Wednesday, 23 May 2018

How to make an occasion special

Bakerdays Cake review
Bakerdays photo cake

Everyone has that one friend who always goes a little bit extra on a birthday or any occasion, but how do you become that person? It’s always that extra effort that you remember someone making that leaves you feeling a bit #blessed which is why I’ve partnered up with Bakerdays for this post which is full of tips – mainly borrowed tips from when my sister went a bit all out on my birthday.

Get them a cake
Well, obviously! Bakerdays do personalised cakes which can be as big as a party cake or as small as a treat that will go straight through your letterbox. Think posting a cake is risky? Let me tell you, when it turns up in a tin and perfectly intact, it’s not even worth worrying about. The one Bakerdays sent me was actually for my mum’s birthday so naturally I got a photo of her face on it and it was even gluten free as she’s a coeliac). It’s just a personal touch.

Decorating a table
When it was my birthday last month, my sister contacted the restaurant I was having lunch at with her and some friends ahead of time to make sure she could come and decorate the table before I arrived. This was a total surprise to me, but it meant I walked in to a table dressed with balloons and confetti which made it really special.

Make a favour for each of the group
Another thing my sister did was create the equivalent of a ‘party bag’ for me and all of my friends, which was a paper bag with some sweets in for everyone. It’s one of those things which isn’t expensive but the thought and time really does make difference.

Present your meal
When I have guests over, my go-to dinner is Mexican, mainly because it’s my favourite cuisine but also because it’s easy to make a simple meal look impressive. Making your salsa and guac from scratch and laying out the meal in bowls so that your guests can create their own shows that you’re thinking about them, even though you end up doing more washing up.

So, they’re my little tips to going above a little bit extra to be thoughtful on an occasion without going absolutely overboard (though if anyone wants to throw me a surprise party complete with flashmob, I would be overjoyed). Like the look of a Bakerdays cake? Get 15% off with the code GLASSESGIRL15 and surprise someone with their face on a cake via their postman.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Spending or saving with GiffGaff Game Plan

Cuckoo Leeds

FYI, all the photos in this post are credited to the fantastic team at Search Labs who put on the event, they did a way better job at capturing it than me. It turns out my photography skills go out the window once I've played beer pong).

I’m the first to admit that money management isn’t my strong point. I’m definitely more of a yolo-er than a saver but you know when you do something that throws your attitude into a harsh reality? That’s where I’m at.

I was invited along to Cuckoo (one of my fave bars ever in Leeds) for a night with GiffGaff who were there to chat about GiffGaff Gameplan which is their financial service to help people save. I mean, they have their work cut out with me, but the night made me stop and think a little more seriously about where my finances are going. As LOL I spend a little too much time eating and drinking my bank balance rather than saving it.

We played a Monopoly style board-game on the night where you collect your wages for passing go and on each square you landed on, you’d have to complete actions like paying money for date night or council tax, or receive money from a work bonus etc. There were also scarily real chance cards including ‘you just got paid and your money turned to beer tokens, pay £100 for a spontaneous work night out’. Umm how guilty am I of going for one drink after work and it escalating into rolling in at 2am with a Dominos? Yup. But moving swiftly on.

GiffGaff Game Plan

GiffGaff Game Plan

 The night made me think about where I really want to be spending my money. I want to find the balance between living my best life and financial security as whilst it’s good to enjoy your spare time, it shouldn’t be to the detriment of your future self. There’s only so much living in the moment that you can do whilst being a responsible adult, right?

GiffGaff Game Plan

For me, it’s working out whether what you’re spending money on is worth it. For example, I brought my car over to Leeds recently which is a costly investment when it comes to parking but it also brings me freedom – even if I only use said freedom to go to the supermarket! But spending money on going out? That’s taken a back seat in recent weeks as whilst I love my friends, I don’t want to be regularly paying for the privilege of having a hangover – and it means I can get up and drive the next day without worrying about being over the limit!

beer pong cuckoo leeds

beer pong cuckoo leeds

Money is such a personal thing, as is what we prioritise spending it on. I’ve only been out the county twice in the last 5 years because I’ve chosen to spend my money on gigs, day trips, nights out and things that I want, whereas some people might have a mini-heart attack at the thought of not going on holiday for so long. But it’s personal preference and I stand by that despite the judgement I seem to get!

I think what I really took away from my night with GiffGaff Game Plan (aside from the knowledge that I’m shit at beer pong) is that money is there to be enjoyed not wasted and the better you are with it, the more you can enjoy it, regardless of whether your priorities are the same as anyone else’s. What are your money saving tips? Let me know in the comments.


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Was the Royal Wedding a right royal waste of tax payers money?

Royal Wedding
Royal Wedding Yui Mok / Press association
Photo Credit: Yui Mok / Press association

It’s easy to see why at first thought that spending an estimated £32m on a wedding is a little OTT when it’s the Royal family (AKA, the tax payer) footing the bill. Why should we pay for it? We don’t know them, they’re not our friends and the vast majority of us aren’t attending. Seems a little ridiculous, right?

But then you think about it. That £32m (of which it’s thought £30m was spent on security, which is a winner for everyone involved as that wedding had terror threat written all over it, let’s be honest), has been matched and more in the profits that have come out of it. Profits which are taxable. In fact, of that £32m, you have to consider where it was going. To businesses and services, which for the most part are UK based and therefore some of that will go into VAT, before you get into anything else.

And then there's the fact that the Ro
yal Family (which are a business in their own right) paid for 'the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards.' So the tax payer wasn't quite as out of pocket as first thought.

People flew from around the world and travelled the length of the country to be in Windsor for the wedding. Those people paid money into our transport system, to hotels, to restaurants and shops, just to be there. In fact, I doubt there was an empty hotel room in Windsor that weekend, or a quiet pub or bar. Or a supermarket not having to order in extra bottles of water, convenience food, party snacks and prosecco. And that’s just in Windsor.

What about the rest of the country where city centre bars were packed with those making a day of it to watch the wedding as they just love the royals? Or spending their cash throwing parties and BBQs? Or even better, being a guest at the wedding itself as I doubt many of those filling St George’s Chapel weren’t wearing a whole new outfit which came in at a hefty pricetag, a hotel that was sold at a premium rate and everything else on top.

Suddenly, (not to take it away from Harry and Meghan as it’s their big day), but the wedding itself is a marketer’s dream.

It might have seen some heavy tax-payer investment but the profits to be had out of this outweigh it massively through increased sales from everyone wanting to be a part of it. Think about the companies who make cardboard masks of famous faces? They will have been rubbing their hands with glee – and let’s face it, they probably won’t make that much money again until Prince George ties the knot.

Marks and Spencer rebranded as ‘Marks and Sparkle’ for the weekend, ASDA was selling ‘When Harry met Meghan’ tshirts, and that’s before you get to online discounts by every highstreet retailer to encourage us to part with our cash. Behind a lot of this will be creative agencies, evens planner and your every day staff at anywhere doing anything wedding related all earning an additional pretty penny out of the day.

And then of course there’s the good that came out of it. The going against outdated traditions as a mixed race, American and divorced feminist married into the royal family and the defiant step forward in history that the day was. The look on the Queen’s face when Bishop Michael Curry absolutely stole the show in the same way that Pippa’s arse did when Kate and Wills got wed. (He is my hero). The fact that so many people spent time with family and friends to celebrate it. I don’t see any negatives here.

Overall, in my oh so humble opinion, I think the royal wedding was an investment in tax payers money. And to all those scrooges whinging that the money could have gone to the NHS? Be realistic, it wouldn’t have happened and you know it.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.


Friday, 4 May 2018

10 things about going to IKEA as an adult

10 things about going to IKEA as an adult
IKEA shelves in store

Photo credit: pixabay

Confession time, I recently went to IKEA for the first time as an adult. I must have been around 6 years old when I last went to IKEA and let me tell you, it’s a weird af experience to someone who’s never been before as a grown up. I recently went with my friend Maz who is an IKEA enthusiast to say the least and whilst I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about the shop itself, I was definitely looking forward to seeing the scale of excitement she experienced – I wasn’t let down. Here are my thoughts on going to IKEA as an adult.

1. It’s just like Argos but instead of flicking through a catalogue, you walk through it.
2. All of the little rooms that are done up look like they’re straight out of an AirBnB.
3. Why don’t I have a blank canvas of a flat to just do out exactly like the done up rooms?
4. As I walked round, I quickly realised that the person I bought my fully furnished flat from clearly had the same idea as I spotted a fair few things that I own from said done up rooms.
5. How many pencils is it acceptable to take? (I opted for three).
6. How are there so many variations of a frying pan?
7. Likewise utensils, bins, toilet seats and rugs.
8. When you forget something and have to go back for it, it’s like the arrows they project on the floor flicker menacingly at you for breaking the one rule of IKEA.
9. The kids toy section is still as exciting at 26 as it was when I was six. Who doesn’t want a large cuddly toy shark to snuggle down with at night? (I ended up leaving the shark in the shop, sob).
10. After the whole horsemeat scandal of a million years ago, it’s a relief to see that IKEA in Leeds is on a retail park with a Nando’s. I don’t even have any objection to horsemeat, I just don’t want to feel tricked into eating it, y’know?

So, have you been to IKEA recently? Did you go to the one in Leeds and sack it off for Homesense which is next door? Did you risk the meatballs or did you indulge in some peri peri chicken?

Let me know in the comments.


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Home interiors on a budget

Home interiors on a budget

You know when you see someone with the most Pinterest-perfect home and wonder how the hell they managed to afford it? That’s me, every damn time. When you’re not an interiors guru (which I definitely am not), it’s actually surprisingly hard to develop any kind of home styling or theme when you first move into your own place and have the opportunity to go wild. Living in a one-bed flat means I don’t have much space to play with but I’ve decided that 2018 is the year that I make it more ‘me’ (it’s taken me long enough, I’ve only lived here nearly four years). Here are my tips to home interiors on a budget.

Get rid of the stuff you haven’t chosen yourself
This was a big one for me as I was renting my flat when I bought it so it came fully furnished – right down to the canvases on the walls and the shitty pleather sofa that moults every time someone sits on it. Over the last few years, I’ve gradually binned and replaced as much stuff as I can so that things are actually to my tastes, not the tastes of the previous owner. For other people, this may mean binning things they’ve been gifted in the past (#sorrynotsorry) and replacing hand-me-down furniture with new things.

Go to budget stores
It’s easy to go into shops like Aldi, Primark and Home Bargains and see budget buys next to other budget items on the shelf and think they look cheap – but out of that context and in your home, actually, they look nothing of the sort. My bedside tables are *those* marble topped ones from Aldi (I got two sets of two tables, for £20 each) and my bedside lamps were £8 each in Primark. I also have another small table in my living room which is from Sainsburys that I absolutely adore.

Have fresh flowers
There is nothing better than fresh flowers to make your home feel ‘finished’ when you’ve done a big clean and tidy. And if you don’t want fresh? Pick up some fake flowers.

Put up prints
Having artwork on your walls doesn’t have to involve spending a fortune or banging nails into walls. My prints are from Fy and Desenio, frames are from IKEA and Amazon and have been put up with command strips. As I live by myself, I see the prints that I have as for the flat rather than the future so I’ve gone for everything which is exactly to my taste – I mean, this is the only time I’m living somewhere which is entirely my own and I don’t have to consider what anyone else thinks.  And this my friends is why I have a framed print of the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Belair rap on my wall.

So, that’s my tips for interiors on a budget – let me know yours in the comments.


Monday, 30 April 2018

Summer loving at The Potting Shed, Guiseley

The Potting Shed, Guiseley
The Potting Shed, Guiseley

You know when you get that first hint of sunshine of the year and suddenly everyone gets all British and dashes outside to soak up the vitamin D? Hi, hello, guilty. I recently headed down to try the new menu at The Potting Shed in Guiseley which opened just before Christmas and I’d been on their terrace approximately three seconds before I was declaring that it was beer garden weather and why oh why did I decide to drive.

The Potting Shed, Guiseley

I’ve been to The Potting Shed in Bingley before and absolutely loved it, but The Potting Shed in Guiseley has food which is just as incredible but also ticks all of my Instagram boxes. Yep, I’m that basic. But who doesn’t love a restaurant which has so many plants that it feels like a none-sweaty version of Tropical World? Their upstairs restaurant is absolutely stunning with high ceilings, beautiful furnishings and so much green.

The food at The Potting Shed is like next level pub food. It’s fancier than what you’d expect in a pub that’s in a small town on the outskirts of Leeds, but it’s still hearty and the menu is clearly a mix of everyone’s favourite things. The team told us all about how all of the staff have an input into the menu which is so lovely as it means they’re genuine advocates of the food. You can expect burgers, pizzas, pub classics and loads of different side plates too – so it’s perfect whether you want something to nibble on as you have drinks or if you’re there for a meal.

We started off with a selection of starters which they put out for us all as a buffet so we could try a bit of everything. There was everything from calamari to pate, to chicken goujons and garlic doughballs. I must admit, my personal fave was the honey and mustard chipolata sausages as they were so tasty and delicious. They will definitely be on the table when I go back!

The Potting Shed, Guiseley

The Potting Shed, Guiseley

For mains, we all went for something different but I definitely over-estimated how hungry I was when I went for the ‘Gnome’s Revenge’ burger which was a double burger (and each burger was huge!) with cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni, salad, all in a bun and served with sweet potato fries. I did my very best but the portions are definitely not small! You know when you’re eating something and thinking ‘yep, this could see off any level of hangover’? That’s where I was at with that burger!

The Potting Shed, Guiseley

When it comes to cocktails, their menu is pretty extensive too. I was on the mocktails as I was driving but even then, it felt like a lot of effort had gone into creating some pretty non-alcoholic drinks. I had a couple of fruity mocktails which were really refreshing, though having been out on their terrace, the next time I’m there, I’ll be getting the train so I can have a gin in hand!

Overall, I was really impressed by The Potting Shed and I think it’s definitely worth getting a train out of Leeds city centre to go there (especially as it’s just next to the station). Will you be trying The Potting Shed? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, 29 April 2018

How to survive your first Escape Room

Escape Hunt The Light Leeds
escape hunt leeds

Escape rooms seem to be popping up all over the country and Escape Hunt is the latest addition to The Light in Leeds. If you haven’t been to an Escape Room before, the concept is that you and your team get locked in a themed room which is filled with puzzles and codes which you have to solve in order to escape within a time limit.

At the moment, it contains two World War Two themed rooms and I was invited down with some of my friends to try it out during their press launch. Having never been to an escape room before, I was slightly concerned that my friends from work were going to see the controlling psychopath side to my personality that I usually don’t bring out (LOL) but thankfully we managed to stay calm and escape.

We absolutely loved the experience we had with our games master, Noel. He talked us through how we’d get into the room and have to work the clues out from there and how he’d be watching us the whole time and listening to our conversations so he could give us a nudge in the right direction if necessary – which turned out to be fairly frequently!

escape hunt leeds

Though I can’t give away the clues as it would ruin the game, the idea is to break through a series of codes and puzzles in order to find and destroy a bomb which was planted by a spy. When we first walked in, I did just think to myself ‘but what the hell do we do first’ as we weren’t given any prior instructions but after searching the room, it became clearer and we moved from clue to clue and eventually got out with two minutes to spare.

escape hunt leeds

At Escape Hunt in Leeds, as there are two rooms, there is an opportunity to go against each other in teams, which we had originally planned to do, but we were advised to go in as a six. After doing the Escape Room, it became quickly apparent that we definitely needed everyone’s different skill sets and we’d have struggled in a team of three.

escape hunt leeds

escape hunt leeds

As it was my first Escape Room experience, I wanted to share some of my tips to getting out in under an hour.

1. Go with colleagues. I found that because I went with friends from work, we already know how to work together and to listen, plus you can’t lose your shit entirely in front of your boss. I think for a first time escape room experience where you don’t know what your doing, this makes it a whole lot easier as it could definitely break up a friendship.

2. Listen to what people are saying. Even if you think it’s wrong, let everyone’s voice be heard, simply because it stops people getting pissed off and wound up.

3. Work together but also play to your strengths. When solving the first few clues, we worked together and tried to be methodical but after that, we ended up splitting up a bit – making it very hard for Noel who was trying to keep track of how we were doing from the outside!

4. Wear a watch. I didn’t do this but as we couldn’t take our phones in with us, it meant we had no concept of time whilst we were in there and towards the end, that meant that we started to panic that we were running out of time.

5. Check everything and then check it again. It’s really easy to miss clues because you haven’t searched enough – but at the same time, if it’s bolted down, take that as meaning you shouldn’t be trying to move it!

I absolutely loved my Escape Hunt experience and would 100% recommend doing it as a team building activity. It is £25 per person and before we went, we thought it was quite pricey, but for the amount of fun we had, I’d say it’s worth it for an occasion or event.

Thank you to Escape Hunt for inviting us down, to our games master Noel who made it a fantastic experience and to Maz, Hannah, Hollie, Luke and Juan for coming with me.

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