Hull Spotlight: Two Gingers

It wasn't going to be long before yet another coffee shop snuck its way into my Hull Spotlight series (Hull is full of gems) and this month it's the turn of Two Gingers. It's in Paragon Arcade directly opposite the Magpie's Den, which I featured last month. It's only been open a couple of months, but already seems to have a large and loyal following (if following is the right word - custom?) and I can see why. Hull is crying out for more places like this - little unique Instagrammable places that serve great coffee. 

And Two Gingers definitely serves great coffee. I mean, just look at it. As well as looking pretty and providing an aesthetically pleasing little square for my Instagram grid it also tastes great. It's just the right strength (for me anyway) - quite strong but not at all bitter. I actually had my coffee made with oat milk and I'm so pleased that somewhere has started doing a tasty milk alternative in Hull - what's with all the soya milk? It's gross and all the other coffee shops need to take a leaf out of Two Gingers' book. It's a very small place so it doesn't serve hot food, but there is a range of cakes and snacks to make the perfect little accompaniment to your drink. I've heard very good things about the veggie sausage rolls, although not tried them myself yet!

Paragon Arcade is a gorgeous little place so it's the perfect setting for a little coffee shop. Inside the shop the aesthetic is quite minimalist - white walls, wooden seats and plenty of plants. Basically my dream place. It's quite small so I imagine it gets full quite quickly, but they do takeout too. If you're lucky enough to get a seat there's a lovely skylight at the back of the shop, which creates the most beautiful shadows and makes you feel like you're sitting outside. As well as serving coffee they also sell a few gorgeous pieces of marble goodness (e.g. these plant pots) by Paige Cavill Designs - I love cafes that also sell things by local artists, it's always nice to see small businesses supporting each other isn't it?

I believe the name Two Gingers came about because of the two owners' hair colour, but the reason I love it (which is essentially very sad) is because of my cats - because yes, they are two gingers. And yes, I know I'm a crazy cat lady.

Have you visited Two Gingers yet? 

Amy x

The Perks of Impulse Sale Buys

I mean, it's not like I'm writing a whole post in order to justify my sale shopping habit am I? OK fine, maybe I am.

In my head I'm quite restrained when it comes to shopping these days. Gone are the times when I would 'just have a quick nosey' around the shops in my lunch break and gone are the times when I lived in London and had a student loan and a fairly OK paid job both funding my Oxford Street Topshop habit. I do, however, have an on/off relationship with the ASOS app. On/off in the sense that every now and then I delete it in a bid to become a less spendy version of myself and then hastily re-download it because OOOH SALE.

The thing with the ASOS sale is, it's pretty darn cheap. 70% off guys, just sayin'. This is something which usually results in a lot of rather unusual things ending up in my saved items that I wouldn't necessarily usually go for, but who's complaining at £7.50? So sometimes I may order slightly wacky stuff that looks horrendous on me (in which case, ASOS free returns hellooo) but sometimes my choices pay off.

Case in point, these trousers. I am not a floral person. I am not a wide leg trouser person (culottes aside). But for some reason they drew my eye and I popped them in my bag. And I bloomin' love them. They're more flattering than I thought they would be, they're so comfortable (and we all know that's a must in my wardrobe) and the print is gorgeous. They go with a lot more than I would have expected them to as well so that's always a plus. They are quite long on me (can we just LOL at the fact that they're ankle grazers on the model yet they touch the floor on me), but I love them anyway. To keep the focus on the trousers I paired them with this black long sleeved t-shirt from the Asos forever range. I love the forever t-shirts, they're so soft and comfortable and tend to be pretty reasonably priced too. Because I seem to have a new thing with matching my shoes to my top half I went for these black lace up sandals from Primark. These are super old and are really a little bit worse for wear, but they're old favourites and I can't quite let go yet.

So for all the bad rep that sales shopping gets - you buy things in the wrong size, you buy things you'll never wear or you're buying things just because they're a bargain - there are some perks to impulse shopping in the sales, because if it goes right you could end up with a banging pair of trousers. (And if it doesn't go right then see my point about ASOS free returns...)

Are you an impulse shopper in the sales?

Amy x

Why Monaco Surprised Me

When we visited the French Riviera in June I was more excited at the prospect of visiting rustic villages with stone houses and pastel coloured shutters on the windows than the bigger cities because I thought they'd have more character and feel more 'French' and less commercialised. We decided to visit Monaco mainly just for the lols, to ogle the expensive cars and see how the other half lives. I didn't think I'd actually like it and I didn't think I'd genuinely be recommending it as a place to visit rather than a place to go 'just for the experience.' 

But I did like it. It massively surprised me and I'd definitely go again if I return to that part of the world (which I'd like to think I will). Don't get me wrong, it definitely has a side to it that is great to just experience - a wander through the Pavilions (A.K.A. super expensive shops) to Monte Carlo casino where you can sip on a (surprisingly reasonably priced) glass of wine beneath crystal chandeliers while watching someone lose a spectacular amount of money on roulette. We hadn't actually planned on going inside the casino (it costs about €17), but once we were there it felt silly not to and it was definitely worth doing, if only for the most beautiful bathroom I've ever been in. I genuinely felt a little like I was in a James Bond movie and found myself Googling whether any of the films had been shot there. We were a bit concerned that we wouldn't be allowed in because of the dress code, but we didn't have any problems although I saw a lot of people being turned away for having trainers on.

The area around the casino is quite fancy - a fair few flash sports cars and some good views of the sea as well as a sneak peak of the adjoining posh hotel complete with what I was convinced was a helipad but apparently was just art. On the food front, I'm afraid I can't recommend anywhere fancy because only I would go to Monaco and eat at McDonalds (it was the fanciest one I've ever been to).

There's also a completely different side to Monaco. After we'd finished exploring near the casino we walked all the way to the Palace, which was a long trek up a big hill on a boiling hot day, but worth it for the views on the way up and at the top. On the way you also get to see some of the Grand Prix road markings, which for some reason I found quite exciting even though I've never seen the Grand Prix in my life.

The Palace is a gorgeous building, although I couldn't help but think it was quite small (which it wasn't at all, it's just a lot smaller than Buckingham Palace). The palace and the square it was in felt so much like Disneyland it was crazy. In fact the whole of Monaco has a very Disneyland vibe. I think it's because it's all very clean and everything looks so perfect it could be a toy or have an It's a Small World ride in it (I wish there had been one of those...) I wonder if that's why I liked it so much because Disneyland is literally one of my favourite places in the world. The area around the palace is the old town, which has the narrow streets and coloured houses that I adore so much. For some reason I didn't expect Monaco to have an old town and alongside it is also an exotic garden, although we didn't venture there having just been at the one in Eze the day before.

There are the most stunning views all around Monaco. From up high by the palace you can see down to the harbour and from below you can see high up into the mountains in the distance. I'm so pleased we decided to actually go - also it's a whole other country ticked off the list!

Have you ever been to Monaco?

Amy x


Two Outfits, One Skirt*

You might find this surprising, but I'm a seriously light packer when it comes to weekend breaks. Not because I've got packing down to a fine art, but because I get grumpy if I have a heavy bag. No, I'm not joking, I really am that pathetic. So when Boohoo challenged me to make my holiday wardrobe go further for the exact reason of making packing easier and lighter I knew I'd be able to do it because it's what I do every time I go away. I've focused on packing items of clothing that can multi-task and put together two completely different outfits to show how versatile one item can be. I love getting creative with styling outfits and if I can save myself a heavy suitcase in the process then I'm one happy lady.

The item I chose to tie both outfits together is this gorgeous skirt*. I find skirts so easy to dress up or down so it seemed like the perfect option for this challenge. Boohoo have such a huge range of skirts that it legitimately took me about an hour to actually narrow it down to this one, but I adore pleated midi skirts so it was always going to be this one really. So far I've only invested in a black pleated midi skirt and the pale green is a much summerier (is that a word?!) alternative and the colour actually goes with more than you'd think. A pleated skirt like this one is perfect as a multi-tasking wardrobe item as it really can be dressed up or down based on what you want to achieve with your outfit and I've styled it two different ways in this post based on things you might find yourself doing on a UK city break!

Outfit One | Daytime 

During the day I tend to stay quite casual. Generally, I'll be doing a lot of walking because I love a good wander when I'm exploring a new place so I basically want something comfortable and practical but that I still feel good in. The great thing about this skirt is that it's so effortlessly chic as well as being insanely comfortable (hellooo elasticated waistband), which means that it's easily paired with a t-shirt* and trainers. The t-shirt and trainers make a very casual outfit, but the skirt just gives it a little bit of an edge and I always like to look that little bit different. I love it when an outfit just comes together and makes you feel good about yourself when you've put in the minimum effort! I went for a striped t-shirt because stripes are always a good idea and it's just another element of interest in the outfit, although the skirt would look great with a plain t-shirt as well. This particular t-shirt is so comfortable because it's fairly loose-fitting and it's also incredibly soft so perfect for walking around all day in.

Skirt* - Boohoo (here) | T-shirt* - Boohoo (here) | Trainers - Tu Clothing (old) | Sunglasses - Asos (old)

Outfit Two | Evening

I'm definitely one for a more casual evening look than super dressy as I'll usually be doing something quite chilled anyway like a meal and a few drinks (and then bed by 10pm - rock and roll) so I paired the skirt with this off the shoulder top*. I love off the shoulder tops in summer and I adore the little pom poms. The pom pom trend is one I've taken far too long to get on board with, but now I've started I probably won't be stopping anytime soon. I love that the top could also act as another versatile item just like the skirt - it makes a lovely evening look as part of this outfit, but it could just as easily be paired with jeans or denim shorts on another day for a more casual daytime look.

The sandals* are my absolute favourite item in this outfit - again they're fairly casual, but the heel on them just makes the outfit a little more dressy for the evening. They're also incredibly comfortable - the strap around the ankle gives a bit of support and the heel is just the right height for me to still be able to walk in (always useful). In fact this whole outfit is very comfortable so perfect if you're heading for a meal in the evening (lots of room for a food baby). The whole outfit makes me feel like a sassier version of me and when an outfit does that you know it's a goodun.

Skirt* - Boohoo (here) | Top* - Boohoo | Sandals*- Boohoo

Amy x

*Complimentary items featured in this post, opinions my own. 

Cruelty Free Beauty Finds

Newsflash guys, I've actually written a beauty post, say whaaaat? Beauty posts are pretty scarce around here these days mainly because I wanted to steer my blog towards style/lifestyle but also because I'm not a beauty product addict so I never really felt like I had the 'right' to write beauty posts. I don't have a huge stash of make up and skincare (I hate waste so I couldn't deal with having to keep throwing things away when they went out of date) but I do like beauty products so it seemed silly to not write the odd post just because I'm not an expert. So here we go. 

I have to start this post with a confession. For the past couple of months I've been trying my hardest to go cruelty free in terms of the beauty products I use (I had naively thought that because animal testing is illegal in the UK that no brands sold in the UK tested on animals.) When products run out I've just been replacing them with cruelty free alternatives. Here's the confession that I promised at the beginning of this paragraph. I'm not going 100% cruelty free for a really stupid reason. While I was researching some of my favourite products to see if the brands tested on animals (sadly waving goodbye to my favourite Maybelline mascara in the process) I discovered that my all time favourite perfume isn't cruelty free.  While I can happily replace a mascara I can't bring myself to replace the perfume that has been my signature scent since I was 15 and is just so inherently me so I feel like a bit of a fraud, but at the same time I'd like to think that every little helps. And on that note, I'll finally get to the point of this post, which is that I wanted to share my newly discovered favourite cruelty free beauty products.

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing Nail Paint | OK so this isn't actually a new discovery, but these are my favourite nail polishes ever so I had to include them. I love Barry M for nail varnish anyway, but this range is my absolute favourite because with the top coat they last for at least a week without chipping, they're insanely affordable and they do some lovely wearable colours. My favourite at the moment is Do It Like a Nude (even if I do get Jessie J in my head every time I see the name) because it's such a lovely wearable summer colour. I've never had gel nails done, but I don't feel like I'll ever need to when I have this range to rely on because my nails really do stay perfect for so much longer than when I use any other nail polish. The only bad thing I could say about this is that I wish there were more shades in the range!

Frezyderm Velvet Face Sun Screen SPF50* | I wear SPF on my face every day (partly because I'm super sun safe, but also because I'm vain and want to prevent wrinkles for as long as possible...) but it's actually quite difficult to find a facial SPF that isn't just sun cream i.e. the oiliest thing that will ever sit on your face. I know you can get low SPF in some primers and foundations, but I like wearing factor 50 on my face for maximum protection. This sun screen by Frezyderm, which I was kindly sent to try, has everything I want in a facial SPF. It's factor 50, it's transparent so not at all oily and it has the most amazing velvety texture (seriously it feels amazing when you apply it) so it works incredibly well as a make up primer too. At first glance it seems quite pricey at £17.50, but you actually get a lot more product (50ml) than you would usually get in a facial SPF so it'll last much longer, plus it's really two products in one as it serves as a primer too.

E.L.F. Instant Lift Brow Pencil | I picked up a couple of bits from E.L.F. as it's a brand I'd never tried before, but heard such good things about and the product that stood out for me was their eyebrow pencil. It's a creamy formula so super easy to apply and it comes with a little spoolie on the other end for brushing them into place. It makes my eyebrows look neat, but not too 'done' plus it's only £3.50 so a winner all round. I definitely want to try more products from this brand.

If you have any cruelty free recommendations please do send them my way!

Amy x

*Some of the products featured in this post were sent to me for review, but opinions are my own.

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Becoming a Cat Owner

Unless you live under a rock (or just don't follow me on Instagram or Twitter - shameless plug, I'm @callmeamye on both so hit me up) you may know that I recently got two cats and all of a sudden I can't stop banging on about them. Seeing as they're now a pretty big part of my life I thought it was only right to do a post about the lil' guys so here's what I've learnt in the first five weeks of having cats:

1. It's not your house anymore, it's theirs. 'Ah, you've nipped off to get a cuppa? Time for me to steal your nice warm corner spot on the sofa in the knowledge that you won't try to move me because LOOK AT ME ALL COSY AND CUTE.' 'You're trying to watch TV? That's nice, but imma just prance around on the TV stand because look aren't I pretty and don't you want to pay me attention?' 'Erm, excuse me but are you making FISH for tea? Yeah, imma need at least half of that, thanks.'

2. You constantly need to know that they're OK. When they're asleep you always double check that their chest is definitely moving. If they don't come and greet you at the door you run around the house like a madwoman until you find them safe and well. 

3. Your hoover is your new best friend. That point makes me sound a bit like a loser (if the rest of this post already didn't anyway...) But seriously, you may as well have a hoover surgically attached to your hand because you'll never have needed it so much. Where before you may have hoovered the sofa maybe once a year it's now a big part of your weekly cleaning regime along with every cushion and throw in your house. 

4. Your camera roll suddenly includes a lot less pictures of cocktails/nice food and instead is 99% filled with pictures of cats. They're forever being cute, quite often being funny and you've just got to snap a picture every ten seconds in case it's the cutest or most entertaining picture you've ever taken in your life. You wouldn't want to miss the million dollar shot would you?

5. They're not actually as graceful as you think. Before I had cats I had this vague impression that they were these graceful creatures who could jump up onto anything and would never fall (which is a ridiculous impression to have when you've watched as many cat videos on YouTube as I have) but turns out they're actually pretty clumsy (so there's something we have in common anyway.) From Barney's awkward little totter down the stairs to Sidney falling off a wall the first time they went outside they provide a lot of hilarity. Turns out though, cats hate being embarrassed so I keep my laughter fairly quiet.

6. Never again will you pee in peace. There's all this talk about how you're supposed to put a cat's litter tray in a private place and never disturb them when they're using it, but this apparently doesn't apply in return. Either you leave the door ajar and they'll come in to see you or you close it and they'll meow and scratch at it until you've opened it again.

7. You'll become an expert carpet cleaner. I don't want to brag, but I even got cat sick out of the fringing on a rug. The most surprising thing about getting cats for me is how little cat sick bothers me. I'm supposed to be emetophobic, but either I'm suddenly cured or cat sick just doesn't affect me. Either way, I'm great at cleaning carpets. 

8. You'll probably wear multiple outfits in one day and not because you're cool. If I'm on a late shift it's very likely I'll be having cat cuddles in the morning so I get dressed and then I'll change before going to work so I'm cat hair free and also so that I can actually wear non-cat suitable clothes i.e. tights, blouses, anything else you don't want to get a hole in. 

9. You'll realise just how much personality cats have. Think cats are all the same? Barney and Sidney couldn't be more different if they tried, although luckily they're both absolute babes. Cats really do have their own personalities and quirks and FYI it's impossible to have a 'favourite'. 

10. You'll feel like they're your children. Or at least I feel like it's good practice. I've only had them for five weeks and I already feel horrendously protective over them and all I want to do is make them happy. Crazy cat lady? Me?...

Amy x