28 February 2015

Lifestyle: Bye Bye February, My Month in Pictures

Wow, February, you were a busy one weren't you!
I don't think I have ever been so all over the place as I have been this month. 
In a good way though, obvs.


February kicked off with a bang and the long awaited arrival of my gorgeous little nephew, Reggie David King.  My sister did such a great job getting that little man out (and with very little pain relief too!) so well done sister.  I have absolutely fallen in love with my nephew and that has been very evident on my Instagram account this month.  Expect to see this little fella making many many more appearances.

No cat photos this month, maybe that is because my quota of cute insta snaps was taken up solely by little Reggie. I will be sure to spend more time with the other cuties in my life in the coming weeks, Don't want them to feel abandoned now, do we.

Other than Reggie, my Insta feed was dominated mainly by all the picture worthy moments on my recent trip to LA. I just cant resist a good palm tree, they were crying out to be snapped.

A close third was Valentine's Day, Hubby did well as always and this year I got a lovely bunch of flowers (always the same roses we had at our wedding) and my all time fav choccies.  So obviously I had to flaunt my love to the world and post it all over social media.
What a lovely hubby I have :) everybody needs to know.

So that was February. A short month but jam packed full of excitement.
I have made a little blog resolution this month (a bit late I know).  Going forward I will be posting more, every Wednesday and Saturday.  Let's see how well I keep that up!

Also, it is almost spring which means that I can finally get going again with lots of upcycling projects.  Woop woop!  As soon as it starts getting a bit warmer over the next month or so I will definitely be whipping out my paint pots and brushes and filling the house with old shoddy furniture.  So expect to see much more home decor/upcycling related posts on here - the main reason I started this blog!

So, bye bye February.  You were good to me. I will miss you.
xxx

23 February 2015

Lifestyle: The bigger picture

Image
Warning: this post contains some seriously heavy stuff. Like deep, deep, serious stuff.

Do you ever experience those moments that stop you dead in your tracks and make you think really hard about life?  Usually after major, emotional events; a death of a loved one, a birth in the family, your wedding day.  The big, shouty and unavoidable, 'look at me' moments that can cause the world around you to drastically change.  The ones that make you sit down and take a long hard look at your life, the universe and the bigger picture. 

What is it all really about?

I have been experiencing these moments more frequently recently.  This is probably due to the fact that I seem to have experienced a lifetime's amount of big moments in the space of just a couple of years. My engagement, the loss of my Dad, my wedding day, my Sister's wedding day, moving into our first house together and the arrival of my first nephew. However, it's not just the big events that make me think deeply about life.  Sometimes all it takes is a thought provoking movie or a restless night sleep that triggers these thoughts.
 
Anyway, the other night I was having a really hard time falling asleep. A serious case of jetlag from my recent mini trip to LA I think. I tried everything. I read a book, I listened to calming music, I had a warm bath. I even Googled ways to fall asleep and tried 11 stupid techniques like tensing different parts of my body and silly breathing techniques.  Anyway, nothing seemed to be working. My mind just wasn't ready for sleep. The more I worried that I wasn't going to get enough sleep before work  the more awake I felt.  I decided to give up fighting with myself and admitted defeat.  I let my mind wander and soon enough, my thoughts had drifted to some scary depths.
 
I started thinking about people. People living their lives in their own personal little bubbles.  Each only concerned with their own worries, problems and faults. Glued to their smartphones, reading about useless crap and barely looking up. Completely oblivious to the world around them, to the millions of people walking past them and to the real things that actually matter.

I imagined billions of these people all over the planet, all scurrying around like idiots. I was then reminded of something I saw on Facebook the other day.  An animation illustrating the size of our planet compared to other planets, the sun and then to the biggest known stars in the universe.  We spend too much time caught up in ourselves, fixated on whatever problems we have conjured up in our minds.  It made me realise that my worries were insignificant. In the grand scheme of things, what did it matter that I couldn't get to sleep? Okay, so it was a week night and I probably would have to take the following day off work, but who really cares?
 
Then I thought about life and subsequently, death. We've all lost someone close to us, it's really sad but unfortunately it's life. We are born, and we die.  It's what we do in between that counts. Life is short, everyone says so, and so why would you want to waste your short precious life worrying about insignificant things like that interview you have coming up, or an argument you had with your friend, or that you don't have enough money to pay the bills. When you stop and think about the bigger picture, about all those billions of people scurrying around, and how tiny our planet is, about how short our time is on this Earth, your worries and problems will literally fade away. 
 
Make the most of each and every moment, because at any one time, that is all you really have and all that matters.  Once you have grasped that concept, you will have the confidence to do, say and achieve anything. you will have the confidence to make your life worthwhile instead of spending the majority of it worrying about crap that in the bigger picture, doesn't matter.
 
Obviously, after I admitted defeat and contemplated all of this in bed, I had no trouble drifting off to the land of nod.
 
Funny that.

20 February 2015

Travel: California Dreamin'

 
What a week! Look where I have been!

If you follow my Instagram feed you will be very aware that I have spent the last few days soaking up the sun in the crazy faraway land that is Los Angeles.  This wasn't a planed trip and I would like to make one thing clear: I am definitely not one for being spontaneous, dropping my life and running away half way around the world and especially going all that way for a mere 3 days.  I hate spontaneity, I love routine and knowing what my days have in store, but when this opportunity arose I just couldn't think of a reason not to say YES PLEASE! When I looked out the window and saw frozen cars and icy roads, the thought of 3 days in 30 degree heat was too much of a temptation to pass up.

So I packed my bag and took off with my sister in tow.
 
The flight out was brilliant.  I'm not a fan of flying - erm, who is? and especially on a long 10-11 hour flight. I was completely dreading this part of the holiday. We got to the airport early, had lots of time to do a bit of duty free shopping and grab something to eat.  I am one of those really anal people that arrive 3 hours early 'just in case' there is gridlock traffic, or there is a big queue at security, or I get lost trying to find the correct gate number (Heathrow T5 I am talking to you!).  We, of course, experienced none of these things-result! Things got even better when we were lucky enough to be upgraded to Club World. All my dreads about the long flight were put to rest as I snuggled into my very thick cosy blanket and flat 6ft bed. The hours fly past (no pun intended) when you actually get uninterrupted sleep on a long haul flight.  Before I knew it we had touched down at LAX.
 

Day 1 - Hollywood, Beverly Hills & Santa Monica
We had planned our time in LA down to the last minute as we had only 3 full days to see as much as possible. After little to no sleep, we started our first day early, booked an uber car to Hollywood and pretended we were aspiring actresses/singers trying to make it big in LA. 
 
We decided the best way to fit as much in as possible, get from A to B and hear all the celeb stories on the way was to catch the hop on, hop off tour bus. 
 

 We started in Hollywood. To be brutally honest, Hollywood is a bit of a crap hole. The streets are dirty, the people are weird and there isn't a lot to see. We saw the hand and foot prints outside the Chinese Theatre, strolled along the Walk of Fame and took photo's of the Hollywood sign.
 
 

 
Hollywood-done in 20 minutes. We could have got a taxi to take us much closer to the sign but seeing as we wanted to fit in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica Pier we decided to hop on the open top tour bus.

 
 
 



 I didn't take many photos of Beverly Hills or Santa Monica pier. We rushed through a bit, took photos of the Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive signs, and one of Santa Monica beach. Oh, and the Chanel shop, because, well, wishful thinking. All a bit boring really, unless you spend more time there enjoying the shops and the beach.  We were also on a bit of a tight budget so didn't spend a lot.


Day 2 - Catalina Island
It was an early start on our second day, we were up with the sun to catch a ferry to take us across to Catalina Island. To be honest, I had never heard of Catalina Island before this trip so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the day. 


As we sailed out of Long Beach Harbour we were lucky enough to get a good view of the Queen Mary.  If we had longer on this trip we would have done a tour of this spectacular ship.  There is so much history on board and you can even do a night time haunted tour! Spooky.

The cold windy ferry journey took just over an hour to get to Catalina Island but it was so worth it. We slowly approached the crystal clear waters as the sun was shining and the birds were chirping.  This island felt like a whole world apart from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Our first thoughts were that we had somehow been whisked away to a remote Greek island, it was beautiful.

Cue endless photos of our views around the island:

 

 
 

 One thing that really stood out to me was the use of beautiful Mediterranean tiles all over the island.
These colours really added to the European vibe emanating around us.  They used the same colour palette in their super cute road signs too.  This place really felt like a different continent.

 
 
 
 

 Another thing I absolutely fell in love with was the architecture.  Really typical American toy village style housing added to the quaint island feeling. It actually reminded me of that town in 'The Truman Show'.

 

 
Once we had stepped off the ferry and taken as many shots of our new environment as we possibly could we immediately headed to a shore side restaurant to sample their locally caught fish.
 
 
Tummys full we searched for the best and cheapest place to hire some golf buggies.  Yes, you heard me, golf buggies.  There are no cars on this island and this is the primary way to travel. Stupidly, we put my sister in front of the wheel and headed off on our little route around the island using a very roughly drawn map given to us by the guys at the golf buggy hut.  With my awful navigational skills and my sister's bad driving I am surprised we didn't get lost or career off the edge of the very steep (and unprotected) cliff edges.  Needless to say, we made it and it was definitely worth it as the views were amazing.
 
 
 
 


 

 We had to catch the 3.30pm ferry back to Long Beach so we didn't get to spend the whole day on the island which was a shame.  If I were to do it again I think I would book a little hotel and spend the night, I would have loved to see the sunset and harbour lit up in the evening.

We did however, get to enjoy the sunset back in Long Beach harbour as we ate a quick light dinner.



Day 3 - Belmont Shore & Naples
Our last day, boo hoo! This was a short day as we had to rush off to the airport at 6.30pm.  We grabbed a couple of bicycles and cycled off along the beach to Belmont Shore.  This ended up being my favourite day of the trip.  The sun was shining and it was a whopping 30 degrees! It was so nice to cycle along the coast with the wind in our hair and just generally being out in the sun.


When we reached Belmont Shore we had a little look around the shops but it was too hot and there was no breeze so we jumped back onto our bikes and headed to Naples.  Naples is lovely, definitely somewhere I would gladly live.  Lots of very cute houses along canals it was truly beautiful.

 




 All in all, a pretty amazing little trip!  Yes, we only had 3 days and yes, we were on a budget but we saw everything we wanted to see, do everything we wanted to do and eat everything we wanted to eat!  Just proves that somewhere like LA is doable on a budget. 

Out of everything, the one thing I really enjoyed from the trip was the people.  The people of California are renowned for being very laid back, happy chaps and this was definitely confirmed to us on our stay.  Everywhere you go, strangers will smile, say hello and you may even be lucky to hear a life story or two.  The customer service is great as well, and that's because they rely heavily on tips out there but it's a concept maybe we should adopt in the UK.  Returning to London Heathrow was a major shock to the system.  I was used to amazing, happy, smiley people and I was welcomed home to moody, grumpy stares from other passengers and absolutely no manners or customer service from any of the airport staff.

Back to reality ey!

xxx

 

07 February 2015

Love: Fun, cheap and thoughtful gifts for the other half this Valentine's Day


Valentine's day, you either love it or hate it. This is usually decided solely by your marital status. For those in a happy relationship it's a chance to get together with your other half and flaunt what you have for all to see.  For singletons it is a day to be avoided at all costs, and a complete waste of time fabricated wholly by the consumer industry in order to make as much money out of us as possible.

Personally, I have never really been that interested in Valentine's day, single or not.  I have never wanted to conform with the masses and make a huge deal out of it.  The only time Hubby and I went out for dinner on V Day I actually found it quite embarrassing and a little bit forced. Like we were being told: HAVE A ROMANTIC DINNER AND LOOK LOVINGLY INTO EACH OTHER'S EYES... OR ELSE!

So we decided that this year we are going to have a special evening in (special: a take away or one of those dine in for £10 jobbies) with a bottle of wine and a good movie.  We will probably exchange cards but we did make a point this year of agreeing to not get each other gifts.  We are trying to save money after all!

Anyway, as the weeks went on I saw the adverts on TV and all the shops filled with lovely valentine's themed gifts I started to feel like I should get him something more.  That is the power of the damn consumer industry mind controlling me and making me want to shower hubby with gifts, chocolates, flowers and pink, fluffy, rose scented cushions!  But I resisted, at all costs! and instead of buying a tacky teddy bear I took to Pinterest and searched for Valentine's gift ideas.

My search resulted in an endless list of fun, cheap and thoughtful gifts.  You can always rely on Pinterest to come to the rescue.

These are my favourite 4.

1.Cuddle Kit for two  2.Cheap Date Ideas  3.52 Things I Love About You  4.Sharpie DIY Mug
1. DIY Cuddle Kit for Two
I absolutely love this idea if you, like us are planning a romantic evening at home.  Get a bottle of bubbly, a box of choccies, your favourite film and a cozy blanket and lay it all into a pretty little basket.  This gift is one for you both to share but it's nice to take the pressure off of him to get the evening right.

2. Cheap Date Ideas
Generally speaking, it is usually his responsibility to take control of date night, where you're going to go/what you are going to do.  How about pre-planning your up coming year of dates? They don't have to be bank busters either.  Do a search for cheap date ideas and pick your favs.  That way you get to look forward to fun evenings with your hubby and he has the delight of not having to use his imagination (we all know how much they love using their imagination, right?) Write them all on some little cards and pop them into a cute decorated jar.

3. 52 Things I Love About You
If your man appreciates a bit of sentiment how about taking a pack of cards and writing 52 things you love about him.  Give him the whole pack to read through or place a card somewhere he will see it on those days he needs a bit of a pick me up. If you can't think of 52 things (it is alot!) how about writing as many as you can on folded heart shaped pieces of card.

4. Sharpie DIY Mug
Personalize a plain white mug by writing something sweet with a sharpie pen.  When you are happy with your design bake it in the oven and it is good to go.  I have never tried this before so I don't know how many washes it will endure but it is a very cute idea.  You could even make a matching his and hers set.


I'll definitely be trying one of these out this year for hubby, but can't say which as he reads my blog.

Do you have any cheap, fun and thoughtful gift ideas? Will you be trying any of these out this year?
Whatever you do, have a lovely Valentine's day everyone :)

xxx