Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Blog Hiatus

I just wanted to drop a quick little note to apologise for the lack of posts in December. I wrote a post not too long ago about how this year hasn't gone exactly to plan, and how I hoped the last two months would be better, and as a matter of fact they have, and my mood has been lifted.

I started writing a few blogs here and there with gift ideas, wish-lists and favourites, but I just didn't feel as though I was putting enough effort into the posts, and that I was just writing them to get something on my blog. I said to myself from the start that I don't want to ever post anything  I haven't really enjoyed writing because I feel it won't be genuine and the real me, and these last two months have been no different.

To give you a bit of an update, I have been enjoying all things Christmas, visiting markets, seeing old friends, and even fit a trip to York (obvs) and Harrogate in. I have had a really lovely time off work, and I am looking forward to spending the holidays with family and getting ready to see in the New Year.

I have lots of plans for my blog in 2016, including a bit of a design refresh, some guest posts, and maybe some beauty and fashion content. Overall I think it has been good for me to have a bit of time off to enjoy the last couple of months of the year, which everyone knows are my favourite, and I'm really excited to be excited about my blog and writing again in the future. I won't give anything away, but I hope that you will all come along for the ride!

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and New Year, and I'll see you again in January! :) x

Thursday, 3 December 2015

13 Ways to Make Yourself Instantly Happier

Because we can all do with a bit of guidance from time to time...

1) Breathe - I know, lol, what am I on about? But when was the last time you properly took time to concentrate on your breathing? Lie in a dark room and breathe deeply - in through the nose and out through the mouth, and concentrate on this. It sounds like nothing, but it can do you a world of wonders. And if you're really feeling it, try a yoga or pilates class, or whack on some chilled out music and let the mood take you away. When I posted earlier in the year about suffering from anxiety, I was recommended to try mindfulness techniques, and I found a really good app called 'Headspace' which has helped me to relax, focus on the positives, and meditate.

2) Take a bath - there's something that can be said for surrounding yourself in bubbles with your hair up, and maybe even a face mask. I never used to like sitting in a bath... I mean, what's relaxing about being surrounded by your own filth getting way too hot every 8 seconds? Well... everything really! I'm a complete bath convert. They give you a time to relax, some real 'you' time (unless you have a cat who hates any door being closed to him) and if you're feeling really fancy, try incense sticks, candles, or a bath bomb to heighten the bath-time experience. Lush! (Lol, get it?!)

3) Go for a walk - as a generation of social media addicts, it is sometimes easy to get wrapped up in refreshing Instagram every 2 minutes without moving for a good solid hour, but that's doing no one any good. When was the last time you put your phone away, and walked somewhere hey?  Well do! I absolutely love walking, especially in winter. I can be a very outdoorsy person when it comes to the least physical amount of effort as possible, so walking is perfect for me. And if you're lucky, you might even get a cute insta snap out of it for when you get home #bonus

4) Exercise - I know, I know, it's sometimes hard to motivate yourself to go to the gym, especially after a long day at work, but I find exercise instantly lifts my mood and gives me a sense of a job well done. And if you really can't face the gym, why not try a class? There's something about working out in a group that gives me a real sense of motivation and team spirit that you're all in it together. GIRL POWER!

5) Light a candle - for me, candles are an absolute game changer. I just love them. They instantly make me feel so much calmer and happier. And most of them smell divine too. Most supermarkets have their own versions of more expensive brands such as Jo Malone or Yankee candles, and these can be a great alternative, if you don't want to splash the cash.

6) Read - sounds like a simple one, but I sometimes find that once I get in bed, I can't be bothered to pick up a book and start concentrating on something new. Recently though, I have noticed that the nights I do read instead of trawling through twitter, I have had a much better nights sleep, because my mind is in the right state to go to bed, instead of looking at the bright light of my phone. And there is nothing better than the satisfaction of finishing a book!

7) Go to a garden centre - hear me out on this one. Garden centres may sound like the most boring place in the world, but in reality they're great! If the amazing homemade cakes and scones aren't enough to tickle your fancy, our local garden centre sells hot tubs (if you have a spare £12k lying around...) And that's not even it. Winter is the BEST time to visit garden centres because they get all their Christmas decorations in, which, if you're like me, means you started to stock up on baubles in September.

8) Netflix and chill - LOLLL not in that sense! But wrapping yourself in blankets with various selections of snacks and drinks (for me it's cheese, cheese and more cheese) with nowhere to go and no one to see, is probably one of the best and most relaxing situations you can be in. Pure bliss!

9) Bake - if you're like me, and you have a massive sweet tooth, dive deep into your cupboards and see what ingredients you have lying about. My favourite thing to make at the moment is flapjack, which is super easy, and it tastes amazing! So get in the kitchen and see what culinary delights you can create - bound to make you and your belly happy.

10) Arrange to see old friends - you know the ones I mean? The ones that you have to book in weeks in advance because you're all so busy being grown up and that? Even if the plans are weeks away, get them in the diary. Maybe you'll have dinner and drinks, or even just a chilled night in but having something girly and chilled to look forward to really lifts your mood

11) Sleep - sounds easy right? But it's not. Our everyday lives can really get in the way of us having a decent nights sleep. I've always been a light sleeper, so I do find this one hard (plus I have a tiny bladder). Getting a good nights sleep starts before you even get into bed - make sure there are no flickering lights in your bedroom, so cover wifi boxes, TV standby lights or any flickering plug sockets. Scientists say that the optimum amount of sleep we should have is between 7 and 9 hours, so put your phone away and get some shut eye. You body will thank you later.

12) Treat yourself - because why the flip not? You work hard for a living, and you deserve those new boots, that new perfume, or that weekend away you've been eyeing up. There's no reason to feel guilty about spending money on yourself once in a while.

13) Remember that you're only human - it's so easy to get bogged down in everyday life; why is she more successful than me, why is he earning more than me, why have they bought a house first etc. etc. but life is for living, and enjoying and making the most of it. Give yourself some slack when things don't go to plan, and don't beat yourself up that you're not where you thought you would be at this age. Time passes way too quickly, so don't waste it on negative thoughts and energy.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Fashion | The 12 things On My Winter Wish-list

As the temperatures have dropped, and we find ourselves in the midst of winter, I've starting searching for practical clothes that are going to keep me warm and dry on those freezing cold days, mixed with a few beauty buys, and home-ware. Also, because payday is less than a week away, I've also been thinking of the different things I want from Father Christmas. So lets begin!

1) I've been searching for the perfect fur coat (mid-length in black pour moi) for quite a while now, but because of my odd pear-shaped body, I find it hard to find coats that fit properly without drowning me. When it comes to fur coats as well I find myself looking like some sort of yeti, as they are usually quite a bit bulkier than normal parkas or trenches. The other day I was shopping in the Trinity centre in Leeds (amazing centre FYI if you even find yourselves on that side of the pennines) and I came across a lovely black one in Primark, but the fit just wasn't right, even though the price was much more attractive than other high-street shops. Bearing that in mind, I took to the internet and found this full length black coat with the addition of the faux fur on the body. I know this isn't exactly what I wanted, and with the price tag of £89, it's a little bit out of my range, but I love the fact that this is an elegant coat, mixed with the edginess of having the extra fur on it. Plus I think this would fit better than a full on fur coat for my body type.

2) Keeping on the trend of fur (and Topshop for that matter) I also came across this fur scarf when I was moseying about the internet, and I love it! (Or I guess I should say stole...) I don't really have much khaki in my wardrobe, but I feel this tonal look would go with a lot of different outfits. There's something about faux fur that I think really livens up an outfit, and gives it an elegant sort of flair. This Topshop one is £28, which isn't cheap, and to be honest you could probably find a less pricey version in Primark or H&M, but I think it's lovely :)

3) A combo that I find myself living in at the moment is skinny jeans and a bit jumper. It's an outfit that can be dressed up with statement jewellery and boots, but also works for a work day or chilling with friends. If you were wondering, my jeans of choice are Topshop Black Joni Jeans (obvs) and recently I have been loving the Boohoo, Annie oversized vintage jumper. I said before that I don't have much khaki in my wardrobe, and I really love the shade of this one, and for only £15, they are really good value!

(obviously it's winter and I wouldn't wear this with shorts... Odd styling there Boohoo)

4) So stepping away from fashion for the moment, I also had a look on the H&M home site, and was pleasantly surprised. Although I have never actually seen a home section in any H&M shops that I have been in, a lot of blogs that I read have only good things to say about the range. And everything is reasonably priced as well compared to other 'home' shops (Zara, I'm looking your way...) I found this cushion for £6.99 which I think is a good price for what I would call a statement cushion i.e. you wouldn't have more than one of these. Plus the message is kinda cute as well, although I'm not sure if this is supposed to relate solely to Christmas, but I kind of like it as an all year round mantra :)

5) Keeping with the theme of cushions, and this time a slightly more festive one, I found this beauty on the Asda home website. Not only is it a cat with a santa hat on and a big fancy bow, but it also looks like my little baby Simba, so obviously I adore it! One for all you cat cushion lovers out there; I know you exist! And this one was £8.

6) Another home website I had a nosey on was Next home, which was probably a mistake because I love everything and want to buy a house now so that all my rooms can look like a Next inspired show home, so that's nice... Anyway, with the up and coming festivities in mind, I found this Christmas bedding which might be for children, but you know, whose really keeping score? Not too bad as well for £15, although that is for a single... *cries*

7) Also, if Simba gets a say, I really think he'd like this, also from the Next home website, because it's such a hard life being a cat...

(Anyone else thinks this cat looks cross eyed?)

8) Without sounding too cliché, I had to throw one of my favourite Yankee candles into the mix for good measure, and my favourite winter scent definitely has to be Toasted Marshmallow yummm. Prices vary for Yankee candles, and you can find them in most supermarkets, as well as online, but I've found the cheapest place currently is Asda.

9) On that note, another Yankee Candle scent I have been loving at the moment is Vanilla Lime, which isn't very Christmassy I know, but it is amazing!

10) Yes I know I sound like a broken record, and I promise that I did look at other websites in preparation for writing this, but what can I say? I'm a Topshop girl through and through, and this pinafore is no different. I actually ordered a suede, navy one from New Look, thinking it would be perfect for work and winter in general, but when it arrived I was really disappointed in the fit and the fabric. After I sent it back, I decided I still really like the sort of 'schoolgirl-esque' look that a pinafore gives you, and I went on the hunt. Not only do I loveee the colour of this one, but it's also not too expensive for £39, seen as how versatile it is. It's cord as well, which isn't a material I have in my wardrobe, and comes in other colours.

11) Like every girl, I have been lusting over the Naked 3 palette recently, and can you blame me, I mean look at those colours!! Even the packaging is beautiful. I know all three are on the Urban Decay website for £38 but it is slightly cheaper on the Debenhams website and also Feel Unique.

12) Last but not least, I thought I would have to throw a scarf into the mix, and this beauty from New Look is my choice. For only £14.99 as well, I think it's reasonable for how warm and snuggly it looks. The good thing about grey, monochrome prints, is that they go with most outfits, which is handy when you need to rush out of the door, but need the extra warmth.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have writing it :) 


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Travel | My Love Affair With York

Last Friday, my boyfriend Jordan and I, decided we needed a little break from work, and took ourselves to York for the night. We had originally booked to go to a spa in Daresbury on a Groupon deal, but the hotel messed us about so much that we cancelled it. After umming and ahhing where to go that wasn’t too far away for an overnight stay, we landed on our old favourite, York. This year and last we went for my birthday and also visited last Christmas, and I fell in love with the city. I had been before with a friend, but hadn’t really explored the depth of what York had to offer, but since then I just can’t wait to get back.

York is one of those strange cities that is steeped in history, lined with gorgeous, longstanding buildings, and is famous for its amazing afternoon teas, but it also attracts stag and hen parties throughout summer, normally tying in to when the races are on. In November though we were lucky that it wasn’t too busy with Christmas shoppers or tourists, and there was not an L sign in sight.
When we visit York, I usually try to find a decent priced guesthouse, which I thought I had this time. We stayed in the Sycamore Guest house, about a 10 minute walk from the city, which was pleasant, but not worth the money, and I could definitely recommend nicer places to stay! The décor was slightly dated, and the bathroom was incredibly small (and the sink was in the room itself as it wouldn’t fit), but we didn’t let this dampen the stay.
We couldn’t check into the room when we first arrived (another downfall) so we went for a wander through the museum gardens and up into the city. We walked to the Shambles, and around the market there, back down past the shops and to one of our favourite pubs to play on the pub quiz machine. We were out for about an hour in all, and then we stopped off at the guesthouse to get changed, and headed out again! This time we wandered around the shops (I obviously bought two new dresses, some boots and a top) and stopped to get a festive drink from Costa, and cake. I opted for a sticky toffee latte which was lovely and Jordan had a white hot chocolate with raspberry sauce and whipped cream, both in robin cups! By the time we had finished, it was dark so we started to walk back to the guesthouse to get changed for dinner.
I had noticed on the walk back that there was a Turtle Bay that had opened since the last time we were there, so we went in to book a table for a couple of hours later. For those of you who don’t know what Turtle Bay is, they are a line of Caribbean restaurants, and the food is amazing (the menu is here) I’d only been once before to the one in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, but I loved it. Once we were changed, we headed back (me in my new boots and dress!) The restaurant itself was decorated with fairy lights, and was meant to look like Caribbean street vendors, mixed with different coloured seats, exposed brick walls and paintings of Bob Marley everywhere. I love anywhere that has fairy lights, so I thought it was amazing!! We started with the beef patty, with scotch bonnet mayo, which was a bit like a pasty with spicy beef mince in, but it was delicious. I opted for the jerk lamb and sweet potato fries, which I had last time I went, but it was so good I felt like I needed it again and Jordan went for the ribs. After a couple of pints of red stripes and cocktails, we decided to take the long way back to the hotel, and stopped off to get some sweet treats for the room.

A photo of the restaurant and me ruining people's meals in order to take said picture...

On the Saturday morning we had a full English breakfast at the hotel, which although nice, still didn't match the price we had paid (as you can tell this is a sore talking point!) After we checked out, we went for a stroll around the city, and stopped to get tea. The weather was dreary and drizzly to start with, but by the afternoon it was glorious sunshine, and we walk down the Shambles, and around the streets, and up the River Ouse before getting more tea, obvs. I also bought a kilogram of baklava because its a major love of mine. We went to Yo Sushi for lunch and had a final last look around the shops before parting with the beautiful city. 

I can't really describe why I love York so much, but we've already booked to go back at Christmas. I think one of the reasons is the mixture of the old and new and the quaint, cute little shops that are just very me - oh and they have an all round Christmas shop, next door to a cat shop, so y'know, I feel at home. I am 99% sure that at some point in my life I will live there! 

Here are a few pictures that I took from the mini-trip :) Enjoy! x


Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Blog Promise

(Yessss this is another chatty, feelings blog, but this one is different I promise!)

I’ve noticed that my last couple of blogs have been quite emotionally charged and intense, and I’m worried that people are getting the wrong image of me when I write these types of blogs and that I'm starting to sound like a broken record always talking about my feelings! I really wanted my blog to be a place that I shared my thoughts so girls realised we’re all a lot more similar than we think, but also a place to show the latest things I’ve bought, my favourite makeup looks, my beauty regime, my trips away, recipes, new things I love, places I visit, you get it, the whole shebang … and although I feel like there is a mixture, I think I can also plan what I say much better, so people enjoy reading my blog and don’t just assume it’s another depressing post about living with anxiety. So this is now a promise for the future of eleanorgraceful!

There is a lot more to me personality that sometimes I don’t think shine through when I write. Firstly, I am sarcastic about 97% of the time! Secondly, I am pretty much in love with my cat, and even though he shows me no affection whatsoever, his little face just instantly puts a smile on my face. Thirdly, I have a great set of people around me that make me more than happy, so much that it annoys me that I don’t tell them more, so HEY GUYS, I LOVE YA! And lastly, like most twenty-something girls, I have no idea where my life is going, but I’m in it for the long run!

I didn’t start my blog to be a self-help expert for not having enough confidence, suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, but instead to be a ‘real’ person, giving ‘real’ accounts of how those things do feel. alongside being a relatable girl. However, there is so much more to me than the little bits that I share on my blog, and I would hate people not to know that, and think that I feel down all of the time. I don’t write a blog to express my feelings, and although it does help from time to time, I write a blog because I love to write. I get to write a lot in my job, and I got to write a lot at university, and throughout school, but there is something completely rich and compelling about writing what you want to write, and how you feel, and what you think of music, or beauty products, or fashion, and having people agree with what you say. Not everyone is going to agree with me, and I know that, but sometimes it is nice to know there are people out there who feel the same as you, especially on emotive topics such as panic attacks and anxiety. So don't worry guys, you're not alone! 

The post I wrote on anxiety still sits up there with the most viewed on my blog, and it’s lovely to think that people are finding comfort in knowing that they are not alone, but I also feel as though this may have clouded my judgment on what to write in the future. I'm not saying I'll never write another post focusing on these things, but I also want to share with you all the things I love as well. I’ll be honest, the confidence blog wasn’t planned: It was something that came about after a meeting with my manager, and one that I just wrote and wrote and wrote without really thinking, and looking back, it’s pretty awful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a heartfelt post, and when I was writing it, there was so much more I wanted to say, but I also just wanted to post a blog, so I did!

The world of blogging is still completely new and exciting to me, even though I have been blogging for a couple of years. I read a lot of blogs from a whole host of different girls, talking about a million different things (side note, where all the boy bloggers at??! Come on lads!) and the blogging community really is amazing. There are so many lovely people out there who just want to lift you up and comment on your work about how great and meaningful it is, and how they have just found your blog, but they can’t wait to read more etc. etc. and it is this type of community that I really want to be a part of. There are still a lot of bloggers out there who talk about anxiety and how writing helps them express their feelings and focus on something when a bout of anxiety comes: I think there is a bit of an overlap there; but for me, I know I need to not focus on the negative parts of my life so much, and bring you with me on the adventure that is my life.

I’m starting to ramble now, but this post has already helped me feel a lot my upbeat and excited about all the things to come. I am not going to schedule posts, or even say particular days of the week that I am going to blog on; I am just going to go with the flow as they say. And if there is anything in particular that you would like to see, then by all means, let me know!

Here’s to the future kids, and all of the amazing, beautiful, terrifying experiences that are yet to come! x

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Where Does Confidence Come From?

Since I was younger, I've never thought of myself as being a confident person, despite what I know people think of me. I have always being plagued with anxiety and have sometimes felt very claustrophobic and shy when I meet new people, but I am aware that a lot of people think the complete opposite of me. To me, when you are growing up there are three types of confidence that you regularly have to come to terms with; they are, confidence in yourself as a person, basically meaning that you believe in yourself, and that  the decisions you are making are right; confidence with the opposite sex and being able to get to where you want to be with boys, whether for friendship or more, and lastly, body confidence - being confident in the skin that you're in.

When I think of young women and confidence, I know that we are sometimes slated for how much we let social media influence our lives, and ergo our confidence. We know that the people on Instagram or Twitter, and the celebrities we compare ourselves to aren't everyday women like you and me; they have personal trainers, make-up artists, chefs etc. that help them live the lifestyle of being in the public eye. But it doesn't stop us from thinking that they are better, or richer, or thinner, or more toned than us, which in turn decreases our confidence. What are we like eh?

When I was a teenager I was at an all girls school, which meant that I never really had much experience around the opposite sex. In fact, I even went to an all girls primary school, so I never really spend time around boys properly until I was about 13. I found that when I was meeting boys though, they weren't as hard to talk to as I once thought, and I have many friends now who are male that I am just as close to as female. Once I was able to break down this wall of anxiety around the opposite sex, I felt as though I could really be myself and enjoy the company of them. Don't get me wrong though, I still felt nervous and jittery from time to time, and I still don't 100% feel comfortable meeting new people, but that's just my personality, plus that's with either gender.

Throughout my life, I have also had problems with my weight. I've mentioned before that being on different forms of contraception massively influenced this, but overall I think that I have always felt as though I would be happier if I was thinner, which I know is an unhealthy attitude to have. I have noticed this much more in recent years since I have left university, and been in a relationship, which may seem like a strange time to be doubting your self image. I was looking through old photos the other day of me when I was around 19/20 at a club in Manchester wearing a spaghetti strap dress, no tights and quite a lot of questionable orange makeup, and I just couldn't believe it was me. If you know me, you'll know that 1) I absolutely hate my arms, and I don't think I have had them out in a good few years (quite possibly since that night) and 2) The thought of not wearing tights on a night out immediately fills me with dread. When I saw the picture I couldn't quite believe that I had managed to be so confident with the way I looked, even though I would have said I was slightly larger back then. I'm still not quite sure where all that confidence went, but it was nice to see that at one point in my life, I really didn't care what anybody else thought of me, and that is an attitude I want to get back.

This is a strange post to write because it might sound like I am saying that I really care what other people think of me, but that is not the case. It's a strange one being a girl: We do and don't care what others think of us at the same time, and in turn this makes us act the way we do, dress the way we do, and even sometimes create a persona and a completely new attitude towards life. In the past at work, I've felt that my true personality has never really shone through until recently. Although in myself I feel shy and anxious, people tend not to perceive me in this way because of the person they think I am, from the person I tend to portray. I build up and act more confident than I really am because I feel this is more attractive for a person and more accepted; but since I have been enjoying work more, and I have found a job that suits me I feel I can be myself and therefore be more confident.

Stay happy folks x


Sunday, 1 November 2015

What Goes On In A Twenty-Something's brain?

What a question! A question with too many answers to even quantify. What goes on in my brain, I can't even comprehend myself sometimes. I'm having one of those massively nostalgic afternoons, where I've decided to watch 90210, blog, and also listen to Backstreet Boys, it is a Sunday after all.

Although I'm always saying how fast time passes by, at the same time, this year seems to have dragged on enormously. 2015 has had it ups and downs for me, but overall, unfortunately this has been a very hard year for me and my family. We've had family losses, I've drifted away from some friends, I had a stint in hospital, and me and Jordan had to move out of our flat together because of a mould problem. But today is the start of November, which is my favourite part of the year. I love everything to do with Winter and Christmas, and I'm hoping this will get me out of the slump I seem to have fallen into.

Last night I was at one of my closest friend's engagement party (not mine, for all those on Facebook who were questioning it!) and it was a really special night. When I think of times like this, it does make me realise that although I may be going through a tough year myself, those around me are having a completely different time to me, and that's what makes me feel happy; to know I am a part of other people's happiness and to see my friends so content. And the groom's speech was so adorable!

Another two of my best friends also got engaged this year, and without sounding too soppy, it was so lovely to think that after 10 years together they will actually be getting married. It sounds strange, but I have know these two throughout their whole relationship, and I was so over the moon to hear that. So again, things like this have really helped me get through my tough times.

Don't get me wrong, I am generally a happy person, and I have a lot to look forward to next year. 2016 already seems to have a lot more prospects on the horizon; buying a house, going on a proper holiday and really settling down into my 'mid-twenties'. Christ, how old do I sound!

I've mentioned this before as well, but I also got a new addition to my family in October, who is the loveliest, cutest baby ever, little Elizabeth. And, Jordan got a new nephew this year too, who is also adorable, and babies always make me happy!

I'm not quite sure what I was trying to say with this blog, but I'm just hoping this last part of the year, my favourite part of the year, is filled with happy memories and genuine happiness after one of the hardest years of my life comes to an end. I'm already digging my Christmas jumpers out, making Christmas playlists, and planning where me and Jordan can celebrate our anniversary together.

And without wishing my life away, here's to a better year next year! As long as you love meeee (I hope you all get the Backstreet Boys reference or I don't think we can be friends...) x

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Travel | Dublin

Last month, myself and my friend Africa (yes that is her name) decided to take a trip to the beautiful Southern Irish capital of Dublin. We've been toying with the idea for a couple of years now but never found the right time, so when we found flights for a steal of £20, we booked them straight away. I'd been to Dublin once before when I was about 19, and I would definitely recommend going for a short city break.

After the flights came booking accommodation, which, if you have ever been to Dublin, is massively overpriced, so we settled on a room for 2 in a hostel on the North side of the river (this hostel, if you were interested). The hostel itself was in a good location, only a 15 minute walk to Temple Bar, had clean rooms, free breakfast (where they had cupcakes FYI) and it was a good price compared to the hotels, so definitely worth a look if you are thinking of a trip to Dublin.

We went on a Thursday morning, and our flight was at 7:50am, which for me is a good flight time... (when did I turn middle aged?!) but it gave us the whole day. We got on the bus and arrived at our hostel about 10.30am, which was slightly annoying as we couldn't check in till 2... but we left our stuff and proceeded to Primark, or Penney's as it is in Ireland, as my handbag broke on the flight!

After Penney's, we had a bit of a wander and came across the Leprechaun museum. I'd been recommended this place by someone from work, and we were just in time for the next tour, so we thought why not. It started off with a tour guide telling us the history of the Leprechaun, and then we moved into a room full of big furniture, to make ourselves feel like one. After this, there were a few more themed rooms that related to the history of Irish folklore, and then a gift shop, obvs. If I'm honest, I wouldn't rush back there, but it was quite cheap and interesting for killing some time.

After the museum, we walked to Temple Bar and went for some lunch at the nicest café, with the most amazing cakes. When we were sufficiently full of eggs and brownies, we walked to Trinity college, which is the main university of Dublin, and is absolutely gorgeous. I do have to say though that if I was at university there, I would be pretty annoyed with all of the tourists constantly walking around...

When we were finally allowed to check into our hostel later in the day, we got changed and headed out for a free walking tour of the North side of the city. The tour lasted about 90 minutes, and for something that was free, I would highly recommend it. The Facebook page is here and you just turn up at the right time.

After walking aimlessly around for quite a few hours now, visiting different bars and shops (the shopping in Dublin btw is amazing!) we went to a Turkish restaurant for some meze, which was delicious, followed by a visit to the Temple Bar pub, which was pretty overpriced if you ask me (but it did look cute with fairy lights outside, so I'll give them that!)

On the morning of the second day, we had breakfast at the hostel, and headed out to the Guinness factory. I'd visited the storehouse on my last visit to Dublin, but I really wanted to go again and I enjoyed it much more this time round. After the Guinness factory, we walked to the castle and had a nosey around there - FYI, not a proper castle, and not worth the money.

For dinner that night we went to a restaurant called Skinflint, after deciding that we both were craving pizza, and look! They were rectangles, which made them even more delicious! I went for Palma ham and leeks, which sounds strange but was in fact amazing. They also provided pots of honey which is supposed to bring the flavours out more when you drizzle it on (I can't say I tried this...)

On the last day, we did the other walking tour of the city (yes we are massive cheapskates) and this time it was the South side. For lunch we had the most amazing pancakes (mine was a New Yorker, with pastrami, emmental, gherkins and it was honestly the most amazing thing in the world and omggg so hungry). We had a final walk up to St Stephens Green where they were hosting a free concert in support of those with mental illness, and then back to the hostel.

I would definitely recommend Dublin if you were looking for a short city break, and to be honest, I wish I could have gone for longer. Dublin has this stigma of being very overpriced for a city that uses Euros, but I personally thought everything was quite reasonable, and who can complain at flights being £20??!

Just a few snaps from the trip...

Trinity College

Outside the Temple Bar pub in, you guessed it, Temple Bar!

On the Ha'penny bridge over the River Liffey

The most awkward photo I've ever seen of myself

In the 360 degree bar at the top of the Guinness Storehouse

No caption needed

The best pancake ever

The Dublin equivalent of Lovelock bridge <3


Thursday, 22 October 2015

The 24 Signs That You're Basically A Grown Up

I know right, when did that happen??

1) You own countless recipe books, a slow cooker and a basting dish. Sunday roast? Got it covered. 15 minute meal? Not a problem. Lemon drizzle cake? Come at me!

2) You actually care whats going into your body. More than 16.732% of my daily allowance of saturated fat? No, I don't think so.

3) You start buying Christmas presents in September. Girl gotta be prepared.

4) You understand the difference between variable and fixed term mortgages. Well, at least you think you do.

5) You know at least 3 people that are engaged, 2 that just bought a house, and 1 that's expecting, at any given time.

6) You start to get practical things for your birthday. A new iron? I love it!

7) Weekends are spend walking around Ikea, or the local park, instead of nursing a killer hangover.

8) Your job title doesn't have the words advisor, assistant or operator in it, and you're damn proud of it.

9) You have a joint account, savings account, Bond and an ISA, because you're not too shabby when it comes to this saving malarkey.

10) The cost of petrol is usually a sore talking point for you.

11) Your Pinterest account is basically just other people's home ideas, probably most of which you'll never accomplish anyway.

12) Your wardrobe mostly consists of 'work' outfits, that sometimes make good 'going out' outfits.

13) You've started to take an interest in current affairs; As long as it's on the Daily Mail website that is...

14) The thought of having children doesn't immediately fill you with a sense of panic.

15) You change into your comfy clothes, the minute you walk through the door. No shame.

16) The 'Home' version of any shop is your heaven. Hours can be spend in Zara home, Asda living or the posh bit of Next.

17) You've forgotten what it's like to do an all-nighter. WK what now? Is that a band?

18) Your skincare routine no longer consists of solely using Johnson's makeup wipes. Who knew you'd ever grow out of that phase?

19) You own more candles than there are rooms to put them in.

20) You start to get invited to more and more children's parties. But how do I know this many kids?!

21) You get a bit worried if you don't go to the toilet as often as you should be... but yesterday I was as regular as clockwork #sadface

22) Your bed has real-life scatter cushions on. Much to the distress of your boyfriend.

23) You judge everyone who doesn't wear a coat, tights and a scarf when it's below 18 degrees.

24) You plan your evening meals around whats in the freezer at the start of the week. Ain't nobody got time for that type of spontaneity.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

12 Of My Favourite Things About Autumn

This year we have had a pretty dismal summer; a mixture of clammy twenty-something days stuck in an office with maybe squeezing in the odd beer garden trip, but overall, there's been nothing to write home about or yano, write a blog about.

I can't say I'm a massive fan of summer. Being rather pale, with thighs on the larger side, means I usually shy away from having my legs out. Reluctantly though, sometimes you have no choice *sigh* and I have to sit with a cardigan over my legs for about 3 months. But then, well, Autumn comes along, and it is completely, 100% acceptable, to wear 100 denier tights without even giving it a second thought.

September and October have to be a couple of my favourite months in the year. You get the feeling that the longer, winter nights are drawing in, yet the late summer sunshine really makes an appearance, and it still manages to be quite warm outside. This year especially, I have really noticed how much better the weather has been since the 'official' summer is over, and how beautiful the Autumn sunshine really is bouncing off the beautiful reds and golds that you can't help but be mesmerised by.

Below are my favourite things about Autumn, which is fast becoming one of my favourite seasons...

1) It is acceptable to layer clothes. Recently, I have noticed that the skinny black jeans + jumper combo is a real winner. H&M have some great jumpers in at the moment, which aren't too thick, aren't too thin, and look great on their own, or paired with a shirt - but be warned, it takes approximately 5 years for H&M to delivery anything, so my advice would be to get them in store...

2) Hot drink season. Coffee shops seem to introduce some really amazing flavours for this time of year. Honeycomb hot chocolate? Hazelnut latte? Praline Mocha? Oh I don't mind if I do! Arteries shiver in horror... 

3) Dressing up for Halloween. Yes this may have been THE night to be seen when you were coming into your own at 6th form, and the night not to be missed in your freshers year, but there really is something fun about dressing up with all your friends. *Cue group pictures with guys dressed as tetris pieces*

4) Autumnal nail varnishes & berry lips. This trend has definitely been on every beauty blogger's radar and instagram for the last few weeks, but autumnal colours just really suit this time of year (I'm talking your reds, your greens, your navys...) I invested in a berry lipstick last year, but I can't say it's seen much action as of yet, but this is my year for experimenting with makeup. You heard it here first people, BRING IT ON!

5) Dark nights. Once it starts getting dark around 8pm, it seems so much more acceptable to stay in the house with no plans to leave whatsoever. I am a massive fan of cosy nights in, which seem so much better once the autumn months arrive. And it helps you to save money too... Bonus!

6) Bonfire night. Call me a child, but there is something really magical about seeing the sky light up with so many different colours, trailing through muddy fields in wellies, and the smell of slightly burnt BBQed sausages. And writing your name with sparklers. Obvs.

7) Dusting off the slow cooker. I'll admit, I never used or even owned a slow cooker until me and my boyfriend moved out last year, but there is something very comforting about coming home, knowing that your tea is already made, and it makes the house smell amazing.

8) Being able to eat any meal with mash.

9) Sundays. Going to the pub for a roast dinner instead of a fruity cider and being able to get dessert and not be judged. AND being able to sit inside instead of pretending its warm enough to only wear shorts. Oh its 10 degrees? I hadn't noticed my legs look like corned beef about to fall off lalala

10) Velvet and faux fur can happily make a comeback to our closets making us look like the elegant 20 somethings we most definitely are. Welcome back you beauties.

11) Blankets, blankets and more blankets. Blankets on the sofa. Blankets in the bedroom. Blankets in the kitchen (I kid, I kid) but you get the drift. I really like blankets.

12) Laughing at people who think they can be sober for a whole month. Give it a rest you guys, and go and run a 10k like a normal person.

I hope everyone is loving autumn as much as I am x

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Food | How to Make Banana Bread

I’ve decided to do something a little bit different on my blog today, and that is a baking tutorial… Is it a tutorial though? I’m not entirely sure. A baking guide lets say.
Anyway... It's the Bake off final tonight, so this is very fitting!
Recently I’ve been getting into baking more and more, as I love sweet things. As you may or may not know, I hate cooking, but love eating, but I find baking completely different and relaxing. With cooking I just get a bit impatient, whereas with baking I can take my time and create something delicious to have with a cup of tea :)
After toying with the idea for a while (you may have seen my search on twitter) I decided to make my own banana bread. I absolutely love the taste of bananas, and always end up buying too many on our weekly shop, which means that I have at least a couple left over each week getting browner and browner in the fruit bowl. About a month ago, I decided that I would attempt to make banana bread for the first time, to make sure they didn’t go to waste yet again.
I chose to go with Mary Berry's banana loaf from her baking bible. The recipe can also be found here. I chose to go with Mary Berry as I feel you can't go wrong with a Berry recipe and obviously she is queen. The loaf needs to go in the oven for around 50 minutes, and it takes about 15-20 mins to prep. 
The ingredients you need are as follows;
100g Softened Butter
175g Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
225g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tbsp. Milk

So let's begin!
(FYI if you can see any strange shapes when I take the pictures on my phone, it is my cat phone cover which has ears, obvs)...
1) Preheat your over to 180C / Fan 160C. (I still to this day don't know which one my oven is...)

2) Weigh out your 100g of butter (or 101g if you're me) and pop into a bowl. I still need to invest in a proper mixing bowl as you can see I am using our old fruit bowl... I tend to use Stork butter when baking as I feel like it mixes better and is a little bit creamier, but any butter will do. I only really discovered Stork by accident when my boyfriend bought it by accident...

3) Once you've measured out your butter, add in your 175g of caster sugar, and 2 eggs and mix together. If you're lucky enough to have an electric mixer or whisk then feel free to use that, but unfortunately, I have to rely on good old elbow grease.

4) After your mixture has become much smoother, add in your 225g of self raising flour. I tend to do this bit by bit, mixing in as I go, and as you can see from the picture, it begins to look a bit like scrambled eggs. I add the 2 tablespoons of milk in at this point, to make it a smoother mixture, and then the baking powder.

5) Now to add the bananas. If you're not lazy like me then you can use a fork to mash them, but make sure they are nice and ripe, so brown in other words. If you like to take the easy route, then use a blender to do this. As you can see my nutribullet makes a nice smooth mixture.

6) Add the blended banana into the mixture, and mix in until nice and smooth. 

7) Grease a 2lb loaf tin with butter and pour the mixture in. Use a spatula to make sure you get it all out, and to level it off.

8) Pop in the over for around 40-50 minutes. The recipe that I linked says an hour, but I've found that a knife comes out clean, after around 45 minutes, but adjust the time until you are satisfied that it is cooked on the inside. Nobody wants to be ill after eating raw bananas!

9) Leave the loaf to cool as you will be unable to slice it when it is still warm.

10) Enjoy your banana bread with a cup of tea! Yummy yummy!

P.S. The banana bread still tastes amazing up to 3 days later, so enjoy :) x


Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Tribute To My Granddad

People express themselves in different ways when they are dealing with grief. I have decided to write this poem to hopefully bring comfort to myself and my family, and anyone else who may also be going through a tough time. 

Missing you every day x

What is a Granddad?

A Granddad is the someone,
The someone close to heart,
The greatest family member,
Whose been there from the start.

A Granddad is the best of friends,
Who always took your side,
He'd always smile and make you laugh,
When you'd really want to hide.

He's been there as you're growing up,
He held you from day one,
He squeezed you hand when you were scared,
He was the sun that shone.

He made your nan so happy,
A special kind of love,
He adored his family, oh so much,
And is watching from above.

His family meant to world to him,
It's how he made us feel,
We'll stay together, always close,
To help our hearts to heal.

He may not be here anymore,
But in the sky you'll see,
The stars that shine from way up high,
And I'll know that they're for me.

We'll miss you every day Granddad,
You're always in our thoughts,
We know how much you loved us all,
And will forevermore.

And really you're still with us,
Not in body, but in soul,
You'll hold our hands through good and bad,
To keep our family whole.

So really what's a Granddad?
There is no one true way,
To describe the love, that we felt,
On every single day.

So as we say our goodbyes here,
One day again we'll meet,
So keep it warm up there for us,
And keep our hearts complete.

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