.
– You’re never too old to set yourself a new goal or find yourself a new dream.
– It’s not who you are that holds you back. It’s who you think you aren’t.
– What would Blair Waldorf do?
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What are your favourite sayings/phrases?
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TIME TO BAKE: CHRISTMAS SHORTBREAD

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I always love spending my time in December researching plenty of festive-inspired recipes to give a go. However, if there’s one thing that I find an issue; it’s time. Possibly one of the busiest times of the year, sometimes you just don’t have the time to bake the most time-consuming treats. So a favourite of mine is the classic shortbread, but with a little Christmas twist. Made up of a whole 5 ingredients (that’s including the decoration), this recipe is pretty fool-proof and a fun little bake to give a go when you’re rushed for time. I’m a baking novice and this took me barely anytime!

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Ingredients:

– 125g Butter
– 55g Caster Sugar
– 180g Plain Flour
–  Christmas Sprinkles (I used Christmas trees and snowflakes)
– A large bar of White Chocolate

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1. Before you begin making the biscuits, preheat your oven to 190c/Gas Mark 5.

2. Mix together the butter and the caster sugar, until you’re left with a light fluffy cream. This is a pretty crucial step as it’ll determine how your shortbread will turn out.

3. Add in the flour to your mixture, and then using your hands, kneed together the mixture until you’re left with a soft dough. It’s a little messy, but all part of the fun right?!

4. Sprinkle in your Christmas sprinkles, adding in as many or as little as you like. Kneed a little more until you’re happy with how they’ve mixed in with the dough.

5. Roll out your dough until even, and cut out whichever shapes you’d like – I just chose circles as I could only find the one cutter! Make sure you use up as much dough as you can, you don’t want to waste any! This recipe makes around 14 biscuits.

6. Sprinkle the circles with a little caster sugar and then place the dough on a baking tray. Leave in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

7. Once that time is up, place in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until it’s light golden brown. Leave to cool on a cooling tray.

8. For decoration, I simply melted a bar of white chocolate (but of course, you can use any chocolate/icing) and then drizzled it over each biscuit, before adding a few snowflake sprinkles to make it look extra festive!

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Are you a shortbread fan? I’d love to know what you think! 
Any festive recipes you love to try out over Christmas?

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CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE #3: LIFESTYLE

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    1. ‘What Would Blair Waldorf Do?’ Pencils // 2. Rifle Paper Co Weekly Desk Pad //

3. Polka Dot Monogrammed Mug // 4. Rifle Paper Co Rosalie Notepad //
5. Ted Baker Opulent Bloom iPhone Case // 6. Frankie Diary 2015 //
7. Rifle Paper Co Floral Heart Print // 8. Daisy Place Medium Square Dish

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Having already done a fashion and a beauty Christmas gift guide (with a stocking fillers one to come, shh) I thought it would be nice to do a gift guide compiling of everything else. Seeing as most of my wishlist this Christmas is consisting of stationery, this is the one I’ve looked forward to making the most and really enjoyed spending time just looking at notepads. Anyone else a stationery junkie?! Nope? Just me, then.

Again, there’s a slight running theme through this gift guide, and as I put this together it turned into a sort of Rifle Paper Co appreciation post. But what can I say? Their designs are wonderful and are loved by many. New Year tends to inspire people to become more organised, and I’d like to think that pretty stationery is a good first step. This Desk Pad would be perfect for any blogger out there, as for those who like to see plans written down on paper, it’s the ideal tool to plan each week’s blog posts. Every year since I’ve read blogs, I’ve seen many mentions of the Frankie Diary each year. If you’re not read the Austrailian magazine Frankie before, it’s basically the most well-designed lifestyle magazine there is. And so, you can only imagine how adorably cute their diary for 2015 is. A bloggers favourite, and is there any wonder? If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m a tad obsessed with Gossip Girl (just a tad *cough*) so these pencils are just up my street. Gift and Pieces is a wonderful little brand (which is actually ran by the lovely Abby who designed this blog!) and is filled with affordable homeware and gifts.

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Any of these items on your Christmas wish list? What are you asking for from Santa?
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CONFESSIONS OF A FASHION BLOGGER

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Although my blog has recently started to feature more lifestyle and beauty posts (which I’m really enjoying do fyi), I primarily started as a fashion blogger and always say I’m a fashion blog when people ask. Mainly as I study Fashion Journalism at university, and partly because the idea of shooting the outfits I wear (like many of my favourite bloggers) sounded like a whole lot of fun. It took a good 8/9 months before I even dared shoot outside (and that was only in the garden) but this year I’ve really tried my best to incorporate as many outfit posts into my blog as possible. It’s been a big learning curve, with a whole load of laughs behind it, and I thought it would be fun to run through some of the behind the scenes. Fashion blogging ain’t what it always seems. And nope, this blog clearly wasn’t inspired as I was watching Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, nooooo…

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– I can’t remember the last time I wore heels. Yeah, comfort comes first, always.
– See those pictures where I’m carrying a smaller bag? Chances are there’s another bag hidden behind the camera.
– Shooting days involve lugging around 3 large bags of outfits. Glamourous.
– You never get used to the comments and glares you get from passing people. Shooting outfit photographs in public places where there is a lot of people is scary. Really blummin’ scary.
– Most outfit posts feature 3-6 photographs, but in reality I shoot 300-500 each time. Yep.
– I’ve been in a worrying amount of local pubs and cafes, got changed in their toilets and left.
– …And that’s not even mentioning the streets I’ve got publicly changed in.
– Whenever I’m in the house, chances are I’m in my pyjamas. Getting ready is effort, right?!
– I second guess the majority of the outfits I feature on here.
– And chances are, the ones I hate the most are the ones that get the best reception.
– You probably have noticed I wear my hat in 99.9% of my outfit posts. I can’t shoot without wearing it, I get too self-conscious. Odd, huh?
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Could you relate to any of these? What would you confess if asked?

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BERET

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Outfit Details: Coat – Topshop, Skirt – Topshop, Top – Primark, Hat – Primark, Shoes – Topshop

Ditching my typical fedora or bowler hat go-tos, I recently re-discovered this beret in the bottom of a drawer and couldn’t resist wearing it out. It was always a favourite of mine a few years back, and wearing it the other day reminded me why. Perfect for those days where it’s a little too blustery for other hats, I feel like it adds a nice twist to an otherwise boring outfit. Plus it makes me feel very Parisian chic and if it has any connection to a city I love swooning over pictures of (but still haven’t visited yet – boooo!) then I’m all for it!
A month or so back I referred to this leopard Topshop skirt in one of my posts, talking about how my queen, a certain Miss Chung, had been spotted wearing it over London Fashion Week and it had quickly vanished from the rails before I had a chance to pick up one. Slightly devastated, I spent weeks refreshing the Topshop website and by some miracle, my prayers were answered and a random one appeared in stock in my size – fate, right? A complete impulse purchase and one I do not regret at all, it’s become of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe. Although it’s incredibly short (and I’m only a little over 5″) it’s nothing some thick black tights can’t really solve. These boots are a very recent purchase of mine, as they reminded me of a pair of Vagabond boots I’d had my eyes on for a long time, but at a fraction of the price. A little (much-needed) height, with a suitable heel (perfect for us clumsy folk) and the bonus of them being super comfy to walk in? I am in love.
 
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What are your autumn style must-haves this season? Anything you’ve picked up recently and loving right now?
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THE OUTFITS THAT NEVER MADE THE CUT #1

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1. Top – ASOS, Shorts – Primark, Shoes – Topshop, Bag – Primark
2. Coat – H&M, Dress – MANGO, Bag – Zara
3. Shirt – Topshop, Culottes – Urban Outfitters, Jacket – Dorothy Perkins, Hat – Primark
4. Jacket – Topshop, Top – Topshop, Jeans – Topshop, Shoes – Primark
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Shooting outfit photographs is quite a big part of my day-to-day life, and whilst you’ll have seen many of my favourites, not all reach my blog. Maybe because I’m not that fond of the outfits or because the photographs haven’t turned out very good, it varies. However I thought I’d introduce a new feature to my blog, where every so often I’ll put together a few photographs from here and there of outfit snippets that never made it into a full post.

The majority of these were taken over the summer (apart from the third one – the leaves sort of give it away) and looking back, my style has changed a whole lot. The last outfit for instance? Those jeans could’ve done with being rolled up and that jacket is a little toooversized. And the third photograph? Girl, you’re gonna have to find a better way to wear those culottes. You definitely ain’t killin’ it.

I think it’s nice to reflect back to old posts as well as those that didn’t make it onto the blog. Slightly cringe-worthy at times (and a whole lot of ‘what on earth was I thinking?!’) it’s always a nice reminder of how my photography has improved and general sense of personal style has evolved massively. While I’m certainly not cool enough to pull off the trainers vibe (as much as I’d like to), I’m perfectly happy with my array of hats, 60s-inspired shapes and the odd nod to 70s fashion.

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TURTLE NECK

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(Outfit Details: Top – Primark, Skirt – ℅ Missguided, Shoes – Topshop, Bag – Primark, Hat – Primark)
Another 60s inspired outfit of mine, can you tell that I’m seriously loving how it’s currently on trend at the minute? All of my favourite high-street stores are filled with 60s-esque pieces and I’ve been in my element – much to my bank account’s distress, but these things just need to happen sometimes.

Taking full advantage of the last few summer days (well, it was sunny at least) I decided to wear a cropped long-sleeve turtle neck I bought in Primark’s sale last year. It was one of those didn’t-realise-it-was-that-cropped-until-I-tried-it-on purchase’s and I’ve always felt quite reluctant to wear it. However, upon spotting this A-Line skirt, I knew it would be the perfect fit. High-waisted enough to make this top not-so-scary to wear, I love this combo and how flattering it actually is, win win! Autumn/Winter always screams dark coloured clothing, but after receiving this wool skirt I’m definitely coming to realise that pastels in the winter need to happen. I chose to wear my black fedora from Primark, which hasn’t really seen the light of day in a while, despite how much I love wearing it. And following on with Primark, this bag which I picked up a number of weeks ago has rarely left my arm since. I love integrating leopard print into my outfits (just as I typed this, I rushed onto the Topshop site in the hopes that leopard print skirt would be back in stock… and it was, only one in my size – fate!) and it’s structured shape is wonderful.

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