After the final pig in blanket has been eaten and the last of the Quality Streets have been finished off, we may turn our attention to the exciting prospect of goal setting for the new year. A brand new year offers 365 days worth of opportunity and the chance to live life to the fullest. Magazines promote a healthier version of you and new gym memberships are at an all time high. We feel positive and inspired and promise that 2018 will be our year.

However, despite the best of intentions, the reality is (according to one commonly cited statistic) that only 8% of people actually keep there New Years Resolutions. So, why not be part of the minority and actually set some long term healthy habits. Here are my six tips on how to set realistic and achievable goals for the New Year. (All images are from my Heidi Swapp Memory planner)

Be Reflective

Before you set yourself impulsive goals, take a look back at the year gone by. Identify your strengths and what achievements you are most proud of. We should work with what we already have and build on that instead of picking on our weaknesses and flaws. Making goals which involve drastic and dramatic changes will only be setting yourself up to fail. Focus on your interests, passions and things you enjoy doing to stand a good chance of making your goal a habit.

For example, I know I already enjoy walking so I am going to make this a daily activity. I love reading, so am going to write a list of books I would like to read in 2018.

Be Specific

A goal needs to be specific so you know exactly what you need to do in order to achieve it. Specific resolutions can be measured so we can see how we are getting on as the months go by. Avoid vague goals such as I want to be healthier and replace it with something like I am going to exercise three times a week and eat balanced nutritious meals. This way you can assess how you are doing at the end of each week and feel motivated that you are on track with your resolution.

Be Realistic

Your goals should challenge you but they shouldn’t be a daily struggle. Know your limitations and what would be practically impossible to achieve. A realistic goal should be something you know you are capable of, however you just need to stay focused and motivated in order to succeed. For example, don’t say you are going to run a marathon if you have never ran a mile. Instead, push yourself gently, one step at a time and see where it takes you.

Be Kind

Once we are ready to rock with our new goals, we need to remember that we are only human too. There will be days where we are not at our best for whatever reason and this is totally normal and expected. The trick is not to let one bad day knock you off track completely to the point you give up on your goal. Appreciate how far we have come and look at the bigger picture. Why did you set yourself this goal in the first place? A little progress each day adds up, so just do what you can and start each day a fresh.

Be Flexible

Life is ever changing and your goal is no different. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – change can open up brand new opportunities and exciting experiences. We may need to slightly adjust our goals or perhaps make them bigger as time goes on. For example, you may resolve to go the gym three times a week, however, for some variety, you decide to try out a new fitness class and find you absolutely love it. Your new goal may now be go to the gym twice a week and go to say yoga on Fridays. Who knows where your goal may take you. Be open to the possibilities.

Be Positive

Keeping a positive attitude is so important when it comes to staying on track with your goal. By rewarding your milestones and achievements, no matter how small, we stay motivated and focused. We can look back at how far we have come and appreciate our hard work and effort. Whether your goal is fitness, blogging related or personal development every small step in the right direction takes us closer to our goal. Keep moving forward and celebrating your successes.

Have you set any goals for 2018? I would love to hear them! Whatever your New Years Resolutions are just remember – be reflective, specific, realistic, kind, flexible and positive. You can do this!

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Back in late November, I signed up to Katie’s Blogger Christmas Card Swap and had fun creating my own DIY Christmas Tree Washi Tape Christmas Cards. Throughout December I have received so many thoughtful and beautifully designed Christmas cards I thought it would be nice to share them all in a blog post. Thank you to everyone who took part, it was so much fun and I will definitely look forward to do it all again next year. For now, here are the Christmas cards from my blogging friends all around the world…

Love Hayley Beth

It was officially the start Christmas on 23rd November when I received this pretty little card from Hayley from lovehayleybeth.  This card is so sparkly and glittery, its gorgeous! Hayley is a lifestyle blogger who blogs everything from body shop reviews to business. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK and had a love for all things Harry Potter. Oh yeah, we also share the same birthday (18th April) which is pretty cool. Go check her out! Twitter: @lovehayleybeth

Bella – Young Woman Big Dreams

I was excited to check the post on Saturday 25th November, exactly one month before Christmas Day, to see I had another Christmas card! This gorgeous card is from Bella who blogs at Young Woman Big Dreams. There was also a little gift of a Yankee Candle which I thought was such a lovely touch. Young Woman Big Dreams is a life experience blog which supports and motivates young people with their goals. Bella write about careers, travel, fitness and her dreams. Such a encouraging blog with beautiful photographs. Go check her out! Twitter: @YoungWomanB

Rosaleen – Majella Rose

My third card brightened up my Wednesday morning. I just love getting nice post, especially nice Christmas post from other bloggers. This adorable card is from Rosaleen and her family – aren’t those little bunnies with scarfs on are just the cutest thing ever. Rosaleen is from Manchester in the UK and blogs at Majella Rose about everything and anything that makes her happy. This includes mum life, travel, house & garden, beauty and food – there is really something for everyone! Go check out her fantastic blog! Twitter: @rosa1een

Lianne – Lianne Williams

On the 1st of December I received this amazing Christmas Card from Lianne who is an artist and blogger. Wow. I’m super impressed that Lianne made this card herself, it’s brilliant and I love the amusing text too! Here is a little bit about Lianne and her work taken from her website www.liannewilliams.com –  I’m an artist and illustrator from the UK working primarily in colour pencil and watercolour to create mainly self reflective portraits, which often focus on the glamorous, fantastical or sensual.  My work frequently features abstract elements, glitter or rhinestone embellishments, and takes influence from nature, flora and fauna, science, cosmetics, beauty, fashion and costume design. To find out more check our her website! Twitter: @LWilliamsArt

Jordanne – The Life Of A Glasgow Girl

The second card I received on the 1st December was this gorgeous glittery card from Jordanne from The Life Of A Glasgow Girl. I absolutely love Disney so this card is an excellent choice. The Life Of A Glasgow girl is packed full of beautiful photography with posts on mum life, beauty, food, fashion and more! Jordanne is also the creator behind Bloggers Tribe – a hugely supportive and successful community which is an uplifting and positive space for bloggers, also ran by Katie and Claire. I love it! Twitter: @Ofaglasgowgirl and @BloggersTribe

Chloe – Chloe Lu Ye

On Saturday 2nd December, the postman delivered another Christmas card – yay! This beautiful card is from Chloe, a music lover who blogs at Chloe Lu Ye about travel, fitness, lifestyle and thoughts in general. Chloe is also the founder of the #unthinkstigma project – an online community to get more people talking and sharing experiences to fight the stigma of mental health illness. She invited myself, Kerry, Fern and Casey to take part in the project and I have met some great friends and bloggers through this experience! Check out Chloe’s blog and the unthinkstigma project! Twitter: @chloeluye

Shanna – Bald Bird Beauty

This is a lovely little card from Shanna – I love the Santa Claus’s Post Office Stamp! Shanna is a 34 year old welsh girl living in Manchester. She writes that she has an obsession with animals and makeup! (just not together). Bald Bird Beauty is her lifestyle and beauty blog which also has some brilliant posts on travel and tips for living with Alopecia. You find out more check her Shanna’s awesome blog here. Twitter: @baldbirdbeauty

Alina – Leenay Blogs

You can’t see it from the photo but this card is so glittery! I love it! It’s from Alina (Leenay) who is an 18 year old student studying Pharmacy Science and Health. Leenay describes herself as a travel blogger who loves skincare products occasionally doing DIY products. From her blog: I create crazy makeup looks and I try to put my style forward by carefully picking out pieces of clothing to create a outfit that represents me! Read more about Leenay here! Twitter: @LeenayBlogs

Melanie Jessica – Melanie With An Ie

This is such an adorable handmade card by Melanie! I love the reindeer – so creative! Melanie is a Worcestershire/Gloucestershire based Blogger and Medical Laboratory Assistant for NHS England. She blogs at Melanie (With An IE) and shares posts on lifestyle, beauty, food, fashion and so much more! Go check out her fantastic blog here. Twitter: @melaniejessiee

Ffi – The Essence Of Red

I’ve received so many gorgeous cards this year and they just keep on coming! I love this beautiful one from Ffi. Ffi is a student who blogs at The Essence Of Red about lifestyle and travel. Her blog has so many brilliant posts on fashion, beauty, travel, lifestyle and personal life – plus her photography is stunning! Go check out her blog here. Twitter: @TheEssenceOfRed 

Gemma – An Ocean Glimmer

Oh my! It’s a little Simba on a Christmas card! I love it – so cute and looks exactly like my little fur ball of mischief. This adorable Christmas card is from Gemma who blogs at An Ocean Glimmer. Gemma is a twenty-one year old student and blogger from Plymouth, Devon. She writes about Formula 1, Lifestyle and Beauty, along with documenting special moments her my life. There are so many great posts on her blog! Go check it out here. Twitter: @gcabray

Meera – Lone Teen Traveller

I absolutely adore this illustrated card by Meera. She is such an incredibly talented artist and I especially love the little cat – so sweet! Meera blogs at Lone Teen Traveller mostly about travel with some fashion and lifestyle bits too. Meera’s travels include her exciting experiences in Asia and Europe which are well worth a read! She also designs clothes and fashion sketches too. Check out her fantastic blog here. Twitter: @Meera_ltt

Victoria Austin

Wow! Another handmade card! I am so lucky to receive so many gorgeous and well-made cards! This one is from Victoria who is a 20-something creative blogger based in Devon in the UK. Her blog has a general mix of lifestyle related content such as fashion, beauty, homeware, books, diy creative makes and places to visit or go walking in and around Devon. She also loves stationery, lipstick, eyeliner, coding, digital art and of course photography. There is something for everyone on her blog so go check it out here! Twitter: @victoriaxaustin

Michellé – Chelle MUA Blog

Wow! I absolutely love this card from Michellé. It’s so creative and I really like the patterned paper she has used for the Christmas tree branches. Michellé blogs at Chelle MUA, she describes herself as a makeup artist, blogger, Au pair and coffee snob from South Africa. Michellé is lovely and she has so many great posts on her blog, go check them out here! Twitter: @chelle_muablog

Em – Out Of Tea Bags

This is such a fun and cheerful card from Em! It’s brilliant! It’s also a charity Christmas card to help raise money for CLIC Sargent – the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer. Em is a second year graphic design student at Norwich University of the Arts, Disney lover and occasional traveler. You can read more about Em on her fantastic lifestyle blog here. Twitter: @OutOfTeaBag

Ocean Hayward

This is such a beautiful card from Ocean Hayward. She writes in the card that the painter is Trevor Wells, so I looked him up and was even more astounded. Trevor Wells was permanently paralyzed after playing rugby and painted this entire scene using his mouth! How incredible is that. This is from Ocean Hayward’s blog: Ocean Hayward is an Atlantic Canadian writer. She lives in a small town on the coast with her husband. Her day job is teaching high school students. When she’s not teaching, she’s either writing or ranting or both. Sometimes she even teaches, writes and rants all at the same time! She is one incredible lady. Check out her awesome blog here. Twitter: @OceanHayward

Rachel – Wondering Why

One of the most amazing things about being a blogger is making friends with people all over the world. I was so excited when I received a postcard from Nevada – all the way in the United States. This was sent from Rachel from Wondering Why: a personal and lifestyle blog. Rachel is a student currently working towards a career in Criminal Justice. Her blog is an online diary with lots of appearances from her two adorable dogs, Lucy and Rudy. Check out her lovely blog here. Twitter: @WonderingWhyWP

Fernie – Life With Fernie

This beautiful Christmas Card arrived with two green tea bags! I absolutely love green tea – thank you so much Fernie! I met Fern a while back through the  #unthinkstigma project and have been friends ever since. Fern blogs at Life With Fernie and describes herself as a 20 year old lifestyle blogger, napping enthusiast, Mental health Survivor and perfect housewife wanna be. Life With Fernie has fantastic posts on beauty, fashion, home, life and health. Check out her brilliant blog here. Twitter: @LifeWithFernie

Lena Dee

I met Lena on Twitter and she is my brilliant blogging friend all the way from Barbados! She sent me this amazing homemade card which has Simba from the Lion King on the front. She knows me so well! I am so impressed at her artistic talents and creativity. Lena is a Freelance Artist & Blogger with fantastic posts on lifestyle, fashion, beauty and food. She is such a friendly and supportive blogger! Go check her blog out here. Twitter: @LenaDeexo

Rebecca – Rebecca Reviews

Rebecca was one of the first people to chat to me on Twitter. She has been such a lovely and supportive friend ever since. I absolutely love the handmade robin Christmas card and the adorable cat postcard which came too. What a sweet and thoughtful touch! Rebecca is from Cambridgeshire, UK and runs Rebecca Reviews, a brilliant blog which reviews a wide range of products which includes, beauty, lifestyle, travel and food & drink. Rebecca is passionate in supporting local or independent businesses and brands which I think is a fantastic thing to do. Go check out her awesome blog here. Twitter: @RReviews_Blog

Kerry – Mummy Thomas’ Blog

Oh my. Look at this adorable cat in a scarf! I love it! This cute little card is from Kerry who blogs at Mummy Thomas’ Blog. Kerry is another blogger friend I have known for a while now, and she has always been so positive and supportive. Kerry describes herself as is a mummy, wifey (and cat mum!) who blogs about her experiences with mental health, PTSD, PND and birth trauma. She shares her ups and downs of parenting and I’ve always admired her honest and open approach to blogging. Check out her inspirational blog here. Twitter: @KTMummy 

Jess Clare

This is such a sweet and thoughtful handmade card from Jess. I love that when I opened it loads of multicoloured stars just burst out. I think the sparkly stars and colourful presents are fabulous! Jess writes at Jess Clare and is a lover of animals, music, coffee, travelling & books. She loves Harry Potter and all things Disney and has a varied music taste from pop punk to cheese. He he, this describes my music taste pretty accurately too. There are loads of interesting posts over on her blog, so go check her out here! Twitter: @jessxclare

Betsy Lulu

Betsy Lulu is my writer friend from Canada. We met on Twitter and she has always been so kind and encouraging. She sent me this awesome card which says Warm Thoughts & Merry Wishes from Canada. That is so cool! She also sent me a grapeseed and licorice facemask too, what a sweet and thoughtful gift! Betsy Lulu is currently working on her debut novel, a romance/drama which will be published in 2018, how exciting! Follow her on twitter for more announcements! Twitter: @BetsyLulu1

Amy – Finding Serenity

Hot chocolate AND marshmallows, what a fantastic treat to find inside today’s Christmas card from Amy. And what a gorgeous Christmas card too! Amy blogs at Finding Serenity – a beauty, fashion, fitness and lifestyle blog. Amy also uses her blog to raise awareness of mental illnesses and shares her experiences to inspire others. She has so many helpful articles on fitness motivation, personal development and amazing travel destinations all with fantastic photography. Go check out her beautiful blog here. Twitter: @amyold_

Vicki – Miss Vic LB

Aw what an adorable Christmas card from Vicki! Vicki is a Southampton blogger and runs a fantastic blog focusing on lifestyle, television, travel, food and animals at Miss Vic LB. Her two main hobbies are writing and video editing being a graduate in Television and Video production. Vicki loves going to new cities, watching British comedy, adores animals and good food. Check out her brilliant blog here. Twitter: @missviclb

Tiffany – Food and Other Loves

I love this amusing little Christmas card from from Tiffany, it’s so sweet! Tiffany is a lifestyle blogger with a love for baking and London who shares her thoughts at Food and Other Loves. Tiffany’s describes her blog as somewhere to talk about beauty, food, or something more personal to me, literally anything. There are plenty of delicious food related blogs and many other fun and interesting posts. Go check out her fantastic blog here. Twitter: @TiffanyRawling

Lisa’s Notebook

This is a great card from Lisa and it came with little dinosaurs wearing Christmas hats, what is better than that! Lisa has been a lovely blogging friend for a little while now and is always so kind and supportive. Lisa is from Bath and blogs at Lisa’s Notebook and shares a whole range of brilliant posts on beauty, blogging, books, family, garden, lifestyle, and reviews – there is really something for everyone! Lisa describes herself as a mum of one, concierge to 3 cats, a keen & clueless gardener, book & tea lover, and Plantagenet enthusiast. Check out her fabulous blog here. Twitter: @LisasNotebook

Becky – The Owlet

I am so lucky to have received so many awesome Christmas cards this year. This is such a nicely designed card from Becky. Becky is a Bristol / Birmingham plus size fashion & lifestyle blogger, YouTuber, photographer & radio presenter. Becky’s blog is called The Owlet – she describes herself as being owl obsessed, a photographer, wanderer and beauty addict. She posts everything from fashion to food with bits of my life thrown in for good measure. Check out her brilliant blog here! Twitter: @theowletblog

Lauren Ann Beauty

This is such a gorgeous card from Lauren! I love it!  Lauren is a Blogger and Designer from the UK who writes at Lauren Ann Beauty – a blog full of lifestyle, makeup and beauty posts. Lauren shares tons of brilliant beauty reviews and life updates all with fantastic photography. Check out her awesome blog here. Twitter: @laurenannbeauty

Thank you to everybody for all these fabulous cards! I have met so many new bloggers through this swap so thank you Katie for organizing this.  I will look forward to reading all your blogging adventures in 2018!

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Let me start this post by saying I have very little experience when it comes to baking, so even I surprised myself when I picked up a Gingerbread House Kit from Waitrose the other day. I was feeling inspired after reading Alys Homemade Vegan Gingerbread House Blogmas post so thought I would give my own a go. How hard could it be? Answer: harder than it looks but lots of fun too! Here is a my 10 step guide if you want to have a go yourself.

I brought all these ingredients as I pretty much wanted to put everything onto this gingerbread house.

Inside the gingerbread house kit you get:

2 x 60g of syrup

white chocolate buttons

gingerbread mix

icing

red chocolate buttons

Step 1: Make sure you have some butter as this is not included.

Step 2: Empty gingerbread mix into a bowl. So far so good. At this point I am thinking I may take up baking as a hobby.

Step 3: Add 80g of butter into a bowl with the 120g of syrup. If you don’t have scales like me, it’s all good. I just guesstimated what an eighth would look like out of the 500g butter tub. Yeah, I’m winning at this. Next, microwave the butter and syrup for 30 seconds.

Step 4: Mix together the warm butter and syrup into the gingerbread mix. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Step 5: Add a pinch of flour and roll out until gingerbread is 5 mm thick.

Step 6: In the kit there were templates to cut around to create 2 roofs and 2 sides plus a little door. Pop these onto grease proof paper read to bake.

Now go to the Co-Op because you realise you have never owned grease proof paper in your life.

Step 7: Pre-heat your oven to 180 and let your house cook for 10-15 minutes. Oops, I think I burnt my front door.

Step 8: Now, Waitrose tell you to heat up white chocolate milk buttons and use this as glue to stick your house together. Let me tell you now, white chocolate milk buttons (no matter how heated) do not stick houses together. I tried and failed and ran out of patience. Instead I just smothered my house in icing to create that snowy effect, hah.

Step 9: Now put in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to set but not too long as you want to stick your sweeties to it.

Also, this house should have had a door, but my dad came round and ate it.

Step 10: This is the fun part – the sweet eating and decorating! I think I brought too many treats, I couldn’t fit everything on. My poor little house was crumbling under the pressure of it all and nearly fell apart.

Now leave to set and enjoy! Have you made a gingerbread house this year? I’d love to see your creations! If you have a go, have fun and get creative!

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Christmas is such a fun and festive time of the year but things can get quite frantic too. There is just so much to do! Present buying, gift wrapping, writing cards, office parties, family get-togethers and making sure you haven’t forgotten to buy that turkey, to name a few! Oh yeah, not forgetting Blogmas! I dunno how you people do it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the festivities we forget to take time out for ourselves. Then we wonder why we feel stressed out and on-edge when we should just be enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. So, before you add another task onto your Christmas to-do list, here are some ideas on ways to stay calm at Christmas whilst getting everything done!

plan ahead – schedule in time to be productive and time to just relax.

brainstorm – make a list of everything you want to do and prioritize.

online shopping – avoid the crowds and have a one-click Christmas.

carry some blank Christmas cards – in case you forget someone last minute.

say no thanks – you don’t need to accept every invitation at Christmas.

go for a walk – fresh air and gentle exercise can do wonders for stress levels.

get creative – baking, art and Christmas crafts can be quite therapeutic.

pin it – Pinterest can be great for Christmas inspiration if you are feeling stuck.

treat yourself – why not book a massage or have a haircut for some real chill time.

play music – festive playlists, feel good classics, chill out tunes – Spotify has it all.

christmas calories don’t count – the gym is always there for you in the new year.

family fun – a pack of cards, board games and quizzes can keep everyone relaxed and entertained.

have a bath – a hot bubble bath with candles & some soothing music is simply blissful.

take a nap – a quick power nap can give you a refreshing energy boost.

write it down – journaling, keeping a diary, blogging can all help reduce stress and anxiety.

do yoga – however you feel, yoga can make you feel so much better afterwards.

digital detox – switch off your phone for a few hours and have some downtime.

buy extra sellotape – best Christmas advice ever.

don’t panic – the Co-Op opens again on Boxing Day, you won’t starve.

just enjoy yourself – it is the most wonderful time of the year, after all.

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