It’s two days before Christmas but I bet some of you are still stressing over some last minute presents – I know I usually am! For once I’m somehow organized this year, but that’s only because I found this fab idea when browsing Pinterest. Me and my friends went out for a lovely Christmas meal on Friday evening and I put together some homemade gifts for a few of the girls. I thought these might give any of you some ideas as they took barely anytime to make at all and I used ingredients that I already had at home.

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This homemade cinnamon and cocoa body scrub took less than an hour to make and not only does it smell delicious, I think it will last ages too. I tried a little bit out on my hands and it left my skin feeling super soft and smooth, so I know it works too! To make this scrub, all you need per scrub is ;  
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 of white sugar

And that’s it! We used proper measuring utensils as opposed to measuring things out in actual ‘cups’ and everything on the list you should have stored away in your cupboards anyway. Cocoa powder is just similar to what you put in hot chocolate. Because we had slightly large jars, we doubled all the ingredients per jar/mix, and then just added a little more olive oil because the mix seemed a little dry. Really, we just used our initiative. All you have to do is shove all the ingredients in one bowl and mix it altogether, taking time to break up any lumps.
Afterwards I filled up the jars and made a shoddy attempt at decorating them. A lovely red vintage and white ribbon would look lovely around these but really any colour would do.
The jars themselves were quite easy to find too and no doubt you’ll have some lying around the house. You could even use small candle or mason jars and fill up a couple for each person, or try having a look online at creating a few different scrubs then maybe giving a set of three to each person. Most of which I found online were really easy to make, it was just about seeing what we had in the cupboard!
My friends absolutely adored these gifts and I think the fact that they were homemade made them that extra bit special. Have you made any homemade gifts this year? Let me know with a comment, I’d love to hear your experiences!
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The Tuesday before last I was lucky enough to attend ASOS’s Christmas party, which was another amazing opportunity with #AccessAllAsos. I was extremely excited because a) it was my first Christmas party of the year and b) it was my first ever blogger/industry Christmas party! I couldn’t wait to go and get my Christmas spirit on, but first up was deciding what to wear.
I definitely decided to go with a dress since it was a Christmas party after all, but this was going to be tough since I’d be getting the train into London and it’s the middle of winter. I decided to wear my green H&M dress paired with tights and my flats for the journey (I changed into my heels once I was there). I was very tempted to wear a corny Christmas jumper and kind of wished I had once I arrived and saw a few people rocking some awesome cliche ones, but I don’t yet own one. I know, there’s no excuses.
Luckily ASOS have a fab range in at the moment which we got to have a mooch through when we arrived. They were displaying their Christmas collection which included lots of corny cliche Christmas jumpers, lots of sequins and studs and also some really cool individual pieces from sellers that use the ASOS Marketplace. We definitely loved having a mooch through all the party wear.

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Upon our arrival we were also greeted with some yummy Christmas drinks – there was the yummiest mulled wine ever and I pretty much stuck to this the whole night. I think this year I’ve really discovered my love for the stuff.
There was lots of going on with ladies offering to do our nails really cute Christmas style and a free beauty pick & mix where we could stock up on some essentials. There was even Santa! I wasn’t sure whether to expect a young hot half naked model or an old man for this, but we got the real thing! He determined whether we were naughty or nice before giving us a gift based on his decision (apparently I’m nice but have the potential to be naughty as I have that naughty glint in my eye, haha! Thanks Santa!).

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Meeting Santa with some of the lovely ladies I met

The best part was just mingling and meeting everyone though. Everyone was so friendly and what I really enjoy about events like this is whether you’re a blogger or you work on PR, you always have something in common. I suppose it’s kind of just the whole online networking thing – a lot of us had already spoken via Twitter and it was no surprise that when you come from this industry that you no doubt all have similar interests. It was great that it wasn’t just bloggers too so I got to meet a variety of different people and may I say that the staff at ASOS are also really, really friendly. They didn’t just greet us and ask if everything was okay, they repeatedly came up to us to have a chat or asked us what we thought of the collection, whether we blogged or not and if so what we blogged about etc.

It was great because it felt like a big meet up/casual networking opportunity all rolled into one Christmas party, complete with a never ending supply of mulled wine and a slightly pervy Santa – which I guess is exactly what a Christmas party should be!

I had a really lovely time so thanks for the invite #AccessAllAsos!

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Christmas is a great time of the year and I personally can’t see how anyone can dislike it. You get to spend time with family, give and receive lots of awesome presents and just eat as much as you can without worrying because, after all, it is Christmas and that’s your excuse. But it’s always important to remember that Christmas is also about showing people how much you care and remembering how grateful you are. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a family this Christmas, or even somewhere to live. Sadly, there are people homeless and cold on the streets this Christmas, and people in other countries that are too poor or too sick to even think about this time of year.
It is a sad subject, but sometimes Christmas is a great time of year to get involved with making a change. Christmas is often when people need your help more than ever and I think it’s always nice to at least do a little something for someone else this Christmas.
There are some great ways to get involved that don’t take too much effort on your part and can also be something you can do as part of a family. Some of these are a great way to teach your children how important it is to give to charity or try and help others. Even if you’re super busy this Christmas, some of these ideas barely take any time at all. And if you’re wary about where your money goes when you give to charity and whether or not it actually helps someone directly, there are even some ideas that will make sure that people get the help they specifically need so you know your good intentions are going to the right place.

I think this is especially important with the recent allegations regarding donations to Comic Relief apparently being spent on tobacco, alcohol and arms firms. Too many people are wary about where their money will go when they donate so they do not donate at all, when little do they know there are other ways to get involved.

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Operation Christmas Child is something I was introduced to in college and still take part in now and again. Although their drop off points are now closed for this year, if you’d still like to take part you can give them a ring and see if there’s any other way they can collect your shoe boxes. And you can now create a shoebox online for as little as £15! It’s all very easy – you take an empty shoebox and fill it with little gifts aimed for either a boy or a girl and pick an age range too. Then you pack it with things like hygiene items, education items, toys, sweets etc. You then make a donation of at least £3, which will cover the shipping cost, then you can decorate your shoebox and drop it off at a drop off point. The shoe boxes all get sent to various different countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Serbia and Bosnia so you can rest assure that your shoebox will definitely reach someone who appreciates it. You can even print out a unique bar code for your shoebox and at a later date find out where exactly yours has been delivered to!

It’s a lovely idea and doesn’t take much time up at all. If you’re eager to get involved further, you can even apply to set up your own drop off point and get all the community involved. It’s a great way to create it into a social event and many schools, colleges and churches often hold events to get everyone involved.

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Must have gifts is another way to get involved but with minimal effort. Although you do spend money, rather then donating, you instead buy a gift which means you know exactly what your money is being spent on. You can purchase the gift yourself or on someone else’s behalf which can also double up as a Christmas present for someone else. Gifts under £20 range from a TB screening for just £6, vital vitamins for £10 and a kid goat for £19 (how cute!). It’s a great way to get involved with a charity directly and if you’re not quite sure what you want for Christmas yourself this year, why not set up a wish list so family and friends can purchase a gift on your behalf?

Finally, another way to get really hands on is to create a care pack for a homeless person this winter. This can be done directly at anytime and you don’t need the help of a charity. You can be as experimental as you like as well. If you’ve ever been worried about giving a homeless person money because you’ve heard it just gets spent on drugs or anything like that, then this is a great way to make sure that isn’t the case. You can fill these care packs with anything from an old blanket, food, wipes, socks/clothes, mouthwash, gift cards to places like Starbucks so they can get a hot drink and even an address book of local services. It takes no time at all, especially if you’ve got lots of things hanging around your house anyway, like old gloves you don’t wear anymore.

These are just three small ideas that can help you give back this Christmas and the second idea takes minimal effort on your part. I’d love to see and hear about some of you doing something similar this Christmas because trust me, even though it’s not the reason for taking part, you will feel good about yourself afterwards.

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*Image used above taken from the organisation’s official websites and are not copyright to me

So every road trip needs a few decent playlists and I have to admit, putting some together for our road trip was one of the best parts! The three of us all have similar music taste, so at first it seemed pretty easy. When I began to organize the songs though, it was pretty hard! For example, would a Busted song be more suitable for a cheese playlist or a pop punk anthem playlist? What exactly constitutes a pop punk anthem – a personal favourite song of mine, or a song that everyone used to love when they were 16? It was tough!

I didn’t even have time to put the songs in a decent order, oh forgive me, I know, it’s terrible, but I literally did not just have enough time! So the playlists may be a little shaky and random but I promise you there’s still a great selection.

I even made some album covers for them because I’m weird like that…

So the three playlists I made (in no particular order) are..
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Cheese songs and an album/playlist cover that even includes accompanying listening situations! We didn’t sing along to this playlist drunk at 3am but we did listen to it a lot whilst driving, in fact it was the first playlist we put on. From Hot Chocolate to Enrique Iglesias this IS the ultimate cheese on toast playlist. Everyone knows the lyrics. Whether you can sing or not, you can’t help but singing along at the top of your voice and laughing your head off.
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I totally poked fun at us with this playlist cover because this playlist featured all the ‘going out’ songs, but not necessarily all the mainstream ones. Being that we’re definitely bigger fans of rock music than dance, I tried to make a mix that included both. So of course I’ve included standard clubbing songs like Robin Thicke and Dizzee Rascal, but I’ve also added my own twist to the mix by including rockier songs that always get me in the mood to go out dancing, Like All Time Low’s I Feel Like Dancing and Good Charlotte’s Like It’s Her Birthday. This playlist wasn’t as successful as it could have been. Ideally it fitted our Newcastle night out perfectly, especially since we ended up in the smokey basement of a VIP club dancing to club music. I actually put this on when we stayed at the Liverpool hotel in a desperate attempt to salvage the night. We’d hoped to have a night out then but it had rained whilst we were waiting for the guys so we were freezing cold and we’d driven a long, long LONG way that day and had actually ended up late to the venue so needless to say we weren’t really feeling it. by 1am we were all passed out asleep in our onesies anyway but never mind, the effort was there haha!
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This was one of my favourite playlists and just featured a bunch of songs that always inspire me to want to go on a road trip. I can listen to any of these songs and immediately think about speeding down an empty road, the windows rolled down and me and my friends singing loudly. This is exactly what we did when listening to this playlist (bar the windows rolled down bit because it was in the middle of November and freakin’ freezing!) and it’s nice to know that I can listen to these songs now and not just think about a road trip but actually be reminded of one, knowing that I finally got to go on one of my own.
And yes, I’m aware that this playlist has 50 songs. Oops. And even now I keep thinking of new songs to add, but that would be cheating..
So there we have it! My three playlists created for We Are The Maine Tour 2013 – our own personal sound track to our road trip around the UK 🙂 I think each and every song featured had a place on this tour. Nothing will beat listening to Mayday Parade’s Kids in Love whilst speeding through the countryside as the sun was setting slap bang in the middle of our trip. It was probably then that it hit me we were really doing it and I was finally fulfilling my dream!
What would your ultimate road trip playlists include? Let me know, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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P.S Check out the Music tag for more gig reviews and music related posts!


IT’S CHRISTMAS! That’s literally all I have to say in terms of an introduction for this post…here’s what I’m looking forward to this December!
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 The Book 
This is a tough one because most books have already been released in time for Christmas! Go into any bookstore to be faced with shelf upon shelf of sparkly eye catching and seasonal covers, all already released! However one book I am looking forward to is Here’s Looking At You by Mhairi McFarlane. I LOVE a Christmas romance story and could never get bored of them, but perhaps Mhairi is on the right track by releasing a non-Christmassy book at this time of year. The cover stands out against all over seasonal books and it’s refreshing to find a story that isn’t based around Christmas. It tells the story of 30-something Anna, who bumps into an old friend from school. Despite being a real gentlemen, Anna wonders if he’s really changed from who he used to be and whether or not it would be wise to trust him.. Here’s Looking At You is set to be released on the 5th December and can be pre-ordered now.
 The Film(s) 

The two big films set to be released this December are Saving Mr Banks and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Saving Mr Banks – staring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, is set to be the heart warming family film this Christmas. It tells the tale of Walt Disney trying to obtain the film rights to P. L Travers book, Mary Poppins. It also stars some big names such as Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell, and is the type of film suitable for everyone to see this month. On the other hand, we’ve also finally got the Anchorman sequel! Comedy legend Will Farrell finally returns as Ron Burgundy alongside with the cast from the previous film reprising their hilarious roles! Definitely one to see with your friends, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will have you laughing your heads off. It’ll be released on the 18th December, whereas Saving Mr Banks is out now in the UK and will be released on 13th December in the US. Yes, I realize this means technically it’s not a December release as I’m from the UK, but I’ve already written all of that now before realizing it’s already released. Oops.

 The Album 
The Maine have already had more than enough success with their recent release of Forever Halloween earlier this year, but despite having just finished a tour around America and Europe, they’ve still found time to put together brand new material. For the first time ever, The Maine are set to release an acoustic EP of brand new songs, the first of which, Raining in Paris, was released on the 5th November. Imaginary Numbers is set to be released on the 10th of December and can be pre-ordered now, although at the moment it’s already sold out! The boys will also be embarking on a short US tour – their first ever fully acoustic tour – amply named An Acoustic Evening with The Maine to celebrate the release of the EP. 

 Anything Else? 
I enjoyed doing a Christmas blogging challenge so much in the past that I’ve decided to take part in another one this Christmas! The 25 Days of Blogging Christmas Challenge will just feature 25 little prompts to keep me blogging throughout the month of December and will all be based around the subject of Christmas obviously. It’s just a little bit of fun and I’ll be posting my first post later this evening! I’ve also decided to take part in another challenge strictly for Instagram called Capturing December. You can check my progress or follow me here on Instagram if you like.

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*Image used above found via Google & not copyright to me