What’s What!

Hello my loves!

Guess who’s back?! Back again, ‘gain, ‘gain…

It has been SO long since I sat down and wrote to you all and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed you guys and my blog. It’s actually exactly one month today since I posted saying I’d be taking some time away which is unintentional, but it feels right to bring my blog back now. Things are going to look a little different around here, but I am officially back in the blogging world and I’m so excited. I hope you’re all well and have had a fabulous month since we last spoke! Grab a cup of tea and settle in, in true www.gillianfinn.com style, we’ve got a long old post… 🙂

We love an awkward car selfie 🙂

What things are going to be looking like on the blog:
I took a break from blogging for several reasons; 1) I just needed a little time to adapt to our ‘new normal’ as things were opening back up again, 2) I felt like I was taking so much time up with taking photos, planning content, writing etc that it was not  becoming enjoyable and 3) I really wanted to just relax a little more as I’d been feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I still don’t feel 100%, but I do feel much better than I did at the end of July. 

I really love my blog and I’m so freaking proud of it! I knew I was only going to take a short break, but having that time away has made me realise that I don’t want to stress myself out about getting 2 – 3 posts up per week. I work full time, I am trying to get back into a social life (thank you, ‘Rona) and I need to make sure I prioritise my self care time too. I’m going to be uploading once per week for now, although as and when I can I’m really hoping to upload ‘bonus’ posts!

What I’m loving:
As you may have noticed from the photo above, I got my hair dyed this month! My roots look a little darker in that photo than they are now as this was taken the day after I got it dyed, they’ve lightened up just a tad after I’ve washed it 🙂 I had a not-so-great salon experience in July and was desperate to get it fixed. Going to a new salon is always scary! I can’t believe how much better I feel since I got my hair done, I really feel like a new person and I’m just so happy with it. I’ve not been this blonde for years and I kinda feel like I’m wearing a wig – LOL! – but it’s just so fun to try something new. Also, I already have a few things, but if you have any must-have products you use to keep your blonde hair healthy and happy, please let me know!

What I’m buying:
Well… Matt and I accidentally fell into Homesense the other day and their Autumn candles are already out! I was very reserved and only picked up two, but really I could have bought twelve. How flipping cute is that lid?! I had a huge wardrobe clear out a couple weeks ago so I’m really excited to see the A/W clothing slowly filter through into stores websites. I don’t really buy many clothes and I try to #shopsecondhand as much as I can, but there’s a couple of gaps I need to fill in my wardrobe ahead of the colder weather coming. I really need some new basic sweaters that I can dress up or down, and I’d love to grab a couple pretty shirts/blouses to wear for evenings out. I’d also love one or two more midi dresses as I wear the few I have all the time and it would be nice to switch things up a little!

What I’m watching:
All the shows! Matt and I have finally gotten back into a routine of watching shows almost every evening and I’m so happy about it. It’s so nice to unwind and relax after work. I’m still working from home for the foreseeable future so making sure to disconnect from work whilst in the same space is something I think is really important. I binge watched season three of Selling Sunset – it fills a void since the Laguna Beach & The Hills days! – and I already can’t wait for season four. Chrishell is just my favourite, I love her! We’re watching The Office (duh) and Friends reruns, we flew through Down To Earth with Zac Efron and now we’re watching season three of World’s Toughest Prisons. We really enjoy this show and watched the first two seasons around a year ago – some of the things that happen in these places is literally mind-blowing! 

This photo was taken at Eden Locke Hotel in Edinburgh at the start of August. I wish I’d had lighter hair then!

What I’m reading:
I just started a new book this past weekend; Hello Again by Isabelle Broom. So far I’m really enjoying it, I’m 24% of the way through and I’m already obsessed with the characters and making assumptions on what will happen next. I haven’t been reading as much recently just because I haven’t been making the time for it but since lockdown began back in March I’ve read tons of books. My stand out favourite was by far The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Friends, this was my favorite book I’ve read ALL YEAR! I had no idea what to expect; almost every time I guessed what the next part of the story would be I was so wrong. I laughed, I cried, I just loved it. I highly recommend!

What I’m excited about:
For me, August bank holiday marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. I can’t really explain it but I feel like September 1st is a fresh start in the way most people see January 1st! I’m taking my mum out for a treat, Matt and I have dinner plans with our friends, the most exciting/scary/nerve-wracking appointment of our lives and we’re hiking Thrunton Woods too. I might just record a Weekend In My Life because it’s going to be FUN! I know technically we have warm (ish) weather in September and sometimes through to mid-October, but I cannot wait for all things cold weather. I am so excited for pumpkin spice drinks, layering clothes, wearings scarves, coats & boots, dark gel nails… the list goes on! 

What skincare product I’m obsessed with:
I am SO happy with my skincare routine I’ve used religiously for a few months, but wearing a mask just here and there throughout the week is making my cheeks/jaw break out. Maskne is real, people. I realise so many people have to wear masks for literally 12 hours per day (you’re all amazing and I truly don’t know how you do it!) but just literally a couple hours per week means I’ve had to really focus on products that prevent breakouts and acne. I’m super acne prone so this isn’t really shocking, honestly. The one treatment I’ve been using per week has helped so. freaking. much. I’m talking about The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution, this works so well! This past Sunday my mum, Matt and I all enjoyed a little facial (courtesy of me, obvs!) and they really love the effects too. I’m going to be talking about how/when I use this in next week’s post, but if you pick this up please read full instructions on how to use the product and introduce it slowly; this is a chemical peel and if you use it like many people show on TikTok you’re at risk of chemical burns!

What I’m planning:
It’s Matt and I’s third anniversary in September and we’re really hoping to squeeze in a weekend away to celebrate! We would love to go to a spa hotel with a good area to hike/explore around there, but we’re a little reluctant to book somewhere until a little closer to the time as local lockdowns can happen with no notice. We are also looking for the best deal possible, too! It seems our Covid cases are creeping back up again so I’m not sure we want to travel very far, if we’ll even be able to. We’re leaning towards The Lake District or Yorkshire, so if you have any hotel/cabin recommendations please let me know!

What I’m burning:
Before I take a deep dive into my Autumn candles, Matt and I have been burning Somewhere Far Away by Our Lovely Goods this past week. I think the packaging is just so minimalistic and beautiful, I love how it looks sitting on my vanity table whether it’s lit or not. The amber glass jars are just so pretty and unique! All their candles burn so evenly which is really important to me, it bugs me so much when candles tunnel down the middle and you’re left with tons of wasted wax at the end. I also have word from the lovely couple behind OLG that they are launching Autumn scents on September 1st, I cannot wait to pick ten one up! Supporting small businesses is so important – now more than ever. I wrote this post a couple of months ago sharing how you can help if you’re wanting to do more.

What else is new:
Honestly, not much! At the beginning of August Matt and I had a little staycation in Scotland, we stayed in South Queensferry for one night and then spent one night in Edinburgh; we had the most amazing time. We just love everything about Edinburgh, it’s my favourite city ever and I’m so grateful we live close enough that we can visit often. I think I mentioned this a little while ago but I’m having really random stomach issues (that may be gluten related – I really hope not) so fingers crossed I can get that figured out soon. Other than that, I am so happy we’re able to go out to eat again! We’ve got two double dates scheduled in for next week with some amazing friends and we’re going on a date night just the two of us – we never eat out three times in a week but we’re making the most of it while we can and I can’t wait. I’m also really excited that our beauty services are back up and running in the UK, I absolutely love having gel nails again. They make me feel so happy and it’s the best self care treat to myself every couple weeks. I can’t recommend my lovely friend Emma enough; if you’re in the southern Northumberland area go check her out!

Well…. I told you it was a long ‘un! How are you all?! I hope you’ve had a great Summer so far, even though this is hands down the weirdest year we’ve ever experienced. It really teaches you to make the most of the little things, right? See you next week my friends! 🙂 

-G x

Review: Grant’s Bakery, Corbridge

Hey, loves!

Okay so I was originally planning to share a Weekend In My Life from this past weekend today, but I just forgot to take many photos and it would have been way too ‘wordy’… oops. We actually did tons this weekend so it would have been so fun to re-cap but maybe I’ll record next weekend instead?!

One thing we did do was visit Corbridge; this has been on our list of places to go for SO long but we just always had other things that we’d like to do more. We drove up late Saturday morning and it was so lovely, even if it was freezing. I’m not sure if North East England has got the memo that it’s July yet but seriously… where is the hot Summer weather!? We explored the quaint streets, admired the beautiful views along the river, visited the cutest antique shops and of course ate at Grant’s bakery! We LOVE a good bakery and a croissant is usually my go-to order; if a bakery makes a good croissant I know it’s my kinda place. Unfortunately they were out (it was around 1pm when we got there) but there was SO many other fun things to try!

Also… Matt and I learned a long time ago that we can try more food at new places if we split what we get. This seems like a ton of food but we did split it all, and ate some later that night! This is just a mini review but if you like these kind of posts for food places in the North East I’d love to share more… eating out is one of our favourite things to do and we’re so happy we can go grab takeaway food from our favourite places 🙂

Sausage Roll | Steak Pie

Starting with the savory foods we picked up, they were both incredible! The pastry was fluffy, flakey and the perfect golden brown, we literally had no complaints. Matt’s review of the sausage roll was “like Greggs, but better” LOL. Seriously, the sausage roll was FULL; I’m not too sure how to best explain this but you know sometimes if you bite into a sausage roll it’s half sausage meat half pastry? This was equal measures of both, and delicious. It also wasn’t at all greasy which I loved! The steak pie was filled with huge pieces of steak and thick gravy, and again not greasy. We highly recommend both of these! We also wanted to pick up the pork pie as Matt loves those, but we though that might be a little much.

Mars Bar Krispy Cake | Carrot Cake | Chocolate Brownie

Honestly… we struggled to pick a favourite. ALL of these were so good! The Mars Bar krispy cake was super syrupy and chocolatey; although it might have been 500 calories per bite we couldn’t get enough. The chocolate on the top was pretty thin but it was SUPER sweet! My auntie makes a bloody good Mars Bar cake, but I’m sorry to say this might have just beat it. Matt chose the carrot cake as he thinks it’s a good all-rounder that everyone likes, although honestly I’m not the biggest fan of carrot cake. This one might have changed my mind. It tasted gingery and almost like pumpkin, it was so moist and indulgent! The cream cheese icing was hands down the best I’ve ever tasted in my life, I could have literally ate it by the spoonful out of a tub. We ate this late evening when we got home and it still tasted amazing! Last but certainly not least… just look at that chocolate brownie. This was actually the first treat we ate and we both rated this 10/10 after our first bite, it was the best brownie we’ve ever eaten! I shared it on my Instagram stories and got a bunch of messages from people telling me they thought they were amazing too. The brownie was HUGE – I don’t think the size comes across quite so clearly in photos but you really get what you pay for. Next time I want to try the peach melba and maybe a strawberry filled cream cake!

It’s safe to say that we were HUGE fans of everything we tried. The smell coming out of the bakery was the most buttery, sweet, vanilla-y, delicious smell you can imagine and just thinking about it now has me wanting to grab Matt, jump in my car and drive back! We always try to support small and local businesses, and right now they need that support more than ever.

Also, in the post-Covid world that we now live in, I’m sure you’re wondering what the social distancing was like. Honestly, it was great! We waited in line for a good 20 – 25 minutes to get into the bakery as only two people were allowed in at the same time. As you can probably tell from my review, the food was worth the wait. The staff were so kind and sweet, there was plenty of baked goods to choose from and it felt really safe. Oh and I also found out after we visited that they deliver all across the North East… we’ll definitely have to order for a treat some time! Have you visited Corbridge before? What’s your go-to bakery food to try?

-G x

What’s What!

Hi, loves! Happy Friday 🙂 normal posts are resuming again here on my blog, but I’ve really enjoyed taking the past week to read, listen, learn and grow. I shared this post with a bunch of information on Black Lives Matter and links in that you can check out if you want to know a little more and find out how to help.

How are you doing right now? The weight of everything happening in the world is a little heavy and I’ve been limiting my social media time over the past few days because of it. I’m also very… nervous… about life returning to normal. Well, whatever normal looks like now. Here in the UK our ‘non-essential stores’ are opening again this coming week and I just don’t understand why that’s a priority when we’re still at risk level 4. I certainly won’t be rushing to go shopping! On top of that I’ve felt super headachey and just off all week. I swear this week feels like it’s lasted 40 days. Anyone else?! This week lockdown life has got me like:

BUT. It’s Friday! It’s the weekend! Matt is just getting ready to leave for work, I’m snuggled under my blanket with a cup of vanilla chai feeling so cosy. Let’s get into a little what’s what in my life! 

What I’m Eating:

So it may not be Summer weather right now (seriously, where has the sun and heat gone?!) but Matt and I are eating all of the Summer dinners and I couldn’t be happier about it. Most evenings we’re enjoying a variation of subs, fajitas, tacos, pasta salads, burgers or fish. We love salmon A LOT – I typically serve with roast potatoes, rice and a feta salad – but I’ve been switching up how I make it recently. I made a honey chilli glaze the other week that was so delicious we’ve had it three times since. My mum even liked it and she is a super picker eater! I’ll share a ‘recipe’ on the blog soon. It’s so easy I don’t know if it can be classed as a recipe, but it’s delicious and you need to try it! 

What I’m Disappointed About:

My No Buy Month is going very well, so well I’m making money back! I ordered a couple things at the end of May that arrived this past week and were not what I expected. First off I got a ‘vintage’ Levi’s denim jacket from Depop that was just disgusting and not at all what I was told. The seller was super rude and anyone who knows me IRL knows that me and confrontation do not mix. It was my first (and hopefully last) bad experience using Depop and I was horrified. Thankfully PayPal stepped up with a refund to fix it! I had also ordered a pair of Veja trainers after lusting after them for over a year – I went for the Campo style – and I was SO BUMMED with the quality. They’re a sustainable, ethical brand and I swear I’d only heard good things about them. I don’t know if I somehow got a ‘bad’ pair but the leather looked unfinished and the laces were marked. I had been so excited but I’ve sent them back to Office 😦 I still really want a pair of Nike Air Force Ones (I know everyone has a pair, but they’re just so cute) so maybe at the end of the month I’ll purchase those instead! 

What I’m Excited About:

Matt and I found the CUTEST spot around 45 minutes away from where we live and I can’t wait to spend hot, sunny weekends exploring everything around there! If the sun ever comes back, that is. I’m in a really good routine working from home – if I haven’t already mentioned enough, I really love it – and Matt has been working from home a couple days out of the week too, so we’re spending the most time together we ever have. Matt got a new job a couple months ago and he (for the first time ever) has weekends off now! We used to pack everything possible into the random weekend days Matt got off work but now we’re able to do whatever, whenever and I’m so thankful for it. It’s a shame we can’t go too far this Summer but we’ve decided we’re going to explore as much of the North East as we can, especially this cute new spot, and we have a HUGE bucket list of things to do and places to see. The best part is, they’re right on our doorstep!

What I’m LOL’ing At:

Okay so I know I talk about this podcast all. the. time. but it’s for good reason! Shagged, Married, Annoyed seriously makes me CRY with laughter every single week, and I swear the episodes get funnier each week! The podcast is hosted by Chris & Rosie Ramsey; one is a professional comedian and one is married to her. Ha! (For anyone confused, Chris is the professional comedian. But Rosie is funnier. I said what I said). A new episode is released each Friday but I save them for my weekly grocery shop on a Saturday morning. I wear my AirPods (I’m obsessed) and giggle my way round the store, anything to make me forget how stressful getting groceries is right now is a good thing. Rosie posts the funniest Insta stories too! She & Chris have the most adorable son named Robin (my dad’s name!) who just melts my heart and is always on her stories. If you need a little light and laughter in your life, pull up SMA on your Spotify. I promise you won’t regret it! I’m even listening to the old episodes (again…) some afternoons whilst I work.

Looking super cute with my frizzy bed hair there from laying down, it’s a LOOK!  Yes we’re eating cream cakes and also yes, we have basically the same glasses. They’re Ted Baker and I’d just like to point out I had mine for almost two years before Matt copied me…

What I’m Watching:

This week Matt and I started a new show… Space Force! It’s laugh out loud funny, kinda silly and Steve Carrell is the main character. I mean what’s not to love?! We love The Office SO MUCH and honestly anything with Steve in is just good TV. I’m also still re-watching all of Modern Family, I’m on season 8 and not ready to be on season 9. I really think it’s one of the best modern shows ever made, I just love every single character and it brings me so much joy! As always, Matt and I’s go-to shows for the evenings we don’t have much time is Friends or The Office reruns. Duh! We’ve also watched a ton of Ted Talks educating us on the Black Lives Matter movement over the past two weeks, there are sooo many amazing ones you can check out here.

What I’m Excited About:
Everything I’ve been planning and working on for the blog! I’ve got lots of beauty and fashion content coming up and I think I’m going to delve into the topic of no buy’s/low buy’s a little too. I’ve become a much more conscious clothes shopper over the past few years – you can read more in this post and this post – and I really want to share my favorite finds, tips, experiences etc on creating a wardrobe full of things you love. Be sure to subscribe to my blog (> you can fill in your email, the box is right over there!) so my posts get delivered right to your email inbox. Oh and also… I’m giddy McDonald’s reopened! We grabbed Quarter Pounder meals for dinner last night and I’m so excited we can start going for weekly late night McFlurry runs again (our fave tradition pre COVID-19).

What I’m Reading:

I started reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo last week and I flew through it in four days. Considering I’m still working full time, working on my blog, trying to enjoy down time with Matt and you know, sleep, that’s veryyy quick for me to read a book! I truly think this book should be a requirement to read in high school as it covered everything! It made me so aware of myself and the people around me, and fuelled my passion to always be an ally for the Black community even more. Like many, I really want to educate myself more on Black Lives Matter and I think that was a really good starting point, if you haven’t already you need to read this book! I have just started reading Love You, Love You Not by Jo Watson which was a recommendation from Shay last month. I literally only started last night but I already know it’s my perfect kind of book! Tbh, I love everything Shay recommends 🙂 I actually have tons of books I’m excited to read downloaded onto my Kindle right now and I really love that feeling, it makes me more motivated to read because I have so many options afterwards. Also I’m still crazy obsessed with my Kindle… if you’re on the fence about getting one, don’t be! They’re the best things EVER 🙂 

What I’m Looking Forward To:
Autumn. I know, I know. It’s JUNE. But it’s been super cold this past week and I’ve been pulling out my oversized sweatshirts, cosy cardigans, my favourite leggings and even fluffy socks. I’m ready for it to be September… Every year I count down to the beginning of September and Matt thinks I’m crazy but I love everything about that time of year. It feels like more of a fresh start for me than January does, I can’t wait to eat/drink/smell all things pumpkin and of course #fallfashion is my favourite. Also it’s kinda the beginning of the build up to Christmas (okay I know, I’m actually crazy) but this year has been so weird, let’s just skip to Christmas mode now!  

I’m off to slowly get ready and run a few errands before my work day starts in a couple hours. I might even stop by the drive thru at Costa for a little Friday treat, I still have tons of gift cards from Christmas! 🙂 Friday’s make me so happy. I’m also having a work night IN with my coworkers tonight – we’re doing a CSI Mystery Escape Room on Zoom and I’m so excited!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! 

-G x

What’s What! #3

Happy Friday, loves! Surprise 🙂 I really wanted to write a chatty what’s-what-in-my-life post and I decided I just couldn’t wait until next week to post it! Apologies for the radio silence over here but the posts I had planned just didn’t feel right in this current season. I have taken a little time away to re-group, plan out lots of new posts and I’m so happy to be back! 

I hope you’re all doing well despite everything happening in the world right now. I received the sweetest message from a reader thanking me for writing my blog and that she found it was a great distraction and a happy, positive space that she enjoyed reading. I literally cried! I am so grateful to have my blog to be creative with, and I love that someone can find a little positivity here. Just know I’m sending you all virtual, socially distant hugs on this sunny Friday morning! 

So, here’s a little what’s what right now 🙂 also, grab a cuppa and get comfy, it’s a LONG one…

What I’m buying:
Okay so I have to preface this by saying this was a h u g e treat to myself. It was a happy-new-job, happy-it’s-almost-your-birthday, happy-you’re-living-through-a-pandemic treat. That’s justified right!? So… the MOST EXCITING order I’ve ever placed arrived this week and I can’t stop staring at all the products, LOL! I’d had a kinda crappy day and I was so thankful for the joy this brought. Caroline Hirons released her two Spring Kits two weeks ago, I was so determined to get one and I’m still giddy that I did. These products were an incredible deal, it worked out approximately 55% off! And other than anything I run out of and need to replace I won’t need to purchase skincare again for a long time. Until Caroline’s Summer kit is released, I guess!

I’m posting all about the kit for you this Sunday so you can see everything there properly, and hear my first impressions 🙂 I love love love skincare; it’s truly the most important form of self care to me; and I’m so happy that during lockdown my skin is really the best it’s ever been. Except I’ve been having the most horrendous allergic reactions on my chest, neck and shoulders. I’m so excited to share my skincare routine with you in the next month, but I really think the main thing about skincare is finding products that work for you and being consistent with your routine

Also, I mentioned on Instagram that I was desperately in need of a good t-shirt bra and the majority of suggestions were Victoria’s Secret, Boux Avenue and M&S. My size was out of stock on VS and I’m not really a huge fan of Boux Avenue (I like their ‘sexy’ bras but they’re just not comfortable to me) so I opted to purchase this bra from M&S and I just have to mention it, it’s amazing! It’s super comfy, doesn’t show lines through the fabric of your top and I love how it fits. Honestly I really don’t like bras full stop and I go braless a lot, but for when that’s not an option this is the next best thing. I ordered two bras, in nude and black, and if there’s any good deals on them in the coming weeks I’ll probably buy another of each colour as they’re all I need day-to-day. 

What I’m reading:
I am still madly in love with my Kindle. It’s the best present I’ve ever been given and I’ve truly got no idea how I survived without it. #dramatic Whilst I’ve not been one of those super-humans picking up hobbies of making sourdough bread or suddenly getting in the best shape of my life with daily workouts (and that’s okay!) I definitely have been reading a little more since lockdown began. It’s one of my favourite ways to spend down time and it keeps my mental health in check. I just finished Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins-Reid and I absolutely loved it. I thought I’d read all of Taylor’s books but I came across this in my Kindle library and realised I’d missed it. The story follows a girl named Hannah and her best friend Gabby as they’re reunited in their hometown of Los Angeles. They go out for the evening, and then the rest of the story is split between two universes; based on a yes or no decision made during their night out. It’s wonderful and I’m still not sure which reality I liked best. I just started American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins two days ago and I’m almost half way through, I can barely wait to read the next chapter. It’s a hard read but it’s SO GOOD. It’s raw, emotional and if you liked shows like Narcos: Mexico you’ll love this. My Kindle is packed full of books I’m excited to read and that makes me so happy! 

What made me happy this week:
How sweet (literally, hehe) is this surprise parcel I received this week from my lovely team at work? I was so grateful to receive a little thank you, and you know Matt and I had so much fun trying all of the treats! They were from Kell’s Cupcakery, if you’re looking to send anybody a little pick-me-up in the mail during this time I can’t recommend them enough. I’m so lucky to work with such thoughtful, caring people!

What I’m watching:
Matt and I really haven’t been watching much TV together in the evenings and I really want to change that. I’ve been watching Modern Family on my lunch breaks and sometimes had it playing in the background whilst I’m working – I just love the Dunphy/Pritchett/Tucker clan and I’ve seen it so many times I don’t need to actually watch it, y’know?! I’ll probably start watching Friends again once I finish Modern Family again… for the hundredth time. Is that lame? Probably 🙂 Matt and I have been really enjoying The Imagineering Story on Disney+ though, it’s one of the shows we’ve stayed consistent with. We really need to work our way through our list of shows soon, I feel like we have an overwhelmingly long list so we’ve kinda put off watching anything? So silly! Oh it also hurts my heart that we haven’t watched the Harry Potter movies despite saying nearly two years ago we’d watch them ‘soon’. We need to get on that…

What I’m wearing:
When I haven’t been living the #wfh life to the fullest wearing sweats, leggings or pj pants, I’ve loved getting dressed and experimenting with outfits! I decided this year that my own issues with body confidence were not going to stop me wearing clothes I love and want to wear. Last year I became obsessed with mom jeans (I still am, they are SO comfy!) and I just decided I didn’t care if they weren’t the most flattering on me. I stepped it up an extra notch and I’ve purchased a few pretty shirts, skirts and dresses and I’m so happy with all of them! I don’t really buy clothes too often, but I try to always ensure anything I do buy is a piece I’ll love and wear for years to come. It’s been so fun to spruce my wardrobe up a little. This blue dress fits so nicely; I have a smaller waist and bigger hips – which I do not like – but this somehow makes my figure look good? It’s going to be perfect for the hot Summer days and I think I could also wear it for work – if we get back into the office whilst it’s still warm – with a pair of tan sandals, and maybe a little cardigan over the top. I just love it! I also picked up this white midi dress and I feel like it’s such a great addition to my wardrobe. I love it with a belt around my waist to add a little more shape, and I could even wear this during Autumn/Winter with boots and a leather jacket! New Look have really been killing it with their Spring/Summer items recently, and I always find their clothes to be good quality for the price. 

What I’m thinking about:
Is anyone else in a constant loop of: the world is a scary place > what is going to happen in the future > everything will be fine > I’ve had a great day today! > two great days! > oh my god what is happening in the world? And repeat. Please tell me it’s not just me!? I feel like my feelings on everything happening right now are up and down every day. Sometimes every hour of every day. 

Although everyone is worried in their own way; we’re apart from our family and friends, life is not normal, we’re worried to leave our houses, we don’t know if our jobs are safe, the worry of catching the virus is very real and we can’t really imagine life returning to normal… I truly believe it will all be okay. I don’t know about you but how much do the little things mean right now?! I’m so content with myself. With Matthew. With my family. With life. Things are never going to be ‘perfect’ but I’ve come to realise that’s okay. People are so friendly in the grocery stores, there’s random acts of kindness everyday, we’re more appreciative of each other and what we have, we don’t feel the need to constantly keep up with the Jones’. I just think there’s lots of good that’s come from this, and lots of learning to just live with what you have. I think I’m going to write a post all about being content and quitting the comparison game for good!

What I’m drinking:
So instead of mourning our trip to Disney World that will definitely not be happening in October, we brought a little Disney to us. And boy did it make us happy! I saw a recipe on Instagram that had been shared by Disney World to make their original Dole Whip at home. We made ours a little different but they were so yummy! I froze a can of pineapple chunks (not Dole… Tesco’s finest), and blended them up with vanilla ice cream, a splash of almond milk and a big scoop of coconut yoghurt. It was more pina-colada-in-a-Greek-all-inclusive than Dole-Whip-on-Main-Street but friends… they were DELICIOUS! I can’t recommend making these enough. Our own version of Dole Whips are going to be our go-to Summer treat this year, I just know it! We’re making them again this weekend and adding a dash (or two) of white rum, but that’s totally okay because…

What I’m looking forward to:
Today is the start of my birthday weekend! I turn 26 on Sunday May 17th and it’s going to be one for the books… lockdown birthdays are strange aren’t they?! Have you already celebrated in lockdown? Or will you be in the coming weeks/months? I’m so grateful I get to spend the day with Matt and my family, it will just be so very strange to only see other family members very quickly and from six feet away. We’re going to make the most of it regardless; we are going to take a little trip to the beach, have a movie night and grab a takeaway with my family. It’ll probably be quite a chilled weekend, but I’m going to be recording all of it and sharing a Weekend In My Life with you all next Wednesday – and I’m starting right now! 

It’s currently 8.20am as I’m just publishing this post. Matt left for work a little while ago so I’m about to sign off and start my birthday weekend! Unfortunately I have to adult this morning so I’m about to get ready, run to the post office and grab our groceries for the week. I don’t start work until 11am (yay for late starts and early finishes on a Friday) so I’ve got plenty of time to run a few errands. Oh and a new episode of Shagged, Married, Annoyed came out this morning so you can bet that will be playing the second I hop in my car!

Have a great weekend friends, I’ll see you on Sunday with my Caroline Hirons Spring Kit haul. Also this is your friendly reminder if you’re going out grocery shopping this weekend, make sure you grab a bunch of peonies! They’re only around for a few weeks of the year, and they’re hands down the most beautiful flower around. Right? I’m going to replace my current bunch and I’m not going to lie, it’s my motivation to go get the groceries… 🙂

-G x

Why Supporting Small Businesses Is Extra Important Right Now & How You Can Help

Hi, loves! I’m so excited to share today’s post with you all because whilst we’re all having a really hard time right now, this pandemic is really hitting small businesses hard. I’m so passionate about supporting the small businesses I love and I really want to share what I’ve been doing recently to help and show support, even in the smallest of ways. I love so many small businesses and I’ve always admired people who can create something from nothing. From your local salon, to online boutiques to florists and everything in between, all of these businesses need your help and support more than ever right now.

Coast Candle from Our Lovely Goods, a fantastic small business; this is is one of my favourite ever candles and I’m so happy to support them!

Shop local
There’s a reason the #shoplocal has over thirty MILLION tags on Instagram… it’s super important to people! I love to browse local shops whenever I can; they often supply goods you’d never find anywhere else, support local artists and have a little bit of that ‘home’ feeling in them. I think local stores also make wonderful gifts, especially if you have family or friends who love where you live but maybe live a little further out. Have a look on social media and maybe a little google search to see if you can support any of your favourite local stores online, or maybe just get some ideas of where you’d like to visit when this is all over and we’re able to explore again.

Talk about small businesses you love!
If you love a company and their products, now is the time to shout it from the rooftops. I love to share small businesses I find, especially on Instagram stories, and I’m so happy to promote products that make me happy. Ask your family members and friends which small businesses they support and branch out to new businesses too! Word of mouth is how a lot of these businesses began and it’s something they’ll always appreciate. 

Buy goods online if services are still running
If there’s one good thing about a pandemic… it’s online shopping has never been more fun. Right?! I honestly haven’t purchased very much since lockdown began, but I have ‘window’ shopped online A LOT; I love adding things to my cart and then making a mental note of things I’d like to buy next time I need another *insert product here*. Websites always appreciate an increase in traffic as it really helps out with SEO – this even works for my little blog too. I love seeing little notifications from WordPress that my stats are ‘booming’ when you guys really love a blog post! Mail services are all running, albeit a little slower than usual, so there’s nothing to stop you ordering online. Be sure to check the company’s social media pages for discount codes too, it kinda seems like every website has some kind of deal on right now. 

Share their social media pages or enter competitions
I’m very aware that not everybody is in a place where they’re able to online shop right now; many people have been laid off or furloughed; and it’s an incredibly sad time for so many people. If you don’t have the means to spend physical cash to show your support, that is just fine. Sharing your favourite brands’ social media pages or entering competitions again drives traffic to their pages, and in turn boosts their SEO. When you’re in a position to purchase from them again you can, but make sure to look after yourself right now! 

Take the night off cooking and order in from your favourite family run restaurant
It’s slightly different than shopping local, but all of those local (often family run) takeaway places, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops etc are going to need your custom more than ever right now. We’ve ordered takeaway food around once per week during lockdown – our go-to is always Moti Jheel, we swear it’s the best Indian food in the North East – and I’m so happy to support a business we love so much. Although drive-thru’s and dine-in restaurants are completely closed in the UK at the moment, lots of takeaway services are running and I really encourage you to take advantage of a delicious meal you don’t have to put the work in for!

Tip the staff who are still working
Tipping food places is pretty common in the UK – although unlike in other countries it’s not mandatory or even expected – but Matt and I always tip our delivery drivers! Those people are possibly working much more hours than usual or could have picked up delivering as an extra job if they’ve been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic. I think the kindness people are showing right now is such an unexpected blessing to come from a horrible season of life.

Leave positive reviews
Similarly to sharing your thoughts and comments on social media, leaving reviews on the brand’s website, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor etc really helps to drive traffic their way and encourage others to purchase, or at least browse too. Make sure to set your reviews to public so you can ensure other people can read them!

Order a gift card for future use or for a gift for a friend/family member
Many small businesses who are unable to offer their services right now – whether they don’t have the means to deliver, they’re a salon that rely on hands-on treatment or any other reason – are offering gift cards to their customers. This is a fantastic way to show your support, and get a little treat in a few months’ time when things are (hopefully) heading back to normal! You could also buy gift cards for any family or friends who love a specific store or salon, and give them a little pick-me-up during this time. 

Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to share your favourite small businesses in the comments so we can all help to support them too 🙂 do you have any other tips on how we can support small businesses? I’ll see you on Sunday for a super exciting post… my at home pamper routine! It’s perfect for a pick-me-up especially during this time, and I can’t wait to share it with you! 

-G x

Day In My Life: WFH | UK Lockdown

Happy Easter Sunday, my loves! I hope you’re happily eating all of the Easter chocolate, and still doing well throughout this crazy time in the world. How are you doing? I’ve had a pretty good week overall and I’m feeling really grateful for everything I have right now. Whilst I’m very hopeful that this will all be over soon I also want to be realistic, and I’m trying to get used to our ‘new normal’ as much as possible.

I was going to write up a week in my life for this past week but honestly a couple of days in it was SO repetitive and I really just didn’t want to bore you all! I really miss writing week/weekend in my life posts and I’m really going to make a conscious effort to record weekends especially at least once per month. Round ups of what people have been up to are some of my favourite posts to read, when I post them they always get high views (thank you!) and I also love to read them back a while later. Today I’m sharing my new ‘typical’ day in my life with you, and I already know this is going to be SO crazy to look back on in a few months’ time!

On this particular day I woke up pretty late at 7.45am. Matt is a key worker – he’s a Store Manager – so he’s been in work most days, and has been starting at 7am so I’ve been getting up with him around 6am. He wasn’t starting until later so we got to sleep in which was so nice because I was awake for at least two hours during the night. I struggle with insomnia and it seems to be getting worse not better… I’ve no idea why it happens but I’m WIDE awake and unable to sleep for what feels like forever! The mornings I’ve been getting up earlier I’ve either spent an hour reading my Kindle, practicing yoga or just catching up on YouTube. I was grateful to sleep in but I kinda missed that time today. After a quick cuddle with Matt I got up, brushed my teeth and washed my face. This Effaclar Hydrating Cleansing Cream from La Roche Posay is my favourite cleanser for the mornings; it’s so gentle, removes my skincare products from the night before and does not irritate my skin at all. I’ve took my skincare routine ‘back to basics’ for the most part after another really bad breakout and I’m seeing such a difference already. I’m currently waiting for my prescription skincare to arrive from Dermatica but I can’t wait to share my minimalistic skincare routine with you all next month!

Matt stayed in bed and chatted to me whilst I got ready at my vanity table which was SO fun. I got fully ready; I straightened the ends of my hair that had got a little kinked from being tied back when I slept – I cut two inches off my hair last week and dyed it! #quarantinelife eh? I actually think I did a pretty good job *toot toot* then my mum evened up a little at the back. I never thought I’d be giving myself DIY haircuts but I also never thought we’d be in the middle of a pandemic, sooo… I did my makeup which makes SUCH a difference to how my day goes. I feel one hundred times better on the days I’ve made somewhat of an effort, and I really love taking twenty minutes to apply my makeup each morning. I highly recommend getting yourself a little more put together if you’re struggling spending all day in the house. As you can see I’m not wearing ‘real’ clothes, but honestly I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting around in jeans. I love jeans but I wear them to go outside then the second I get home I put sweats or pj pants on anyway! My Disneyland sweatshirt just makes my heart happy, I live in my Ugg slippers every day anyway and these sweat pants from Abercrombie are the comfiest thing I’ve ever worn. My exact ones are sold out right now but all of their sweats are amazing.

Once I was ready it was time for my commute… to the dining room. AKA my Unofficial Home Office! So for the most part I really enjoy working from home and I am so beyond grateful to still have my job and be getting paid. I can’t wait until we’re all back in the office but really I miss commuting to work SO. MUCH. Never again will I complain about it! I miss getting into my cute car. I miss playing music or a podcast a little too loud. I miss blasting the heat (because I’m always cold). I miss actually physically driving. I’ve only driven once in the past two and a half weeks and I can’t wait until I can drive all the time again! I turned on my computer (I have two monitors and a laptop from my job, but I spend probably 90% of my work day sitting at the table using the monitors. I don’t love working on the laptop as much because the screen is so much smaller and I feel less productive) and wrote out my to-do list for the day. I love a to-do list and it makes me feel so much more motivated. I also have been time-blocking my work days which I’ll talk about in a blog post soon.

Whilst my computer was turning on and everything was opening up (as we’re all working remotely it takes a good five minutes) I made Matt’s breakfast and made myself a cup of tea. I haven’t been fixing myself breakfast most days until around 11am, but Matt and I have both developed a weird obsession with bagels over the past few weeks… we can’t stop eating them! Kissing him goodbye is so sad right now, I never ever thought I’d be worried about him working in a supermarket. Once he’d left I got started with work – around 9am – I made another cup of tea and my morning went SO quickly.

A super sweet Easter card arrived from Matt’s parents, we miss them SO much and can’t wait to spend time with them again when all of this is over! My morning went so quickly I couldn’t believe it was already time for my meeting of the day; we held our office meeting via Microsoft Teams which is always a fun part of the week. I’ve really been focused in the mornings without any noise or distraction, then in the afternoon I tend to bring down my MacBook and play Netflix or Disney+ in the background. I love that I can do that whilst working, it’s definitely a huge perk of working from home! Before I knew it it was almost 3pm and because of our office meeting I’d forgotten to eat breakfast, so I was HUNGRY.

I’ve really been trying to take my lunch break away from my desk the dining table and I was good at it this day. Some days, not so much. Ha! I cleaned up the kitchen, wiped down the counters and cleaned the hob before prepping a really quick and easy lunch. I had avocado on a bagel (told you we’re obsessed) with two boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes. I really don’t like poached eggs very much but I’ve probably eaten boiled eggs more often in the past three weeks than I have in my entire life. They’re just so quick to make, can be paired with pretty much anything and really filling!

I took my lunch upstairs and got cosy on our bed with my Kindle. I love reading so much and really actively try to make time for it each day. Again, some days I’m better at this than others but I notice I feel so much better when I’ve took the time to read a little. If you’re looking for some book recommendations I wrote this post last Sunday! Especially right now I’m trying to limit my time on social media; I barely use Facebook anyway but I’m not really checking Twitter very much, and Instagram for the most part is a pretty safe space which makes me happy. I only read the news once or twice per day, although most days I’ve listened to the 5pm press conference because I’d rather know the actual facts of WHAT is being said, not the scaremongering headlines people keep sharing.

It was my last day of the work week as we were about to have a four day weekend! Honestly I feel like there couldn’t be worse timing for this, bank holidays are normally something we all look forward to so much and we can’t even spend it with our loved ones outside of our home! I washed up, made another cup of tea, turned on Lizzie McGuire (thank you, Disney+ for allowing me to relive my childhood) and finished up my working day. Something that’s really surprised me about being at home all day is how many cups of tea I consume. I’m seriously obsessed! I would say it’s overtaking my love for Diet Coke but nothing can do that!

When I was finished working I switched off my computer and my four day weekend had begun. I went straight into the bathroom because I knew if I sat down in our room I’d get so comfy and not move until after Matt got home from work, hahaha. I removed my makeup (always one of the highlights of my day, why does clean skin feel SO GOOD?) and hopped in the shower. I washed my hair the night before so thankfully I didn’t need to do that, but the second I got out of the shower I really regretted not opting for a bath, ha! Post-shower I lit my favourite candle, took my time applying my skincare, moisturising and getting into comfy pj’s, then settled in to plan my blog posts over the next few weeks. I’m a little bummed because so many of the posts I was writing/had scheduled are just not appropriate for the season of life we’re all in right now, so I’m creating new content and working really hard to bring you positivity! The posts I had planned will still go up at some point, it may just be in a few months time.

My mum arrived home from work (only my brother and I are working from home. My mum, dad and Matthew are all key workers so they’re still getting up and heading out into the world everyday) and we caught up on our day for a little while whilst she sorted out some of her clothes. I swear NOBODY has more clothes than my mum, yet I’m pretty sure she wears the same twenty tops on rotation… she won’t mind me saying that, it’s true, ha! Matt arrived home not long after and he’d only brought home a couple bottles of our favourite wine ever, it’s seriously the best. It’s so inexpensive, you need to try it next time you’re out shopping (for essentials). He showered up and got into comfy clothes for the evening, and as I was just about to start cooking us a bolognese my dad offered to treat us to an Indian takeaway. Umm… YES please! No need to even think about that, Indian food is our favourite.

As they are every time, our meals were incredible – for anyone who lives nearby, we always go to Moti Jheel #shoplocal – and we were so happy and full! We clapped for our carers at 8pm which is honestly one of the highlights of my whole week. I truly think it’s the sweetest thing and I hope all of those key workers know just how important they are not just now but always. We live pretty close to our local hospital and we could hear all of the sirens blaring/noise being made there – this video shows what all of the police officers do every week at the hospital. It makes me cry every time!

After dinner and clapping we snuggled up in bed with a couple of fruity ciders (strawberry and lime cider is one of my favourite ever alcoholic drinks and it just tastes like Summer to me). We turned on Brooklyn 99 which is one of our go-to we-haven’t-got-much-time-but-want-to-watch-something-funny shows! The latest season just went live on Netflix a few weeks back – I think season six? – and we seriously love this show SO much. I just can’t pick a favourite character because I love them all (except Hitchcock, he really gets on our nerves) but I really don’t think it could be a more perfect cast. Our other favourite shows to watch when we don’t have a ton of time are The Office and Friends, but I think we’re going to start Schitt’s Creek soon!

We watched three episodes because we just couldn’t turn it off, then Matt went into the bathroom before me and found a SPIDER on my TOOTHBRUSH. I’m terrified of spiders (except little money spiders, I can deal with them) so I was beside myself haha. Matt killed the spider like a good boyfriend should whilst I jumped around screaming 🙂 not exactly relaxing before bed… After we brushed our teeth – I used my electric toothbrush and threw the other one out, ugh! – I sprayed our pillows and duvet down with this sleep spray. I am a HUGE fan of sleep sprays and I’ve tried quite a few now. I think the This Works one is probably my favourite, it helps so much as I’m a terrible sleeper. Once I get into bed I apply my Laneige lip sleeping mask which is hands down the best lip balm I’ve ever used, my lips still feel so moisturised when I wake up. I really need to order a back up because I don’t ever want to be without this. I then apply Cicaplast on any spots/bumps/pimples I have on my face as it does an incredible job of clearing them up, and apply it to any dry patches on my hands. From constantly washing my hands my hands are so cracked and sore, but this is incredible. I use the SPF50 version because that’s what I have but next time I’ll definitely order without the SPF. I then use my Aveeno hand cream just to lock all of the moisture in, Matt set Alexa to play Waves on Sleep Sounds and that was our day over!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a little look into my life 🙂 what does your every day look like right now? I hope you and your families are all safe and well, and just taking each day at a time! Every day that passes is another day closer to all of this being over, and I think we all really need to acknowledge that even though this is a horrific situation we’re so lucky to be safe in our homes with our loved ones. Thank you to all of our incredible NHS staff, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers and other essential professions keeping our country going right now, you are so loved and we’re all so grateful! Have a happy bank holiday weekend, AT HOME 🙂

I’ll be back on Wednesday, with the weirdest bucket list post I’ll probably ever write!

-G x

Spring Reading List

Hi, my loves! I hope everyone is safe right now more than ever, and learning to live in our ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable. I’ve been quite undecided whether or not I should carry on blogging as if the world isn’t THE most terrifying place right now, and after a lot of debating I thought it best to carry on, and hopefully spread a little much needed positivity. I didn’t post last week as my Spring Bucket List was due to go up but as we’re not allowed to leave our houses (except for grocery shopping or medical attention!) it really wasn’t the right time to post it. The way things are looking right now we might just have to wait for a Summer Bucket List… but we all know this is going to be the most amazing Summer once all of this is over right?! *crosses fingers*

I don’t want anyone to think I’m feeling particularly happy and upbeat right now because honestly, each day is so different. I’m scared and I hate the unknown more than anything, but I am really trying to have a PMA* (*Positive Mental Attitude). I think the only thing we have to hold onto right now is positivity and hope! I think I might record a Week In My Life next week, which seems strange as my days are only just working from home, watching Netflix and not much else, but I think a little bit of solidarity could be extra helpful right now! Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing 🙂 

I’ve seen LOTS of bloggers online talking about now that they have ~so~ much more time on their hands they’re picking up hobbies, working out more etc but honestly, I feel like if anything I have less time? I’m extremely fortunate to be able to work from home which I’m so grateful for (I started my new job two weeks ago, then took pretty much my whole desk home on my second day to work from home for the foreseeable, pretty crazy right?!) I guess I technically have more time as I’m not getting ready the same as I would for work and I don’t have a commute anymore. Unless you count walking the 20 steps from my bed to the dining room AKA my unofficial home office but I’ve been filling that time with other happy things. Real talk: I really miss getting in my car and driving to the office, I never knew how much I enjoyed my commute!

I’m not getting fully ready most days (I think I’m going to change this from next week because honestly I love doing my makeup – and sometimes my hair – so maybe this will make me feel more ‘normal’). But… I’m SO DRAINED. Does anyone else agree with me on this?! I’m only reading the news once or twice per day as honestly I’m finding the whole thing terrifying, and it’s really hard to mentally cope with. I’m so grateful that Matt and I are safe and healthy, and so are our families. We’re staying permanently with my family until this is all over and we are missing Matt’s parents so so much! We miss our grandma’s, our friends, and I haven’t even met most of my new co-workers yet. It’s a crazy time and for me personally starting to learn a new hobby just isn’t something I can do right now. Instead I’m working really hard and trying to learn as much as I can with my new job, sleep well, eat well and enjoy all my favourite downtime/self-care activities. I especially love taking baths, spending extra time on my skincare routine, watching my favourite vloggers, Matt and I look forward to walks more than your average Labrador and I LOVE reading! My Kindle is packed with fun books to read and I’m so excited to be sharing some of those with you, as well as a bunch of books that I really loved and recommend you get immediately! 

My To Read List:

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
This was recommended to me on Amazon and the synopsis and reviews made me download it immediately! This book is a love story of a couple based in New York (I mean that alone had me sold) who have their life planned out. Dannie, the main character, falls asleep one night and wakes up five years in the future, with a completely different life to the one she currently has planned out. I was really careful not to read too many reviews – someone always spoils it! – but this is the next book I’ll be delving into because I’m so excited about it.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
I’m currently reading this now, I’m about half way through and I am really enjoying it. I loved Josie’s first book (more about that below) so I had high expectations! I admit I found it a little slow at the beginning and I wasn’t as excited about it as I was her first one, but now I’m wrapped up in the story and can’t wait to see what happens. Lydia is married to Freddie, who dies suddenly in an accident and her whole world is turned upside down. She soon realises that when she sleeps life in her dreams is just the same as it always has been…

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter
I have had this on my ‘to read’ list for a long time but there’s just always been other books I’ve been more excited about, although after how much I loved So Lucky (again, more on that below!) I am really excited to get stuck in. The story is based on three women who are all united in their views, if nothing else, and I have a feeling it will be very much based on the way society is nowadays. By her own admission, Dawn likes to talk about reality in her books and show that different perspectives can work together, I hope it’s as witty and off-the-cuff as So Lucky!

Dear Lily by Drew Davis
Anyone else hear the name ‘Lily’ and immediately hear ‘where’s the dog, Lily?’ in their head? Just Me? Okay… Again this was recommended to me on Amazon and I’m really looking forward to reading it; the story is about Joy moving away from her family home – and her sister, Lily – and sounds like the perfect escapism girly read. Joy communicates via letter and I’m assuming goes through things from her childhood/past as it appears to be very emotional based on the reviews.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Shay talked about this in her March book review this past week and I immediately downloaded it. I love pretty much all of her recommended books, and if I’m ever feeling at a loss looking through Amazon I head over there for inspiration (and check the comments section too)! This book is about a mum and son who live in Mexico, and have to escape to the US away from the Cartel. From Shay’s review and the Amazon reviews it seems to be a very suspenseful, tragic, heartwarming read, and I’m kind of obsessed with all things about the drug cartels in Mexico! Matt and I watched Narcos: Mexico and LOVED it, and I think that’s what got me into that kind of storyline. This book is fictional but wanting to cross the border for a better life is an everyday thought for so many people, I’m so excited to read this… I just need a few more happy, easy books before I delve in!

No We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
Okay so I adore Sophie’s books and I’m so excited to read this! This books seems like a typical girly, romantic comedy that I really bloody love… Sloane is looking for The One and she’s pretty sure she’s found him, until she finds out Myles is hiding a huge secret from her and everything falls apart, as it always does in a rom-com! This feels like a perfect chilled read, especially when the world is so topsy turvsy.

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher 
I really like Giovanna’s books because they’re generally very light hearted, easy-to-read and something you can pick up and put down without being too gripped. I mean that as a good thing! This story follows Lizzy, who thinks after being with her boyfriend for ten years there’s a proposal on the horizon, however that doesn’t exactly work out. Gi’s books are super down-to-earth and I always fall in love with the main character, who I’m assuming is going to be heartbroken and on a journey to find herself throughout the book…

Books I loved and recommend:

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
I’ve bought this book for so many people! This is a great read that would be such a welcome distraction for someone during this crap time. Dolly recounts SO many memories throughout this book, and so many of them are things that our teenage selves will relate to! She covers heartbreaking times in her life, funny times, learning experiences and everything in-between. I really feel like Dolly comes across in a big sister kinda way throughout this book, and it’s a bloody fun trip down memory lane as I guarantee you’ll remember certain things/people/times whilst reading her story. I think every woman should read this, I’ve actually read it twice and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time!

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
This is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year! Literally laugh-out-loud funny and not the predictable storyline I was expecting a few chapters in. Tiffy, the main character, is the most lovable, friendly girl and I think that’s partly why I loved this book so much. I found it so funny, I always wanted to know what was happening next and I was jumping to conclusions of what would happen next all the way through. It also really shows how people can get to know each other without knowing each other, and that’s something that happens more and more in the world we live in. Imagine how many couples will be saying in a few years ‘oh we talked every day during quarantine!’ hahaha.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
I’ve talked about this book several times on my blog and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it’s so worth a mention for anyone new reading! Let me just be clear: this is NOT a light read. It’s a very moving, heartbreaking, touching story and my heart physically hurt reading this. But, it’s still so amazing! Elsie, the main character, is living in a happy little bubble when the most distressing thing happens; her husband is killed in an accident. The writing is phenomenal; Elsie’s personality shone through in this book even in the midst of horrific grief and all the way through I just wanted to pop round and give her a hug. I also really cuddled Matt tight each night when I put this down, it brings a whole other level of appreciation to your loved ones! To be honest all of Taylor’s books are incredible, you can’t go wrong with any of them!

The Accidental Life Swap by Jennifer Joyce
This is a very fun, light and easy read, which is perfect if you’re struggling with everything going on in the world right now. I read this in two or three days a few weeks back and I just loved the storyline. Rebecca is a pushover who works for a horribly mean boss (we’ve all been there!), and she thinks she needs to be more like her in order to do better in life. She quickly learns that being a bitch is not the best way to go through life and the way she learns it is SO funny. I also would love to see if the house in this book was based on one in real life, and if so I want to move in!

One Day In December by Josie Silver
I read this last December, assuming by the title it was a Christmas themed book. It’s not! I loved this book from start to finish and read it SO quickly, I wish I could go back and re-read it for the first time! Laurie and her best friend Sarah both unexpectedly fall in love with the same guy, but it’s not a typical love triangle story at all. The book moves through years pretty quickly and you really get to know the characters so well, I was rooting for different people at different times in this book but overall I loved the ending and I so want a second book to see what happens with the characters! Also there is some really sad moments in this book, so just bear that in mind if you’re struggling a little right now.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom
This was such a heart-warming read, I truly adored the storyline and the characters! A twenty-something girl who was adopted as a baby goes to find her birth mother on the other side of the world in New Zealand, and as you can imagine it’s not straight forward. She’s led there by a tragedy, and the truth behind her adoption is told throughout the book. I literally gasped at parts of this, again I was thinking I knew what was going to happen but I was so off. This is an easy read and I was so happy with the ending (even though I felt it was a little rushed). Also, it really made me want to visit New Zealand, it sounds like such a beautiful place and the way of life seems very similar to the UK!

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes
I’ve also talked about this on the blog a few times recently but oh my goodness I just LOVED this book! This is the perfect quarantine read because I promise you’ll not want to put it down. Caitlin is a professional matchmaker running her own agency, with the most perfect cookie cutter husband and life, or so her followers think. This is a great story that shows what you see on social media is not always as it seems, and although some parts are completely heartbreaking overall the book is beautiful and heartwarming. I love that the reader doesn’t know exactly what’s going on right away, and you are led to make your own assumptions before being told the truth. Such a great read, and another book that makes you feel especially lucky for your life right now.

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter 
I saw this book all over Instagram and I downloaded it because I just had to see what all the hype was about. Around three chapters in I was feeling like this book was not for me, but boy was I WRONG! I did find it a little hard to get into, but it is so worth sticking with. This book is relatable, hilarious, thought-provoking and it also covers some really hard parts of life. The story is based on three very different women whose paths overlap and it’s a really great testament to the power of female friendship. Warning: it gets… graphic(?) pretty quick!

Have you read any of these books? Which is your favourite?! Please share all of your recommendations below, I love hearing what books people would recommend and why! Sending you all positive thoughts and love in this horrible time, we’re all in this together friends 🙂 (and that reminds me, Matt and I have got a date with HSM this afternoon… yay for Disney+!) 

-G x

Ten Things I No Longer Buy | Minimalism

Happy Sunday, my loves! Something I’ve realised over the past year or so is that I actually really enjoy having less. Let me just be super clear and say that I am NOT a minimalist. My skincare bag for an overnight trip is probably more items than some people would pick up in an entire year, but that’s okay! 

*I wrote the majority of this post before all of the social distancing / self isolating / quarantining began, but this could definitely be helpful to people at this time! If you’re struggling in any way with what’s happening my heart is with you, please know you’re not alone. We will get through this together! You can check out my last post for some self care inspiration that is probably very much needed at this time.*

I have learned to live a little more minimally in a way that makes sense to me, and I’m really finding comfort in that. When I have too much stuff I don’t get enough use or wear out of what I have, I find it difficult to make choices and the physical clutter somehow clutters my brain too! I also have found I’ve saved so much money by stopping buying the things I talk about in this post; even a few pounds here and there mounts up so quickly and I really think twice about what I spend my money on nowadays. *Obviously there are no right or wrong answers! I do not judge anyone who still buys any of these things, that’s totally okay. This post is just for fun!*  

  1. Cheap jewellery

I LOVE jewellery, and I wear a bunch of staple pieces every single day. I have two pairs of earrings that I pretty much never switch up (and four other ear piercings I can’t even change myself!), I wear the same one or two necklaces every day, I have three rings I never take off and I always wear my Pandora bracelet and watch. All of those pieces are pretty minimal in themselves and neutral; every piece goes with every clothing item I wear and I really don’t feel the need to have hundreds of jewellery options when I get dressed in the morning. Jewellery is one of my favourite ways to accessorize an outfit, and I think it’s really important to invest in good pieces that will last a lifetime! My favourite jewellery brands are Missoma, Daniel Wellington and Pandora as they have tons of options and many are classic, timeless items. The only thing I think I’m missing in my jewellery staples is maybe a pair of silver hoops and a silver choker (I LOVE this one) so maybe I’ll purchase those in time. 

  1. Flowers

I really adore fresh flowers, and I got into a habit where I was picking up a bunch almost every week whilst grocery shopping. They brighten up Matt and I’s space so much, they’re so pretty to look at and (when needed) they can be a great photo prop for my blog. However, buying flowers that frequently is not only an unnecessary expense it’s also kind of a waste of money and definitely not an ‘essential’, especially on a weekly basis! I love being gifted flowers (sometimes Matt treats me to a beautiful bunch which is the sweetest!) and that’s so much more special than just buying them every week for no particular reason.

  1. Excess beauty products

Beauty has been my thing since before I can remember. I used to borrow steal my mum’s makeup, perfume and skincare when I was younger and began to hoard any beauty products I could get my hands on (like, starting with Lip Smackers lip balms!) from a young age. As I moved into my teens, I started experimenting with new products and brands, and found so much joy in buying all the products I could. This carried on to my early twenties but over the past year or so I’ve really started to find joy in the simplicity of a (somewhat) simple routine. I love to use the same products day-to-day, and also have a few extras that I use for pamper evenings which makes them feel even more special! My skin reacts SO easily to new products and sometimes I would wish I’d never tried X, Y or Z. Finding products that I really love and only trying new things on a necessity basis (like if I unexpectedly react to something I use, which can happen no matter how long you’ve used a product, or running out of a current product) has made much more sense to me, and my bank account definitely prefers it too!

  1. ‘Trendy’ clothing pieces

I stopped purchasing fast fashion items for the most part over a long time ago, as I really didn’t see why I should carry on purchasing stuff I didn’t need. The fast fashion impact on our economy and the environment was really brought home to me by Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary (a MUST watch!) and ever since I’ve been much more intentional with my clothing purchases. I do still buy from high street stores now and then but I purchase SO much less clothing than ever before, and when I do buy I really try to purchase items that are made with good – or at least ‘better’ – quality fabrics, minimal patterns and things that I’ll wear for years to come. This takes a little bit of time to find what works best for you, but it’s so worth thinking about and changing how you purchase! 

  1. Manicures/pedicures

I know many girls who adore getting their nails done and honestly I love having mine done too, but it’s just not a huge priority for me at this time in life. It’s a lot of money to justify getting my nails done every two weeks, and I’m really trying to save money to put towards things that are more important to me, like travelling and date nights! It’s something that I like to do for a treat here and there throughout the year so I tend to save getting my nails done only for special occasions like birthdays, trips or holidays. I generally paint my own toe nails (especially in the Summer when I’m wearing sandals all the time!) and I actually really enjoy the process of doing that too.

  1. Bottled water

I stopped purchasing small bottles of water (well let’s be real, usually it was Diet Coke) a few years back as it’s just SO terrible for the environment and generally not necessary. Of course there are exceptions; if I’m out shopping and I’m not going to be home for a while but need a drink I’ll obviously one but I do try to pick up a can instead of a bottle if possible. One of the best ways I’ve found to get around this has been to take my Chilly’s bottle out with me if I know I’m going to be out for a while. I take my bottle to work every day and out with me if I’m going out for a long time, it makes such a difference and helps me drink more water too!

  1. Movies

Anyone else kinda miss the run-to-Blockbuster days? Me too! These days between Netflix, Sky and Amazon Prime, Matt and I have absolutely no reason to purchase movies anymore. We do enjoy date nights at the movies at least once per month but that’s more the experience of going out for a date (and eating all the good food) not just the movie! I am however SO FREAKING GIDDY for Disney+ to come out in the UK… two more days to wait, friends! I’d rather pay for subscription services and have thousands of options instead of paying one time for one DVD or rental movie.

  1. Items just because they’re on sale

As a lover of reading blogs and watching Youtube vloggers I sometimes feel inundated with people showing me what they’re buying or what they’ve been given, and giving discount codes/sharing sales with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sale as much as anyone, but I really try not to purchase anything that I’m not already looking for. I actually started a list in my Notes app (that has over forty things in it right now, hahaha) of items I’d like to buy at some point; some of these are pretty specific like tan sandals for the Summer, some are just ‘one of those things’ like sweat pants if I see a pair that I like as I need to replace a few pairs of mine. I really do think bloggers as a whole sometimes unintentionally encourage consumerism, just yesterday I seen one of my favourite YouTuber’s sharing her brightly coloured leggings that were on sale for ‘less than $100!’ …they were $98. If something is on sale that you never had any intention of buying but now you ‘want’ it, you’re not saving any money whatsoever!

  1. Weekly magazines

I used to purchase SO MANY magazines, I probably bought at least three per week! I know for sure I didn’t read all of those magazines and some of them may have never even been opened. Not only is that so wasteful it’s really costly, magazines are expensive guys! I still purchase one monthly magazine (I’ve bought Cosmopolitan ever since I can remember and I actually really enjoy lounging in the tub reading it one night per month) but I have no desire to pick up magazines anymore. You can find all of the content and so much more online via blogs or websites, and reading online is also a much more sustainable way to consume that information. 

  1. Subscription boxes

As a beauty lover, I found subscription boxes were such a fun way for me to try new products. I was subscribed to Birchbox and Glossybox for years and whilst I do think it’s a great way to try new things, it’s also a way to over consume products. I started to get products mounting up and many brands/products weren’t things I enjoyed or liked therefore it really became a waste. I think the products also get quite repetitive, if there was a way to somewhat customise what you got in these boxes I think they’d make more sense to purchase.

I hope this post was fun for you guys to read, and maybe stirred up a few questions if you should still be buying X, Y or Z too? What are some things you used to purchase but no longer do? I’m really enjoy learning more about minimalism and I’m very grateful for the impact it’s had on my life already. Please share anything you no longer buy in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions on this topic! 

-G x

Staycation Booking Tips

Hi, loves!

Last weekend Matt and I enjoyed a little staycation in our very favourite local hotel; Hotel du Vin, Newcastle. We’ve stayed there many times before and it always feels like such a treat, so much so that we rarely book anywhere else if we’re looking for a luxurious and romantic staycation! We especially love a night or two away from home because it’s just like a mini holiday for us, and we always treat it like that. We pack minimally, play tourist in our own city and just enjoy spending time together. I feel like it’s such a blessing that we’re able to take trips like this and I never want to take it for granted! I totally get this is not everyone’s cup of tea which is fine, but if you’re a fan of nights/weekends away I really hope this is helpful to you.

So, there’s several things to consider when you’re booking a staycation. Are you going to spend a lot of time in the hotel? Does it make sense to splurge a little more on your accommodation as you’re travelling less distance? Does the hotel look comfortable and cosy? Do you know of any friends or family who have stayed there before? Is it a suitable distance to the nightlife of the city/town you’re visiting? Is there anywhere to explore or play tourist nearby? If you want to really relax is there a spa facility?

Our checklist for a romantic weekend trip is pretty standard whether we’re staying close to home or travelling a few hours away. The five top things on our list are:
– a little bit of luxury that feels extra special
– the hotel being based close (ish) to shops restaurants and bars. We love to play tourist even in our own city and we went to make sure we can explore easily
– a roll top bath, because why the heck not?
– beautiful views
– a good deal on the room price, bonus points if it includes breakfast

For us, the benefit of a staycation is we’re jumping in the car and driving less than thirty minutes to our destination, and we want to R E L A X. We spend a lot of time in the hotel room before we go out for dinner, and also like to make the most of our morning there too. A roll top bath is obviously not a necessity for a hotel room, but hey… when in Rome Newcastle… Truthfully we are bath lovers, and a bubble bath sounds like a pretty fun way to spend time during a romantic weekend to me. Little luxuries of boutique hotels like fancy toiletries and a mini bar are great, but we try to take any extras we need… including our own cans of Diet Coke. I wish I was joking, hahaha. We usually book breakfast as an extra little treat because most days we don’t get to eat breakfast together due to our work schedules. And you all know, we love a breakfast date!

Choosing the right hotel for you and your needs is important; I personally think it’s extra special to be in a boutique hotel because there’s so many extra little touches that you don’t get in a large franchised hotel. We’ve stayed at several HdV’s (seriously guys, feel free to work with me!) and all of them have the same feel of a grand building, muted colour tones, huge comfy beds – which makes no difference because we always wake up right on the edge of Matt’s side, oops! – and friendly staff who look after you. I personally think Hotel du Vin’s have a very ‘homey’ feeling, it’s just really relaxing and quiet which is perfect for us. Every time we stay we also go for a walk along the Quayside which feels like something extra special too, because it’s somewhere we both love to be.

BOOKING (& PACKING!) TIPS

– read lots of blog posts and Trip Advisor reviews if you’ve never stayed at the hotel before
– look through the Instagram geotag to see real photos from guests
– check there is parking available on site, but remember it’s often charged separately to your hotel room
– set a budget beforehand so you aren’t tempted to book something too expensive
– plan ahead; if you stay on a Sunday evening you’ll normally get the best rates
– compare prices on different sites before booking, although often the best deal is with the hotel’s own website
– bring your own champagne/wine if you fancy a tipple in the room and you’re going all out on the romantic feeling. Glasses are always provided for free!
– you probably don’t need pj’s because hotel robes are the BEST
– whether you’re eating at the hotel or at a restaurant in the town/city, book ahead of time to avoid disappointment
– don’t overpack on the toiletries, it’s all there for you anyway
– check the hotel’s amenities for things that are important to you. Is there a hairdryer / coffee machine / fridge etc? Chances are, yes!
– make a (rough) itinerary of things to do and places to see so you aren’t tempted to spend all of your time lounging in your beautiful hotel room!
– pack snacks, nobody wants to be getting hangry

I hope this post was helpful to you if you’re thinking of planning a staycation any time soon! I’m still dreaming of that bubble bath… Have you stayed in a Hotel du Vin before? What hotels are your favourite for a luxury staycation? Do you have any additional booking tips to share with me and my readers?!

-G x

Winter Reading List

Happy Wednesday, loves! One of the things I really want to include more of in my blog this year is my love of reading. I read at least twenty minutes per day, but I really try to read for around an hour if I can. Honestly this totally depends on my day; if I have spare time in the morning like when Matt leaves for work, or if I’m taking a long bath in the evening I often read for longer than hour. I’ve set myself a target to read twenty six books this year but I’ve just finished book #5 of 2020, so I’m pretty sure I’ll surpass that goal quickly!

If you’ve missed me talking about it approximately 400 times on the blog, Matthew very kindly bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I am absolutely in love with it (full first impressions/review will be coming in the next few weeks) and I’m so so grateful he gifted it to me! I’ve only read books on my Kindle since Christmas Day, and I honestly haven’t missed having a ‘real’ book at all, which was something I was a little worried about. I decided to mix this review up with a few books I’ve read and a few books I’m planning on reading; let me know if you’d like to see more review-style lists on what I’ve already read, rather than what I’m planning to!

The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth
Real talk: I’ve never met a Sally Hepworth book I didn’t like. Ha! I first found Sally through Shay and I loved her writing style from the very beginning. I always feel like her characters are very well written and have that real feeling to them that makes connecting to their story so effortless. I love the mystery linked in to this book; the plot surrounds Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, being found dead, next to a suicide note that makes no sense. All of the family have something to hide, and the book is a whodunnit style which I’m sure will have me gripped based on the reviews I’ve read. Fun fact: after girly ‘rom com’ style of book, whodunnit is my second favourite kind of book to read! I can’t wait to get stuck in!

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
This was the fifth book I read this year, and it’s definitely my favourite of the bunch so far! I LOVED it so much. The story is told by the two main characters – Tiffy and Leon – in a diary-like format, although I have to admit when I first started reading I didn’t know if I’d like that. After a few chapters I really enjoyed this way of story telling; it was interesting to hear both points of view and still have my own opinion/thoughts as the reader. Right from the very beginning I just adored Tiffy; she’s found with nowhere to live and her only option is to live in Leon’s flat (and bed!) when he’s not there. Sounds strange doesn’t it? It is, but it’s wonderful. This is just a lovely story of two personalities intertwining and it’s definitely not your typical boy-meets-girl. It’s also laugh out loud funny. This should be next on your ‘to read’ list for sure!

One Day In December by Josie Silver
I ordered this book as it was recommended to me on Amazon back in December and I am SO glad I did! I read it within a few days and I loved every. single. second. The story follows two best friends, and a boy they are both in love with. The new characters that are introduced fit in so well, and the story has so many twists and turns it’s not the predictable easy read I assumed it was. I really felt like I couldn’t put this down and would recommend to everyone; also the title is a little misleading as I thought this was a Christmas themed book but it’s definitely not, you could read this any time of year. This was hands down my favourite book of 2019! I can’t wait to read more from Josie, her new book comes out in March and I’m very excited to get my hands on it!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter
I’m not sure if it’s just me but I feel like this book is EVERYWHERE at the moment. I have to say, I love the cover so much I almost bought the paperback instead of downloading the Kindle version, ha! I just started reading this and I’m really enjoying it. The book is told (so far) from the perspective of two women, and also features an influencer’s social media posts, obviously showing off her perfect life. I have a feeling there are a lot of cracks that will show soon! So far none of the women have met but I can see how their lives are about to intertwine. I love Beth already, her character is SO funny and I’ve laughed out loud several times in her parts of the book! I’ve seen from reviews there’s a less in here regarding not believing things as you see them on social media, and I think that’s a lesson we could all do with being told over and over again. I’m really excited to see what happens (and why Ruby is the way she is…)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
I have wanted to read this book for SO long; I know it’s very loved and it’s a best-seller, but I’ve kinda put it off because I know it’s going to be a hard read. Matt and I love to watch movies set during wartime but every time I read a book set around the war I can’t finish it, I have no idea how but to me reading is so much more powerful than a TV show/movie and my heart hurts so much I can’t take it! This story centres around two people on very different sides of the camp falling in love, and I just know it’s going to be a heartbreaking read! It’s a bestseller and so many people have told me to read it, so I really need to get to it.

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
I read this book super quickly, and I’d definitely recommend for an easy read that actually covers some very hard life events. Warning: it can get a little raunchy! Ha! I did not know that when I picked it up, but nonetheless I enjoyed it. Caitlin, the main character, is so lovable and someone you’re immediately connected to and rooting for from the beginning. I love when I immediately like or can relate to the main character as I think that is a huge part of how much I enjoy books. She is a super successful lawyer and when her ex-nemesis from college is needing a favour from her, she seems to find a whole new side of herself. I also LOVE Emme’s character! I can’t say much more without spoiling it, just add it to your reading list ASAP!

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life And Strange Times In Television
Matt bought me Louis’ book for Christmas which was so sweet because he knew I was planning on buying it. Something you may not know about us is that we LOVE Louis Theroux! His documentaries are some of our favourites (Queen Stace gets the top spot, obvs) and we binge watch his old ones all the time. I especially love Louis’ interviewing style; he’s never afraid to say what he thinks and he has met some of the most controversial people! I really am so excited to delve into this to see a behind-the-scenes aspect.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom
This book was also recommended to me by Amazon after reading One Day In December, so I have pretty high hopes. The story is based on a girl figuring out her own grief and finding her biological mother in the process, and these kind of heart wrenching stories make for some of my favourites! It’s also set in New Zealand and I love when a book is set somewhere I’ve never been before. I really enjoy a family based drama within a book, and this book is described as moving and emotional, which we all know means I’ll be crying my way through it!

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes
This was the first book I read in 2020, and I loved it so much I wish I could unread it and read it again! The story was not at all what I thought and I think that’s actually a really good thing; I love when a book takes you by surprise and has lots more to offer than it appears on the surface. The Matchmaker covers some very hard circumstances you’d never want to experience in your own life, but it also is funny. Caitlin, the main character, is someone I immediately liked, and thought it was so interesting that she runs her own matchmaking agency. I don’t want to spoil for you why she’s against sharing her perfect life with her perfect husband – after all, it’s been the selling point of her agency for a very long time – but I just need you to buy it! Warning: I sobbed several times reading this book. You know those big, fat tears that just don’t stop? Buy tissues!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this inspired you to grab your book (or Kindle) and snuggle in to read for a few hours this afternoon. I just get so much joy from reading, I want everyone else to enjoy it just as much as I do! I’m still trying to convince Matthew to pick up a book… Have you read any of the books I talk about in this post? Do you have any recommendations for me of what I should order next?

-G x