Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

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 - 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.


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.

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! 


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 dealt with loss, 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 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!

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?!

Not me!

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

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.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

What's Going On In My Head?!

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this blog for a while, which may explain why I have been a bit MIA recently… 
But back to the present day.
I have spoken in the past about suffering from high levels of anxiety on a day to day basis which I have accepted is part of my life. Some days it is worse than others, and some days I don’t notice it at all. One thing I have never spoken about it having panic attacks, mainly because they happened much more frequently when I was younger, but also because I still feel there is some stigma when people say they suffer from them, and that I might be making this up for attention or sympathy – which is not the case.
For me, living with anxiety is something I have learnt to do; however, when I have a panic attack, it feels as though the whole world is crashing down around me, and that I have lost control. When I was younger, I didn’t notice as much the feelings of anxiety, possibly because there were other teenage girl hormones swimming around my body, making it hard to differentiate the feeling of worry with the regular feelings of just being a normal teenager. Thinking back, this could have been the reason that my panic attacks were much more frequent back in the day (that makes me feel so old!) because I didn’t know how to deal with the levels of anxiety I was feeling, making an attack more common.
Nowadays I have my ways to get around them. If I’m feeling anxious, before I start to feel like I might have a panic attack, I try to distract myself, whether that’s painting my nails, going on my phone or writing. It helps me to focus on something new, and takes my mind off the feelings. I’ve found that if I draw attention to the anxiety it tends to get worse and could potentially turn into a panic attack where I feel like I am no longer in control, which wouldn’t be ideal if I was in work or out and about.
When I’ve been reading up on this area in the past, a term that I have come across is disembodiment, where you feel unreal or detached from your surroundings. Although it might seem quite farfetched, the only way I can describe this feeling is being unable to function in the way you are used to. For me, when I have a panic attack, I feel as though I am on a different physical level and I am looking down on myself and I can’t control how I am feeling or acting. I feel like the panic attack is at its worst when I am at the highest, and as I slowly come back down to reality, it begins to ease off. It might seem quite strange to read, but there is no other way I can describe it.
You may be wondering why I am writing this all down; well, my mind seems to clear better when I have something new to think about. Although I am talking about a very sensitive and personal subject, I don’t feel anxious writing this. I have been planning on writing this blog for a couple of weeks, but I haven’t found the time to really sit down and write about my feelings, mainly because I don’t want to overthink anything that could potentially turn into a panic attack, but also because I didn’t know how people would react to reading this.
One of the other reasons this blog was on my radar is because after not suffering from a panic attack for over a year, I had my first one a couple of Fridays ago. I wasn’t doing anything stressful, I hadn’t had a bad week at work, and I felt generally in good spirits; it was just a Friday night spent at home with my boyfriend, playing with the cat, then out of nowhere… BAM. It was a horrible experience for him as I haven’t had one since we have been together, but the only thing I could do was sit on the floor, stroke Simba, drink water and walk back and to from the kitchen to take my mind off it. One of the positive things I have read about panic and anxiety attacks is that usually the most they will last is 20 minutes; and although that can seem like a lifetime when it is happening to you, it is good to know there is an end in sight.
I can’t pinpoint when I started to have panic attacks, but I know my anxiety has become worse in recent years. Although this seems like a bad thing, it does mean I suffer less from panic attacks than when I was younger.
Until recently I never spoke openly about having anxiety or panic attacks. The fact of the matter is that until I opened up about the way I was feeling, I began to realise that I wasn’t alone. I remember when I went on a group holiday around 8 years ago during a time that my panic attacks were at their worst, I felt like I had to pre-warn my friend that I was suffering from them, which made me anxious about how he would react, but I was shocked to find out that he too suffered from them which is when it dawned on me that what I was feeling was completely normal. Although it probably doesn’t seem like a big step, to me it felt like a massive breakthrough.
Throughout college and University I still suffered from a high level of anxiety when it came to my work, friends and relationships. One of the times when I thought I would never get over my panic attacks was when my Granddad passed away in 2009. If you’ve read my other blog posts you will know that I went to University in Nottingham in the same year and absolutely hated it, which meant me moving back home only two months into the semester. I think the stress I was feeling about putting on weight, being in a different city and not fully being strong enough to live away from home all blew up in my face at once, and I felt I had no choice but to move back to Manchester.
Strangely enough, the day after I had my last panic attack, I saw that my auntie had posted this on Facebook. For next time I am feeling anxious or panicky, I am going to refer back to this. I felt compelled to pass this on, and hopefully it will help someone in the future. 

If anyone would like to know more then this website has a lot of information MIND


Thursday, 11 June 2015

When Did I Grow Up?

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs recently of people where people see themselves in 10 years time, and it really got me thinking about my life in the future and where I am right now.

Back up to the present day, I am 2 days away from turning 25; a quarter of a century old, coming to terms that my 18th was 7 years ago, and I will never have a proper summer holiday. I’ve written posts before about how I find it hard to balance be a responsible adult, and a carefree 20-something, and how different my life has panned out to how I pictured it.

When you think about it in the grand scheme of things, 25 isn’t old at all, but it’s hard to ignore the hype of social media where we find comparing our lives to those people we barely know our favourite past-time. We’ve grown up in a time where you it was frowned upon not to have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, making these sites a cornerstone in shaping the generation we are today. Sometimes there is nothing better then seeing where your old primary school pals are up to, and what girl your ex ended up with. But sometimes there is nothing worse. Growing up with these sites I find has sometimes been quite toxic to how I feel as a 20-something girl and I find myself constantly wondering whether other people’s lives are better than mine – is she thinner than me? Does she have a better job than me? She’s engaged, bought a house and has a baby, should I be doing those things? AND she’s two years younger than I am!

It’s easy to want what you don’t have, that’s just in our nature of being human. But step back a minute and think... When was the last time you posted on social media about the low points in your life? When you cried for no reason? Got shouted at at work or had an argument with your boyfriend? We sugar coat the things we put on social media to create the illusion that our lives are full of meals out, holidays and drinks with friends because no one wants to see us tucked up in bed with Netflix on a Friday night because you ran out of money weeks ago. Sometimes our lives are not as glamorous as others think!

Being 25 to me is exciting. It’s the next chapter of my life; the mid twenties. It’s the time where I will buy a house with my boyfriend and make it our family home. It’s the age where I am going to have a new addition to my family (not me for the record, although probably some point in the future!) It’s the age where I will see one of my best friends walk down the aisle and another have a baby. It’s the time where I will really feel like a proper adult.

As to where I see myself in 10 years, I can’t say for sure. 35 to me seems like a million miles away where I will have children, a house, and maybe even be living in a different city, but I can’t say for certain. There are things I hope to have achieved by this time in 10 years, but giving a definitive answer is too difficult. Do I hope to have made a small fortune, be my own boss, be writing for a living with a mansion, boat, 12 cars and money to burn… of course I do! But in realistic terms, the main thing I want from my life is to be happy.

I wouldn’t say this post is about me suffering from a quarter-life crisis, but it is the first time in a while where I have felt like a proper grown up. I made the choice to move back in with my parents to save for a deposit, try not to buy as many clothes as I used to and be as healthy as possible. Being an adult is by no means easy, and it takes a lot of adjustments, but starting new chapters is fun and exciting. There was no set time in which I thought I need to start acting more my age, but it has been a natural progression for a while. You may think this post makes me sounds old and boring, but for me being 25 is going to bring a whole new set of experiences and challenges, and I for one can't wait :)

Here’s to the future! x

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

To Pill Or Not To Pill??

I had no plans to write this blog, but I heard something on newsbeat today when I was driving home about a girl who had passed away from a blood clot, caused by her contraceptive pill, and it really got me thinking about how dangerous contraceptives can be, and how we are not always given the full story about what we are pumping our bodies with on a daily basis. The majority of us have probably taken the pill at some point in our life, and I'm sure generations will continue to take it after us, and I definitely haven't had an easy ride when it comes to contraceptives. 

I read this blog from Hannah Gale a few months back, and although I do not applaud her friends for ‘risking’ having a baby, I can see where they are coming from. When I first decided to go on the pill at 16, there were some risks that I had to come to terms with before I chose the one that is right for me. Without going into too much detail (I’m sure many of us know this anyway) there are two types of pills that a girl can take – the combined pill and the mini pill (progestogen-only). As there was a history of deep vein thrombosis in my family, I had to have a series of blood tests to see whether I could in fact have the combined pill with no complications at all, or whether it would make more sense to explore the other routes available. Whilst I waited to see what the doctor suggested, they put me on Noriday and see how my body reacted to it as I was also prone to migraines.
A few months later I went for my blood pressure and all round check-up and everything seemed to be as it should be so I carried on with the mini pill for a few more months (or so I remember, it was almost 9 years ago…. wow, old) As most of my friends were on Microgynon, I thought why not try it seen as they had told me at the doctors that I would not have any problems if I were to go on the combined pill, and hey two pregnancy stopping hormones are better than one! So I proceeded with the 'evil pill' as I now call it. For those who don’t know, Microgynon works by taking it daily for 3 weeks, and then having a ‘pill-free week’ where you get your period (sorry if you're reading this boys!). But I had problems with this pill as I was getting a migraine every time I had my ‘pill-free week’ and as it isn’t recommended to take more than three months’ worth of pills in a row, I then had to come off it.
Having tried two or three more combined pills (all of which gave me severe migraines) I decided to go back to square one with my trusted Noriday. By this point, I’m pretty sure my body hated me so much and carried on giving me migraines as a punishment for being so curious with my birth control in the first place… So I had some more blood tests, did some research, and decided to go down the road of long term solutions. By this point I was 19, and in my first year at Nottingham Trent and obviously not thinking of a baby any time soon. Although switching doctors was a bigger hassle than it needed to be, the staff at my new clinic were all lovely and really knew what they were talking about. After speaking to a nurse for about 45 minutes, she said the best thing for me would be the contraceptive injection. Boy was she wrong…
A couple of weeks after having my first injection (you were meant to have one every 12 weeks) I had put on about half a stone, and my hair was coming out in clumps. At the time I thought I was just over-eating as a coping mechanism for being unhappy at university, and that my hair was falling out because of stress and not having the best diet, but after moving home, and joining the gym, the weight just wouldn’t shift and my hair continued to shed (not my finest look…) For months I didn’t put two and two together that it could be my contraceptive that was giving me the problems – I wasn’t having migraines, so for the first time I thought my body was ready to forgive me! Then one day after work, I remember googling the name of the injection, Depo-Provera I believe, and there were so many forums of teenage girls, and girls in their early 20’s who had all had the same problems that I had which is when it finally clicked.
The next day I went to the doctors and told them about the problems I was having. By this point I had had about 3 injections, and although that may have not been enough time for my body to adjust to the new hormones swimming around my veins, they did believe that the hair loss and weight gain were due this. They sent me for some more blood tests to ensure this was the real reason, but they advised me not to have any more. The annoying thing about that was it took my body about another 8 weeks to get back to normal after the last injection had worn off. So all in all, I had more problems for just under a year, and what a year that was! 
Obviously, this whole blog post is related to me, and my body and health and it is important to remember that everyone is different. I know girls who have been on the combined pill for almost 10 years, and people who have never tried anything. It completely depends on what is right for you. Because of my history of migraines, and all the problems I had during my quest to find contraceptive, my nurse advised me to try a mirena coil (or IUS), which I won’t bore you with, but you can find more details here. Although the initial stage hurt like a b****, I have had no problems for over 4 years, which for someone with my past, was so god damn refreshing!
This post may have been an absolute overshare of my life, but I think it is important for young girls, actually girls of any age for that matter, to really know their family history and be aware of what they are pumping into their body. And if the pill isn’t right for you, there are definitely other options available. You just have to ask. Some doctors are reluctant to talk about other options because it costs the NHS more, and Microgynon is the cheaper alternative, but there are other options that don't involve a trip to your local GP.  
Although I was very lucky to be told early on about my family history of blood clots, I think it is important for girls to get blood tests before they take anything, just to make sure. Unfortunately there has been a young girl who has lost her life, and this has really opened my eyes to how beneficial it was to have my family behind me. Maybe some girls are right in hedging their bets in the baby making process to not take the pill. Could the risk be better than pumping our bodies full of chemicals that counteract the sole purpose of having sex in the first place? 
Every girl is completely different. Something that doesn't work for me, might be the best option for you. Remember, I am not a doctor! x

Friday, 17 April 2015

Spring has Sprung!

Apparently, I’ve chosen the one day in the last fortnight where it isn’t lovely and sunny and warm to write this blog, but hey, I’m going to go with it... plus by the time I post this, I bet the weather has turned! Good old England!!
One thing though,
Is anyone wondering where on earth this year has gone? Like really, how is it April? When did that happen?? Was March just a dream? ahhhhhh
I hope I’m not the only one!
One of the best things about this time of year is how much it feels like summer as soon as the temperature hits the 14 degree mark. There have even been a couple of days this month where I have *thought* about not wearing 100 denier tights, and bare my anemic, milk bottle legs, especially when my car exclaimed we were in the late teens/early 20’s…but then I remembered where I was… In Manchester; where the sun is misleading, and the wind chill *might* make your legs fall off after a bout of frostbite.
But in spite of all this, I even ventured out to a beer garden during the week, bought some daffodils (see above!) and have added some colour to my usual grey and black wardrobe.
So I’m ready for the temperatures to soar!
My April has been filled with food festivals, al-fresco fruity beer drinking, celebrating Simba’s first birthday, eating many an Easter egg and digging out my pastel nail varnishes. A part of me wants to go to the shops and find everything floral or with patterns of fruit on and spend spend spend, but I’m being good. I’m being responsible, and I’m attempting to be an adult!
Last weekend, after visiting the Great British Food Festival at Stonyhurst College (which by the way, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in England, and I’m super jealous of everyone who goes there because it is amazing, and vast and they have ducks and lakes and it’s so pretty!) but anyway… after going to the food festival midafternoon, we realised that we wouldn’t make it back home in time to watch the Grand National (not my issue FYI) so we sauntered off to the nearest town of Clitheroe. Having never been there before, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was lovely! We passed a couple of tea rooms, a fancy cocktail bar, loads of nice restaurants, and a William Hill (lol) where we made ourselves comfortable, with the locals, and proceeded to watch my horse win! Yay! So all in all, it was a good day :)
In the next couple of weeks (IF the weather stays as it is) I would love to go on some sort of picnic or a long country drive and visit more cute little towns because there’s so much of Britain that I haven’t seen. That also reminds me, on bank holiday Monday, I went to Llandudno, another place I have never been before, which again was gorgeous. Although, finding a parking space, in Wales, on a bank holiday, when it’s sunny, proved quite a challenge. So much so that we ended up driving to the top of Great Orme, by accident, where I’m pretty sure I almost had a panic attack seen as that hill is VERTICAL to drive up... But once we made it to the top in one piece we went for a little wander around the hills, in the sunshine, and I actually took my cardigan off! 
And I'm excited for tomorrow as I am getting together with all my friends, which might not seem like a big deal, but some of them have moved away, and this will be the first time that we have been together in over a year, so yay!! 
Hope everyone has a lovely weekend! :)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Food | 20 Signs You're a Self-Confessed Food Lover

1. You are constantly thinking about your next meal, and if you aren't, you're probably asleep

2. The majority of your wage goes on eating out 

3. You think it’s amusing when people get ‘full’ off the pre-starter bread

4. You don't really need to see the menu because you've rehearsed it from the restaurant's website in anticipation, but you take one to avoid embarrassment

5. You have a mild panic attack when people say that don't want a starter 

6. You have your Instagram filter already picked out before the food has even arrived 

7. You get exasperated if the waiter waits too long to give you the dessert menu 

8. Set menus are your best friend

9. 90% of your social media consists of arty pictures of food from different angles

10. You can’t go a couple of hours without some form of snack

11. Your perfect job would be a restaurant critic

12. You wish you were in some way related to Mary Berry

13. You spend most of your workday asking people what they have for lunch/dinner

14. You have no room in your drawers at work because they are full of food

15. The majority of your Sky box is full of MasterChef/Bake Off or anything featuring Jamie Oliver

16. You are attracted to anyone who can cook… regardless of gender

17. You die a little inside when people say that aren’t that bothered about food

18. You eat the bulk of your ingredients whilst you are cooking

19. You can't deal with slow eaters

20. You have more cookbooks than anyone else you know (not that you even use them...) 
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