I think you all probably know that in the past year or so, my blog has fallen a tad below standard, and that’s hard for me to admit.

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A good five or so years ago, just when blogging was becoming the norm, I created this own blog to help coincide with my dissertation at university (meaning I’ve been stuck with a beyond corny name ever since) and I was determined to do well.

And, I have. I’ve had some great opportunities over the years and made some special friendships through my blog, friendships that have gone onto become friendships that take place in real life too. I’ve tried to push myself to blog regularly and even though a lot of the time I’ve struggled to think of content for the blog, I’ve persevered.
That, I’ve been proud of.
In the past year, there has been a fair few times I’ve thought about just quitting the blog. It’s not successful and I know you shouldn’t blog to find success, but when I can’t think of content, I can’t deny the fact that I wonder why I’m pushing myself when not that many people bother to read it.
I mean, would anyone really miss my blog?
Yes.
I would.
I’ve been blogging for five years now and when I think about it, when I think about the time I’ve put in, blogging 2-3 times a week, nearly every week for five years, then I find myself pretty damn proud. My content hasn’t been the best lately, but I think I’d be mad to throw it all away.
So I sat and thought about why it wasn’t doing well. And there wasn’t just one specific thing – there were a few things altogether.
The name. I cringed every time someone asked for my blog URL and I had to give the story of ‘well five years ago I called it this and now it’s stuck’. I feel the name, alongside the layout, pigeonholes the blog too. I want to write about music. I want to interview bands. I want to blog about edgy outfits and gigs.
What band will take me seriously if I ask to interview them for a blog called Inspire Magazine?
And then there were the photos. Sometimes, I can take a really good photo. But sometimes, I’ll type up a post I’m really proud of and then let myself down by using a photo that’s just not good enough.
And yes, sometimes my post topics just haven’t been very good at all.
So as you can see, it’s a few things really. Nothing major, at all. But when you put them all together, you end up with a blog that’s kind of below par, and the lack of a decent name or professional photography just lets it down. A lot.
Or maybe I just can’t write for shit.
Who knows.
But as I said, I love my blog. I love that I have a little corner of the internet all to myself and I love that although I don’t get thousand of visitors a day, I still get a few people reading my blog. And that’s something.
Back when I first started this blog, I wrote about why I chose the name ‘Inspire’ (or ‘Inspire Magazine as it became known as) and what I wanted my blog to achieve;
“That’s why I came up with the name ‘Inspire’. I’m not the only one who reads magazines and gets these feelings. And these feelings are good. They inspire people to do things for charity. To work harder. To have more fun. To better themselves. I want my magazine – and this blog – to be filled with these things. I want people to read the magazine and the blog and want to pursue these feelings. I want to raise awareness of issues that are kept on the down low. I want to remind girls to be safe when they are on nights out, or to be careful about what details they put online. I want to my magazine or blog to be responsible for someone taken the extra precaution to be safe. Even if someone logs onto my blog, or sees something in a magazine and tries out that makeup look which gives them even the smallest confidence boost that day, then I’ve done what I wanted. I want to inspire people.”
And honestly? I think I’ve lost sight of that. That was my eighth ever post on this blog, back on 21st January 2011 – whoa, so long ago now! And I think deep down, I still want that. I want people to come to this blog and feel inspired. I want them to have more fun and better themselves, even if it’s just by reading a daft post like my dating disasters – hey, if it makes someone laugh or smile after a bad day (or bad date), then I’ll be ever so pleased.
It’s not about the numbers. It’s about how writing is my escape and might just be someone else’s too.
So, where am I going with this?
Well, with Christmas coming up, it might just be radio silence for a while. 

Because over Christmas, and hopefully ready for the new year, the blog might look a tad messy. I’ll be relaunching it under a new name, design and, even a new URL. Or a new domain, as I have finally purchased one!
I’m not going to lie and say it’s going to be a complete overhaul where everything has changed. I’m still going to struggle to post sometimes, and I’m not going to turn into a fashionista overnight who blogs outfit posts regularly.
But I am going to try more and I’m already feeling a new lease of life for this big old blog. I have some great ideas for new ongoing content and I can’t wait for you to see the new design.
And I know what you’re all thinking. A design can’t change a blog, much like you can’t polish a turd. But my writing isn’t turdy. My writing is pretty damn awesome. But I do believe a new name that I actually like and a fresh new design will motivate me more, because I’ll no longer wonder what the point is like I have done so many times – I’ll no longer feel like my corny name and cluttered and overly girly layout lets down the real strengths of this blog.
So, there you have it. If you log on over the next few weeks and it all seems a tad messy, that’ll be why. If you’re wondering why there’s radio silence on my end, don’t worry, I’ll still be tweeting all about my food baby on Christmas day and such.
Until then, see you on the other side x

In the meantime, keep an eye on my social media (especially Twitter/Facebook) to see how things are progressing…

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It’s no secret that our skin can suffer during winter.
With the harsh weather that often gives us chapped lips or dry skin, copious amounts of alcohol and one too many nights spent gorging on junk food and/or falling asleep with our make up still on.
Welcome, my friends, to Christmas and the effect it has on our skin.
So how do we look after ourselves when it comes to this time of year?
Key Winter Skin Facts to Bear in Mind:

– Your skin is more fragile in the winter
– You need products that will combat the effects of the harsh weather
– You need products suited to your specific skin type 
Cleanser – photo from Wikipedia
ONE | CLEANSE
Switch to a gentler cleanser in the winter.
Many contain alcohol which can be quite drying and as you’re already
fighting the drying winds, low humidity, and the effects of indoor
heating, you don’t need even more dryness to fight. Remember that your
skin is more fragile in the winter so it needs to be treated with extra
care. 
Moisturise – photo from Luke Lehrfeld via Flickr
TWO | MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE!
Be sure to
moisturise your whole body: face, body, and lips. It’s particularly
important to choose a thicker moisturiser for your face as it will be
lacking its usual levels of moisture. If you have oily skin and are a
little hesitant about wearing a heavier product, keep a lighter one for
the day and just switch to a thicker one for nights. Your hands and
feet can also get hit by the cold climate so make sure you moisturiser
both after you wash your hands and every shower. Don’t forget to keep a
hydrating SPF lip balm with you at all times as well. 
Exfoliate – photo from Zanspa1 via Flickr
THREE | EXFOLIATE
You still need to exfoliate during winter
as the process removes dead skin cells, which allows your moisturiser
to better penetrate your skin. You can exfoliate up to once a week but
bear in mind your skin type and adapt as necessary. Stay clear of scrubs
and bead-based exfoliants as they can tear the skin and cause
irritation. Opt for a face wash as they’re kinder to skin but still
produce good results. Popular washes contain ingredients like hydroxyl acid
Image
Problem fixers lotion – photo from sunshinecity via Flickr

FOUR | PROBLEM FIXERS
You may find that you experience some
problems you didn’t have in summer, such as more sensitive skin,
dullness, or a red nose. It’s worth purchasing additional product/s to
combat these; beauty collections like spa gifts will be designed around
skin problems and specific skin types, so look for these to get your
fixers. Red noses are a common problem around this time of year; the
blood vessels cut off circulation to the nose when your outside but then
dilate again once you’re indoors, which causes a rush of blood, hence
the redness. Throughout the day keep putting a gentle moisturising
lotion on to help reduce the redness. 
Sun – photo from raghavvidya via Flickr
FIVE | DON’T FORGET THE SUN
It may be cold, it may be dark and it
may seem like it’s not that sunny but the sun is still affecting your
skin, or rather, still harming your skin. It’s even more of a concern if
you live in areas where it snows because the sun can reflect off the
snow and hit your face with even more power. Use moisturising products
with at least an SPF 30 in and you’ll stay protected! No matter the
weather this should be a priority. When my friend took part in one of
her American summer camp jobs this saved her! 
Nails – photo from Denise via Flickr
 SIX | NAIL IT
As well as looking after your hand, you need to
take care of your nails too. They can become brittle in the winter so
ensure you regularly use cuticle oil and always keep at least a clear
coat of polish on them. Don’t forget to buff and file them at least
twice a week though, as these can help stop snags and keep nails shiny
and growing. 
Hair – photo from Betsy Jons via Flickr
SEVEN | GIVE YOUR HAIR SOME TLC
Think ‘Goldy Locks’ and
treat your tresses well. Hair also can be stripped of moisture so make
sure you never skip the conditioner and it’s worth using a deep
conditioner (covers hair from scalp to root) once to twice a week to
lock in all that hydration. Try to cut down on blow drying or stop all
together if you’re able to. Prolong your hair wash with dry shampoo and
your hair will thank you for it. 
Water – photo from philografy via Flickr
EIGHT | STAY HYDRATED
Last but definitely not least, drink
plenty of water! You may hear this all the time but it’s an important
thing to remember. Water replenishes your skin so keep up your fluids!
What about you guys? What’s your winter beauty regime? Let me know with a comment!
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No, it’s not my birthday until Wednesday.
But yes, if I do want to do something with all my friends or do something that actually involves leaving the house, it needs to be done a lot earlier than two days before Christmas.
Similar to my Christmas themed day out last weekend, as blogged about here, this weekend just gone was time for the proper plans. 
On Saturday, true to our tradition, my sister and I headed into London for my birthday surprise. This year, it was for a Christmas wreath making workshop in a quirky location – a giant wigwam on the roof of uber cool bar, Queen of Hoxton.
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I really wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the actual making of the wreathes because I thought they’d turn out crap. However, I knew it would be a fun day and as soon as I realized where it was exactly, I was excited. I’d been eyeing up the bar myself for a month or so now and had even scribbled down the address the weekend before last, in case there was time in between the plans then and me and my friend were at a loss of what to do.

It turns out we didn’t have time which is a good thing because it made it even more special when I headed down with my sister. The giant wigwam was pretty cool and a lot bigger than I expected. It was cosy and quirky with a Brothers Grimm theme, complete with toad stalls around a fire outside, dirty mirrors and lots of lights.
I loved it. 
The Christmas wreath making class itself was actually really fun and, surprisingly quite relaxing. It was held by +5ftinf who was beyond creative and lovely and had actually brought most of the supplies herself, having scavenged them from her garden. Wreath making is a lot easier then it looks and I’m quite surprised at how well ours turned out – they were definitely Pinterest worthy!

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Next up was a little stroll around the nearby Old Spitalfields Market before going for some delicious Mexican mood that left us feeling stuffed.
It was a wonderful day – making the wreaths to the soundtrack of low Christmas tunes was a great way to spend a couple of hours, and the free cocktails were absolutely amazing – as well as the location too. Throughout the day, also sipped at hot chocolates before finally gorging on our Mexican food.
All in a all a lovely day in the city.
Sunday, myself and a few friends drove to Warwick Castle. My parents had taken me a couple of times when I was younger and I have fond memories of the place. Even though there isn’t much on in winter, it’s still breathlessly beautiful to view at that time of year, especially if it snows. I also didn’t realize you could actually go in the castle, so it was lovely to see all the rooms decorated for Christmas.

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The day was spent exploring the grounds, running out of breath climbing a million steps, getting scared silly in the dungeons experience and, well um, getting stuck in the castle as it began to close for the evening. Well, at least it’s a story to tell the grandkids..

It was just a really nice day walking around with my friends, staring at the sights, learning the history and occasionally acting like kids.

Altogether I had one of the best weekends I’ve had for a while and I’m very thankful to my sister and my friends for making it so special!

Have you ever been to Warwick Castle or tried your hand at a quirky workshop? Let me know with a comment!

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I wasn’t really sure of the best way to name this post.
At first I was going to call it five ways to become more cultured but I don’t think really think the stuff I’ve mentioned necessarily makes you cultured. 
I just think this post is a little suggestion on how to be more on the ball, so to speak. How to use your time more wisely when you’re on your commute home, when you choose to play games or browse social media instead of broadening your mind.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s important to train or inspire your brain at least a little once a day. Here’s how I do it…

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SNAPCHAT

Now, hear me out. Snapchat might be renowned for selfie’s and dick picks but if you’ve ever decided to venture past your friends list, you might already know it’s also great for knowing what’s going on around the world. Want to travel? Find out how different cultures celebrate different holidays and traditions around the world, catching snippets from their everyday lives and where they live.
The discover tab in particular is fab for catching up with whats going on around the world before bed or during your morning commute. Companies such as Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Sky News, MTV and Mail Online have their own profiles on here and updated them daily. True, some of it’s stuff you’d probably read when bored at work and scrolling through Facebook anyway, but at least you won’t get told off for doing this in your own time.
They’re kind of like bite sized blog posts. Cosmopolitan has fab little animations you can share with your friends on snapchat, and Buzzfeed includes lots of behind the scenes things as well as touching upon news you wouldn’t necessarily see on the news. It’s a lot dess daunting this way too as it’s easy to read – it’s immersive and doesn’t bug you down with long words and complicated sentences. So, in a way, I use it as a useful way to swot up on what’s going on in the world before bed.
FACEBOOK
Yes, Facebook. Just yesterday I found out about a really interesting exhibit (geek, I know) I could cover at work. So it might be trying to be like Twitter with it’s ‘what’s trending’ but lets face it, even though it’s not always entirely reliable, social media is a good source for news because it’s just so instant. But obviously, make sure you double check your sources because with social media, people will often just want to post something ASAP without checking the facts.
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE OR TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Spend ten minutes each day playing on some fun little app that’s educational as well as entertaining – I tend to use Duolingo and find it’s so much easier then simply reading words back to myself as the app also has little games to help you learn too. 
In regards to training your brain, there’s tons of apps available to download for free which can ‘train’ your mind on various different subjects. Some tackle maths, some specifically help improve your memory and some are just cover general subjects. 
Setting aside just ten minutes a day might not feel like you’re getting very far, but that’s almost an hour a week and it all adds up.

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My sister and I recently took a wreath making workshop in London!

WORKSHOPS
Before you scream in terror at the idea of going back to school again (because that’s precisely what I think about when someone mentions the word workshop to me) – never fear. Adult workshops have nothing to do with school days and most of them offer free tea or cocktails alongside them.
Workshops are great for learning a new craft or skill whilst socialising and doing something a bit different. London is particularly great as there is always something quirky to learn. Just over the weekend, my sister and I took a wreath making workshop in a giant rooftop wigwam! 
And specialist venue Drink Shop Do just around the corner of Kings Cross is perfect for this type of things – their workshops can vary from learning the dance routine to Beyonce’s Who run the world? Girls! music video, or creating Lionel Richie rich-tea biscuits. All with good music and yummy cocktails. Drink Shop Do make taking workshops super cool, but no doubt there’s tons of workshops running in your local area too.

TRAVEL
This one’s a given but as I’ve said many times before, I don’t think people realize you need to travel to the far ends of the world and learn about ancient civilisations to broaden your mind in terms of travel. Sometimes just jumping in your car and driving to the next town over can do so much – you could learn the history of the town and discover new museums and attractions or you could find new places to eat and explore new streets. At the very least, getting out of your old town and just exploring somewhere new for a day could be an instant way to become more inspired or cultured.

Do you take time out every day to broaden your mind? If so, how? Let me know!
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So last week I posted about some secret Santa stocking fillers – ranging from gifts for girls, guys and the weird and wonderful. 
Whilst researching this post, of course I ended up spotting loads of stuff I wanted myself. 
And I’m really easy going.
So here’s a preview of some little gifts pretty much anyone wouldn’t mind getting – just mini joke or additional gifts to go along with a bigger one.
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I want them ALL
The top row gifts are all from Hawkins Bazaar
SALLY SPACE HOPPER
Who
doesn’t want a space hopper? I usually bounce around on these at my
favourite club night, so being able to have one at home too would be
awesome. 
FACE MATS
I
LOVE THESE. I’ve seen these about quite a bit lately and think they’re
so funny and realistic looking. They’re definitely great for Christmas
parties or for after Christmas dinner.
FUZZY POSTER
I
USED TO LOVE THESE AS A CHILD. Like the colouring in trend that’s taken
over this year, this is an altnerative that dips into childhood
memories too. Double the fun.
The bottom row gifts are all from ASOS.
SUNNYLIFE INFLATABLE FLAMINGO 
Yes, it’s £55. No, I don’t have a pool. No, I don’t care. It’s awesome. I want it regardless. 
CHRISTMAS FAIRISLE HOT WATER BOTTLE AND COSY SOCKS SET
It’s
just so cute and it MATCHES. I already have a hot water bottle but when
the weather is as cold as it is right now, having two will mean I’ll be
doubly warm…
YOU ARE AWESOME CUSHION
I know. Trust me, I know. But I do need a cushion just to reiterate that fact. 
There’s
clearly a huge mix in there from the simple hot water bottle and socks
set to the giant inflatable flamingo. But they’re all very cool too.
What stocking fillers do you usually want at Christmas? Let me know with a comment!
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*This is a sponsored post
 
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