Monday, 16 April 2018

Why I Felt Inspired To Change My Edits

Why I Felt Inspired To Change My Edits
Photographs are personal. I don't just mean personal in a sense that they've been taken by you but personal in a sense of, right from the idea to the composition and all the way to the edit, that photo is your vision. 

For the longest time, I've been feeling uninspired by what I thought was my *vision*. Not only had I been editing my photos with the same 'copy and paste edits'  for probably the past 12 months but, when you actually looked at my photos, you could see that they weren't just copy and pasted edits, they were a copy and pasted vision. They were a copy and pasted vision of the same blush and blue tones, marble backgrounds and quite over exposed photos. With each new photo I edited and posted, I wasn't 100% happy. Gradually I posted less and less until ultimately, I didn't really want to share photos at all. 

Why I Felt Inspired To Change My Edits
That changed a few weeks ago when the ever-so-lovely Chloe from LadyWrites launched her new Instagram chapter. She'd put 110% effort into creating photos that she absolutely loved and eagerly shared them with her now 10K audience in anticipation. Of course, in true Chloe style, they were bloody brilliant and I take my hat off to her for believing in herself. From that moment, I was inspired. Chloe had taken everything she'd been doing day to day, thew it up in the air and basically said 'This is what I want so I'm doing it' and for me, that was the turning point.

I went for a little search around Instagram to see what other people were up to. The photographs I came across were incredible. There were so many creators showcasing amazing imagery. Everything from landscape photography to street photography and jaw-dropping flatlays to brilliant portraits were suddenly in front of me. From seeing what Chloe had done and then seeing all these beautiful images, it was time to take the plunge and reinvent my photos. 

Lightroom seemed to be the preferred editing software of many photographers and though I'd played around with the app a few times, I didn't really know much about what it could do for my photos aside from making the sea look more blue. A few clicks and complicated Youtube tutorials later I stumbled upon Peter McKinnon - A photographer, filmmaker and all round cool guy from Canada. Not only were his films and photographs absolutely amazing, he also had a whole host of tutorials, tips, and must-knows when it comes to Lightroom. Slowly but surely, I couldn't believe I hadn't used it sooner.  

Why I Felt Inspired To Change My Edits
I'm not by any means a photographer but I enjoy taking photos and I want to get the most of them. I wanted to add creativity to these photos and figure out my own style, so that's exactly what I did. I downloaded Lightroom onto my desktop and set up a free trial (Highly recommend!) and from then on, I spent most of my weekend just playing around. I started importing photos from my travels and 150+ photos later, I'd created a couple of presets and and figured out how these could make my editing process seamless. Over the course of the weekend, I'd edited 200+ photos - even ones that I'd previously disregarded - and made them into something that I was excited to look at. 

Watching Peter's videos reminded me is that photography is a creative process and everyone sees the world differently. When it comes to editing and post production, it's easy to slap a filter and call it a day but taking care of the photo, nurturing the colours and light and putting my own stamp on it, is something I've truly fallen in love with. 

The only thing that was left to do was to show these edits to the world. After consulting Jac just to make sure I wasn't going crazy, I uploaded the first photo to my grid. The new edits weren't *that* different to previous ones but the change was noticeable and at first, I was nervous that nobody would like them. The more and more I posted, the more I realised that I didn't care. The fact I loved the photos was more validation than I ever needed and right now, I'm the happiest and most inspired I've ever been. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on the new edits that are floating around on my Instagram and how you feel about your photos and edits!


Thursday, 12 April 2018

How To Discover New Music

How To Discover New Music
If you've read any of my previous music posts, you'll know that on my phone, I have a 'Favourites Playlist'. Whenever I hear a song I like whether it's on TV, the radio, an album, you name it, I'll add it to the playlist. Now, unless I'm in the gym or getting ready to head out, it's very rare that I'll sit and listen to music for long periods of time. Because of that, I find myself listening to the same 6 songs at the top of my playlist all of the time. That was until a few days ago when I did something wild, I put the playlist on shuffle.

I know what you're thinking, that's not a big deal, but for me it really is. I don't shuffle music in my own playlists. I don't know why, I think I just like the idea of knowing what's coming on next but back to my point, some absolute gems that had been stashed away at the bottom were all of a sudden filling my dressing room. It was brilliant. 

So, after rediscovering my love for Thirty Seconds To Mars and Imagine Dragons, I actually wanted to talk how you can discover new music.

Search similar bands Sounds pretty obvious but I really underestimated how good 'See similar artists' sections on Google and the like can be. I remember back in the day to when I got my first iPod - a bright pink Nano - iTunes brought out Genius which would basically play a song and then afterwards, play one that went well with it. I'm pretty sure it wasn't *always* accurate but it was pretty cool and got me really excited about what it would come up with. 

Learn an instrument I have always wanted to learn how to play guitar for no reason other than I think it's really cool. I tried teaching myself from tabs back in my teens while my friend Laura took lessons, it didn't go well. These days, there are services like Zaid Crowe Guitar Lessons where you can have lessons over Skype and games like Rocksmith which teaches you the basics as you play - Definitely a step up from Guitar Hero which, spoiler alert, I'm also terrible at. 

Stream music I'm quite happy to admit that some of my most well spent money each month is on my Deezer subscription. I use it every single day and listening through the Flow playlist has brought so many artists to my attention that I wouldn't necessarily have heard of before. Spotify offer a similar service whereby they curate a Daily Mix of music they think you'll like to hear based on what you currently listen to. I'm not a Spotify convert just yet but the more I see friends and bands creating playlists to follow, the more I want to sign up!

Subscription boxes I had no idea these existed until recently but there are actually music subscription boxes out there. Most notably, American based company VNYL, who hand pick three records for you every month which are delivered right to your door, based on a profile you create. Mind blown. 

I'd love to know how you discover new music and what you've been listening to lately!

Monday, 9 April 2018

3 Tips For Selling Your Clothes Online

3 Tips For Selling Your Clothes Online
I finally did it. After planning it for weeks and continuously talking myself out of it, I finally sorted through my wardrobe yesterday. I hate myself for putting it off because every time I finish doing it, I can't believe that I didn't do it sooner. Alas, it's finally done and I can go about my spring not worrying about the monstrosity behind those sliding doors. 

Truth be told, I didn't actually have to let go of an awful amount of things. Mostly because my clothes actually fit me for once - hallelujah - but also because I like to have these clear outs at least once a year to make sure I'm not hanging on to things that I don't really need so over time, there's less and less to toss. 

Since a lot of the things I'm choosing to let go of are worthy of a second home, I thought I'd share some tips for selling your clothes online whether it's through Facebook, eBay, Depop etc. 

Considering the quality Before I choose an item to sell online, I always ask myself 'Would I be happy to receive this?'. If the item is in good condition with no stains and it just showing minimal wear and tear then sure, I'd be happy. On the other hand, if items have holes in, are starting to wear away and are covered in stains then you really need to consider the fact that if you don't want it, a buyer probably won't either. In these cases it's far better to recycle rather than just throwing it in the bin or wasting time trying to sell it. 

Take good photographs I can't even tell you how many savvy sellers are upping their photo game on the likes of eBay and Depop these days - Gone are the times of snapping  your items on a hanger hooked over the door. These days, it's all about making the items look as appealing as possible. In some instances, sellers will actually model their items but, if you look anything like me, you'll probably want to find a mannequin torso for sale to make those items as appealing as possible. They're also a great investment if you're buying second hand yourself in case you want to make alterations or customisations. 

Keep the description to a minimum Being totally honest, when I first started selling my clothes online, I used to write out incredibly long descriptions listing everything from where I purchased the item,  to that it was coming from a smoke free/pet free/damp free household. The more I did it, the more I realised people don't actually care. If there's anything that a potential buyer wants to know, in my experience, they'll ask the question. Keep the description short and to the point. Think along the lines of what it is, how old it is, the quality and the size. Brief but effective descriptions are the way forward - Buyers don't need to know that your Aunt Sal bought it from BHS a few years back but you only wore it to your mates house party. 

With all of these tips in mind, I'm probably going to have a sort through my clear out pile and see what I can actually sell and what is in desperate need of recycling. I hope you've found these tips useful. I'd love to know what you do to get the most out of selling clothes online.


Thursday, 5 April 2018

Two Must-Haves from Maybelline

Two Must-Haves from Maybelline | Maybelline Superstay | ItsHollieAnn
You know how sometimes there are those products that absolutely blow your mind? They do exactly what they claim to, have a great price point and are completely user friendly? Know what I mean? Well, allow me to introduce you to my latest must-have beauty products that tick all of these boxes and that, quite frankly, I can't shout about enough. Two must-haves from Maybelline. 

First, the Maybelline Superstay foundation. I picked this up after watching Tati's review - No word of a lie, I hadn't even finished the video before I grabbed my keys and headed straight out to buy it. Since then I've been using it a heck of a lot and still, four months later, I can't say enough good things about it. For me, the texture is silky smooth and a little bit goes a long way. I find that when I dot it on my face, it blends out flawlessly and doesn't dry faster than you can blend which definitely gets a gold star from me. On my skin, it stays put all day and doesn't tend to cling to dry patches or create much excess oil - Something I struggle with, with a lot of other foundations. I tend to prolong the wear with a little powder under the eyes and a spritz of setting spray but honestly, even without, you're good to go pretty much throughout the day. 

I have to say, I find the shades of this foundation a little darker and warmer than others. Originally I picked up 30 Sand which I should have known would be too dark but I was far too eager. It wasn't drastically different at first but since it oxidises quite a lot, I was a funny shade of orange in no time. Thankfully when I went back a few days later I managed to pick up 10 Ivory and since then, it's matched almost perfectly. It's still a touch too warm so I may pick up an even lighter shade soon. Overall, it's a 10/10. 

Next up is probably the product I've been most shocked by in a long time. The Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink lipstick. I picked this up because I loved the Superstay Foundation and because I was in semi-desperate need of a new matte lipstick. I swatched it as usual and went for the shade Lover because, you know, I really needed another dusty pink lip colour. After getting home, feeding the cats and washing my hands, I noticed it didn't actually come off so I washed them again. I actually washed them three times, all with soap, and not once did this lipstick budge. I was intrigued. 

Continuing my test in true beauty fanatic style, I put it on my lips determined to see whether it was some kind of lipstick mirage or whether it actually would last and if so, what was the catch? There was no catch and it really did last. It didn't dry out or flake, it didn't fade or smudge. It didn't come off until about 11.30pm when I forcibly removed it by means of Cleanse and Polish after lots of food and a few proseccos. 

I know what you're thinking but yes, it's real and I have no bad words to say about it. The colour payoff is brilliant, it doesn't bleed, it sets quickly but doesn't leave your lips feeling dry. I can put lip balm over it and it doesn't effect it's opacity and to top it all off, I get so many compliments when I wear it. I can't say enough good things about it and one by one, I'm slowly building up a collection because, hello, when won't there be a good occasion to wear it? To make sure this wasn't a one off, I swatched another 4 whilst at Boots a few days ago and still had the same results. Another solid 10/10.

I have to be honest, sometimes I struggle with drugstore beauty. There's a lot of choice out there but I find that sometimes it can take a lot of time to find products that work really well. 

I'd love to know if there are any hidden drugstore gems that you've found or heard about!


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

7 Things Every Traveller Must Do

7 Things Every Traveller Must Do
I constantly think about travelling. It's one thing that I love researching and undoubtedly my favourite way to spend my time. Since we're currently trying to plan our next few getaways, I started thinking about ways to have more fun and do things a little differently whether that's breaking personal boundaries or just trying new things. After reading and researching a heck of a lot lately, here are the most suggested things that every traveller 'must do' at least once. 

Sleep under the stars A lot of people simply do not like the idea of camping - myself included - however, I bet there are few experiences better than sleeping under the stars. Honestly, I love the idea of being outdoors and just looking up at the sky. Australia came up highly recommended for activities like this and 4WD Supa Centre  looks like the place to go for all things camping whilst there, check it out! Obviously it goes without saying to check the areas you're planning on staying to make sure the skies are likely to be clear.

Have a holiday romance I'm not talking about a romance with another person here guys, I'm taking about falling in love with a new place or experience. Just letting go a little and really immersing yourself in the surroundings will make you fall more in love with the places you see every day. 

Skydiving I've wanted to Skydive for the longest time but honestly, I'm a complete wuss. It's not for everyone but if it's available in a city or country you're travelling to, wouldn't that be the perfect time - I mean, if there's ever really a good time to jump out of a plane. Goskydive, which you can find here is well worth a look if you're looking to book in the UK, especially if you're diving in aid of charity like my bestie, Bethan is later this year. 

A roof down road trip If the roads in the US weren't so terrifyingly confusing and busy, we would have 100% done this by now. Something about driving down the open road with some great music on the radio is just everything I'm currently lusting after however there are so many cool places to stop along the way that it'd probably take us weeks to get from A to B.  As well as the US, Argentina and Australia are also popular destinations for road trips. 

Socialise with the locals If you've read my reasons why travelling is good for you or why I fell in love with Kos you'll know that the locals make up a huge chunk of why I love travelling. In Kos, we dined at the same family run Taverna a few times during our trip and what made it so special is how much the owner, Romeo, loved to chat and talk about his family and his business. He also pointed us in the direction of other amazing places to visit that we probably wouldn't have found otherwise. 

Live in luxury Many travellers are on a small budget which means we never get to experience the luxury of five star hotels and apartments, celebrated restaurants or expensive shopping destinations but even while on a budget it's nice to splurge at least once. One of my colleagues actually tends to do this for a few nights of a two week long trip. That way she saves money by not doing it for the entire trip but still gets to rest her head in some incredible places!

Mingling with wildlife Whether it’s whale watching, a safari amidst lions, rhinos and elephants or diving deep in the sea with sharks and other marine life, every traveller should experience getting up close and personal with other animals at least once! 

I love the thought of some of these things and as we speak I'm trying to fathom how to afford a luxury nights stay on a weekend trip to Paris. A girl cal dream right?


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

5 Positives For The Most Monday-Like Tuesday

5 Positives For The Most Monday-Like Tuesday
What a day. Though today has actually gone pretty quick, I still can't help but feel a little bit sad that the Easter bank holiday weekend is over. It's no longer acceptable to drink prosecco at 3pm or to scoff an entire Easter egg before dinner - We're back to reality until we're graced with another bank holiday and let's be honest, May 7th couldn't come soon enough. 

Truth be told, I'm actually writing this post after seeing countless people on Instagram describing today as the 'Mondayest Tuesday ever', myself included. So, instead of wallowing in self pity like I currently am, I thought I'd share some positives to pick me up out of my mood.

It's not Monday Despite today being the most Monday-like Tuesday there ever was, I'm actually quite grateful for the fact it's not Monday. It's hump-day tomorrow and then downhill to the weekend once more. I really can't complain about a four day week considering they come around once in a blue moon. 

I had a brilliant weekend Even though it went by so bloomin' fast, I had a brilliant weekend. I got to catch up with my family on Saturday and go out for cocktails with the ever-brilliant Jac that evenig. I relaxed so hard I almost forgot what it was like to do stuff and I also had a great roast at my in-laws. Not bad for a weekend - It's certainly more than I'd usually do. 

I'm making an effort offline After my post a few weeks back about making more of an effort offline, I'm really trying to put it into practice. My friend Alex and I are *trying* to get another catch-up in the diary and next week, I have my friend Chris staying on his way back up North after convincing him that a Whatsapp conversation simply wouldn't suffice. 

Our next Vegas trip is so close I seriously can't believe how quickly this trip is coming round. I think it's mostly because I've tried not to think about it too much but after my recent Vegas post I'm so ready to get on that airplane. Let's not forget how excited I am to hashtag #BAEcation. 

My other half booked Mallory Knox tickets Now this is something I'm ridiculously excited about. They're one of our favourite bands but somehow, we forgot to book tickets for their upcoming tour despite me mentioning them in my 2018 music post. We've not been to a gig together in ages so it'll be nice to get back into it, especially seeing a band we both love so much. 

I hope your day was great whether you were stuck in work or still enjoying a long weekend. Even after sharing these positives, I still couldn't find the motivation to go to the gym so I did an at-home kettlebell workout which didn't kill me off so there's a cheeky 6th positive. Let me know what positives you've got going on right now!


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

6 Things I'd Do If I Travelled To Marbella

6 Things I'd Do If I Travelled To Marbella
If you've read any of my previous travel posts, you'll know that my travel bucket list is quiet varied. I'm a lover of big cities, small beach towns and of course, everything in between. Surprisingly, until now, somewhere I've never considered is Marbella.

My hairdresser could talk about it from dawn until the sun goes down and though her stories of lavish cocktails and swish boat parties are ridiculously impressive – Now I know what my blow dry pays for – it hadn’t popped into my mind until now.

Since doing my research, I've actually realised that the Costa del Sol is more than just a hotspot for reality TV stars. While my wishlist of places to visit is quiet eclectic, I'm now certain that Marbella is definitely a destination that has plenty to offer and with that in Mind, I thought I'd share with you six things I'd do if I was ever lucky enough to travel there.

Travel with friends I mentioned back in my birthday post last year that some things are better when done with your friends. There's no doubt that the Marbella climate is perfect for not only recharging but also relaxing with sun, sea and friends. Though travelling with friends is great, I'd also like a little privacy. With a little look into Marbella apartments to rent, I don't think this would be too difficult. Plus, having a great place to stay is pretty solid foundation for any great trip.

Rent a car We've never actually rented a care while we've been a way but if we went to Marbella, I'd definitely consider it. With towns like Malaga, Torremolinos and Estepona so close by, it'd be a shame not to take advantage. I love going out and exploring when I'm away so this would be the perfect opportunity.

Visit the Old Quarter Marbella's Old Quarter would be an absolute essential for me. It's the exact kind of place I'd love to explore and would actually be the perfect location for a romantic evening stroll. I imagine the relaxed vibes and sheer beauty would provide hours of beauty for solo travellers, groups of friends or even just you and your partner. Also, I love the idea of trying some authentic Spanish cuisine which for me, would probably be a highlight of the trip.

La Concha I love getting out while we're away so hiking the area around La Concha seems right up my street. There's nothing quite like the simple joy of overcoming a physical challenge like climbing a mountain and if you follow my Instagram, you'll know that I'm trying to up my fitness game. I probably wouldn't be able to climb a mountain anytime soon but having seen the beauty of Marbella in countless photos, seeing the surroundings both in person and up high would be amazing.

Water Sports It's been so long since I've done any water sports but it's something that I absolutely love and it makes me think back to holidays with my family years ago. Jet skiing and paragliding are some of my faves but I think it'd give something like snorkelling a go for a change. Plus, I always feel so inspired seeing photos from under the see so it'd probably be the perfect time to invest in a new camera. I find sea life so fascinating so the opportunity to see if up close would be great!

Nightlife Let's not forget about nightlife! I'm all for relaxing in the sun and eating amazing food but since Marbellas nightlife is some of the best in Europe, I couldn't pass up the chance to give it a try - Especially if I was travelling with friends.

I hope this has given you some inspiration for booking a trip sometime soon. I'd love to know if you've been to Marbella and what your thoughts were.


Saturday, 24 March 2018

Successfully Attempting No Makeup, Makeup With L'Oreal

Successfully Attempting No Makeup, Makeup With L'Oreal
I'm on a journey to find the best no makeup, makeup. Don't get me wrong, I love full coverage foundation, falsies and a bold lip but sometimes it's nice to just let my skin breathe, especially in the warmer months. I'm aiming to nail this by the time I go America in July  which I know is a few months away but after my recent purchase from Glossier not being entirely as successful as I'd hoped, I decided I needed to continue my search. After the ever-fabulous Lydia Millen posted this photo on Instagram, I knew my next stop was L'Oreal. 

Now I'm a huge fan of L'Oreal when it comes to haircare and skincare but their base makeup  products haven't *always* worked so well with my skin. However since Lydia's skin looked so incredible and with my no makeup search still in full swing, I couldn't wait to give it a go. Their latest campaign is about finding great no makeup makeup - My goal exactly.

The first product into my basket was the Bonjour Nudista Skin Tint. Seeing the words 'Skin Tint' sent shivers down my spine after my experience with Glossier - my skin is still quite dry so I really didn't want this to have the same effect as the Glossier Skin Tint. Thankfully it didn't, this product  is so much creamier and worked a lot better for me.

I found that a little bit goes a long way and the best way to apply it is actually with a sponge. I did try and blend it out with my fingers but because it's a little thicker, I was leaving streaks and finger marks everywhere. When the product first goes onto my skin it's very noticeable which isn't what you'd expect but after a couple of minutes it sinks into the skin and leaves the nicest dewy glow. As the formula is a little thicker as I mentioned, I do feel the need to add a light dusting of powder or a setting spray over top but other than that, it works perfectly. It's a great contender for my holiday makeup bag. 

Next was a toss up between the Glow Mon Amour Highlighting Drops in Champagne and the La Vie En Glow Palette in Warm Glow. In the end, I went for the highlighting drops as currently, I don't have any in my collection. Also I figured they could be extremely versatile and I was right. They have the most gorgeous pearlescent glow without being glittery which is brilliant. They work lovely as a highlight over the skin tint and also mixed in before application. I do find the formula to be a bit oily so for me, one drop is enough. I also tried this over my current favourite foundation, Maybeline Superstay 24hr and it looked lovely and as with the tint, I also mixed it in before application and had no problems. I like the idea of using them on a bare face however my skin is quite red so I fear it may look a little odd.

Last into my basket and the biggest win of them all was the Life's A Peach blush. Not only does this blush smell like peaches but it's the most beautiful shade for spring and summer. It has a slight luminescence but it's not overpowering. It's super pigmented yet still buildable and blendable. Honestly, I can't see there being a makeup look that doesn't work with this blush - I think it's giving my Benefit Dandelion a run for it's money! The packaging also comes with a mirror and brush underneath so it would be great for touch ups on the go. 

Overall, these picks from L'Oreal are absolutely great. I've found a way to use them that works best for me and if you pick them up, I urge you to try them a few different ways and see how they work for you. Not everyone's experience will be the same.

What do you think of the No Makeup Makeup collection? Will you be picking anything up if you haven't already? I'd love to know your thoughts and experiences!



Tuesday, 20 March 2018

What To Eat, Drink + Do In Las Vegas

What to Eat Drink + Do in Las Vegas - Las Vegas Guide - ItsHollieAnn
If you didn't know already, my other half and I are heading back to Las Vegas in July to celebrate her birthday. Like our two trips before, once again I found myself researching, planning and writing post-it after post-it listing all of the food, drinks, shows and attractions that I want to check out. I compiled such a hefty list that I thought it was worth a share, not just of things that have come highly recommended but also things we've experienced first hand. 

I know that there are so many blog posts, websites and videos online dedicated to showing you the best things in the city but everyone's experience is different and the more recommendations the better. As a bit of background on us, we're not high rollers or fine diners, just two gals having fun in the best adult playground. 
Chin Chin, New York New York For Chinese & sushi. Hefty portions and deliciously spiced Chinese food. The Chili Beef was to die for and the Honey Shrimp balanced to perfection. One entree would be enough for two with a rice bowl or small side. 

Slice Of Vegas, Mandalay Bay For beer & pizza. Mouth watering pizza and extra strong cocktails. This place is a hidden gem and great value for money. The pizzas are definitely big enough to share and the locally brewed beers are great to sample. 

Bruxie, The Park For chicken & waffles. Allegedly the best chicken and waffle sandwich in town. It's definitely high on my list as a breakfast spot to visit when we're next in the city. The chicken is fresh and fried to order which is a bonus. 

Gordon Ramsay Burger, Planet Hollywood For burgers. These burgers are stacked higher than I ever imagined and are incredibly juicy. Everything is cooked to order and brought out fresh - No sitting under heat lamps. Seating is on a first come first served basis but for groups of 3 or more, see the host first as they may be able to offer a specific time to seat you. 

Strip House Steakhouse, Planet Hollywood For mouthwatering steak. The red decor and mood lighting seem like something out of a movie and the cuts are cooked and seasoned to perfection. The wine list is incredibly extensive but servers are more than happy to recommend. Pricey but worth every penny. 

Giordanos Pizza, Ballys For Pizza. After Victoria's Las Vegas vlog, I can't get this place out of my head. They offer Chicago style pizzas in the heart of Las Vegas and are famous for their Stuffed Deep Dish variety. 

House Of Blues, Mandalay Bay For breakfast. Always a great setting for bacon and eggs with excellent music and attentive staff. I'd love to try their world famous Gospel Brunch which offers an all you can eat breakfast and a gospel choir. Amazing. 

Carlos Bakery, The Venetian For your sweet tooth. Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro's bake shop offering an amazing selection of cookies, cakes, cannoli - You name it. Well worth a visit to take out and enjoy later.

Double Barrel Roadhouse, Monte Carlo For the all american vibe. Hands down my favourite place to eat in the entire city. Not only is the food to die for, the western-industrial vibe is right up my street. They have live music on weekends and sports showing through the week. 
Commonwealth, Downtown For a relaxing setting. Cocktail lounge with live music and a rooftop bar. The festoon lighting for me, is the ultimate relaxation factor. The design and architecture was inspired by the pre-Prohibition era and it has it's own text-to-access speakeasy. 

Mickey Finnz, Downtown For Happy Hour. This beach themed bar is a favourite of ours for it's fab mid-week happy hour offers. They also have live music most nights of the week and are in a prime location for people watching on Fremont Street. The outdoor seating is also a bonus. 

Air Bar, Stratosphere For cocktails. Air Bar offer some of the the strongest cocktails I've ever tried, 800ft in the air. You do have to pay entry to the Stratosphere Tower to visit but it's well worth it since you can walk freely between the bar and the observation deck above. You'll never have another cocktail with a view like this. 

Fat Tuesday/Chonga Bar For convenience. Fat Tuesday have several locations up and down the strip whilst Chonga Bar is just in the Luxor. Both offer generous sized refillable cups filled with alcohol and slush. My favourite is the Chonga Bar tequila and pink lemonade. Sounds peculiar but it's ridiculously refreshing. 

Chandelier Bar, Cosmopolitan For style. Think of it like going to bar inside a chandelier that spans over three floors that all offer different menus. 

Atomic, Downtown For history. Atomic is Las Vegas' oldest freestanding bar. In its heyday it was frequented by stars such as Barbara Streisand and Clint Eastwood, looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the strip. 

Voodoo Nightclub, Rio For views. An open air club on top of the Rio hotel offering great music and spectacular views over the strip. It was an experience like no other and was definitely a great way to spend a Monday evening. 

Foundation Room, Mandalay Bay For atmosphere. Foundation Room is primarily a members only club but non members can use the dining room and enter the lounge after 10pm which isn't so bad. As mentioned in my photo spots post, this place offers amazing views looking north up the strip, 63 stories high. 
High Roller, The Linq The worlds tallest observation wheel. Offers a mean happy *half* hour.

Stratosphere Observation tower complete with thrill rides, an observation deck and bar mentioned above. 

Mob Museum Museum of Organised Crime and Law Enforcement located in Downtown.

Slotzilla A zipline suspended above Fremont Street. Choose to sit (v uncomfortable) or fly like Superman!

Neon Museum Home to neon signs from old Las Vegas hotels and businesses. 

Big Apple Roller Coaster Themed like a New York taxi, wraps around NY,NY and is absolutely terrifying.

Bellagio Fountains An absolute must see and sometimes, a real tear-jerker. V impressive.

Valley Of Fire Stunning state park not far out of the city known for it's bright red sandstone.

Grand Canyon One of the Seven Wonders of the natural world and to this day, the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Whether you drive, fly or hike, you won't want to miss it.

Seven Magic Mountains Seven towers of colourfully stacked boulders part of a public art piece by Ugo Rondinone and on show until the end of 2018. To the best of my knowledge, you do have to drive out to them. 

Helicopter Strip Tour Las Vegas is helicopter central so why not take a sunset trip over the strip in style. Be sure to research companies and consider safety before booking. 

Pool Party The majority of hotels offer daytime pool parties and most seem to have an act on throughout whether it be an artist or DJ. Marquee at Cosmopolitan comes highly recommended. 
Penn & Teller As a big lover of magic, I was so excited to see Penn & Teller perform. The show was incredible, their involvement and relationship with the audience was great and they even stayed for a meet and greet after the show. Lovely. 

Zumanity An erotic, obviously adult focused, Cirque De Soleil show. It has rave reviews from absolutely everyone and I bet it'd be well worth the watch. 

Artist residency Seeing a singer/artist/performer is really down to personal preference. I've not been to one myself but I can tell you now, if Shania is ever back in town, I'm right there!
I once heard that Las Vegas is one of the best places to shop in the world. I don't know how true that is but there really is something for everyone. Grand Canal Shoppes is quite upscale along with The Shops at Crystals. The Forum at Caesars is a more traditional mall but still houses the likes of Gucci, Chloe and Cartier. Las Vegas North Premium Outlets is a world favourite for outlet shopping. Sign me up.

There you have it, my top recommendations for all things food, drink and fun in Las Vegas. If you have anything to add, be sure to leave it in the comments, I'd love to check out some new places when I'm back in town. 

Below, just for you, I've created a checklist of the best bits from these recommendations. As with the details above, I've not included hotels to visit or where to gamble as those are completely personal preference. There is, however, a whole host of food, drink and entertainment must-do's that you're welcome to Pin or save for later.

What to Eat Drink + Do in Las Vegas - Las Vegas Guide - ItsHollieAnn


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Making More Of An Effort Offline

Making More Of An Effort Offline
I met up with my friend Alex on Friday after not seeing him for almost a year. We'd planned to meet for drinks on on far too many occasions but in the end one of us would always fathom an excuse and bail. Over time, we'd drop each other Facebook messages, exchange likes on Instagram and reply to each others Snapchats but ultimately, when it came to meeting up in person, quite frankly, neither of us could be arsed. 

So on Friday, whilst sitting in the bar laughing and catching up, I got thinking about a Zoella Q&A I watched last week (Skip to 12:33). I thought, the reason neither of us could be arsed meeting up despite living no more than 10 miles apart was because we already felt like we'd caught up because of what we'd seen online. The more we chatted, I realised I already knew about his trips away over the past year and gigs he'd been to, he knew about my promotion and even who I had round for Christmas dinner. 

For almost a year, we'd managed to fool ourselves into thinking we were great at keeping in touch but as the cocktails kept coming, we started to realize that we'd been neglecting our friendship massively. 

Then, I started thinking back to my birthday on Tuesday. Some friends and family wrote on my Facebook to wish me well but as I read through each one liking them aimlessly, I noticed that there were some people that hadn't posted. I don't know what's worse. That they'd seen it was my birthday and chosen to ignore it or that they didn't know it was my birthday because they hadn't been on Facebook. Do you see what I mean?

Either way, it makes me a little sad that we rely so heavily on social media to inform us of these things - Myself included. I have no idea when my sister-in-laws birthday is and it's just occurred to my that I didn't even ask her about her trip to Dubai because I'd seen it plastered over her social media pages.  

I'm not naive,  I know full well we live in an online world that advances everyday and for the most part, it's great. I've made some amazing friendships online and managed to keep in touch with those who I can't see everyday. The thing is, I no-longer want social media perusing to be my poor excuse for communication. 

I'm not trying to imply that we should give up social media, quit posting online or stop communicating through the internet all together. What I'm saying is I don't want to scroll aimlessly not conversing, not engaging - I no longer want to sit back, make assumptions or just be damn right lazy. 

I don't want to feel like I'm catching up with someone when I haven't really seen or spoken to them. I want to more of an effort to meet up in person or even just pick up the phone. My friend Ben and I caught up over some tea and biscuits back in February - He's been to San Francisco with his boyfriend since and the most I've heard is the mini review he sent to my work email. I don't think I even replied - Why didn't I just call to ask how the trip was?

Also, I want to stop making assumptions - I don't want to assume who went for drinks with who or who's sleeping together purely based on what I see on social media. We've all done it and besides the odd Sherlock Holmes feeling, we mostly assume loads of shit and find out it wasn't true anyway. 

I know that this must seem very dramatic and slightly woe-is-me but after having such a good night with Alex, I kind of forgot what it's like to have fun and really connect with people, not just hope that someone replies to my Snapchat story to ask how my day was. 

What are your thoughts on online and offline communication? How do you keep a balance?

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