Saturday, 30 December 2017

2017: The resolutions round up

The resolutions round up
Scarborough beach huts

For the last four years I’ve been writing up my resolutions for the next year on my blog and each time, I’ve written a post at the end of the year checking in on how they all went. And this year is no different! Here’s how I got on with my 2017 resolutions.

Arrange more fun stuff
I’ve definitely done this! Another year has gone by where I can confidently look back and say that yes, I’ve made a conscious effort to give myself things to look forward to. I’ve been to see a load of gigs, a few comedy shows, had a couple of UK city breaks and back in February headed to Amsterdam. Along the way I’ve spent time with some incredible friends, had some incredible nights out and attended so many blogger events that I’ve lost count. To be totally honest, I think I nailed this one.

Do the fitness thing... better
I’ll be honest, this one did not go to plan. I started the year feeling motivated, then had all of my confidence knocked out of me by an eight week gym challenge earlier in the year which was quite frankly a shitstorm, joined a new gym, went back to my old gym and throughout all of that lost any love I had for exercise. Slowly but  surely I’m getting back into doing the odd session but I’m nowhere near the levels of strength of fitness that I was last year which is a shame, but not irreversible.

No more comparing successes
I think this is something I’ve definitely got better at, especially in the latter part of the year. I’ve developed more of a ‘fuck it’ attitude and have spent more time carving my own path than worrying about everyone else’s. I must admit, it’s a better place to be.

Be happier
Another resolution that’s hit and miss! There have definitely been times this year where I’ve struggled more than I’d have liked, but on the whole, I’m definitely more conscious of my mental health than I ever have been before. I’ve never been a particularly anxious person but this year I’ve noticed this feeling creeping in, though this is very much anxious as in the emotion, not anxiety as in the illness. In 2016 and 2017, I definitely struggled with the winter blues and touch wood, this year has been a significant improvement, as I only noticed my mood dipping and the anxious feelings perking up in mid December whereas during the last two years it’s been early to mid October. So whilst it’s not ideal, it’s definitely been a massive improvement! I’m definitely happier on the whole though as I’m ending the year in a job I love and with a solid support network around me.

Give something back
I’ve tried to do this but there’s always room for improvement when you’re spreading the love, right? I’ve only done one blood donation which isn’t as many as I’d have liked but I did enquire about platelet donation at the time and it turns out I’m not eligible. (Apparently my veins are the only part of me which aren’t chunky and therefore makes donations difficult). I’ve also tried to pay forward kindness as and when I can, through buying food for the homeless, sponsoring friends and sending little gifts to friends, but I think everyone can do more of that type of thing can’t they!

Stop waiting around for things
I think this is the biggest lifestyle change for me as I moved into my (now not so new) job back in July. This was a massive deal as it’s my first big career move but it does go to show that waiting around doesn’t get you what you want, just doing it does. I’ve definitely had a more proactive year and that’s an attitude I want to take with me into 2018 as it’s done me good so far.

So that’s my resolutions round up! Let me know in the comments how you’ve got on with yours. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

My travel bucketlist

Travel bucketlist
central park

I’ll confess now, I’m not a traveller as such. I’m a holiday gal. In fact, I’ll even narrow that one down a little further and say that I’m a city break kinda gal. As a solo holidaymaker with a painfully short attention span, I go away and need to keep myself entertained. I want to see everything, do everything and pack it into a few days as hotels can be hella expensive when you’re by yourself. Oh the struggles of being a single gal wanting to go on holiday but too much of a snob to stay in a hostel. Sigh.

Destinations2 challenged me to write my travel bucketlist and it got me thinking about where in the world I want to visit and why. Here are my thoughts.

I mean, it’s a beautiful place and would look incredible on my Instagram but let’s be honest, I’m there for the food. I think this is one of those places where I’d actually want to take someone with me as spending a week smashing tequila by yourself could be the sign of a problem, but I think this would be an amazing holiday. I want to try authentic Mexican food (rather than my own homemade version courtesy of Old El Paso), eat guacamole every God damn day and drink tequila sunrises until the sun sets. Is that really too much to ask?

New York
I’ve been to New York before but I was 18 and all I gave a shit about was shopping, so I want to go back and do it properly. I want to go there and feel like I’ve learned something, whereas last time all I learned was the medium brown bags from Bloomingdales are massively overrated. I’d like to go to Ground Zero as I didn’t when I first went and I feel like I need to pay respect to it. I also want to go and discover more of the city that’s perhaps a bit more off the tourist track and get a feel for it, rather than go from attraction to attraction.

This is a place which I’m really curious to visit simply because it’s such a world away from life in Leeds. I want to see the places which you see on Instagram and find out if it’s as glossy in real life, which I strongly suspect it is in a place like Dubai. Also, the dream would be going to the hotel which has an aquarium as who doesn’t bloody love an aquarium?

I won’t lie, I’m basing this on what I’ve seen on Instagram alone, but Bali looks absolutely bloody beautiful. I appreciate this is probably a surprising addition to my bucketlist for anyone who knows me well as I’m the least outdoorsy person ever, but the thought of being in the middle of a rainforest in a downpour (which happens pretty much every day there) really appeals to me. Is that weird? Am I romanticising getting drenched on holiday? Who knows. It looks like true escapism and that’s what I think I need in a holiday.

A little closer to home but I really want to go on an après ski holiday. I mean, I don’t really fancy the skiing bit as let’s face it, I’m not quite the throwing yourself down a mountain type of gal, but sitting in a lodge, halfway up a snowy mountain, wearing a Christmas jumper and drinking a hot chocolate is my idea of bliss. I mean, if I was there I’d maybe book onto the beginners class just to say that I did try and learn to ski but I’m all about the cosy mountain lodge feels.

So there we have it, that’s my travel bucket list. Thank you to Destinations2 who got me thinking about where I want to go in the world and for prompting me to start some serious saving to get me there! Where is on your travel bucketlist? Let me know in the comments.

*This post was written in collaboration with Destinations2 but all thoughts, feels, cosy vibes, wanderlust and holiday dreams are my own.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

What 2017 has taught me

Patisserie Valerie Rudolph Cake

As I type this, I’m sat in my living room on the 3rd December and I’ve just eaten the biggest piece of Rudolph cake which I bought from Patisserie Valerie in town earlier specifically to Instagram. The sugar crash should hit in approximately 15 minutes. Excellent.

2017 has been a pretty crazy year and here’s what it has taught me.

Sometimes you need to take the risk
Earlier this year I’d begun to keep half an eye open on the job market in Leeds as after three years working at the same agency, I was getting itchy feet and wanted a new challenge. This year I made my first career move and it wasn’t until it happened that I realised how much a new job really does turn your world upside down. I didn’t quite anticipate what an absolute mindfuck it is to go from somewhere so familiar to a new office, being surrounded by new people and a totally different day to day role. Now I’ve settled in, got to know people and been immersed in my job, I know that I definitely made the right decision and I’m absolutely loving it. In less than 6 months, I’ve learned so much and it’s made me even more passionate about what I do.

Surround yourself with the best people
I’m ending 2017 with the strongest friendship group I’ve ever had. This might sound like a mega-brag but I’m the definition of #blessed when it comes to the people I have around me right now. I’ve always had the close support network of my friends from childhood, more recent friends from university and work and now a group of women who have gone from internet friends to real life friends. Earlier this year, I went for a Sunday lunch with some bloggers and one of the girls decided to make a Whatsapp group as at the time she was feeling a bit lonely living in London. I’ll forever be grateful to her for doing that as I’m now so close to a group of likeminded women that I speak to daily.

Acknowledging your mental health is really fucking important
I’m not someone who has any diagnosed mental health issues but this year has definitely taught me to notice and nurture my mental health. Earlier this year, I wasn’t in the most desirable of places when I came off the contraceptive injection and spent a couple of months feeling like I’d gone absolutely round the twist but it definitely made me very aware of what I was thinking and feeling. It taught me that moods, emotions and feelings, whether they’re positive or negative, are moments and moments are not permanent. This way of thinking helped me to visualise what I was feeling and to accept that it was there but also that it would leave.

Do more of what makes you happy
Though I’m far from being your spontaneous, thrill seeking kinda gal, I’ve definitely developed more of a fuck it attitude in the last year. I’ve had the New Years Resolution of ‘do more fun stuff’ for the last couple of years and this year I’ve found myself confidently saying yes to more and more. From little things like saying ‘let’s go for dinner sometime’ and putting a date in the diary then and there to getting on a train to a different city and exploring it, I feel like I’ve done more day to day fun things than ever before.

Well, that all got a bit deep didn’t it? That’s what 2017 has taught me, tell me your recent life lessons in the comments.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Top three Christmas chick lit reads

Chick lit flatlay
Christmas Chick Lit

Hi, my name is Lizi and I love chick lit. Yeah, I know, it’s one of those things where you get frowned upon for admitting that on the internet, but what can I say, I love books where I can relate to the characters and a happy ending. I mean, I love other books too but I don’t really connect with Harry Potter on the same level, what with him being a boy wizard and on a mission to defeat Voldemort and me being a 25 year old social media manager from Yorkshire. Know what I mean? Sometimes you just want something that’s a little more on your level, that’s not a whole new world.

In the run up to Christmas (ie, any time from October onwards), I love a festive read so I wanted to share my top three books which are all set around the most wonderful time of the year.

I picked this up back when I was at university. When I was studying, if I ever felt homesick I used to go to Waterstones and get a new book to cheer myself up and I actually bought this one having only read one of Milly Johnson’s books in the past as she happened to be there doing a signing that day. A Winter Flame tells the story of how Eve, who hates Christmas, inherits a winter theme park from her elderly aunt and her journey to turn the plans into reality. Having  read all of Milly Johnson’s books now, I really enjoy how characters cross over as it’s almost like finding out how they’re getting on in the future.

I don’t know whether this is my former retail worker coming out in me or what but this book by Ali Harris details how Evie, the ‘stockroom girl’ of a failing Regent Street department store enlists the help of the ‘invisible staff’, who the rest of the team don’t acknowledge, to transform it in time for Christmas. This is definitely a feel-good easy read and the type of thing to get your nose stuck into with a big cup of tea and a mince pie.

This is my more romantic pick as it’s the tale of how two blue bags, bought by two men for their girlfriends, were switched by accident.  With one containing an engagement ring and the other a charm bracelet, not only does it put both men in a difficult situation when the white ribbons are undone but the story is about how they go about switching them back and how their lives change in the process. It’s definitely a little unrealistic but filled with romance and one where I found myself getting in the heads of the characters.

So tell me, are you a chick lit fan? Or would you sigh if you saw the number of pastel coloured paperbacks on my bookshelf? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The best gigs I’ve ever been to

The best gigs I’ve ever been to
Kooks Ticket flatlay

I fell in love with live music when I was in my third year of university. Pretty late to the party, right? Gigs were a little out of my comfort zone and I didn’t hit that ‘push yourself’ mentality until I was about 20 but whilst I definitely missed out as a teenager, I’ve more than made up for it since. I’m pretty happy bobbing along in the mainstream when it comes to my music tastes. A lot of the artists I’ve seen have been chart toppers rather than struggling indie kids but y’know, there’s still something pretty exciting about hearing songs you’ve heard on repeat live, whether they’re throwbacks or over-played on radio one. Here are the best gigs I’ve ever been to.

Stone Sour – House of Gold and Bones pt1
I appreciate Stone Sour aren’t exactly ‘mainstream’ but we’ll get the sentimental one out the way first. I saw Stone Sour at the O2 Apollo in Manchester back in 2012. I’d loved them ever since I played Through Glass on repeat when I was doing the super emosh 15 year old thing but this gig turned into a bit of the light of the end of a tunnel for me. After my dad passed away two weeks into my final year of university, the gig was in the last week of the first term and at that time, it became my goal just to get there and be OK. And I was OK, and it was the best night with one of my closest friends, Rachel. The audience singing back the chorus of Bother and seeing Corey Taylor nearly break down on stage made it a really emotional but incredible gig.

Jason Derulo – Tattoos World Tour
Oh there we are, back to the mainstream. This night was one of the most fun evenings I’ve ever had as again, it was at the O2 Apollo in Manchester so it was a smaller gig, and because the setlist was pretty damn solid. This was around the time of Talk Dirty, Wiggle and Trumpets coming out so it’s the type of music that everyone got up and danced too for the entire night. Also, he was supported by Conor Maynard who at the time was peaking as about a three hit wonder so the crowd was already fairly hyped before Jason Derulo came on – which was great as most of the time nobody gives a shit about support acts.

The Kooks – The Best Of
This one is about the experience as much as it was the band as I was actually invited to this gig by Pink Gorilla and we had a box for the night at the First Direct Arena. First Direct is easily my favourite arena, mainly as it’s newer and therefore a lot nicer in general, but also because it’s a lot smaller than Manchester. I’ve also been there enough times to know where the hidden toilets are which is a plus. Watching a gig from a suite was a whole new experience for me as it’s a totally private space, with a staff member ready and waiting to serve you drinks (out of glasses and bottles, not plastic cups!) and you can make yourself at home for the night. The gig itself was brilliant and hearing classic songs like Naive played live was an incredible experience.

Lady Gaga – ArtRave
This was one of the biggest gigs I’ve ever been to as it was a sell out at Manchester Arena. What I loved about this night was the sheer amount of production that went into it – it was about the show as much as it was the music. There was so much love in that room that night and a couple got engaged live on stage which was a pretty magical moment to witness. I loved that she took the time to read fan letters which had been thrown on stage and even though in doing so she over ran, she was adamant about completing the set regardless of being fined for going over the venue’s curfew.

The Pigeon Detectives
Another recent gig for me and I was lucky enough to be on the guestlist for it as my friend from work, Hannah, is married to the bassist, David. We saw them at the O2 Academy in Leeds and the guestlist had access to the balcony seats which was great for us as we had the best view. I’ve been to a lot of gigs over the last few years and this is the first I’ve been to where the crowd was really living in the moment and not watching the entire thing through their phone screen. Also, who doesn’t want to hear classic tunes like I Found Out which is in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

So, that’s my round up of the best gigs I’ve ever been to – what’s your favourite to date?

Saturday, 16 December 2017

A cosy winter wishlist

Winter wishlist
December is a pretty damn crazy month for everyone. For me, my calendar is pretty back to back with Christmas meals, parties, going to the German markets and somewhere in the middle of that, I’m trying to schedule in some downtime so I don’t go completely crazy. I absolutely adore spending time with my friends and family, especially when it’s one of those spontaneous things that escalates, but I end up in desperate need of a cosy night in just to recover from all that socialising. Or y’know, from going for one drink after work and stumbling home at 2am. Either/or.

I like to think that I’m really good at being consciously cosy as it’s something I embrace in the colder months quite a lot. It’s not just about lounging around in oversized men’s hoodies (why are they always so much better than women’s?!) and eating Celebrations, but the books I read, the mugs I drink my tea from, the scents from my candles and the oversized veggie pasta bake that graces my oven on the regular. (For the purpose of this post there won’t be a photo of the pasta bake as whilst I’m writing this, it’s now sat in my tummy looking like a little food baby).

Here’s my wishlist for the ultimate snug as a bug night in. What’s on yours? Let me know in the comments.

winter wishlist


Friday, 15 December 2017

The best day out in Scarborough

Things to do in Scarborough
Scarborough Olivers Mount

When you think of Scarborough/Scarbvegas/Scarbados, you probably think of a fairly chilly beach, the Harbour Bar and not a lot else, right? I’ve been going to Scarborough since I was little so it’s always had a special, sandy little place in my heart, but my most recent visit made me see it in a whole new life. One of my fave blogger gals, Caroline, lives in Scarborough and invited me over for a magical mystery tour, followed by festive afternoon tea.

Who knew Scarborough could be so beautiful? Caroline had planned out an itinerary for us, so we spent the morning going for a walk on the beach, to the Italian gardens, to see the fairy gardens at Shuttleworths before heading up to Oliver’s Mount for a hot a chocolate. From here we had the best view over Scarborough and it was absolutely stunning. There’s nothing more calming than being able to see over a town and out to sea. Also, being the top blogger that she is, Caroline planned everything knowing that I’d be wanting all the Instagram photos so I came away with so much content. Winner!

Italian Garden Scarborough

Fairy Garden Scarborough

Olivers on the Mount Scarborough

Olivers on the Mount Scarborough

Caroline had also booked us festive afternoon tea at the Crown Spa Hotel which was such a treat. It felt so special as we arrived and had a fully festive table waiting for us, complete with crackers, and we were in a room with a Christmas tree and a fireplace hung with stockings. The staff were the perfect balance of attentive, checking in that we had everything we needed but still left us to it so we could continue our mammoth catch up over our tea.

Crown Spa Hotel Scarborough Afternoon Tea

Crown Spa Hotel Scarborough Afternoon Tea

The food itself was delicious but not for the first time, we ended up being defeated – the last time we had afternoon tea we also ended up not having room for cake! The stand came with turkey sandwiches, a giant scone with jam and brandy cream, plus a gingerbread man, miniature Yule log, mince pie and slice of Christmas cake each. 

Crown Spa Hotel Scarborough Afternoon Tea

For £15pp that’s definitely the best value afternoon tea I’ve had in a long time and for such a beautiful setting, I would expect to have paid a lot more. The sandwiches and scone were so filling that we ended up taking the cakes home with us in a plastic takeaway box. I mean, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t end up having cake for tea that night.

This day out was the most fun I’ve had in ages and I’d absolutely recommend exploring the hidden gems of Scarborough if you can tear yourself away from the 2p machines. Thank you to Caroline for planning such a lovely day for us both too, you’re the best.


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Wanderlust dreaming - Colorado*

Photo credit: Pixabay

It’s a tough time when real life gets in the way of just jumping on a plane. I’m definitely getting itchy feet and wanting to explore more and whilst funds are limiting me to UK excursions, a girl can dream, right? America is pretty high up on my bucketlist and whilst scenes of New York seem to be filling my Instagram feed right now, it’s the state of Colorado which I’m feeling particularly drawn to. I think it’s something about the time of year that’s making me crave open spaces over city life as whilst I love living so close to a big city, that need to escape is hitting me hard over the winter months.

I’d definitely want to be staying somewhere a little fancy on a trip like this and there are plenty of Colorado luxury homes to choose from which are so unbelievable Instagammable that it’s 100% worth the investment. I mean, who wouldn’t want to stay in a rustic lodge in the mountains with an open fire? Absolute dream.

Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains and whilst I’m not exactly the girl you’ll see hiking for fun, the thought of those scenes with a camera in hand is pretty much every blogger’s dream. The two tallest peaks are Mount Elbert and Mount Massive (aptly named!) and can be seen from the ‘Top of the Rockies’ which passes through the Rocky Mountain National Park – can you even imagine hiring a Jeep and driving through there? That would be so cool! It would be even cooler on the back of a Harley but let’s be honest, I’d need to find myself a biker to take me. (Again, a girl can dream). There are so many routes to take but it would be the ultimate road trip and let’s face it, that kind of setting would be the perfect backdrop to outfit photos – yes, I know, typical blogger priorities right there.

Another experience on my travel to do list is to go somewhere which has a hot air balloon festival and my recent research into Colorado led me to discover that Pagosa Springs hosts one annually. And you can watch it whilst sat in an outdoor natural spring pool. Can we just take a moment to picture the scene?! That’s pretty much two bucketlist items ticked off in one for me as going to an outdoor spring is on there but I assumed it would take a chilly trip to Iceland for that one. I’m actually a little fearful of natural bodies of water (can you believe I’ve got to 25 ½ and have never swum in the sea?!) so I think that pools which are heated from the natural springs would be a little step towards me overcoming that fear as well as being a totally surreal experience in that setting. In fact, it would be at any time of year as hot springs whilst the snow falls around you would be insane in winter.

Colorado in general is the perfect place to be over winter too (even if it would mean missing the hot air balloon festival which is in September time, sob) as the mountains offer up a whole load of cool activities across the state. I don’t think skiing and snowboarding would be for me (though maybe if I was there, I’d be tempted to try a beginners class?), but ice skating I’m definitely down for. I mean, I managed to stop clinging to the side when I last went as a teenager and I’m sure that skill will definitely come back to me. 100% sure. Something I’ve never seen before is ‘snowtubing’ which is a little like going down a waterslide in a rubber ring but instead you go skidding down a mountain. I mean, what could possibly go wrong for my accident prone self? LOL. It looks like the kind of adrenalin fuelled activity I could definitely get on board with though as it would be so fun and definitely something different. I think that’s why I’m so inclined to go somewhere that not everyone is hyping about as it’s a new experience and let’s be honest, some people post so much of their holiday on Instagram that I feel like I’ve already experienced it.

If I went all that way to America, I’d definitely start missing the city after a while so Denver would definitely be on the list. Let’s be honest, no girl is making a trip to the states without hitting Sephora, am I right? There are plenty of malls and shopping outlets there to make anyone concerned about hitting the baggage restrictions (sacrifices need to be made) and plenty of boutiques too so taking home something a little different shouldn’t be too hard either. There are also a fair few urban spas in downtown Denver which I’d absolutely be checking out as there’s nothing I love more than that feeling of stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the city to have a massage or facial, before going back into the city feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s something I love doing at home in Leeds and definitely something which I’d look into doing abroad to see how it compares.

Now that I’ve sat down and written about everything I want to do in Colorado, I think it’s time to open a new savings account and start trying to put a plan into action as the wanderlust which has hit me is getting a little unbearable. What’s your next travel plan? Let me know in the comments!

*This post has been written in collaboration with Luxury Retreats but all thoughts, words and travel dreams are my own.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Small gift Christmas gift guide

Small gift Christmas gift guide
Small gift Christmas gift guide flatlay

Oh here we are with a Christmas gift guide. I’m quite lucky in that the people I buy for at Christmas just tell me what they want specifically, but I do like to get a few little extra presents as it’s nice to have little things to open, don’t you think? Christmas in the Legge household is a pretty small affair as there’s just the three of us on the big day itself meaning we can make our own traditions. Traditions like my sister eating a chocolate orange in 7 minutes whilst still in bed or heading over to Scarbvegas/Scarbados/Scarbs for a beach walk on Christmas morning with our own icecream. FYI, nowhere is open to buy icecream at the beach on Christmas day and every year people stop to ask us where we got ours from – it’s a BYOIC situation.

One of our newer traditions from the last few years is to bin off crackers and have table gifts instead. We each have one of those tubes that you put a bottle of wine in when you’re giving it as a gift and we fill them with small presents for each other. I’ve put together a list of ideas for this type of present but really this guide doubles up as some inspo for stocking fillers or secret santa. Enjoy!

1. Alcohol miniatures. Well, what did you honestly expect from me? I really like the miniatures which Demijohn do as they come in a cute corked bottle with the spirit hand written on it. They do have a full range of gifts including personalised bottles too (if anyone wants to buy me one, I’ll take anything gin) which are gorgeous, but the small ones are perfect for a stocking filler too.

2. Toiletries. I appreciate this could be seen as being a little generic but it’s actually seriously handy as we all end up travelling all over the place at Christmas and have probably forgotten something anyway. I’m a big fan of The Body Shop for miniatures as there’s so much choice in terms of scent (give me anything from the Frosted Berries collection and I’m yours) plus they’re a nice size for a few days away – let’s face it, nobody likes going to stay at someone’s house only to find that they use some weird smelling shower gel.

3. Anything with a star sign on it. Does everyone remember 2016 Lizi who had an absolutely manic obsession with everything with initials on it? Yeah, that’s been replaced by star signs this year. We’re talking mugs, necklaces, basically anything and it’s a little personal touch to show that not only have you had a little look on Facebook to check when their birthday is but then you’ve gone on to Google what star sign it equates too and if that’s not thoughtful, I don’t know what is.  

4. A journal. Whilst I love going wild in Paperchase, I know most people already have about a billion notebooks, and a one line a day journal is a more thoughtful gift. I got mine last year and started filling it in from January first (I’m surprised I’ve kept it up this long!) and this one has a page for every day of the year, split into five sections so you can keep the same one for five years.

5. Nail polish. I think it’s a sign that you know someone well if you can choose a nail polish that they’ll love, right? I’m personally a massive fan of blue and green, even over the festive season and my go to is always Barry M – yes, that might make me sound like I’m 15 but the Gelly Hi-Shine polishes are honestly the best I’ve used and they come in at about £3.99.

6. The best book you’ve read that year (as long as you both have similar tastes!). Reading is such therapy to me, so giving the gift of books is fairly sentimental – especially when buying gifts for children as it was such a big part of my own childhood. This year, though I haven’t read as much as I’d have liked, I really enjoyed Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland, so that would definitely be on my list of books to gift.

So, that’s a small gift, gift guide for this year, what else would you add to it? Do you have any ideas for things I should be buying? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 11 December 2017

2017: The Highlights

2017: The Highlights
Garland on wooden mantle piece

I realise that I say this every year but dear Lord how quickly has this year gone?! As I write this, it’s the start of December and my advent calendar has made it down from the top of the kitchen cupboard which is where it has lived since I bought it about a month ago. I got a Miniature Heroes one FYI. Side note, apparently you’re meant to be bought one rather than buy it yourself (as I have been reliably informed) but in the absence of a significant other and in the knowledge that my mum would buy me one that’s less exciting, I took matters into my own hands this year. Anyway, here are my favourite moments from 2017. (I appreciate I’m writing this prior to the end of the year and still have a good few weeks to go but I’m assuming nothing groundbreaking will be occurring).

Solo travels to Amsterdam
I’ll keep this short as I appreciate I’ve banged on about this till the cows come home but this city break turned into a bigger challenge for me as I wasn’t in the best mental place when I went and it felt as much like an achievement as it did a holiday. I fell in love with the city, packed a whole lot into the couple of days I had there and proved myself wrong. I’m so, so glad that I went as I had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank house which is something I’ve wanted to do since I first heard her story as a child.

Friendship goals
I’m ending this year with some pretty solid friendships, some which I started this year with, others which have developed over the last year, all of which I’m grateful for. Whilst I’ve always been lucky to have incredible friends, this year I feel like my gal squad has absolutely excelled itself. 2017 has been even more exciting in that internet friends have become real life friends this year too.

New job, new starts
After three years working for the same agency I moved to Leeds for, I moved onto another incredible agency back in July. The move definitely threw me off balance for the first few weeks as I’d never appreciated how big a change it was to move jobs but now I’m settled and know that I made the right decision for me. My new role has been a massive learning curve and filled with challenges but I absolutely love it and I’m working with the nicest people too.

Loads and loads of fun plans
I feel like I’ve done so many fun things this year and when I scroll back through my calendar, there seems to have been something every week. I’ve seen Russell Howard, Chris Ramsey twice, Little Mix, James Blunt, Busted, The Pigeon Detectives, The Kooks and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ve been to so many blogger events that I’ve lost count. I’ve spent time in Manchester, Liverpool, London, Durham, Huddersfield, Scarborough, Northallerton, Newcastle, Edinburgh and York. Needless to say, I’ve kept myself busy!

This blog
I’m so grateful for the opportunities which I’ve had out of my blog and 2017 has been another year with even more content, collaborations and incredible experiences. I’ve definitely put more effort into my writing, my photos and my Instagram this year and even though I’m far from rivalling Zoella,  I’m pretty content with where my blog is at. I enjoy the mix of topics, it still feels like a reflection of my life and I love that I can share the perks with my friends and family too. I mean, it’s never hard to find a plus one to come for dinner with me!

So, they’re some of my highlights from 2017, tell me what your best bits have been in the comments!


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Styling up my plus one

Jacamo shirt

I’ve had a pretty crazy six months in terms of blogger opportunities and I’m absolutely loving that it’s giving me the opportunity to share the love a bit and take people along with me for the ride. Since starting my new job, I’m very lucky that my new work friends are more than willing to be my plus one for things (I’ve had blogger date nights with quite a few of them now), so when an email from Jacamo dropped in my inbox I decided that in the absence of a significant other (LOL hit me up with your single guy friends please), I’d style up Juan.

Well, I say I styled him up, he chose the checked shirt he’s wearing in the photos and Hayley (work gal and blogger gal over at Prawnstar Martini) chose the other shirt. I think we did pretty well! Though both are a step away from his usual style, as Juan has an absolutely banging jumper collection, I thought both hit the smart/casual nail on the head. Our office is pretty casual when it comes to work attire but I think for the guys, a checked or printed shirt takes you from work mode to G&Ts in the pub pretty seamlessly.

I’m a fan of Jacamo’s collection as whilst they have a rep for just catering to bigger guys, what I hadn’t realised is the number of brands which are on there. We’re talking French Connection, Ben Sherman, Original Penguin... and the list goes on. A lot of what Jacamo stock is the style I love too – I love the shirt and chinos look.  A lot of the shirts have an option for a longer length too, which is great for guys like Juan as he’s over 6ft so shirts can be a bit of a nightmare on the highstreet.

Here are the two shirts styled up and if you think he looks a little chilly in the photos then you’d be right as it was about three degrees when we had him posing for photos down a side street near the office.

Jacamo shirt

Jacamo shirt

Jacamo shirt

Jacamo shirt

Let me know what you think of the outfits in the comments and a big thank you to Juan for getting involved and working with me on this post.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Spotlight: Trinity Leeds

Trinity Leeds
Trinity Leeds Wonder Weekend

Now that I work in Leeds city centre, I seem to be spending an awful lot more time doing some serious window shopping, eating out and ahem a few too many treat yo’self moments. I’m definitely spending more time appreciating the city I call home as I feel as though I’m seeing so much more that’s going on!

When it comes to places to shop, eat and drink in Leeds, you don’t need to do much exploring to find the best places. Trinity is the highstreet hub of the centre, containing the majority of your go-to shops for day to day bits and pieces. Hell, who doesn’t want a three storey Primark, flagship Topshop and most importantly an absolutely banging M&S? I’d actually pick M&S over Toppers any day being the mature and responsible adult that I am.

Trinity has some serious festive vibes going on at the moment as they did a full ‘Wonder Weekend’ recently (which I won tickets for on Facebook – YAY!) to welcome the season and switch on their ‘Wishmas tree’. That would be the absolutely MASSIVE tree in the middle of Trinity. They’re actually running a competition for people to enter to win a ‘wish’ (there are prizes including a personal shopping spree and a year of free films at Everyman cinema), and every time you enter, the tree lights up. That’s pretty cool! The Wonder Weekend included some pretty cool free treats, including getting my head 3D printed into a chocolate lolly (with questionable results) and a whole load of performers getting the crowd ready for the lights switch on.

Trinity Leeds Wishmas Tree

Trinity Kitchen also has a really strong line up at the moment too. This is a space where there are loads of different streetfood vendors, some permanent (like Pizza Luxe who I can confirm have cured an office hangover for me in the past) and others which come in on a 6 week rotation. I was actually invited down to try some of the new vendors and headed straight to the Greek Food4Festivals van to grab a pork and halloumi gyros. This wrap was absolutely filled to the brim with meat, cheese and salad – 10/10 would recommend for a solid work lunch, even if I did manage to spill tzatziki all over my jeans. I took my friend Maz with me and she had the most delicious looking massaman curry and Sriracha mayo fries from Tikk’s Thai Kitchen.

trinity kitchen leeds

trinity kitchen leeds

trinity kitchen leeds

Right now, Trinity has it all going on and I’d definitely recommend heading there if you’re coming to Leeds for a day of Christmas shopping. With plenty of festive feels, strong foodie offerings and all the shops you need under one roof, you really can’t go wrong.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Christmas with Carluccio’s

Carluccio's York Christmas Menu
Carluccios Christmas Menu York

Earlier this year, Carluccio’s opened their York branch in the beautiful former Terry’s building on St Helen’s Square by throwing an 80th birthday party for Mr Antonio Carluccio himself. We had the most wonderful evening toasting his celebrations and he was such a lovely, charming man, so I was very saddened to hear that he passed away earlier this year. Having met the man behind the restaurants, going to Carluccio’s in York will always be a little bit more special for me.

I was invited to try the Christmas menu and jumped at the chance as what could be more festive than dining in such a beautiful building, overlooking York’s Christmas tree and sampling some delicious Italian cuisine? Honestly, every time I go into the restaurant in York, it hits me straight in the cosy feels. I took my mum along with me as she’s a long time fan due to their excellent gluten free offerings.

We were shown to our table which was upstairs and in the window, overlooking Betty’s, by our lovely waiter Andrew (he was an absolute gem the entire night), and I decided to start the evening with a cocktail and mum had a diet coke as she was driving. I had a Malfy Cooler which was Malfy Italian gin, elderflower, Martini Rosso and ginger beer. Let’s just say I could have drunk those all night, it was that good. 

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

We were dining from the Christmas menu which is running until the 3rd January and costs £17.95 for two courses and you can pay an additional £3 for dessert. Given the quality of the food, I’d say that’s a very good deal, especially for such a central and beautiful restaurant. Though Carluccio’s is a chain, there is no quality lost and the York restaurant in particular feels like an independent because it’s in such a stunning building. There’s definitely a welcoming and family feel to it.

To start, mum had the Crostini al Funghi which was mushrooms, kale and garlic served on gluten free toast and I had the antipasti plate. Antipasti is definitely in my top three foods so I was living the absolute dream with baked ricotta, various cured meats, peppers and balsamic onions, though I was very jel of my mum’s too as I also adore anything with mushrooms in it.

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

For mains, mum chose the Saltimbocca di Pollo al Vin Santo which is a flattened chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, I went for the steak and both were served with garlic and rosemary potatoes. My steak was cooked to perfection – medium rare but more rare than medium – and mum’s was absolutely delicious too. I was eyeing up the chicken on the menu but after she chose it, I thought I’d go for something a little different and picked the steak which isn’t something I usually have. Does anyone else make a point when they go to restaurants to have something they’d never normally cook themselves? 

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

When it came to dessert, there was only one option for me, panettone with vanilla icecream. This is my favourite Italian dessert and after I was sent a giant panettone by Carluccio’s with my invite to the launch, I knew it was going to be delicious and Christmassy and it lived up to every expectation. Though I would happily eat panettone all year round, there’s something so festive about the fruits and it’s essentially a better version of Christmas cake. Mum chose the chocolate torte which was drizzled with raspberry coulis and I quote ‘like eating pure chocolate’. Well, if that’s not the dream at Christmas, I don’t know what is.

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

Carluccios Christmas Menu York

I couldn’t recommend Carluccio’s highly enough all year round but at Christmas even more so. It’s perfect for a civilised Christmas dinner than can be followed up by a less civilised night out as it’s in the best location, just a stone’s throw away from some of my favourite bars in York. Where are you heading for your work’s Christmas do this year? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Caribbean Christmas

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds
Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

Can you tell that I’m taking every opportunity to get on the Christmas hype this year? I’m definitely catching the festive feels (I blame the girls at work) so when Turtle Bay invited me down to try their Christmas set menu, I was definitely down to try something a little different. When you think Christmas dinner, you’d be thinking some kind of roast with a stuffed pepper for the vegetarians, but Turtle Bay does it entirely differently which makes it perfect for groups. It’s the kind of place you’d go for a team Christmas dinner after work when you want to have some cheap cocktails on the side. Preferably on a Thursday as Friday’s are made for work hangovers, right?

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

I headed down after work to try the menu with my friend Luke as he’s already a Turtle Bay fan and who doesn’t love a four course dinner on a Wednesday evening? The set menu which we reviewed is priced at £24pp for nibbles, starters, mains and desserts and it was a serious amount of food. As it’s 241 cocktails until 7pm, we took advantage of the offer and had a few drinks with dinner too and tried the Tobago tea (like a long island but with mango and lemonade instead of coke), a zombie (lethal yet delicious), and the Rum Runner which is an off menu drink and we didn’t know what was in it other than rum but it was delightful.

The nibbles we started with were pork rind, a garlic flatbread and chickpeas. I’ve had the chickpeas before and honestly could eat them like crisps as they’re baked in seasoning and are really flavoursome. The garlic flatbread was another winner as it had a hot sauce drizzled over it to give it a kick, and the pork rind was a bit like a pork scratching.

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

Our starters came out with our nibbles so we shared them between us tapas style and had the duck rolls and mango chicken wings. Duck is one of my favourite meats and I’ve had the rolls there before, which are in a tortilla style wrap rather than a crispy wrap as you’d get in a Chinese restaurant, and they almost have a hoisin flavour but with jerk spices too. The mango chicken wings were also really delicious with a lot of meat on the bone, but as you can imagine, the messiest food to eat ever. Not that it stopped us, obvs.

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

After the starters and nibbles we were almost doubting whether we’d manage mains and desserts but y’know, we persevered. We both went for curry and Luke chose curried duck, whereas I picked the vegan option which is spinach, sweet potato and aubergine. Luke’s was a slow braised duck leg in the curry and served with coconut rice and peas. Mine was a lighter and less spicy curry as it was vegetables in a light curry sauce and served with steamed rice. We both really enjoyed the mains as they were full of flavour and being there for the Christmas menu meant we ordered something different to what we’d usually pick at Turtle Bay (forever fans of the goat curry). I really enjoyed that despite it being a Christmas menu, Turtle Bay has stuck to what it’s good at rather than trying to do a twist on a British Christmas dinner. I mean, can you even imagine jerk pigs in blankets? That would be a no from me.

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

As it would be rude not to have dessert, we both finished the meal with something sweet. Luke chose the upside down rum cake which I’ve had before and can vouch for it being pretty much pure rum (and absolutely incredible), and I went for the dark chocolate brownie. Both were seriously good but I was so full that dessert defeated me. The brownie was so rich and is actually one of the gluten free options available.

Turtle Bay Christmas Menu Leeds

Overall, I’d definitely recommend the Christmas menu at Turtle Bay as it has all the best bits from the main menu on it and is pretty good value for money, especially for a central Leeds restaurant. It covers off all your dietary requirements without compromising the quality as can often be the case with set menus and timed right with the 241 cocktail offer, you’re pretty much in for a great night.
Would you be down for a Caribbean Christmas meal? Let me know in the comments.

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