95 days and counting…

Welcome to another post that’s been a long time coming! It’s only a short one as some of you may already know about what I’m about to write but since I got to properly tell my best friends about it this past weekend I thought I’d make more of an ‘official’ post. 

Come September I will officially unemployed and ready to take on a whole new adventure! Something I’ve been planning and working towards for a couple of years, although not without its setbacks, is finally in motion. Travel. Perhaps indefinitely, but we’ll see how things pan out…

First on the list is New York – The Big Apple, The City of Dreams… spending a few days exploring and taking in the bright lights before joining an organised group tour from the East coast to the West coast. After much deliberation about which company to go with, Trek America was chosen due to the better selection of tour types and price ranges. Here is their website if you’re interested: Trek America

From New York the tour continues to:

Philadelphia

Washington D.C

Virginia

Nashville – might need an extra case for my hat and boots! 

Memphis 

New Orleans 

Louisiana 

Austin 

San Angelo 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park  

Santa Fe

Monument Valley

Grand Canyon National Park

Route 66

Las Vegas

San Diego

Los Angeles, where the tour ends after 21 days

From Los Angeles a trip to San Francisco is a must, as is a day-trip to Disneyland!! But after that I catch a flight to Melbourne where I have a weeks worth of accommodation before my plans end and (I’m hoping) spontaneity begins. Any tips and tricks for working and travelling around Australia would be much appreciated as I’ve exhausted every possible YouTube video on the subject! 

I’m hoping to blog about what I get up to as much as I can whilst I’m away, hopefully filling your timelines with wanderlust inducing posts and photos but wifi may dictate how often that happens, we’ll see. 

So there we go! Just need to pack my bag and dust off my passport and I’m good to go… well, almost… 

Southern BLT from New York

Friendship…

Friendship.

This post has been months in the making because I’ve found it difficult to find the right words to explain my thoughts fully. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, it’s turned out how I imagined it would and I hope that it can be helpful and reassuring to anyone who’s feeling anything similar to me… 

I think friendship is different now from when our parents were younger, at least that’s how it seems in my family. If your parents didn’t go to university, most likely their friends live in the same city as them, or one not too far away unless they’ve moved in more recent years. Up until I went to university, I was the same. I had all my friends a simple bus ride away. Granted, they all lived in different directions but it was still pretty easy to meet up with them; you saw them at school every day and you’d hang out at the weekends for shopping or sleepovers. Friendship was easy. Sixth form for me was pretty much the same as school apart from the introduction of a few German exchange students, one of which I’m still best friends with today. 

Of course the next step is university where you met people from all over the country and whilst making friends at uni is pretty easy, maintaining those friendships once you’re in different cities is where things need a little more effort. Suddenly there are very few original friends in the city we’d all started in which was a strange feeling. It was a bit like being newbie here, having to start over and make friends again. To meet up with friends from school or university now required planning (as well as time and money) since they were scattered in various places all over two hours away. Friendship is team work, it’s give and take. Sometimes the people you thought would be there forever, aren’t. They’ll let you down and a message from them will be too much to ask. You’ll see them maybe four or five times a year and they won’t see anything wrong with it. It takes a little time to accept that not all friends are “forever friends” and that’s okay. However there may be times when someone you thought you’d never speak to again comes back into your life and however daunting and strange this may seem at first it could well be a blessing. It’s also okay to keep people out if that’s what’s best for you. Only you can make that call. Give it the time and effort you think it deserves and go from there. People change, friendships change – it’s not the end of the world. There will be people who show up and never leave, don’t take them for granted – they’re keepers. 

There may come a time when you realise that you don’t really speak to anyone from your school days anymore and that’s okay. You may only have one or two people that you still speak to and that’s okay too! Reconnecting and meeting up with my best friend from secondary school is one of my favourite things to do because although we’ve been leading separate lives for nearly as long as we were at school together we’re still the best of friends. Having known each other for over half our lifetime it’s so cool to be able to say “I knew you back when…” And reminisce together. It’s equally as cool to be able to catch each other up on our current lives and discover that we still both have the same interests and values and that actually, between us, not much has changed. Cherish these people – they’ll be the ones with the best photos at your 40th birthday party. 

Sometimes it may seem that everyone is moving on, settling down with new friends and partners and families and you’re still where you always were. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong. You have your new friends and you’ll get where you’re going soon enough too. It’s a good idea to check in with the friends who are on the same page as you, chasing a similar path – they’ll be feeling exactly the same and it’s nice to reassure each other that you’re not both crazy. 

Bridesmaid 101

They always said it would happen, and I believed them, I just never realised it would come around so quickly! “Wedding season” as they called it, has begun! You may be recently engaged yourself or be the friend or relative of someone who’s recently been asked The Question. If that’s the case there’s a chance you could be asked to play a part in the occasion so if you’re unsure about what that entails here are some pieces of advice for being a bridesmaid, since that’s the only role I’ve ever played in a wedding (I’ve never even been “just a guest” – serial bridesmaid anyone?!). Most recently I was bridesmaid for my best friend in Germany and helping with such duties from a different country had its difficulties but I think we coped pretty well!  

Anyway here we go, take or leave as you need. 

1. Even if you’re not maid of honour, help with the hen party is appreciated. Although I couldn’t just pop round with ideas or props I was frequently messaging her sister (the MoH) with ideas, links to Pinterest crafts and suggesting things that we could do/wear/see. Having the “English advantage” as her sister called it, I was able to bring things from home to go with the theme of part of the hen party – a pretty vintage tea cup, M&S scones (only the best) and other little English teatime treats. 

2. Be helpful, her wish is your command – whether it’s giving ideas, helping make/prepare party favours or something else she needs your extra pair of hands

3. Give her ideas and suggest things she may not have thought of but don’t be over powering, it is her day after all

4. Be prepared to spend time with her friends and family without her – this was especially true for me as I was staying with her family. Although you may not have extended periods of time with them and not her there will always be new family members to meet and socialise with

5. Be her motivator when things get stressful or tedious – hours making Pinterest style crafts and decorations gets a little tiring but we found watching Sex and the City reruns and drinking copious amounts of tea worked pretty well as a slight distraction 

6. Having said that, know when you both need a break – go out for dinner, make dinner together, have a movie and ‘pick n mix’ night, do something completely un-wedding related

7. Have fun and cherish every moment that you’re spending time together planning, making and celebrating because it’s over much too quickly! 

Top Tips for throwing the perfect baby shower… 

Back in September I helped to throw a baby shower for my best friend and I have to say it went perfectly so I thought I’d jot down a few top tips in case of you are in need of some ideas or inspiration! 

1. Make it a surprise if you can 

I would say make it a surprise if you can (presuming the expectant mother likes surprises – we did joke about setting off labour, thankfully that didn’t happen) as this really made the whole thing so special. Three of us hadn’t seen each other altogether for over a year so it was really lovely to be reunited. I’ll never forget A’s face when she came round the corner and saw us all hiding – there were tears all round. Not to be soppy but it was a special moment – if you can make it a surprise I’d recommend it. 

I have also been to a baby shower that was organised by the mother, a sit down dinner with gifts and shared stories, advice and laughs – pick something that suits the person you’re throwing it for, not everyone will enjoy the same thing and their comfort and enjoyment is number one priority! 

2. Find a good location 

Luckily for us, my best friends mum lives and works on a holiday caravan park and she very kindly saved a caravan for us to stay in for the weekend. It was such a cute place to hold the shower – perfect size for the four of us to chill and it had all the amenities we needed! 

3. Decorations!!

This was the most fun part!! The three of us that organised the shower are all pretty creative and so we’d all bought bits and pieces with us to put together and it looked so good! We had bunting, pom-poms, a twine “washing line” filled with tiny baby clothes, a bit fluffy cloud hanging from the ceiling with little appliqué rain drops, a big prop version of the adorable book “Guess How Much I Love You”, mason jars full of chocolate buttons, fudge and skittles as well as pretty cups and plates for other drinks and snacks – the list goes on! Get creative! 

4. Games

Well, games are a must!! Pinterest was very helpful when deciding what games to play (also for decor ideas too if you’re less creative) especially as they needed to be reasonably easy to pack into a case and take on train. We had “pin the sperm on the egg” – a baby centric version of “pin the tail on the donkey” – it has to be said we were probably equally good at this game, which in reality is the easiest of the ones we played, surprisingly. Next there was “who can dress the baby the quickest” this was done blindfolded, obviously. I was doing well at this until I got the poppers wrong and had to forfeit first place… I think I came third in the end. We also played “put the nappy on the baby”, again blindfolded. They’re all a lot harder in practise and I have to admit I was rubbish at this and had the nappy inside out from the start. There were also team games – describing and acting out different pregnancy and baby related topics in the fastest time; hilarity ensued. We also had print outs of “wishes for baby” and “advice for mum” which we didn’t get time to complete but are sweet ideas if you have more time. 

As I took a while to write this the baby in question has actually just been born so this is for you little Evelyn – can’t wait to meet you very soon! 

August/September Favourites…

Well what do you know, it’s nearly October! I missed my August favourites so there’s a couple from then here as well as my September ones – let me know what you’ve loved this month and if my favourites are your favourites too!

Number one: Ghostbusters 

I’m probably one of the few people who hasn’t seen the original but to watch the reboot it’s not a necessity. Although it received mixed reviews I personally loved it. I’m a huge fan of many of director Paul Feig’s movies (think Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy) and this one was no exception. It should come as no surprise when I say that the cast were incredible – four of the funniest humans defeating ghosts – what more could you want from a movie? I was (as I’m sure many of you are) familiar with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig’s comedic prowess so I’ll be honest when I say I saw it because of them. However Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon blew me away, Kate in particular. Her deadbeat comedic streak and undeniable timing was so spot on, her character was hilarious throughout – even when she wasn’t speaking – and for me she outshone the others; although don’t get me wrong, the four of them together are pure gold. Even if you’re sceptical about a remake of such a classic film I’d recommend that you give this one a go. It’s got just enough references to the original (I may not have seen it but everyone knows what they are – we all want the title track to play) as well as a fresh new take. If the cinema wasn’t so goddamn expensive I’d go and see it again. 

Side note: I now can’t stop watching Kate McKinnon interviews on YouTube, everything she says is funny. I would say don’t fall into the same trap as me but who am I kidding, it’s probably the best use of your time. She’s just won an Emmy for Saturday Night Live so I’m not even making this up, she really is the best. Here, I’ll start you off. 

Kate McKinnon on Ellen: The Ellen Show

Ghostbusters interview with Leslie Jones for HeyUGuys: Ghostbusters Interview – Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones

Number two: Dodie Clark (doddleoddle) 

British online content creator Dodie Clark has been making videos consisting of original songs, as well as covers, for YouTube since 2011 with her channel doddleoddle. I’ve watched her videos for a little while now, her chatty ones as well as her music but she’s in my favourites this month for ‘Taking Back My Heart’ which she covered with Tessa Violet (American online content creator and singer/songwriter, channel name ‘meekakitty’) but was originally by Rusty Clanton, a fellow YouTube musician. Dodie and Tessa both sing and play the ukulele in the video as well as dancing/acting/generally having fun and the catchy rhythm had me hooked from the first listen. As someone who is trying to teach herself the ukulele, although very slowly I might add, it amazes me when I see people play it properly and both girls are great. The whole spirit of the video, and of the song, is so upbeat and infectious you can’t help but smile and sing along. I’ll leave the link here so that you can listen too. 

The videos: Taking Back My Heart

Dodie’s channel: doddleoddle

Tessa’s channel: meekakitty

Rusty’ s channel: Rusty Clanton

Number three: Dirty 30 (available to buy on iTunes now) 

Continuing the YouTube theme, I thought I’d write about my three favourite (Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart) as they’ve just released their second full length feature film ‘Dirty 30’. Grace’s character Evie, and Hannah’s character Charlie throw a wild 30th birthday party for their best friend Kate, played by Mamrie after she has a slight existential crisis bought on by a letter she wrote to herself when was in high school, about turning 30 and how she thought her life would look. The movie, written by Mamrie, also features a whole host of other online content creators such as Rhett and LinkFlula BorgAnna Akana and Mikey Murphy who all give 110% to their roles, demonstrating what a supportive community YouTube can be. Dirty 30 is essentially about fun and friendship and if you like those things I think you should give this movie a watch. It’s available to download from iTunes now. 

Watch the trailer here: Dirty 30 Official Trailer

Number four: Throwing a baby shower and being bridesmaid – two things I basically became a pro at the last couple of months but I’ll save these for posts of their own 

Number five: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Lastly I thought I’d include a book that I’m still currently reading, which is Amy Schumer’s  ‘The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo’. Although it has “self help” themes she’s adamant that it’s not a self help book, it’s more of a memoir or a collection of experiences from her life so far – that may or may not resinate with us or teach us something. I was a fan of Amy before but this book has opened my eyes to the hard and unrelenting work that she’s done to bring her to where she is now as well as some of her deep personal experiences that make her much more human and much less of a brash robot (no negative connotations there though, I also have some robot-like features). Her bold, funny, down to earth style is so “Amy” that its hard not to read it in her voice. It was interesting to get a glimpse into her world, from her family to good (and terrible) dates, her resilience from awful situations, her determination to succeed, and her constant positive emphasis on the importance of self love and body positivity. For me personally, it was comforting to read her words on topics such as weight, being an introvert or being single when she was just writing as a real human being – cellulite and all. Thank you Amy for such a funny, eye opening and inspiring book; all credit to you. 

I know my worth. I embrace my power. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story. I will.

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer 

How To Be a Decent Human Being: Retail Edition

This post is for anyone who has worked in retail or knows someone that does. Most of the time we have lovely customers and enjoy being in such a people focused industry, however there are days that aren’t so idyllic. So without further ado welcome to this list of daily thoughts from a retail worker.  

How To Be a Decent Human Being: Retail Edition

1. If I’m wearing a name badge and/or lanyard or if I’m tiding clothes/stood behind a till then please assume I work here 

2. If I smile or say hello please don’t stare at me blankly – a smile back will suffice 

3. If you return an item that’s now gone up or down in price, you get back what you paid for it – no more, no less. It’s really that simple (assuming you’re actually within the returns policy of course). 

4. Before you complain about the card machines not working please make sure you have your card in the right way round. Many thanks. 

5. Speaking of complaining, the carrier bag charge has been in place since October and it’s still not my fault that you have to pay. Either you want a bag or you don’t, less of the snappy sarcastic comments would be appreciated – what else can 5p get you?

6. If something falls off the hanger while you’re browsing it, please try your best to put it back as it was instead of draping it over a fixture or leaving it on the floor – that’s how things get damaged. If you don’t want to buy it someone else will. 

7. Similarly, when trying things on in the fitting room please put things back on the coat hanger they came from. Handing me a pile of clothes that are inside out and leaving the hangers in the cubicle is the most unhelpful thing – it’s my job to assist you not clean up after you. 

8. Some of the dresses I sell are upwards of £300 and I can’t bare to see one more left inside out and wound round a hanger. They’re easily damaged, please be careful. If you want to try something on for fun because it’s beautiful that’s fine but if you can’t afford it please treat it that way. 

9. Please don’t leave your rubbish lying around unless you’d be happy to try on clothes surrounded by other people’s Starbucks cups and old receipts. 

10. If you come shopping on a busy Saturday afternoon you’re going to have to wait for a fitting room. It’s annoying for everyone, staff included so try not to be awful about it.

11. Hello, please and thank you don’t go amiss while you’re waiting for me to scan/wrap/bag your purchases and answering your phone (unless you apologise) is a huge no, plain and simple. 

12. If we’re short staffed we know about it just as much as you do. 

So there we have it, my very brief list of things we wish we could say. If you have any others to add please leave a comment! 

July favourites…

Well what do you know? It’s that time again already… July favourites! Crazy how fast these come round! Let’s just jump right in this month with my all time favourite purchase (maybe of the whole year??) a dress from online store, Boohoo. It’s super simple, plain black fabric with a slight A-line shape to it towards the bottom (one of those that fans out when you spin) and it’s a really soft, comfortable fabric. It has a bardot, off the shoulder neckline which stays in place if you don’t move your arms much, although if it rides up onto your shoulders it looks nice like that too. But I really can’t shout about this dress enough, I love it. It’s flattering and comfy and a decent length – not too short for those of us that aren’t fans of the super short dresses, it’s also a steal at £12 and delivery was quick and easy. As I said I bought it in black but it seems that isn’t available anymore however there are a variety of other colours. Compliments all round for the dress and well, for you too when you wear it! Link to the dress is below:
http://www.boohoo.com/day-dresses/freya-frill-off-shoulder-skater-dress/invt/azz07121

Styling the dress – it comes just above my knees


Nextup is an ‘accessory’ I actually wore with the dress mentioned above. They’re the Benefit “Prima Donna” false lashes, a Boots online exclusive. At £12 they’re more expensive than lashes I would normally buy but I’m 100% sold. I’ll be wearing them time and time again until they’re falling apart because they look so good, they’re easy to apply and they fit nicely once they’re on. They don’t look fake, more like your own lashes but with a bit of oomph which was exactly the look I was after.I wore them for a party but I could easily wear these in the daytime too. The only downside is that they don’t come with glue so I used some I had previously but they do come in a sturdy plastic container so it’s easier to keep them looking nice between uses. I’ll definitely be repurchasing once mine are done! 

Continuing with eye makeup I have two favourite mascaras this month. First is the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Full Fat Lash’ mascara which I wasn’t struck on at the beginning but after a few uses it grew on me. It cost £22 which I was pleasantly surprised about considering the brand and was only a little more than my previous mascara Too Faced ‘Better than Sex’ – one I had to stop using as it ended up under my eyes instead of on them by the end of the day. The Charlotte Tilbury mascara has had no such problems so far so I’m happy! It also came so beautifully packaged I had to take a photo – like receiving a present! 

So pretty!!


Second is the Clinique ‘bottom lash mascara’which has the tiniest wand you’ve ever seen like it’s made for delicate fairy eyes or something. Besides the size of the wand it does the job perfectly, catching all the little lashes in the corners as well as making them look long and luscious. This one also doesn’t drop under the eyes throughout the day which was something I scoured reviews for before purchasing. The formula is more liquid than a usual mascara so use with caution the first couple of times. At £13 (ish) I’d recommend this to anyone. I have two songs of the month for July, ‘Carry You Home’ by Ward Thomas and ‘I Love You Always Forever’ covered by Betty Who. ‘Carry You Home’ is the first single from Ward Thomas’ upcoming album ‘Cartwheels’, being released September 9th and is the perfect summer country song, full of heart, soul, storytelling lyrics and a catchy beat – what more could you want?! I have tickets to see these girls in October and I’m very excited to see what else they release. Their newest single ‘Guilty Flowers’ has just come out and that’s also worth a listen. 

Betty Who’s cover of ‘I Love You Always Forever’, the well known 90’s song (you’ll know it when you hear it) is such a great upbeat cover I’ve had it on repeat. Like her own songs, this cover is injected with her unique sound which just makes me feel like it sunny even when it’s not…maybe it’s her subtle Australian twang that does it. Anyway, I love this cover and if you like the original version and Betty’s style of music I’m sure you’ll like it too. 

My final favourite this month is the city of Portsmouth. It’s where I spent my 3 years at uni and where I spent four days last week when I was back visiting friends. There’s something special about the city you went to university in, like it’ll always be home even if you no longer live there. Portsmouth is a lovely city regardless, it has the mix of the old vs the new, the hustle and bustle vs the serene, the city and the sea – everything you could want. It was so lovely to catch up (and party with) old friends as well as making new ones. I don’t know, I just love it. 

Beautiful Portsmouth


Okay that’s the end of this months favourites! Leave a comment about any of the things I’ve mentioned above if you’ve also loved them or even if you just fancy saying hello! Thanks for reading, until next time! 

Don’t let anyone tell you that Germans don’t know how to party…

It’s not everyday that you fly over 400 miles for the pre-wedding party of your best friend but long distance friendship sometimes takes a little more effort…

I’d just come home from work on New Year’s Eve, about to get ready for a party when I noticed an envelope on my bed. I knew immediately who it was from, her writing is unmistakable (and her address is always written on the back) and rushed to open it. I thought it was an invitation to her upcoming wedding and the dress on the front of the card also aided my suspicions but the point of the card was even more exciting. I read it slowly, taking in every word and smiling at the well wishes to my family (“greetings” as she always says). I reached the bottom of the first side and there was the question in silver swirly writing; “will you be one of my bridesmaids?”. I read it a couple more times before running down the stairs ecstatically to tell my family. An invite to the wedding was one thing considering I’m in a different country but asking me to be such a special part to the occasion was something else. I was thrilled. It was probably the best start to a new year I’d ever had. 

The card she sent me and the one I replied with

Since January I’ve been to visit her twice. First for the very important and extremely fun task of finding a wedding dress. It was like real life Say Yes to the Dress! Her sister Inga and her best friend Pia had made little gift bags for all the bridesmaids, six of us in total, each with snacks and tissues, and flash cards for rating each dress – theirs were in German, mine were in English and they were all adorable. There were individual little milk bottles filled with champagne and beautiful pink edible flowers resting at the bottom, decorated with a mint green ribbon round the top – they were so sweet I kept mine to display in my bedroom. The wedding dress store was about two and a half hours away so the car journey was more of a car picnic party – German pastries, sausage bites, sweets, and of course champagne were circulated round the car as we all chatted away and sang to Justin Bieber. I have to say, if you’ve never been wedding dress shopping before its 100% as much fun as it sounds. I loved it. The bride tried on a few dresses and she looked stunning in all of them but when she put on ‘the one’ we all knew it. There were hugs and tears and it was a really special moment – one I’m really glad I was a part of. 

The cute little gift bags


The second time I visited was more recently for a pre-wedding tradition called Polterabend which directly translates as “noisy night”. We definitely don’t have this idea in Britain and its a little odd if you’ve never heard of it but the mentality behind it is very heartwarming. Basically, the couple throw a party for all their friends and family – people coming to the wedding, people that can’t (or couldn’t be invited due to numbers) and there’s food and music and games and then there’s the traditional aspect. To show their well wishes, friends and family of the couple smash china- plates, mugs, vases (even a toilet was thrown!) and the couple then has to sweep the mess up, proving that they can work together. The noise of the smashing objects is also to ward off evil spirits from the engaged pair. Like I said, we definitely don’t have an equivalent and it was crazy to witness but also really cool to be a part of such a valued tradition. At the party there was also a huuuge buffet, a kind of “bring and share” system – I helped to make more Currywurst, because you can never have enough; it’s delicious. There were all kinds of pasta salads, noodles, bread rolls, cakes, desserts, cupcakes – even a candy floss machine or ‘Zuckerwatte’. There were gazebos and fairy lights and one of those mobile do it yourself bars with beer. So much beer.  

The bride and groom and the very pretty snack table!!


Don’t let anyone tell you that Germans don’t know how to party because I’ve partied the hardest when I’ve been there. This party started at 7pm and we didn’t get to bed until 6.30am. It was a lot to take in since I was the only person who wasn’t German but everyone’s English was incredibly impressive (and their English accents reciting Harry Potter were the cutest) and they’re also incredibly kind and understanding. It was the day Brexit had been announced and everyone was asking what I thought of it and how I felt and what was happening back home and they all agreed how sad and scary it was and they nearly all jokingly offered for me to stay with them, although considering what’s happening I might have to hold them to it. Also, don’t let anyone tell you that Germans are hard, non humorous people because they’re not. They’re some of the most loving, most appreciative and most funny people and my best friends family are my family and vice versa. 

My next trip over is in September for her hen party and the wedding taking place the week after and I’m so excited! It’s always lovely to be reunited with her and it’ll be great to celebrate ‘German style’ again with the other bridesmaids too, and of course share in the wonderment of her big day. I know I’ve said it a thousand times before but thank you for making me part of your special day, it really does mean the world. 

The two of us