Monday, 10 December 2018

What To Eat, Drink + Do In Charleston

What To Eat Drink + Do in Charleston
Two months, countless laughs and a lifetime of memories later, I'm almost ready to head back home. Truthfully, I've been planning this post since the day I arrived in the states. Charleston is a city filled to the brim with so much to eat, drink and do. If you've ever heard of southern hospitality, Charleston is where you'll find it and I couldn't wait to compile an overview, much like Las Vegas before, to bring you recommendations of great places to tick off if you're ever here. The majority of these recommendations are Downtown but the odd few are a little further afield. This is my longest travel guide yet so grab a cup of tea and we'll get going.

Halls Chophouse, Downtown For steak. No matter who you talk to, everyone will ask 'Have you been to Halls yet?' It's a premier steak house serving up the bests cuts along with fresh seafood. Halls is a little on the pricier side of the spectrum but well worth a visit if you fancy treating yourself.

Stars, Downtown For brunch. Brunch at Stars is like no other. It's an all you can eat spread with $3 mimosas to accompany. Not only do they serve up pancakes and omelettes, you also have a choice of hot food, fruit, salads and cheeses along with sweet treats. It's best to book a table if you're hoping to go along as spaces fill up pretty fast. 

Hanks Seafood, Downtown For seafood. This award winning seafood restaurant is set in the French Quarter of Downtown. It's easy to see why tourists and locals love it since the atmosphere is grand, the service is fantastic and the food to die for.

Indaco, Downtown For Italian. The coziest Italian restaurant with community tables and an open kitchen serving wood fired pizzas and delicious pasta dishes. Their wine list is extensive but the staff are more than happy to assist you. In the summer you can dine on the patio in the heart of King Street. 

Snapper Jacks, Folly Beach For casual seafood. Strolling around Folly Beach, you'll be met with an abundance of seafood restaurants. They all have something special but Snapper Jacks was our restaurant of choice. We stat street side next to an open patio door and ate amazing calamari whilst sipping on mimosas. 

Saltwater Cowboys, Shem Creek For a light lunch. I say a light lunch because Saltwater Cowboys is somewhere you can find yourself spending hours drinking cocktails and taking in your surroundings. I opted for fish tacos and then spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun, drinking wine. Also, if you stop by in the summer, you can see dolphins swimming in the creek.

My Fathers Moustache, Mount Pleasant For a full English. I know what you're thinking, who wants to be in America and eat a full English? Well when you've been here over a month, you start to miss it. I didn't expect it to be so nice but it really hit the spot and made us all miss home a little less. 

Swig and Swine, West Ashley For BBQ. Swig and Swine came highly recommended by locals which meant it had to be good - It absolutely was. It was tough to choose what to have since their whole menu sounded amazing but I highly recommend stopping by.

DD Peckers, West Ashley For beer and wings. This is somewhere you'll either love or hate. It's a small wing shack just off Savannah Highway focused on sports but serving delicious wings and reasonably priced beer. If it's warm, I recommend sitting outside and watching a game while you eat.

Mellow Mushroom, Downtown, Tanger & Mount Pleasant For Pizza. Mellow Mushroom is a must if you're looking for great pizza. They're just the right balance of dough, cheese and toppings and if you're feeling extra peckish, their pretzel bites are a great appetizer. 

Home Team BBQ, Downtown, West Ashley & Sullivan's Island For BBQ. Not only is Home Team BBQ's BBQ food amazing, their mac and cheese was the best I've tasted since being here. It's well worth a visit and is totally my kind of vibe.
 
Pavilion, Downtown For the views. Pavilion rooftop bar offers 360 degree views of downtown Charleston. Though a little on the pricey side, it's well worth it just to sit and relax with friends after work, not to mention hang out by the pool in summer. 

Dig in the Park, Park Circle For beers with friends. Dig offers a beer garden laden with festoon lighting, the perfect spot to have drinks with friends on a Friday night. It sits on the main street in Park Circle which is a lovely setting in itself. Perfect for a beer or three.

Prohibition, Downtown For cocktails. Prohibition is a cozy, candle lit establishment offering three bars, live music and a cool patio hangout. It's worth noting before you have too many that their cocktails are pretty damn strong but absolutely worth it.

The Gin Joint, Downtown For Gin. Looking for the widest selection of gin you've every seen? Well look no further than The Gin Joint. This tiny bar is tucked away off East Bay Street and it the perfect spot for a quick tipple if you're ever in the area.

Uptown Social, Downtown For socialising. Exactly as it says on the tin, Uptown Social is the place to get social. Whether you're sitting downstairs watching football with friends, listening to live music upstairs or striking up new conversations on the rooftop, this place really has something for everyone. 

Stars, Downtown For rooftop cocktails. Can you tell I like rooftops? Well, as well as brunch, Stars has a great rooftop terrace which is an absolute must, day or night. The cocktail list has something for everyone and they even serve up house frosé. 

Henry's On The Market, Downtown For relaxing. You may not think Henry's is relaxing since it always looks busy but if you take the stairs up to the second floor, you'll see a sign for a Whiskey Bar. In here you'll find a spirit stocked bar, comfortable sofas and even a fire place to relax in front of. A hidden gem, well worth the visit. 

Napa, Mount Pleasant For happy hour wine. Everybody loves happy hour and Napa is a great one to head to if you're a wine drinker. Beer is $4, wine is $5, cocktails are $6 and food is $7. It's only available in the bar or patio so make sure you call ahead if you're hoping to get in. 

Mynt, Downtown For dancing. If you want to dance your Saturday night away, Mynt is a good place to start. It's a small bar but it offers reasonably priced drinks, a dance-floor and outdoor patio. If you're looking for somewhere closer to King Street, Ink and Ivy is also a good option if you've got your dancing shoes on.

Mex 1, West Ashley & Sullivan's Island For margaritas. I LOVE margaritas and Mex 1's are to die for. We stopped off at the West Ashley location one Friday night to find live music, a great atmosphere and a variety of different margaritas. They'll knock your socks off but the hangover is worth it.
Boone Hall Plantation An interesting place to spend the afternoon if you want to learn more about the history of Charleston and the plantation. Also, if you're a fan of The Notebook, it's the house Ally's family live in over the summer. 

Ball Game Whether it's football, basketball or baseball, a ball game is a must whenever you're in America. We managed to catch a Citadel game and though it was a college game, it didn't disappoint. We bought our tickets on the door for about $30. 

Rainbow Row & Pineapple Fountain A must see when you're in Charleston. A section of East Bay Street lined with the most adorable pastel coloured houses and the famous pineapple fountain. Both great for photo opportunities. 

Downtown Though you may stay, eat and drink downtown, it's nice to have a walk around every now and then. There's cobbled side streets everywhere and the houses are absolutely beautiful - Almost everywhere you turn looks like a movie set.

Ravenel Bridge If it's a sunny day, everyone will recommend you walk the Ravenel bridge. The weather hasn't been kind enough to allow us to do it but everyone's says it's a must as you get the best views of the river, across to downtown. 

Second Sunday Every second Sunday, vendors on King Street bring everything outside for a day of food, wine and shopping. 

Beaches Can you visit Charleston and not go to a beach? I think not. Every beach is situated within a little beach town so whether you choose Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island or Folly Beach (my personal favourite) you're sure to be in for great time. 
If  shopping is more your cup of tea, I'd highly recommend heading to Tanger Outlets for discounted designers like Coach, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger or equally, spend a day on King Street and shop until you drop with everything from Sephora to Louis Vuitton. If you're willing to head further afield, Towne Center in Mount Pleasant is a lovely day out featuring Ulta, Bed Bath and Beyond and Victoria Secret. 


Well there you have it, my top recommendations of what to eat, drink and do if you're ever in Charleston. It really is an amazing city filled with so much history and I'd honestly recommend everyone to visit at least once. I realise this post is super extensive but I've been fortunate enough to explore for the past two months so I wanted to share everything I'd recommend. 


What To Eat, Drink + Do In Charleston

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Week One in Charleston + What's On My To-Do List

Week One in Charleston + What's On My To-Do List
I honestly can't believe I've already been in Charleston for a week. 

If you haven't had the misfortune of being bombarded by my Instagram snaps or read my last blog post, you may not be aware that I'm currently in Charleston, South Carolina, travelling with work for two months. I can't believe that it's been just one week since my partner dropped me off at Manchester Airport and now I'm in a city surrounded by palm trees and glorious sunshine - For the most part.

So how's it going so far? In short, bloomin' brilliant. The past week has been filled with everything from dinners with friends and colleagues, nights out downtown, the most beautiful beach trip and of course, working hard in the office day to day. I've finally conquered my fear of driving in the states, tried my first side order of mac and cheese and probably consumed more Pinot Grigio than I ever thought possible. On the flipside, of course it's been hard being away from my partner, family and friends back home but I'm still fueled on the adrenaline of being somewhere new, forming a new routine and really feeling like I'm utilising my time here, both in work and out. 

At the risk of sounding corny, I always knew I'd love Charleston. Besides the nights my friends and I sat teary-eyed watching The Notebook, the city has always been on my radar and so far it hasn't disappointed. The people are among the most welcoming I've ever met - Southern hospitality is the real deal - the scenery is stunning and the history of the holy city really is fascinating and something I'm eager to learn more about in the coming weeks. 

I really want to share all of the things I've been up to including food, drink and to-do recommendations like I have in the past but at the moment it feels so strange not trying to condense everything into a seven-day trip because, after all, I have seven more weeks here. Instead, to start off, I thought I'd break down what is at the top of my to do list in a couple of different categories. I won't go into detail because that'll come in a future post but for now, I'd love for you to get an idea of what we'll be up to and of course, your recommendations are always welcome! 
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beaches 

Folly Beach
Sullivan's Island
Shem Creek
Isle of Palms

restaurants 

Halls
Dig In The Park
Home Team BBQ
The Glass Onion
Swig and Swine
Hanks Seafood
Snapper Jacks
Incaco
Chilis 

bars 

Charleston Sports Bar
The Pavillion
Uptown Social
Ink and Ivy
Mynt
Prohibition
King Street Pub

misc

Boone Hall Plantation
Magnolia Plantation
2nd Sunday
Festival of Lights
The Battery
Rainbow Row
Pineapple Fountain
Angel Oak
Gospel Brunch
Ball Game
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If you have any recommendations, be sure to let me know!

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Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Next Two Months

The Next Two Months
Wow, one week into October already. Isn't this year absolutely flying? I wanted to come on and just let you in on a little.. I don't want to say update.. A bit of news? Yeah, that works. I shared the 'news' on my Instagram yesterday but truthfully, I didn't know how to share it on my blog without it being a bit boring but hey ho, here I am. 

The 'announcement', 'news', 'update' if you will is that in two weeks, I'll be flying out to Charleston, SC to spend some time in our US office until Christmas. I'm nervous and excited all at once and honestly, it really hasn't sunk in yet.

After having initial talks about it in August, it was something I'd forgotten about until a meeting on Wednesday. Fast forward to now and even as I type, I'm trying to make a list of things to pack and things I need to buy beforehand. 

I'm of course going to work on some posts while I'm out there but since I don't know what my weeks will look like or have an idea of what I'll be up to, I don't know what my content will be. My Instagram will no doubt be kept up to date with pastel buildings, copious amounts of wine and documented moments of me failing to drive on the other side of the road so at the moment, I'd say that's probably the best platform to find me on. 

That's about all I wanted to say on the matter so have a wonderful afternoon, I'm off to make another cup of tea and then colour code my packing spreadsheet. Adult life. 
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If you have any tips for packing for long trips, across seasons, PLEASE send them my way. Also, any recommendation for Charleston or any of the surrounding cities or states are more than welcome! 

A few months ago I wrote about selling your skills and honestly believe I wouldn't have been given this opportunity without applying the tips I talked about in that post. 

SHOP THE POST

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Thursday, 27 September 2018

6 Great Bars You Have To Visit In Leeds

6 Great Bars You Have To Visit In Leeds
It's no secret that I love Leeds. Whether it's for festivals, visiting friends or just a weekend getaway, over the years, it's quickly become one of my favourite places to visit. There's a whole host of articles online detailing the best places to go for drinks when in town including one of my own but since that's a bit outdated, I wanted to revisit it and tell you more about them along with some new discoveries. 

the liquorist + 7 greek street social

Where: 5-7 Greet Street

The Liquorist has been a firm favourite of mine since my first trip to Leeds. It serves delicious cocktails in an upscale lounge setting. On weekends you'll hear the saxophonist making their way around the bar as you catch up by candle light and in the summer you can sit out on Greek Street and enjoy the sunshine. If dancing is more your thing, head downstairs to Greek Street Social. Accessible only via The Liquorist, Greek Street Social brands itself as the best kept secrets in Leeds and honestly, it's well worth the visit.

headrow house 

Where: 19 The Headrow

In a previous travel post I mentioned why social media can come in handy when travelling - This is the perfect example of that. Earlier this year I asked on social media if anyone had any recommendations of great bars in Leeds, preferably with a rooftop, that I could head to for a few chill beers with friends - Joe came straight to the rescue with this gem. This is hands down a place I'll return to over and over because not only does it have the great rooftop that I was after, it also has a beer hall downstairs and a restaurant which serves the BEST brunch. To me, it's a 'something for everyone' type place and though we'd planned on moving to another bar, I couldn't find a good enough reason to leave. Definitely a spot to hit up.

be at one

Where: Millennium Square + 19 Boar Lane

Be At One now has two locations in Leeds and both are equally great. They have an extensive cocktail menu and happy hours every day of the week. The original location is set just off Millennium Square which is perfect for sitting outside in the summer and exploring everything else the Electric Press has to offer. The second location down on Boar Lane is closer to the likes of Call Lane and is the perfect place to start your evening if you're planning on being out until the wee hours. 

roxy ball room

Where: 58 Boar Lane

When I first set foot in Roxy Ball Room, I couldn't believe I hadn't been there sooner. It's got the most chilled yet fun vibe and ballgames include pool, golf, ping-pong and of course, beer-pong. We headed here one Friday evening for pre-drinks and had the best few hours failing miserably at ping-pong while sinking more pints than I'd care to count. Such a laugh, great for hanging out with a group of friends or even a date.

belgrave music hall + canteen

Where: Cross Belgrave Street

If you hadn't guessed already, I'm a lover of a rooftop bar and Belgrave Music Hall isn't one to be ignored. Serving a whole host of different beers, this place is full of great vibes, great people and great music. It also includes a cinema on the middle floor and a mouthwatering pizzeria to the front. Like Headrow House, I could spend hours here and highly recommend it as one to visit - Especially in the summer. 

the maven

Where: 1 Call Lane

Sitting in an old Victorian building in the heart of Leeds nightlife is the effortlessly cool cocktail bar, The Maven. Everyone I know rates this place in some form and it's easy to see why - The cocktails are mixed to perfection and the Mediterranean restaurant upstairs comes recommended second to none.


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I absolutely love finding great bars and restaurants when I travel to different cities. If you've been to Leeds I'd love to hear your recommendations. Above is a map of my six picks along with some extras in case you fancy something different.


6 Great Bars You Have To Visit In Leeds

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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Why Getting Away Helps Me Reset

Why Getting Away Helps Me Reset
Last week I took some time off. I had five glorious days of annual leave with not a plan in my diary. I'd given some thought to cleaning my house, finally putting up some IKEA furniture and going on THAT country walk I've been meaning to take for weeks but as Monday drew to a close, I knew that it wasn't enough. 

You see, life has this funny way of hurtling things our way. It's inevitable and whether that be work projects, health issues or even just a day of bad weather, when I feel like things are getting too much, I like to take time to reset and relax. 

Of course, relaxation comes in many forms whether it be a bubble bath or a chilled glass of Pinot but since I had the days already free from work, I decided to getaway for a little while. For me, that's always been when true relaxation sets in and here's why.

change of scenery

Over the years when I've planned a quick getaway for some much needed head-space, before I've even unpacked my bags, the change of scenery alone has given me that sense of calm. Whether it's somewhere I'm familiar with or somewhere entirely new, when I open the curtains and see something other than my neighbour shouting at her children, I'm happy that I've taken the time to venture elsewhere - Even if it's just a few miles away.

change of routine

A few years ago, had the option to throw my routine in the air arisen, I would have laughed and responded with 'Absolutely not'. These days however, I'm thrilled at the prospect. Though I'm a lover of doing things my way, when I have no evening plans, my weekdays are a cycle of work, cooking dinner and sleeping with the occasional gym visit thrown in for good measure. Heading somewhere different allows me to leave that creature of habit in me at home and wake up some morning not knowing how the day will turn out. 

fresh conversations

I absolutely adore the people I share my day to day life with and nothing gives me more joy than spending time with them gossiping and conversing about our lives. Whilst I wouldn't change them for the world, there's something about heading somewhere new that springs an excitement in me for new conversations. Whether it's meeting new people or catching up with old friends, it's a chance to discuss a different topic, share new opinions and sometimes enlighten one another with the unknown. I honestly find it so fresh and relaxing to start a new conversation once in a while. 

inspiration

Being in different surroundings automatically floods my mind with inspiration. It could be something I've seen or heard but I can almost guarantee that I'll leave with a host of ideas  and thoughts under my belt. Last week was a chance for me to catch up with family who've each been doing their own amazing things since the last time we spoke - Some have finished degrees while others have been raising babies and no matter what the scenario, it's always a chance for me to draw inspiration and think about what I want to be doing in life.

reflection

For me, the most important thing about getting away is having time to reflect. Having those moments away from my normal life to clear my mind and think about what I want to do next. After some bad news the week prior, last week was a chance for my partner and I to reflect on the things we're so lucky to have at home and be grateful for what we're able to do.
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What steps do you take to help reset yourself when things are getting a little too much? Getaways have always been my favourite but I'd love to hear your stories.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

What's Next for ItsHollieAnn.com?

What's Next for ItsHollieAnn.com
Over the past month, I've had a lot of time to reflect. It's been a busy one but I've caught up with old friends, hung out with new ones, explored ways to further my career and delved into topics from my past, that I can finally put to bed. Somewhere between having a great summer and thinking about all of these different things, it occurred to me that it had been a while since I thought about what I wanted for my blog.

I started this blog in 2016, the spring after we bought our house. It was a place where I could share photos and talk about things that, quite frankly, my other half was tired of hearing. In the beginning, I never thought much about it - Like most people, I didn't expect anyone to see it, let alone have people who actually read it and engage. For me, it's still absolutely incredible.

Since the joining online world my blog has turned from a side hobby that, truthfully, I forgot about more than I remembered into something I'm really proud of. In a sense, it's grown with me and so, naturally, the things I want to talk about differ somewhat from those early posts and the diary style content I used to enjoy writing. 

So what's next?

Well first things first, I've cleared up my categories. It's not a major change but it's going to help me label posts better and you to navigate them easier. Of course, the three main categories will still be Beauty, Travel and Lifestyle but within those, you'll find posts more defined but not so much that they're buried away. 

The Beauty category is broken down into Hair, Skincare and Makeup. Travel is now split into Beach Escape, City Break and Travel Tips and Lifestyle is divided into Advice, Career, Reflection and Relationships. 

I finalised these just yesterday but I'm already excited and inspired to create content for ItsHollieAnn.com that finally fits somewhere I'm happy with - Not between 26 categories, 13 of which I don't use.

I want to take ItsHollieAnn in the direction of being helpful and informative as well as being somewhere I can share my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. I want to be able to talk about everything from great skincare finds to enhancing your career right the way through to dating and relationships - Something I've not delved into before.

As far as changing name and theme, I'm going to keep things as they are. ItsHollieAnn.com is appropriately named because that's exactly what it is. It's me. With regards to the theme, for now I'm happy but in the near future, I want to opt for something easy to navigate and even more user friendly. 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you're as excited as I am x 

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Sunday, 19 August 2018

Dear Past Loves

Dear Past Loves
After reading Caroline Flack's feature in August Cosmopolitan, I was so inspired and thought it was about time I wrote open letters detailing the loves I've found, lessons I've learnt and experiences I've had along the way.

Dear First Crush Weren't you just the sweetest. I'm pretty sure we'd never spoken before but between classes one day, you caught my eye and I spent my whole science lesson talking about you. Fast forward a few weeks and in true twelve-year-old style, my friend asked your friend if you'd go out with me. The summer holiday soon followed and we spent almost everyday hanging out with friends and rope swinging into the river. When my parents told me we were heading to Devon for a couple of days, I was devastated at the thought of leaving you for a weekend with just £5 credit left on my phone. We dated for a couple of months afterwards until some kids in school thought they'd interfere. They teased us for dating each other just because they could and eventually it ended when people deliberately told us that the other wanted to break up. Neither of us knew that it was a lie they'd made up and despite me hoping we'd remain friends afterwards, you never said another word to me. I still think you thought it was me that wanted to end things, not just mean kids who stepped in between us. It was fairly dramatic considering we were so young but it's so nice to see that you're happy now we've grown up and I certainly learnt about kids I didn't want to associate with.

Dear Not So Nice A classic case of someone I hope to never see again. You made me feel absolutely terrible on a daily basis. You were 18, working and rented your own place, I was 16, sitting my GCSE's with just my pocket money to fund the 60 minute bus ride to you. You constantly compared me to other girls you knew and made me feel bad for leaving on your day off because I had an exam to sit. You never showed compassion or empathy towards me but if I were to say one thing 'out of line', you'd ghost me for weeks. Looking back, I don't quite know how or why I even continued to date you but back then, I guess having a boyfriend was cool and crying myself to sleep at night seemed normal. I've never been happier than the day I finally plucked up the courage to tell you I never wanted to see you again and though your little chuckle down the phone suggested you thought I would be back one day, I'm so glad to say that I never was. 

Dear Ready For A Baby We met bizarrely through a bartender I'd gotten to know after far too many midweek wines.  My friend and I had planned on walking home but it started raining and you offered to give us a lift. Before I knew it, you'd asked the bartender for my number and it wasn't long before we were heading out on dates and spending weekends away. You were older than me though it never really felt like it and for the first time, in my life, I felt like I was in a real relationship. It was all so grown up, having dinner with your family and deciding which car to take out for a day in the countryside. At one point I really did see us going somewhere but after having 'the chat' a few months in, you told me that you were ready for a baby. I could completely see your perspective but at 18, it wasn't something I was ready or prepared to do for the sake of saving a relationship. After things ended I bumped into you in a club and though I was happy to see you, you weren't so pleased to see me - Being engaged and now a Dad suggested to me that you were in a good place but it still didn't stop you giving me hell for not wanting to start a family just to make you happy. Though I could see a future with you at the time, I'm happy that I walked away. 

Dear Older Guy We met in a bar one Tuesday night and though your friend wasn't shy about hitting on me, you and I hit it off right away. I was working as an admin apprentice and you were a pathologist 10 years older. On paper, you had it all worked out but the reality was so much different. A constant stream of nights out and ex-girlfriend drama coupled with an unhealthy drug habit meant that it was never going to work between us but nevertheless we had fun and hung out for a few months. Just when I thought it was a waste of time, I learnt some valuable things from you - The biggest? How much I didn't want my life to pan out like yours. I'd never really thought of it until then but it was almost as if I'd learnt what not to do in life. I swore that at 30 I wouldn't be doing anything nearly as stupid as you but as far as I know, you're almost back on track. It's a long, hard road but I really hope you keep going.

Dear Never Going To Work Where do I begin with you? I honestly think I could write a novel. We met online, through mutual friends when I was 15, you were 17. You were the coolest guy I'd ever hung out with and though we were never officially dating, we saw each other almost every weekend. I quickly started liking the same music as you and bought my first leather jacket because you told me it would look good. Despite me thinking we could make it work, you always told me we couldn't be together - You thought I was too young and soon enough it came to an end. I was hung up on you for years and truthfully, you effected every relationship I had afterwards. Whenever you'd creep into my inbox, I'd jump at the chance to chat, hoping there was something there but you were quickly engaged to a woman 20 years older and married a year or so later. A few years ago, despite receiving numerous emails claiming you'd made a mistake, I was in a happily committed relationship and so I swore I'd never speak to you again - Realistically after the ups, downs and heartache of it all, I just didn't need or want to hear it 6 years too late. In June this year, after hearing you were going through a tough time, I was mature and wanted to be there for you after initially having reservations. I never let my feelings for you come back but you did. From then on it became clear that we could never form any kind of relationship. 
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From the moment I read Caroline's article I was inspired to explore the past loves of my own and the things each one of them have taught me. If you have 5 minutes, be sure to read her letters. I'd love to know if you recreate this post!
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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Why I Feel Like I Should Do More

Why I Feel Like I Should Do More
As millennials, we want to be busy. Rather, we want to appear busy to those on the receiving end of our Snapchats and those navigating our Instagram grids. We want to give the impression that our work life is hectic yet fulfilling and that our social calendars are thriving with midweek cocktails and weekend stay-cations. But what's the reality?

Of course, it's different for anyone but in my life my midweek mostly sees me getting home from work, making dinner with my other half and no doubt watching too many shows on Nat Geo. Occasionally I'll head the gym and once in a blue moon I'll head out for a midweek pint. Weekends are very much go with the flow and it's rare that we'll make plans in case opting to watch Toy Story with cheese and crackers seems more appealing. I live a pretty chill life and honestly, I have no complaints. 

Sure, everyone's life is different. Everyone has different hobbies/interests/commitments but sometimes, when my other half and I snuggle on the sofa, I can't help but feel like I should be doing something productive rather than bingeing through episodes of KUWTK. 

Don't get me wrong, I know that we only show our 'best bits' on social media and of course I'm going to see someone cooking dinner from scratch rather than ordering from Perfect Pizza after a shit day at the office but it doesn't take away that I, myself, am starting to feel obliged to be 'more busy'. 

There's of course two ends to the spectrum, the 'live each day like it's your last' and the 'screw it, I wanna Netflix and chill' but is there room to sit in the middle of that spectrum considering it's inevitably becoming 'cool' to be one or the other?

I wish I had an answer but truthfully, I don't. 

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Monday, 13 August 2018

5 Points To Consider When Selling Your Skills

5 Points To Consider When Selling Your Skills
I don't know about you but the idea of having to sell myself terrifies me. Picture this, you're applying for a job that you know you're more than perfect for. Your skills match the description and your experience is second to none. Your personality fits the bill and though your potential boss has already read your CV, they want more - You need to sell yourself. Similarly in the blogging world, whether you want to pitch to a brand or another creator for a collaboration, your work can speak volumes but you need to go that extra mile - Again, you need to sell yourself. 

In theory it sounds easy but truthfully, it takes more than just a list of things you're good at. Couple that with the fact that us humans are hardwired to disagree with anything positive about us and we ourselves in a bit of a pickle. Having had to attempt to sell myself for various reasons over the past few months, I wanted to share the hints and tips I've taken into account. 

Be confident in your work You know yourself better than anyone so when talking about yourself, be confident in what you're saying. You want to tell whoever it may concern, why you're the best person for the job whether it's a promotion at work or a collaboration campaign. Using a phrase like 'I know I am..' is far more powerful than 'I think I am..'. As I mentioned, you know yourself and your work better than anyone else so only you can make judgement on your full potential.

Use a mix of examples Whether you're putting pen to paper, key to email or even face to face, you want to be armed with a range of examples. Previous work is key to showing what you've already accomplished but also noting your goals if you were to take on the project, shows initiative and forward thinking. Also, don't forget to utilise your skill set and show how they relate to what it is you'll be doing. 

Stay on point In my opinion, it's better to be short and impactful rather than detailing a 342 page novel. In the same way that your CV 'should' be on one page, when pitching to a brand or a potential employer, you want to keep them engaged while getting across everything you want to say. When discussing a new project at work I made a long list of everything I wanted to include, starred the most important and then worked everything into about 4 paragraphs with a summary at the end. I made sure there was no scroll bar on the email so that the recipient could have every word right in front of her without the need to start taking notes because it ran on too long.

Remind yourself why you're doing it If you're struggling to come up with reasons why you're the right fit, sit back and ask yourself if it's something you should be doing. Even if the flow doesn't come to you at first, if it's still not there when you come back to it a few days later, evaluate if it really is the best move for you. Going back to being confident, you want to be in it for the right reason  and that reason is, because you're the best person for the job. 

Don't be afraid of knock-backs What I try to keep in mind throughout processes like this is what's the worst that could happen? Sure, you apply for a promotion but someone beat you to it, it's probably  because they were a better fit the job. Similarly, when pitching to brands, if it doesn't work out, I know that at that moment I'm not right for it but next time I might be. It's difficult being rejected when you know you meet the criteria but more often than not, it's nothing personal, someone else was better suited and sometimes, that's a blessing in disguise. 

How do you deal with selling yourself or your skills whether it's for a job or within the blogging industry? Tips are always welcome!

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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Summer Glow Beauty Essentials

Summer Glow Beauty + Skincare Essentials
I'm all about that summer glow. I want to look good but natural and have myself wondering 'Wow, do I really look that fresh?' every time I look in the mirror. It's been an uphill struggle for me to find exactly what works for me but as I've mentioned time and time again, I'm committed to adding staples that I truly love to my regime to keep myself looking good as often as I can. 

When it comes to summer beauty, it's been hard for me to find the balance. Of course, I want to keep my face and body as fresh as possible and I also want to look nice without having makeup melting off my face. One thing's for sure, since we've been graced with the glorious (and sometimes ridiculous) British summer time, gone are the days of heavy moisturiser and full coverage foundation, I'm finally allowing my skin to breathe but still look as healthy as it can. 

Before I went to Las Vegas, I reflected on a similar post I wrote last year and how my wants and needs have changed. My want isn't only for great makeup but for great skin to go underneath so this year I've switched it up and tested a few different products that have really hit the spot so much so, they're now essential to my daily regime. 

Dew The Hoola, Benefit Before we start breaking old habits, you should know that this is still a huge part of my summer makeup bag. It's brilliant for makeup and no makeup days and I don't I'll ever get tired of how effortlessly it blends into my skin. It adds the perfect flush of colour without the need to sit out in the sun or use fake tan. I'll definitely be using this right through to Autumn. 

Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, REN Clean Skincare* If you've been following my skincare trials and tribulations, you'll know that exfoliating tonics have been a recent addition to my regime. I've been using this one from REN every evening and a few mornings and I can only scream about how it makes such a difference to my complexion. I often suffer from sensitive skin but I don't find any red patches after using this and don't experience any stinging during application. My makeup has applied so much smoother since using this and I can't wait to see what more it can do.

Instant Tan Finishing Gloss, St Tropez Fake tan maintenance has never been my thing, especially in the summer months, so this has been the perfect alternative. I caught the sun a little while I was away so adding this to my chest, shoulders and arms before heading out has been a great way to keep my skin looking dewy while adding a no fuss tint. It goes without saying that you need to wash it off of an evening to avoid the inevitable stained sheet fiasco but it's nothing a quick rinse can't  help with. 

AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum, REN Clean Skincare* Another product that has really changed the game for me is this body serum. It's a lotion consistency, smells absolutely incredible and I can't believe how light yet moisturising it is on my skin. Miraculously it makes my skin tone look more even and, like the tonic, I find it's kind to my sensitive skin which is bloomin' brilliant if you ask me. 

Glow Mon Amour Highlighting Drops, L'Oreal No summer makeup bag is complete without some highlighting drops. I mentioned these back in my L'Oreal No Makeup post and I still stand by the fact they're so versatile and that they still work wonderfully on my skin. Since the weather has been warmer I've been using them on their own or adding a very small drop to some CC cream before application. I didn't realise before but wow, when the sun hits them, they really shine. Such a good staple, highly recommend. 

The Beach Wave Mist, L'Oreal Although it's not strictly beauty, I'm mentioning this because it's been one of my favourite hair essentials to use over the past few months. In my post about styling short hair I touched on how this is one of the finest salt sprays I've tried and every time I use it, I'm fascinated by how it does such a great job without making my hair feel crap and crispy. It's such a lovely addition to my hair care routine and I actually get excited to use it whenever I feel like styling my hair.

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I'd love to know what your favourite glow-to (yes, you read me right) products are for the summer season. Do you switch up your regime at all? What products do you swear by? 


Products marked with an * are PR samples. This post may contain affiliate links.
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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A Little Catch Up + Reflection

A Little Reflection + Catch Up
I'm not one for catch up/life update posts. I love reading them from fellow bloggers but when referring to myself, I've always wondered if they're something I really need to write. I actually have a draft sitting on my dashboard titled 'Should I Be Writing Catch Up Posts?' - Two weeks ago I would have shrugged and said 'Probably not' but when I had the sudden urge to write today, it seemed like a good place to start. 

So what've I been up to? In short, not a whole lot. 

It's been about three weeks since my last post and whilst I was super happy with it, it kind of left me in a bit of a flump. I was somewhere between working on my NVQ and holiday mode and though throughout that phase I'd planned on writing a few travel bits before I went away, I just felt bored by the idea. 

Stay with me. 

I love travel content, both creating and consuming, but there are so many posts out there talking about what to take in a carry on or airport routines etc that I just couldn't help but think how shit my version would be. Now, I'm in no way putting myself down but listing how I check in, ransack duty free and grab an obligatory airport pint, doesn't exactly make for great reading and I'm kind of at a stage where I want my content to be entertaining and useful, not just punched out because of an occasion/event. I feel similarly about posting my own Christmas content - Whilst I love reading through other bloggers Christmas dinner prep, I don't want to feel obliged to share my version containing an unhelpful tutorial on how to wrap presents, drink prosecco and let someone else do the cooking. You feel me? 

In terms of what is actually new, on Monday my other half and I returned from the Las Vegas trip I booked for her birthday. It was bloody fantastic and so unlike the two trips we'd taken there previously. We spent the week relaxing, drinking cocktails and eating some amazing food. We dabbled in a little gambling, hit the jackpot and fulfilled our Vegas dreams of hanging out in a  cabana all day. The week went fast and slow all at once and though I'm sad to be home, I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine.

On Monday I posted a photo on Instagram and the caption was something I've been wanting to mention for some time. I touched on how people comment that we visit Las Vegas so often however when someone revisits the same beach destination - Like my parents with Cyprus - No one bats and eyelid.. Very annoying and I can't understand the mentality of caring what other people are doing. I don't think it helps that Las Vegas has such a stigma attached to it but it's the kind of thing where just because it's not your thing, don't judge me or anyone else for liking it.

Moving on, I'm heading back to work tomorrow after basically two weeks off and I'm so excited to see my pals and catch up on what I've missed. Today I've got one more load of washing to do before heading into town to bank the dollars I managed to change back. Later on I'm heading out for food and a couple of drinks with a good friend but before that, I plan on updating my Las Vegas post with my recommendations from this trip - If that's your thing, make sure you take a look.
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See, I envisioned this post being longer but really, that's all I had to fill you in on. How do you feel about catch up posts? Should they be long, short or just whatever floats the writers boat? I'm so torn.

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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Styling Short Hair with L'Oreal Stylista

Styling Short Hair with L'Oreal Stylista
Believe it or not, I'm a hair care junkie. I've been around the aisles more times than I'd care to count, trying to find the best - and sometimes worst - products to tame my locks. I'd nailed a pretty good combination of shampoos and serums until very recently when I tried something new to me, the blunt bob. 

Whilst I've kept my shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo staples the same, after the first chop, I ran into a bit of difficulty styling my new do. My hair sways more towards the straight and fine end of the spectrum so creating volume and texture was something I struggled with. The L'Oreal Fibrology Air range that I've used since January gave me a great head start but ultimately my dreams of creating that messy 'I woke up like this' look seemed a little hazy.

I rummaged through my hair drawer pulling everything that claimed it added 'texture', 'grip' and 'volume' but no matter what I tried, every product left my hair feeling pretty rank and like it needed washing the next day which, hello, I'm not a fan of. Naturally, L'Oreal's latest styling range had started cropping in both vlogs and on Instagram so, being the L'Oreal lover I am, I decided to give it a go.

The first product I test drove was The Big Hair Hairspray. I've always been a huge fan of light yet strong hairspray, especially ones with flexible hold, so this sounded right up my street. I'm happy to confirm that not only does it smell delightful but it does a bloody magnificent job of holding my hair while still giving me the chance to run my fingers through it if I need to. Up to now, I've not had any problems restyling the next day and if anything, it adds just enough texture to almost rework what you've done prior - Something I've always found incredibly helpful. After using it for over a month, it's undeniably a product I wouldn't be without, so much so that I actually fancy purchasing 20 cans to last me through the foreseeable future.

Since my #hairgoals mostly consisted of volumised beach waves, the second product I reached for was The Beach Wave Mist. I have to say, this is one of the finest salt sprays I've tried which basically means it doesn't leave your hair feeling gritty and horrid. It does, however, mean that you need to use just that little bit extra to achieve that really tousled beach look but that's a small price to pay so I'm all about it. 

According to the internet - though not always a reliable source - I found that the perfect way to get that 'I just rolled out of bed' look was to use some form of styling clay or putty. Since the one at the back of my hair drawer had well and truly dried up, I opted for The Pixie Cream which is a short hair styling wax. My hair probably isn't the desired length for a product like this but it comes in surprisingly useful for just picking out sections to give that extra 'I didn't brush my hair today' oomph. It's worth noting that I don't use this whilst my hair is straight because frankly it doesn't do an awful lot but with nice waved style, it adds the perfect finishing touch.

The most recent addition to my stash and one that I know I'll use a lot whilst I'm away is The Braid Milk. I was skeptical about this product at first after it claimed to 'Create grip' for none slip braids - I thought that was just a fancy way of saying it was going to make my hair  awfully sticky but, plot twist, that's definitely not the case. I'm not sure how it does it but this deliciously coconut scented cream some how just gives your hair a little.. something. It isn't sticky but smooths any stray hairs whilst still allowing a comb to run through with ease. It's going to be brilliant for my hair over the summer since braiding it is currently near impossible and though I initially thought it could be a little gimmicky, actually seems to work.

A post shared by Hollie Ann (@itshollieann_) on

After initially thinking cutting my hair was a huge mistake despite the lesser hair admin appeal, I'm now so happy that these products have made the whole job that little bit easier. Potentially, if my hair had a natural wave and lift it wouldn't be so challenging but having fine, straight hair really does suck when it comes to wanting that Kardashian like bob. 
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I'd love to know your thoughts on these products if you've tried them and what your favourite hair styling products are!

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