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Thursday, 27 June 2013

This week I had the opportunity to attend which was technically my first ever proper bloggers event. I'm not a 'big' blogger, and haven't really attended any 'official' blogging events apart from blogger arranged meet ups and things like that so I was really surprised and excited to hear from the lovely Aqua PR inviting me to a beauty blogger tea party. Luckily for me, one of my best blogging buddies Lisa also bagged herself an invite, so we headed into London together and found ourselves at the stunning and beautiful St Paul's Grange Hotel, eager to meet everyone.

Myself & Lisa and the view from the hotel from the top floor (when we tried to leave we accidentally ended up on the top floor with a bunch of smart old business men who stank of alcohol, they were dead friendly though to be fair)

After Lisa reminisced about the time she'd been there for a hen do, and amazed me by telling me that there was a night club in the basement, we headed up to the glass balcony to say hello to everyone. Once everyone arrived we were split into two smaller groups then given a tour of the Ajala Spa. As soon as I walked in, the tranquil atmosphere immediately hit me. The spa had an amazing relaxing atmosphere paired with mocha, brown and cream coloured deco with various plants dotted around, all adding up to a really soothing surrounding. I've never been to a spa before but I was surprised at how relaxed I felt just walking around without even receiving any treatments, which I suppose is the sign of a good spa!

The Ajala Spa boasts five treatment rooms,  sauna, steam and aromatherapy rooms, a sun therapy lounge (we commented that this was definitely needed with our lack of a summer this year!), an 18m long pool and even a gym. I was surprised at how big the spa was considering it was tucked away in the hotel, but at the same time I think it was the perfect size to feel very intimate and exclusive without being too overbearing.

After our tour we re-joined the others for a beyond delicious afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches and scones. It was all so yummy! It was great because the event was very exclusive so there were only a few of us which meant we had lots of opportunities to chat away and network. We chatted about how expensive it is setting up new beauty brands and how so many brands are choosing to collaborate with bloggers, how polite we are being English and how rarely we complain when something is wrong, and of course, a long chat about all the different treatments the spa offers and all the lovely Sranrom products. There were some Sranrom products laid out on the table for us to try (as well as some to take home in our goodie bag!) and the products were so lovely. I tried products from the Happy Moments range and each had a really relaxing scent and left my hands feeling so soft. I will of course review my goodie bag products in a proper blog post soon!

Once we thanked everyone for such a lovely day and left, we still had an hour or so to spare and the weather was nice so me and Lisa decided to explore a little around St Paul's Cathedral, which I'd never actually seen before. It was beautiful! We then grabbed a Starbucks (a Very Berry Hisbiscus Starbuks Refreshers Beverage for me! Phew, what a mouthful, I'll have you know that when I ordered I simply pointed at Lisa and said 'Whatever she ordered. But the berry one.') and sat on St Paul's steps catching up before heading home. We also made time to take a couple of cheeky outfit photos, so keep an eye out for an outfit post, a review of my Sranrom products and also a post about the Hammam Ritual I've booked myself in for soon.

I had an amazing day so I'd like to give a massive thank you to Aqua PR and everybody on the day that made the event so much fun. It was lovely learning more about the treatments that the Ajala Spa offers, as well as chatting to some lovely ladies about the other side of beauty brands that, as bloggers, we don't really hear about regularly. If anyone likes the look of the spa as well I would more than recommend it. We felt extremely welcomed whilst we were there and left feeling beyond relaxed even though we hadn't even had a treatment.

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

I haven't really blogged a lot this week because in between working and spending time with friends and family, I've had an old friend come to visit! My friend Jo was one of my best friends at university (she still is a best friend really) and we have so many great memories together. Some that come to mind would be when we got on a bouncy castle drunk and ended up headbutting each other, the fact that for the first few weeks that I knew her I was convinced her name was Claire and our themed birthday nights out as her birthday is the day after mine!

I don't get to see Jo and my other friend from university, Becky, too often due to distance. The last time I saw them both was last summer. Jo is a dancer and had an audition in my hometown this week and another in London so she came to stay for a couple of days. It was a lot of fun seeing her and catching up with everything.

Anyway, in a rare Sunday catch up post, here are some random photos showing what I've been up to recently, including the adventures I've been on with Jo.

Soooo let's begin with last weekend. Last weekend was 'Party in the Park', an all day outdoor event that takes place in Dunstable. We first went last year and it was such a good day that we couldn't wait to go again this year - there's a pop up bar and BBQ and lots of bands on. It turns out on Saturday it wasn't actually THE party in the park (that's next month apparently) but something similar with 80s bands. Like last year, I headed down with my parents and Amy joined us. I planned not to drink at all really (the amount of regrets I have from last year's event..) but somehow this didn't quite happen. Within an hour, me and Amy were drunkenly stumbling around Asda, clutching a large bottle of Vodka, in the search for a straw to mix our drinks. After asking 5 different members of staff, we ended up having to buy a pack of £500 straws. Oh dear. The day provided lots of jokes though, we all had a laugh, and ended up out afterwards too. We met the mayor as well!

The following day was fathers day and my dads birthday so we all went to play golf. It was a lot more fun than I expected! I was better then I expected, but I also totally sucked and came last. Afterwards we went on a lovely long countryside walk before going for a lovely Sunday dinner in a pub. On the way back though, it began to rain and I was feeling both sick and hungover, hence me pulling a face in the bottom left photo on that long half hour walk.

Finally, here are some photos of what we got up to when Jo arrived. In a feeble attempt to show her a good time in merry old Luton, we went for a meal during the week then I introduced her to some of my friends and just chilled out. On Tuesday she had an audition at the pineapple dance studios in London (check her out!) so as the weather was nice, I popped down to London with her. Whilst she was in the audition, I explored the extremely odd/morbid Old Operating Theatre and then afterwards we took a stroll around Camden. It was a lovely day and it was nice having a mooch around all the funky stalls. Afterwards, we grabbed some chinese and sat by the river gossiping about boys and chilling out.

Also, it was nice walking past The Electric Ballroom in Camden and pointing out to Jo the very spot where I met and kissed John O'Callaghan, and the Electric Ballroom also being the first time I saw The Maine live. I'm a geek, I know.

Watching...The Returned
Reading...The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne
Listening to...The Maine's Forever Halloween
Playing...The Simpsons Tapped Out
Smelling of...Harajuki Lovers Fragrance - Lil' Angel
Perving on...John O'Callaghan (as always)
Loving...Camden! I can't wait to go back...

This week, one song I cannot stop listening to is...

P.S Feel free to follow me on Instagram @Louise_Joy_ for more photos of what I get up to throughout the week!

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work recently to find this book waiting for me at home! I love reviewing books and have been very thankful to be able to read and review this one - for a start, look how cute the cover is! Doesn't it just make you want to get a giant ice cream and sit reading on the beach at Brighton or somewhere?

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop is the second novel by Abby Clements and you can read my review of her first book, Meet Me Under The Mistletoe, here. I loved her first novel and already thought Abby Clements was a talented writer so as soon as I realized this book was her second novel, I knew I'd enjoy it.

This story is all about two sisters trying to run their late grandma's ice cream shop together, despite the fact that it's looking a little run down and the sisters are the complete opposite of each other. Anna is settled in her life having just moved in with her long term boyfriend whereas Imogen is constantly jetting off around the world to travel. But when they unexpectedly inherit the ice cream parlour they struggle to keep their grandmothers legacy afloat, even though running an ice cream shop was the last thing either of them expected to be doing that summer.

The blurb reads -

When Imogen and Anna unexpectedly inherit their grandmother Vivien's ice cream parlour, it turns their lives upside down. The Brighton shop is a seafront instuition, but though it's big on retro charm it's critically low on customers. If the sisters don't turn things around quickly, their grandmother's legacy will dissapear forever.

With summer fast approaching, Imogen and Anna devise a plan. Rather than sell up, they will train up, and make the parlour the newest destination on the South Coast foodie map.

While Imogen watches the shop and conjures new marketing ideas, her sister flies to Italy to attend a gourmet ice cream-making course. But can their best-laid plans survive their warring family, tempestuous love lives - and the great British weather? One thing is for certain - this summer will be like no other...

I loved this book because it was the perfect summer holiday read. It just reminded me of days spent on the beach when I was younger and used to go on caravan holidays down south with my parents, eating giant ice creams and lazing out under the sun. Do people still go on those types of holidays anymore? It's all about going abroad these days, isn't it..anyway, this book definitely reminded me of those times and put a big smile on my face and I'm sure it'll have the same effect on you. The whole book is about re-creating the vintage charm memories have, bringing old memories up to date and helping keep them alive. 

My favourite part of this book was that it had two main characters - sisters Imogen and Anna. Both were lovely characters but complete opposites of each other so that if you couldn't relate to one, you'd almost certainly relate to the other. I loved that their different personalities clashed in a number of different ways - at points they found it hard to run the shop together because of it, but at other times they balanced each other out which was great. I also liked how almost half way through the story they pretty much swapped lives - Anna jetted off to Italy for an adventure whilst Imogen was stuck at home running the shop.

It was also interesting to read as it dealt with some of the inevitable issues you have to deal with when you 'grow up'. The sisters worried as their dad fell into depression once his mum had passed away, and then there were arguments within the family about who should get the shop. It's a sad thing to know that these type of issues will one day crop up, but I thought it kept the book realistic and grounded.

Despite these side storylines, the story was very much lighthearted otherwise. It was funny, inspiring and even had a bit of romance in it. It was just the perfect book to read on a lazy day and it was easy to come back to time and time again. 

It taught me that sometimes life will throw you challenges which will literally turn your life upside down - but this isn't always a bad thing. It changed the sisters' lives in a good way and was a blessing in disguise - I think it was a challenge they definitely needed to overcome without even realizing it themselves.

I also loved the recipes at the back of the book! I've definitely been inspired to have a go at making my own ice cream now...

You can purchase Abby Clements Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop on Amazon now.

P.S Check out the Book Reviews tag for more book reviews! Also, please do visit Hanging On Every Word - another blog I'm part of. It's a collaborative book review blog between myself and some other bloggers and there are some great reviews on there! Please do check it out!

*Please note, this post contains a PR sample.

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Friday, 14 June 2013

Just a brief post this evening, continuing on from all the blogger panic revolving around the discovery that Google are basically ending GFC. It's all a bit up in the air at the moment - none of us quite know where we'll stand in terms of subscribing to our favourite blogs, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared, does it?

Just in case I wake up one day in the summer and find all of you lovely subscribers completely dissapeared with no clue whatsoever on how to keep up to date with Inspire Magazine, I'd just like to remind you that the blog is available on a number of different platforms. I'll probably add some actual buttons in my sidebar too. So check out a few of the links bellow, some of them do link to my personal accounts, for example my Twitter and Instagram, but I do use these to talk about new posts going up so I suppose it's relevant.

I think generally, bloglovin' is the website that most bloggers seem to be heading towards. Although most of us are also on other social media websites, I think this is going to be the go-to website when it comes to checking blogs!

Although it's disheartening to see, especially since I've found blogging to be such a supportive and friendly community, change isn't always bad. Just because GFC is dissapearing and we cannot track our subscribers all in one place, it isn't going to change our content or the way we communicate with each other.

I'll most definitely still be blogging away and I hope you all do manage to catch up with all my most recent posts but if not I'd like to thank you all anyway for reading and supporting the blog over the past few years. I may not be a 'big' blog that gets invited to events all the time or sent free products, but I love my blog just the way it is. And I will be sad to see GFC go because since blogging I have managed to bag myself some great opportunities. I have been able to go to a few lovely events, review some awesome products and most importantly, I've made some really great friends through blogging who I now consider to be best friends in real life too.

Farewell GFC, it was fun while it lasted!

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I'm kind of funny when it comes to blushers. I absolutely adore blusher but it's so easy to get it wrong. To me, blusher is very feminine and normally the final touch to any look but I still find it hard to believe how so many different ladies pile it on and on and just end up looking like a clown. I don't know why, but I've never struggled with blusher (which is a first because I usually fail at anything else that comes with being a woman). And lately I've really enjoyed experimenting with different blushers ; light, soft and coral ones for summer days or days when I want to look quite natural and girly pink shades for days when I want to look my best or I'm heading out. It tends to vary but it means I normally swap between different blushers regularly.

My most recent favourite is Maybelline Dream Touch Blush in shade 02. I love this shade, it's very natural and has the most gorgeous coral/cream tint to it meaning that when applied it gives you that perfect natural flushed look. It's the type of product that looks so natural that no one would guess you've applied it specifically!

Normally I prefer powder blusher, but I've found this cream extremely easy to apply. It's easy to build up although even after one swatch of it on my cheeks I find that's enough. It lasts all day too and the cream makes it much easier to blend in.

The packagaing itself isn't anything special - I think my all time favourite blusher packaging would be the special edition Bourjois blusher with the different Paris themed cases but still, you get a large amount of blusher/cream in the pot so I think it'll last ages.

It's a feminine, flirty colour, it blends in well and is easy to apply. There's not really anything I can fault about this!

Maybelline Dream Touch Blush is available from Boots.

P.S Feel free to check out the beauty reviews tag for some more beauty related posts and beauty reviews!

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Saturday, 8 June 2013

So the Friday before last I got see Kids in Glass Houses! If you haven't heard of them, check them out. Some of their biggest hits include Gimme What I Want, Saturday and Matters At All. I've been a fan for years and years now so when me and my friends found out they were doing a gig locally, we booked tickets right away. It turns out it was actually their warm up show for Slamdunk which was pretty cool, it was a small venue and it was a really sweaty and intimate show with an awesome atmosphere.

Their set was nothing short of amazing. They played some of their biggest hits which just caused the whole crowed to cram forward and scream, shout and mosh out. They did a great Bruno Mars cover and it was just great to connect with everyone. At points I just turned to my side and grabbed a stranger and started screaming and singing along with's just what music does to you. I didn't know them but for that gig and for that specific moment we had so much in common - our passion for music, our love for the band - it's just a real different way to connect that you only really get at gigs. The band preformed really well, for the first time seeing them I was very impressed. They really got into it, getting the crowd so involved and it was so obvious afterwards cause the lead singer was really sweaty ha! But it was great, they clearly loved what they were doing and I think because they're from Bristol and it was a smaller more local gig they probably had a bit of a soft spot for these types of gigs and I think that showed.

Anyway, here's what I wore.

I bought these leather shorts a few weeks ago in TK Maxx - they were on sale for £7.00 or something cheap like that. I've got to admit, at first I wasn't sure about them. I mean, they're leather shorts. And they're really short. And leather. I don't have the smallest of thighs and thought they were probably suited to someone who could pull them off a lot better. But then I tried them on and found they actually looked quite good! Then I realized I didn't care if I could 'pull them off' or not. As long as I thought I looked good and felt comfortable in them - which I did - then as far as I was concerned that was good enough. Besides, I love my legs.

Because the shorts were kind of the selling point of the outfit, I kept the top simple. It's actually quite casual/skimpy, I normally wear this top to bed in the summer because it's so thin and light but it went perfectly with these shorts. I think if it would have been white it would have looked a little boring but because it's cream with text on the front it's a lot more stylish.

I also piled on the usual accessories; my spiked Stella & Dot cluster bracelet, my random varied clustered bracelet from Republic, a few loose bangles and then this necklace I bought from Primark back when they were stocking lots of alternative jewellery.

The necklace is actually probably a bit too gothic and too much for the outfit but I thought it looked okay so I thought why not. I also had some random rings purchased from various places over the years.

For my makeup I piled on the eyeliner (of course) and created a slight cat eye winged effect with the eyeliner flicked a little at the ends of my eyes. Then I also wore my new favourite lipstick Maybelline Super Stay 14 Hour Lipstick in shade 260 Always Plum, which I've reviewed here. I love this lipstick because it's edgy and different, which is exactly the look I was going for on the night.

I really loved my outfit because I knew the leather shorts would be perfect for this type of gig. When I arrived a lot of younger people were actually quite dressed down, some girls had their hair thrown up in messy pony tails and were wearing hoodies! But I knew I'd chosen the right look because at the end of the night I was boiling and sweaty and there was no way I could have worn jeans or anything other then this outfit. I'm just waiting for another excuse to wear these shorts now! I think they're definitely one of my favourite buys of 2013.

After the gig we got to meet the lead singer, Aled Phillips. I won't put the picture up on here because admittedly I did look terrible, my hair was messy and my fringe was all over the place, but he was lovely. I don't remember too much because I was a tad tipsy by this point - oops - but I do remember the first thing I said to him was that he was very sweaty, haha! He gave me a hug and a kiss and signed my ticket.

What do you think of my outfit? Let me know in the comments below, I'd definitely love to hear your thoughts!

P.S Check out the Look Of The Week tag for a mooch at some of my other 'Look Of The Week' posts or please feel free to check out/give me a few votes on my LookBook - just click the image above!

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Image taken from Google
In it's own right, Forever Halloween is a spot on album. It's grown up, sophisticated and filled with raw emotion. Listen to it directly after Pioneer & The Good Love, and the progression is natural and expected even. But if you're an old fan hoping to hear The Maine going back to their upbeat pop punk routes, look elsewhere. It's not that this album doesn't have it's fair share of songs that you can't help but jump around to, because songs Love and Drugs, Run and White Walls certainly provide that, but it's easy to see what a long way the band have come since their punk pop roots. It wasn't quite what I expected - I'm not sure what I expected really - but it definitely didn't disappoint. It's got a very 90s alternative rock feel to it and although I immediately loved it on my first listen, I've found that it's continued to grow on me more ever since. It's definitely an album that is awesome to begin with, but only seems to improve more and more with every listen.

The band struggled with their last album, basically recording the whole thing in secret and then releasing it themselves because they knew it wouldn't fit in with what the record label wanted. Although I love all their albums, even their very first ones and the ones produced under labels they are no longer with, it's easy to understand that they've really let go and completely gone ahead with what they think represents them right now on this album. They haven't held back to please a record label or fans used to the old stuff. They've not been afraid to try something new and go deeper and I really love that fact.

Forever Halloween is very raw and, as the band have continually stated, it's also very human. It was recorded with all band members present in one room playing together, as opposed to each member recording their different parts then putting the song together. In a sense this makes it a lot more honest ; they haven't relied on a computer or special effects to disguise their mistakes, with Forever Halloween what you see is what you get. It's upfront and also slightly experimental.

I won't go into detail about every song but there are a few in particular that stood out for me, if even because I feel like I don't quite understand the other ones yet or haven't listened to the lyrics well enough! To begin with, Run has an amazing opening beat that you can't help immediately tapping and nodding along to. The mood is kind of mystical, the lyrics talking about demons and how the moon invites the madness but if I'm honest it's really just one of those real awesome songs that you can't help but rock out to.

I really loved White Walls. At first I thought it signified the innocence of a relationship ; full of mistakes but the desperate need to not give up on each other. Front man and singer John O'Callaghan sings 'I'm just a kid, don't walk away', almost begging that the fact that he's still young and can still make mistakes be understood. But when I watched the videos explaining about each song, John talked about how it was actually about the way you grow up and take on your own responsibilities but still always have that feeling of needing your family or your mum or just having a little bit of help every now and then. (Note - I wasn't completely off then!)

Happy is ironic in that its upbeat and very happy sounding when in fact it's about being alone. It's almost as if it's trying to say that being alone sucks, a lot, and sometimes you might be desperate to find someone but it's still okay. And it's definitely okay to admit feeling like this. The theme continues on in Kennedy Curse where John O'Callaghan sings about not feeling a thing and being desperate for someone to take his heart. Don't worry John, I'll be your girlfriend! Nonetheless, whether he's really that lonely or not, it makes for great music and moving lyrics.

Birthday in Los Angeles is another firm favourite. It's very casual and simple, a stark contrast set slap bang in the middle of an album which is pretty much filled with deeper heavier songs. In a way it's quite soothing too and very stripped down to the basics, almost as if its just a man and his guitar. There's not much I can say about these lyrics, I've heard that this song is both about John's feelings towards LA and how LA is a metaphor for a girl. Perhaps it's both. (Then again I've been told he did once claim that their song Inside of You, which is clearly about sex, was actually about his dead who knows)

The 'ballad' of the album, if you will, is These Four Words. At first with the slow melody and beautiful piano notes, you'd expect it to be romantic, if a little sad. However it soon transpires that it's about admitting to yourself or someone else that you don't love them. It's very raw and emotional. It's sad because it begs the belief that sometimes being the dumper rather then the dumpee is much harder out of the two. Having to turn around and tell someone you're with that you don't love them, admitting that the relationship has fallen apart and you've fallen out of love with them is a horrible, heart breaking experience and this song conveys that really well. I think this song can affect almost everyone on some level but it's a song that is rarely ever sang. We often listen to songs about being heartbroken and not being able to fix things, but rarely do we hear about what its like to be the one that cares less, to listen to a man singing about how it feels when someone loves you more than you love them.

Note - I do have to quote ATP's comment/review on These Four Words as I feel this explains it a lot better then I did.
"The must-hear track of Forever Halloween is 'These Four Words'. Accompanied by nothing but a piano, front man John O'Callaghan sings about four words, opposed to the three we are so accustomed to musicians singing about. Not 'I love you', but 'I don't love you'. The result is nothing short of haunting..."
Click here for the source of this quote.

Finally, the final song on the album, Forever Halloween, sums up and explains the album title perfectly. It talks about how we all wear a costume, we all put on a brave face when we've been hurt, we all fake confidence when talking to the person we like, we always pretend and act and insist we're okay, even when we're not. In my personal opinion, this album has stripped down all of these beliefs and personas to give us something that is completely raw and pure from this band. I don't think I'm right (but isn't that one of the best parts of music, analysing something yourself?), but I think the title is kind of ironic in that it's on Halloween that we only really own up and admit to putting on a costume and do it willingly. Perhaps Forever Halloween represents that time when we admit this and begin to understand the differences between a costume we wear and who we really are. It's about finally being honest and I think all the songs - and the album as a whole - represents that perfectly.

Image taken from Tumblr

The Maine are currently on the 8123 tour with A Rocket to the Moon, Brighten and This Century.

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Every fashion blogger needs at least one 'What I wore today' app or go-to website. Mine is Today I'm Wearing.

In terms of 'What I wore today' apps, I've tried them all. Although I like sticking to LookBook for uploading my looks in more detail or linking to the blog, I've been searching for a 'What I wore today' app for a while now. I've tried both Pose and What I Wore Today, and they were easy to use but for some reason I just prefer Today I'm Wearing.

First of all, I think perhaps I like the way you can upload full length photos, whereas on the other two apps the photographs have to be square. That's nice for when I want to put a few pictures into one, such as the outfit, my makeup and any accessories like I do on LookBook, but the reason I want to use an App for my looks is because I want it to be easy and on the go. Apps are specifically for saving time and making life easier, so creating a collage picture or editing photos together so that it fits into a square isn't something I want to do. I'd rather keep that for the website or my blog.

My favourite part of this app is how personalized it is. Obviously you can name the look and give it a description, but I absolutely adore the fact that you can note where you wore the outfit (gig, first date etc) and how you felt! I really love this personal touch and I think this reason is one of the biggest reasons for why this app stands out for me more.

It's really cute too with gorgeous colours and a simple and easy to use theme on both the website and app. It's very straight to the point - you literally aim your camera, snap the picture, type in any details and you're done.

I will say that I had a few problems to begin with, but I loved it so much that I stuck to it and all those issues seem to be resolved now. I had some trouble uploading photos and adding the descriptions as the upload would just dissapear and sometimes re-appear about ten or so minutes later. However it all seems to be fine now and I did message them direct - they explained to me that they have a very sensitive system that catches blacklisted and innapropiate words and sometimes normal words trigger it. It took me a good three or four days to actually upload my first look, but it just goes to show how determined I was to use this app because even after that I couldn't stand not being able to get it to work ha! Now it's all fine.

I think this is the ideal app for fashion bloggers on the go and is the perfect alternative to showing off your outfit quickly without the fuss of blogging it immediately!

You can also find the app absolutely free from the App Store and feel free to follow me @ riotgirl!

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