Wednesday, 28 February 2018

9 Things I Really Need To Start Doing

So we get older and the expectation is that we will also get a little wiser.

While there are many things that I am now doing that I would not have 10 years ago, I actually wear weather appropriate clothes for the most part, the scales are probably still tipping in favour of me being a clueless youth.

But being a full time adult is hard work, like, really hard work! And the older I get the more I am starting to realise there is no such thing as proper grown up. The biggest lie since Santa Claus!

I am creeping towards 30 more quickly than I would like to admit, and I do not have as much shit together as I thought I would when I was a naive 15 year old. 

My plan was to meet the person of my dreams by 20, be engaged by 24, married by 25 and have my first child by 26. I would have some big important job that people would be impressed to hear about at all the cocktail parties I was sure to attend. I would be fancy enough to do my weekly shop at M&S and I’d have a glass of red wine with my evening meals. 

I’m older than all of them and I’m wise enough to know things are going to go as planned. Mainly because I’ve surpassed the above ages and they didn’t happen.

Anyways, here are some of the things I think I should probably do a bit more often. And I am trying, I promise. Sort of.

1. Reply to my scary emails quickly

At work I am Super Organised Woman, who gets the most difficult tasks out of the way at the start of the day and loves to check things off her to-do list. When it comes to my personal life I am quite literally the complete opposite. When I have to deal with real life problems I can be a bit of an avoider! I will straight up not open my emails because I am scared of a reply I might get, which is super annoying when at the same time I know I have an email coming through that I actually want to read.

2. Check my balance

Oh boy. From talking to people I know I am not alone in this one. This falls under the whole ‘me avoiding things’ section. It’s scary though, right? I know that ASOS order was probably a little too big, but I love all of the pretty clothes. I’m just gonna put on my new boots and pretend reality doesn’t exist for a little longer.

3. Control my spending habits

Which brings me nicely onto this one. My shopping habits can be hugely influenced by my emotions. If I am sad I will place a big order on ASOS for clothes I don’t really need and if I am bored at work I will pop into Superdrug to buy another moisturiser even though I have 3 unused ones on my dressing table. I need to start to keep a spreadsheet of my outgoings, anyone know a good app for that?

4. Save more money

Look at me smoothly linking all the points together. Saving money is a big one. I mean, yay for me I have actually finally started saving but it is nowhere near what it should be. Granted I have been on a low-ish wage so it’s been a bit difficult. But I could have saved more if I put my heart into it. Luckily I’m getting a bit of a pay rise with my new job so I should be able to start building up a proper nest egg soon!

5. Housework

Okay, moving away from money related ones, everybody’s favourite word…housework! To be fair to me I have been putting a little more effort into this one lately. I had to, the boyfriend practically gave me an ultimatum! It’s boring and major effort but I do love relaxing in a tidy house.

6. Be more confident

I need to let go of some of my life-long insecurities and have more confidence in myself. That includes confidence in my skills and abilities as well as not caring what other people think. I have surprised myself lately with some of the things I have achieved, I need to own my strong points more. Lord knows I focus on my weak points often enough!

7. Make some Doctors appointments

Anyone else really rubbish at this? My arm could be dangling off and I would be able to convince myself that it’s fine, it’ll heal on it’s own and I’d just be wasting the Doctors time. T’is but a flesh wound, any Monty Python fans out there?

8. Stop eating as much pizza

Lately pizza has become one of my main food groups. I love it, I do, it’s one of humans greatest achievements. But even I have to admit that I should cut back. I need to have more home cooked healthy meals again instead of being lazy and ordering a takeaway. 

9. Start running again

Running, and just exercising in general. During winter I really lost motivation. I prefer exercising first thing in the morning but I’ve struggled waking up when it’s so dark out. Well it’s getting lighter now so there really is no excuse anymore. I miss how much healthier and happier I felt when I worked out regularly.

What do you need to do more? Or are you totally nailing this life thing?

P.S sorry for the really unrelated photo, my phone has broke so I had to dig through the archives!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik, Iceland

 I usually like to make sure that there will be plenty of sunshine when I go on holiday, it helps to balance out all the rainy days we get in Manchester.

However, I do also love getting all wrapped up snug and visiting a snowy destination.

One of my most favourite and memorable holidays was my trip to Reykjavik in Iceland. It’s a beautiful city that is picture perfect almost everywhere you look.

I loved all of my time there but one of the highlights was definitely visiting the Blue Lagoon.

It’s located fairly close to the airport, so a lot of places will offer to drop you off there and then pick you up a few hours later to take you on to the airport. We were only in Reykjavik for a few days so we though this was a great way to squeeze it into the trip.

You have to book in advance as it’s obviously quite a popular tourist attraction so plenty of people head there. Don’t worry about overcrowding though, when I went there was more than enough room for everyone and I think they actually limit the amount of people using it at once now. Yay, more room for silly pictures!

It was so…surreal to be there. It felt like I was going against all my natural instincts stepping outside in a bikini! I speedily made my way over to the lagoon where I warmed up at once. The temperature is on average around 37-40 degrees, yassss.

Dotted around the edge of the lagoon are free silica mud masks, so you get to give yourself a bit of a facial (insert sassy emoji). You can apply it to the rest of your body too to get silky smooth skin all over.

You don’t even have to leave the warm water to get a drink as they have a pool bar where you can get an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. If I remember correctly we had a slushy but the smoothie is supposed to be good too.

If you are brave enough to step out of the water then there is also a sauna and steam room you can pop into. So you can be all toasty warm while looking out at the beautiful views. I gave it a go but personally I am not a fan of saunas as the heat makes me dizzy.

We took our go-pro when we visited so we were able to take lots of fun photos. If you have a waterproof camera then definitely remember to take it with you. Trust me, you will want to take all of the pictures.

It is a must-go if you are visiting Reykjavik. A picture of this place should be next to the dictionary definition of tranquil. Drifting around the milky blue water was so calm and relaxing, I felt completely at peace.


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Giving Myself A Little Bit Of TLC

I have been going through a somewhat stressful and anxiety inducing time lately, putting no time aside for some TLC. 

When I go through these times it is more than easy for me to simply wallow. I will focus on all the negatives, stop looking after myself, not have motivation to do anything I enjoy and just sleep or be sleepy all of my free time. 

Well recently I did a lot of wallowing, and as fun as that was (picture me a pizza and family sized bag of crips down, with 5 day old hair and with a continuous grumpy expression on my face) I decided it was time to do something about it. So when I found myself with a free weekend I thought it would be the perfect time for a little bit of TLC from me to me. So here’s what I did…

Tidied My Bedroom

I do like to keep on top of my bedroom but when I am wallowing that dirty pile of laundry will just keep growing, the smaller clean pile of laundry will stay on the bed instead of being hung up in the wardrobe, makeup wipes will cover the table and my shoes will be all over the floor. I gave my room a big spring clean cinderella style and even bought a few homeware items from the fabulous Primark (I am loving all of their fake plants cos I keep killing real ones). Now my bedroom is all clean and pretty.

Pampered Myself

I took an extra long, extra hot shower. I used all of the lovely Soap & Glory products I got for Christmas and came out with silky smooth skin smelling like a god damn princess. I then used all of my lotions and potions: the body butters, face creams and hair care saviours. I felt like a brand new person. Tip - it’s better to tidy your room beforehand because it’s so much more fun pampering yourself in a tidy room. The next day I had a lovely long Lush bath, with candles strewn all over the bathroom and an easy reading book to hand.

Spent Some Time Alone

I remember a few months ago when the boyfriend was away with work or on holiday all of the bleeding time. I love being on my own but eventually I started to get a little lonely. Well now he’s gone through a long stretch where he hasn’t had to go away and yes it’s great to spend time with him but also can he just go away for one weekend please? Well instead of kicking him out of the house into the cold winter weather I decided I would set up shop in my newly cleaned bedroom, letting him have full control of the big TV in the living room, which naturally  for him meant Xbox o’ clock. It was a win-win situation!

Binge Watched My Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

Rewind 5 years ago and there I am sat at a friends house saying Pretty Little Liars is shit and not something I’d ever watch. Fast forward a few years and I am an unashamed addict. I quickly zoomed through it the first time around, I couldn't get enough. The boyfriend and I like to watch a lot of TV and movies, but it can sometimes (read often) be difficult to find something that we’re both in the mood to watch. So when I locked myself away for the weekend I took great pleasure in binge watching this for 2 days. It is my happy place, I love it. There’s something about it that always put me in a good mood. 

Treated Myself

Like I ever need an excuse to treat myself, but it had been a few months since I had bought myself something I wanted but didn’t necessarily need. So I popped to Primark to use that gift card I got for my birthday, I cashed in all of my ASOS vouchers to help buy some sassy new dresses and cosy jumpers and I also popped into the Superdrug near my work to take advantage of their offers. By being a little clever with the vouchers and offers I was able to treat myself without breaking the bank, 10 adult points to Laura.

Worked On My Blog

As I wrote about in one of my recent posts I have really been enjoying working on the ol’ blog lately. I feel productive without actually having to leave the house, without actually having to leave the bed. I stopped writing things for a few months because I was in a deep wallow, so it felt good to brush the dust of my keyboard and get writing again. I’ve also been reading a lot of how-to posts and watching some tutorials on YouTube and Skill Share. I love learning new things, it’s fun and it gives me a sense of achievement.

Did Some Life Admin

Maybe not as much fun as some of the others, but getting through a bit of life admin can tidy up my mind. A lot of the time the things I worry about are so easily resolved, but I build them up in my head so much that I keep putting them off which ends up making things worse. So I thought I would tick off a whole bunch of life admin things and boy did it feel good. What a relief!

So those are some of the ways I gave myself a little bit of tender love and care. I have been trying to keep them up and they’ve helped make me more happy lately, just what I needed after a long stretch of wallowing. How do you give yourself a little bit of TLC?


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Vienna: It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

I had wanted to visit Vienna for some time before I finally headed there.

I visited last year as part of my backpacking trip around Europe with my boyfriend, it was our third stop out of six.

Unlucky for us we started the trip off on a sour note. 

We were in Berlin when we found out that the Air BnB we had booked was cancelling on us as the room was no longer available. 

Cue minor panic attack!

We quickly opened up the Air BnB app and not a lot was available at such short notice so we took the first one we saw within our budget.

It was a private room as apposed to the full/entire home, which actually helped shape my decision on this previous post.

We hauled our heavy backpacks onto the tram and eventually found the street we were staying on. 

After ringing the doorbell a twenty year old, unkept guy answered the door and took us upstairs to his apartment. As we looked around our bedroom and bathroom (with way too many hairs in the shower, shudder) we realised we were staying in a student apartment, and a pretty unclean one at that.

Oh dear!

Also we were advised not to go in the living room as his girlfriend was sleeping in there and she was poorly. Sure we don't need to go in or maybe, you know, don't have a sick person in the flat someone is paying to stay in.

Anyway, the guy actually ended up telling us about two events that sort of made up for the accommodation.

Firstly there was the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert - with free admission

The Vienna Philharmonic was founded in 1841 and is one of the best orchestras in the world. Every summer since 2004 they have hold an open air concert in Schonbrunn Palace.

An opera at a palace, can you get more Viennese? 

There grounds were stunning and the atmosphere was, well, a little magical tbh. Did I really just say that?

I didn’t know many of the songs they played but I did recognise “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty!

We were only there for a couple of nights so it was good to tick off an opera and palace in one go.

The second event the Air BnB guy told us about was a festival by the river Danube. I have tried to look up the name for this online but I can’t find it, sorry! Apparently it's on every year around May time.

It was a warm and beautiful day, we grabbed some beers from a shop to keep it cheap and sat in the crowd on the riverside, soaking up the atmosphere.

There were several live acts and live performers on throughout the day/night, so we got to have a little dance too.

One performer was a flame thrower wearing a monkey mask and oh-my-god he was the worse flame thrower I have ever seen. He kept on dropping the batons, I was on edge thinking he was going to set himself on fire!

So although our accommodation nightmare put a bit of a downer on the trip (I don't think the bedsheets were clean, bleugh) we did end up having a couple of really fun and unexpected nights.

During the day we headed out for brunch (which was so good I wrote about it in another post), popped to the museum quarter and also made it to Freuds old apartment. 

Have you been to Vienna before? I didn’t have enough time to really explore the city so I think I will have to head back at some point. Would you recommend anything to see/do/eat?


Saturday, 10 February 2018

7 Things I Am Obsessing Over Lately

Okay so lately I noticed I have started to become addicted to a few things.

Some of them new things and some are rekindle loves…

1. Pretty Little Liars…Again

I was late to the game for PLL and only started watching it in 2016. I just wanted to put something on in the background the other week whilst I was blogging and now I am already on season three, #sorrynotsorry!

2. Girls Night Out?, Soap & Glory

I gave the boyfriend some pretty massive hints to get me this for Christmas, including sending him the link and pointing it out in Boots. I am loving using these products and it’s put me in a big Soap & Glory frame of mind, I just want more and more of their products. They smell so good!

3. Podcasts

I am obsessed with podcasts, I listen to them every day at work. Some of the ones I’m loving lately are Ctrl Alt Delete, Standard Issue, 2 Dope Queens and This Paranormal Life. If you have any recommendations please let me know, I’m always on the hunt for new ones.

4. Upping My Blogging Game

Blogging is on my brain throughout the day. As soon as I wake up I’m already looking forward to coming home so I can write new posts (while watching PLL of course). I’m reading loads of advice and how-to posts, I want 2018 to be a productive year.

5. Learning About Photography

I am such a newbie when it comes to photography. I got a decent camera but I never actually looked up how to use it properly. Until last month. I am watching youtube tutorials and I have also joined Skill Share.

6. Detox Playlist, Spotify

This is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea but I am loving the Detox playlist on Spotify. Work can be extremely hectic and stressful, listening to this playlist helps to bring my stress levels right back down.

7. Books Books Books

As I’ve already talked about in a previous post I am trying to read more this year, my aim is to read on average a book a week throughout the year. My love has been well and truly rekindled, I am reading on my commute and just before bed each working day. I’m currently reading Bird Song, which is a war novel and completely enthralling.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Elephants World, Kanchanburi, Thailand

One of the absolute delights of Kanchanburi (a small town located about 85 miles to the west of Bangkok) is that it is home to Elephants World, an elephant sanctuary whose motto is ‘we work for the elephants, and the elephants not for us’.

Meeting an elephant has been a life long dream. I remember reading Barbar the Elephant and watching Jungle Book when I was little and just yearning to see an elephant in real life. Then I got into David Attenborough and the need just intensified.

At first I wanted to ride an elephant like you see everyone doing on their gap yarr. Luckily my friend did a bit of research beforehand and discovered that this is actually very painful for the elephant. The combined weight of the seat and a person is enough to break their back. 

You'll see some pictures of mahouts on the elephants backs, which I was unsure of after hearing about the above. But they advised that the elephants can hold up to 100kg so this minimal bareback riding is not harmful to the elephant. 

A mahout is an elephant keeper. They are assigned to an elephant at a young age and they remain bonded together throughout their life. 

Many of the elephants at this sanctuary were rescued from trekking places with broken backs. Others were rescued from circuses or from people who used them as tourist attractions in Bangkok.

So with this in mind we made our way to the sanctuary instead, drawn in by their caring approach to these mighty and majestic animals. Due to time and money limits we just did the Day Program but you can stay up to 4 weeks on the Mahout Program (the actual dream).

Elephants World kindly provides a transfer service from whatever hostel you’re staying in to the sanctuary and back again, which was so much easier than having to faff about sorting it out ourselves.

In fact, the whole day was so well organised. There’s quite a few people who turn up each day but you’re segmented into smaller, more manageable groups, I think our group had around 6-8 people in. Each group does different activities at different times so there’s never a problem with overcrowding.

As soon as we arrived we got to meet the elephants and feed them a huge basket of fruit that is apparently one of their ‘snacks’ (that’s the kinda size snack I’m talking about!). Their learned trunks slid up to the platform where we were stood and grabbed the fruit right out of our hands, I could have cried with excitement.

The sanctuary itself is so beautiful, there’s so much land for the elephants to roam on and the views are stunning. After feeding the elephants we walked with a few to a river where they had a wash and play. 

We made our way to the elephant hospital and fed one of the older elephants who needed to eat something a bit more mushy. This elephant knew the routine and was already at the door waiting for us to feed her before we’d even finished making the rice cakes!

At the end of the day we helped wash the elephants in the river. Ours was showing signs of PTSD so we backed off and left it to her mahout to help calm her down, which he did and played in the water, diving under the in the deep end.

I don’t think I am able to articulate how amazing the day was. As I said before everything was so well organised and ran at a smooth pace. The staff were very knowledgable and clearly loved the elephants they cared for. And it really felt like we were following the elephants plans, rather than the other way around.

If you’re going to Thailand and want to visit some elephants then please do some research beforehand. There are plenty of cruelty free sanctuaries out there that are amazing.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Lusting Over Sexy Mother Pucker

I am going through a huge Soap & Glory phase at the moment, I’m lusting over their body care products and their make up collection.

One make-up product I think they have practically perfected is their Sexy Motherpucker lipstick. I love them so much I now have three of them and, if I’m totally honest with myself, I’m probably going to buy some more.

A couple of them are powder-coat mattes and one is a glass-coat high shine. I find they go on really smoothly, they’re full of moisture, so they don’t dry out my lips like some other lipsticks, and they stay on a decent amount of time. 

Also, not that it matters much, but they smell really good too. Classic Soap & Glory.

This is the one I wear the most often. I like to keep my makeup quite natural most days and this one is really subtle. Nudes are usually a no-go for me but this one actually works.

I am really getting into pink lipsticks, blushers and eyeshadows. This one I’m wearing more when I want to add a little extra something to my look if I’m popping to the pub quiz during the week or when I hit the shops at the weekend.

Red is a daring look for me so this is the one I wear the least. I wear it when I want to add some sass to a look, so I mainly save it for nights out or special occasions. Or sometimes I'll wear it during the day when I’m feeling very brave!

A short but sweet post, I just really wanted to share my love for these products. What’s your favourite, go-to lipstick?


Saturday, 3 February 2018

January Book Round Up

One of my aims for this year is to read a lot more. After all a ‘man who doesn’t read lives one life, a man who reads lives many’. I can’t remember where I heard that quote but I’ve always liked it.

I also set a goal to do a round up of the books I read each month, hoping it would motivate me to keep reading when my hand is twitching for the phone.

I am going to be totally honest, I didn’t read all of these books in January. I decided to choose two of the longest books to read this month so they’re taking a little longer than I would have liked, but I should be fitting them into February's round up.

Instead I’ve added a couple of books I read towards the end of last year that I really enjoyed and have been telling everyone about anyway.

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi

This is one of the most humbling and poignant books I have ever read. Paul Kalanithi wrote the book while he was finishing up training as a neurosurgeon and dying of cancer. It is moving, captivating and beautifully written. Paul is as poetically brilliant at writing as he is technically brilliant at being a neurosurgeon. It was fascinating to learn how he became drawn to neurosurgery, especially hearing about his experiences on the job. At a time when the NHS is under fire it really makes you appreciate how much work doctors actually go through each day and how taxing it is on their physical and emotional health. This was a book where I had to re-read several pages to try and fully appreciate the magnitude of what he was saying, one where it was hard not to cry while reading on the tram and one that left me thinking for several days, maybe weeks, afterwards.

The House, Simon Lelic

I absolutely love a thriller, it’s one of my favourite go-to genres. I picked up The House while waiting for my flight to Thailand and I zoomed through it. The story follow Jack and Syd who have done the impossible and bought a house in London (they must have been passing on the avocados). The story is written in quite a unique way; it’s written first hand by both Jack and Syd. They are writing down parts of the story, talking to each other throughout. It’s quite dark in parts as the main theme is child abuse. I was gripped and came up with a million and one endings in my head.

The Outsider, Albert Camus

My brother gave me this for my birthday, he has quite a quirky and unique taste in books so I always love getting a book from him. Written in 1942 by Albert Camus, The Outside is an existentialist classic that follows Meursaults life in Paris. At the start of the book his mother dies and Meursault does not show the usual range of emotions at the funeral that people expect. Later on he commits a ‘random act of violence’ and the fact that he didn’t show any emotions at his mothers funeral is put forward as evidence of his guilt. Meursault has a simple way of looking at the world that can be seen as cold and detached, but the book raises the question 'is it the wrong way?'. The last twenty or so pages were so absorbing and deep I had to re-read them to try and figure out my own take on what was happening.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, C.G.Jung

Psychology is a subject that I have always found fascinating, as well as dreams. I have vivid dreams every night and I love looking up the meanings behind them and discovering what things symbolise. Carl Jung is known as the founder of analytical psychology. He worked closely with Sigmund Freud on the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. He is also one of the most influential people in modern dream studies. The book includes an exploration of Jungs childhood, his studies, his relationship with Freud, his work and his travels. Jung became quite invested in the book and wrote many chapters himself, particularly his early childhood memories. If you want to learn more about the man behind the theories this book is the way to go. It also explores philosophical thoughts, frequently referencing writers like Nietzche.

I enjoyed reading all of these books and each of them gave me pause for thought. I’m going to put more time aside to read next month so all of the books will be fresh in my mind. Have you read any of these? What books have you read recently that you’d recommend?

Also I'm aware Breath Without Air is the only book not in the picture but I think we have lent it out to someone, oh well!

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