Monday, 14 August 2017

Why writing is my therapy

Rooi Kate Spade Notebook Review
Kate Spade Notebook

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved writing. Short stories, diaries which contain my teenage heart, angsty poetry published on Bebo, you name it, I’ve done it. I can’t even describe the comfort that writing, whether it’s fingers to keyboard or pen in hand, brings to me. In fact, because reading and writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, my only tattoo of a book and quill symbolises that.

What I think a lot of people don’t realise is how much writing I do that doesn’t get published on here. I can’t even count the number of posts I’ve written in the heat of the moment, simply to get my thoughts out of my head and onto a page, purely because writing them like a post makes me feel like I’ve expressed pent up emotions, regardless of whether they ever get published. It makes me laugh now to look back at my school days when writing 1,000 words in an essay seemed like a mammoth task, and yet all it takes it one person to piss me off when I’m on my period to prompt a hormonal out pouring of twice as many words. Disclaimer: those words are absolutely not fit for public consumption.

Kate Spade Notebook

Something that I really struggle with is feeling as though I’m in control of my life. I’ve referred to this before as my need of feeling ‘together’. I think this is the negative side effect of being a single girl living alone as for the majority of the time, I’m reliant on myself and nobody else, and physically writing things down, whether it’s practical lists or creative ideas, really helps this. Let’s face it, if I forget to do something, whether it’s something small like making sure I don’t run out or shampoo or something bigger like forgetting to pay a bill, I only have myself to blame and I’m the one to deal with the consequences.

Kate Spade Notebook

Most of the time, for life admin type bits, I’ll record things digitally, either as calendar reminders, emails to myself or in the notes section of my phone, but when it comes to more creative things, I definitely prefer to physically put pen to paper. I’m an absolute stationary fiend and at the moment, I’m loving pretty notebooks with motivational quotes as let’s face it, with creativity comes an Instagram post. Am I sorry to be that blogger cliché? No. Am I the type of person to sit in a cafe writing down blog ideas using cute stationary as I wait for my avocado on toast to arrive? Yes. The one in the photos is by Kate Spade (via Rooi) is my absolute favourite at the moment as it’s a bit bigger and perfect for brainstorming new ideas. I know a lot of people prefer little notebooks that will fit in their handbag but my every day bag could rival Mary Poppins, so a big notebook is perfect for me.

Kate Spade Notebook

I find having ideas sessions with other people just as helpful as having them by myself. So many of my posts have come from other people saying ‘oh but why don’t you write about this’ and it’s an idea that makes 100% sense yet hasn’t even been on my radar. My absolute dream is to spend more time with bloggers just coming up with ideas for content and bouncing it around, writing things down physically in a notebook and creating a web of content themes for our blogs. Of course this would take place in a cute cafe and include a few pics for the old ‘gram. Note to self, make this happen!

So tell me, what does writing mean to you? Are you a lover or a hater? Do you write it down or type it up? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Appreciating Liverpool

Appreciating Liverpool
I’ve been to Liverpool a few times now but I’ve never really written about why I’m starting to fall in love with the city. As it’s on the opposite side of the country from where I grew up in York, it wasn’t in the day trip zone, so I’ve only really been as an adult, and it’s always been on race weekends where I’ve been there supporting the half marathon.

I headed across the Pennines recently, again to support another race, but ended up having such a lovely time that I wanted to share what I did, where I went and why it’s making me love the city.

I jumped on the train over, which takes about 1hr50 from Leeds to Liverpool Lime Street and spent the entire journey losing myself in Louise Pentland’s new novel, Wilde Like Me. If you’re a chicklit fan, I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy – I actually have two copies as I went to her signing in Manchester recently so I have a signed copy for best and the copy I pre-ordered to actually read. Does anyone else do that when they have a signed book?

Once I arrived, I checked into the Ibis Styles hotel on Dale Street, which is about a 10 minute walk from the station and I don’t know whether it’s because I was on the top floor or because I was at the back of the hotel, but it’s the quietest hotel room I’ve ever been in. My room was ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ themed and that was pretty cool. The Ibis Styles hotels tend to be a quirky version of the standard hotel, but when I paid just over £100, including breakfast, this definitely did the job. It was functional but the staff were great, room was clean and comfortable, and the continental breakfast was perfect for me (though very carb-heavy so if you’re gluten free/on Slimming world, you might struggle).

Ibis Styles Liverpool

I headed to Liverpool One, a shopping complex which I’d never really had chance to explore before, to meet my good friend Alex for dinner. It turns out that on the top level of Liverpool One, there’s a rooftop park?! Who knew! I’m now desperate to return to Liverpool to go shopping as they have absolutely every shop ever and I’ve never had chance to explore before. Alex introduced me to Wagamama for the first time, a restaurant that’s been on my ‘to try’ list for a while. We enjoyed a whole load of delicious food – I went for pulled pork gyoza and then a duck dish.

wagamama Liverpool One

After Wagamama, Alex took me to his favourite bar/cafe which is called Leaf – they have a massive tea menu which is perfect for after dinner when Alex doesn’t drink and I had an early start. It’s definitely one of those places you’d never normally go to as it’s a little off the beaten track, but somewhere that’s entirely under-rated for visitors as it’s so chilled. The gin and tonics looked incredible so maybe the next time I’m there...

Leaf Liverpool loose leaf tea

As I mentioned, I was in Liverpool for a race and though I wasn’t even up to walking the race after having been on the verge of death from the plague that week (AKA, had a cold), I still went down to support my sister and her friends who were running the Women’s Running 5 and 10k races. I’ve never met such a fantastic group of women when it comes to running – they get together every year to do this race, wear matching purple tshirts and then have an amazing picnic afterwards. We’re talking ultimate picnic goals!

Women's Running 10k Liverpool Sefton Park Picnic

That weekend definitely made me fall in love with Liverpool and though I always talk about solo travel, this time it was 100% the people that made me leave a little bit of my heart there. I can’t wait to go back, whether it’s to shop by myself or have a full weekend there with friends. I already have plans for my annual trip to support the marathon, but I think I need to get a trip in before then! Do you love Liverpool too? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Lifelong Bucket List

coloured umbrellas
Lifelong Bucket List

Right now, I feel like I don’t have a life plan. At all. I know what I want to do in my career and I’m on my way with that, but that’s the only direction I have right now. I wanted to write a list of the things I really want to do in my life. No time limits, no particular order, but the experiences I want to have. Then the next step will be working out how to achieve them! Here’s my bucket list, my to do before I die list.

Really explore New York
This one is definitely a while off as none of my hard earned cash is being spent in Trump’s America, but I’m desperate to go back and spend time in New York really exploring. I had a fantastic time there when I was 18 but my concerns then were shopping, not sightseeing, and now I want to go back and see it properly. I want to get the feel for the city, to focus on the experiences and to go to the places I’ve read about.

Fly somewhere first class
This is such an indulgent dream to have but I’ve always wanted, just once, to go on a long-haul flight and feel really damn fancy. As this is something which will always be out of my usual budget and I know that it will take a lot of saving up to do, but that in itself, feeling like I’ve really earned it, makes it so much more worth it.

Swim in the sea
I can imagine people reading this and wondering how the hell I’ve got to 25 without swimming in the sea but it’s actually one of my biggest fears – I’m definitely not a water baby, nor a strong swimmer, but I would like to experience it. Preferably somewhere shallow and without sharks.

Do something award-winning
I know that you should work out of passion and not for the recognition but I’d absolutely love to work on a project that wins an award. What can I say, I want to be presented with something shiny that I’ll see when I go into work and be reminded of the time that I did something really fucking good.

See a whale in the wild
I LOVE whales – and that’s from someone who is absolutely not a fan of the sea. I think they’re fascinating creatures, and seeing one in the wild is my absolute dream. In the meantime, I need to go see Dippy the diplodocus’ replacement at the Natural History Museum in London.

Buy my own flat
I currently co-own my flat with my sister but as I knew it was never going to be a forever home, I’ve never been all that emotionally attached to it. Buying my own flat, just in my name and making it my own little home is definitely on my list of things to do as I want to have a space that I feel like I’ve curated.

Get married
This is such an absolute cliché but I really hope that one day I get married. Even if I’m 90 years old and die a week later, at some point, I want to be a bride and experience that rush of energy when you commit to someone you love that much. This is so far away from where I’m at in my life right now (hence why this is categorically NOT a ‘things to do before I’m 30’ post), but I hope at some point, it happens.

Visit Harry Potter World in Florida
I’m just an absolute nerd, OK? I’d love to go and immerse myself in the magic of that world and live my childhood dreams out. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Watch a film with a live orchestra
This is another nerdy one for me but I'm desperate to see a film I love with the music played live in front of me. Either Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Jurassic Park would be my dream as I can just imagine it giving me chills.

So, that’s my bucket list for now, and I’m sure I’ll add to it. What’s on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Little things that make me smile

Little things that make me smile
Bee happy jar

It’s important to take note of the little things that make you smile. Big things like buying houses, marriages, promotions and everything else might be big milestones to celebrations, but sometimes it’s nice to take stock of the little things that make you happy. I was inspired to do this after reading Sophie Cliff's post about things that give her joy and it made me want to write my own, just as a reminder to myself that there's a lot of things I love in life. Here’s my list.

1. Fresh bedding washed with your favourite laundry detergent.

2. Summer days that feel autumnal and are a reason to stay inside with tea, candles and Netflix.

3. Guilt free boxset binging.

4. Getting organised for the week ahead.

5. Waking up and actually getting out of bed instead of hitting snooze.

6. Listening to Harry Potter audio books on my walk to work.

7. Loose leaf tea brewed in a teapot.

8. Standing on the Juliette balcony in my flat and watching the world go by.

9. Being able to share the opportunities I get through blogging with my friends and family.

10. Spending loyalty card points on something indulgent.

11. Laughing at the same viral video that always makes you giggle no matter how many times you see it.

12. Doing sensible life admin like backing up your laptop just in case.

13. Losing hours to a new book.

14. Cheering people on at races as running is really bloody hard.

15. Taking off your makeup properly in a full skincare routine for the first time in ages.

16. Opening a new reed diffuser.

17. Having all of your clothes put away and the 24 hours before your floordrobe returns.

18. Buying myself fresh flowers for no reason.

What brightens up your day? Share the love in the comments.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Delicious Desserts at Kaspas, Leeds

Kaspas Leeds Review
Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts

I think we all know by now that I have an off the scale sweet tooth so I was pretty excited to be invited to try Kaspas, a new dessert spot in Leeds. I took my best friend Catherine with me (as she appreciates my love of sweet stuff) to try some sugary goodness after work. I’m not actually a full on lover of desserts, I’m more of a straight up chocolate kinda gal, but a trip to Kaspas has definitely brought me back round to dessert appreciation. And dessert appreciation is important.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts

Kaspas is situated in The Core in Leeds and opens late on evenings and for me, it’s the kind of place you’d go with your friends when you fancy something sweet but don’t want to commit to going for dinner. It’s family-friendly too and actually, I can imagine it being the kind of place where teens would go to hang out on weekends together. I can only imagine the teenage romances that could blossom in there over cookie dough.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts drinks

Kaspas is very much of a diner-style and feels quite American in that it has booths and an icecream-parlour feel at the counter. On the menu, there are waffles, crepes, icecream and cookie dough galore, with a load of options to personalise your choice, which I’m definitely down with. I went for a chocolate fudge cookie dough with vanilla and cookies and cream icecream and despite that sounding like diabetes on a plate, it wasn’t as overwhelmingly sickly as you’d expect. The cookie dough was chocolatey and gooey and the icecream was rich and creamy – it tasted like Italian gelato, not mass-produced icecream, which is the dream.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts cookie dough

Catherine went for the strawberry shortcake waffle, which she had on a M&M waffle. Her dessert came with vanilla Mr Whippy type icecream and her waffle was topped with strawberry slices, white chocolate and digestive biscuits. I tried a little bit of her dessert and it was really good – a bit too sweet for me personally as I’m not a white chocolate fan, but I’d definitely have it with another topping.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts strawberry shortcake waffle

Kaspas is definitely a new addition to Leeds as I don’t know of anywhere else which specifically sells desserts. Whilst I don’t think it would be somewhere I’d go regularly, I’d definitely recommend it for families, especially for those long shopping days, or for younger people who aren’t quite old enough to go to a bar, but don’t want to hang around in McDonalds either. It’s a great location, reasonably priced and we had a lovely (and fit) waiter. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Birthday celebrations with Roxy Lanes

Roxy Lanes Leeds
Roxy Lanes Leeds

If you’re from the Leeds area, you’re probably already familiar with Roxy Lanes, the sister bar or Roxy Ballroom in Leeds. They seem to be taking over as they now have bars in Huddersfield and Liverpool too.

Roxy Lanes turned three recently and I was invited down to help them celebrate, which turned into a really fun evening. I hadn’t been to Roxy Lanes in about a year, having actually been there for my own birthday celebrations last year, but I’d loved it then and still love it now! It’s grown up, childhood fun – because who doesn’t love bowling with a Pornstar Martini in hand?

Roxy Lanes Leeds

They have so many games there, including pingpong and crazy golf, but I’m still desperate to go there to play beer pong. On the night of the party, I realised exactly how terrible I am at bowling without the sides up and was dangerously close to a toddler style tantrum at the number of gutter balls I got. It was embarrassing, I’m not going to deny it. I do love Roxy for bowling though as whilst it’s a little more expensive than your standard bowling alley, it’s the atmosphere, location and the fact that there’s a great bar and food on offer that you’re paying for. Usually you can get a couple of games of bowling and a main meal for about £15 which I think it a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon! I’ve always found that Pink Gorilla has good deals for Roxy Lanes so if you’re planning on going any time soon, check them out first as you’ll easily save yourself a few quid.

Roxy Lanes Leeds

Roxy Lanes Leeds

I’m a long-time fan of Roxy and it’ll always be on my list of places that I love going as it’s just fun. It’s reverting to childhood, getting competitive, and the best place for friend dates, date dates and after work drinks dates. I’m actually heading to Roxy in Huddersfield soon as they’ve just launched their ‘bottomless lunch’ which is 90mins of cocktails and a main course for £20 – definitely a deal I’m down with.

So tell me, how the hell does anyone actually do bowling successfully without having the sides up? Tell me your secrets in the comments!

Monday, 31 July 2017

A new Leeds lunch spot

Hive Eat Leeds
Hive Leeds lunch food

If you’ve been following me on social, you’ll know that I recently started a new job in Leeds city centre and being typical me, the biggest things I worried about were the logistics, not the job itself. I know I can do my job, and I know that anything I can’t do, I can learn. But it’s the little things like how long my walk to work will take and where to go for lunch that made me a little more anxious. Is that weird? Tell me it’s not weird.

Once I had the basics down (21 minute walk in case anyone’s interested), I started looking for new places to go for lunch as food is life and a good lunch is a game changer  for a good afternoon. Now I’m based in the city centre, the world is my oyster, and I’m no longer restricted to the delightful Tesco meal deal section for on the go food. Thank god. If I see another hoisin duck wrap, it will not be a good day.

I was invited to go and review Hive which is a new healthy, cafe-come-deli-come-lunchspot which is based just near Leeds railway station and a convenient 15 minute walk from my office, making it the perfect place to go when I fancy a walk out on lunchtime. For me, it’s perfect for sunny days when I can have a peaceful walk down the canal and play a game of ‘dodge the lunchtime runners’ on my way down.

My first impression of Hive was that the staff were so friendly, which makes all the difference when you’re going out of your way to support an independent, and it makes me want to go back even more. They’ve only been there a few weeks and when I walked in at lunchtime, it was already fairly busy, so it’s definitely a hit with the businesses in the area – it’s definitely the kind of place where you’d take an off-site meeting.

Hive Leeds lunch food

Hive Leeds lunch food

I really wanted to sit in as it has such a relaxed atmosphere but I was tight on time when I went in so opted to take away a Vietnamese pulled chicken salad, crisps, a bottle of pomegranate and green tea and a chocolate orange brownie. The staff were incredibly generous and gave me some hot drinks vouchers to share with my team too, so now they’re all keen to go down too, especially after seeing my lunch in the office.

The salad I had was huge – they definitely don’t scrimp on the portion sizes. It was packed with kale, green veggies and loads of delicious pulled chicken, so it was incredibly filling. They do load of delicious salads that have all of the nutritional breakdown, so perfect for those who are being good – my salad had two portions of my five a day in it. I was really impressed  as they have both hot and cold food to take out and that includes hot pots like chicken and chorizo with beans etc. They’re really good for catering for dietary requirements too, so it’s a winner all round.

Hive Leeds lunch food

Hive Leeds lunch food

Hive Leeds lunch food

The brownie I had went down an absolute treat too as I shared it with some of the girls in the office. It tasted like it had been made that morning and was another very generous portion – less healthy but perfect if there’s a couple of you and you want to have a taste of something sweet.

Overall, Hive is definitely a winner for me. So far I haven’t found anywhere that offers so much variation of healthy options for lunchtime which is so full of flavour. I’m a self confessed salad snob (I refuse to eat most pre-packed salads) as I make such an effort with the salads I take to work, but Hive is a game changer for me. Will you be trying it out soon? Let me know in the comments! 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Twenty Seventeen – pt2

Twenty Seventeen – pt2

It’s July. What the actual hell, I’m pretty sure last week I was complaining about the January blues and the festive season shaped hole in my bank balance. As we’re officially halfway back to Christmas and naturally I’ve started counting down to breaking out my A/W wardrobe (striped jumpers as opposed to striped tshirts), I wanted to do a little re-assess of the goals I set myself back in January. Like a biannual review. Dear Lord, it’s almost like I set KPIs for myself.

Arrange more fun stuff
I’m putting a big, fat tick next to this one as I’ve been saying yes to a lot of the fantastic opportunities I get through my blog, which means being able to see blogger friends and also take friends and family as plus ones (two birds one stone with blog content and fun times). I’ve also been focusing more on memories over materialism and have booked tickets to various shows and gigs right into 2018.

Do the fitness thing... better
I started this one with different intentions to how it’s worked out as I’m now a member of an different gym than I was at the start of the year. I’m actually enjoying it far more as the classes are smaller, the service is way more personal and the style of exercise is more up my street. However, it's also further from my new job so I'm in two minds about going back to my old gym - decisions, decisions! I'm still far from looking like Kendall Jenner and I'm in desperate need of a motivational boost.

No more comparing successes
This one I’ve struggled with a little as being 25 and surrounded by people settling down really shows the differences in lifestyle. I regularly need to remind myself that I’m absolutely not ready to give up #PRLife and living in a bachelorette pad and just last night a good friend of mine pointed out that other people living their lives has absolutely zero impact on my life. However, it’s a case of asking what success looks like for me (this is starting to sound like a piece of strategy work I’d do for a client) as my goals right now don’t include a second toothbrush in my bathroom, a ring on my finger or womb activation.

Be happier
Dear Lord, this has been an improvement to date for sure. I put this entirely down to taking myself off the contraceptive injection and upon reflection, I was incredibly unhappy for the full 18 months I spent on it, but only realised once it was well and truly out of my system. That, the lighter evenings and the conscious effort I’ve made to make myself happier have all really impacted on my moods.

Give something back
I’m really sad that I haven’t given blood in a while as I got a piercing so I’m out of the loop for another couple of months, but I have full intention of going back and donating later in the year. I have however sponsored friends for their charity endeavours and I’ve tried as much as I can to make time, especially at work, to help people.

Stop waiting around for things
As I write this, I’m two days away from starting a new job as a Social Media Manager which is a massive promotion for me. I was contacted out of the blue about it and when I told a friend I ‘got lucky’, he said to me that no, you create your own luck. And you know what, he’s right. The job market is too saturated to get handed a promotion on a plate without well and truly deserving it. I’ve spent a lot of time essentially jogging on the spot in all areas of my life in the last year or so, but now that I’ve got one big change ahead of me, I’m hoping for a domino effect.

So that’s where I’m at with my goals for 2017 – a few ticked off but some room for improvement! How are you going with you resolutions? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Introducing East 59th, Leeds

East 59th Leeds Victoria Gate

Oh my days, Victoria Gate in Leeds is KILLING IT with the new bar scene at the moment. I wrote about the launch of Issho quite recently and since then, their next door neighbours have moved in at East 59th, which is a whole new vibe. It’s a New York inspired bar which has a focus on cocktails and chilled vibes, whereas Issho has the ‘we’re out for an occasion and feeling fancy’ vibe. East 59th is a gorgeous space but a little more relaxed which I definitely enjoyed.

I headed down for their launch party and spent my evening sipping on cocktails with some absolutely beaut blogger gals. The cocktail menu is extensive, as is the food menu. We tried a few bits including nachos (my absolute fave in every situation in life), and truffle puffs which are 100% a game changer. Think potato-y balls of goodness with a hint of truffle. Dee-lish. My favourite cocktail that I’ve tried on their menu so far is the Jersey Smash which is a Maker’s Mark Bourbon fruity fusion of delight – though I’m very set on returning to try the entire menu. As y’know, it’s good to try new things.

East 59th Leeds Victoria Gate

East 59th Leeds Victoria Gate

The bar has a rooftop terrace too which is actually pretty damn incredible whatever the weather as there is under-cover seating with patio heaters so if you’re keen on sitting outdoors, you can do. Even on days like today when I’ve woken up to write this post and it feels like 90% Autumn and I have a candle burning and everything to set the scene. I know everyone thinks of roof terraces and automatically dreams of summer afternoons with a bottle of prosecco in hand (and I’m totally down with that), but I’m excited for cold and crisp Autumn evenings sitting out all wrapped up under a patio heaters with some stars in the distance. Hell, the city centre is right under the flight path for Leeds Bradford so you can even throw in a game of ‘is it a shooting star, is it a plane?’ for some added romance.

East 59th Leeds Victoria Gate

East 59th Leeds Victoria Gate

East 59th Leeds Victoria Gate

I’m pretty set on going back to East 59th for bottomless brunch as I think they have one of the best value deals in Leeds - £15 for the food which includes one brunch dish and unlimited pastries, and then £15 on top for unlimited prosecco. Given a bottle of prosecco in East 59th comes in at £35, I’d say that’s very good value! Overall, I’m definitely impressed by East 59th and I think it’s a really good addition to the Leeds bar and restaurant scene as they’ve definitely brought something a little different to the table.

So, who’s coming for brunch with me? Let me know in the comments!

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!
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