Friday, 22 September 2017

My Top 10 Blogging Career Highlights So Far #SaturdayShareLinkUp

My Top 10 Blogging Career Highlights | Not Dressed As Lamb

This week I've been contemplating how much work I've got coming up over the next few weeks - I'm in something of a tizzy over all the deadlines I have looming. I've got an important event I'm speaking at coming up very soon and I'm not as prepared as I'd hoped I'd be at this stage.

Blind panic hasn't quite set in yet, but it's drawing near.

So for this week's Saturday Share post I thought, Why not have a look back at all the nice things that have happened in my blogging life so far? I've come a long way since that first post I published on my 39th birthday six years ago. My life has changed beyond recognition and I've been really fortunate (and I'm really grateful) to have had some amazing opportunities come my way.

I wanted to concentrate on my career highlights, not of all which some would necessarily consider "successful" moments. To me, success means achieving your goals - and enjoying the process of reaching them. It's not all about how much money you make (believe me, if it were I wouldn't have stuck with it for six years) - it's often about the small things.


So today I thought I'd share some of my most memorable moments from 2011 to present. There have been many, so it was hard to come up with just 10, but I hope it gives you a little insight into my world and how much I love blogging and the people I've met (and the friends I've made).

Thursday, 21 September 2017

50 Fabulous AW17 Sweaters to Shop

50 Fabulous AW17 Sweaters to Shop | autumn fall winter knitwear

So as tomorrow heralds the official end of the summer (in my world summer ended an eon ago), I can safely post about knitwear without someone correcting me about when summer ends and autumn begins.

(Yes, someone got all school teachery on me on Instagram and said that it was still summer until 21 September *roll eyes*).

Since finding the King of Striped Sweaters a few weeks ago, I've been looking forward to rediscovering all the cold weather options I have yet to unpack from my seasonal wardrobe switch. I hate admitting I love knitwear (especially seeing as I'm such a summer fanatic), but there's something about snuggling up in lots of warm layers that's so appealing.

It was a request for AW17 knitwear options from a reader - plus this striped stunner - that kicked off my obsession with looking for new and fabulous jumpers:

Monday, 18 September 2017

Camo & Plaid Pattern Mix Autumnal Outfit #iwillwearwhatilike

Super casual autumnal pattern mix: Camo jacket \ check plaid shirt \ cream peg pants trousers \ white Adidas Stan Smiths | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style

I'm back from my week's holiday in Cornwall, and for today's #iwillwearwhatilike post I thought I'd show you my super casual, camo and plaid pattern mix outfit that became my "uniform" of sorts during our week away.

For any of you that aren't familiar with the British weather, it can be changeable (and erratic, and unpredictable)... at best. This time last year the UK was basking in the hottest September temperatures since records began (something like 34°C I think). THIS year... not so much! However, Cornwall is ALWAYS beautiful, even in the wind and rain. But there was a lot of sunshine between the showers and we did absolutely nothing, to some extent, so it was perfect in terms of a break for all three of us.

We of course took Riley with us, and despite being an old boy he loved climbing the cliff tops and walking on the beach (we rented a ground floor apartment right on the beach at St Agnes and it was lovely). We've been to Cornwall twice before in the last five years so we've done a lot of the sightseeing, so all we did this time was walk the dog, have pub lunches and relax on the sofa reading and napping.

I set my Inbox to Out of Office (and not back till the 18th), and apart from one post that was inspired by an iffy comment I received in the week I didn't do any serious blogging, just a little Instagramming here and there.

And that, dear readers, is what you call pure bliss.


I'm back at home now lamenting the end of summer as I sit here wondering where my fingerless gloves and sheepskin boots are. I thoroughly recommend a total shutdown from work with a week away at least once a year if you can. Holidays - especially ones where you pack in lots of sightseeing and excursions - can be pretty tiring. But a week of effectively doing nothing was just wonderful.

Anyway, onto the outfit - super casual, and hopefully something to inspire the pattern mix-lovers among you...!

Friday, 15 September 2017

When Readers' Comments DO Hurt My Feelings #SaturdayShareLinkUp

When Readers' Comments DO Hurt | Not Dressed As Lamb

As many of you know I've received my fair share of trolling - nothing major, but stuff that would seriously hurt the feelings of someone who's quite sensitive. Personally, I don't really give two hoots about what people think about what I wear as many of you know (and, thankfully, you share the same sentiment about yourselves)!

I do, however, get cross about people criticising others for absolutely no reason. It's unnecessary, hurtful and encourages others to do the same (and to do worse). And I'll defend others to the hilt when it comes to women putting other women down - there's no room for it in my space of the blogosphere.

On a similar-but-slightly-different note, this week I received a comment from a regular reader that really upset me. For starters, it was probably something I didn't need to know (in the same way that I don't ask for critiques of my outfits, I didn't ask for this opinion). Secondly, it just didn't make sense - the comments were somewhat contradictory.

The comment was:

"I don't know if you want any feedback on this [I didn't ask in this instance, this comment came out of the blue] but personally I'm not keen on the blog posts that feature collaborations with brands. I appreciate that you are trying to make a living but I don't like the commercialism involved. I do still enjoy seeing your personal style, reading your musings and checking out your other blogger recommendations so I'll just opt out of reading the collaborative/sponsored posts (it's easy as you do declare them). The I Will Wear What I Like link up is still one of my favourites."

To cut a long story short: That comment hurt. On so many levels. To me, that comment is basically saying, "I don't like the commercialism of your sponsored posts, whether they're well-written or not. So I'm just going to boycott them full stop."

The contradiction

Her whole reasoning was contradictory because the highest proportion of my sponsored posts are also personal style posts, yet she said she would continue to read those (I'm confused). I don't hide sponsored content - the very first thing you see on any sponsored post of mine (after the first image) is a banner that reads "SPONSORED CONTENT" (see this as an example), with full explanatory disclosure at the end of the post.

She also said the #iwillwearwhatilike posts are one of her favourites - but as those are always outfit posts then they, too, may be sponsored (as was the post from last week). Umm... so is she going to pick and choose which #iwillwearwhatilike posts to read and which ones she won't based on whether I collaborated with a brand each time? Apart from the disclosure about the posts being sponsored, there is NO difference in the way I write/approach them. Of course I will mention about working with the brand, but it doesn't affect the way I write or what I write about as a general rule.

To give you an example, here are three posts I wrote this year.

- One is sponsored, where the brand paid me to write whatever I wanted on a pre-agreed theme (that I suggested).
- One is written on a pre-agreed theme (that I suggested) but with gifted items only. It was not sponsored because I did not receive any extra payment.
- One was not in any way sponsored (meaning the brand had nothing to do with it whatsoever) and I bought the clothes myself.

Can you, dear reader, say one was "commercialised" had it not been for the disclosure, and what does that make the one with gifting only? Decide for yourself...

As far as I'm concerned my sponsored posts are well-written. The overall quality is no less and the content is no less interesting than any non-sponsored post. Or one with gifting only. As I explained when I first went full-time with the blog four years ago, I don't write my posts any differently whether they are sponsored or not. I received a really positive response to that post - my readers were truly happy for me, and since writing a post explaining to distrusting readers why not all sponsored posts are bad, it seems that most of my readers really are supportive of what I do to make a living and - most importantly - how I do it.

I approach all sponsored posts in the same way as regular posts: With honest thoughts and opinions. With the same level of care, keeping both what my readers want to read in mind and what the brand has asked me to talk about.

Plus, I don't consider them as "commercialised".

Why my posts are sponsored, not commercials

In its truest sense, commercialised means "prepared, done, or acting with sole or chief emphasis on salability, profit, or success". My collaborative posts are written for my readers to read and enjoy (and hopefully gain some sort of insight, inspiration or usefulness), not with the sole intention to sell stuff*. If they were I wouldn't even bother writing them, I'd simply publish pre-written content from the brand.

A commercial is an ad, and a post (whether blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) is an ad if the brand has control over what you write. Otherwise, if they commission you to write something and you are simply working to a brief (and in most instances I create the brief myself), then it is sponsored.

My posts are not ads. Therefore they are not, by definition, commercialised. They are first and foremost written to offer some sort of insight, inspiration or usefulness, not simply to sell, sell, sell. Surely the posts where I'm giving examples of AW17 pieces to buy based on past autumnal outfits of mine are more in the "hard sell" arena? Those posts aren't sponsored or collaborations. They do, however, have affiliate links, where I may make a small commission if my readers click through and buy. Will she be boycotting those too, I wonder...?

*Usually brands collaborate with bloggers with the intention of raising awareness, increasing their visibility and the association that comes with working with a particular influencer. Any brand that thinks their sales are going to rocket as a result of collaborating once with a blogger (unless you're Chiara Ferragni or Nicole Warne, which I am not) is sorely deluded about how marketing works.

What I do and don't do

To make things clear: I do not publish pre-written content, ever. It's stated in my Work With Me page that I don't do that. As far as I'm concerned, that's just advertising and doesn't belong in a blog post - not mine, anyway. My blog is a personal blog and it shall stay that way.

When I do write and publish sponsored posts, what you read is 100% my own work and 100% my own opinion. To prove it, I recently took down a post that I wrote with my own point of view, but the brand wanted me to change it to something they wanted more control over content and opinion-wise. We came to the mutual decision to take it down - I don't (and won't) work that way.

I have a rule that I stick to with the percentage of sponsored content that I produce: I stick to no more than 25% of my total output. In other words, I do not publish more than one sponsored post a week as I usually post four times a week. Sometimes there are none in a week, but that's my maximum (and a recommend industry guideline).

When it comes to the actual content of my sponsored posts, some may say that I'm gushing over a brand - if I choose to work with a brand I truly love and believe in and they send me products that I love, of COURSE I'm going to gush about them. There may be some bloggers who feign love for a product or a brand simply for the money, but I'm not one of them. I've turned down plenty of offers of (paid) work because I either didn't have anything to say about the brand/product, or I didn't support, love or believe in the brand/product.

When readers resent bloggers making money

The comment about "I appreciate that you are trying to make a living" is the one that grates the most.

I'm not "trying" to make a living. I AM making a living. I am making a living doing something that I love. I turned my hobby into my career, and I'm proud of myself for doing that and now running my own business.

I'm sure that most people would choose to turn their hobby into their career if they could. There are many, many professions where people get paid to do something they love, from artists to actors, from doctors to tree surgeons, from dog trainers to decorators.

I no longer consider myself "lucky" to be doing something I love as a career. I've been working damn hard for the past six years to make this blog into a business - despite that not being the intention at the beginning - and about 90% of what I have produced over the years has been free content for my readers. Granted, I have maybe had a little luck here and there along the way, but it came my way because of the hours I've put in.


For a little while now there seems to have been a bit of a backlash about bloggers who monetise their content, and there have been discussions in various online forums and social media about boycotting bloggers who monetise their platforms. I even heard that on that heinous platform Mumsnet there was a thread discussing bloggers' affiliate links and that they were warning each other not to click on those links and buy, because Did you know bloggers make commission out of those links?!

I mean, how DARE bloggers produce all that free content for readers and then have the cheek to make a few pennies out of what they click through and buy, at no cost to them?

Whilst this is a slightly different tangent to what my reader was talking about, it's all in the same ball park as far as I'm concerned: Women resenting other women making a success out of something.

So there you go - a reader hurt my feelings. Criticise my outfits all you like, it's water off a duck's back to me. But tell me that my content, the stuff that I slog over until 1am every morning 5-6 days a week is not worth reading because I've found a way to pay the bills with it, IS hurtful.

If I didn't think readers would enjoy my sponsored posts or find them interesting, I'd be too ashamed to publish them, it's as simple as that. I get that I won't please everyone all of the time. But unjustified boycotting for a reason that has nothing to do with whether or not something is to someone's taste or interests (or to my quality of output), now that's a punch in the gut.


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When Readers' Comments DO Hurt | Not Dressed As Lamb
So all that's left to say is - I've shared my thoughts/stories/tuppence-worth this week, now it's time to share yours... LET'S GET THIS [LINK UP] PARTY STARTED!

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Thank you for joining the #SaturdayShareLinkUp! Designed to allow you to share anything you like on ANY topic, it goes live every Friday at around 8pm UK time and will stay open for a week. You can share blog posts or Instagram posts, old posts or new posts, and link up as many as you like.

PLEASE be kind and leave a link somewhere on your post, and share your post using the hashtag #SaturdayShareLinkUp - if you tweet your link with the hashtag and tag me in @notlamb I'll even retweet it to my followers for you :)

A hot tip for linking up:

Use clear, bright images (crop in close if necessary) and add a relevant, descriptive title (you've got 75 characters to use). These sorts of thumbnails and text always get the most clicks, so don't waste the opportunity to increase traffic and engagement on your best work!


Linking up to: Brilliant Blog Posts, Fake It Until You Make It

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

My Favourite Autumn Outfits (With AW17 Shopping Links)

My Favourite Autumn Outfits (With AW17 Shopping Links) | Not Dressed As Lamb

We're already approaching mid-September which is frightening - how about we put a positive spin on it and get some autumn outfit inspiration from last year's posts?

Many of you may know that I dread the end of the summer, but as with the cold-to-warm season change over I do look forward to switching over my clothes in storage. However as we really had summer for only about three (two?) weeks here in the UK, I'll admit that I didn't even get half of my summer clothes out this year. They're still sat there in boxes, waiting to be unpacked... it's kind of depressing.

So in celebration of September - and in my regular quarterly round up of my seasonal looks - here are my favourite autumn outfits from last year, but with the added bonus of AW17 shopping links for you to recreate the looks. Let's think positively about autumn (I know most of you reading don't need to be told that, I'm really just giving myself a pep talk), shall we...?!

Hopefully you'll find something that you like and can work into your wardrobe - all are suitable for smart casual occasions, and some would work well in an office environment where there's a relaxed dress code.

Monday, 11 September 2017

A Multicoloured Stripe Sweater in My "Wrong" Colours #iwillwearwhatilike

Bright autumnal outfit: Multi-coloured stripe sweater with fluted sleeves \ grey peg trousers \ pink suede block heel fringed shoes \ pink Cambridge Satchel Co Cloud satchel | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style

On Friday I talked about wearing things we're not "supposed" to wear - in other words, items or outfits that are not deemed flattering to our own particular body shape, or patterns that are wrong for us, or colours that don't suit us... le sigh.

So in the true spirit of the #iwillwearwhatilike link up, I thought I'd feature my new, fantastic multicoloured stripe sweater from Asos. That has big fluted sleeves. And has stripes in all the colours I'm not meant to wear with my colouring.

You've probably noticed I tend to wear a lot of orange. And peach. And yellow. And khaki. And coral. And all the lovely rich warm (what you'd call) autumnal colours. But hey, I was attracted to this sweater in all its pink, lavender, sky blue, mint, grey-blue and black "cold" colour glory. I ordered it despite me knowing it wasn't made up of any of the colours that I know suit me so well, but you know what? I loved it anyway, and thought What the hell, I'll just try it.


And of course I ended up loving it. Not only that, but when I wore it I received so many compliments about it, like Oh, what a lovely happy jumper! - isn't that the main thing? That it made me feel happy in it, and I loved the colours anyway?

This one in orange, brown and yellow is much more what I "should" be wearing, but where's the fun in wearing what we ought to be wearing, and not what we fell in love with? Of course if I didn't like how it looked on me that's a whole different ball game, but just because it doesn't fall in my autumn/warm/whatever colour chart then why shouldn't I wear it, I say.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Why is the Way We Look to OTHERS More Important Than How We FEEL We Look? #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Why is the Way We LOOK to Others More Important Than How We FEEL We Look

I have no idea how or why this idea popped in my head this week - I think it came to me in a flash of inspiration when I was idly watching or reading something online. Since WHEN did the way we appear to others become more important than the way we feel about how we look?

When eureka moments like that strike me, I tend to run to my phone (who am I kidding - as if my phone would EVER be running distance away from me... like every good blogger, it rarely leaves my grubby little Instagramming paws) and scribble it down in my Notes app.

Then it means I have something to babble on about on a Friday night for the Saturday Share post - aaaand (as they say) Bob's your uncle. But I usually remember what event or article triggered my thoughts about a certain subject - not this time.

So we shall assume it came to me in an inspiring flash of rose gold and pink sparkly unicorn-delivered inspiration... isn't that how all good bloggers start their day and get their material? No?!

Having said that, I have since scrolled down my notes and seen that I made a note of what made me think this after all. However, I enjoyed my unicorn flavour spiel just now, so in it stays.

Like the Ronnie Corbett telling stories from his chair sketches, I DIGRESS.

You must wear "what suits you"

Here's the thing: Who says we have to wear what suits us (who says it suits us)? Why do we have to wear things that flatter us, or are "right" for our body shapes?

This week I've been editing photos for Monday's #iwillwearwhatilike (how apt!) post, and I'm wearing something in colours that I've recently come to realise are not "my" colours. (See, I've completely remembered why I was thinking about this topic now).

From editing countless pictures of me for six years, I've some to realise that the colours I tend to wear the most are warm colours - orange-red, tangerine, peach, coral, mustard yellow, khaki, warm pinks, etc. I know for a fact that blue-pink lipsticks look somewhat dreadful on me, and I realised (not that long ago) that it was because warm-toned colours are more flattering to my skin tone. So I can wear red lipstick, but it must be coral-red or orangey-red.

So I've usually turned down offers to have my colours read (assessed?) because I can tell what I like from photos all too easily.

The big but is - I love them anyway. I love just about all colours. The only two colours I almost never wear are purple and cobalt blue, and even then I own a purple t-shirt and one of my favourite pairs of trousers are my bright blue carrot-shaped pants.

Why then do I have to only wear colours that suit me - what if I just really, really like them? And what if wearing those colours makes me happy? Will it offend others if my complexion isn't quite as rosy as it could be if I were to choose, say, a warm peach or a sunshine yellow?

In other words - Why am I dressing solely for others (because once I'm out and about I can't see me anymore). I'm just feeling happy in my not-right-for-me cobalt blue and cold pink. Who gives a stuff whether the colour "isn't doing anything for my face"... I certainly don't.


The same can be applied for shapes or silhouettes that aren't supposed to be worn by people who have a certain shape: We are forever having it drummed into us that we MUST wear what flatters us. In other words, not a shapeless shift dress in a bold floral print with a hemline that stops at the widest part of your calf... oops. That's not what's recommended for my hourglass shape.

If Style Rules are to be adhered to, I 'should' be dressing my hourglass shape in v-neck tops (not too voluminous) and pencil skirts. I shouldn't be wearing dresses with a high neckline and ruffles, no siree. Guess what? I look, for want of a better expression, bloody DREADFUL in pencil skirts. They just don't suit me at all - at least, I don't think they suit me. They don't suit my personality and I don't feel like myself wearing them.

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So if YOU don't like wearing something because you don't feel good in it, don't wear it. And if you DO like something and want to wear it even though it's not what you "should" be wearing for your colouring or your shape, stop and think to yourself:

Does this item/outfit make me happy? Am I comfortable wearing it?

Yes to both and that's all that really matters - that way you feel is WAY more important than how you look to others. Come back on Monday for my Not My Colours outfit and tell me what you think... do I look happy wearing the colours?!


If you liked this, please pin it!

Why is the Way We LOOK to Others More Important Than How We FEEL We Look? | Not Dressed As Lamb

So all that's left to say is - I've shared my thoughts/stories/tuppence-worth this week, now it's time to share yours... LET'S GET THIS [LINK UP] PARTY STARTED!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thank you for joining the #SaturdayShareLinkUp! Designed to allow you to share anything you like on ANY topic, it goes live every Friday at around 8pm UK time and will stay open for a week. You can share blog posts or Instagram posts, old posts or new posts, and link up as many as you like.

PLEASE be kind and leave a link somewhere on your post, and share your post using the hashtag #SaturdayShareLinkUp - if you tweet your link with the hashtag and tag me in @notlamb I'll even retweet it to my followers for you :)

A hot tip for linking up:

Use clear, bright images (crop in close if necessary) and add a relevant, descriptive title (you've got 75 characters to use). These sorts of thumbnails and text always get the most clicks, so don't waste the opportunity to increase traffic and engagement on your best work!



Linking up to: Brilliant Blog Posts, Fake It Until You Make It

Thursday, 7 September 2017

6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Outfit Photos (Part 2: Editing Tips)

6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Photos (Part 2: Editing Tips)

After having published part one of this two-part post where I discussed shooting tips for improving your blog photos, the time has come to talk editing. Post production is just as much of an important part of the process - here's all you need to know!

A lot of great photos - great for their composition, lighting, backgrounds and so on - are ruined due to their lack of attention... in the darkroom. That's what I REALLY want to say, having studied for a photography degree long before the days of digital you get used to saying certain things. As I mentioned in the last photo tips post, old habits die hard.

But here's the thing: Digital photography is designed to require attention in the darkroom in post production. I think a lot of people consider tweaking images "cheating". There is a huge difference between using Photoshop to alter our appearance (giving us slimmer hips, longer legs, etc.) and using it to enhance the image. Photography is not just about what someone looks like in a photograph: It's about light. It's about shadow. It's about colour. It's about composition. It's about creating mood.

It's about telling a story - and blogging is no different.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Styling a Velvet Midi Dress to Take You From Desk to Dinner | Hobbs AW17 by the Over40Collective

Desk to dinner outfit: One dress styled two ways | A Hobbs yellow ochre velvet midi dress with ruffles styled as office workwear and a date night outfit

I have another ways to wear post for you: Following Monday's Breton tops I'm now styling up one dress two ways... A desk to dinner outfit, anyone?

This absolute beauty of a midi dress is my first velvet piece since the fabric came back into fashion after it was THE fabric to wear in the 90s. When it first made a reappearance a couple of years ago my initial reaction was Ewwww no... but as with all trends that come back, I usually end up liking them again - eventually.

My first thoughts though went to velvet in the very 90s colours of purple or dark green, and back then it was mostly crushed velvet (not a great combination, and hence my hesitation to warm to the trend). Neither of those colours "do it" for me now - so it wasn't until I saw Michelle of RetroChicMama in a dream of a blush velvet dress that I started to warm to it - and now this velvet midi dress in a stunning yellow ochre colour has made me fall head over heels in love with the fabric all over again.

The dress was very kindly gifted to me by Hobbs as part of a self-generated campaign by the Over40Collective: Autumn is pretty much now upon us (let's just forget our lousy summer, shall we?), and I'm ready to embrace it with open arms - despite being a die-hard summer lover. No point mourning over something we never had, eh?


Monday, 4 September 2017

3 Modern Ways to Wear a Classic Stripe Breton Top #iwillwearwhatilike

3 creative ways to style a Breton stripe top: Office chic/workwear, casual weekend wear and date night outfit | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
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Like many women, I am somewhat obsessed by the Breton top. It's an absolute classic - a garment that's synonymous with Audrey Hepburn and French style in general is always going to be stylish.

However, like many classic items, you see them styled the same way over and over... We all want a little inspiration when it comes to styling the staples in our wardrobes, don't we?

As I'm working with Seasalt this year - a brand that excels in striped sailor tops - I thought I'd show you a few alternative ways to style your Breton stripes: Not a trench coat in sight, in other words (that would be too easy, and too easy just isn't my style as you probably know)!

When I started writing this post I did wonder who exactly designed it and what the Brittany connection was. There are some pretty interesting facts I didn't know about the history of the Breton top. For example, did you know...

  • The top is called a Breton shirt because many sailors were from Brittany - a marinière (sailor) top was worn by quartermasters and seamen in the French Navy. It was originally made of tightly knit wool to protect them from the elements.
  • In 1858, the combed cotton jersey and sweaters officially became part of the French naval uniform, with strict specifications about the number of stripes and their size (it's said they represented the number of Napoleon's victories).
  • It was said that stripes made it easier to see sailors who had fallen into the sea.

Friday, 1 September 2017

An Amusing Look Back at My Old Instagram Posts #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Instagram Before and Afters: An Amusing Look Back at My Old Instagram Posts

This week I watched a great vlog from James Nord, the founder of blogging outreach programme Fohr Card, in which he talked about whether bloggers should delete old Instagram posts.

His advice was No, you shouldn't (in terms of it being unnecessary and, I can see, a waste of time for no actual gain). In other words, it won't harm your brand to have not-great quality Instagram images from years ago because to be honest, who's going to sit and scroll through several years' worth of Instagram posts? Definitely not brands, and that's the only reason why you may be worried about what might be seen on (or associated with) your account.

Obviously if you have posts that are either embarrassing, bad taste or politically incorrect then yes, take them down. But poorer quality than what you're showing now... who cares?! Plus, it shows just how far you've come and how much your photography has improved. Leave them, I say.


So in the spirit of sharing something every Friday for the #SaturdayShareLinkUp, I thought I'd scroll right back and show you some of my early Instagram photos for a giggle - and to prove that even someone with a photography degree had a pretty poor feed in the early days.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

4 Ways to Wear 4 Transitional Summer to Autumn Pieces

JD Williams SS17 outfits: Daytime casual (grey leather jacket, orange floral jumpsuit) and date night outfit (khaki shirt, gold metallic pleated maxi skirt) | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
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As autumn is knocking on our door we start to get those days where it could still be hot but equally the temperatures may suddenly drop. Like it or not, tomorrow is September and it's time to start thinking transitional wardrobes...!

Last month I wrote about what it's like being a guest fashion editor for a fashion brand's magazine - I featured images from the JD Williams photo shoot where I wore a glamping outfit, something suitable for a city break and an outfit for the guest editor's letter page. As I knew the pieces would work so well going into next season I thought I'd restyle them to show you that four simple pieces can transition seamlessly from your summer wardrobe into your autumn wardrobe.

The pieces that JD Williams sent me are all so good - the grey leather jacket is buttery soft, as is the jumpsuit (LOVE that orange-red colour)!

Monday, 28 August 2017

White 1940s-Style Vintage Dress and Lots of Red Tassels #iwillwearwhatilike

White cotton vintage summer dress outfit | red tassel earrings \ yellow ochre hobo bag \ pom pom and tassel boho sandals \ white retro sunglasses \ snakeskin belt | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style

Well would you believe it - it's the August bank holiday weekend and we've had glorious weather in Blighty... that's practically unheard of. And what better way to celebrate heat and sunshine than with a white summer dress?

This dress is a vintage beauty I bought from eBay many years ago - it has been worn on the blog before but it was so long ago I can't find when I last featured it. However if you want a giggle have a look at the FIRST time I featured it... I'd been blogging less than a month and all you got in those days was one picture. I guess that's all I had time for seeing as I had a 9-5 at the time (as well as the fact that I didn't know what I was doing... Oh, such innocent times)!

So it's vintage and probably 1970s or 80s, but when the top button is done up (I don't think I've ever worn it that way before) it definitely looks 1940s - I think it's the little puff sleeves and Peter Pan collar that does it (this vintage one on Etsy is very similar). It's just summer dressing at its best, and who doesn't want to wear a white summer dress when the heat is on? They're second only to yellow sun dresses IMO...!

What really dressed up this outfit, however, was the abundance of red tassels. Tassels have been EVERYWHERE this summer, and yes I know these these red tassel earrings have been everywhere... I'm almost a bit sick of looking at them on Instagram myself, to be honest.

But - and it's a big but - the only place I've seen them worn is in the blogosphere (I've included bloggers wearing them IRL at events I've been to this summer).

Friday, 25 August 2017

How I Fake Confidence When My Self-Esteem is Low #SaturdayShareLinkUp

How I Fake Confidence When My Self-Esteem is Low | JD Williams Colour Council photo shoot

It's a real up-and-down emotions post for this week's Saturday Share post... Self-confidence is always a tricky beast, especially when it comes to your own. Faking it is something many of us do, not least those who seem the most confident to others.

On Tuesday this week I was working with JD Williams up in Manchester as part of their new season/total rebranding campaign (you may have seen some of the sneak peeks on their InstaStories which I took over for the day)! It was SUCH a fun day and you'll see more about it in due course on TV, on their website and on my blog.

The reason I'm writing this is because of the feelings I had before going up to do this job. As a pro blogger I'm often thrown into situations where I have to meet - and work with - new people. Sometimes it can be five or six new people, sometimes (as this week) it can be about 40 or more. The production team on this campaign was enormous, so it meant meeting a lot of new people and making sure that I did what they wanted me to do (that I delivered, in other words).

However, before going to this shoot my self-confidence was pretty darn low to tell you the truth. I can't say for sure, but I get the impression that most people meeting me probably think I'm quite a confident person. I know I can be a bit on the loud side. I know I show off with my ability to remember everyone's names when I meet a room full of people. And I know I can be a bit of a joker at times, playing the fool and doing my best to be the centre of attention (all in jest, of course).

But believe me, it doesn't mean I'm super confident.

When I travelled up to Manchester on Monday I felt pretty crap about myself. Not for anything major, just all small superficial things that built up to me feeling a bit low in general.

These are things I wouldn't normally share (haven't shared) with anyone other than Keith and my closest girlfriends. Only they know the way I feel. It was one of those occasions when lots of small things added up to... Well, a big pile of poo, basically. We all have those days. But sometimes we don't have to go anywhere and we can just stay at home and ride it out.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

16 Unmissable Reads, The Best of the Blogosphere (August 2017)

16 Unmissable Reads, The Best of the Blogosphere (August 2017)

In my Best of the Blogosphere this month I have anti anti-ageing, a supermarket social media dance-off, the gender pay gap, sequins for daytime and more!

(In case you've not seen these posts before my Unmissable Reads are a monthly round-up of things I've seen, watched and liked in the blogosphere that I'm sure you'll love too.)

August is, of course, the quiet month in the blogosphere, but the weather has been so terrible this month in the UK that I feel all the Brits at least will want something to read while the rain takes over yet another day. Wherever you are, do have a read of these great links - you never know who or what you might discover that makes your day/week/month!


(Photo credits: Top left | Top middle | Top right | Middle left | Middle | Middle right | Bottom left | Bottom middle | Bottom right)

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This is one of the most hilarious Twitter threads I've read in ages: Two supermarket giants have a dance off on social media to see who's the best.

Allure magazine are no longer using the expression "anti-ageing" and I am SO glad. Optimum ageing, anyone?

Monday, 21 August 2017

One More Mixed Stripes and Florals Summer Outfit #iwillwearwhatilike

Summer style mixed stripes and florals: Blue floral pyjama-style top \ orange stripe Breton top \ wide leg denim trousers \ orange lace-up ghillie shoes \ orange-tinted aviators \ yellow ochre hobo bag | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style

Seeing as the summer just hasn't really happened in the UK this month, I thought I should squeeze a few classic summer combinations out of what's left of this season. I'm writing this wearing about four layers, including a thick sweater and scarf... It's not funny anymore!

The combo I went with during one of our (numerous) cold August days was the classic stripes and florals - is there a better pattern mix than those two for summer? It may not be sunny or warm here but at least these two scream summer style.

I'd not worn the floral pyjama-style jacket for ages, in fact I'd almost forgotten I had it. It's a lovely silky fabric (similar to this one) and was delighted to discover it went beautifully with my orange stripe Breton top - I'm a bit ashamed to say my favourite colour orange is popping up just about everywhere in this outfit.

We've got orange stripes, orange sunglasses, orange flowers in the jacket and orange lace up ghillie shoes. For someone who couldn't stand the colour a few years ago, I've gone the other way and surrounded myself with all things tango-hued...!

On a different note: I was thinking the other day about when the last time I wore skinny jeans was (not counting wearing them on a photo shot) - meaning of my own accord, just generally at home or anywhere. And I simply couldn't remember. I favour flared, tapered and wide leg trousers so much more these days, especially as skinny really are so uncomfortable (and even more especially when you can't fit into yours anymore). These ones from JD Williams are almost identical to the ones I'm wearing, which brings me onto...

Friday, 18 August 2017

FOMO: Why It's Okay I Won't See the Total Eclipse After All #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Total solar eclipse

FOMO, or Fear of missing out (almost as good as the other acronym that I love: YOLO, or You only live once) is slapping me square in the jaw this week. The US total solar eclipse is happening on Monday, and for nine years I'd been planning to be there.

Yes, you read that right: NINE years.

But as you've probably guessed we are neither in the US right now nor are we going to be there on Monday. This is despite me knowing about this eclipse since forever (well, since 2008) and revealing in February that we would, indeed, be witness to it on 21 August.

FOMO? You betcha. Except it's not just fear of missing out, but real heartbreak that we're not doing something that we'd been planning to do for so many years.

To backtrack...

2008: A partial eclipse of the sun

Back in 2008 we had a partial eclipse of the sun in (part of) the UK. But as you can imagine with the weather in this country, it was cloudy and we didn't see all that much. Pretty much the same thing happened in the total eclipse of 1999: It was cloudy and apart from everything going very dark, there is always that slight disappointment that you didn't get to actually SEE the moon passing in front of the sun (with safety glasses on, of course).

Seeing as Keith and I are keen amateur astronomers (that would be stars and planets, not star signs...) with our own mahoosive telescope (one of those really short, fat motorised ones that finds the stars and planets you want all by itself), it made sense for us to look up where in the world there would be a total eclipse that could be witnessed as part of a holiday.

In other words, we didn't really want to see one from the North Pole, Russia or the middle of the Pacific Ocean... we wanted somewhere more vacationy. Did you know that there are between two and five solar eclipses every year? There are loads of opportunities to see them in theory, but not always in places you'd like to go to.

So we came up with the US total eclipse of August 2017 and decided to make a (nearly) three-week east coast road trip out of it. Cue lots of excited planning about all the things we wanted to do and all the things we wanted to see. So far, so good.

Solar Eclipse Observed from Space

Fast forward to 2016, and I have the worst financial year of my (self-employed) life. We still have plans to do our eclipse road trip. But although I'm getting more work and more money starts to come in by 2017, it's just not fast enough to be able to start paying for all the flights, hotels, car hire and attractions we're planning.

In Spring this year, Keith and I sat down to look at our finances and see what we could afford to pay for to get the ball rolling, and although I don't know who said it first, we both came to the sad conclusion that we simply couldn't do it financially. We didn't want to pay for flights then find out we couldn't afford anything else because we just didn't have the funds in time.

Making new plans

Therefore we made the sensible but heartbreaking decision that no, we couldn't afford it (right now). We knew it wasn't just a holiday of a lifetime we were planning, but a holiday that included an event that hadn't happened in the US for 99 years. And wouldn't happen again in the UK until 2090 (hoping to live to 118 is maybe asking a bit too much).


But really, an eclipse CAN be seen in other places. All the things we wanted to do and see on our holiday - from Niagara Falls to DC, from Cape Canaveral to Key West - will still be there if/when we go in September 2018 instead. It will also be slightly cooler (I love the heat but the South and Florida in August may just be a bit too hot and sticky, even for me), and by then it won't be summer holiday time for UK kids, meaning there may be fewer British families in Disney World. I also read this:

"September is a great month to visit Orlando in general, because hotel rates are at their lowest of the year, crowds have thinned, and there are hundreds of terrific deals on the table."

As far as I was concerned that was a done deal.

We may be missing out on the eclipse, but looking at the itinerary we'd planned out for the three weeks, we're going to still make memories that will last us a whole lifetime.

So while I may be feeling the FOMO at the moment, everything points at September 2018 being THE time to go. Organising is my "thing" - what could be better than 13 more months of travel organisation..?

Bring it on!


(Main image: Kurt Kulac | World GIF: Wiki Commons)


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Thank you for joining the #SaturdayShareLinkUp! Designed to allow you to share anything you like on ANY topic, it goes live every Friday at 8pm UK time and will stay open for a week. You can share blog posts or Instagram posts, old posts or new posts, and link up as many as you like.

PLEASE be kind and leave a link somewhere on your post, and share your post using the hashtag #SaturdayShareLinkUp - if you tweet your link with the hashtag and tag me in @notlamb I'll even retweet it to my followers for you :)

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Outfit Photos (Part 1: Shooting Tips)

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Photos (Part 1: Shooting Tips)

Apart from the improve your selfies post I haven't done a new photo tips post in a very long time... I thought it was long overdue. Need to up your outfit photos game? You're in the right place!

As there are things you can do to improve photos when shooting as well things that help post-production, I decided to split the post into two. This post will be covering all the easy changes you can make when taking the photos - so keep reading for handy shooting tips - and come back in two weeks for part 2 which will cover tips for editing.

What I've concentrated on here are things that anyone can do, (mostly) regardless of what equipment they have. These are the ways to combat all the little mistakes that are made when shooting that can easily be fixed, or things you may not have thought of but that would drastically improve the quality of your photos.

Now more than ever beautiful, rich images are what makes some fashion blogs stand out over others. So if you want to up your game and get noticed more, I'd thoroughly recommend starting with your photography. The tips here are really geared towards fashion bloggers, but some of the tips apply to all bloggers or budding photographers.

If you want to work with brands more but don't seem to be getting the attention you'd like, take a long, hard and honest look at your photos. Are they as good as they could be?

Does my outfit jump out of the image?
Are the colours true and bright?
Am I standing out from my backgrounds?
Do I look in proportion and elegant?

If you answered "No" to any of these, then read on for some quick and easy tips to get you on the road to fantastic imagery.

I won't go into much detail about what things like aperture, bokeh and other terms mean - see my A-Z of photography jargon explained (simply!) for everything explained in the simplest language. Here I'll assume you know the basics, but will still explain things in layman's terms as much as possible.

(For ideas on what equipment I'd recommend you have, read 6 camera equipment essentials for great photography, it should give you an idea of what you need to optimise your OOTD photos.)

Don't forget...

Finally: Don't give up if they don't improve straight away. Remember practice makes perfect, and having a good (and understanding) relationship with your photographer takes time. Study the photographs of other bloggers and see if you can emulate particular compositions, use of backgrounds or poses. Show them the sort of thing you'd like to recreate - in the words of Jerry Maguire, Help them help you.

Another important thing to remember is that RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN. I often read photography tips that say "Never, ever, ever shoot in direct sunlight" - 9 times out of 10 this is true. But you need to experiment. We shot this outfit the other day - we took a test shot with me in the shade and the colours went flat. I stepped into the sun and the colours went POW... case in point.

Trust your instinct and check the image on the camera: If it doesn't look good, try something else. Change locations. Wait for an hour or two for the light to change. Swap positions with your photographer and the light will change dramatically. Be prepared to be flexible and your photos will improve from one shoot to the next.

So as this post is all about how to improve things when shooting, you'll need a Part 2: Editing Tips for ideas on how to get the best results in post-production. That'll follow in two weeks' time, so do come back for that (you can sign up for email alerts so you don't miss it if you like)!

Without further ado, here are my best tips for improving your blog outfit photos...

1. Don't use the camera's Auto setting

If you have a DSLR or bridge camera that gives you control over your settings, do not waste the opportunity to get some nice blurry backgrounds (otherwise known as bokeh). If you only use one setting on your camera for outfit photos, use the Aperture priority. By using a large aperture, e.g. f2, you will reduce the depth of field of your image (meaning less distance from the foreground to the background will be in focus).

See below...

Styling summer neutrals: Blue chambray shirt, khaki pants, crossover mules, Panama hat, Cambridge Satchel Co cloud bag | Not Dressed As Lamb
By choosing a large aperture (it was f2.8 here), the light coming through the trees got blown out of focus and created small "balls" of light known as bokeh. Having an out-of-focus background always makes the subject stand out and puts all the emphasis on them, not the (distracting) background.

2. Stand back and zoom in

If you have a zoom on your lens - no matter what camera you use - DO NOT let the photographer stand close to you and shoot on the wide angle setting. Get him/her to stand right back, and zoom right in. It may seem unnaturally far at first - but believe me, you want the distance.


This is THE best tip I can give for taking photos (any photos) of people - ignore it at your peril. By not doing this you will make yourself look very, very strange and out of proportion (you have been warned)! Think of it this way:

When you shoot a selfie and try to get in your whole body, the camera is only an arm's distance away and uses a wide angle lens, yes? And your head is super close and huge, and your body gets gradually smaller right down to your tiny legs and feet? Well, imagine a less-extreme version of that: Your photographer is still standing too close to see you in proportion - he/she is still looking down on you, and whatever is closer to the camera, i.e. your head, will end up looking larger than the rest of you.

What you end up with is a huge body and head, little legs and feet that seem to strangely fall away towards the camera. If you're like me and wish to lengthen your legs as much as possible (who wouldn't?), then tell that photographer to back up, sunshine!

The ideal focal length you want - either on the zoom or with a fixed lens - is around 50mm. Aim to use this "amount" of zoom and you will recreate most closely what the naked eye sees: The least-distorted image is the result.

To see what I mean, have a look at this paparazzi picture of Kim Kardashian with an abnormally large head and torso, and the tiniest legs and feet. As the pap had no choice but to stand really close to her, he (a generalisation but most paps do tend to be men) would have had to have used a very wide angle lens... this is the weird distortion I'm talking about. Even the very leggy Angelina Jolie has no legs and flipper-like feet that fall away in this picture.

See below for a no-distortion image...

Retro 80s styling: Pink Winser coatigan and black and white polka dots, block heel pink glitter shoes | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
By asking the photographer to stand back and zoom in, your body will be far more in proportion because they won't be looking down on you. Here I look elongated and my head is in proportion with the rest of my body. My head and feet look like they're the same distance from the camera which is how they're meant to look.

3. Choose a contrasting background

Choose a background carefully - it can make or break an outfit shot. I understand not everyone has the time or the inclination to drive for miles looking for great places to shoot, but having three or four (local) locations that you use regularly gives you options, especially if one is urban, one is rural, one is a plain wall, etc. - options will improve your photos enormously. Backgrounds of different colours (or even just light or dark backgrounds) will also help you choose the right background for your outfit each time.

It's always a good idea to choose a background that contrasts with your outfit. For example, if you're wearing florals, don't stand in front of trees or flowery bushes or you'll get lost. Don't wear black in front of a dark background, or something patterned in front of something busy.

See the two examples below...

Styling summer denim: White lace top, loose jeans, orange strappy sandals, rose gold choker necklace | Not Dressed As Lamb
As I was wearing white and pale yellow we went to where we know the trees create a dark background - the contrast between dark and light is striking. It also meant the red shoes jump out of the frame. When shooting this type of shot I stand right on the edge of the shadow so I'm not in direct sun, but as much light as possible is shining onto me.

Cold weather \ walking in the woods \ walking the dog outfit \ Tapestry coat, deep hem skinnie jeans, grey cap and wedge desert boots | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style blog
The predominant blues of my outfit show up beautifully against all the autumnal oranges and yellows, despite me being only a small figure in the corner of the image. Although the pattern on the coat is busy and the leaves on the ground create their own busy pattern, the blue/orange contrast is enough to separate the two.

Pin for later!

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog Photos (Part 1: Shooting Tips)

4. Stand further away from the background

If you stand too close to a busy background, you will find that it will be mostly in focus and your outfit won't stand out. There are exceptions of course when having the background in focus does work, but generally you want to create as much distance as you can between the subject (you) and the background. Of course if you're shooting in Auto (see point 1) then it's unlikely your camera will pick the right setting to create blurry backgrounds. By combining a large aperture with a large gap between subject and background you'll ensure you get a dream-like quality to your images.

See below...

Soft whites and pastels summer outfit: Rose print sheer layered top \ mint trousers chinos pants \ nude crossover mules \ orange tinted aviators \ coral clutch | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
This was taken in a field with trees all around - I chose a spot that had the trees far behind me so that the background was thrown out of focus. If I were right up against the trees or bushes then that soft quality would have been completely lost.

5. Reflect light back onto your face

This is one of my favourite tricks and is especially good for older skin. When we shoot outside, light is generally coming from an overhead direction (even on an overcast day). What happens is that it creates an unflattering "five o'clock shadow" around the jawline. If (like me) you have slightly looser jowls than you'd like, it will, unfortunately, highlight them.

Imagine light coming from both above AND below: That means even, flattering light! Wrinkles and jowls (almost) erased!

What you need to do is to either find a light-coloured floor (easier said than done) or use a reflector. I mentioned reflectors in my post explaining how to improve your selfies - they're not expensive but they make a huge difference to unwanted shadows. I recommend this one for about £10 (US link). Of course these will only work on closer shots because you have to hold them under and near your face, but that's why light floors are so fantastic...

If you know somewhere that has a light floor, USE IT. It will bounce so much light back up that the light will be beautiful every time (the shade is far better in this instance). Black tarmac roads are the worst for sucking all the light out of your face - sometimes they can't be avoided, but if you know of a location with a light floor, go try it out.

See below...

Winter weather outfit of pastel pink, cream, camel and denim | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
The new pale grey concrete that was laid at this industrial estate we always used was an absolute gift. No matter what the sky and sun are doing, we always get the most fantastic light now because any available light is reflected back up and onto my outfit and - most importantly - my face. I always, always look so well and rested(!) when we shoot here... It's the light that does it, nothing else.

6. Think about vanishing points

Using diminishing perspective in the background will add drama and a way of making all the attention "point" towards you (the subject). Shooting down a street or down long pathways adds depth. Although I often photograph in front of a flat wall (as above), I do favour vanishing points (so does the husband).

See the two examples below...

Summer style: Off the shoulder ruffle top, floral cropped trousers, orange tote | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
See how that vanishing point "shoots out" from the end of the street (like rays of the sun), emphasising my face as it goes past? An urban background lends itself perfectly to outfit shots, especially if you shoot down a street with tall buildings. The diminishing perspective looks bold and striking - see below for the same idea in a rural setting...

Blush pink summer outfit: Pink sweater with heart motif \ cropped floral trousers pants \ blush pink suede Gucci-style heeled loafers \ pink satchel | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style
Here I was a long away from the camera so we could make dramatic use of the path winding away into the background and the tall trees. The image is "presenting" the subject (me) to the viewer via the path as it opens up towards the camera. At this point you can probably detect the photography teacher (that I used to be) coming out in full force...!

7. Shoot in RAW (not JPEG)

If you really want to up the ante and get beautiful, rich images, shoot in RAW. I cannot tell you the incredible difference shooting in RAW makes to your photos in post production. If you're unsure about what RAW images are - or if you've never heard of it before: a RAW image file contains minimally processed data from a digital camera image. It's named "raw" simply because it's not yet processed (that's the most basic way of explaining it). It's designed to always need post-production - an unprocessed RAW image looks truly terrible... it's the ugly duckling of photography.

To compare to JPEGS, which can often "get away with" no post-production: RAW files do not simplify data (pixels, in other words) like JPEG images do. It means that during processing in Adobe Lightroom*, RAW images won't lose all the richness and detail that gets lost in JPEGs - instead it enhances them. Blacks will be really black and whites will be truly white in RAW, whereas JPEG makes everything just a little bit flat and grey.

(Most modern DSLR cameras have RAW shooting options. Check the manual to see if yours has the option - if it does I'd advise starting off with some test shots in RAW first as it might take you a while to get the hang of Lightroom. There's nothing worse than trying to learn a new software package when you're in a rush to get a post on your blog. More on this in part 2.)

See this fantastic comparison below:

The difference between JPEG and RAW image files | Not Dressed As Lamb
These two outfit shoots were only months apart and obviously shot in the exact same location, but you can clearly see the difference between the photo shot in JPEG and the one shot in RAW. The RAW image has a beautiful deep, almost 3D quality to it (look how I stand out from the background on the right)! It doesn't look like it, but the light was the same in both cases: an overcast but bright day. Once you start shooting in RAW, you'll never go back.
Original posts left | right

*Lightroom is the daddy of all editing suites, like a different kind of Photoshop - you need Lightroom for editing RAW images (they can't be edited in Photoshop or free online software like PicMonkey). I'll be covering using Lightroom in part 2 of this post: Editing tips, so do come back in two weeks for that.

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Let me know if you've found these tips helpful... I do hope they have! As always shout with any questions in the comments, or tweet me. I'll be happy to help.




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