Christmas Coffee Recipes For Christmas Coffee Haters

I'm about to say something a bit controversial; I'm not the biggest fan of festive drinks. I like my coffee as bitter as my heart (that is a joke, don't worry mum my heart is super warm) so adding in a ton of syrup just doesn't do it for me.

However, I do occasionally like to get a little inventive at home, where I can be in control of my festive drinks and have a bit of an experiment. So if you're equally as unimpressed with festive offerings from coffee shops, these ones just might float your boat (or sleigh - HA).

Gingerbread Latte | I love ginger, but gingerbread lattes in cafes are waaaay too sweet (I am fun at parties I promise) so I made my own using ground spices. I whisk the spices with a drop of milk to make a paste then add the espresso and steamed milk.

1 shot of espresso 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
steamed milk or milk alternative (I use oat milk)

Mulled Cappucino | Like mulled wine but in coffee form (very proud of this one), again I mixed the spices with a bit of milk, squeezed in the orange then added the espresso and milk.

1 shot of espresso
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
pinch of ginger
squeeze of fresh orange
steamed milk or milk alternative

Cinnamon Vanilla Espresso | I saved the easiest and least inventive one until last. This one uses syrup (top tip, TK Maxx do some fab ones) and just sweetens up the espresso a little. I actually quite like using syrup at home because I can just add a really small amount.

1 shot of espresso
drop of cinnamon vanilla syrup

Are you a fan of festive drinks?

Amy x

AD | What Makes A Great Staycation?

I'm a big fan of a staycation, something you'll know if you've been reading this blog for a while, so when I was contacted by the lovely team at My Hotel Break I jumped at the chance to see what they have on offer and my little break with them got me thinking; what makes a great staycation?

E X P E R I E N C E  | I don't know about you, but when I'm booking a staycation I don't want to have to think too much about it so I'd rather opt for a deal that already provides me with things to do. My Hotel Break aim to provide an 'experience' rather than just a hotel room, whether that's a spa break, a murder mystery or a walking holiday. We stayed at the Chevin Country Park Hotel in Otley, West Yorkshire (one of my favourite parts of the country FYI) and it was everything I look for in a staycation experience; a cosy room, a pool and leisure facilities (hello hot tub) in an idyllic setting.

L O C A T I O N  |  Although I love holing myself up in a hotel and staying there for the majority of my break, I also like having the option of venturing out somewhere if I wish. On this occasion, we spent the morning in Otley before checking in (and subsequently holing ourselves in) to our hotel. Whether it's a cute town like Otley to explore (with ample coffee shops, obviously) or picturesque countryside to walk around in, I always think about location before booking.

R E L A X A T I O N  |  One thing I adore about staycations is the ability to relax that you don't necessarily get with a holiday abroad (or at least you don't if you're like me and squeeze out every last bit of energy you have to explore somewhere). If I'm staying in the UK it's because I want to relax, which was the exact kind of break that My Hotel Break and The Chevin provided us with.

E A S Y  B O O K I N G  |  As I've already mentioned, I like to not think too much about booking a staycation and luckily, with My Hotel Break, the booking process is simple. You can choose a hotel based on location, price or the type of experience you're looking for so you can find exactly what you want from your break with just a few clicks. With it being a small family run business it's also very personal and friendly; the team are always on hand to help, answer any questions and be generally lovely! They also offer free cancellation, which is extremely handy if you work flexible shifts like me, which often have to change last minute. 

S O M E T H I N G  U N I Q U E  |  Don't get me wrong, I love a Premier Inn for a city break or as somewhere to stay when I'm going to gig, but when I'm having what I'd call a 'proper' staycation I love staying somewhere a bit unique with lots of character. My Hotel Break specialise in smaller, independent hotels so you can discover places like The Chevin, which are more off the beaten track and which really have their own personality (yes I'm claiming that hotels have personality here, hear me out OK). The Chevin had a real lodge vibe to it, which felt so festive and cosy and almost made it feel like we were staying in a ski chalet. There was a lot of wood, an open fire and a view of the lake to wake up to.

If you're interested in staying at The Chevin, you can book here. We were kindly provided with bed, breakfast and dinner, which is from £49.50pp or you can opt for room only from £27.50pp (although would highly recommend dinner because tasty!)

What do you look for in a staycation?

Amy x

Otley, UK

Call Me Monthly | November

Blog post wise, it's not all that long ago since my October round up, but I've let my blog take a back seat this month (something I never usually let myself do). I'd say it's because I haven't had time, but I have; I've just been spending that time doing other things, which I need to realise is OK. 

If I'm not feeling it then I'm not feeling it and I haven't been feeling it and if you wonder how many times I can fit feeling it into this sentence to ensure it makes as little sense as possible then four would be the correct answer. 

Moving on...

R E A D I N G |  I haven't done a huge amount of reading this month, but I did read Arbitrary and Unnecessary by Daniel Piper, who's actually an old school friend so it feels a bit odd to include his book in a round up because it's like LOL we really are old, he's written a bloomin' book. Anyway, Arbitrary and Unnecessary is a collection of poems (funny ones) about anything and everything, but mainly about growing up and being a twenty-something. It would make an excellent Christmas present if you have any comedy loving giftees. 

L I S T E N I N G  |  I'm about to sound like I'm going through some sort of existential crisis (I'm not), but I've taken to going for long evening walks with my headphones in and more often than not it's been London Grammar keeping me company. Their music is just so beautiful and please can I have her voice? I've started learning some on the piano so if anyone could gift me with a beautiful singing voice to go with it that would be grand.

W A T C H I N G  |  After living under a rock for a coupla years, we finally caught up this month and got Netflix (well, we got the password to my best friend's Netflix anyway). It's a bit overwhelming because there's so much on there I want to watch and have heard good things about, but for now we've started watching Better Call Saul together and I'm watching The Haunting of Hill House by myself because I'm an idiot. I'm not convinced by Better Call Saul yet, but we're persevering because I've heard it gets better.

What did you get up to in November? Also do send any Netflix recommendations my way!

Amy x

Looking After Your House Plants In Winter

If you're subscribed to my newsletter you might wonder why I'm writing this on my blog and not saving it for that, but you may also have noticed that there hasn't been a newsletter in a little while. 

Remember my post about spreading myself rather thinly? I've decided to stop doing that quite so much so for now, Call Me A Plant Lady is on hold, and Call Me Amy is welcoming back my house plant posts.

Winter was always where I struggled with my house plants; they'd end up wilting, sometimes even dying and I'd get frustrated at the lack of growth in the ones that did survive. 

Well, newsflash, house plants don't really grow all that much (if at all) in winter so it's more about keeping them afloat than helping them grow. This means a change in your house plant care routine so I thought I'd share both how I prepare for winter and how I get through it with my house plants alive (famous last words).

O N E  L A S T  R E P O T  |  It's very unlikely that I'll be doing any repotting over winter, as my plants simply won't need it so I always like to gather them all together to check that they're all in the correct sized pots for the months ahead. You should generally be able to tell by looking whether your plant is in the right sized pot or not, but a quick and easy way to tell is to see if there are any roots poking through the bottom of the current one. If there are, it needs a bigger pot.

R E L O C A T I O N  |  During winter, house plants don't get as much humidity or light as they're used to so they'll fare better if they're kept somewhere that gets the sun when it does come out. I also tend to move more plants into my bathroom where they'll benefit from the humidity in there. Obviously both of these points depend on how much light and humidity a plant likes in the first place. Do your research kids and, as with most things house plant related, it could take a little trial and error to find the right place for each plant.

L E S S  W A T E R  |  Technically plants should actually be easier to look after in winter because they need less attention. As a general rule I water my house plants once a week in summer and once every two weeks in winter, although I'll always check whether they actually need water or not before doing so. You can do this by simply looking at the soil, or picking up the pot to feel how heavy it is. Less is certainly more when it comes to watering during winter.

Do you have any extra winter house plant care tips? Let me know!

Amy x

You Don't Need To Be The Best

I've been wondering a lot recently whether I've been spreading myself too thinly. I've always been someone who likes to do a lot of different things and who has a variety of hobbies; this has always meant I'm sort of OK at a fair few things, but not stand out amazing at anything.

The thing is, I like a lot of stuff, and I think that's OK. I'd rather only be OK at a lot of things if it means I get to try all those things. 

I like writing, I like photography, I like music, I like getting crafty, I like editing. I'm not and never will be the best (or possibly any good at all) at any of these things, but I'm certainly not bored and I'm definitely enjoying myself. 

Sometimes we have to step back and realise that life isn't about always 'achieving' (I could probably write a whole separate post on what on earth achieving even means, and maybe I will). Life is about enjoying yourself (yes that's right, I think I've discovered the meaning of life and it is in fact just to have fun. Deep huh?)

On Saturday I attended the Moonpig #merriertogether Christmas party in Leeds, which was a dream for someone like me who likes to try lots of different things. (Read Moonpig's post all about it here.) We made a Christmas wreath, decorated a sack, made cocktails (my attempt at a strawberry mojito during a cocktail making competition earned me the forfeit of a chilli vodka shot - would not recommend) and designed our own Moonpig Christmas cards. Big thanks to Moonpig for having me and for all the goodies (see sack below) I left with!

I wasn't amazing at any of those things, but I tried my best and I had so much fun doing so. 

As someone who is a huge perfectionist, it's quite the paradox to have the realisation that it's OK to not be amazing at everything. I'm never happy with anything I do (a feeling I'm sure fellow perfectionists are familiar with) and even when people assure me that something is good, I assume that they're just being nice.

There's something terrifying about putting yourself, or something you've done, out there when you're not happy with it, but it's also incredibly liberating especially when you realise that actually most things are subjective and the fear that something won't be good enough isn't a reason to not do it. 

Somewhere in this blog post I think my actual point may have got a bit lost, which tends to happen when I let my fingers loose without any direction, so just to reiterate; the point is that it's OK to only be OK. 

They say it's the taking part that counts when you're playing a game and I think that's true of life as well.

Do you like variety?

Amy x

Recent Reads I'd Recommend #3

Well it's been a while since I did a book post hasn't it? I didn't read as much as I'd have liked to over summer, but during the colder months you're much more likely to find me in a cosy corner with a book (either that or watching Ex On The Beach just in case you had the impression that I have any sort of taste).

So, now that we've clarified that I don't have any taste, here are some books I've read recently that I'd recommend...

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz | Without giving too much away, this is the story of a woman on the run from a crime she didn't commit, who in the process of running essentially ends up becoming a criminal. I love books where you're not sure whether to like the main character or not; I certainly empathised with her, but she wasn't a particularly nice person. She was flawed and all the characters were so 'human' in that way. I was completely gripped by this book and finished it in a couple of days.

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley | This book is the first of six in a series and I definitely want to read the others. Six adopted sisters are left with the opportunity to discover where they came from originally when their adoptive father dies and the first in the series follows the story of Maia. Her journey takes her to Brazil and there the plot splits between there and Paris where we find out more about her ancestors. I got so invested in the story of her ancestors that I almost forgot that was only a sub-story and I definitely enjoyed that part more than the main character's. Each of the other books tells the story of another sister and I'm hoping the very last one will tie up some loose ends with regards to the death of the adoptive father.

Our House by Louise Candlish | This is a crime story and I really don't feel like I can explain the plot without essentially giving the whole thing away, which at least explains why the blurb didn't tell me much! It wasn't what I expected, which I was slightly disappointed with at first, but I really got into it. There was a character for me to like and a character for me to hate and the ending was amazing; the was a huge twist at the end that I think I actually gasped out loud at, despite being on a night flight at the time. Whoops.

What have you read recently? Anything I should add to my list?

Amy x

Budget Eats in NYC

If you've been to New York, then you'll know that when I say 'budget' I say it with a pinch of salt, because nothing is really on a budget in New York. However we ate pretty much as cheaply as we could, mainly by avoiding sit down meals where we'd have to tip and opting for takeout or fast food options instead.

Fast food and takeout might not sound appealing to you, but we ate so much amazing food in New York, not all of it unhealthy and I wanted to document where we ate, both so I have a point of reference for if we return and in case any of you are heading there and need recommendations!

I must apologise for the lack of photos in this post; all the food was honestly just so tasty I kept eating it before remembering to get my camera or phone out. I'll just have to hope my words do it justice.


Chelsea Market | I'm kind of gutted we weren't staying nearer Chelsea Market because I would probably have just eaten every meal in there tbh, there's so much choice. We had breakfast from Chai Lait, which did all sorts of things, but I had a matcha smoothie bowl and a matcha latte (matcha overload much?) They have two other locations if you're not near Chelsea.

Andrew's Coffee Shop | We went here purely because it was close to our hotel. It was a proper American diner experience, which I loved about it. It didn't try to be pretty or fancy, it just served good food; I had peanut butter and banana pancakes (yes you read that right, get yourself there now). 

Egghead | The most delicious egg sandwiches to go (mine had avocado in it). Enough said.

Best Bagel & Coffee | When they say best bagel, they really mean best bagel. The bagels are huge and so doughy you can barely see the hole in them. I had a cinnamon and raisin one with cinnamon and walnut cream cheese and now I'm drooling so that's that. I 100% thought this would be a chain, but it turns out the only one is on West 35th Street, which also happened to be where our hotel was.


Egg Shop | Yes I only have one lunch recommendation because we have an awfully bad habit of skipping lunch on holiday. We tend to just get so busy trying to cram a lot of stuff in that we forget or it gets too late. Our final day was a bit more relaxing though and we spent it meandering from Brooklyn through areas we hadn't managed to visit like Soho and Chinatown. 

Handily, halfway back to our hotel was Egg Shop, which I knew about from reading Hannah Gale's food recommendations. I believe it was the priciest meal of our trip because it is a sit down and tip sorta place, but I had the BLT poached eggs on brioche (without the bacon, obviously) and they were the best eggs I've had in my life. The coffee was equally excellent and the cafe itself is super cute so get yourself there if you can!

T E A (dinner if you're Southern OK)

Shake Shack | I mean, obviously. I know they have one in London, but I don't live in or near London  so I've never been. We went to the one in Grand Central Station so got to eat it in beautiful surroundings too. I had some sort of fried mushroom burger and chips with cheese sauce and OH MY is all I have to say about it *drools*.

Neapolitan Express | Most nights we bought food to take back to our hotel room, partly because we were knackered and also because it saved a lot of money. We stumbled upon Neapolitan Express on the way back to our hotel and I'm so glad we did because the pizza was freshly cooked in a pizza oven in front of our eyes and was incredible.

Pennsy Food Hall | This was super close to our hotel so we went to have a nosey one night and ended up buying the healthiest tea we had all week from The Little Beet. They do amazing salad bowls and I had a falafel and sweet potato one which was divine. The Little Beet is a chain so they have various locations across the city too!

Amy x 
New York, NY, USA

Call Me Monthly | October

Hello hello and welcome to another monthly round up; they seem to come round at quite an alarming rate don't they? October has been a busy one, or maybe that's just my life as I feel like I say that every month, but it's been excellent. Here's what I've been up to:

R E A D I N G  |  I read two books this month thanks to our flights to New York. The first was Force of Nature by Jane Harper, the story of a work team building exercise gone wrong. It was an alright read, but not quite gripping enough for me and the ending was slightly disappointing. The second was Our House by Louise Candlish, which I assumed was going to be a thriller from the cover and the blurb, but it was more crime I'd say. It was a very good read though; I even postponed trying to sleep on the night flight back so I could finish it and the ending of this one certainly didn't disappoint.

W A T C H I N G  |  In a shocking turn of events, I haven't binge watched anything this month. I'm very glad that Ambulance has started again though as I adore that programme. I always think if I didn't do what I did now I would be a paramedic, although I'm not sure I would actually have the guts (pardon the bad pun, I promise it was actually accidental) to deal with what they do.

L I S T E N I N G  |  I'm not ashamed to say that I'm very much still in an Arctic Monkeys spiral and just as I listened to them all month in the run up to seeing them, I've been listening to them all month again to mourn how amazing they were. I even made a Spotify playlist of their set on the night I saw them so I've had that pretty much on repeat. 

D O I N G  |  I could possibly write a whole post about this section; October has been a busy one (in a good way). At the start of the month it was our nephew's Christening and that was immediately followed by our trip to New York (which you can read about here). My friend and I made a start on a new venture (@stopmotionstories on Instagram if you fancy a nosey) and I feel like I'm finally back in the swing of things blog-wise. All in all, I liked you October.

What did you get up to in October?

Amy x

Fast Fashion | Guilt, Wariness and Decisions

Hello hello and welcome to a post on the topic that everyone is talking about thanks to that documentary. If you haven't watched it, I sincerely recommend that you do as it provides some serious pause for thought. In a nutshell, our addiction to fast fashion is seriously harming the environment as well as affecting people's lives and health.

I was a little late to the bandwagon so I'd already seen a fair few people air their thoughts on social media and I knew it would make me reassess my attitude to fast fashion. Said knowledge meant that I made an ASOS order right before I sat down to watch it, purely because I knew I wouldn't want to make one afterwards. I feel like I need to admit that because this certainly isn't a post in which I'm going to claim to be some sort of saint.

Anyway, it seems as thought this is becoming a topic of contention; I've seen influencers claim they'll be completely changing their shopping habits, I've seen influencers accuse other influencers of being fake and jumping on the bandwagon and some have simply kept quiet, because at the end of the day it's their livelihood and they can't just up and leave it can they?

I'm going to split this post into three sections; guilt, wariness and decisions (bet you didn't guess that from the title did you?) because I felt that was the best way to get all my opinions across without them becoming a jumbled mess of 'lol what's she trying to say here?' which seems to often be my trademark.

G U I L T  |  I'm sure most people who've watched the Stacey Dooley documentary felt this. We are the fast fashion generation; we like to express ourselves through clothes, they're available to us at the click of a button for affordable prices and new trends that we simply 'must have' are emerging all the time. Even as someone who isn't particularly trend led, I still buy a lot of clothes. It's my hobby, a way of expressing myself and I actually genuinely enjoy getting dressed in the morning. 

So after watching the documentary, then looking at my bulging wardrobe (plus the clothes rail and six drawers of overflow) I did feel incredibly guilty. Obviously I can claim 'oh but I didn't know', 'why did nobody ever tell me?', but the reality is I have made absolutely zero effort to find out where my clothes came from, where and how they were made and whether the process was at all ethical. 

I'm going to make a mass generalisation here so please don't be offended if this doesn't apply to you, but I think a lot of us are guilty of being ignorant. We simply choose to ignore or not find out about things and then when we do, we express our shock and outrage so we uphold our reputation as good people. Maybe we are good people, but that doesn't mean we haven't been ignorant and lazy (including myself in this by the way).

W A R I N E S S  |  And here enters the wariness. Yes I feel guilty about my consumption of fast fashion and I haven't bought any clothes since watching the documentary, but it's true that people do jump on the bandwagon with these kinds of issues and then forget about them when the uproar dies down. I don't want to be one of those people so I'm almost wary about speaking out too much in case I cave and miss ASOS too much.

I'm also aware that there are plenty of eco-friendly and sustainable bloggers already who, quite rightly, would look at me as someone who has zero right to speak about this issue because of my fast fashion consumption. 

But at the same time, any discussion surrounding the issue can only be a good thing as can any change, however big or small. 

D E C I S I O N S  |  Which brings me to...what am I actually going to do about it?

Well I'm certainly not making any grand gestures. I've deleted the ASOS app though and I'm going to do no spend November. I'm going to start using charity shops a lot more (luckily there's an excellent vintage one ten minutes from my house). 

I haven't found any sustainable clothing brands that I'm particularly excited about yet, especially as they are all expensive (yes I KNOW the point is to spend more on less, but my brain doesn't work that way) so I can't say I won't be making the odd high street purchase because I will be.

I've always shopped my wardrobe anyway (my bulging wardrobe is because I hardly ever get rid of anything) and I'll be digging out more outfits like the classic in this post, which I re-wear every autumn.

In my opinion, it's not about stopping completely or anything drastic, it's simply about being more mindful; changing whatever you're in a position to change and not jumping down the throats of people who aren't doing the same as you. 

What do you think?

Amy x

[AD] Putting The Finishing Touches To Your Living Room

This post is sponsored by Soho Home.

I promise (to myself more than anyone else) that sometime soon I will do a living room transformation post, but there are still a couple of things that need finishing off and tweaking so in the meantime I thought I'd write about the things we've done to really make it feel homely, like our living room. 

I won't lie, I've grown quite tired of the renovation process; the relentless wallpaper stripping, floor sanding, painting etc etc, but what I do love is putting a room back together. I love choosing furniture, deciding what pictures to have on the wall, filling a room with rugs and sofa cushions. 

So that's what I'm going to document in this post; the finishing touches that I've loved taking time over, that add a bit of our personalities to the room and that make it an enjoyable place to spend time in.

S O F A  |   We decided on a corner sofa for the cosy factor and I'm so glad we did because I can basically make myself a warm little nest in the corner and binge watch TV. Pretty perfect winter situation amiright? I love adding cushions and throws to our sofa so we have rather a lot of them (enough for me to have a fair few guests over and allocate each of them their own throw #perfecthostess). I love how cushions and throws add colour to an otherwise neutral sofa and that they give the flexibility to add new colours into the room whenever you wish!

P R I N T  W A L L  |  I've written before about our print wall, which I spent rather a long time on, but I absolutely adore it. Because we didn't rush into choosing prints and other elements to put up, it feels really curated and special. I'm so pleased we decided to diversify it and include a mirror, clock and a hanging plant rather than just prints as it feels so thought out. I'm super happy with it.

R U G S  |  Having laminate floor in the living room means it looked (and felt) a little cold when we first put it down. We came up with the idea of having lots of different rugs in the room to add a bit of colour, texture and much needed warmth! I love the look of them layered and we're still adding to the collection! 

F U R N I T U R E  | We went for a lot of wood in the living room and it's quite a dark room to make it feel cosy so the wooden tables match the aesthetic perfectly. I'm very into mismatched furniture because I don't like things to look too uniform so they're all slightly different woods and we added a touch of grey paint to the TV stand to match the grey of the sofa. 

What are your favourite finishing touches to your living room?

Amy x

My #IdealHotspot | Kitchen

I think I'm just about getting used to the idea of Autumn. This summer was a difficult one to say goodbye to, especially as it seemed to disappear so quickly, but the idea of snug nights in and all the knitwear is starting to make me feel the tiniest bit excited.

Throughout Autumn, the HEY Bloggers founders (myself, Emma, Ashton, Violet, Jenny and Alex) will each be sharing a room in our house that we've made seasonal updates to, a room that becomes a 'hotspot' for us during the colder months, in collaboration with Ideal Boilers. This is not a sponsored post, but some of the items featured have been purchased with a voucher provided by the lovely team at Ideal Boilers.

When you think of making a room snug for the colder months, the kitchen isn't a room that would immediately spring to mind. Maybe you think of your warm living room or the bed you never want to leave on those cold mornings.

 I love playing host and we had a fair few BBQs over summer; with it being a bit too cold for those now I thought what better way to welcome the cold weather than making sure our kitchen is equipped to host throughout autumn and winter too. Without further ado, this is how I'm making our kitchen into our hotspot:

A T M O S P H E R E  |  Nothing says autumn to me more than candles and fairy lights because they add such an atmosphere of warmth to a room. I picked up these fairy lights* from Wilko's and they look so cute hung round our mirror, but for dinner parties (lol I say dinner parties trying to sound sophisticated, I basically mean having friends over for lasagne) they make such a good table decoration. I have candles burning in every room throughout autumn and winter and the kitchen is no exception. Yankee Candle are a long term favourite of mine and they've just launched a new range called Just Go,* inspired by travel and allowing us to take our summer memories into autumn with us! My favourite is misty mountains; it smells super fresh and rids the kitchen of any pesky food smells in no time.

W A R M T H  |  Moving on from an atmosphere of warmth to actual warmth...put the heating on! I jest, I'm sure you don't need a blog post to tell you to put your heating on. I'm talking about blankets and throws because they don't just have to be for the bed or the sofa. I personally love a throw* over the back of my dining room chairs that I can make use of if I'm feeling a little chilly. They also just look nice and add a little summin' summin' don't they?

T H E  T A B L E  |   In the lead up to Christmas (I'm sorry, I know, I said the 'C' word) I always feel more in the mood for making my table look aesthetically pleasing (sorry for using the phrase aesthetically pleasing, but I find it a very aesthetically pleasing phrase). I think it's probably down to all the home magazines/interior shops showing off Christmas table displays, but isn't it funny how making your table look nice makes for a more enjoyable meal? This set up is certainly preferable to the jumble of junk mail/keys/screwdrivers that usually graces our kitchen table.

Which room in your house is your #IdealHotspot?

Amy x

*gifted items

New York, New York

As a first-time New York visitor, I wanted to do all the stereotypical New York stuff so we decided to buy New York Passes, which would cover everything we wanted to do. As well as just have a general chit chat about what we did, I'll let you know my thoughts on whether the pass was worth it or not. We actually got ours in a sale, and from keeping an eye on them for a while I can tell you that they do have sales fairly frequently so it's definitely worth waiting for one of those so you get even more money off. 

D A Y  O N E  |  We had very sore feet at the end of day one and when I checked my steps on my phone it turns out that may be because we unknowingly walked 15 miles...

Day one began with an early wake up at 5.30 because our body clocks were obviously still attuned to UK time. It was actually quite nice to wake up so early to the view of the city through our hotel (huge) window and actually feel awake, then be able to get ready at leisure and still be out on the street at 7.30.

The first thing we did was head to The Rockefeller Center, via Times Square just to see it (anti-climatic during the day FYI) and we were some of the first people in the (non-existent) queue to head to the Top of the Rock. It was a bit foggy, but despite the fact that we probably couldn't see as far as you usually can, I thought it added a certain breathtaking atmosphere to the experience.

As the Museum of Modern Art is pretty much next door, we headed there next and we also visited The Met on our first day too. The MoMA is quite quick to wander around, but The Met is similar to The V&A (i.e. absolutely huge and full of so much stuff you could be in there all day). We grabbed a map and decided which sections of it we wanted to see as well as googling any paintings we definitely wanted to see to see where they were.

It's worth mentioning that we didn't pay for anything apart from food on our first day because everything we did was covered by the New York Pass. One thing we did that I don't think we would have if it hadn't been included (simply because we wouldn't have thought of it) was hire bikes to cycle around Central Park. 

Central Park is absolutely huge and a bit of a labyrinth so a cycle ride was an excellent way to take a lot of it in without getting lost or spending a full day in there. I finally learnt how to use my gears properly too (three cheers?).

To finish the day we went to the top of the Empire State Building (via Grand Central Station to have a nosey - can confirm it's as beautiful as everyone says). The queue for the Empire State Building was a bit of a mare, but worth it for the nighttime views. I'd definitely recommend going up one of the tall buildings at nighttime because it's actually more impressive than during the day (I was v happy we did one of each though). 

D A Y  T W O  |  Day Two was a much more sobering day because we decided to do all the 9/11 stuff. It was so so upsetting, but I also feel like it's very important to see if you're in New York because it's such a massive part of everyone's lives there and obviously had an enormous impact.

We began with the 9/11 Ground Zero workshop, which is actually in Chelsea. It was a very small museum set up by the official photographer of the recovery operation, who also captured a photo of 9/11 happening from the top of the very building the workshop is in. A lot of his photographs, plus artefacts recovered from the rubble are displayed there and you're told the story behind each one. You will leave very humbled. 

For some light relief, we walked the High Line back to Midtown then hopped on the water taxi to take us round to the 9/11 memorial and museum. The memorials are an absolutely stunning tribute and the museum in between them tells the story of what happened on that day. Again, it's very upsetting, but important.

We hopped back on the water taxi in time for sunset, which takes you all around Manhattan and also stops off right next to the Statue of Liberty for a photo opportunity. 

D A Y  T H R E E  |  It absolutely chucked it down on this day so we needed to do something inside. Because the hop on/off bus tour was included in our New York Pass we decided to use that to get around and we caught it to Central Park where we visited the Natural History Museum. 

Again, this was huge and you could spend a long time there so we narrowed down what we wanted to see and wandered round that (drying off in the process) because despite catching the bus we got abolutely soaked walking through Central Park to the museum. 

Because there was so much of New York we still hadn't seen (and weren't going to get the chance to) we decided to do almost the full hop on/off bus tour in order to see it. A bus tour isn't something we would usually do, but it was actually a really good way to see the city (despite switching between the top and lower decks every time it started or stopped raining). The tour took about two hours in total and I was glad we'd at least seen some of the parts of New York we wanted even if we hadn't explored them.

Day three was also the last day of our New York pass, as we opted for a three day one. Absolutely everything listed above was covered by the pass so the only expense we had was food. We did tot it all up and if we'd paid for everything it would have been double the price we paid for the pass. That probably means we wouldn't have actually done all of it, so for both of those reasons it's definitely worth it (for first timers at least). We only scratched the surface with what's available on the pass; almost everything you'd want to do in New York is covered.

D A Y  F O U R  |  Our last day we didn't have the pass so we wanted to stick to doing free things and I wanted to get a bit further afield. We got the subway to Brooklyn, where we had coffee and a wander along the river. There's immediately a completely different vibe in Brooklyn and if I go back I think I'd want to stay that side of the river for sure. 

We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge (which I'm actually shocked that people sit on for photos because people were sitting on a ledge directly above the road, soz side note from sensible Amy but seriously). We then walked all the back from the bridge to our hotel in Midtown, stopping along the way in parks and for lunch (luckily it was a beautiful day). 

One of my favourite things to do anywhere is to just walk around because I always find you see so much of a place so despite really not doing much apart from walking and eating on our last day, I think it was my favourite. 

Have you ever been to New York?

Amy x
New York, NY, USA

See Yourself Through Someone Else's Eyes

When you look at yourself in the mirror what do you see?

I'd bet that you don't see the person you actually are. I'd bet you see the things you dislike about yourself without taking the time to appreciate the things you do. I'd bet you see someone very different to who everyone else sees.

I see a girl (well, woman I suppose, got to stop calling myself a girl at some point haven't I?) with an out of proportion body, boobs that are too small and thighs that are too big. I see a face with insignificant features, apart from a ginormous nose plonked in the middle for good measure. I see hair that doesn't quite know whether it's straight or wavy and never does what it's supposed to. 

But is that what I actually look like?

Posting pictures of myself on the internet (not like that you dirty noggins) has given me more confidence in how I look, but it's also given me an appreciation of what I might look like to other people because I'm pretty sure most people don't see what I see in the mirror.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: beauty is subjective and so are flaws. 

We all spend too much time focusing on our flaws, which is a word that I hate because what even is a flaw apart from something we imagine to be bad in our own heads?

Dress - Primark | Boots - New Look via ASOS

Photography - Ashton Gibbs

Your friends don't see the things you dislike about your body because they're too busy worrying about their own insecurities. Your other half doesn't think your features are insignificant because they're what make you YOU and they think you're beautiful. Strangers in the street don't see your misbehaving hair because we all want what we don't have.

Try looking at yourself through someone else's eyes; what would they see?

We spend so much time being jealous of other people's features that we don't wonder what they may be jealous of us for. Everyone has been jealous of someone and that means that someone has been jealous of you. Take some time to think; what would they have been jealous of? What do you like about yourself? What do you not like about yourself that you think others probably do?

You might not think you're beautiful, but somebody does.

Amy x

A Set List Of Things That Happened At Arctic Monkeys

Four Out Of Five. Doesn't time fly? Months since we booked our tickets to see Arctic Monkeys, it finally happened on Friday.

Brianstorm. We got top marks for not trying and got right to the front.

Snap Out Of It. 15-year old fangirl Amy well and truly resurfaced on Friday and I still can't snap out of it.

Crying Lightning. One of the most surreal things I've experienced at a gig was the support act actually getting heckled off the stage, which consisted of the strange premature departure of the lead singer after repeatedly whacking himself on the head with his mic...yes, really. 

One Point Perspective. We quite literally lost our train of thought when the next day we managed to be half an hour early for our train only to miss it because we were too busy watching videos from the night before.

Teddy Picker. I was planning on putting something on Instagram stories the same night, but I was actually so overwhelmed I had to save it for the morning after.

One For The Road. Getting tickets for Newcastle was a double whammy of happy and such a nostalgic feeling looking around the arena knowing I've been here before because it was where I saw my very first concert (Smash Hits cause I was cool). 

Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair. I certainly didn't expect the middle aged woman behind me to start a fight and I certainly didn't expect her to try to strangle a guy...

505. Cue me and Ashton afterwards googling any other upcoming Arctic Monkeys gigs whether they'd take a seven hour flight or a 45 minute drive.

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. We popped on Arctic Monkeys while we were getting ready (obviously) to really get me in the mood.

The Ultracheese. As soon as the first song started the crowd surged forwards and went mad, which I haven't experience in a while, but didn't that used to be part of the fun?

Dancing Shoes. While we were waiting and waiting for Arctic Monkeys to come onstage I was whacked on the head, called 'huffy' and nearly deafened. I'm the innocent party here.

Knee Socks. I bought a sweater and some socks, despite the fact that I'll probably just wear them to walk around the house, although the sweater is only low key fangirl so who knows...

Do Me A Favour. I think I'm going to be mourning the gig for several hours or several weeks because it was just SO good. 

Cornerstone. Despite there being a lot of pushing and shoving like at any gig, we were luckily surrounded by mostly lovely people who apologised awfully politely whenever they were squashed up against us. 

Pretty Visitors. Sorry for fangirling (again), but you can't beat that moment they first came on stage and started playing. Everyone waved their arms. 

Do I Wanna Know? Ashton managed to catch my favourite part of 505 on her phone and I still play it on repeat until I fall asleep.

Arabella. Forget that little lady Arabella, we've already decided that the next song Alex Turner writes is going to be titled Girl In The CrowdYes, it's about me.

Star Treatment. Golden boy's certainly not in bad shape. Those hips though...need I say more?

Mardy Bum. A perfect description of me getting sad before it was even over because I knew it was about to be...I'd certainly got the face on.

I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor. You bet wrong Alex. At this point, I'm pretty sure I was just a squished head poking out of the crowd screaming lyrics and holding onto Ashton for dear life.

R U Mine? R U Alex?

Call Me Monthly | September

I'm gonna do that blogger cliche thing by firstly apologising for being such a cliche, then proceeding to marvel at how quickly the time is going. I suppose that must just be life eh? September does seem to have flown by; it was the month I thought I had my mojo back, yet a month in which I still managed to feel like I had a zillion things whirring in my brain and no time in which to address any of them. There's always October right? 

R E A D I N G  |  I'm pretty chuffed that I managed to read a whole other book this month especially as it was such a long one, but I had another fortunate train journey which allowed me to switch off and just read. I think I should probably take the train more often because I hardly ever allow myself time to read at home. I read The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. It's the first in a series about six adopted sisters (yes six, that wasn't a typo) and follows each of their back stories. I was a bit unsure at first, but got totally hooked about halfway through and sped through the rest so now can't wait to read the others.

W A T C H I N G  |  Thank goodness that Love Island Australia has finished because I can now once again have my life back. Apart from that, we watched Bodyguard and realised how frustrating it is to have to watch something in real TV time rather than being able to binge watch it whenever we want, but it was excellent. I've also just started (I say just started, but I'm already five episodes in) Killing Eve, which I think I'm enjoying even more than Bodyguard so would v much recommend.

L I S T E N I N G  |  I've had Arctic Monkeys on repeat all month and on Friday I went to see them in Newcastle. They were absolutely incredible, I'm still on an absolute high, but also incredibly sad that it's all over (I was sad about it being over before it had even started to be fair).

E A T I N G  |  I'm slowly getting used to life as a veggie and I've experimented a bit more this month with things like sweet potato chilli and different kinds of vegetarian curry. I definitely still have much more to learn in terms of making sure I'm getting all the right foods, but I'd say I'm doing OK for a beginner!

D O I N G  |  I had the opportunity to do something a little bit different at work this month (I made a lil' stop motion for social media) and it made me realise that despite enjoying my day job, there's so much more that I'd love to still do. I just need to work out how it's physically and mentally possible to fit anything else in...

What did you get up to in September?

Amy x

Thoughts Of An Uneasy Narcissist

I don't have a particularly interesting story about why I started blogging. I was bored, wanted a new hobby to keep me busy and thought I'd have a bash at it. When I first started, I didn't tell anyone about it for over a year. I enjoyed just writing and not worrying what anyone would think (because hardly anyone was reading lols) and I enjoyed taking some absolutely appalling photos to go along with it. 

Almost four years later and I'm still here, still blogging, but a lot has changed. I absolutely love where I am now and I'm insanely grateful to everyone who reads this blog and to the brands that have worked with me. Yet recently I've been feeling a little uneasy. I love writing, but I feel like I've possibly fallen a little bit out of love with blogging. Part of me misses how it was when I first started, when I didn't write for anyone but myself and didn't even know what self-promotion was.

These feelings of uneasiness come at a time when I'm also doing a lot of self-evaluation, which has led me to wonder whether all this writing about myself/my thoughts/my feelings and sharing it with the world just makes me plain narcissistic (a rhetorical wondering so please don't answer that...) But maybe we're all narcissists and I don't need to worry, or maybe narcissist is just a nasty way of describing someone seeking validation from others. At the end of that day, we all do that don't we?

Blogging is still a hobby for me, it's not my full-time job and I don't want it to be. Yet every week I pile on the pressure to write, photograph, Instagram, schedule tweets etc etc. They say remember why you started and well, I started because I was bored and now I'm not. 

This isn't me saying I'm stopping because I'm definitely not, but what I am going to do is go back to basics a little. Yes I want people to read my content, but I don't want to spend my time scheduling five self-promo tweets a day. Yes I want my writing and photography to be the absolute best it can be, but I don't want to stress myself out when I just don't always have the time to produce enough content.

Basically, I'm going to chill out a little bit. I'm going to be a bit more 'me' on my social media rather than a robot churning out scheduled promo stuff. I'm going to treat my blog as what it is; a hobby. And hopefully you'll still read it.

And excuse the keyboard vomit in this post (that's not a nice analogy is it?), I felt like I wanted to just write and I possibly may even hit publish.

Amy x

Small Outfit Updates That Make Me Feel Cool

Call me shallow (new blog name lols), but what I'm wearing can massively affect how I feel about myself and I think that's something that applies to a lot of people. An outfit has the ability to lift my confidence and make me feel generally better about myself. I sometimes feel like I should be writing about something more worthy than just clothes, but when clothes affect your self-confidence so much, they're actually quite important yes?  

Apologies for the very unimaginative post title, but sometimes you've gotta say what you see and I really wanted to write a post about a few of the things I've been doing with my outfits recently that have instantly changed the way I feel about myself. Despite the fact that I probably don't actually look cool at all, these are the small things that make me feel as though I am.

Jacket - ASOS (sold out) | Top - ASOS (here *aff) | Jeans - Topshop (here *aff) | Boots - New Look via ASOS (here *aff) | Belt - ASOS (here *aff) Watch* - Henry London (here)

Rolling up my sleeves | Told you they were small things. Whenever I've been wearing a long sleeved top/jumper/shirt/jacket I've been rolling up my sleeves a little and it can transform what felt like something shapeless and baggy into something chic and oversized. I actually almost sent this jacket back when I first ordered it because I felt like a sack, but then I tried it with the sleeves rolled up and now I can't seem to take it off.

Wearing a belt | OK, so I'm not quite sure where I've been because I realise that everyone who isn't me has been wearing a belt forever, but I haven't worn one since those ginormous elasticated waist belts were a thing (thank god they no longer are cause they were hella uncomfortable amiright?). But recently (newsflash) I've started wearing a belt, like an actual functional one to hold up my jeans. This means that a) my jeans fit way better and b) I all of a sudden feel like a real grown up adult who wears a belt and has her life together. Revolutionary.

Tucking in my tops | I've been tucking tops into high waisted trousers on and off for ages, and although I'd always feel cooler with them tucked in, I'd often wear tops loose so that they'd cover up that low stomach area that I'm not quite sure what to call. Recently though, I'm trying not to care. That part of my stomach may not always look flat under my jeans, but tucking my top in makes me feel cool so I'm gonna do it. 

Rolling up my jeans | It would appear that I just like rolling things up. I've always been more of an ankle grazer kinda gal than full length, but I am blessed with disproportionately short legs (yes that is sarcasm) so jeans sold as ankle grazers are just normal length on me. Not only does rolling up my jeans make them my desired ankle grazing length, I also like how it looks. Simple as that.

Wearing a watch | Similarly to the belt thing, I'm obviously a bit behind on this one. I always saw watches as something functional rather than something that could also look good, but having been gifted a few in the past year (including the one in this post) I now rarely don't wear one because, guess what, they look good, they're actually pretty darn useful and they somehow make me feel like I have my life together.

Do you have any outfit tricks that make you feel good?

Amy x

*gifted items

Let's Talk About #peppergate

Rewind to last Tuesday evening. I was at work and one of my colleagues had takeaway, Thai green curry to be precise. Another colleague and I were eating the peppers out of said curry because takeaway colleague (Lucy) doesn't like them. That's when pepper eating colleague (Tom) told me the pepper fact, which I will not repeat because I'm sure you've all heard it by now. I was amazed both at the actual fact and at myself for never having twigged about something that makes rather a lot of sense. I tweeted said fact, because not only do I like to educate my audience (lolololol) but I do quite like poking fun at myself too.

Wednesday night, I'm at work again and the pepper tweet is 24 hours old. I quietly mumble to yet another colleague 'Joe, I think I might be going viral.' At that moment in time the tweet had 3000 likes. By the time it eventually calmed down (Monday) it had 266k likes and 53k retweets. Friday was its peak; it was a twitter moment, it was in online magazines/newspapers and talked about on the radio. That was also the day that I logged out of Twitter for the weekend.

Going viral is weird and it has its good and bad points. Yes I gained some twitter followers and the whole thing was generally pretty funny (something to tell the grandkids eh?); on the flip side I've learnt that people will be nasty about literally anything and anyone on twitter and it's oddly invasive to suddenly see your own words plastered everywhere, despite the fact that it was you who made them public in the first place.

I could write a whole post about how my eyes have been opened to the (frankly quite mean) twitter world that exists outside of my own bubble. I have a newfound respect for anyone who gets that much attention on a daily basis and copes with it. I don't really wish to get deep and dwell on the negatives, but because I think I'm hilarious (someone has to) and because twitter doesn't get my sense of humour at all, I'd like to share some of my favourite comebacks I gave to the meanies...

And now I never want to see a pepper ever again...

Have you ever had a tweet go viral?

Amy x