What I Got For Christmas

These kinds of posts can be conflicting. A lot of us (all of us, come on) enjoy having a nosey at what other people buy, enjoy, and receive as gifts. Taking an interest in that stuff is part of the reason so many of us read blogs. I love watching hauls on YouTube and the like, particularly when I'm really broke, as it kind of helps me live vicariously and plan what I WILL treat myself to one day, when I have the cash. We shouldn't feel guilty about this habit or desire. Christmas, admittedly, is a bit different, and is still a really sacred and special time for a lot of people, even if they aren't religious. For me, Christmas isn't all about the presents, although they are fucking great. I love the time with my family, the food, and how pretty we make our surroundings at Christmas. I love the thoughtfulness and the generosity. It seems odd not to share the things we receive as gifts out of some false sense of humility, and equally strange to brag. So I decided to just show you a few things; not the biggest or most expensive, but a selection of the cutest, kookiest, and most interesting presents. There's even a sex toy in there, so Happy Christmas to me.

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I've been after Prada Candy for SO LONG and obviously this didn't go unnoticed by Cosy Bean (thank you Sophie!). It smells absolutely delicious and has shot straight into my "wear every day because yolo" perfume spot. 2016 is going to be the year of smelling fucking amazing every day, because I got another perfume from my Mum, LUSH's Gorilla Perfume, Kerbside Violet. I tested this ages ago and fell in love with it's dirty, grassy, violet scent - not sickly sweet like parma violets, but just sweet enough with a hint of wet earth, like violets would really smell in the wild.

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As most of you will know, I am a fan of the unicorn. And I mean, LOOK AT THIS. This LED unicorn lamp comes with a battery already inside so you simply click it on and it glows a series of bright, pastel and neon colours. I've had it beside the tub when I'm taking a bath and it is the most relaxing thing in the world. When it glows red it is literally like being inside a giant unicorn womb. Wait, what?

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Recently, I wrote about getting bra-fitted at Boux Avenue (you can read it here if you missed it!) and shared some of the styles I tried on, including this Isabella set. These were a present I kind of knew about already, because I'd had to try them on and I pointed out my favourite colours, but I was still over the moon to see little Boux Avenue boxes under the tree come Christmas Eve. The Isabella bra is a deep plunge with lace and diamante across the band, and has a gorgeous, sparkly matching thong.

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Most people that know me, know that I struggle to relax and de-stress in certain situations. I'm pretty anxious about travelling alone, paperwork, and anything even remotely official or interview-y, although I'm fine in a social context. I've always had trouble sleeping properly and I have a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis, which tends to rear its ugly head when I'm really at my limits physically or emotionally. Colouring is something that I've wanted to try for ages as I've heard it helps so many people deal with similar issues, and this book is designed for people who have trouble sleeping. It's full of intricate, repetitive and detailed patterns that are relaxing and soothing for the eyes. You can pick up similar ones in WHSmith!

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I've tried Hitachi wands before, but this one from Lovehoney is a cut above. It has no batteries and is plugged in at the mains instead, which means it reaches an insane level of intensity. Wands are really versatile toys and a fantastic piece of kit for couples, as they can be used in loads of different ways. They feel great applied to bare skin or on top of fabric, and can be used to massage any area of the body, not just your junk. They can even be doubled up with butt plugs by placing them against the base of your plug to make the whole thing vibrate. To add yet another option, I was also given this g-spot stimulator attachment that you wrap around the head of the massager, so that you can have internal and external stimulation at the same time. Safe to say I feel spoilt rotten, in many different ways.

Christmas Morning Rituals

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Jacquard dressing gown, star and moon print trousers, slippers (just seen) all FatFace 

I always spend Christmas morning the same way, every single year. The rituals that I wake up and perform, almost innately, instinctively, have been with me for as long as I can remember. Even though I'm nearly 25 and I've spent Christmas in lots of different places, some things always remain the same, and I can't imagine it ever being any different.

I get up very early. And I mean early. So early that it used to reduce my poor mother to tears. She tells me that one year I woke up so early that she had only been resting in bed for 30 seconds, having just finished wrapping all our presents and putting them under the tree, when I ran in declaring that Father Christmas had been, and that I could see lumps in my stocking. Because of this ridiculous enthusiasm (lack of self control, potato, po-tah-to) we made a tradition that I would go to my brother's room first, and we could open our stockings together as early as we liked. Because my bro and I share an apartment now, we still do this, and I sit at the foot of his bed like I did when I was four. When we're married we'll probably still do the same thing, and our unfortunate spouses will just have to remember to wear pyjamas.

I stay in my pyjamas all day. I've tried to get dressed up in "Christmas outfits" a few times, but it never lasts long. I always eat a chocolate breakfast and chocolate breakfasts do not mix with rose-gold sequin skirts or velvet dresses. I usually put some make-up on so that I look quasi-human in any photos, and then we gather together wherever my mother is, and open all our presents. I'll try and give her more than 30 seconds sleep this year.

This post contains pr samples/sponsorship, please see my disclaimer here 

How To Fall Back In Love With Blogging

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When I was 21, I developed a sudden urge to document my life online. I never thought this is what I would end up doing with my days, but there you go. It just sort of happened. I fell in love with blogging out of the blue. Sometimes, just as inextricably, we fall out of love. It happens for so many different reasons, but it doesn't have to mean the end. The first step to getting back in the beautiful romantic blogging bubble, is to find out WHY you have fallen out of love.

Hating The Look Of Your Blog Or Template: Ahh, the old "sick of my blog" syndrome. It's easy to get bored with the look and feel of your blog when we're constantly changing as creators, and always exposed to new blogs with gorgeous designs. It can all get a bit overwhelming and we end up confused about what we want, only sure of what we DON'T want. If it's just a small tweak that you need, a new header or some graphics might do the trick. I'd recommend Jemma Dorkface or Ella Masters for that. If you have fallen out of love with your blog entirely, and don't think you can get the fire back, then do what I did, and start all over again. Make a list of blogs whose designs you really like, and then either check out who did their template, or keep your list in mind when hunting for your own. Pipdig and Minty Fox are both excellent for designs and will help you along the way if you have any questions or worries about installing.

Unhappy With Your Content: Sometimes we don't so much fall out of love with blogging, but with our subject matter. It's hard to keep a beauty blog going if you've lost your interest in make-up, or maintain daily food posts when you're turning into a peanut butter on toast kind of person. It's good to remember that you're under no obligation to be the blogger you were yesterday, if I may bastardise a lovely truism. Consistency is great and all, but it's worth nothing if you don't like your own blog. As soon as I gave myself permission to write about things I'm SUPER interested in just for the sake of writing it (namely, sex) my passion for blogging came back overnight. Think of new topics you would really love to explore on your blog, just for you, and even if you add them in slowly amongst sponsored posts/things that bring you more views, you will feel more excited to create. For more tips on creating content you love, check out this post and this post.

Blog Envy Or Comparing Yourself To Others: This is a killer. It's not something that can be wholly avoided if you wish to read blogs and take part in the community, but you can limit your exposure to the ones that make you feel like pants. When really trying to create, try to take a little break from consuming even your most beloved blogs. You can come back to admiring other people's work once you have done your own. It is a cliche, but you must never compare your Chapter 1 to someone else's Chapter 20.

Exhausted With The Community/Blogging Drama: If you are active on Twitter, then no doubt you come across a feud or drama on your timeline once in a while, or you might have gotten caught up in one yourself (if a friend is involved it can be hard to just let it go). Sometimes it doesn't have to be full-blown drama that gets you down, it could be anything; the promotional aspect of blogging gets to me, as does the expectation that bloggers have limitless time to interact. Most of us don't have time to do those things and live a full life, so cut yourself some slack. Unfollow or mute the accounts that you need to. Try creating Twitter lists of your favourite accounts and scrolling that feed instead of your main one, and you'll miss most of the bullshit. Give yourself the space to create, away from the ups and downs of human relationship, and you will amaze yourself.

Unicorn Wishlist/Gift Guide

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Pastel hair dye, Bleach London at Boots // Rainbow Fun, LUSH // Unicorn iPhone 6 case, SkinnyDip London // Slippers, Topshop // Jewel Collection jelly beans, Jelly Belly // Socks, New Look // Pastel Notebooks, Moleskine //

We all love unicorns. I remember taking a quiz on Buzzfeed a while back that was supposed to tell you what magical creature you were. I think the options included mermaid, vampire, unicorn, ghost, fairy, and a few other things. I came out as a unicorn (kind, aloof, gentle) with a side of mermaid (fond of luring men to their watery deaths for the lols) and was quite chuffed with that mix. I have a few undeniable vampiric traits, but let's not talk about those. This post is about what to get a girl who loves unicorns, or who is one, only in disguise. If you are truly lost, I'd start at LUSH and go from there.

Size Matters: Getting Bra-Fitted At Boux Avenue

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Before I ever had a bra-fitting, I never knew quite what to expect. I'd heard women tell all kinds of different stories, some who said it was life-changing and gave them a huge boost in body confidence, and others who couldn't forget the horror fast enough. Some friends had such horrible experiences with nasty sales assistants making fun of their bodies or humiliating them that they left in tears. Others were showered in compliments and amazing service and left feeling like goddesses. I've come to believe that getting your boobs measured is a lot like going to the hairdresser; brand means nothing, and it just depends on what member of staff you get.

For my most recent fitting I went to the Cardiff branch of Boux Avenue. I hadn't meant to go in for a fitting, and was just hovering around admiring things when the manager came over and asked if I needed help. I realised I had no idea what size I was any more, and told her as much. I walked in wearing a 32C, but when I took my jacket off so she could see my shape, she told me I'd got it all wrong, and was definitely no bigger than a 30 or even a 28, and that I needed a bigger cup. Less back, more rack.

As I was wearing a dress, an assistant asked me my trouser size and kindly picked me up some pyjama bottoms to change into for my fitting. I was left to change and told to keep my bra on. When she came back she took two measurements; the circumference of my back whilst taking a deep breath, and another when I let all the air out. She took a good look at my chest, then asked what cup size I was currently wearing, and brought two Isabella bras to try on, in a D and a DD. What a lot of women still don't know is that cup size is all about proportion, not mass. Cup size increases as the back size increases, so the cup in a 32D will be bigger than that in a 30D. If you were wearing a 32C, as I was, but you needed a tighter back and for the cup to stay the same, the size you would try would be a 30D. One thing I had gotten right was the style of bra I was wearing. I've always gone for plunge bras to create cleavage and make my shape look great under lycra-mix t-shirts, which I wear almost every day. I'm also drawn to longline bras and bralets (like this Emily set above) when I fancy something more romantic.

The whole thing took about ten minutes, and my tits look immeasurably better now. I left wearing a 30DD (A DOUBLE D, PEOPLE) and I plan on showing you a few of the sets I got in later posts, which is probably the closest I'll ever come to being a VS Angel. Sob.

The Cassell Family Christmas Tree

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My Mum has always been amazing with Christmas trees. When my brother and I were really little, I remember her sending us upstairs to wait while she put up the tree. We used to play with our toys impatiently and ask each other if we thought she might be finished yet. She brought the whole thing together flawlessly and quietly, as if by magic. When she called to us that she was done we would run downstairs and come to an awestruck stand-still in the doorway. As we grew up, we began helping her decorate each year, but I am glad I had those times as a grubby-fingered child when it was done by unseen magic. 

My brother and I are grown now, and every year we have our own tree to decorate. We've inherited some pretty gorgeous ornaments (some of them as old as I am, or older) as well as adding in new magical decorations (mostly from Paperchase or John Lewis) with our own stories behind them. Our tree is always slightly smaller than hers, to fit our smaller home, and it feels like a little offshoot, sprig, or baby to her mummy tree. We try and stick to a rough theme or outline; one year it will be metallic and glacial, and the next it will be a woodland with little foxes and hedgehogs. This year we went for a delicate yet opulent look, with rich jewel tones, velvet, and glass. What do you think?

Goth Tsum Tsums

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I am super specific about the Tsum Tsums I buy. I know it's supposed to be a pile-them-all-in-together kind of thing, but to me, they have to have stand alone quality. I held out from buying one for so long that I only feel vindicated getting characters that I'm properly obsessed with or that have a real sentimental meaning for me. The first one I got was Jack Skellington; adequately goth, and my BFF got his mate, Sally, so it was perfect. For a while he was all by himself, but then the other day I went in search of little Sadness from Inside Out. Sadness was a character I fell in love with almost instantly while on a really fun, romantic trip to the cinema that I'd like to remember.

I have plans to buy more (namely Zero, Elsa, Bambi, and Ariel) but I kind of like just having my two goth Tsum Tsums sitting on my dressing table together. I like to imagine they are conspiring about very dark, miserable things, and becoming the best of friends.

Christmas Gift Guide For The Kinky Girl In Your Life

Some people are hard to buy for. I am not one of those people. I have so many hobbies and make my wants so known to the people around me that I rarely end up with a present I dislike. I never grew out of that childhood habit of running up to things I like in a shop and making puppy dog eyes at whoever is with me, even though I'm 24 and have my own money.

That being said, getting a sexy present for any girlfriend, lover, or wife can be difficult if you don't know where to look, but most especially if her tastes are quite unusual or specific. I adore receiving presents that encourage my kinky side, because it shows the giver has really thought about who I am on an intimate level, and that's very impressive.  So, I'm gonna help you out with a gift guide for the fetishy female, for those of you who don't know where to start. My picks range from £5 to £280 (with a good few reasonable £30-£50 pressies in there) so there's something for everyone. Even a girl who wants to be a unicorn.


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Recycled fur rabbit mask, Coco de Mer // Unicorn tail butt plug, AhaLife // "I fucking adore you" greetings card, Coco de Mer // Agent Provocateur Eau de Toilette, Agent Provocateur // Linen bondage rope, Coco de Mer // Pearl rabbit vibrator, Ann Summers // Rose gold clit and nipple clamps, Ann Summers // Rose gold bullet vibrator, Coco de Mer //

Why Getting A Better Camera Won't Make You Happier With Your Blog

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A couple of months ago, I was at an event for People Tree and a fashion photographer said something to me that stuck, and changed the way I think about blogging. He said that getting a beautiful camera will always show you what an ugly photographer you are. It sounds harsh, but what he went on to explain was that good equipment will always highlight where your skills can be improved.

When I started blogging, I had nothing that would help make blogging easier. I lived in a boring little town, in a dark little house, and created my posts using moments of snatched cafe WiFi and a compact camera. Over the years my situation has changed and I've gathered the tools around me that should make blogging simple. Am I better satisfied with my work now then I was then? No, I am not. Back then I had to work ten times harder to publish a post, but my passion, obscurity, and complete lack of goals meant I was always happy with what I produced.

As resources increase, our excuses for "failure" become less and less obvious to us. Not having the best camera ceases to be a good excuse for unsatisfying photography when we have a new Olympus Pen sitting on the table. That app everyone uses to get perfect selfies? Well, downloading it takes that excuse away as well. As you acquire more and more tools to create, eventually you run out of excuses and are faced with a painful, existentialist question: Perhaps I am not capable? Perhaps I am simply, not talented or skilled enough to produce the work I have in my head? This is the question we are all running away from, but if we focus our energy on gathering the THINGS we think we need, instead of honing the skills that are really essential, that sense of being "not good enough" will only grow. 

It reminds me of Alain de Botton's thoughts on status anxiety; we develop depressive thought patterns and anxieties as a result of not fulfilling what we see to be our potential, or making the most of all the privileges we know we have (the expensive camera, the spare time, the extra cash, the beautiful photo opportunity). We experience guilt and self-doubt as a result, constantly dissatisfied with our efforts because we believe that someone with all our advantages should be doing so much better. The thing about status anxiety, is that it only increases as our circumstances improve.

I see a lot of bloggers going through this, and either obsessing over the perfect equipment, or feeling guilty for not producing what they wanted once they have it. I go through it with every post I write. But as with all things, awareness will take the edge off. We can't magic ourselves into feeling happy with our blogs, but we can learn to recognise what will really change them for the better. Most of the time, we already possess it.