Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Food | Going Vegan With Vapiano

Last month I was invited to try the new vegan special menu at Vapiano in Manchester with one of my favourite people, Hannah (her blog is over here). I'd been to Vapiano once before back in April and I'd kept meaning to go back, so when the invitation landed in my inbox, I couldn't resist!

I need to set one thing straight firstly... and that is the fact that I am not vegan, but yes... we were trying the new vegan menu. When it comes to food, I'm all about trying new things, and recently I've been trying to cut down on the amount of meat I've been eating since a lot of my close friends are vegetarian, so I wanted to feel like I was doing my own bit. 

But back to the food...

Vapiano is a really innovative take on an Italian restaurant where you watch them cook the food right in front of you after picking your fresh pasta and toppings: I'm a massive fan of watching anyone make food, as long as it means I can eat it afterwards. 

I was emailed the vegan options, but as I'm a massive foodie, we obviously wanted to try one of the many starters first. After checking with the chefs, we started with a portion of olives (which if anyone is keeping track, I only started liking after turning 26...) and the bruschetta (with no cheese obviously) and a mojito, because what's a Monday night without a cocktail?

Next we opted for the Zuaa Caramellata, which was a creamy risotto rice with a homemade sauce of Hokkaido pumpkin, orange juice and coconut milk, with a hint of vegan white wine, ginger, sesame & lime and was absolutely delicious. I'm not sure whether I've ever had anything with pumpkin in it before, but I would hands-down chose it again! We also shared the Con Cipolle Balsamico vegan pizza, which had a homemade tomato sauce, with balsamic shallots, courgette, aubergine, fresh basil & rosemary, and although I did miss the cheese, it was gorgeous, and I would definitely have it again! We also shared the strawberry spinach salad with fresh spinach, strawberries, red onions, pine nuts and home-made raspberry maple dressing (and usually has goat's cheese).

When we'd finished the meal, we just assumed there were no vegan desserts as most of them had milk chocolate or cream in, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that they did have two options on the menu, but by this point we were almost out of the door - we'll definitely be back though in the near future to try them out! 

I would highly recommend Vapiano if you're looking for a different kind of meal in the city centre that is full of flavour, fresh ingredients, in a cool and relaxed setting, and I'm already dreaming about what I can have next time (probably something with cheese!) 

Visit their website here - Vapiano 

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Thank you to the lovely staff at Vapiano for treating us to a thoroughly enjoyable evening with complimentary food and drinks. 
All views are my own. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Let's Talk About Mental Health

If you are new to my blog, you might not know about my history with mental health. It's not something I like to openly talk about, but it is something that I have mentioned on here in the past. Last year I wrote this post about my anxiety at the time, and although things have changed, for better and worse, no two days are the same.

Mental Health as a whole is still quite a taboo subject, and although more and more people are admitting to being a sufferer (celebrities included) there is still so much that can be done to encourage people to take the steps they need. World Mental Health Day is a good start to raise awareness for people suffering in silence to get the help they deserve.

Since finishing Uni, I've found that a lot of people in the world of work shy away from talking about Mental Health because its seen as a difficult topic to approach: I've had managers who really didn't get it, team members who knew exactly what I was going through, colleagues who spoke openly to me about it and others that had no idea. All in all I've had a mixed bag of experiences.

To me, anxiety really is a funny one. It can creep up on you when you least expect it, or can be there day in and day out, which can be completely overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes things make it better, and sometimes things make it worse. It can encompass you as a whole making you feel like you can't escape, yet make you feel so empty inside.

Like I said, it's odd.

I've found that during my adult life my anxiety has been very up and down, not for any particular reason, but I almost feel as though because I have so many distractions - my job, my blog, my friends, my family, my relationship etc - I shouldn't have the time to feel anxious, yet I still do.

These last few months I have had a really bad time with anxiety attacks through what has happened in my personal life, and that has made me feel quite trapped in a vicious cycle of up and down emotions. Maybe if you met me now, you would never think I was an anxiety sufferer; perhaps thats a good thing? but it is something that I deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes it stops me from doing things; other times it gives me the kick I need to break out of my comfort zone... but it is always lurking there.

A lot of people I know aren't aware of the fact that I suffer from mental health issues (unless you have been reading my blog for over a year) which can sometimes make me feel as though they don't know the real me, the full package (but that's probably me overthinking it). I know in my day to day life I can be full of energy and raring to go, but other times I just want to stay away from everyone, which is the side a lot of people probably aren't aware of.

I've heard a lot of times that life is too short to feel anxious, and in a way, I do believe that's true especially if it stops you from living your life to the fullest. I won't lie and say that I live every day by that rule, but I know in my heart of hearts that there are people out there who are willing to help me and listen when I need them the most, pick me up when I'm down and I find real comfort in that. Some of my closest friends suffer from anxiety, and some don't, yet I know I could turn to any one of them for support and they would never judge.

I don't feel as though my life will ever be free of anxiety, and that's something that I've come to terms with (I'm sure a lot of people would agree) but I'm a firm believer that you should never suffer alone - life is hard enough as it is!

One thing I will say is although is there is no magic cure, and I can't click my fingers and make it go away, don't ever think your problems are meaningless and don't be afraid to open up.

Where to find help & answers;

Anxiety UK

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Beauty | My 5 New Makeup Faves Under £10

It's been a while since I've done a makeup post hasn't it? Well lets change that!

Makeup is one of those things. Most girls love it (most guys don't get it) but it's a big part of many girl's lives. I love reading beauty and makeup blogs and some of my favourite bloggers fall into this category, but it's one I find slightly harder to write than others. I would say I'm a bit of a beauty junkie - I'm by no means an expert, and most of the products I use are high-street ones, but I thought I would do this post as an update on some of my current favourites (all found in boots and all less than £10 FYI!)

1. Rimmel Scandaleyes Liquid Eyeliner - £5.49

I've been using up random liquid eyeliners that I have in my collection as I was a bit reluctant to buy one as I've never really been wowed by one. I went into boots a few weeks ago to have a bit of a nosey before I met a friend, and I found myself at the Rimmel counter. There was a good range of liquid eyeliners, but this one caught my eye as I preferred the tip of it. It was in between the thinnest and thickest ones and had a flat top instead of a tip so it's easy to angle when you're doing your flick.

2. Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation - £8.99

Sticking with the Rimmel vibe, I had to mention this foundation. I've always been a L'oreal girl as I found their Rose Ivory is the perfect shade for my see-through skin, but I've noticed that with the change in temperature recently, my skin was breaking out a little bit more, so I decided to opt for something that had a bit more coverage, yet wasn't really cakey. I tried a few on the back of my hand, and went for this one... I won't lie, the main reason was because it smells like watermelon! (How could I not?) but the coverage is really good, buildable and doesn't feel any heavier than what I'm used to.

3. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (Copenhagen) - £5.49

I really don't think you can go wrong with something that has been so highly recommended by the whole beauty blogger crowd for the last few months, especially when the price tag is only £5.49, which is a lot cheaper than some other matte lip creams on the market. I knew I would like this one as I've already got two more (Istanbul and Milan) but I wanted a more day time one, so opted for the shade Copenhagen (the strange thing was, I was also wearing a Copenhagen t-shirt I got from Primark...) I love this more natural shade, and I've constantly got it in my handbag. It stays on for most of the day, but the application is so quick and simple that you could easily do it without a mirror, especially because the colour is quite similar to my lips. 

4. Rimmel Cream Blusher (Majestic Pink) - £5.49

I needed a new blusher ever since I smashed my Benefit one on the floor back in July and have been trying my hardest to get anything out of it. I'd never tried a cream blusher before as I wasn't sure how they would apply on my skin, but this one is so simple, and the colour isn't too pink (which can be lethal with my skin tone) so an overall good purchase. I've been using my fingers to apply this as I prefer it to a beauty blender and it means I can use as much of the product as I need to, but also build it up. 

5. Rimmel Scandaleyes Mascara (Extreme Black) - £4.99 

I've used this mascara for years and it's always been a favourite. So why is this in your new beauty favourites you ask? Well recently Rimmel improved the formula of this mascara (and you can definitely tell) so technically I'm classing this as a new fave! At first I was like 'well if it ain't broke, don't fix it' (except less gangsta) but the team at Rimmel have done a great job with improving this already great mascara! This mascara has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember, and the colour is even more black than it used to be. A definite recommendation if you're after a new one. 

I hope you have enjoyed this beauty post, and I hope to start doing more of them! xx

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This post contains PR samples.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Learning To Unwind

I feel like recently I've become one of those people who finds it hard to take time for themselves in the week and really have some quality time to myself. I know it might not seem like a big deal at all, and in reality I like keeping busy, but there has to be something to be said for a weekend of relaxation. And as autumn draws closer, I feel like people will start to wind down a bit before the run up to Christmas.

Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to the beautiful Mottram Hall in Cheshire with Spaseekers for a day of leisure with a group of blogger girls. Being a lover of spa days in general, I of course said yes and tootled off for the day.

If you haven't heard of Mottram Hall, it is part of the Q Hotel chain and is about 20 minutes from South Manchester, or about 35 from the centre. It's nestled away in the beautiful little village of Mottram St. Andrew. As you drive up to it, you are welcomed with a beautiful tree lined and golf course, and a gorgeous Grade 2 listed building.

As I was pretty early (obviously) I had a little wander round the grounds as it was a really lovely sunny morning, and through the hotel. The reception, bar and one of the wedding suites were full of guests as there was also a wedding on that day, and the overall decor was a mixture of greys, silvers and light blues.

I was taken through to one of the meeting rooms, and met Sammy who was a representative from Net Booster, who had partnered with Spaseekers for the day. We had a chat over a glass of bucks fizz and waited for the other girls to arrive before been taken into a room to meet with Maria from 'Beautiful in Colour' who spoke to us about the types of colour we should be wearing for our skin tone and hair colour. I found out I was in between a fair and warm dominant, which meant that the colours that suited me best were navys, greys, browns and beige - nothing that I was wearing that day!

After the talk with Maria we had afternoon tea in the Carrington Grill, which was amazing. As someone who lives on sweet treats and cake, I find it hard to believe that this is only the second afternoon tea I have ever had, and as the picture shows, there was a good mixture of sweet and savoury, and it was delicious! I definitely need to go back again!

After afternoon tea we went back to the meeting room and had a makeup lesson from Chloe Johnson who showed us how to do a transitional day to evening look on one of the girls, and it was absolutely flawless. She used a mixture of high-street and higher end products, but the end result was gorgeous. Think a smokey eye with a gold tint and dewy, highlighted skin which looked amazing. I always love watching people have their makeup done, and this was no exception - Chloe was a true professional!

After the makeup lesson, the hotel manager gave us a guided tour of the hotel and the grounds. As I mentioned before, there was a wedding on that day, so one of the suites was made up for it and it looked beautiful. We were also shown the spa, pool, golf course and club house, all of which were lovely and made me really want to be a member of somewhere this posh over the local leisure centre any day!

After the tour and a couple more cakes that were left over from the afternoon tea, me and four of the others girls went to the pool for a jacuzzi and sauna. Outside they had a decked area with two thermal rooms called the Brechalbath and Stonebath, which were the only two in the country. The one that we opted for smelt of wood chips and wasn't overly warm which you would expect from a regular sauna, but it gradually increases your body temperature. We stayed in there for about 20 minutes just chatting as it turns out that the four of us were in a similar line of work.

After the sauna, it was time to go home back to reality. The theme of the day with unwinding with Spaseekers, and that I definitely did. It was lovely to be around like-minded girls who were just there to learn and relax with one another and I came away from the day feeling really tranquil and in good spirits. A few months ago I would never have gone to a blogging event by myself, especially when there was no one there who I knew either, so this was an accomplishment in itself, and it might not seem like a big deal, but I'm really proud of myself for doing it.

This whole experience gave me a fresh perspective of how important it is to take time away from our busy schedules and just sit back and relax. Whether thats in a spa, having a walk with your family or chilling at home for the night: You need to take time out for yourself.

Visit the hotel's website here.

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Thank you to Spaseekers for inviting me to this event. 
All views are my own. 
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