Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

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

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