Wednesday, 26 July 2017

How to be confident on dates

How to be confident on dates

Dates can be an intimidating social setting, let’s be honest. Especially if you’re new to the dating game or recently single, the thought of putting yourself in an environment with a stranger is a really big deal and totally out of the ordinary. When I first started dating, I was not confident with it, at all. If someone suggested a bar I didn’t like, I wasn’t the type of girl who would suggest an alternative and I didn’t feel confident enough in my own voice to share alternate opinions. And you know what? That sucks. It’s not a great place to be as if you land a second date, it will only continue.

Dating confidence for me, came with practice, but here are the things I wish I’d known when I first started dating.

Pick your setting carefully
If you’re arranging to go out and you’re feeling apprehensive, get in there first with a location suggestion. It makes you appear confident and proactive, plus you can choose somewhere familiar – perhaps a local pub where you know the bar staff or the cafe where the barista knows you by name. Being somewhere that you’re comfortable in will put you at ease. I wish I’d known this before I spent a first date in Yates – sticky floors and being surrounded by hen parties is not the date atmosphere anyone needs.

Spend time getting to know your date
If you want to talk to someone for three days or three weeks, that’s entirely up to you. The right person will understand that meeting a stranger obviously comes with risks and they will want you to feel as happy as possible in their company, so won’t mind having a chat on the phone prior to meeting.

Choose the right outfit
Taking yourself entirely out of your social comfort zone is tough, so don’t make it worse by wearing something you’re not 100% in. As I’m fairly casual at the best of times, I tend to go for skinny jeans, flats and a nice top (if I’m feeling particularly wild, I might even go for something that isn’t stripy), but wearing whatever you feel best in will really show.

Have an idea of what to talk about
I wrote a post here about dating conversation starters, but having a couple of things to ask them about will mean you can keep the conversation flowing and also put them at ease. This should be a two way street but if they’re feeling as nervous as you are, there could be some awkward pauses.

Fake it
Yeah, I know, we shouldn’t be bullshitting completely on first dates and I wouldn’t recommend making up an entirely new personality like you might when you get hit on by a creep on a night out (other people do that too, right? RIGHT?!), but faking confidence can make it come more naturally to you. Even little things like recommending a drink, proactively complimenting your date’s outfit or aftershave or being the first to start the conversation all make you come across as confident even if you don’t feel it on the inside.

So, they’re my tips to feeling confident on a first date – what do you think? Are there any tips you’d add to that list? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 24 July 2017

New glasses with Glassesshop

Glassesshop Glasses Review

Glasses Girl gets new glasses... what can I say, I’m a sucker for new frames every single time!

Glassesshop got in touch and offered me a pair of frames to review and I decided that it was time to go for something a little different. My usual go-to frames are either cat eye or wayfarer shapes, but I’ve had my eye on a pair of Ray Ban Havanas for a while, but Glassesshop had a similar style which immediately caught my eye – plus they come in at a fraction of the price of designer frames.

The ones I chose are actually from the mens section but I didn’t think they were particularly masculine – they’re definitely more of a unisex style – but because of this they were a wider frame, which is perfect for my abnormally large head. No joke, the struggle is real. I’ve walked into opticians being prepared to drop hundreds of pounds on designer frames and most of them don’t fit as apparently they’re designed for pea-heads. Luckily for me, these were big enough to look a little oversized even on me – which is just how I like my glasses.

Glassesshop Glasses Review

Getting the right glasses is so important to me as it’s such a massive part of my identity now, not only because of my blog, but because I’ve worn them for nearly 20 years and I wear them from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. As contacts aren’t my bag (and no lasers will be going near my eyeballs thank you very much, I haven’t spent four years building a blog called Glasses Girl to have corrective surgery), it’s important for me to have glasses which work for me.

I have frames which are suited to going out, work and these ones in particular are a little more stylish and on trend than my other glasses, so I’d be more inclined to wear a more makeup than usual with these. Eyeglasses entirely shape your face and change your look, so it’s almost like having a dramatic hair cut or wearing a bright red lip when you usually stick to nudes – it’s important to get it right, know what suits you and feel confident in your look. My glasses wardrobe is now so extensive that I can match my glasses to my mood – having seven pairs in my current prescription, including prescription sunglasses, isn’t that excessive is it? Is it? Yeah, it is, isn’t it. Oops.

Buying eyeglasses online makes my life so much easier, mainly as I’ve now done it enough times to know what will and won’t fit my face, as I’ve checked all of the measurements of my existing pairs. I’ve now tried on so many pairs of glasses that I can confidently order them knowing what will suit me and what I’ll love.

Are you a glasses-wearer? Do you stick to the same pair every day? If so, it’s time to start shopping!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Food and gal time at Joe’s Kitchen, York

Joe’s Kitchen, York
Joe's Kitchen, York Gin and Tonic

Going home for the weekend, even though it’s only a 20 minute train for me, has started to become an occasion as I’m so ridiculously busy at the moment. I was invited to review Joe’s Kitchen in York and invited my lovely friend Lorna along with me so we could spend the afternoon catching up over some delicious food and a G&T. She’s the perfect dinner date as she fully understands the need to get a good photo! I’ve actually been to Joe’s Kitchen before, just by chance, for dinner with my mum not long back so I already knew I was in for a treat. We were there to not only enjoy lunch but also try their summer G&T menu – which is the perfect combination, right?

The G&Ts we chose were served in giant goblet G&T glasses and tasted as good as they looked. Lorna had the Sipsmith’s gin with Earl Grey and lemon, whereas I went for the Portobello Road with grapefruit and fennel seeds – though as they’d run out of grapefruit, mine came with orange and I actually prefer that anyway. Their G&Ts are £6.95 which I think is a really great price for a city centre, especially when they’re special recipes for each type of gin.

We had such a perfect afternoon catching up about Lorna’s boyfriend, my lack of boyfriend, work, gossip and generally deep life chats. I’m lucky to have a friend like her as we can easily go months without seeing each other and then when we do, we just pick up where we left off, usually accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol. It was so lovely to be able to just sit in a restaurant, not feel at all rushed, especially as we were sat by a window in the sunshine. It’s essentially the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a G&T and some delicious food.

We went all out and had three courses (as why the hell not). I started with avocado and tomato on sourdough toast and Lorna has chicken goujons. Both were delicious, and I particularly enjoyed having a taste of something brunch-y as part of my meal as we all know how much I adore brunch. What can I say? My love of avocado on toast is up there with any other blogger.

Joe's Kitchen, York avocado on sourdough starter

Joe's Kitchen, York chicken goujon starter

For mains, I chose a pulled pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato croquettes and Lorna had lamb skewers. We also got a side of slaw to share. I really struggled to choose something as there is so much on the menu – it’s definitely a place to go if you have fussy eaters as there is something for everyone, and it’s so much more than your standard pub food menu too, as there are lots of lighter options. I really enjoyed my sandwich as pulled pork is always my favourite, and the sweet potato croquettes were to die for – I’ve never seen them on a menu before and they definitely need to be the new ‘it’ thing in restaurants. Lorna picked lamb skewers as it’s something a bit different and also really enjoyed them.

Joe's Kitchen, York pulled pork sandwich

Joe's Kitchen, York lamb skewer

Joe's Kitchen, York slaw

We couldn’t say no to dessert and I chose the chocolate brownie (standard!) and Lorna chose the waffle with cherry compote and icecream. I’m a total chocolate fiend and always go for brownie and I wasn’t disappointed with my choice. Lorna’s looked absolutely incredible too – we were definitely impressed by the desserts.

Joe's Kitchen, York chocolate brownie

Joe's Kitchen, York waffle dessert

Overall, I was definitely impressed by Joe’s Kitchen and will no doubt be heading back there again – it’s somewhere I’d recommend going as it’s right near all of the shops, the food is great, the staff are lovely and the prices are reasonable. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Leeds Gin Festival

Leeds Gin Festival
Leeds Gin Festival

I’m all about afternoon drinks in the sun right now. It could be the (occasionally) balmy weather or the fact that at the grand old age of 25 I’m no longer a nightclub kinda gal, but I’m 100% down and afternoon tipple or two in the sunshine. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than heading to a bar for a post-roast beverage or two on a Sunday only for the music to be blaring at 3pm. I don’t mean to be an absolute grandma (actually, yes, yes I do), but surely nobody wants to pay for the privilege of sitting in silence as you’re not drunk enough to dance off your foodbaby and it’s too loud to have a chat.

And this is why outdoor drinking in a somewhat civilised environment is more my jam. I headed to the Gin Festival at Leeds Town Hall recently and it was hands down one of the best afternoons I’ve had in absolutely ages. The drinks were great, the location was perfect, the weather was sunny and best of all, the company was on point, as I took Laura along with me.

We headed in, clutching our giant gin goblets (not the technical term), ready to decide which drinks to sample. Gin and tonic has been growing on me ever since I found the right tonic (always Fevertree, never Schweppes), as it’s such a summery drink and a great alternative to a cocktail. Despite this, we headed straight to the classic cocktail bar anyway to pick up some drinks then head outside to soak up the Sunday afternoon sunshine. It wasn’t long before our drinks went entirely to our heads in the giddy, giggly way and we ended up having the best afternoon together.

Leeds Gin Festival

What I really love about events like this is how chilled they are. When the drinks are so reasonably priced (£5 for a G&T, £10 for a cocktail), it’s easy to see how you could spend an entire afternoon there. There are workshops going on and a lot of gin history chat but we decided to skip that as I’ve done a few gin tastings in the past and it’s now the only story from history that I can recall at a moment’s notice – including when I recited it to my mum in the pub. I like to think she was impressed (she wasn’t). Whilst there are some excellent bars in Leeds which have a whole load of gin, it’s not the same as having them all lining an entire town hall, with a whole load of experts in one place at one time.

Leeds Gin Festival

All in all, it was definitely an afternoon well spent, partly for the thinks but mainly for the company as there’s nothing like having life chats over a cocktail on a sunny afternoon – and Laura gives excellent life advice, I’d definitely recommend hitting her up for a drink (or three). 


Monday, 17 July 2017

Dinner with Carluccios, York

Carluccios York Exterior

Italian food is definitely in my top three cuisines so I want absolutely over the moon when Carluccios opened in York and I was invited to the 80th birthday of Antonio Carluccio himself plus had the opportunity to go back for dinner. Carluccios has just opened on St Helen’s Square in the old Terrys building and I love that despite being part of a restaurant chain, it feels entirely unique due to the beautiful architecture and surroundings.

I took my mum along to both Antonio’s party and for dinner as she’s a long-time fan of the restaurant due to it’s gluten free offerings. On the night of the party, we sipped prosecco, ate a whole load of anti pasti and met the man himself – he was absolutely lovely, taking time to speak to everyone in the room.

Carluccios York Antonio Carluccio

Carluccios York Antonio Carluccio

I really enjoyed heading back over to York to experience the restaurant on a normal Thursday evening too. We went all out with three courses (as YOLO on a Thursday) and I started with Aranchini, and mum went for the pate with gluten free bread. I absolutely love Aranchini and the two balls were stuffed with cheese, vegetables and pesto – so unbelievably delicious. Mum really enjoyed the pate too and it’s great that they could replace the bread for a gluten free alternative easily as we’ve been out to other restaurants where she’s ended up with salad instead which isn’t quite the same.

Carluccios York Aranchini

Carluccios York Pate Starter

For mains, I had lasagne which is another one of my absolute favourite foods (are we sensing a theme that cheesy carbs are the way to my heart) and it was really flavoursome. Mum decided to go for the chicken saltimbocca which is chicken in a white wine sauce, served with roasted potatoes, and she also got a side of green beans. Her main was also impressive and having tried the chicken, definitely something I’d have when I go back as it was cooked perfectly. The menu is extensive and it’s the type of place which caters for all tastes, unlike a lot of Italians which focus heavily on pizza and pasta.

Carluccios York Lasagne

Carluccios York Chicken

We couldn’t say no to dessert, and I chose two scoops of gelato – vanilla and bitter chocolate, both of which tasted home made (just like the icecream my mum makes actually). I love that as it was so rich, a little goes a long way and it finished the meal off perfectly for me. Mum decided to have sorbet in lemon and mandarin, both of which were really fresh and light. I’ve never been a big icecream fan as unless it’s proper Italian gelato, it’s just never as good, but at Carluccios it’s the absolute one.

Carluccios York gelato

Carluccios York sorbet

After my trip to Carluccios, it’s just made me desperate to go to Italy and spend a week there eating and drinking. I’d really recommend Carluccios as a chain, but I’d recommend the York restaurant even more as the location makes it the perfect destination for dinner and drinks.

Have you ever been to Carluccios? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Being an introverted extrovert

pink peonie

Some people think you’re either an introvert or an extrovert, but actually, I think I might be both. Over the last few years, I’ve really struggled with thinking that I’m just not a people person. If you met me at a blogger event, at work or at a social event, you’d think I was the chattiest person in the world, but what you don’t see is that need to go home and recover. Recover sounds pretty dramatic doesn’t it? But that’s honestly what it’s like for me. If I have a few weeks where I’m at work Monday – Friday and have packed weekends, I begin to feel a bit suffocated and an overwhelming desire to be by myself. It’s the need for headspace that I start to crave.

I thought this was just me. But a chance conversation with a good friend revealed that she was the same. We discussed how we struggled with the need to have space after spending extended periods of time with other people. I think it’s something that is further exaggerated by living alone as you become so accustomed to having a lot of personal space and you learn quickly how not to be lonely so spending periods of time in the company of others suddenly becomes a claustrophobic experience.

Since having that initial conversation and seeing the same friend again a few months later, I’ve learned from her that it’s not necessarily having an issue with being with others, it’s finding the people where you feel comfortable enough to ‘recover’ in their presence – something she’s learned that she can do with her boyfriend. And that makes one hell of a lot of sense to me.

Being an introverted extrovert can give me the best of both worlds. Being able to walk into a room where you know nobody and network is definitely handy, as is being able to go to the pub after work and make conversation without a struggle with those you don’t know all that well. It also means having an independent streak so strong it may as well be tattooed across my forehead as my determination to experience everything is very much unstoppable.

But I can also sit in my flat and entertain myself (anyone who sniggered at that one needs to escort themselves into a cold shower), without the need for company. It means that I can lose hours to books, to quiet spaces and to marginally unrealistic life planning within my own mind.

I think for me, it’s a case of finding those people who I feel comfortable enough with to be introverted around. To not feel the need to make insightful conversations, to entertain or to make them laugh. The people who understand that my need to recover from being excessively sociable is almost like a social hangover.

So tell me, are you an introvert, an extrovert or a bit of both? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

New cocktails at The Botanist, Leeds

New cocktails at The Botanist, Leeds
The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

I’m no stranger to a jazzy cocktail and The Botanist has featured quite heavily on my radar pretty much since it opened in Leeds. What can I say, they put plants in the drinks and that basically means they’re a salad, right? All that nutritional goodness, right there.

The Botanist is very plant-y when it comes to it’s drinks menu (I believe the correct term is something about botanicals? Who knows) but it’s starting to stray into the world of chemistry and do some more ‘looks like they’re on fire’ drinks – between them and The Alchemist, there’s going to be a liquid nitrogen shortage in Leeds soon. In a world of Instagrammers (ahem, guilty), the theatrics when it comes to cocktail making are getting bigger and better and The Botanist definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to drinks with a highly photogenic twist. Luckily for me, I was invited down to try the best drinks on their menu (it’s a hard life sometimes) and I definitely impressed.

First up, we had a ‘Strawberry and Elderflower Bellini’ which was sweet, refreshing and tasted like a summers day. Fruity drinks have always been my cup of tea so this was the perfect opener for me. Once we’d cleansed our palettes with sweet, fruity goodness, we headed over to the bar to watch the absolute babe of a bartender, Sam, make us some cocktails.

The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

A new addition to the cocktail menu is the ‘Cinammon and Oregano Old Fashioned’ which might not sound like something you’d really want to try but it was actually a taste sensation. This includes bourbon, cinnamon syrup, and oregano, and it is served smoking as the blow the smoke from burnt wood chippings into the flask and put a cork on the top so when it’s poured over ice, it has a deliciously smoky flavour.

The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

Next we tried the ‘Poppy and Pomegranate Martini’ and this was definitely very sweet but also very fragrant. It contains poppy seed liqueur, raspberry vodka, raspberry liqueuer, lemon, egg white and a hint of basil. Just how pretty does this look with the flower on the top?

The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

Then it was time for a cocktail served in a plant pot (hell yes to that Insta shot) which is the ‘Raspberry Disaronno Sour’. Usually I’m not a mega fan of Disaronno but this was accompanied by raspberry puree, raspberry liqueur, lemon juice and pomegranate juice to it was deliciously fruity and looked incredible.

The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

Last up was the ‘Velvet Green’ which was basically an alcoholic green juice, AKA the healthy option. This has cloudy apple juice, green apple liqueur, kiwi, egg white, lemon juice and is shaken with Tanqueray gin. See what I mean? Healthy!

The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

We ended the night with a whole load of food as The Bontanist do incredible sharing platters – scotch eggs and hummus being the absolute highlight for me as they’re two absolute faves. I’d definitely recommend heading down to drink your way through the cocktail menu and accompany it with their incredible mix of food as well. Basically, I’d like to move in.

The Botanist, Leeds new cocktails

Who wants to come for cocktails with me? Let me know in the comments.
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