Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Weekly Love #21


This week has been one of the most up and down ones of my life. It started off which such tragedy but ended with so much love.

It still gives me some faith in humanity, that even in the darkest of times, people still try to find the light.

1. The Mancunian Spirit

After the heartbreak I felt on Monday evening, I've managed to feel a bit more uplifted throughout the week seeing everyone from around the city I call home, come together in such a magnificent way. From the floral tributes to the poems, to the I Love MCR signs everywhere: It really made my heart warm knowing that even through such a terrible act, no one will every break the Northern spirit.

2. Wedding Rehearsal 

On Wednesday evening we had the rehearsal for my friend's wedding which happened over the weekend. I was so so nervous to walk down the aisle, so having a rehearsal really put my mind at rest that it wouldn't be so bad. We also got to see the bride and groom's parents and the church in general and it was a lovely way to spend the evening.

3. Dot 2 Dot Festival

On Friday afternoon, myself and a couple of friends went to Dot to Dot festival in Manchester. If you've never heard of it, it's basically loads of different acts dotted around Manchester at different bars and venues. We started off seeing Honeyblood at Albert Hall, followed by Liv Dawson at Band on the Wall, then Confidence Man at Mint Lounge and Growlers at Granada. It was such a fab day and something that is a really good idea to see bands you never usually would and venues you might not usually go to. My favourite were Confidence Man who put on an amazing show and were an electro 4-piece with crazy, awesome dance moves.

4. Wedding 

Obviously, the biggest highlight of the week (and year...) was watching two of my friends tie the knot on Saturday. The wedding was the most amazing and beautiful ceremony, and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it. I won't give too much away, as I'm sure they'll be loads of photos on Facebook coming up, but it was honestly one of the best days of my life. Wishing the happy couple all the love in the world.

5. Bank Holiday BBQ

To make the wedding celebrations last a bit longer, the Groom's parents threw a BBQ yesterday at their house, joint with a 60th birthday celebration for the Mother of the Groom. It was really nice to get back together with close friends and family and reminisce about the day before. We also got the chance to wish the happy couple the best time on their honeymoon.

xx

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Friday, 26 May 2017

You Ain't Ever Going To Burn My Heart Out


I chose to write this post after a few days reflecting on what happened in my home city of Manchester.

I'm sure you all know by now the atrocities that happened in the city on Monday evening and share with me a heavy heart knowing that something so horrible happened and so close to home.

I spent most of Monday night searching for updates on Twitter after hearing from my friend Hannah that she had just heard a bang from opposite her flat. At first, I prayed it was nothing serious; there were reports all over Twitter saying that a speaker had exploded at the Ariana Grande concert, but once I heard the word bomb, I couldn't sleep.

Throughout the night I was searching for updates, but because there were different outlets saying completely different things, it was hard to get the whole story until the morning. I always thought that Manchester would be spared from all the atrocities going on around the world; call me naive if you like.

Unfortunately for a lot of us, we have had to grow up in a time where terrorism is a real threat to our everyday lives and it's an unnerving thought. In the last few years, I can remember countless acts of everyday people losing their lives for doing nothing wrong, and it makes me so sad to think about.

I, for one, will never understand terrorism. It makes me sick to my stomach to know there are extremists out there who want innocent people to die, especially those with their whole life ahead of them.

If I'm being honest about how I feel about this whole thing, the only word I can think of is flat. It's made me feel so helpless and low that this kind of thing could happen a) in general b) to children who were enjoying their favourite artist and c) somewhere I have been many times, in an area I walked through not only 2 months ago.

I feel as though there is only one way to deal with things like this - live your life how you always have, be cautious where necessary, but enjoy your time on earth. It's scary to think that you'll never know when your time might be up, so don't spend it sweating the small stuff. Be thankful for all of the beautiful people around you who make you who you are and make your life so amazing.

In the last few days, I've been reading stories of heartache, agony, and loss, but also of undeniable courage, heroism and togetherness as we try to come to terms with what has happened to our great city. I have been so proud knowing that the city I call home, has such a beautiful spirit and incredible people who have all come together in a time of need.


"Manchester is a city, that thinks like a town, and feels like a village." 


If this last year has taught me anything it's that life is too short: It's too short to hold grudges, not appreciate everything you have, to worry about money, not to take that holiday you've been dreaming of, to be in a job you don't like.

Go and do the things that make you happy, because being happy should be your number 1 priority.

x




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Monday, 22 May 2017

Weekly Love #20


Back when I started this series, I always thought I might not keep it up because things get in the way each week and sometimes make it hard to sit down and write up a post.

Since buying a house, a lot of my time has been spent on that and the constant cleaning that comes with owning your own place - I mean really, how can two people and a cat make so much mess all the time?

I think what I'm trying to say here is though, even when life gets crazy hectic, I've always liked knowing I have these posts to look back on in the next few months/years later. It's become a sort of online diary and I'm hoping that people are enjoying reading them too.

I've also decided to use fewer images on these posts because when I look at my blog sometimes, I think there is too many, so, we'll see how long that lasts! If you're looking for visuals of anything I do in the week though, you can always have a look at my Instagram.

And after that strange little intro... here's what I was loving last week.

1. Liz Earle Cleanse And Polish 

Last week I mentioned I bought a few new bits in Boots, one of them being the Liz Earle 'Cleanse and Polish'. I've heard hundreds of beauty bloggers rave about this, and it wasn't until my skin had started to look a bit dull and lifeless that I actually thought I better invest in something. The girl working at the counter talked me through why it is good for you and the benefits of using it and even after a week, I am obsessed with the product. It smells so fresh and spa-like and already my skin is starting to look a bit better - definitely worth investing in. Shop here!


2. Nails

If you rewind back about 3 weeks, you'll remember me saying that I got my nails done with shellac for the first time. I was really impressed that I had them on for over 3 weeks and only one came off (because it chipped and I pulled it away...) So on Thursday, I treated myself to another set for the wedding I am a bridesmaid at on Saturday. I got a pale pink because it was the closest colour to my dress, and I love how girly it is! It definitely makes me feel like I have my life together more when I have my nails done.


3. Shoryu

On Friday evening, I was invited to try the restaurant Shoryu in Picadilly Gardens in Manchester. I had only heard good things about this place so I was really excited to give it a go. The restaurant is quite small but intimate, and I didn't feel as though I was cramped or anything (it probably helped that we sat by the window). I'm going to do a full blog review on it soon so keep an eye out for that. Visit the website here.


4. Beer Festival

On Saturday afternoon, a group of us went to the German Beer Festival in Manchester. We got there about halfway through the afternoon session and felt quite overwhelmed when everyone was already very very drunk around us. We had a few drinks then went back in for the evening session, which turned out to be a really good decision. The DJ was hilarious and had everyone dancing on the chairs and tables. Definitely, one I'll be going back to next year.


5. Catch Up's

On Friday afternoon after work, I met up with my friend Sarah for a quick coffee in Altrincham. She has just decided to go travelling for 8 months in July so I was very intrigued (albeit, very jealous) to hear all about her plans for that. We managed to also sit outside of a cute little cafe round the corner from my office called The Little Deli Company, which I also learnt is open till 9pm and does wine and cocktails, so I'll definitely be back!


6. Overnight Oats

This seems like quite a lame thing to put on a weekly love post; however, I love talking about food and therefore thought I might as well put it in! I've gotten into the habit of having porridge for my breakfast when I'm at work, but last week I was getting bored of always having the same thing, so to mix things up (and use up the natural yoghurt that was edging closer and closer to it's sell-by date) I decided to make some overnight oats.  I didn't really measure the portion properly and ended up making enough for 3 days, and it probably would have stretched to 4 if I didn't get so hungry in the morning. I used regular porridge oats and left them in yoghurt overnight (obviously...) and added in some blueberries. If you're after something a bit more substantial in the morning, I would definitely recommend!


7. One Week Countdown

On Saturday it was officially one week until two of my closest friends tie the knot. I'm already gearing myself up for a day of tears, love and dancing and I for one can't wait. It even looks like it will be the hottest day of the year so far as well!

xx

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Monday, 15 May 2017

Weekly Love #19


This week has felt like a bit of a blur if I'm honest. I, unfortunately, started the week off with a Migraine which saw me bed-bound for longer than I wanted and didn't put me in the best mood for the rest of the week.

But I survived and I'm here to tell the tale.

1. My First Five Guys

On Thursday evening, I met my friend Hannah after work for a catch up over some food. We couldn't decide on where to go and ended up walking and talking for a while until we stumbled across Five Guys. I've only ever heard people rave about Five Guys and I can see why. The burgers were double burgers, and although it is classed as a takeaway joint, the quality is definitely that of a restaurant, if not better. We both had double cheeseburgers and shared chips (because the portions were insanely large) and it was delicious. I will definitely be back! (Disclaimer - not my picture below, I inhaled it too fast...)



2. Cocktails In The City

On Friday evening, myself and a few friends went to the cocktails in the city event at Granda Studios in Manchester. I didn't know too much about the event going in, but it was basically some of the best bars in Manchester doing a pop-up, showcasing their most popular cocktails. There were all different kinds of cocktails from rum and gin based to whisky and vodka, and I think it's fair to say that we tried a large array of them. They also had two free drink tokens with the ticket, and different types of shots to try as well throughout the night.



3. New Stationary

I found myself wandering through Sainsbury's on Saturday evening and being drawn towards the stationary section. I always find that Sainsbury's have the best ranges when it comes to Christmas, Easter, and Summer compared to the other supermarkets and they have some really beautiful notebooks in all year round. I picked this one up for £2 and I already can't wait to start planning some more blogs and content.



4. At Home With Podcast

I ummed and ahhed about whether to put this in this week's post because there has only been one episode, but I enjoyed the first one so much that I thought why not. This podcast is done by two of my favourite bloggers and YouTubers, The Anna Edit and Lily Pebbles, and the first one featured the editor-in-chief of UK Glamour, Jo Elvin. Find it here.



5. New Book

I've fell a bit short recently of reading before bed because I've had a million other things on my mind, but thats not excuse. For the rest of this month, I am going to make it my mission to read as much as possible before my head hits the pillow because reading has a soothing effect on me. Over the weekend I started reading Emma Unsworth's 'Animals', and although I'm not that far through it, I am already really enjoying it. 



6. Date Night

On Saturday night, Jordan and I treated ourselves to a little date night to spend some quality time together after all of the manic-ness that comes with buying a house. We went to Love, Luck, Liquor and Burn in the Northern Quarter and shared tacos, burritos, a couple of starters and chips between us. I've been to the restaurant a few times and its one I recommend to people when they come to Manchester because the food is amazing and well priced.


xx

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Thursday, 11 May 2017

5 Places For A Summer Holiday


It's getting to that point in the year where the weather in the UK isn't playing ball and we start to look forward to a proper summer holiday.

I haven't been on a holiday longer than 3 days for a good 4 years because I have tried to pack city breaks into 20-something days annual leave, but this year, I quite fancy a bit of sun and chilling out by a pool.

After doing a bit of research about the best (and not the most expensive) places to go, I've rounded up my top 5 destinations.

1. Malta

Malta has always been one of those places that I've heard about from time to time, but never really had any interest in. I remember reading somewhere that they have over 300 days of sunshine a year, which, when you think about it, is a pretty good indication that you'll be getting good weather on your summer holiday: The capital, Valetta was also voted the sunniest in Europe and is the 'Capital of Culture' for 2018.

There are three Maltese islands - Malta, Gozo, and Comino - all of which boast crystal blue waters, UNESCO heritage sites and some of the best diving in the world (not that I've ever scuba dived in my life, but good if the mood struck me!) The food (which is always an important topic in my mind) has a Greek influence due to its position in the Mediterranean, but also focuses on rustic breads, meats and seafood, all of which I can get on board with.

I feel like Malta is one of those places that could maybe get overlooked because it is so close to the popular Greek islands, but, Sky Scanner voted Malta as their top destination for Summer holidays in 2017 - and you'd hope they know their stuff!



2. Croatia

Up until about 5 years ago, I had never heard of anyone holidaying in Croatia, and then all of a sudden it became the place to be - I'm guessing festivals like Hideout and Love International have put it on the map.

When I looked into holidaying in Croatia, it really caught me by surprise at how beautiful it was and how little time it took to get there (just over 2 hours). There are 3 main tourist destinations - Dubrovnik, the stoned-walled old town with a lively beach scene; Zagreb, the bustling capital city and Split, known for its beaches and Roman architecture. There is also the Plitvice lakes area, which is a forest featuring 16 lakes connected by waterfalls.

The flights are a bit all over the place when I looked, but averaged around £150 in June/July which I think is pretty good for that time of year. Also, with it not having the euro, it's cheaper when you are there - bonus!



3. Crete

Where else would you go as a blogger to get those incredible outfit shots against white-washed walls and blue-domed topped buildings then the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini, but as a trip there can be quite on the pricey side, I started to do my research on some of the more affordable destinations.

One of the islands that came up time and time again on my searches was Crete, and I can see why - crystal blue seas, incredible local food and tranquil sandy beaches - it was also the birthplace of Zeus if you're into your Greek mythology.

When I started looking at images of the island, I was really taken aback by how beautiful it was. I feel like it has a bit of a reputation as it's home to the party capital of Malia, a famous hotspot for the drunken underage, but if you're looking for a piece of Greek charm, then Crete should definitely be on your list (and if you're really desperate, you can do a day ferry to Santorini!)



4. Almafi Coast

Is there anywhere more beautiful in the world than Italy? In one word - no! Italy is one of my most favourite places to holiday for a city break, but the Almafi coast is somewhere I have never had the pleasure of visiting yet.

If the food isn't enough to immediately sway you, the Almafi coast is deemed by Unesco to be an outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape and it's easy to see why. And if you like to get out in the great outdoors, there are also some of the best hiking spots in Italy around the area.

The weather reaches early 30's throughout summer but is also very pleasant throughout spring and autumn if you were looking to go slightly more off season.



5. Cuba

If you're looking for something a bit more out-there, then you can't go wrong with Cuba. Cuba is one of those exotic places that has always massively appealed to me, mainly because it is so mysterious and the photos I've seen look picturesque.

I won't delve too much in the history of Cuba as we'll be here all day, but the colourful houses, incredible beaches and overall natural beauty should be enough to cure your wanderlust. If a change of culture is what you're after then you can't go wrong with a trip here.

And if the tropical climate doesn't immediately take your fancy, the Cuban capital, Havana is also the birthplace of the rum brand, so win win!



Where are you recommendations for a summer holiday? 

xx

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Monday, 8 May 2017

Weekly Love #18


This week felt like it has massively dragged, which is strange since we had Monday off work, but the weather made up for it, and made me pretty excited for the summer sunshine (if we get any).

1. Bank Holiday Monday

I love bank holiday Mondays because it feels chilled like a Sunday, but everyone seems a little bit happier knowing they're getting paid for having a day off. We spent this bank holiday having a lovely walk around Chorlton Water Park and then lunch at one of our favourite pubs, The Horse & Jockey. It was nice to get outside and have some fresh air after 3 weekends of going out and spending too much money, and the weather even played ball.



2. Sten Party

As my friend is getting married at the end of this month, we decided to have a joint do for her and her husband to be, where they first met. To make us even more cringey, everyone dressed in 90's clothes - it was our era after all! The costumes included Daphne from Scooby Do, Ash and Pikachu from Pokemon and Dexter from Dexter's lab (I played it safe with double denim and oversized shirt, all of which I already owned!)



3. Brunch

Brunch is definitely one of my favourite meals of the day, but is something I can only really enjoy on the weekend. I had arranged to meet one of my friends Charlotte at Rosylee on Saturday because we assumed it would be nice enough to sit outside (it wasn't, thanks Manchester...) If you've been reading my weekly love posts for a while, you'll remember that I went here for lunch on Easter Monday, because the food is gorgeous. We both went for the halloumi breakfast which consisted of chargrilled halloumi, two poaches eggs, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms (although I didn't have them because vom) and beans, which I've noticed aren't on the menu, odd... The portion was huge but I managed to finish it all and Charlotte's leftover halloumi (if that's even a thing) because she was feeling a little worse for wear... It was only £7 as well, which is a decent price for a brunch in the city centre for the amount of food!



4. Double Zero

On Saturday night we had one of our friends, Chloe, over for a takeaway evening. I'd heard amazing things about the pizzas at Double Zero in Chorlton, so I suggested getting a takeaway from there as it is less than 10 minutes from our house, plus there was no way in hell we would have got a table in there. We decided to share 2 pizzas between 3 (seen as we had already bought a sticky toffee pudding and 3 bags of sweets for dessert) and went for the Sisciliana (sausage, peppers and balsamic onions) and the Chorizo (chicken, chorizo and peppers). The pizzas were delicious and doughy, which is just how I like them!



5. Flowers

Because Chloe is an absolute babe, she bought us fresh flowers for the house when she came round. I've absolutely loved having flowers in the lounge and feel like they make that room look a lot more homey. It's encouraged me to keep flowers in the house, espeically now the weather is a bit brighter and sunnier - and I haven't managed to kill them yet which is always a bonus!



6. Sunny Sunday's

On Sunday the weather automatically lifted my mood and I felt happy and motivated all through the day. I'd arranged to meet up with my friend Jacinta (owner of Made In Cheshire) at The Garden in Hale. We sat outside in the sunshine and had a lovely long catch up over healthy banana and cacao smoothies. Definitely going to be more of a regular occurrence.



xx

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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review | The English Lounge


Last month I was invited to 'The English Lounge' in Manchester, to review their new menu. The restaurant is on High Street, on the edge of the Northern Quarter and has recently undergone a complete transformation making it a lighter, airier pub in a thriving district of Manchester.

I must have walked past The English Lounge a hundred times without ever being in before, so when I was invited down I was very intrigued at what it had to offer.

I'm not massively fussy when it comes to food, but I know that pubs sometimes don't have the best reputation for serving a stand-out meal (unless they're all poncy and class themselves as a 'gastro pub') but I'm always up for trying a new place.

When we walked inside, I was amazed at how busy it was downstairs in the bar area (I say amazed but it was 6pm on a bank holiday weekend...) When we moseyed in a little further, I definitely felt like we were the youngest couple in there - but what do you expect from a Manchester local?

When I noticed that no one was eating food downstairs (so inquisitive) we made our way up to the first floor where the whole atmosphere felt more relaxed and restaurant-like. We asked Phil at the bar if we were on a particular table, and he showed us to a reserved one by the window.

He was really attentive, offering to take our coats and bringing us the menus straight away. I had a pornstar martini (recommended by him) to drink, and Jordan went for an Estrella (which apparently was a good one because it was very fizzy... who knew eh?!)


I'd never usually pick a pornstar martini in a bar (mainly because they're usually the most expensive, and one of my worst hangovers was a result of too many) but this one was delicious and fruity and very easy drinking.

After a few minutes perusing the menu, Phil came back over to take our order (I won't lie... I had a cheeky look at the menu earlier in the day and knew pretty much exactly what I wanted) but I played it cool like a normal person...

For a starter we shared halloumi chilli bites (£4.75) and honey and balsamic chorizo (£5.75) both of which came on a wooden board with a side salad. The portions weren't huge, but they were enough to share, seen as I already knew I was having dessert. I noticed on the menu as well that you could share 3 of the starters for less than £11 which I would definitely do next time.



For a main, Jordan went extra fancy and got a sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce and chips, and I went for a pizza with steak and gorgonzola to try and match the fancy-ness. The pizza was definitely a take on a an artisan one, being all the rage at the moment, and was very enjoyable and for £9.75 was a reasonable price as well. I also tried a bit of the steak which was delicious - especially the sauce!



After another pornstar martini and beer, we moved on to dessert - as I mentioned, I already knew what I was having, and ordered the salted caramel chocolate fudge cake with ease. We opted for ice cream over cream (obvs) and shared it. I've had a lot of cakes in my time, and this was very good for a restaurant-standard dessert (opposed to something you'd get where they only serve cake).


Overall I really enjoyed The English Lounge - the atmosphere was good (maybe better for a slightly older crowd) the food was lovely and very well priced compared to walking 10m down the road into the Northern Quarter. I would recommend if you were out and about in Manchester already and maybe looking for a chilled place to get a decent meal.

xx

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Thank you to The English Lounge who treated us to a complimentary meal for 2. All views are my own. 
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Monday, 1 May 2017

Weekly Love #17



My body has no idea what day it is anymore after Easter weekend, having time off for my friend's hen do, and now another bank holiday - not that I'm complaining,  but at the moment I'm feeling overly tired and I'm quite looking forward to getting back into a routine.


1. Monday in Ibiza 

It feels like ages ago since I came back from Ibiza, but it's only been just over a week. The start of last week saw us wandering around the Old Town and having ice cream at Vivi's, which, if you're ever in Ibiza, is definitely worth a visit. We walked up to the cathedral and then back down via a couple of quirky bars before heading to the airport. The weather was definitely the hottest on this day and it was nice to see some more of the island.



2. Paul Mitchell #StandOutStyle

On Tuesday afternoon, I came home to Salon Success's latest parcel for me, which was the latest collection of Paul Mitchell hair care goodies, the Neon range. The products are all infused with sugar which makes them smell amazing! I've only managed to use the 'sugar confection' spray which gives your hair body and allows you to style it with ease.




3. Nails

On Wednesday evening I decided to randomly treat myself to having my nails done at Beauty Tonic on Burton Road in Didsbury. I went for gels in a pale blue colour and I absolutely love them. It's the first time I've ever had my nails done professionally and I can already tell I'm going to be hooked - I've already booked my next appointment in time for my friend's wedding!



4. Bank Holiday Weekend

What's better than having 3 days off work? Well spending it with great people is definitely up there. I had a great bank holiday weekend that started off with drinks on Friday night (that escalated quite quickly into too many cocktails) Saturday which was date day/night with my boyfriend, my best friend's birthday on Sunday and then relaxing in the sunshine on Monday after having a nice walk around our local park.



5. The English Lounge

On Saturday evening, I was invited to try out the new menu at The English Lounge on the edge of Manchester's Northern Quarter. I won't say too much about it because I'll be doing a whole post on it, but I was very impressed with the quality of the food. I think pubs sometimes get a bad reputation for having substandard food, but I really enjoyed my meal and the whole atmosphere.




6. Gousto 

If you haven't heard of Gousto before, it is a meal subscription service that provides you with the right amount of ingredients to make very interesting dishes that ordinarily you wouldn't think you could cook. When I was invited to try a box for free I jumped at the chance because I'm really trying to increase my cooking skills at the moment. I was asked to choose two meals and the date that it would be delivered so I went for hoisin spiced meatballs and Indonesian chicken rendang - both of which were delicious. Full review coming soon.



xx

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