Sunday, 28 June 2015

#248. June '15 travel wishlist

There are so many places in the world I would really love to visit. I just want to pack my bags and go and explore the world, so I thought I would start doing monthly roundups of my travel wishlists, with somewhere worldwide, somewhere in Europe and somewhere closer to home every time to help my wanderlust. So here goes...

1. Cuba
Cuba looks and sounds like such an amazing place - The food, the culture, the stepping back in time to the 50s. I think it would be an amazing place to explore and be so fun to drive a Cadillac! I have a thing about cadillacs and when I was younger that was always my ambition, to own one with a complete front seat - very Grease! I would like to experience the electric atmosphere, music and the fun loving nature of the people too. I love the idea of being able to dance the night away in a little salsa club, drinking rum and mojitos and then walking on gorgeous white sandy beaches the next day, exploring the old colonial buildings and taking the Hershey train out of the city.

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2. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon was not somewhere high up my bucket list of places to visit, but a few friends have been recently and say it is a stunning and beautiful city for a weekend break, so now I really want to go. The old town looks so interesting with its windy little cobbled streets, with beautiful views over the sea and using the old trams to explore the city would be a lot of fun.

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3. Mull and Iona, Scotland
Mull and Iona have great nostalgic memories for me, as my Dad used to take me and my wee brother with him sometimes during the summer holidays when he had work trips. I remember the beauty of the islands but I would really like to go back and explore now I am older. I like the idea of long walks, ending up in a little pub for drinks and food after a day enjoying the gorgeous scenery, visiting the brightly painted Tobermoray and getting the ferry across to Iona to wander around the historic abbey. 

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Aaaa my list is giving me itchy travelling feet already. Have you been to any of the places on my wishlist? If so, share your tips. Where in the world would be on your travel wishlist?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

#247. Our wedding

On 2nd May, my best pal and I got married which was one of the most exciting, overwhelming and amazing days of my whole life. Seriously, all the feels, like every single one. I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat the whole day. We had the BEST time and it was so wonderful having all our favourite people together in the same room celebrating with us - when are you ever going to have that again? It sounds so cheesy but I have never felt love like it, so much from everyone that was there. It hit like a brick wall from the moment I walked into the ceremony room and completely surrounded Robin and I the whole day. Everyone was there for us, to see us happy which was an incredible feeling. It went by in such a happy blur though as I had expected, as so many people had warned us that would be the case, but it went faster than we could ever have imagined and we tried to savour every moment.

I've posted some sneaky peaks on Instagram already, but now we have our official official photos back and couldn't be more excited. So I wanted to share some bits of our day with you.

First up, all these beautiful pictures were taken by our amazing photographers Mirrorbox, a company based in Edinburgh /Glasgow. Check them oot. Photography was something that was really important to us in the planning of the wedding and we are so happy with all the pictures we received, over 700 of them. We have started to look through them properly to choose some for an album, which is going to be really difficult as there are just so many lovely ones. Sequoia and Neil were not only ridiculously lovely, but really captured the fun and spirit of the day and how happy we were, as well as some great candid shots of guests having a good time and all the little details that made our wedding special. So many of the guests commented on how great the photographers well, they just seemed to blend into the background and you forgot they were there and so the photos are natural and really unobtrusive. I have tried to take cameo photos of friends before, but they always see me coming a mile off, so it really is quite a skill. 

We got married in Moorpark House, Kilbirnie in Aryshire, a lovely old house which we had for two whole days on the Friday and Saturday. It was like a big house party, very relaxed and allowed all the wedding party to be in the one place, so we could play fun games and have dinner on the Friday night and made everything flow smoothly on the Saturday. It was so special to have full run of the house and turn the wedding into a weekend. The venue is just beautiful, with lovely grounds, but is a real blank canvas as well so we popped up a lot of our own decorations, to make everything that bit more personal.

The outfits
I was and am still completely in love with my dress. It's at my Mum and Dad's at the moment, otherwise I would be happily prancing around the house in it at all jokes. It is just so beautiful with it's spotty lace, pearl buttons, full skirt and huge bow. I felt so comfortable in it and it fitted and flattered in all the right places and everyone commented on how perfect it was for me. I felt beautiful, which is something I never feel really. The best bit was how much the dress flared out when I spun around - that is always what I look for, the swish factor - so was really fun to dance in.

I had tried on quite a few dresses before I found House of Mooshki, and was getting a bit disheartened as I hadn't really been able to find fun shorter styles and felt like I was being too picky and would never find this mythical 'one'. So was delighted to discover Ribbons and Lace on the Glasgow Wedding Collective. For those of you wedding planning, GWC is a wonderful collection of handpicked wedding suppliers, who are a little different to the norm (I actually found our photographers and florist on there too! Their supplier list is just so inspiring). Ribbons and Lace are the premier Scottish stockist of House of Mooshki so they have a large selection of beautiful shorter style dresses and I was in love from the moment I walked in the door. Laura, who owns Ribbons and Lace is the nicest person ever and made me feel so comfortable, encouraging me to try on styles I might not otherwise have picked out and being so supportive of my choices. An appointment at Ribbons and Lace was just now it should be, a cup of tea, some chat, completely relaxed and very friendly.

My beautiful shoes were kindly gifted to me by Rainbow Club. They were most comfortable shoes for dancing and I kept them on most of the night, only having to kick them off in the wee hours. I really liked the vintage dancing shoe design of the Flossie and loved that I could customise them making Li originals. Rainbow Club sell colour packs enabling you to dye their shoes to work with any outfit, so I was able to add the lovely lilacy/blue colour, which worked well with the silver glittery sparkle of the heel and tbar and counted as one of my something blues too. I knew I didn't want traditional white shoes (much to my mums amusement) so this was the perfect option for me. 

My gorgeous bridesmaids wore wonderful green/grey dresses from Needle and Thread. The dresses had a fun tulle ballerina style skirt and fitted waist, so each of them looked amazing. Apparently they felt like green fairies! I can definitely recommend a bit of high street browsing for dresses, if you don't fancy traditional styles and are working on a budget. ASOS have a great selection, although a lot of nice dresses at the moment are white - who would wear white to a wedding?!?

Our BEAUTIFUL flowers were by the wonderful Lisa at Sparrow and Rose. I had a good idea of what I wanted look wise in terms of flowers - simple and colourful - but didn't have a huge budget to spend them on. After a couple of great phone chats, Lisa sent a few moodboards though and luckily we were completely on the same page and she was able to adjust plans according to our budget, which was so helpful. When my bouquet and flower crown arrived on the morning of the wedding, they were exactly as I had imagined and I loved the colors, natural style and mix of all the different flowers - hello peonies! They were just perfect - both were just so blooming pretty! There is just something so lovely about wearing a flower crown too. It reminds me of summer and festivals and relaxing and fun, which is what we wanted our wedding to be - a veil was a bit too traditional for me. My bridesmaids had posies of lavender and babies breath which smelt amazing! The flowers for the tables in the reception were also mismatched, with lots of different types of wild flowers, in homemade jars with twine and were stunning - I popped down to have a look when they had arrived and almost ran smack bang into Robin! Luckily, a quick thinking Bridesmaid got him out the way so I could sneek back upstairs.

Our cake
Our amazingly delicious cake was made by one of my uber talented bridesmaids, Stacey. She is a wizz in the kitchen and makes the tastiest sweet treats, so wanted to make the cake as our wedding gift. So generous of her! The cake had three tiers of carrot, lemon and sticky toffee pudding sponge which was the best combination, covered with a mixture of berries. YUM! The cake went down a complete storm too, as it all got eaten basically on the day of the wedding (which my pre honeymoon body probably thanked me cake baby!).

Venue decorations
I was a bit of a pinterest fiend in the run up to the wedding (as I'm sure a lot of brides are), although most of my wedding boards are hidden as I was a bit embarrassed on the number of pins...I think I have a problem. Anyways, I am a fan of all things natural, vintage inspired and homemade craft, so we decided to make a lot of the decorations ourselves which I loved. We had wooden tree rounds (from the old tree that fell down in my garden. My Dad had a field day with his new chainsaw...boys and their toys!), jars for the flowers (which a lovely bunch of friends and I decorated one afternoon with cocktails - thanks girlies), burlap table runners, pinecones and mismatched photo frames with the table names on them (our favourite albums). We also had twine hearts, burlap bunting, fairylights, quotes in photoframes and small trees in various places too, which just looked lovely. 

On the tables we gave sunflower or sweetpea seeds as favours with little handmade envelopes, moustache straws and the most amazing coasters with faces on for guests to put over their noses, made with the help of the lovely Louise. They went down a treat and had everyone laughing. We were so happy with all our little details and everyone said how personal everything was.

Our band were called Elwood and were just amazing. We had went to see them play one evening at the Guille Dhu and hoped they would be as good as we (slightly drunkenly) remembered, but they were even better. With a mix of rock, pop and upbeat tunes, the dance floor was always full and everyone had the best time and lots of loud singing along. The best kind of party! I spent most of the time spinning in my dress, as expected.

So, that's it, our big day in a nutshell. It really was such a special day and we felt so so lucky to be able to celebrate together with all our family and friends (who are the best in the world obvs and are truly wonderful people - thank you). Hope you enjoyed reading about it and about our prep over the past few months.

Now that the wedding is over, it's a funny feeling really. I am a Mrs, I have a husband and have married my best pal. Even so, I have this strange mix of feeling a bit redundant, and like I have something else to be doing but have forgotten. Sure, I am not missing sitting up till the small hours making moustache straws (they were bloody awesome in the end!) and am enjoying having my evenings back. I love spending time with Robin where the wedding isn't at the forefront of every conversation too. But, on the flip side, planning our special day was a big part of our lives for almost two years, so it feels funny now not to be thinking about it at all, other than all the happy memories and looking through photos. The whole process was just so much fun and I enjoyed being creative and planning, not to mention how amazing the day itself was! Now I just need some close friends to get engaged so I can help them plan theirs, hint hint *cough*.

Friday, 19 June 2015

#246. Fitness Friday - My current favourite healthy snacks

I love snacks as much as the next person. I tend to get really hungry around mid morning and mid afternoon, no matter how big or small my lunch - what a right grubber! So I've been on the hunt for healthy snacks that will fill me up and keep those cravings at bay during the week when I am at work and at the weekends. Now I plan to take snacks with me on the go, so I'm not tempted by something sweet or sugary, which has helped massively in sticking with my healthy eating.

My current favourites are:  
  • A handful of nuts. I am a big fan of cashews or almonds at the moment, they are just so tasty and filling. Just so quick and easy.
  • Hummus and carrot sticks. Simple and yummy and easy to prepare.
  • Greek yogurt is my new favourite thing. Not that it's a new discovery or anything but I've been spending a lot of time in the yogurt aisle and found so many new and exciting flavours to try, which when paired with fruit or a sprinkling of cinnamon, really helps with any sweet cravings and it's just so darn tasty! I love plain greek yogurt but I am obsessed with Rachel's Organic coconut greek yoghurt and always need to have a tub of it in the fridge now. It's also nice to have a little bit after dinner instead of desert.
  • Nut butters. Nuts made into butters, who knew? Mind blown! I love having some with an oatcake or half a banana - the perfect pick me up.
  • I do really love a Nakd bar, particularly Chocolate Orange and Strawberry Crunch. The bars are made from as few ingredients as possible - have a wee look on the label and all you will see are dates, cashews, apple juice and other natural flavours. They are perfect for keeping in my bag and ideal for after a workout. If you order them direct from online too, they often sell boxes cheaply that are close by their sell by date and do deals and promotions too. The chocolate orange flavour is delicious and tastes like a naughty treat, but is so good for you.
  • I've started making up my own trail mixes so Holland and Barrett has been my new best pal. I've been enjoying putting together sheredded coconut, goji berries, almonds, cashews, other dried fruit and a little bit of 80% dark chocolate. Yum!

What are your favourite healthy snacks?

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

#245. Top tips for summer music festivals

I LOVE festivals. The whole experience of camping, the music, the people, spending so much time outdoors and the mud is just so much fun. Ah the mud, it wouldn't be a festival without it and everything just adds up to one amazing atmosphere that's completely unbeatable. I have been to a number of festivals now and have always had the best time, from Wickerman, to T in the Park, Download and British Summertime at Hyde Park.

So, with festival season now well and truly on the go, I thought I would share some of my top tips that have stood me in good stead while away at a festival.

What to pack
Now this always difficult as the unpredictable British weather means things can change at the drop of a hat, so it's best to have something suitable for sunshine, rain and cold (even in July). A must pack are a waterproof jacket and wellies, you can get them really cheaply and even if you don't need them you won't regret buying them. There is nothing worse than being soaked down to your knickers and not being able to heat up and enjoy the amazing music and atmosphere of the festival (been there, done that, got a new tshirt as a result). Pack clothing that you can layer, so when it gets colder later in the evening, you can throw a top or a hoody on to keep warm. A hat is also a good shout, as even with a summer festival the wind can pick up and it will keep you cozy in your tent through the night. Most of all, plan to get dirty, as the mud appears even if it rains a little bit, so don't bring anything you don't want ruined.

In terms of toiletries, I always have my suncream, hand sanitizer and tissues (in case the toilets run out, as they often do towards the end of the weekend), plasters (just in case), dry shampoo and baby wipes, to keep you fresh and clean. Unfortunately queues at the showers at festivals are usually massive unless you go in the middle of the day, which means you miss the amazing music you have came to see. So just to embrace the festival spirit and go with it...most people tend to and it's all part of the experience isn't it?

A cheap picnic blanket, or something waterproof to sit is a good idea. I have two little tartan rugs with a waterproof bottom from the pound shop that have been the best buys and let you sit and chill on the ground during the day. Bin bags would also do.

Food and drink at festivals can tend to be really expensive and your spending can mount up really quickly. The bank balance is always a scary look on a Monday post festival! Bringing a coolbox with some homemade sandwiches and snacks and boxes of cereal bars means you won't need to 'eat out' for every meal and can save your money for other things, keep your sugar and energy levels up and have something to graze on when the drunken munchies kick in later in the day. Most festivals also allow you to bring alcohol into the campsites but not the main arenas - it's nice to have a cider in the sunshine (hopefully) at your tent before heading out for the day. Some festivals, depending on their sponsor, might swap you chilled drinks for your warmer ones, if they are the same.

After all that, most important is not to overpack, as you will not end up wearing most of what you have brought with you. It's also never fun walking a huge and heavy backpack around and there are often long walks between the bus stops/car parks and camp sites. You have a full weekend of fun ahead, don't hurt yourself just getting there!

The best advise is to have practiced putting up your tent before you get there. You don't want the first time to be in the rain, taking ages and getting soaked while you try and read the instructions. There are also a few good ideas when you are looking for somewhere to put your on the flat, on a hill, on the incline of a hill or at the top rather than at the bottom as when it rains where does all the water go? Exactly and you don't want to wake up floating. It's also good to camp a bit in from the path as again, if it rains, that's a lot of mud from people walking too and fro that will spread and as the hordes of folk come back at the end of the night, there is less chance of someone falling on your tent! Lastly keep an eye on where your tent is, so you can find it in the dark - every tent starts to look like the next in the dark.

The festival
Make a list of the top bands/acts you would like to see and use the running order to see what is possible. With larger festivals with multiple stages, two bands you might want to see may be playing at the same time, which is always annoying but depending on the distance between the stages, you may be able to see both. Have a wander around so you know how long it takes to get between stages - you don't want to not see any of your favourites as you've spent all the time walking between them. If it's too far a walk, it's better to see the full set of one band, than nothing of either I would have thought. Festivals are also a good way of trying new things and seeing new bands - by going to the smaller stages earlier in the days you might discover an up and coming band that you love. But remember and leave some chill time too. Although it's fun seeing as much music as you can and rushing around, there is a whole festival going on around the music with activities, food and other fun things to do so check out what else is going on from smaller secret stages, signings to giveaways and competitions. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy it. 

The cash situation is always a difficult one as it's hard to know how much to take. Check in advance if your festival has cash machines or the food vendors and merch stalls take card, so you aren't carrying too much cash around with you. Some festivals like Download are now working from a cashless system, with a card you can pre load, which is so easy to use and quick.

Oft! Lots of info there but the best advise is just to enjoy yourself and make pals - everyone is there to have a good time. Festivals are such a fun tradition, mud and all and they really make a summer special. 

Have a missed any tips that you think are really important? Any top tips to share? Are you heading to a festival this summer?