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Festive Flatlays

flatlay photography tips advice blogger

Whoever would've thought that I, a photography novice with a capital N, would ever be writing a post about flatlay photography? If you'd told me this time last year that a post such as this would be featuring on my festive content lineup, I would've laughed in your face! However, I've been putting a bit of effort into my Insta feed and my flatlay photography for blog posts lately, and combined with using a score of new hashtags, this has really paid off in terms of Instagram engagement. I have even received questions about how I take my flatlays and plan my Insta content, which has really shocked me, so today, here I am (in my Primark PJs) to give you a stripped down guide of exactly how I take my Instagram flatlays, and how I curate my feed.

The Spice Is Right at Cinnamon Kitchen, Oxford

When the newly revamped Westgate Shopping Centre opened in Oxford earlier this year, I was not the only local very keen to see what the cool £440m spent on the renovations had achieved. As well as three floors of shops, covering everything from Primark to Ted Baker, the Westgate's rooftop terrace has a plethora of restaurants and bars to tickle your fancy, overlooking panoramic views of the breathtaking Oxford skyline. This is exactly where you'll find Cinnamon Kitchen, which bills itself as a chic and contemporary restaurant, serving up innovative Indian cuisine influenced by classic British traditions. After I sadly missed out on attending their launch event, I was instead invited to dine at the restaurant earlier this week to see exactly what they have to offer!

Christmas Crafting: Gift Bows

christmas craft bows gift tutorial DIY

Even though we're still in November, Christmas is already in full swing in shops up and down the country, as well as on my blog! I've already shared a delicious Christmas cookie recipe which you all seemed to enjoy, so today I'm here with another crafty activity, allowing you to create gorgeous DIY Christmas wrapping. I learned how to do this myself at the recent Jingle Mingle blogger event hosted by the lovely people at PrezzyBox, and the results are so effective that I think you'll be BOW-led over by them! You've guessed it, I'm going to teach you how to create these gorgeous (and very professional-looking, if I do say so myself) bows for your Christmas gifts! This festive craft activity was just one of many on offer at the PrezzyBox Jingle Mingle, but more about the event later! Let's get stuck in to the tutorial!

What will you give this Christmas?

What will you give this Christmas? When I ask this, I’m not thinking about standard things like that box of smellies for your Mum or new slippers for your Dad. I’m talking about giving that little bit extra and making a difference in someone’s life. Because, after all, that’s what the Christmas spirit is all about. It really doesn’t take a lot of time, money, or effort on your part either. A small gesture from you could be exactly what’s needed to transform someone else’s Christmas from just another day in a miserable year to a truly magical occasion. To help inspire you to be that positive force in someone else’s life, I’ve come up with a list of what you can do to spread a little festive cheer. The lovely Hayley has already published a charity gift guide, which you can also turn to if you need extra help!

Pass The Love On with Thorntons, intuDerby*

Visiting Willy Wonka's fabled chocolate factory was the dream of every Roald Dahl fan back in the day. Just imagine it: a chocolate river, sweets growing on trees, lickable wallpaper, the list of delights goes on! What could be better? Well, what I have to share with you today might just top it! Recently, I was invited to the launch event for the newly revamped Thorntons' Chocolates store and cafΓ© at intuDerby! My morning at the store involved taste testing some of Thorntons' best products, watching the chocs in production, and lots more besides! But don't worry, nobody was turned into a giant blueberry during our visit and I didn't meet anyone called Veruca either, phew!

Blogger Book Nook #3: Young Adult

I can't quite believe we're into our third month of Blogger Book Nook posts already! Doesn't time fly? For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the Blogger Book Nook is a reading group set up by myself and Tabitha to bring together a group of book-crazy bloggers for discussions, book swaps, recommending authors, and reading motivation. Each month we share a reading prompt and a related Q&A to encourage the group members to pick up a book and write about it on their blogs too. October's spooky theme was really successful and the lovely Hels, Fleur, Gemma, and Llinos all produced fantastic blog posts sharing their Halloween reads! To help decide on November's reading prompt, I started a poll on the Blogger Book Nook Facebook group to ask our members what they'd most like to read and Young Adult came up very strongly in first place! So without further ado, let's dive into the YA themed questions...

Getting Bus-y on the River Rapids Route*

oxford henley bus go ahead river rapids wallingford reading

This post is going to start off with a pretty embarrassing fact about me. Are you ready? WELL, even when I was 18 years old, I used to think that going on a bus was rather exciting. I'm weird, right? Hear me out. I grew up in the very rural Suffolk countryside where our nearest neighbours were about half a mile away - public transport was not something that was even an option because no bus routes really went by our house and the one that did was incredibly unreliable to say the least. Moving to Oxford as a student and having things like buses on the doorstep was an amazing novelty for me and I still get a little childish buzz whenever I get to use public transport. Yes, you can tease me about this and no, I don't care!

For today's post, I've partnered with Go Ahead, who have asked me to share a few destinations that I'd most like to visit (as well as some I've already experienced!) along their brand new River Rapids bus route, which connects Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Wallingford, and surrounding areas. Whether you're local to Oxfordshire or if you're just planning a day-trip, there will hopefully be something new for you to discover! Riding the bus is a fantastic way of exploring, public transport is not only an eco-friendly option but the free wifi capabilites of the new Go Ahead buses will ensure that nobody is bored on the journey either! Contactless payment on the bus also means that travel couldn't be easier. So, let's get bus(y) *teehee* with planning a fantastic day out!

Abbey Bakes: Christmas Cookies

christmas cookie easy recipe

Is it EVER too early to start thinking about Christmas? If you're on social media you'll know that the answer is a resounding no! The second the clock struck midnight for November 1st, there have been discussions of Christmas decorations, present buying, and what everyone's having for that all-important Christmas dinner! I'm not gonna lie, I am pretty excited to press play on my favourite Christmas film (Elf - obviously) this year, so to get me feeling even more festive, I decided to whip up a batch of Christmas sugar cookies! My cookies are very loosely based on this American recipe, but I've adapted the amounts a little and converted the measurements into grams for my fellow Brits. Shall we get started?

Meet my November Advertisers

Welcome to November! The dark evenings have crept in and the weather has taken on a new cold bite as we realise that Christmas is already on the horizon! Guy Fawkes night will signal bonfires and fireworks in just a few days time, and Children In Need will be hitting our screens towards the end of the month. A very special day that you may not be aware of will be occuring on the 19th of November - you guessed it, it's World Toilet Day! Please let me know how you'll be celebrating this momentous occasion in the comments below! Some people that you definitely won't want to be flushing away this month are my November advertisers - these gals really are the shit!

🌟 www.thehelsproject.com 🌟

It is my great pleasure to introduce the wonderful Hels as my first November advertiser! Hels's blog is genuinely one of my all time favourites to read, covering lifestyle, parenting, mental health and much more. Hels is a talented writer who makes any and every topic she covers on her blog personal, relatable, and interesting - I think that she could even write about her favourite brand of loo roll and I'd still lap up every word! Hels's Instagram is also TO DIE FOR and provides me with a source of inspiration every day, encouraging me to keep up with my flatlay efforts! I credit Hels with any success that I have when taking photos nowadays because she's been such a big influence on me! Hels will have plenty of fab content coming up this November as she is getting married and jetting off on honeymoon to glorious Mexico, so make sure you follow her to keep up with all of the fun!

My November picks from Hels's blog:
  1. How to be the Perfect Autumn Blogger
  2. Wedding Excitement
  3. All the Little Things: October
Follow Hels on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

🌟 www.theenglisheverygirl.com 🌟

I'm also very excited to introduce the gorgeous Sian as my second star advertiser! Sian is now in her fourth year of blogging and is going from strength to strength! She juggles blogging with her Masters degree and she is the queen of what I call cosy content! Cosy content is a blog post that you want to curl up with a cuppa and enjoy, and Sian's gorgeous pastel imagery and friendly tone to her writing give you exactly those vibes! Sian shares regular goal setting and progress report posts which I find super motivating for pursuing my own ambitions! Her makeup reviews always come from budget and high street brands that you could easily pick up yourself and her thoughts are 100% honest and trustworthy. Sian also posts really touching posts when the feeling takes her - her blog post in honour of her Dad on Father's Day sticks out to me as one of her best!

My November picks from Sian's blog:
  1. Autumn TV Watchlist
  2. Peek Inside my New Flat
  3. October Goals
Follow Sian on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest 

🐝 www.sunshinesarahxo.com 🐝

It's a welcome back for this month's first Bee Advertiser - it's the lovely Sarah once more! If you're in need of a little ray of sunshine in your life, this is the blog to visit! Just like mine, Sarah's blog is super varied - last month, for example, she wrote about everything from vegan beauty and chocolate recipes to Christmassy books and saving the bees! Sarah's endless enthusiasm never fails to impress me, I know I'll always leave her blog with a smile on my face. This month I'd really love to help Sarah reach 4k Twitter followers, a goal which she is rapidly approaching! Make sure you pop her a follow over there to help her smash that target!

My November picks from Sarah's blog:
  1. Veeno Wine Tasting in Harrogate
  2. Kiehl's Skincare Saved My Life
  3. Film Reviews 2017 Part II
Follow Sarah on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook


🐝 www.chronicallystrong.com 🐝

My next Bee Advertiser is the inspiring Shawn, who blogs over at Chronically Strong! Shawn's blog is split into three sections: wellness, lifestyle, and chronic illness. Shawn is a powerful advocate in the chronic illness community, using her platform to discuss mental health and inflammatory bowel disease, destigmatizing conversations on the subject as well as empowering others! I am constantly impressed by Shawn's sheer strength and energy in her writing - even if you do not personally suffer from a chronic illness I would definitely suggest that you set aside some time to read her content as you will nevertheless find it eye-opening and engaging!

My November picks from Shawn's blog:
  1. How to Deal with Depression, Anxiety and Sadness
  2. Life of a Patient Advocate: Not Everyone Will Support You
  3. 7 Lessons OITNB Teaches About Mental Health & Illness
Follow Shawn on Twitter, BlogLovin, and Instagram

🐝 www.vickychatter.wordpress.com 🐝

I couldn't wish for a sweeter lady to introduce as my last Bee Advertiser for November! Vicky is a total darling, I always enjoy chatting to her and reading her latest posts, whether she's writing about mental health, her upcoming wedding, or providing handy hints and life advice! Vicky is also very talented when it comes to makeup, her speciality is glitter and I'd love her to use her skills on me one day because every photo she posts is pure magic! I couldn't recommend highly enough that you give her a follow over on social media - you won't regret it!

My November picks from Vicky's blog:
  1. Bridal Shopping
  2. Our Engagement Shoot
  3. Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder
Follow Vicky on Twitter and Instagram

🌹 www.debrabow.com 🌹

Next up we have the fantastic Debra Bow, a good friend of mine who writes one of the few beauty blogs that I keep up with religiously! Debra's product reviews are always really trustworthy - she produces quality content with stunning images, and each review is based on thorough, genuine testing. I know that if I buy a skincare product that Debra recommends, I won't be disappointed! Debra also isn't afraid to discuss mental health and talk about deeply personal issues such as losing her grandparents, and these are some of the most emotional and impactful posts out there!

My November picks from Debra's blog:
  1. Talkin' About Thailand
  2. Tackling Dry Skin with Superdrug's Vitamin E Night Mask
  3. Playing with #PixiPretties Favourites
Follow Debra on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram

🌹 www.emmajaderamselll.wordpress.com 🌹

Finally, please give a warm welcome to my final advertiser - Em! It might seem like a clichΓ© thing to say but one of my favourite things about Emma's blog is that her personality really does shine through in all of her posts! Even when she tackles serious subjects, she still introduces her own brand of humour and that's something I have a lot of respect for! Everything from lifestyle to listicles can be found on Em's blog - you never know what she's going to be talking about next! She has recently done an amazing job of completing Blogtober, so you'll find heaps of fresh content when you click to her page!

My November picks from Em's blog:
  1. Fave Blog Words I Never Use IRL
  2. Things That Get Me Through Anything
  3. "I Wish You Had More Faith in Yourself"
Follow Em on Twitter and Instagram

My advertising packages are all sold out for the rest of this year (hooray!) and they'll be undergoing a revamp with a new format in 2018, so keep your eyes peeled for that! In the meantime, please give my lovely November advertisers the warm welcome they deserve - you'll be seeing much more of them as the month progresses!

What have you got planned for your blog in November? Are you looking forward to Blogmas yet? Drop me a comment below!

Until next time,

A x