Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Exploring the UK One Groupon at a Time


In a very badly timed fashion my passport expired in August and seeing as I'll be changing my name in June I've made the unfortunate decision to save some dollar and not renew it until then so I don't have to pay twice. It's not like I'm always holidaying abroad, but it's weird to not have that as an option and pointless to carry on with my usual hobby of scouring Skyscanner to see where I could go for cheaps next week. So from now until our honeymoon it's UK breaks all the way and actually, seeing as I made a vow earlier on this year to explore more of the UK anyway, it's the perfect excuse to do so.

I've been dubious about Groupon since I booked a weekend break through it and the hotel contacted us to let us know there wouldn't be any electricity or water during our stay. I'd heard various people saying that when you're on a Groupon break you don't get as good service because the hotel know you've not paid very much and in this instance those people were proved right. I can only assume that the reason they decided to do the electricity/water works while we would be there was because most of the people staying were on a Groupon deal. Since then I've steered clear.

When it came to the week before we were supposed to be going away and we still hadn't booked anywhere though, Nick turned to Groupon to find us somewhere random, but nice that could fit us in at short notice. I didn't actually know where we were going until we got there, but we ended up in Warwickshire, which is a gorgeous part of the country and somewhere I hadn't been for a long time.



The first night we stayed in the Salford Hall Hotel, which was basically a castle in the middle of nowhere (although the castle pictured is most definitely Warwick Castle and not our hotel!) Because it was fully booked we were upgraded to an executive suite so had a huge room at the top of the hotel with big old fashioned windows, a stunning fireplace and a ginormous four poster bed (this is where I have to apologise for being a bad blogger and not getting any pictures of the room - you'll just have to take my word for it or go and have a look at the website soz). We got a cream tea on arrival with fizz served in the conservatory, which was the plant filled, black and white tiled sun room of my dreams. Basically the whole place was extremely Instagrammable, but I was too chilled out to bother, which was very nice at the time, but I'm slightly kicking myself for it now especially as I've decided to write a blog post. Also included in this deal were tickets to Warwick Castle, which are actually worth about £20 each so I would never have gone if they weren't included in the Groupon because I just wouldn't pay that high an entrance fee. Although I'm not sure it was worth the £20 per person the castle was still well worth a visit. It was huge so there was lots to see and walk around both inside and outside and there were plenty of shows/tours on too as well as yet another dreamy plant filled conservatory that acted as a cafe. This Groupon cost us £99 for our executive room, cream tea, breakfast and Warwick Castle tickets so a huge discount and there was no disappointment or lesser treatment just because we were on a Groupon!


The second night we stayed in a different hotel with a different Groupon deal. This one wasn't quite as good value for money (although it was cheaper anyway) purely because the room wasn't particularly nice (The Bosworth Hall Hotel). We did however get upgraded on food - included in the deal was a carvery, but for some unknown reason we were upgraded to the fine dining restaurant so got a three course meal and a bottle of wine instead. Nick did ask both hotels on booking if an upgrade was available and although they said no it appears it's well worth asking the question!

I made a lil' video on my YouTube channel of our trip so hope over and watch that if you fancy!



So the question is, where do we Groupon next?

Amy x
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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Transitioning My Summer Wardrobe | Playsuit


I feel like I blinked and missed summer this year. I don't know if it's because I was busy doing mainly DIY (see my last post) or if the weather just hasn't been that great this year anyway, but I definitely don't feel like I've got as much wear as I'd have liked out of my summer wardrobe, which has me feeling a little sad at the thought of having to put everything to the back of my wardrobe until next year especially as I'm big into making my price per wear as little as possible to justify my addiction to clothes shopping. So I'm taking on a little experiment and seeing how many of my summer clothes I can transition into autumn and possibly into winter too and hopefully I'll turn it into a little mini series on here throughout autumn (unless I find that I only have the ability to transition one outfit and then this is your lot...) I feel ridiculous mentioning this before I get into the post, but if you think I look mega tired in these photos it's because I'm a numpty and forgot to take my mascara away with us and I wasn't bothered enough to go on a specific trip to buy some more. So there you go, enjoy my mascara-less face.

Anyway, the first transitional outfit comes from when I was browsing my wardrobe for outfits to wear for our little trip away last week. I came across this playsuit (I know the floatiness of it makes it look like a dress, but it's not), which I haven't actually worn at all this summer because it was double hung with another playsuit so I guess I just hadn't spotted it or even remembered it existed, which is a shame because I love it. It's obviously rather summery and seeing as I hadn't even had a chance to wear it yet this year it seemed like a pretty good place to start in terms of transitioning my wardrobe so hopefully I can at least get a bit of wear out of it before it turns into super chilly jumper all day every day weather. I have a couple of other playsuits that I can hopefully transition in a similar way too.





So...how am I going to transition it you may ask (or you may not because you might not really care, but I'm going to tell you anyway so I guess if you really don't care you should probably stop reading). The key to transitioning anything is finding the right things to layer it with. I recently picked up this blazer from Berskha, having previously not really been a blazer person, but I've seen checked blazers look amazing on so many people on Instagram that I couldn't not give one a go myself (and also it was an absolute bargain compared to all the other blazers I've seen so that's a big plus). To begin with when I tried it on I didn't massively like it and then Nick suggested I roll the sleeves up a little and it somehow completely transformed the whole look of it from 'I'm wearing my boyfriend's suit jacket over my outfit because I got cold' to chic and put together.

This playsuit and this blazer aren't two things I'd immediately think of putting together (the old me would have run screaming from print and checks), but once I tried them I found that they really worked especially as a transitional outfit. I also tried my other main summer playsuit under this blazer (the one from this post) and it went really well too. I think it must be the contrast between the casual summeriness (yes I'm making that a word) of the playsuit and autumnal smartness of the blazer that makes the outfit work. LOL at the whole of the previous sentence, I'm so bad at articulating things.

This outfit leaves room for more layers too. It's just about warm enough still to forgo tights if you have layers on top, but either nude or black tights could easily be added to this outfit when it gets a little colder or I could even go all out and tuck the playsuit into some trousers. When it gets really cold I think it'd look nice with a roll neck jumper over the top of the playsuit with the blazer on top too so even though it's quite blatantly a very summery piece it's definitely transitionable. Oooh and with little ankle boots too, YES I'm excited to style this multiple ways as it gets colder.







Playsuit - Byer Too California (old) | Blazer - Bershka (here) | Sandals - Primark (old)

Amy x

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Kitchen Transformation


Well this post has been a long time coming! In January I asked Nick when he thought we'd finish the kitchen. He said March, I said May. Here we are in September and I'm finally writing our kitchen transformation post after nine months of work. The thing with doing everything yourself is it always, always takes so much longer than you anticipate. In the first year of renovating our house I wrote quite a few transformation posts, but the kitchen was by far the biggest project yet so it's been a whopping eleven months since I've written a renovation post. So for those of you who are a little newer around here, I'll link the previous transformation posts at the end of this one in case you want to have a nosy at the rest of our house! And you might want to make a cuppa because this will be a long one. As always, the before pictures and the during pictures aren't great quality but there ain't no way to make those pretty anyway!

Before 




When we first moved into our house we hadn't even considered changing the layout of the kitchen because we hadn't quite got our 'we can do anything with this house' mindset yet so we went from just wanting to decorate and refresh it to deciding on a whole new kitchen and a completely different layout. When we moved in the kitchen had a dining area with a bay window, a blocked up fireplace (that was covered in moisture because it hadn't been given any ventilation) and built in cupboards, which although they were original and gorgeous were also old, tatty and slathered in a hundred years worth of paint. Then there was a narrow kitchen space with a sink underneath the window with a narrow porch off to the side leading to a downstairs loo. The porch was so narrow I can't think of any other purpose of it than separating the kitchen from the toilet so it was kind of dead space. The floor was half old dirty lino, half thin faded carpet and it was all wallpapered in a blue pattern that made the room feel quite dark. 

During








I mean, I could probably write an essay about the process, but I'll try and keep it as brief as I can. We ripped all the old kitchen out ourselves, as well as the inbuilt cupboards and the blocked up fireplace. Nick completely excavated the fireplace space so we could have a little feature there. We decided we wanted to change the layout by removing the porch and having a utility space at the end that would lead into the downstairs toilet so moving the door to that in the process. We did contemplate building the stud wall ourselves, but decided that it would be worth paying someone to do it considering how long it would take us to do and how very wrong we could get it. We then had it plastered and also got builders in to put in a new back door and windows to let more light in. At this point we hadn't decided on a layout for the actual kitchen yet, but eventually decided on having units along one wall and then a sort of island but that's actually attached to one wall (hopefully you get what I mean from the pictures!) The island separates the kitchen from the dining area where we have our table that Nick cladded himself. We designed, built and fitted the kitchen ourselves (including the worktops), painted everywhere, tiled the floor and the wall and Nick also did all the plumbing for both the heating and water with help from his Dad and YouTube. We also tiled and painted the downstairs toilet and installed a sink as it didn't have one before. The downstairs bathroom is so small it's difficult to photograph, but it's practically a smaller version of the main bathroom!

After 













I'll probably do a separate post on all the finishing touches because I could probably talk for days, but the kitchen itself is all from IKEA (we didn't really look anywhere else because we knew we wanted something affordable and that would be easy to build ourselves), the walls are painted an off white because we wanted to keep it all fairly neutral and we went with a herringbone pattern for the splash back tiles to add a bit of a feature, but we kept those white to complete the clean finish of the kitchen. There's a lot of wood in the kitchen too - the worktops are wood look laminate, the floor is wood look tiles (although it looks SO real it's crazy) then we've got the wooden table and the wooden mantelpiece which is an old beam that was in the ceiling. We've added a few copper accents, but only with things that are easily changeable in case we want a little revamp in the future!

As promised here are the links to my previous renovation posts: Bathroom, Bedroom, Office, Living room

I'd love to know how you'd decorate your kitchen!

Amy x
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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Can I Pull This Off?


Read the title of this blog post and consider how many times you have asked yourself that question. Can I pull this off? I ask it pretty much every time I'm in a clothes shop fitting room, I ask it when I put something on that I haven't worn in a couple of years, I ask it when I see a style I love on someone else a bit more daring than me.

But why do we ask ourselves this? Do we think we need to be/look a certain way to be able to wear something? When I consider the items of clothing I personally think I can't pull off (pencil skirts, crop tops, anything with spaghetti straps) it's not really got anything to do with how I look in them, it's about how I feel in them. I don't feel confident wearing certain clothes and therefore I think I can't 'pull them off'. There also seems to be a similar worry if we stray too far from our usual style. I used to think I couldn't pull off colour. Correction: I never used to wear colour so I just wasn't used to seeing myself in it and didn't feel confident in it. We all have our style comfort zones and pushing ourselves out of them doesn't mean we're wearing something we can't pull off, it just means we're gaining confidence wearing new things. You don't have to be/look a certain way to pull something off, you've just got to feel confident in it.


My most recent purchase (who am I kidding, one of my most recent purchases) was this dress from H&M. It's not really my usual style - it has spaghetti straps (that you can't see because it was cold OK?), a straight neckline and the frills along the bottom are just a bit 'fussier' than I would usually go for. It reminds me of something I would have bought a few years ago when I was a bit more experimental, before I fell into my 'safe' style. But I love it, I feel confident in it and it was only £5 in the H&M sale which has a lot to do with my love for it. Polka dots are an old favourite of mine and I can just see myself wearing this again and again. I love the asymmetrical hem, although I've never worn anything with one before and because it's more breezy on one side I'm constantly paranoid that I have my dress stuck in my knickers (can someone else who's worn an asymmetrical hem reassure me that that's not just me?!) The frills make me feel all sassy too and like I want to twirl around in it all day (I don't though partly because dizzy and partly because, you know, 26-years-old and all that).

I'm a big fan of things that I can dress up or down and this dress is perfect for that. On this occasion I dressed it down with my old favourite denim jacket and some sandals, but I can easily imagine it on an evening with a leather jacket and some heeled boots. In fact, just typing that has made me want to make evening plans soon so that I can wear it just like that.





Dress - H&M (current sale, not online) | Denim jacket - Asos (old) | Sandals - Primark (old)

Amy x
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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Remembering to Live Offline Too


I imagine the majority of people reading this are as attached to their phone as I am - social media is the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I check at night as well as multiple times during the day. Quite often I'm thinking about what I'm going to post on Instagram later rather than what I'm going to eat (although don't get me wrong, I definitely still think about food a lot.) Instead of sitting down and reading a book I'll probably scroll aimlessly through Twitter. When we go out for the day my thoughts are often consumed by also getting some outfit pictures or at least snapping some of the day on Instagram stories. I'm not quite sure when it happened, but my life seems to now revolve around being online and at some point I stopped living it to the full offline.

I used to rave about having social media free days, but when was the last time I had one of those? Probably months ago. Once upon a time I had very good intentions of me and Nick having one evening a week together phone-free. I think that happened maybe once. And although there's nothing necessarily bad with having an online presence, it becomes bad when it means you stop making the most of life offline. I think this is probably something we're all guilty of in varying degrees and hey, if you're happy living your life that way then what's wrong with that? But when it starts becoming a little bit obsessive, when it means that you're no longer able to enjoy life without social media and when you start playing that not so fun game called comparison, that's when it gets toxic. I was actually shadow banned earlier this week on Instagram and yes it's annoying and it feels like a lot of the fun has been taken out of my favourite platform, but it was kind of ridiculous how frustrated I was about it and that's what made me stop and take a long hard look at how much I rely on my online life.

I'm ashamed at how obsessed I am, I'm ashamed at how much thought I put into what to post on Instagram, I'm ashamed at the fact that if I have a few hours away from my phone I worry that I won't possibly be able to catch up on everyone else's photos and tweets. When did this happen? I've acknowledged that it's not good for me, it's definitely not healthy so now is the time to do something about it and make a vow to myself within a blog post because then I'll feel like I have to stick to it. So going forward I'm going to have one social media free evening a week and one full day off a month. There, I've said it so now I've got to stick to it.

Do you find yourself becoming obsessed with social media?

Amy x
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Sunday, 3 September 2017

Accepting My Imperfections


When I first started blogging I used to hate outfit pictures because I'd have to sift through the bad ones to find the few that I didn't mind putting on the internet. The bad ones would show off my big nose that I was so self-conscious about, my long square teeth that I hated smiling with and the true size of my thighs that in my head I liked to pretend were thinner. When we look in a mirror we don't see ourselves from every angle so it can come as a bit of a surprise when you see a picture of yourself from a different angle and realise that you're 'not as pretty' as you'd thought. The funny thing is, after taking outfit pictures for a while, I became used to seeing those things and more at peace with the fact that this is what I look like. Yes, I have a big nose, but I wouldn't look like me if I didn't. The ironic fact is that scrutinising my 'imperfections' a hundred times over in various pictures has almost made me bored of hating them.

I think it's also important to remember that imperfections are completely subjective. I've never smiled with my teeth in pictures until recently because I've always hated my teeth, yet other people say I have a nice smile. Maybe they're just being nice or maybe they genuinely think that and we all overthink what we perceive as our own imperfections far too much. I couldn't look at any of my friends and pick out their 'imperfections' because to me they're all gorgeous and what they perceive to be an imperfection will probably be something I've never even noticed.





Imperfections aren't really imperfections, they're just differences. They're the things about us that make us unique to other people, the things that make us look like us. I mean, it'd be pretty boring if we all looked the same wouldn't it? So here I am showing off all my imperfections in a set of outfit pictures, smiling with my teeth, showing my nose from the side I hate and wearing the most thigh hugging jeans that I own. Here's to not only accepting our imperfections, but owning them and showing them off to the world (or the small minority of people that read this blog anyway...)

The thigh hugging jeans in question are my Topshop Joni jeans that I replaced just last week because, well, they may have had holes in them as I quite literally wore them out, and I'm so chuffed to have some new ones. I went the whole summer without them and I'd almost forgotten just how comfortable they are, they literally feel like leggings. I can never get enough of stripes and with this trench coat they just seemed so classic. The trench coat is my old favourite from New Look and although I'm not happy about the weather turning cooler I am happy that it means I can start wearing this regularly again. My shoes are a Topshop sale find and cost me the grand total of £4 - they're copper and they tie up like ballet shoes so that makes me happy.





Jeans - Topshop (hereTop - Topshop (old) | Trench - New Look (old) | Shoes - Topshop (here)

Amy x
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