Tuesday, 22 November 2016

What Being A Feminist Means To Me

The first thing that I want to get off my chest is admitting that I was not a feminist until last week. This 'label' is pretty new. But here I am, labelled and with good reason.

It was only a week ago that I bothered to self-educate myself on feminism. Therefore, I am in no way an expert. My opinions and views are still growing. I am, what people call, 'finding my feet' with feminism. I will be writing a post on why I decided to embark on finally teaching myself about feminism soon...

This post won't be in any way telling you that you need to become a feminist. I am not selling feminism (at least not in this post). I also will fend away any person who feels that there is a rule book on being a feminist that must be followed in order to call yourself one. This post is about what being a feminist means to me. The topic has become a trend and there are both positives and negatives to that. I debated whether or not to even write this post because there will be people out there who might disagree. But then I also came to the conclusion that I don't care about that and I never have.

So here is what being a feminist means to me...

 Wearing a bra (or not)

Even at home I like to keep my bra on. It offers 'my girls' support and keeps them warm. My bra gives me confidence and makes me feel over the age of nine. I completely understand the feminist movement in motion of freeing the tits. But for me, being a feminist will mean keeping my boobs capped.

Purchasing shavers and using them 

The hairy armpit look is not for me. I don't like two ginger Loraxes hibernating under my pits. It's not for me. I shave my pits, my legs and anything I want to.

Wearing makeup  

Wearing makeup gives me confidence. It makes me feel great and I enjoy putting it on. My face doesn't define my femininity. It is a hobby that I started when I was twelve years old and haven't stopped since. Going 'makeup-less' is brave, sure, but to me it doesn't prove that you are a feminist. If women don't feel good wearing it then they shouldn't wear it. Any one that has a problem with either has a pathetic type of a problem on their hands.

Loving men 

Feminism suggests that you are 'pro women' but there is no hidden rule that you are or should be anti-men. Here is where I feel lies the massive problem of feminism. The general assumption that because you are a feminist you want to knock men down on your way to defeat - is totally wrong. Comparisons are drawn between men and women to highlight inequality in their rights. However, some feminists give the movement a bad name by man hating. Women are not better than men in the same way that cats are not better than dogs. Sure, its down to personal preference and opinion but let's not turn it into battle of the sexes.

Turning off caps lock

ANGRY TONES SEND THE WRONG MESSAGE AND PISS A LOT OF PEOPLE OFF. Being a feminist, I will not use caps lock to put across my opinions. I might crack a few weird jokes around the pretty dire situation women are in comparatively to men, but I will never shout. One of the things that I found incredibly off-putting about some feminist journalists was their inability to 'cool it'. I don't want to listen to rants, sorry. Rants and angry tones make everyone roll their eyes, including me.  They're disinteresting. Feminists are fed up because we want what should be rightfully ours but the way in which we communicate it is vitally important. No one wants to read a man-slashing article - especially not the men (and aren't they the ones we really need to be convincing here?).

That's all I've got for now. Obviously, there are many facets to what being a feminist means to me. But I thought I'd start by sharing some of my 'shocking' qualities of being one first. But ultimately, being a feminist means that I just want equal rights for men and women. 


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Two Weeks In The Wilderness




(two of their pieces are on my bedroom wall).




(yes I was awake to see this..)

With no internet signal and little mobile reception, I was left to my own devices in Colorado this Summer. I discovered what it was like to live without television and the modern luxuries that we take for granted back home. I loved reading and watching nature around me. My holiday was a time of reflection and realisation.

 I became aware of how addicted to technology I was after I experienced severe withdrawals...sweats, nervous habits and anticipation of what I was missing (exaggerated information here for effect). I found myself leaping to my phone to check Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and news apps all the time (that part wasn't fabricated). I had zero internet in the middle of nowhere, of course - it was a practical history lesson of caveman times.

But even the Flintstones had a car and so did we. A twenty minute drive to the nearest town meant I could connect to the local library internet. After my initial frantic moments to get in contact with everyone I knew back home and update myself on everything, I felt like a deflated balloon (the feeling of emptiness). I hadn't missed out on anything except absorbing what was around me in Colorado. I stopped caring about 'socials' after my trip. It's meaningless, superficial and fake but that's why we all love it after all. It just took time away from it to realise that it doesn't exactly fill me with extreme amounts of joy. I now find myself wasting less time on my phone because 'adventure is out there'. 


Friday, 18 November 2016

Why I'm Back To Blogging After Nine Months

I've decided to try and keep this post short and sweet. Realistically it will probably cause your scrolling finger to cramp in 'scrolling position' on the mouse while you frantically try to decipher my ramble. In that case, I won't be held responsible for cases of Repetitive Strain Injury (which is a relatively painful thing, by the way). Any Tumblr or Blogging junky will tell you that after a long session of browsing/being creative, you can rarely feel your fingers. In fact, your finger has probably been cramped into a Captain Hook-esque device. But anyway, basically I'm back - hi.

I will struggle to descriptively map-out my past nine months without creating a two-hundered page autobiography. So, with that in mind, I will just briefly outline each event, then move on and then proceed with why I have made my return to blogging. 


I got a job and worked relentlessly at a night-club for four long months of my life. 

Shortly after the 'blogging break' began, any sense of a break otherwise was terminated. I got my first 'proper job' (as blogging was always a self-employed, let's have a ball kind of situation). I barely slept, got a whole new understanding of the meaning of eye bags and came to hate all clubs and drunk people. It's all fun and games, until someone plastered in wrinkles with grey hairs sprouting out of their nose hits on you daily. I also didn't see daylight ever - my shifts were on average 6pm-5am. Sleep all day, party work all night. 

I went to America, came home and then went to America again.

After quitting my job at one of the busiest nightclubs in my area, I decided to have some fun. Because girls really do just want to have fu-un. I went to L.A. and felt fabulous. I drank green juice and radiated from the constant sunlight. I went to the Kardashians' Dash store and couldn't afford a thing but I'm pretty sure Kendall Jenner whizzed past in her car as I walked down the sidewalk (yeah, I'm basically an LA natural). I enjoyed my time very much. 

Then, I flew home and flew back to America, to Colorado. A family house is out there and I had a zen experience. To say the house is in the wilderness is a massive understatement. One peaceful night, I glanced outside my bedroom window only to come face to face with a black bear. Just the window glass separated me and the bear. I crept back into bed and let the bear be, while I quivered under my bed clothes and listened to the countless cricket noises (or at least, I think they were crickets..). I didn't have any internet and the nearest civilisation point was twenty minutes' drive away. It was one of my most treasured experiences. 

Two days after I landed back in the UK, I went to University for a week and then dropped out. 

This is the most recent event and one of the hardest and easiest things I've had to do. Last year, I applied to do English Literature at University. Why? Because I thought that it was the best thing to do for my future. It seemed like a 'sensible' option. I had always excelled at English, was capable of doing it and I enjoyed it at school. It seemed like a good concoction of reasons despite my gut knowing that I didn't want to do it. But, I went for it. After all, I'd already taken an unplanned gap year due to medical reasons and I didn't want to 'waste time'. Fast forward to September - I'm sat on the campus bed at one of the UK's top Universities, crying on the phone to my Mum, my sister and my best friends. I felt like I had trapped myself in an educational prison. I knew I'd made a mistake the second I sat down in the lecture theatre. I wasn't doing what I wanted. The worst part about the whole experience was that I knew all along. English wasn't for me. My passion was elsewhere and I left University after my first week was over. The decision was emotional but I have absolutely no regrets. It's the most confident decision that I have ever made. The most important lesson that I learnt from the whole 'ordeal' was that I am in control of my life decisions and my happiness. From now on, I won't be embarking on anything without passion and confidence and that all important happy 'gut-feeling'. When it's right, it's right.

 The now...

At the moment, I am doing bits of acting, writing and self-educating. I am combining all the things I love and spending my days doing it. I am back at home for the moment and I am OK with that. I chose to be back and I have a plan for the future which involves a creative degree in something I love. The saying, 'You never know what the future holds' is wholeheartedly true. 

and why I'm back...

I am simply back to blogging because I enjoy it. The posts that I will be writing will mainly be lifestyle, fashion and arts focused. My posts will take the form of long or short snippets of my thoughts or alternatively will be solely photographic. Basically, I'm claiming my blog back. This dusty little webspace of mine is being revived - begone tumbleweeds! Welcome, I hope you'll get cosy. 


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

My Blogging Timeout.

When I blog, usually it's a form of escapism for me. I write to escape. Perhaps not always intentionally but when I'm sat here writing - it's usually for a 'timeout' from other life related things. The things that I am escaping from, or choosing to put on hold while I'm blogging, can be as boring as unloading the dishwasher. But, regardless, I choose to blog to ignore that cutlery standing proud and clean waiting to be unloaded.

I started blogging daily last month. To be honest, this really wasn't planned. Daily blogging for me has always seemed out of the question. I have always had other commitments that I needed to prioritise. As a student, work always came first. When it came to family, family came first. And when it came to responsibilities, I always considered them before sitting down to type on this little webpage of mine.

Daily blogging was unplanned. But, it excited me beyond expression. I suddenly had all this free time to focus on my blog content and get my blog to the standard that I have always wanted it. For the first time ever, I was prioritising 'blog time'.

But it resulted in me taking another 'timeout'.

Daily blogging was fun. I had a tonne of post ideas and I wrote them down furiously in the day and published them in the night. I have never been good at holding onto a post waiting to release it. Once I write it - it's usually published a few minutes after I've done the proof reading.

So, for that reason, I perhaps took a different approach to daily blogging from my fellow bloggers. Usually for them, posts are written in bulk. They dedicate one or two days to full-on blogging and collect a nice pile of posts to release daily or throughout the week.

I would love to be able to say that I have the patience to keep all of my posts and slowly release them. On days where I get insane amounts of motivation and copious amounts of post ideas one after another, shortly after writing them all up I'll go ahead and release them all. Not the best blogging tactic admittedly and it's definitely something I need to lockdown on in this new year.

With all these details I have now acquainted you with - picture this. Me - no makeup (in fact, no consideration for my vanity at all), hot drinks strewn everywhere (now cold because I've been furiously typing away), eyes glued to the computer screen (yes, when I'm blogging, nothing else exists), a puppy sleeping patiently below my feet desperate for a cuddle. I was like the blogging equivalent of a 'mad scientist'. Driven a little bit manic with my 'creative burst' and dedication to write. And I loved every minute.

Needless to say, this scene was repeated every day. I woke up, had breakfast, blogged, took part in 'blogger chats' on Twitter and went to sleep. Eat, sleep, blog, repeat. Chant it with me now - Eat, sleep, blog, repeat. Eat, sleep, blog, repeat!

Yes, it was tiring. But, what I didn't realise straight away was what I'd taken from my blogging experience. My blog had become a little bit like an imaginary friend. I could see it, but no one else really could. I was putting in so many hours and really stretching and pushing myself to create the best standard of daily posts that I could. That's not a complaint - it's just a fact. All that the people who read the post saw was another published blog post - thank god they didn't see the hag like figurine that had been typing it furiously.

Like all imaginary friends, usually, the novelty wears off. You prance around with that friend for a while. For those few days/weeks, that friend is better than your 'real' one. It is your pal. You do everything with it. You eat together, get dressed together, pick out outfits together - you do everything together. Having a blog is like this.

Practically every moment of every day is dominated with maternal thoughts towards your blog. Whether it's coming up with new post ideas, replying to comments, keeping in  touch with the blogging community - a blog is hard work!

Bloggers wouldn't do it if they didn't like it. So, arrest me now, I'm a freak - I like this added work in my life that I've created for myself. However, (yes there is a clause) - I found that by doing it 'daily', this destroyed a dimension of why I love my blog - the element of 'escapism' was lost.

I was no longer blogging now and then to flee from my worldly 'issues'. I was practically a full-time blogger without the nice pay cheque. (I don't blog for money - nah uh.) Instead, my blog became my 'issue'. I'll even admit that I was overrun with blog post ideas in my dreams. Every thought process was related to a blog post. 'Oh my, what a pretty looking salad plate - I must post this on my blog and name it 'salad'!' While this post idea never made the 'cut' (obviously, because it's preposterous - haha), I had lists of ideas racing through my brainwaves at all times.

No longer did I sit down to escape. I sat down to knuckle down and publish some posts to be proud of in military style. I don't regret trying out daily blogging. I started off loving it and I still do. It's just that it really did take away an element of my blog that I've loved for so many years. I had been robbed of my 'timeout' space. I needed that 'escape' but it wasn't my escape any longer because it became my focus.

So, I'm having a little timeout. Me and my 'imaginary friend' have sat down together. We've realised that we both need some space. We had fun while it lasted but spending every second of every day together is intense for anybody. It's going to be a shock to the system this 'separation' but we'll be seeing each other regularly nevertheless. I'll be sitting down to blog at least every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To be honest, it will probably be more. But I need my 'escape' space and this is how I get it back.

Sorry if this is selfish but we all have to find our 'blogging' balance. This is mine. See you soon 'imaginary friend' - our time has been wild.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

I Am Thankful For...

This post isn't really very original. I have to admit, I have seen it floating around the 'blogging realms' for a while now. But, I absolutely love reading them! Just after I finished reading the one hundredth post, I thought - 'what am I thankful for?'....

I am thankful for...

- My family - not only do I share my DNA with this handful of humans, but I also share and receive enough love to drown in. I am thankful for my family because they are my number one supporters. Whatever decision I make - my family supports. They listen, they understand - I would be lost without them. I cannot even describe how thankful I am for my family. It is not something I take for granted because I know how lucky I am to have such a supportive team of lovely beings around me at all times.

- My puppies - just to clarify, these puppies are fluffy, they woof and they're called 'dogs' - they're certainly 'not stuffed-in-your-bra' kind of puppies...I love my little pets so much. I am thankful that they are in my life. They fill me with endless joy and although I jump out of my skin and hit the ceiling every time they yap and bark at the ants that pass by outside - I know they are also my feisty little protecters (who at the same time, couldn't scare a flea).

- The food on my plate - I am thankful for the food that is prepared by my 'Mama'. I should be making my own meals at the age that I am (and don't worry - I certainly can be self-sufficient when survival calls) but for now, Mum likes making me my feasts. I'm eating clean and I feel good. I am thankful for each meal and for the healthy benefits my diet is giving me.

- My clothes - I have an extortionate amount of clothes. It is shocking and definitely unnecessary. However, every penny that I have ever owned has either gone towards clothes or food. I am thankful that I've been able to fill my wardrobe with clothes that I love and treasure. I realise that in the grand scheme of things, clothes and material are not important but I'm grateful for them nevertheless.

- My 'clear' skin - I touched on this in a recent blog post which you can read here, but I am thankful that I am finally comfortable in my own skin. I still have the occasional, gross spot, but I am happy that I can look in the mirror and be confident with what I see. I don't want to sound 'full of myself' because I'm certainly not under any delusion that I am an angelic vision sent from the heavens above.  I am just happy and thankful that the skin that I have is finally clear, unlocking a confidence that was trapped for so long.

- Art - Art in all forms is inspiring and always leaves me influenced and provokes thought. I like art in the form of videos, pictures, literature, landscapes - you name it - I'm inspired. Recently I've been really investing time into my creative side, using energy that gets locked up sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life. I think the changes you are seeing on my blog are a reflection of this. I am constantly inspired and encouraged by people who fully embrace their creativity on an extensive level. My creative side has always been a prominent part of who I am, but taking time to sit down and 'bond' with it has been really important to me recently. I am thankful that I have been given the time to do this.

- Security - I have security within my home and my 'team of supporters' (a.k.a family and friends). I am thankful for the never-ending security I feel within my home and for the people I surround myself with.

These are only a few things I am thankful for obviously. There are so many that I haven't mentioned - I am thankful for a lot. These are just things that popped into my head within the ten minute writing space of this post.

I think it's a healthy thing to do to stop and realise that life is actually pretty awesome. Take a few minutes and remind yourself of all the good things, which hopefully, outweigh the bad.

What are you thankful for? 


Monday, 18 January 2016

Perfectionism: Living in Fear

I was really inspired to write this post after reading a book called 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert. Without getting completely distracted and starting to write a book review, all I will say about the book is that within its pages, I found some real snippets of creative inspiration and food-for-thought. The book is stuffed with chapters that deal with different creative stories and words of wisdom, but one chapter stood out for me in particular. This chapter dealt with 'perfectionism'.

'I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear'.  

Those words right there slapped me in the face. 

My whole life I'd announced from the roof tops that I was a perfectionist. Well, not quite from the 'rooftops' but I certainly had not shied away from the title. I have been a self-diagnosed perfectionist for as long as I can remember. It's part of me. I also know people who wear their 'perfectionist' title like a crown. But, the reality of being a perfectionist is far from glamorous. 

I had never before considered perfectionism to be a version of fear. But it is fear, in complete disguise. Yes, there are other elements to perfectionism but the dominant one is fear. 

I have been a perfectionist from the moment I graced Mother Earth. I let that be known to all. I am meticulous. I want a polished, near-to-perfect outcome in everything I do. I am almost always disappointed with my results.

I want always to achieve to the best of my ability. I want no mistakes in anything I do in life. I want to make sure that everything is, well, 'perfect'. But life isn't perfect! We can't just go through life with an iron in hand and iron out its creases. Because, the creases always come back. 

I know I'm not perfect. I will never be perfect. No one is perfect. But my perfectionism pulses through my body nevertheless. It's how I'm programmed and up until I read 'Big Magic', I always thought my 'perfectionist' title was my friend, not my enemy. 

For example, being a perfectionist meant that I scored A's/A*'s throughout school. But, being a perfectionist also meant that I was disappointed when I didn't get A*'s in my A-levels. Instead, I only got 'A's'. Of course, my disappointment is silly but I can't stop striving for the 'best'. I want an uncreased life and I live in fear of not having one. 

Perfectionism is stupid. Even the word is irritating every fibre of my body as I'm typing it a million times now. But, it's still a problem that I can't shake and I don't really think I will ever be able to. I will become more conscious of the negative effects that my 'perfectionism' is having on me and my life. However, it also means that I achieve to the best of my ability every time.

The reality is - everyone wants to be perfect. We love Instagram and Pinterest because we love the idea of the 'perfect' decor, the 'perfect' hair or the 'perfect' representation of 'normality' (insert picture of a toned, slender girl with pizza, slumbered in a ball in bed - perfect!). But - perfect isn't real (and F.Y.I that girl probably didn't eat the pizza!). 

Life can be great. It can be rewarding and at times, my 'perfectionism' rewards me. But, it also disappoints me as I set unreachable standards and goals daily. Everyone hates 'New Year's resolutions' because they always bite you in the arse a few months later. Perfectionism is a daily reminder that my targets are rarely met. I have that 'New Year's resolution failure' feeling all the time. But, when my near-impossible standards are rarely met - I feel sooo good. So, as you can see, it's a love/hate feature of my everyday existence. 

Worst of all, however, is when my perfectionism stops me from doing things. I very rarely care about what other people think about 'me'. However, I always want things I create to succeed - I care how my creations are perceived and received. With the same hope that I hold for the true existence of Fairies and Unicorns to one day be discovered, I still hold onto my perfectionism - thinking that one day I can achieve all my 'standards'. I want everything I do to be a success. There is no room for failure in my life (says the dominating voice of 'perfectionism'). We all know how unrealistic that is. Because, we all fail. I've certainly had failures in my life, so even trying to dodge them, I fail in avoiding failing...

Perfectionism tells me not to post a picture on Instagram because no one will like it. It's not good enough, plus, the girl who just posted a selfie is better than I am. 

Perfectionism tells me that I shouldn't try making a YouTube because there are better people out there than me. I won't be good enough. 

I am fearful that I will fail. It's not so much self-doubt, it is the thought that I won't succeed enough or be the best version of me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a power woman wanting to be the ultimate figure of 'perfect'. No. It's definitely different. I don't want awards showering me from every direction or gold stars to 'show off'. There's nothing worse than the smug, friendless person who NEEDS to be the best to beat everyone else. I'm not in that contest, in fact, I run away from it. I want to be the best for me. I don't even want anyone else to know about it. It only matters to me. 

The 'perfectionist voice' won't shut up. It shouts at me everyday, all the time and quite frankly - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. 

I am breaking up with perfectionism (who I have now decided to nickname 'Pet' because I cannot bare to type the word 'perfectionism' one more time). 

I am breaking up with 'Pet'. 

'Pet' is unwanted.

For years I thought that 'Pet' made me a better person. I was wrong.

'Pet' made me self-doubt. It made me clear up its 'crap'. It made me cry. It made me set impossible standards of myself. 'Pet never left me alone. It made me stressed. 'Pet' definitely increased my already intense levels of anxiety. Plus, 'Pet' has definitely stopped me in the past from doing what I want to do because 'I won't be good enough or I think there is someone better suited for the job'.

Plus, I suppose 'Pet' made me write this post. (Perhaps I will thank it only for that).

But, gather round..'Pet' is no more. That's right - I wash my hands of you, 'PET'! I've already started making changes. Whenever I hear the voice of 'Pet' coming home, I tell it to leave. I will always do my best, I don't need 'Pet' yelling at me all the time. I can live without its negative side-effects. 

Will I be successful in kicking 'Pet' out? Probably not. But, I will make sure that it doesn't stop me anymore. Elizabeth Gilbert, bless you and your words - I hate 'Pet' and you made me realise just how bad my allergy was. 

PS: To make a point, I didn't use any filters or edits on the photo above that was taken in America. Yes, this was hard for me. I wanted the picture to be 'perfect'. But, it's unfiltered and real. Take that, 'Pet', I'm a free woman....*itching to edit the already beautiful picture....*

Thursday, 7 January 2016

I'm A Fake Blogger!

It's really hard to come to terms with what I'm going to write. I feel disappointed in myself and a little bit confused about why I hadn't realised this before. I am a fake blogger, but I'm working on it - I promise.

(PS: Feel free to giggle at my 2 minute illustration below - it's not meant to be a Picasso replica.)

What am I talking about? Nothing too juicy, sorry to disappoint but nevertheless, it's a pretty big personal revelation that I've had about myself as a 'blogger'. I have been blogging for what feels like donkey's years. I started blogging when I was fifteen years old (I'm now nearly nineteen). I suppose you could say that I've grown up with my blog and on my blog. I've learnt a lot.

Writing-wise, I have become a much better writer. I'm no expert, but I'm so comfortable with blogging and writing that it's become almost second nature to me. However, one thing that I've never been able to 'get the hang' of for all these years is self-promotion. I made a twitter account for my blog alongside the creation of this little webpage of mine back in 2012. I started out by following friends and family (these people, I could count on my hand). Needless to say, my follower base was a bit sparse.

For three years, although my following base grew a tad, I never focused on ensuring I 'spread the word' and promoted my blog posts properly. When it came to my blog, I guess it was because I  didn't really want to blow my own trumpet. Currently, I have got a few followers on sites like Bloglovin' and Twitter but they are just a few. Most of my readers are unsubscribed. They have stumbled across my blog through random google searches. They return but they don't follow. Before now, the majority didn't know where to find me on social media to stay subscribed.

Only now, three years later, am I realising just how bad my blogging tactics are. To be perfectly honest, I never really 'got' Bloglovin'. I looked at it a few times, thought it was an alright site and barely ever returned. Similarly, with Twitter, I used it only to post a quick tweet with a link to my new blog post. I never interacted with other bloggers. Never. I didn't really know it was even a 'thing'.

People always talk about blogging as being this fantastic, communicative community. I was always wondering what they were talking about. Was it in reference to the fact that people are being communicative through their blog posts? I was literally clueless.

A week ago, I stumbled across a 'Twitter' blogger's chat live in action. I'd been scrolling through my Twitter just by chance. In reflection it was like the Universe was finally telling me the answer to all my blogging failures. I was confused at first. There were all these hashtags flying around and people were interacting with one another. 'What is going on?!' I pondered...

With a little bit of research and profile stalking, I finally understood. This was the blogging community that I'd been missing out on all these years! I loved the look of it. People were friendly, sharing opinions and having a proper conversation. What was even better was that it gave the opportunity to discover new blogs and bloggers to follow and befriend!

A couple of days ago, I participated in my first ever blogger's chat. It was a big deal for me - I was a bit nervous because I was the 'new girl'. But, I was accepted straight away! I was having convo's immediately, participating in the #FBLCHAT and loving every second! I had some cute little chats!

I've learnt a lot about blogging over the years, but this year has been my biggest learning curve. I've been labelled a 'blogger' because I have a blog - but, I was a fake blogger. I didn't participate in any chats, I barely read other blogs and I didn't have a clue about how to use social media let alone 'Bloglovin''. If that's not a fake blogger - I don't know what is. 

I suppose I was just so invested in writing my own blog and writing because I enjoy it, I didn't put much effort into making my posts known to other people. This has been one of my fatal flaws as a blogger. I'm not focused on view counts or subscription numbers but it always puts a smile on my face when I get a new follower. I like to think that what I'm writing is being enjoyed. I also love receiving comments and replying to them all. 

Recently, I have been discovering and following new blogs. I've discovered just how great Bloglovin' is. I've been punching that 'follow' button like there's no tomorrow! Reading blog posts is soothing - I love having a snoop into someone's life! Bloglovin' lets me follow all my favourite blogs and discover their recent posts all 'under one roof!'. ps: This blog post isn't sponsored by Bloglovin' despite how much I'm singing its praises...

Not so long ago, I wrote an honest post about my thoughts on blogging and my struggles as a blogger this year.  Writing this post really helped because it made me hone in on the areas that I've 'failed' in as a blogger. I had a serious blogging 'rut' this year. Due to a number of reasons, I just wasn't blogging often and when I did, my posts felt a little bit contrived. 

Since realising all these things and being honest with myself, I've fallen in love with blogging all over again. I was a blogger but I wasn't doing everything I could to own my title. You can be a blogger and you have a blog or you can be a blogger, have a blog and join a community and interact

One of my resolutions as a blogger, which I've already put into action, is to frequently hunt down new blogs and really become an active member in the 'blogging community'. I'm really focusing on my blog in 2016. I'm on a gap year and I have this incredible amount of time that will enable me to really develop my content (and hopefully my following). 

Like I said above, followers aren't everything to me but it is so rewarding to know that there are people who are enjoying your writing! 

So, bloggers - be prepared to hear from me more! I've recently started a YouTube (yes, this is scaring me senseless) but I am really enjoying it so far. Hopefully it will be an extra platform that will be a virtual spouse to my blog. I've uploaded a few videos already so if you fancy, give them a little watch and subscribe if ya' fancy by clicking here. 

 I'm also trying to dabble in Pinterest (@iblogthefashion) and have reclaimed my Instagram account (@hollylatkinson) of four years. I'm bored of being a 'fake' blogger. I want participation and I want it now! 

 Please follow me, please subscribe to me and send me a little tweet! (All social media links in sidebar!) I want to get to know as many bloggers as I can and find new blogs to read and follow in this New Year! Comment with your blog links and I'll be sure to have a snoop! 

2016 - I'm chasing my 'blogger' title! 


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Chasing Youth

If you're wondering what the relevance a daisy has to this post - it's because I associate my 'youth' with metres of daisy chains that I made on grassy banks. I know - cool story. I also took this photo, so mitts off! :)

I was having a conversation the other day with my friend, Emily, soon after I'd written 'Four Honest Opinions'. We were talking about our 'gap years'. I started warbling on about the fact that I felt like my time was running out a little bit. I only had 'X' amount of months before I was galavanting off to university. I expressed my trivial concerns; I felt like I needed to spend the time I had left wisely. I also felt a little bit crazed with panic at the idea that I wouldn't have a 'fulfilling' enough gap year. 

Emily brought up the fact that we are still young. We are only eighteen and we have plenty of time to fill our lives up with exciting things - so, why put all the pressure on this year? Sometimes, it takes someone to say one small thing to spark an 'epiphany' moment. That was my moment - Emily's words were my epiphany. 

Yes. I am on a gap year. Cue an inordinate amount of unanswered questions on 'how I'm going to spend it' asked by every person I tell. I wrote a letter to my 'gap year' in my recent post. I found this therapeutic - it was good to let 'it' know how 'it' made me feel. 

Turning eighteen is exciting. You are finally an 'adult'. The age welcomes you into the world of 'adulthood'. But, at eighteen years of age - we are still babies. What's the rush in growing up? 

I would be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy my new-found 'adulthood'. It's made me more independent and made it less acceptable to cry 'Mummy' when things go wrong. All of these aspects I embrace. They are making me more of an individual. However, I am not OK with the expectations of those around me because of my 'adult-stamped' age. 

Just because I'm eighteen (nearly nineteen), people think it's ok to ask where we are going with our lives. How will we get to that 'perfect' place. What are our goals? *um, can I just eat my pizza and focus on that moment, for now?* (yeah, I don't even eat pizza - I just thought it painted the picture of a 'casual' moment in the face of 'youth'.)

The truth is, I don't have a 'final destination' all planned out in life. I've been trying to work out how to spend my gap year, when really, I don't need to work out every second. 

This whole internal conversation that I've been having with myself made me reminisce about my 'youth'. It then made me think about why I was 'reminiscing' when I was still living out my 'youth' years. 

By definition, my youth is over - 'the period between childhood and adult age'. Well, shiver me timbers - that's me done, I'm an 'adult'. However, by observation - my youth is still very much in full swing - 'the state or quality of being young'. I'm still young. I have plenty of time to think about 'adulthood' and the responsibilities chained to it. I have no desire to think that my 'gap year' is my last year of youthful freedom and jaunts. 

Us 'youths' put pressure on ourselves. We have to get it 'together' in order to feel like we aren't failing. We have to have a 'game plan'. But do we? 

I don't mean that I'm spending my gap year sitting on my sofa, staring out at the life that 'I could've had' if I was out travelling. Oh no. I plan to be productive and fill my year with experiences I won't forget. I just simply mean, that it's ok to not have every moment planned. 

All my life I've had a plan. For the majority of it - the plan was 'school' and it was planned for me. For the first time in my life, I have the reins. My age tells me I'm an adult - fine, maybe I accept this new title. But, I'm still chasing my youth because I have plenty of time left in it to spend. 

noun: youth, plural noun: youths
  • 1.the period between childhood and adult age"he had been a keen sportsman in his youth"synonyms:early yearsyoung dayssalad daysteensteenage years... moreantonyms:adulthoodold age
  • the state or quality of being young, especially as associated with vigor, freshness, or immaturity"she imagined her youth and beauty fading"synonyms:youthfulnessfreshnessbloomvigorenergyantonyms:maturity
  • an early stage in the development of something"this publishing sector is no longer in its youth"

  • definition taken from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Why I Need To Wear Makeup

I am not entirely sure how to approach this post. But, one thing I want to include is total honesty. I am always honest on my blog but I don't always expose myself so freely when it comes to personal matters. You could be sitting there wondering why I'm slightly stressing about talking about makeup - well, it's because for me, it's a bit bigger than that.

I think like most things makeup has its pressures linked with it. It seems like we struggle to go bare faced without having to explain why we haven't 'made any effort'. It's true that when I don't wear makeup, it will usually be within the confinements of my own home. Without it I feel a little bit naked. My body is dressed so why isn't my face? Hence, I generally avoid waltzing around with no makeup on my face. I don't really rock the, 'I woke up like this' kind of look. For starters, I am even paler than Queen Elizabeth I back in the days when powdering your face to near transparency was the fashion. Secondly, I get affected by the concerned faces that look my way as they think I'm ill or 'looking tired'. Peeps - this is my face, I'd love some acceptance when it comes to being 'au naturel'. Being a red head, I am naturally quiet pale - I'd like to think that I don't look insanely ghastly because of my complexion. I envy the handful of people who are so confident in their own, natural skin that they can take morning selfies. Being wholeheartedly comfortable with in my skin is something that I am still learning to do.

I come across as a confident person as I've been told by teachers, friends and family. I think that my participation in Drama activities really helped me with my confidence - starting from a young age, presenting myself to other people and just 'letting loose'. Acting is exposure but essentially you are hiding behind the character of another person. Acting taught me how to apply different aspects of a persona and apply them to my own life. I don't mean that I designed my personality (creepy), but with every character I played, I learnt a little something about 'coping', life and what makes someone the person they are. Confidence was one of the things that I learned to apply and develop along with my acting. However, I've always been a mixture of confident and shy. I was at my worst when I was in High School (ages eleven through to fifteen) - never quite getting the balance and overall, being reserved and shy as I experienced changes (hello adolescence).

I suffered with spots, like most teenagers, but mine only seemed to get worse. This is when my interest in makeup really excelled. I wanted to use it to hide my hormonal skin. I think that this can be one of the beauties and flaws of makeup. I never had 'acne' per say, but my skin also went through a really 'rough patch'. I slapped on more and more makeup along the way. Thankfully, my hormones became far more balanced as I waved goodbye to those awkward teenage phases. However, my confidence in my skin remained knocked. I still felt like I needed to be plastering on my 'face paint' to hide my ex-flaws. I took me a while to realise that I no longer needed to hide behind my foundation.

Recently, in hospital, although I was pretty conked out on intense pain medication - one of my worries was my appearance. Call me crazy but I was worried what the nurses and doctors thought about my 'bare face'. Could they see any marks? Did may face look red? - all they wanted was to check my pulse and do some observations. Obviously I was looking ill (no brainer), but a part of me was anxious about my extinct spots. I know it sounds a little bit paranoid but I felt like I needed my makeup - just to feel better. This is when I knew that hiding behind my makeup was a bit of a problem. I was scared of my own skin, despite the fact that it no longer had any major flaws. I was also taken aback when people complimented my skin. Were they being sarcastic?

I don't mean to be insensitive towards people who have serious 'acne'. I haven't ever had major, unshakable spots. So, I'm sorry if my worries seem petty or insignificant in comparisons to people who have worse skin experiences than mine. But, for me, my skin was a major problem growing up and caused my confidence to plummet. I felt an insane pressure to have perfect, glowing skin. I understood that no amount of makeup could achieve that for me. But, I just felt like makeup got me closer to the goal of 'the perfect skin'. Plus, a girl never forgets when a boy points out that her skin looks 'lumpy', pointing and laughing. Although it was many years ago, that comment still dances around in my head. It was the worst stage of my skin and my makeup wasn't hiding it enough. I went home and cried. Then, I punched my laptop keys furiously to find answers - my skin problems needed to go.

A near three years later after that google session, my skin is all clear. Whether it was down to my diet change, the addition of facial products or simply my hormones balancing out as I grew older - I finally had that 'perfect' skin that I'd always wanted. The problem was, I still wasn't confident enough to show it. Makeup had become such a major part of my life. Makeup was my safety harness, the stabilisers for my confidence. In addition, I enjoyed experimenting with my makeup looks. Watching YouTube tutorials and trying out some new routine was fun and I'd come to love it. However, I haven't ever used makeup to look like a different person. I am really bad at 'contouring' and making my 'nose look slimmer' or my 'eyes bigger'. Personally, I am content with my features - it was only my skin that I ever had confidence issues with.

Since coming out of hospital, however, I have worn makeup less and less. I've also started wearing no makeup around friends - something that I hadn't done since I first put foundation on my face and never turned back. No one really noticed my 'skin problems' or if they did they never commented (except for that insignificant boy). They never saw my skin as 'bad' and certainly not ever natural. Now they only see my skin with very few flaws (none of us are 'flawless' unless we are Beyonce - hey Queen Bee). I get comments about how radiant my skin looks makeup-free and how I look no different without makeup. These comments give my confidence a major boost - especially because the comments are unprovoked. They knew nothing about my skin problems in the past, so I knew they weren't complimenting me to make me feel better.

Giving up makeup for a few months wasn't a choice that I made. Being ill forced me to worry about my wellbeing rather than my appearance. I am not self-obsessed, I promise, but I do like to look 'presentable'. Makeup makes me feel more ready for my day. It makes me feel more fresh and less like a Seuss character. But, taking a break from makeup was probably one of the healthiest things that I have done for myself this year.

I think that makeup is awesome. It makes women feel better - giving them a boost of confidence as they have fun with their outfits, hair and makeup (generalisation, I'm aware). But sometimes, women also hate makeup and the pressures of appearance we're put under. Please can we be allowed to look a bit like 'Hagrid' without being shunned? I really don't know how Kim K can be arsed having her 'beauty squad' fussing around her hours before she's exposed to the fresh air.

I depended on makeup to make me feel better, look better and to shake off any insecurities for the time that I had it on. Taking a break from my 'mask' meant that I could really come to love my face with and without makeup. Plus, I suppose I don't look that different, it's still my face! Yes my eyebrows are less prominent and my lashes lack a bit of volume but those are problems of a ginger with fine hair. As far as my skin's concerned - it's nearly glowing.

For years I felt compelled to slap on makeup. For years I missed out on an hour and a half's sleep as I woke up early before school to look the best I could. But now, as 2016 approaches, I hope to greet the years that I can be bare faced in and still be confident. People wear makeup for all sorts of reasons. Thankfully I can say that I no longer wear makeup to hide my skin insecurities - I wear it because I love it. However, I am really glad that my relationship with makeup was 'on a break' for a couple of months. My skin was left to breathe and my confidence was left to grow. I would never have chosen to take a break from makeup if it hadn't been for getting ill. Everything happens for a reason and although I'd like to think that my confidence would have increased gradually and naturally going 'makeup-less', I'm not too convinced. 2015, you have been tough for a copious amount of reasons. But I've learnt to love my skin wholeheartedly and shake off my old, longstanding perceptions of my face. People change, people grow and so do your attitudes and your perception of yourself and others.  I know that vanity isn't everything, but, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't care about my own.

One of the major things that I learnt last year?  Be comfortable in your own skin. Accept your imperfections and learn from them. And it's ok to put down the makeup brush. 


Monday, 4 January 2016

Four Honest Opinions / Uni V.S Gap Year

I wish that I had stumbled across a post like this when I was applying for university last year. If I could re-wind time, I don't think I'd change a single thing. I made the wrong decision applying for university the first time around. I applied for Fashion Journalism, getting into London College of Fashion, only to turn my space down. It was the hardest thing I'd had to do in my life so far. What came next wasn't any easier. 

Petrified of falling into a slump on a potential 'gap year', I went through the UCAS process of 'clearing'. I decided to apply for 'English Literature' at a near-by university with a high reputation. I was accepted that day. Then, cue unforeseen events, including finding myself in hospital the week I was due to start my university adventure. Then cue contemplation of my whole life as a result. 

That's to summarise it anyway. But I wouldn't change a thing.

I made those mistakes. I made those wrong decisions and if it weren't for following those wrong paths, I wouldn't have made the decision I have made now. I researched uni's as thoroughly as a detective at the scene of a murder. I researched the areas, the rankings and the course details to the last punctuation mark. I knew that English Literature was going to be the course that I wanted to take, I just had to choose wisely where I wanted to go. 

Fast forward to the present day: I re-applied after recovering from my hospital fiasco and planned my life out carefully this time. 

I've now applied to universities that I love. I have my eye on one in particular that would be the 'dream'. I can't wait for my university adventure, because I am now confident I have chosen the right thing for me.

The purpose of this post is to throw out some opinions and experiences. Applying for university is a very scary time. Some of us choose to do it right away, some press the pause button and others not at all. I've pulled in my 'team' of friends as they share their honest experiences about university/gap year. 

If you're questioning how to spend the next section of your life, I hope this helps. If not - sit back and enjoy some self-confessed, teenage accounts of life :).



Studying Geography at the World's top university.

Alicia is my oldest  best friend of all time. We have grown up with each other and we have a shared love of all things Disney (and so much more). I am so proud of Alicia and all that she has achieved. She worked super hard (and continues to work even harder) to get to where she is now. She is loving every moment of it. If you want an opinion on university - you couldn't get a better fairytale ending. Alicia is the happiest I have ever seen her and I love hearing all about her uni tales and mischief. 

She gets the balance of work and fun just right. Here is what she says about her first term of university. 

What has uni offered you?

  • The chance to meet lots of new and different people.
  • The ease of trying out new hobbies and sports for low/no cost. 
  • Independence.
  • A chance to leave your past behind and be who you want to be without influence.
  • Expansion of knowledge about the subject you are passionate about.
  • Having a routine - getting up and being productive! 

What has uni taught you? 

  • It's taught me I can get up early and do things if it's what I really want to do (6am rowing!).
  • It's also taught me budgeting for sure - more money awareness.
  • I feel like I've generally developed more as a person even over the first term. I feel more confident!
  • How to be good at skim reading.
  • For those who are self-catered - cooking skills!
  • My time management has improved!
  • Making the most of every opportunity. People have different experiences at Uni and if you don't get involved and make an effort - you won't have the memories.  


Studying Zoology in a top Russell Group university.

As I am typing, Chloe is currently doing revision for a million January exams. Maybe it's just her specific uni, but the amount of exams they've inflicted on her is more than excessive. At this moment in time, post Christmas slumping, I do not envy her one bit. But, she's enjoying her new uni life! A few exams won't knock this girl down! PS: I miss our school days where we danced to Miley Cyrus walking down the stairs...come home? ;)

What has uni offered you?
  • I think uni gives you a sense of being on a path to the beginning of your future and career but it doesn't really teach you more about yourself. 
  • It gives you a sense of organisation in a way. You have a schedule to stick to (work etc.) 
  • It can allow you to realise that maybe what you're doing now is not for you and you can explore different courses and subjects (well, at my uni you can anyway.) 
  • It's not easy. You have to put in a lot of hard work if you want to do well.

What has uni taught you?

  • I don't really know what it's taught me yet...I don't think I've experienced enough of it to know. 
  • It has made me more aware of money and spending. I am way better at budgeting!
  • Living in my own place has made me way more independent that what I was before. (Not having Mum for doing my washing, the dishes or taking me shopping etc.)

Gap Year

One of the main things that Emily and I recognise as the main difference between uni V.S. a gap year, is structure. Gap years, unless you have planned them from start to finish, do not have a rigid structure. In reflection of that, neither will this section of the blog post. Here are the thoughts as they come...


Emily is one of the hardest working people I know. She has drive, enthusiasm and confidence (in all the best ways). Emily was my first friend as I joined sixth form and we did everything together at school as we took all the same subjects. She's a star, already landing a spot as the lead in London's Soho Theatre in the contemporary play, 'Love is the Revolution'. Here are Em's thoughts on her gap year so far. And, I don't think you'll disagree with me when I say, I think she's made a hell of a good start..

''There is room for spontaneity in a gap year..Finding out who you are.

I think you have to be quite productive and driven because it's really just as easy to sit around and feel like you aren't doing anything worth while. 

It's really hard to watch your friends go away whilst you are possibly at home taking the riskier and maybe scarier option. 

In my opinion, I have learnt things in this gap year that I could never have learnt at uni. 

I have learnt how to run my own life, make hard decisions and learn who I am as a person. At the end of the day, I hope that will help me further down the line. 

But, it's scary and you have to be prepared for days where you feel incredibly lost. 

At the end of the day, it all depends on the type of person you are and what's best for you as an individual. 

Oooh - and I'm not in debt! ''


And finally, me. Here are my thoughts on a gap year - honest, perhaps a little bit too long and addressed to the person 'gap year'. Yeah, makes a lot of sense - maybe my gap year has made me senile. 

Dear Gap Year - you are my friend and my foe. 

Firstly, you came into my life uninvited. You were never part of the plan. You've made me feel bad about myself at times because I don't know how to spend you. But, you've also made me feel free, youthful and in control of my life. 

You have taught me things that I didn't know could be learnt. Mostly, these are things about myself. Some of them are happy things and some of them are sad - but I have learnt them nevertheless. 

You've made me realise who my 'true' friends are. The ones who would drop everything just to come and wipe my tears away and the ones who would chuck me a box of kleenex and move on. 

You have given me an incredible amount of time to spend with my family. You've given me hours of free time to spend with the people who share my genes - and I am thankful for that. My family are my world and you've paused life so that I can appreciate them just a little bit more. 

You've given me a break from studying - I didn't ask for it but for some reason, 'fate' has given it to me. You've given me the opportunity to learn things about life rather than facts in a book. 

You've made me age at least forty years and I'm sure you've given me my first pre-mature wrinkle. 

You've taught me that crying is OK. 

You've brought back my severe anxiety - something I try to hide from but you've thrown it in my face. So, you're teaching me the lesson of how to cope with it all over again.

You threw depression in my face and I gunned it down despite its apparent immortality.  

Above all, you've also taught me that laughing is the best medicine (as gross as that sounds).

You've played with my confidence like a cat plays with a mouse. I'm the cat and my confidence the mouse. I'm trying desperately to catch it - knowing one day I will, but not just yet. 

I can thank you for letting me realise that there is so much to life beyond the immediate. I am in control of my life, the people I spend it with and the events that occur. 

You really taught me that life can be really 'unfair'. It's a game. It can be cruel and it's not so different from Super Mario Bro's. With one little slip, Mario - you've landed yourself in the boiling lava without your Princess prize. 

Would I have experienced these things if I'd gone to uni? Definitely not. 

I've been faced with thoughts I thought I wouldn't have to face until I was in my nineties. 

Life can be short or it can be long.
It all depends how you spend each day. 
So, little gap year - 
I suppose you're practically perfect in every way. 


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Becoming A 'Candid' Blogger

A bit of a weird title, I know but hear me out.

I know I've done a fair few posts recently about being a blogger - blah blah blah, but I'm still learning, every day (probably every second).

For a very long time, I resisted sharing a lot about me as a person. I knew that people I knew in real life read my blog posts and had found out about my blog. This made everything a little bit more scary. I would rather share my life with the man at the post office and the woman who grooms my dogs than have someone I know read what's going on inside my head. (Aside from my besties - hey girls!)

I blog how I talk. And I hardly ever plan a post - I let my brain speak and my fingers type. When I first started blogging, I also did this but I held back a little. I was wary of what I was saying. I didn't want to give away too much of 'me'. I think that blogging is a form of public speaking. I know that I'm not actually verbalising my words to you here, but I might as well be because I'm being 'tres chatty'.

To be honest, I really don't care anymore. I don't care about some random, long-lost friend who happens to be reading this and casting a judgement. (Thanks for stopping by - it's nice to see you after all these years).

I know I'm not alone with these reservations. I know a few bloggers who have said that they're a little bit 'blogger shy' when it comes to announcing to the world their blog URL, let alone sharing personal posts. But, since letting out little pieces of me in more recent posts, I've realised the true beauty of blogging.

Blogging has become my 'therapy' space. It's free, the appointments are whenever and wherever I want them (given there's some 3G) and I have the support of some blogging pals.

I started this blog thinking I needed a 'polished' space. A 'website' where I would write some researched pieces and publish my in-depth analysis of all things fashion. I'm not going to lie - I thoroughly enjoyed this. No, I didn't think I was doing a PhD standard blog - I was just having fun doing slightly 'journalistic' vibed posts while being 'me'. But, I think this blog should be so much more than that.

Last month, I invested a lot of time into this blog. I was constantly thinking of new ideas, jotting them down and being inspired at every turn. My main source of inspiration, however, was other bloggers. While I try and avoid blog-comparisons, a little bit helped me to gain this intense dose of motivation.

I was reading posts that were spontaneous and full of life; my favourite posts to read were definitely the lifestyle ones. It made me realise that maybe I was barking up the wrong tree with the whole 'fashion' focused theme on here... I then went and wrote a little essay in my blog post, 'The Truth About Blogging'. This post is basically an account of my feelings (haha). Maybe check it out to laugh at me, or relate to me because I'm talking about my blogging 'failures'...(deep).

Anyway, part of what I loved about some of the blogs that I was scrolling through was their aspect of 'candid' blogging. I know this isn't the correct term and it most definitely isn't even a 'thing' - I just thought it best describes what I'm trying to 'get at'.

I loved seeing a snippet of a blogger's day. I loved seeing 'unpolished', iPhone pics of their days; what they ate, where they went, the lot! I realised that I'd never done that. The only time I uploaded anything similar was when I'd been to an event. In those posts I'd tried hard to make my pictures look 'polished' and most of them were pictures of me looking a little bit awkward stood next to a celebrity. That wasn't my life at all - it was my life for about 0.24 seconds and then the next person in line wanted a snap.

Another thing that I am incorporating and injecting into my blog is artistic creativity. I haven't doodled since year 6 (age 10) - but, those days were happy days. My favourite forms of creativity are quick, spontaneous ones. That's why I have opted to introduce 'doodles' into my blog posts. Don't worry, the doodles won't appear in every post - just in ones that are relevant and perhaps personal. Obviously, these drawings aren't suppose to be 'impressive'. If anything, I want them to be comical. Sure, they might look like they've been drawn by an infant but for under two minutes of work, I kind of like them.

I'm making a lot of changes in 2016. I haven't set hard to reach 'resolutions', but a little bit of ambition and drive will hopefully take me a long way. I look forward to becoming a more 'candid' blogger this year. I'll be travelling a little and making my biggest life change of moving to a new place for University in September. My gap year should be exciting and I want to take my little blog along the way. Please welcome Holly, the new 'candid' blogger - it's nice to meet you. :)

© I Blog The Fashion | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Developed by pipdig