July Favourites

I know this tends to be a bit of a cliche when writing these posts but seriously, where did July go?! I can’t believe Summer’s almost over and although I love Autumn and everything it brings, it seems sad to … Continue reading

Summer Party Family Style

As my family lives far and wide across the U.K. it’s not often that we all manage to get together in the same place. But with my great Uncle’s 70th looming, him and my Aunt decided to celebrate with a big blow out to make the most of the sun with good food and good company, and boy they didn’t let us down.

We arrived and walked round the corner of the house into what must be as close as England is going to get to being a tropical paradise!

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While the children made the most of the pool the rest of us relaxed in the sun and had a good old fashioned catch up.

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For once in my life I forgot to photograph the food which should tell you just how good it was! They had laid on enough for a small army with everything from hams, salads, fresh bread, salmon, and anything else that you could possibly want.

But a special mention has to go to the wine which I did manage to photograph, which had been flown in all the way from the Alps! Crisp, fresh and fruity it was a perfect accompaniment to the delicious feast.

DSC03278DSC03281  DSC03286  After all that feasting we decided to wander around the tropical paradise (and take a few photos as well).  DSC03311 DSC03312

Hidden behind these Hydrangea’s which had me swooning they were so beautiful, I discovered a little hideaway from all the craziness, squirreled away in the tropical forest.
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What I wouldn’t give for one of these in my back garden as my own little office/ reading nook.

Swooning over, I couldn’t help but strike a pose against the beautiful flowers.DSC03361Dress: Zara (Similar here, here and here), Denim Jacket: Topshop (similar here), Bag: Kate Spade (similar here), Sunglasses: ASOS, Pumps: Topshop.

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Usually I am the type of person who dreads these sorts of ‘smart/casual’ occasions as I often end up either too smart or too casual, but this recent Zara purchase has saved me. The more eagle eyed of you will recognise this as the dress I graduated in which emphasises just how versatile it is, not to mention how obsessed I am with it! Paired with my favourite Topshop denim jacket and pumps and my Kate Spade Saturday bag which I picked up in New York shortly before they closed, I think I’ve finally nailed the smart casual brief.
DSC03408DSC03398 DSC03412  After all that ‘hard work’ there was nothing left to do but enjoy the rest of the day, which is already one of the highlights of my Summer. I’d love to know if any of you have any tips of how you strike the balance of that dreaded smart/casual dress code and your favourite ways to have fun with your family this summer!

Summer Reading List Recommendations

DSC02654Nerdy as it is, one of my favourite things about Summer is the freedom that it gives me when it comes to my reading, with no school work or set reading to distract me. Not to mention the opportunities there are to read whether it’s on a beach break, a city escape or simply in your own backyard, it’s the perfect way to relax while finally getting round to read that book you’ve had on your nightstand for months. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you some of the books I’ve been loving that I think are perfect for a summer break no matter where you’re headed.

The Goddess Guide                                                                                                                      It seems now the markets are overwhelmed with lifestyle guides but this is my absolute favourite and one of the originals. From picking the right pair of jeans to secret city spots it is the perfect guide for any modern woman, not to mention it’s so beautifully designed it’ll be one of the prettiest reads you read this summer. It’s a great alternative for people who aren’t big readers or aren’t a fan of the traditional novel and it’s so interesting you’ll find yourself rereading it again and again.

The Maze Runner                                                                                                                           I was a big fan of the film last year and before the release of the second installment this Autumn I thought I’d try to get ahead of the curve and start the books. I’m a massive young adult book fan and since The Hunger games I’ve been searching for the perfect replacement and I think this is it. We start with Thomas who arrives in a glade who has no idea who he is or his past. He’s welcomed by a group of boys who live together in the glade which is at the centre of a mysterious giant stone maze. They too have no idea of their past of what has happened to the world outside. Every day they try to explore the maze but have to make it back by sundown before the doors to the maze close and the monstrous Grievers patrol. Then one day a girl arrives and everything changes. It’s one of the most gripping young adult books I’ve read so much so I devoured the first four books in record time, and perfect for those who like a bit of escapism in their reading.

American Psycho                                                                                                                            This is by far the weirdest book on my list as it’s definitely one of the most violent and gruesome books I’ve ever read, but also one of the most profound. The novel is a stark comment on the capitalist consumerism of society which was highly controversial when it was initially released, but has since then become a cult classic, It follows the murderous investment banker Patrick Bateman as he struggles to control his insanity as well as his fascination with his material possessions. I really do feel the need to put a disclaimer on this as it’s the most sickening book I’ve ever read in regards to the detail on how Bateman dismembers women, so I really wouldn’t recommend it for those under 18. But the deeper meaning to be found in the novel means that if you can move past the violence, there is an incredible comment being made about society as a whole that makes it a great holiday read for those looking for something a bit different.

The Great Gatsby                                                                                                                         I thought I’d include a classic for the more old-fashioned readers amongst us and this is my absolute favourite. It’s perfect for those who want a lighter option before they start tackling the more heftier classics, not to mention it’s one of the easiest classics to read. It has love, murder, beautiful imagery as well as a deeper discussion on the American Dream and perfect for those who like a bit of history in their fiction.

Paper Towns                                                                                                                                  Another young adult read I’d recommend before the movie comes out later this year which is a perfect choice for those who were a fan of A Fault In Our Stars. It’s about Quentin “Q” Jacobsen who after a mysterious night with his old childhood friend Margo Roth Spiegelman finds out the next morning that she has disappeared and sets out to find her. Unlike The Fault In Our Stars this is more of a mystery story, but again a story that every teenager will be able to relate to in one way or another. I’d definitely recommend it for any John Green fans or for a reader wanting to try one of his novels as it’s one of the easiest and most enjoyable reads I’ve had.

Yes Please                                                                                                                                       If you don’t know Amy Poehler by now then shame on you. Star presenter of the Golden Globes with Tina Fey for the past three years, past SNL cast member and star of the brilliant Parks and Recreation she is a pretty damn funny and impressive woman. She was already one of my number one woman crushes but after this book she moved to number one, as it is one of the best celebrity books I’ve ever read. It doesn’t take the form of a usual biography, instead she uses her past experiences as anecdotes to explain what she’s learnt from them in the funniest way possible. It’s the perfect book for those who aren’t a fan of fiction but still want a laugh along the way.

So there’s my selection of my favourite summer reads, I hope you like them and that I’ve maybe given you some ideas of some new books to try. If you have any favourite books that you like to read on holiday let me know as I’m always on the lookout for new books to try. But more importantly, enjoy your summer where ever you’re going!

Graduation Belfast Style

So as you will probably know last week I headed back up to Belfast to finally pack up the remnants of the past three years of my life, and probably more importantly to graduate university! I’m still waiting for it all to sink in and the possibilities that now lie ahead of me, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite parts of the day.

After the ceremony (which went by in the blink of an eye) I finally got my piece of paper proving that those three years of hard work weren’t for nothing and left me severely needing a drink. With the family in tow we headed to the newly opened Miel et Moi which is Belfast’s first licensed patisserie for some cocktails and cakes (my favourite combination).

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And boy did we have plenty to choose from! From tarts and eclairs to cakes and gateaus they have everything you could dream of, and with them all freshly baked every morning it was hard to resist not getting one of everything.
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In the end we managed to cut it down to just four deciding that dividing and conquering was the best way to tackle the amazing treats on offer. Trying to tick every box we went for viennese whirls, lemon madelines, a strawberry and white chocolate eclair and a rosewater gateau.

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Note the problem of ‘resting bitch face’ (of which I am a chronic sufferer of), but I can assure you that faces actually translates into me having the time of my life haha.DSC02943 DSC02948

As you can see they were so good it was impossible to get pictures of them all before we’d sneaked a bite. I have to say as a girl who has tasted her fair share of cakes and pastries the bar was set pretty high, but I can honestly say these blew me away. I have never tasted a viennese whirl so buttery and crumbly with the lemon curd cream filling perfectly providing a balance of tartness to the sweet. The lemon madeline (which I had to order to channel my inner Sansa Stark, Game of Throne fans you’ll know what I’m talking about) was so incredibly moist and fresh I could’ve eaten hundreds of them. Now while eclairs aren’t exactly my bag, my eclair obsessed sister assures me that it was the best she’s ever eaten, but my favourite has to be the rosewater gateau. I have never experienced a sponge like it,, it had the texture of air while melting in your mouth and the delicateness of the rosewater can only be described as the taste of summer. Paired with a combination of teas and bellinis with freshly made coulis it was the perfect high tea to celebrate the end of my time at university. Not to mention the setting was pretty idyllic too.DSC02917DSC02972

After all that it’s probably not really a surprise that we couldn’t resist going home without picking up a couple for the road. But with pastries this delicious it’s just too hard to say no!  DSC02912

If any of you are in or around Belfast, or even visiting in the future I highly recommend you swing by for a visit as with breakfast, lunch or dinner menus it’s perfect for every sort of celebration or even for an everyday treat. I’m still coming to terms with the post graduation blues so I’d love to hear your graduation stories, or if you have any cute places you like to visit I am always on the lookout for new recommendations. And if you haven’t graduated yet, good luck!

Culture at Cultivo Lounge

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As I write this I am packing for my final trip to Belfast to graduate (when did that happen?), so you can expect some posts from there popping up soon. In the meantime I thought I’d share with you all I recent trip I made to one of my favourite haunts when I’m back home to catch up with one of my oldest friends for some delicious food and a catch up!

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Proof that everything is amazing on the menu, I couldn’t decide between a cappuccino and their specialty sherbet lemonade. An amazing mix of lemon juice, sugar syrup, soda water and crush sherbet lemons, it’s something i’ll definitely be trying to recreate at home!

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Warning: The following picture may arouse severe food cravings.

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Urgh look at it, able to draw a stomach pang from even the pickiest of eaters. Eggs benedict is my absolute favourite and Cultivo Lounge nails it with super gooey eggs and a perfect, not too sharp hollandaise sauce and the inclusion of salty, crisp bacon really takes it to the next level.

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In the summer they just fling open the doors so you can sit out on the balcony, which is perfect for whiling away the hours people watching. With a menu that caters to both vegans and coeliacs it’s one of my favourite places to take people day or night, and luckily for me I have a lot of friends to catch up with….

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Summer-Proof Makeup

When it comes to Summer you seem to only have two choices makeup wise, either go completely bare-faced or strip it down as best you can so as to avoid the dreaded smudge when you inevitably wipe your face. I … Continue reading

The perks of being a poor (soon to be) graduate

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As a result of finishing university and leaving my lovely well paying job to my tiny, sleepy home town means I’ve had to become extremely creative when it comes to keeping myself amused while I try to get a job. Seeing as many of my friends seem to be in the same boat I thought I’d share some of the ways that I’ve found are most effective when it comes to staving off madness, in the hope that it might help some of you guys too. Although I have to warn you it’s a wordy one so better grab a cup of tea and get comfy because you’re in it for the long haul…

Exercise                                                                                                                                    Now for any who knows me this point will show just how bored I have become, as I am one of the most unathletic people you will ever meet. But since my move to warmer climates I have been trying to make the most of it and have been taking my bike out for a spin. I’ve even been on the odd run! Now while I am extremely lucky to be living in an especially green and picturesque town making said exercise much easier and more enjoyable, the effect I’ve noticed to my peace of mind is so great that I would encourage everyone, no matter what your local settings to take it up. Plus if you’re lucky and tan, it’s an excellent way to up your vitamin D intake!

Reading                                                                                                                                      As much as I have enjoyed my degree it has meant that the amount of what I call ‘fun’ reading has steadily declined over the years as I’ve tried to keep up with my workload. I came back home with over 30 unread books which were added to the many more I was unable to take to university in the first place, so I decided to make the most of my literary freedom and try to tackle the mountain. I’ve barely even started but already it’s made me realise just how much I love reading and has meant I’m finally getting round to reading those books people always tell you “you have to read”. So don’t be too surprised if there’s a Summer book guide appearing soon.

Home Projects                                                                                                                           An inevitable result when you come back home with eight huge boxes of belongings and nowhere to put them, I decided to tackle my room and update it from the Twilight posters (yep I admit I loved it) of my youth to something I little less mortifying. Although I am the least crafty person ever I’ve enjoyed being able to plan and decorate my room and uncovering some hidden gems that I’ve kept from childhood. Although there has been a throw out worthy of an episode of Hoarders, I’ve also found some items worthy of a home which has led me to attempt scrapbooking, but more on that later. Not to mention how nice it is to have a new, adult feeling room that is not only a lovely place to work, but a space of my own to relax and unwind in.

Reconnecting                                                                                                                            One of the hardest parts of moving to a university in a different country is that travelling home became a pretty expensive procedure. Although I was extremely lucky to have some best friends who made the journey over, there were some equally good friends that I never got to see. So now with all of us heading home for the foreseeable future at least, I’ve really enjoyed catching up with them all and whether we’re going out for a coffee or having a cosy night in, it’s become one of my favourite ways to spend my days.

Get Outdoors                                                                                                                                 I am a sucker for sunny days especially as they’re so rare in the UK, so when the sun pokes its head out I try to get out as much as I can. As well as my bike and my (very rare) runs getting me outside, I’ve been on the lookout for events in my area like the local town festival which is free to attend with free concerts and cheap rides and attractions.Having a look in your local paper is the best way to see what’s going on in your area and you never know, you might be surprised by what you find!

Write!                                                                                                                                         As a graduate intent on finding my place in the ever-changing, highly competitive world of publishing and journalism this is the most important item on my list, and one I’m actually really looking forward to doing. I’m planning my posts on here properly this time to attempt to ensure regularity as well as trying to make the most of the weather to up my photography game to hopefully make this blog better for you guys as well as for me.

This is only an initial list as I know I will most definitely lax on at least one of these (let’s face it it’ll probably be the exercising) but for the mean time I feel lucky enough to have this time to relax and refocus on what I want. I do hope this list helps give some of you some ideas of ways to enjoy the Summer without breaking the bank, and if any of you are in the same boat please do share any of your tips and we can try to keep our sanity together!

Music Musings

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I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written one of these posts! I did warn you all that when I first wrote these posts that cool new music is not my strong suit but I’ve finally emerged from my music hibernation so I thought I’d share some of my recent favourites.

Charlie XCX- Sucker

Okay so this is kind of cheating as this is more of a whole album love as opposed to a specific single but it’s just so good! You’ve probably heard the hits such as Boom Clap and Fancy with Iggy Azalea, but the album is where Charlie XCX really comes into her own. It’s full of bubblegum pop hits with a 90s punk edge that provide the perfect Summer soundtrack. It’s one of those albums that just by listening too makes you feel like a bad-ass and I’ve found myself having to resist the urge to sing it out loud when walking down the street . My personal favourites on the track are Body of my Own, Break The Rules and Breaking Up but as a whole I think it’s really strong and will definitely be taking up most of the space on my Summer party playlist.

Rita Ora- Poison

Rita Ora seems like one of those artists that creep up on you and while one minute your enjoying the odd play of her music you hear on the radio, the next thing you know you have her album on repeat. While she’s kept us waiting for her new music releasing only the Calvin Harris written I Will Never Let You Down last year, it’s her role as a judge on the UK Voice that cemented her into my heart as one of my top girl crushes and Poison becoming my number one choice to screech along to as I’m driving with the windows down.

Tove Lo- Talking Body

This Swedish singer has been on my radar since her song “Stay High” and my love affair is continuing with this song off her albums Queen of the Clouds. Again continuing in the tradition of most of the songs on this list it’s another anthem perfect for Summer, not to mention her dreamlike, indie melody yet refreshing honest lyrics make it a relationship anthem that for once is truly relatable to your life in every gory detail.

Little Mix- Black Magic

You can probably guess by now that there is a pretty strong pop vibe running through my playlists at the moment and Little Mix are the epitome of this, the guilty pleasure pop that you can’t get out of your head. I really didn’t want to like them after seeing them come through the X-Factor and their bubblegum image, but the fact they managed to produce pop hit after pop hit slowly wore me down and with the release of this first single off their new album I am fully converted. It’s another perfect Summer tune that will get you going whether you’re driving in the countryside or running in the gym, the only thing is I apologise when you find yourself singing 24/7 as it is that infectious.

So these are the currents songs I’ve got on repeat at the minute, hopefully I’ll sway some of you to give these a listen as I always think life’s too short to pretend you don’t love a bit of pop music! Hopefully the next of these posts won’t take quite so long but in the meantime I’d love you know what you are all listening to and as always I am desperate for recommendations to expand my (very narrow) music horizon!

Coachella Fashion Dreams

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With the festival season almost upon us the shops have become inundated with millions of beautiful things that make me want to spend way too much money and unleash my inner hippy. Now while I may not be lucky enough to be going to Coachella this year (damn you university exams), I thought I’d share with you all the items I’m currently coveting and my festival must-haves. There’s a bit of a mix that will ensure come rain or shine you’ll be prepared for whatever festival weather throws at you. I am a big wellie and shorts fan and prefer to chose one stand out print piece and team it with simple accessories to make sure I’m not left in the morning spending too long deciding what to wear. Plus as a seasoned festival goer I always have a couple of top options to layer in case it gets cold/wet, and a change of shoes just in case! These are just my favourite pieces but I’d love to know what you guys are lusting after, and what festivals you’re heading to this summer.

  1. Hunter Short Fringe Wellington
  2. Miss Selfridge white frill bardot top
  3. Miss Selfridge floral trousers
  4. Ray-Ban Erika sunglasses
  5. Topshop paisley bardot top
  6. Topshop ripped hem denim shorts
  7. Topshop floral plastic mac
  8. Boohoo dungarees
  9. Zara brown suede tassel bag
  10. River Island cat eye sunglasses
  11. Zara sequinned top
  12. Accessorize tile print playsuit
  13. Miss Selfridge striped dress
  14. Accessorize white bumbag
  15. H&M cuff
  16. Topshop floral shorts 
  17. River Island purple bralet
  18. Miss Selfridge bead and tassel bracelet (from a selection)
  19. ASOS cut-out fedora
  20. Miss Selfridge patchwork maxi dress

Walking on Sunshine

Is it me or has Winter seemed extra long this year? Now as much as I love Christmas and snow and all the fun that goes with it, once we hit the January slump I find myself crying out for any little bit of sunshine or warmth to come my way. So as soon as my wishes were answered and Belfast, land of rain and cold had it’s first full day of sunshine, I ran out camera in tow to make the most of it.

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119422119522First stop the park, and what a beautiful park it is. With over 100 acres to choose from I got lost in the trees and cherry blossoms whiling away the hours, and the beautiful scenery proved perfect for my snap happy tendencies.

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One of my favourite bits of the park are the millions of daffodils which were scattered around, which are the epitome of spring to me and one of my favourite flowers (so much so that I had to include two photos).
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The park runs alongside the river Lagan which is another one of my favourite walks to take in Belfast as you get to see some amazing views along the way. I even stopped for a little break and took the opportunity to get some University reading done while I was at it (plus a cheeky selfie of course!)

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I couldn’t help but snap some more of my favourite flowers too!
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I finished the day with a walk through the Botanical Gardens next to the university, which even after three years still continues to amaze me and makes me feel like I’m studying at Hogwarts! The gardens are always popular when it’s sunny especially the stunning Palm House, which is our own little Alexandra Palace with an amazing selection of tropical plants inside.

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Here’s hoping we have lots more of these days to come and I’d love to know how you’re making the most of the sunny days too!