Friday, 30 June 2017

My 2017 goals: A 6 month review

For me, 2017 has been a year of growth.

It was never my plan for it to be a year of growth but that's how it's turned out.

I've moved into my own home, I've got married, I've travelled, I've been promoted at work and I'm starting a new course that will enable me to go down more of a teaching path if I wish to do so. I've started making more time for my friends and family and I've stopped going out as much as I'm a big fan of waking up on a Sunday with a clear head and a healthy looking bank balance. It's been pretty sweet (bar the tories getting into power again anyways).

In celebration of making it halfway through the year I figured today was a pretty good time to look back on my beginning of the year goals and see how well I'm getting on with them.

(i.e not so well).


Buy a house.
As we all know I sacked off saving to move into a rented property then I used some more of my savings to go to America for two weeks. I was left with a still pretty good sum but nowhere near enough to buy a house. I think my priorities have changed since I first wrote out my 2017 as I no longer think a mortgage will make me happy - I'm not saying I won't ever get around to buying one but for now, this is going on the back burner.

Start reading books again instead of scrolling mindlessly through Instagram when I'm bored.
I can tick this one off the list as I have well and truly (re)caught the reading bug this year. I've read around ten books which could be improved upon but considering I've read next to nothing over the last two years that ain't half bad. I'm currently reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman so I will probably be reading that for a while as it's 700+ pages long.

Eat a bit better and move a bit more.
Erm. Well I'm eating a little bit better I guess? Less snacks and more home cooked meals but that's about it. I would love to move a bit more but I'm part sloth and can never be arsed. I've been thinking about joining Jody's gym, I just need a little push to do so.

Visit as many new places as possible.
So far I've visited Amsterdam, NYC and Las Vegas which is pretty fucking cool. I have three days in Berlin pencilled in my diary for October but apart from that I don't have anything else on. I wouldn't mind a cheeky staycation somewhere but we will have to see what my funds allow.

Have the confidence to write articles and submit them to other sites.
So this one is a big nope as I've barely had chance to write for my blog, nevermind someone else's. I'm not writing this one off altogether though as I'm hoping that once things calm down at work I will have some free time on my hands.

How are you getting on with your goals? Have you achieved them or have you abandoned them?   

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

My five favourite Las Vegas experiences

Las Vegas was an interesting town crammed with people, bright lights everywhere you turn and 40 degree heat that hits you square in the face the minute you leave the lovely air conditioned hotel. I don't think I will be in any rush to head back there as it was super busy and hot but I'm glad that I've experienced the weird and wonderful Sin City.

I'm pretty crap at introducing my posts so I'm just gunna crack on with it - Here are my five favourite experiences from my week in Las Vegas.

Downtown Las Vegas
I preferred downtown Las Vegas to the strip as it's exactly how I imagined Las Vegas to be. Thousands of twinkling lights, vintage looking signs and heaps of people milling around taking everything in. The newer strip was cool and all but it was a bit too flash for me and didn't have the same buzzing atmosphere as Old Vegas (It was a lot cheaper than the strip as well). I didn't make it to the Neon Museum unfortunately but I did go to the Mob Museum which I would highly recommend if you're into true crime and gangsters like I am.

Hopping in a helicopter and flying over the Grand Canyon
It's safe to say that I am bloody terrified of flying and after getting a little hopper plane from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon I'm even more scared than I was before - But I bloody LOVED the helicopter ride in and out of the Grand Canyon. Taking off and flying into the Canyon was like being on a not so scary rollercoaster and my God, it was amazing. The Grand Canyon is a pretty spectacular sight to behold too, it's just a shame that some tourists felt the need to play music from speakers and ruin the ambience of the place (yes that really happened!).

The Venetian hotel
The hotels on the main strip are huge. Someone told me they were like shopping centre's and I thought she was exaggerating but nope, they're bloody massive. My favourite had to be The Venetian with it's artificial river, singing gondoliers and exquisite design - it's absolutely bizarre, a little bit tacky but totally mesmerising. Plus it had a Sephora so yeah, amazing.

Watching the Bellagio fountains from the Eiffel Tower
The Bellagio fountains were nice to watch from the ground but when we went up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel we got an even better view of them. The tower itself is 33 stories high, took 2 years to build and cost 780 million dollars (!!!) to create and whilst I wouldn't say it's a must do, if you want some good views of the strip it's definitely worth paying the $25 to go up and have a nosey.

The flower carousel at the Wynn
I got a little bit lost inside the Wynn so I'm not 100% sure where this carousel is - We walked through the shopping centre doors and followed it around and came across it by accident - but it's stunning. The carousel actually moves around and it's adorned with hundred's of flowers. It's just really, really pretty and bonus, it's free to look at.

Have you been to Las Vegas? What did you think. Crazy isn't it!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Five Good Things #7

the bull inn, west canfield

Happy Monday and welcome to yet another instalment of five good things. I struggled to come up with a list this week as I've been doing a lot of overtime at work but I got there in the end. 

1. A cheeky Monday off
I rocked up to work last Monday only to be informed that someone had driven into the BT box outside and all the power was going to be turned off so they could repair it...Meaning we were all getting sent home. I ended up going for a pub lunch with the girls as it was a b-e-a-utiful day and dare I say it, I've even got a bit of a tan.

2. Milka chocolate bars
Milka bars are 50p in Morrisons at the moment and it's dangerous. It's creamy, smooth and tastes delicious - A very underrated chocolate bar.

3. Having a puppy in the office
My work place is pretty chill so when one of the lads asked if he could bring his puppy Cooper in whilst he crate trains him the managers were really cool about it. He is absolutely bloody gorgeous - He's so so soft and he always comes over to say hello on a morning the lil cutie.

4. The Handmaid's Tale on C4
Jesus Christ this programme is deep. If you don't know what it's about it's based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. It tells the story of Offred, a handmaid living in a dystopian society where women are property of the state and many are infertile - The handmaid's are basically walking talking wombs for the rich people who can't have kids. It's really dark and Elizabeth Moss is bloody fantastic in it.

5. A successful NVQ meeting
I've finished my level 3 NVQ in Business Administration after one year of study and now it's onto the next one - a level 3 course in Learning and development. This is basically an assessors qualification and it would mean I would be able to teach any courses that I've done previously. It sounds really interesting and it's definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to where I want to go next with my career path.

And that's it! Have a lovely week!


Friday, 23 June 2017

Photo Diary: Coney Island, NYC

One of Jody's favourite films is 'The Warriors', the 1979 cult classic about a gang trying to get home to Coney Island after they are framed for murder, so obviously a visit to Coney Island was on the top of his NYC hit list.

I might not be *that* into scary rides but I bloody loved Coney Island - I loved the boardwalk, I loved the atmosphere, I loved the Wonder Wheel (the pods rock - quite literally). It was just a really good day out, one that I would highly recommend. Oh and I did I mention it's probably one of the most Instagrammable places I've ever been? Yep even when it's grey and cloudy.

Anyways I'm not gunna babble on trying to sell you on it. Instead take a peek at some of my photos* - I'm sure you'll soon understand why I found the place so charming.

Now please excuse me whilst I go buy The Warriors game for PS4...

So have any of you guys been to Coney Island before? What did you think?

*Soz there aren't many photos of the actual rides, I was all about the vintage looking signs scattered around the park!


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Some Sephora Treats

kat von d, too faced, stila

Obviously no trip to the USA is complete without a trip to every beauty addict's idea of Valhalla, Sephora. All the items I ended up buying are available in the UK (I think anyways) but I would never usually buy them as the price tags aren't exactly budget friendly. SO - Shall we talk about what I treated myself too?

Kat Von D everlasting liquid lipsticks in (L-R) Backstage Bambi, Bow n Arrow and A Go Go
Matte lippies were never really my thang as they made my lips look v cat bum-esque but these Kat Von D lipsticks are a game changer as they have am much nicer formula than most. I didn't think any of these shades would suit me but they do, it's a miracle! I was never a full time lipstick wearer but these little vials of beauty and colour may have converted me.

Too Faced better than sex mascara
This has been on my to buy list for a while as a tonne of bloggers call it their ride or die mascara but after looking at the brush I wasn't sold and decided to sack it off. Anyways my mascara ran out whilst I was in the USA so I decided to bite the bullet and try it out...And I love it. Sure it's expensive but it doesn't cause my eyelashes to clump together and it makes them feel all feathery and thick.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Aurora glow kit

Stila magnificent metals glitter and glow liquid eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro
I bought diamond dust when Stila had an easter promo on and I really regretted not buying more. I was hoping to get some of the mermaid shades but they weren't in stock in store so I settled for my second choice, rose gold retro. If you're a glitter fiend like myself you will ADORE these shadows as they are super easy to use, there's no fall out and the colours are bold and eye catching. Pricey yes, but well worth the cost.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Aurora glow kit
I really really really wanted the ABH x Nicole whatsit highlighter palette but as it was limited edition it was sold out everywhere and no longer in stock on the website so I ended up picking the candy coloured Aurora glow kit up instead. When applied properly these look absolutely stunning but if you go in with a heavy hand they can look a little bit clown like. The formula is lovely though and you hardly need any product on your brush to get a nice result.

Have you tried any of these out?

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Five good things #6

urban decay naked heat

1. A return to a life of routine and normality
Don't get me wrong, if someone offered me a lottery win I would travel the world until my feet wouldn't take me any further BUT it's been really good to get back to normal after my holiday. At the beginning of the week I had such bad jetlag and my sleeping pattern was all over the place so it's nice to feel like myself again.

2. I finally got my paws on a Chip mug!
Well I didn't get it my Mum did but still, YAY! I asked my Mum & Sister to keep an eye out for a Chip mug for me as they live/work in a bigger town that I do and after months of patiently waiting they came across a lone mug languishing by the tills and snapped it up for me. It's more of an ornament than a functioning mug (I don't drink tea of coffee) but I love it.

3. The Urban Decay 'Naked Heat' palette
Yep sorry, I'm one of the many who jumped on the bandwagon and ordered UD's latest offering the minute the pre-sale opened. Although to be fair, I did have the day off and was suffering from jet lag/holiday blues so you can't blame me can ya? I've always been a big fan of warm shades as I feel they really make my blue eyes pop so this palette is perfect for me.

4. My blackout curtains
I'm sorry, this is such a boring grown up thing but my new blackout curtains are the bomb. As you may know we are in a rental property and whilst it's decorated to our tastes, the bedroom curtain were very thin and let in a lot of light in the morning. This didn't bother Jody but it bothered me so I went and bought myself some blackout curtains and man, my sleep quality has improved tenfold. No more 5 am wake up calls from the sun for me anymore.

5. All of the ice lollies.
This weekend has been so bloody hot and it's been lush (even if I have spent most of it hiding inside cos I can't hack it). My no1 fave thing about Summer is most definitely the amount of ice lollies that I can consume with no judgement - So far I've had a Twister, a lemonade ice lolly and three Vimto ones. I am living my best life that's for sure.

Happy Monday!

Friday, 16 June 2017

What I Watched Holiday Edition

what I watched holiday edition - chip mug

I may have been on holiday but that didn't stop me from watching 5 brand new (to me) movies, three of which were on aeroplanes and two of which were in the AMC cinema near Times Square. I really enjoyed the bulk of these movies and it felt nice to resurrect my 'what I watched' series from last year.

So...What did I watch?

Even though Sing is a children's film I think a lot of adult's will be able to relate to some of the character's stories - There's the koala who is drowning in debt and trying to keep his business alive, the pig who feels like she has lost a part of herself after having kids,the gorilla who wants to break away from the family business, the porcupine with a broken heart and the elephant with crippling anxiety. Relate to any of those? I know I do. Aswell as having a good story the songs are a lot of fun and you will be bopping away in your seat, I guarantee.

Beauty and the Beast
As a kid I preferred Disney movies with a strong animal lead (Simba I'm looking at you) so whilst I liked Beauty and the Beast, it wasn't one of my all time faves which is why I think I bloody loved the live action (I saw a lot of harcore B&TB fans saying that they didn't really like it). I loveloveloved the casting of Belle and Gaston, I enjoyed the little extra insight into Belle's backstory and the music was bloody fantastic - I had 'Be Our Guest' in my head for days after watching.

Let me say this : Don't go into the cinema expecting a stellar bit of cinema that will move you and blow your mind cos you will come away severely disappointed. However if you go in expecting a bit of smut, some good giggles and plenty of topless Zac Efron then you are in luck. It's extremely far fetched in places but going by what I've heard about the original TV show that's the whole point - It's very aware that it's a silly comedy and to be honest it's a bit of fun and all the naysayers obviously don't have a sense of fun.

Wonder Woman
I turned the first Cavill/Superman movie off and Suicide Squad could have been a bazillion times better but Wonder Woman was near on flawless. Gal Gadot is not only a ridiculously beautiful woman but she also plays Diana fabulously - She portrays her as a powerful warrior with a wonderful innocence that works fantastically. The chemistry and humour between her and Steve/Chris Pine is unreal and I could have watched them share the screen all day. Take some tissues for the end!

The Lego Batman Movie
Sorry to end this on a bad note but I watched this on the red eye home and to be honest I wans't blown away - It might have been 'cos I was really tired but the story line didn't really grab me. Maybe I was just a tad too old for it? It did have some comedic moments though so I wouldn't say avoid it...Maybe just wait til it's on Sky Premiere or Netflix instead of buying it.

Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think?

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

How to get married in Las Vegas

How to get married in Las Vegas

When you've been together (and engaged) for as long as Jody and I have, a big white wedding seemed pretty pointless, especially as we aren't huge on PDA's, we didn't want to spend loads on a party and my idea of hell us trying to walk in a straight line with loads of people watching me so whilst we were in Las Vegas we decided to bite the bullet and have a quick sign and go wedding - Surprise!

Getting married in Las Vegas was ridiculously easy - So easy that I now know how Britney managed to marry Jason Alexander whilst drunk as a skunk.

First of all, I filled out a pre marriage application form. All you need is both your info + your parent's info and you're good to go. Make a note of your reference number once you've submitted it and then head downtown to the marriage license bureau - We were staying downtown so it took us 5 minutes to walk to it but if you are on the strip it will roughly cost around $25 in a cab (or you can get the Deuce bus for $6 but it takes ages).

We arrived at the marriage license bureau just after it opened so there were no queues and as we had already filled out the form we were in and out fairly quickly. We just had to double check our details, sign a couple of things, let them copy our passports and hand over $77/£61.

And just like that, we had our license.

How to get married in Las Vegas

Next up was the wedding itself.

Jody and I decided to go for a no fuss 'sign and go' ceremony at The Little Neon Chapel. It was tiny and tucked away behind Denny's on Fremont Street but for what we wanted it was ideal. We handed over our license, our $35/£27 wedding fee and the $50/£40 officiant fee before signing yet another form stating that we knew what we were getting into.

We then watched another couple have a slightly fancier wedding (that had guests and a photographer) before being called up to the front desk for our own - Yep we didn't even go into the chapel. Less than five minutes later and £120, we were married. No long vows, no rings and only a chapel member of staff as a witness. BOOM.

Now we are home we just have to wait for our marriage to be registered in Las Vegas before we can apply for an official certificate. After doing some research I don't think we have to file it here legally but we can give our certificate to the registry office incase we ever need another copy.

Getting married in Las Vegas was so so easy and I wouldn't change anything about it - Would you ever consider a quickie wedding or would you rather have a big wedding with the white dress and all that jazz?

How to get married in Las Vegas

Monday, 12 June 2017

Five good things #5

1. My holiday
So Las Vegas and NYC were great. There's plenty of blog posts to come on my ten days away so I won't go into to much detail but I had so much fun and it felt like we were away for a lot longer than ten days! I've spent the last couple of days in limbo - Not properly awake but not really asleep either - so I obviously can't wait to go back to work tomorrow.

2. Getting into my own bed after two weeks away
The hotels we stayed in were pretty great but nothing - NOTHING - beats getting into your own bed after a few weeks away. My mattress topper is super soft, my pillows are squishy and it's just so warm and cosy. Holiday's are awesome but it's always nice to come home isn't it?

3. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks 
Obviously no trip to the USA is complete without a few visits to Sephora and I came away with a plethora of goodies. My no.1 favourite was the Kat Von D liquid lipsticks (which I know are available here but I've never seen them in store to swatch and didn't fancy buying blind), so much so that I ended up buying 3 - Bow N Arrow, Backstage Bambi and A Go Go. I love the formula and they really do last.

4. 'Mischling' by Affinity Konar
I bought this book in JFK as it's been on my Amazon Wishlist for ages and let me tell you, it's a fantastic read. I haven't quite finished it yet but it's already one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's rather sad though so prepare yourself if you decide to pick it up.

5. Trainspotting 2
If you read this review you will know that I loved T2 when I went to watch it at the cinema so I've been patiently waiting for it's DVD release. My Mum bought it for me whilst I was away so the boyf and I spent our Sunday evening snuggled on the sofa watching Renton and Sickboy misbehave for a second time - It's just as good on the second watch as it was on the first.

Happy Monday!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Huckleberry's Diner, York

Huckleberry's Diner, York

We aren't blessed with American style diners where I live so we have to head to York or Leeds to get our fix most of the time. One such diner that was recommended to the boyfriend and I was Huckleberry's, a roadhouse/grill/man vs food type of establishment that was a 45 minute drive from our house.

On bank holiday Monday (the day before we flew to Vegas) we decided we couldn't wait 24 hours for our diner fix and decided to succumb to pressure and try the place out. Not gunna lie, from the outside it wasn't the most impressive of establishments but inside had a nice atmosphere, full of lovely staff and plenty of choice. 

Unfortunately we didn't pre book so we had a fifteen minute wait BUT we kind of expected it with it being a bank holiday so meh (my advice is definitely to pre book, especially if there are more than two of you)

Huckleberry's Diner, York

If you have a look at the menu you can see that there's a lot of choice and the portions are absolutely bloody massive. If you have a smaller appetite (like myself) you could probably share with another little eater and still be absolutely pogged.

It took us a while to choose but in the end we were both really pleased with our decisions.

Huckleberry's Diner, York

Filthy Pig £12.95 with cajun wedges (+£1.50)
Slow cooked marinated pulled pork glazed with our own BBQ sauce, loaded with melted mozzarella, streaky bacons, crispy onions and baconnaise. 

So after much deliberation I went for the filthy pig sandwich - The burgers were pretty tempting but they just fill me up too much and I end up leaving a lot. The pulled pork was delicious - the sauce wasn't too sweet and the meat wasn't too fatty - and the bacon, onions and cheese just gave it a little bit of extra something something. The baconnaise? Couldn't even taste it to be honest. 

The cajun wedges were okay but they weren't as good as Five Guys cajun fries so meh, sorry Huckleberry's but there's are the bomb.

I didn't eat all of my sandwich (but as mentioned I can never finish a meal thanks to my small appetite) but it was definitely up there in my top 5 pulled pork sandwich chart. 

A point for Huckleberry's.

Huckleberry's Diner, York

Bucket of Bones (serves 3-4) £18.95
Cajun wedges, Texas BBQ St Louis ribs & 18 chicken wings, 6 of each glazed with Southwest, Tennessee Bourbon and Louisiana Hot Sauce.

My favourite chubby bunny took forever to pick what he wanted (as he always does) and eventually settled on the bucket of bones which is actually a sharing platter meant to serve four.

The little piggy made a pretty good go of it though, demolishing all of the Southwest and Tennessee wings, two of the Louisiana ones (they were spicy as hell) and the large majority of the ribs. The wedges were at the bottom of the bucket though which meant they went all soggy and gross so ended up skipping them as he likes his wedges a bit crunchier.

I sampled some the SW and Tennessee wings and I can confirm that they were bloody delicious. There was a fair old whack of meat on the wings too so it's definitely good value if there's a group of you or you're a greedy Gus like Jodes. The ribs had a great meat to bone ratio aswell so carnivores will definitely love the bucket of bones.

See evidence of Jody's love for chicken and ribs below. What a mess eh?

Huckleberry's Diner, York

All in all, Huckleberry's was pretty sweet. I wouldn't be in a huge rush to go back as it's a bit too far out of the way to just spontaneously visit but if I was out that way I'd definitely consider it.

So tell me, what's your favourite UK based American diner?

Find Huckleberry's DinerMalton Road, A64, Flaxton, York, YO60 7SG

Friday, 2 June 2017

Review: POTC Dead Men Tell No Tales

Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.
Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites

Pirates of the Caribbean has been a part of my life for fourteen years now and 'Dead men tell no tales' is the fifth and apparently final installment of the series. To keep things brief and spoiler free, the story follows young Henry Turner (yep Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan's sprog) as he searches for the fabled trident of Poseidon so he can free his father from the curse that befell him in 'At World's End'.

As usual I'll start with what I believed to be the worst part of the movie - And unfortunately it's Jack Sparrow himself.

He's too drunk, too loud and bar being the reason the villain is pursuing the group, he doesn't really bring anything to the film. It was cool seeing a bit of his back story but honestly? I just found him annoying for the large majority of the film. 

(There's also one scene at the beginning involving a bank that was a touch too far fetched for me but some won't have a problem with it, it's all down to personal taste).

Apart from that though I thought it was a pretty good film. Not mind blowing, but a good watch that provided some good laughs, a couple of scares and some belting special effects (watch out for the sharks!).

I was rather dubious about the introduction of two new characters - Henry and Carina - but I actually really liked the pair. They didn't have the drippy fairytale 'will they won't they' thing that Bloom and Knightley had going on (thank God) and the flirting that they did do didn't make you want to crawl under your chair. Henry's rather sweet and Carina is an independent lady with more to her than a pair of tits, a pretty face or loads of money.

Barbossa took more of a step forward in this film and we got to see him in a different light - I won't spoil it for you but I really liked the way his story line ended up going. Geoffrey Rush is a cracking actor isn't he? 

And of course the new villain, cursed ghost/pirate hunter Salazar played by Oscar winner Javier Bardem. He's super scary, he's oozes ooze (blood maybe?) and he has a hatred for Jack Sparrow that drives the plot forward - Bardem makes a FANTASTIC villain that wouldn't be out of place in a child's nightmare.

So yeah, Pirates five? It gets a thumbs up from me.The cameo's from previous cast members (if you know, you know) are nice and tbh, if they'd been in it anymore I'd have probably walked out because they did my head in. It's not as good as the first one (but none of them are) but it's not as stupid and unfollowable as the third. I liked the new cast members but am happy to say goodbye to some of the old.

But that's my opinion! 

Have you seen POTC5 yet? What did you think to it?