Thursday 20 February 2020

Chasing Nostalgia | Returning to Nashville

Something I feel I missed the opportunity to talk about on here was our little adventure around America back toward the end of 2017. Given how long ago it was, I do feel like I’ve kind of missed the boat a little bit. In fact the only reason I didn’t write about it, was because this blog was brand new upon our return and I hadn’t quite got into the swing of things yet. We were away for almost 2 months, and travelled across the county in what I would describe as a slightly wonky ‘N’ shape. We started off in New York, then moved on to Nashville, down to New Orleans, up to Canada for the Christmas period and then ended the trip with a bang in Vegas for New Year. With the very different locations, climates and experiences I could go on and on about what we did on our travels, although this post would end up rather long.

One place that stood out the most for both Mike and I however, is perhaps not the one you’d expect from the list I gave. It wasn’t the Big Apple, and it wasn’t Vegas, although we certainly enjoyed both. The location that ended up being the favourite for us both, was actually Nashville in Tennessee. 

Both Mike and I are big lovers of country music, and it was that love that of course put Nashville as a logical stop on our route in the first place. That, and it’s a relatively short drive from the Jack Daniels distillery, which Mike wanted to visit. Nashville was our second stop, and a welcome relief after the hectic nature of New York city. Even from the instant we got our hire car, an extremely blue Ford Mustang, we felt far more relaxed than we had in New York. Despite the fact we were driving on the wrong side of the road, in a place we’d never been, with unfamiliar signage and road rules. Although they do all drive automatics, so that did make things easier!

Even from the moment we first stepped foot in our hotel we were immediately drawn into the friendly nature of everyone we met. It was probably the most basic of all the hotels we stayed in, and it was certainly the cheapest, but this was the place on all of our travels we felt the most comfortable and at home. Since returning home to the UK, we’ve dreamed of returning to the US, especially to Nashville.

This is why, at the end of May 2020 we’ll be gathering up our closest friends and heading across the pond not only for an adventure together, but to finally get married. As much as we enjoyed traveling just the two of us as a couple, we did miss our friends and family greatly while we were away. Even more so when we came across things we knew they’d love if they were there. This isn’t just a simple road trip with loved ones though. After a lot of thought and a lot of reviewing of our options, Mike and I had decided to get married in Nashville.

We’ve finally found and booked our venue for early June, and I absolutely cannot wait. We’ve been engaged since Halloween 2017, and have gone through so many different suggestions and ideas of where and how to tie the knot, always circling back to America, especially Tennessee as it was so special to us. Both of us want a small wedding with just our family and very close friends, and the venue we’ve found is absolutely perfect. The fact that is set in a place already full of fond memories makes it even more special.

Now we are frantically trying to finalise everything for the day, which is kind of daunting. If anyone has any advise or tips on organising a wedding abroad, please do share them as we’ll need all the help we can get!

Friday 14 February 2020

Love Yourself First This Valentines Day

The month of February plays host to an event that can either bring excitement or dread to all who hear the word... that’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day. It seems like there is so much more hype about it these days than there used to be, or perhaps I never really noticed it when I was younger. Either way, it seems almost a bit over the top these days.

Whether you are single or taken, it seems this day brings with it a large sense of obligation. Those who are single are made to feel as if they are inadequate or missing out in some way, even though they may be perfectly happy being free and single. On the flip side, those who have partners are made to feel that they have to go all out, or they are a terrible people.

It’s almost expectation that you must find someone to spend the day, evening, whatever with, almost just for the sake of it. I myself am always a little reluctant to acknowledge it fully, simply because it falls within a couple of days of Mike’s birthday, and I don’t want to dull the shine of his special day. Luckily he’s always surprised me in one way or another, as he has this year, which is lovely.

In contrast I remember many years ago, when my partner at the time flat out refused to acknowledge the day in any way, saying “why should the men make all the effort?” and whilst his comment wasn’t totally without a point, I remember feeling pretty unimportant, and to be honest a little jealous when my female friends got flowers and presents from their boyfriends and mine simply couldn’t be bothered.

What took me a while to get my head around was that he couldn’t really be bothered at many other points in the rest of the year, so I shouldn’t really be upset just because that indifference happened to fall across that one day in the middle of February as well. I guess it just shone a light on it a bit more at the time. I mean, this is the same partner that forgot my birthday, and then blamed me because I should have reminded him…

I ended up instead spending Valentines with my best friend. We got a load of food in, cooked a dinner and had a girly movie night together. I see far more now than I did at the time that I didn’t need to get anything from my partner to feel happy. There were plenty of other people around me who loved me, and all I really needed were my friends and my family.

The point I think I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t feel pressured or inadequate just because of one day in the year. Sure, having a partner that buys you flowers, spoils you and wants to spend time with you is great, but it isn’t and certainly shouldn’t be the be all and end all when it comes to how you feel in yourself. It’s important for you to be happy in your own skin, with or without the influence of a significant other.

Life isn’t always straight forward, and just because you don’t have someone to celebrate valentine’s day with, or your special someone can’t be there for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter, and it has no bearing on your value or self-worth. Buy yourself flowers, have a night out with the girls, or a chill evening at home with a facemask, do whatever makes you happy, and spoil yourself a bit. After all, the most important love is the love we give to ourselves.

Whether you will be going all out, ignoring the day completely or maybe even something in between, make sure to love and look after yourself first. Ultimately, it’s just another day in the month.


Wednesday 12 February 2020

February Goals | 2020

Now that the marathon that was January has been and gone I feel like I have a fresh surge of motivation for February! January is a long month for many, but I found that my motivation dwindled more and more as the month went on, and as a consequence I don’t feel that I did as great as I could have with my goals for the month. 

Vegan Cooking
Contrary to what I just said, this actually went really well, and I after asking the people of Twitter for help I was introduced to an app to make Vegan cooking really easy that gave loads of inspiration for meals I could put together.  It’s meant that I’ve been able to cook a couple of different things and take them over to my friend to help out while she recovers from her op – which went really well.

I still haven’t done this… if I’m honest I haven’t even started looking for one.

Eat better & Gym
Now, if I told you I’d cut out junk food in January it would be an out and out lie, but I have been to the gym a fair bit, and eaten a little better. I’ve started attending gym classes again as I find they push me far more than if I work out on my own – I think it’s thanks to my competitive nature.

See the baby seals
I sadly haven’t been to see the seals yet.

Saving plan
Not only have I got a little budget and saving plan together, but I also managed to put a little money away last month too. I’ve set everything up, so my savings will go as soon as my pay drops into my bank account. With a little time I should have a nice little saving pot!

Wedding dress
Erugh… I still haven’t done this.. I’m starting to get into a little bit of a panic now.

Flights and vehicle hire
We’ve managed to get our flights booked! It was a bit of a nightmare trying to coordinate ten people, but it’s all sorted now. One of our group is landing in the States the day before the rest of us, so there’s a good chance that we’ll have less to sort with the car hire too, as he’ll no doubt have something sorted for when he lands.

Start planning Mike’s birthday
Everything is organised and in place ready for his birthday weekend! We’ve gone for a fun theme, and it’ll be great to have a fun night out and catch up with various people we haven’t seen in a while. 

Get back into a rhythm
I’ve not been terrible, but I wouldn’t say I’m in a proper rhythm yet. I’ll give myself half a tick for this one.

Now that last month is out the way, let’s have a look at my goals for the rest of February..

Self-explanatory really… I’m a little lost without it, so I need to start shopping around for one.

Bath bombs
My supply of bath bombs is dangerously low at the moment… in fact I’m down to two. As it happens I’ll be in and out of the city at various points, so I’ll make sure I stop by Lush and pick some up.

Wedding dress
Oh my god, how have I not sorted this yet!?

Menu choices
We’ve made things a little easier (and cheaper) for ourselves by opting for a buffet style meal at our wedding. That doesn’t mean we can get out of menu choices though, and we still need to choose what items we want from the list we’ve been given.

Catch up with venue and photographer
We don’t have any kind of timeline for the day yet, which the photographer will need soon. The venue have been really good, and offered to FaceTime with us and walk around the venue so that we can decide on the decoration.    

Car hire
We’ll need at least two cars while in America, so it’ll be a good idea to get that sorted soon.

Catch up with Maria
It doesn’t seem like that long ago since we caught up, and yet it was before Christmas! As one of my oldest and closest friends I always love to see her, so we really must get a date in the diary (that I don’t have) soon. 

Is it just me, or do all your daily essentials seem run out at the same time!? I’m running low on pretty much all of my go to products, so I need to stock up again.

Given that we’re a lot of the way through February already, I’ll leave it there. Perhaps I should have a goal to get my goals out in good time! Better late than never though I guess. 

Do you have any goals for February?


Tuesday 4 February 2020

January Look Back | 2020

Now I know it isn’t just me who feels like January went on forever. It’s always the way. Most of us get paid earlier in December, and then have to make it last that little bit longer until January pay day finally arrives. As a consequence, everyone is mindful of money, partaking in dry January, or just generally going into hermit mode. Although I have to admit, I actually quite like living in my dressing gown and going into hermit mode every now and then, so I’m not complaining at all.

If I’m honest, January has been a pretty disjointed month for me. I feel like I’ve been mega organised at work, but that I’ve slipped a little in my personal life. For example, I normally write up my look backs as I’m going through the month, adding as and when I do things while they are fresh in my mind. This month however, I’m typing this up late, and I can’t really remember what I did!

Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be random confused ramblings with no real direction or substance. Not all of it anyway. I do have a couple of bits to talk about. You may have noticed that the blog is getting a slightly new look. I’m playing around with various ideas, and should be done in the next few weeks or so. At the moment it’s just small changes, for example the sign off at the bottom of my posts, the slight change in text, or my logo. 

I plan to revamp my Disclaimer and About me sections, and maybe even have a play around with the blog layout… although I haven’t decided on that last part yet. Despite my lack of organisation I feel that my blog is progressing well, with more views and comments this month than any month previously, which I’m really pleased with. I’ve been making a real effort to make sure I share my new posts on social media, so it’s nice to see that it’s paying off. 

Around the middle of the month I started to undertake a slightly more ruthless clear out of the beauty room (aka our tiny spare room). I’ve been wanting to revamp that room since we moved here, done a lot of talking about it but just never go to it. At the moment its plain, cluttered and overcrowded. I’ve taken measurements to wallpaper one wall, cleared a load of rubbish I don’t need and measured up for new furniture. I’m taking it slow, but I’m slowly transforming the space into what I want it to be. I’m documenting it as I go, so when I’m finally done I’ll be able to do a little before and after. I’ll be sharing my progress in a little series, so keep an eye out for future posts. 

So far I’ve found pulling everything out of a cupboard or draw, sorting through it and putting what I want to keep back in a tidy manor to be quite therapeutic. A great way to clear and declutter your mind can sometimes be to do exactly that with the environment around you, especially your home.

It wasn’t just tidying and decluttering that I did this month, I’ve also tried my hand at some Vegan cooking, as my friend had a spinal operation at the end of the month and will be immobile for a little while. Her op went well and she was allowed home the next day, so I’ve got a couple of days off to keep her company and cook some of the new meals I’ve learned! I have to say, I found a life saver of an app, which I talked about in a post about making Vegan cooking easier.

Toward the end of the month Mike and I got another thing ticked off our wedding to do list and choose our wedding rings! Naturally thanks to me and my tiny fingers they’ve had to be specially ordered, so we haven’t got them yet. I’m hoping they fit, because there wasn’t a single size J in the store for me to try on for size, although we have been assured they’ll just swap them if mine doesn’t fit.

We got a couple of other bits done, which are better serves talking about in my February goals, so keep an eye out for that!

What did you get up to in January?

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