Monday, 10 June 2019

3 Places To Visit Outside of Downtown Charleston

3 Places To Visit Outside of Downtown Charleston ItsHollieAnn.com
Charleston is like nowhere I've ever visited - It's charming and cultured yet up to date and fun. I mean it when I say it has something for everyone and though the peninsula has so much going on, there's so many great places further afield that you don't want to miss - Here are my top three. 

SHEM CREEK

I can hands down say that two of my favourite days in Charleston were spent on Shem Creek. It's full of bars, restaurants, fishing boats and boardwalks and is only a 10 minute drive from Downtown. If you're there in the summer you can see dolphins swimming in the creek but, lucky for us, they made an appearance in December too. As I mentioned in my Charleston guide, Saltwater Cowboys is a phenomenal place to grab fish tacos and sit out on the deck all afternoon with cocktails. If brunch is more your thing, you'll find it almost anywhere in Charleston but Pages Okra Grill is so great and serves up delicious fried green tomatoes - The wait for tables at Pages is no joke so make sure you get there early. Tavern & Table also comes highly recommended by locals and Shem Creek Inn is first on my list of hotels if I ever head back to the city. 

FOLLY BEACH

I've spoken about Folly Beach since the moment my feet first touched the sand. It's a stunning beach town less than 20 minutes from Downtown and is home to incredible seafood restaurants, lively beach bars and lets not forget, the beach. I loved Folly Beach not only for the surfer vibes and endless beach houses but for how genuine it was - Not once did it feel like the shops and restaurants were a facade because we spoke to so many locals who agreed that the little town by the beach was simply amazing. Snapper Jacks got my vote for delicious calamari but Ritas also comes highly recommended along with, well, basically everywhere in town. 

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND & ISLE OF PALMS

Technically two towns but it's well worth a visit to both because they're so close together. In my experience they were two of the quieter suburbs areas but both equally lovely with long stretches of beach and great places to eat and drink. In Sullivan's Island, Mex 1 has a second cantina serving up delicious margaritas with live music a few nights a week. Poe's Tavern was filled with people soaking up the sun and The Obstinate Daughter was somewhere we wish we'd had more time to visit. Neighboring town Isle Of Palms is the perfect vacation spot with beachfront parks, picnic areas and the sweetest holiday village. As well as Charleston being known for The Notebook, if you're a fan of Dear John, Isle Of Palms served as the backdrop for a lot of the film. 
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I love remembering some of the amazing places I visited whilst in Charleston. Exploring further afield is something I always try to do and if you're feeling adventurous, you should too. Have you ever visited these places?

3 Places To Visit Outside Of Downtown Charleston

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Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Wedding Chat: Are We Changing Our Names?

Wedding Chat Are We Changing Our Names? ItsHollieAnn
Changing my name wasn't something I'd never given much thought to. I assumed you got engaged, started planning a wedding and decided on what you wanted your new name to be between the two of you, in your engagement bubble

Whilst that was certainly the path my fiancee and I took, it would seem there's a lot of discussion surrounding the topic of name changes with everyone giving their two cents on what's right and wrong. 

What I've come to learn, according to the internet, is that women choosing to take their partners name must then certainly be anti-feminist and must agree to be their partners possession for as long as they both shall live. Equally, or not as the case may be, women choosing not to take their partners name signifies that they aren't actually committed to the marriage and that said partner should reconsider their motives. Double-barreling is most certainly a cop out only to be used by those of the same sex or those who can't agree. Choosing a new name entirely is 'Ridiculous'. 

And this is why you don't believe everything the internet tells you.

Having the freedom to choose your own names is huge.Taking your partners name is not a crime and absolutely does not make you anti-feminist. Wishing to keep a name that you feel is part of your identity doesn't make you any less committed to your new spouse. It goes without saying that double-barreling isn't 'Just taking the easy option' and choosing a new name entirely is completely, and I mean completely, up to you. 

Of course, like anything, everyone's beliefs are different but between my fiancee and I, we didn't wish to keep our own names. This meant, if I had wanted to take hers or vise versa, one of us would have had to. And there you have it, we're double-barreling our names.

My fiancee and I knew what our new names would be as soon as we got engaged. We'd always jokingly referred to our house as 'The *-* Residence' and our cats have been registered under our married names unintentionally since long before marriage was even on the table. 
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I debated whether to address this on my blog but the more I searched the internet and spoke to friends, the more I realised there were so many misconceptions and assumptions that came with the topic of changing or not changing your name after marriage. 

I can't believe that in 2019 this is still something people are throwing shade on. As I mentioned, having the freedom to choose your own name is huge. Take advantage and be whoever you and your new spouse want to be.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

Why I Overhauled My Social Media

Why I Overhauled My Social Media
Never before has social media played such a significant role in our lives. For most of us, it's the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing we check up on before we go to sleep. It's how we remember our friends birthdays, keep up to date with distant relatives and on the rare occasion, see how many children acquaintances from your high school have birthed. I'm guilty for that myself. 

Of course, there's the flip-side. The millions of creators who now have a platform to share their work, it's an income for some and let's not forget the messages that can spread far and wide faster than you can upload an Instagram story. 

Regardless of which end of the spectrum you find yourself, one thing remains the same. With the amount of time we spend on social media increasing, so my Screen Time tells me, it's only fair that we consume and create content that has a positive effect on our minds. In the interest of making my social media outlets a better place, here's how I gave them an overhaul. 

REMOVING NEGATIVITY

I’ve spoken about this before in some capacity but removing the negativity from my social media was the first step in my process. I removed people and pages I follow based not only negative content, but content that made me feel irritated or uninspired. Of course, I’m not naive. I know that there will always be a news story that bothers me or a photo I’m not fond of but I’m talking about the accounts I was willing to follow though every time I saw a post, I’d think ‘Not this again’. I started with Twitter then Instagram, right through to my personal Facebook and Bloglovin’. Trust me, I feel better for it.

FORMING A STRUCTURE

I’ve never been one to have a structure with my social media, or my blog for that matter. I tried so hard to embrace the ‘Just post what you want’ mentality but I realised that for me, structure is what I need for my mind to work best. I started with Pinterest. I’ve always loved the idea of pinning what I love along with ideas and inspiration but it always felt like it was a bit of a mess drove me crazy whenever I opened the app. After spending what felt like hours taking inspiration from others and planning on paper, I finally knew how I wanted it to look. Dedicated boards, each split into sections. Multiple boards for one topic, some just for inspiration. I also finally wanted to be able to put my own content out there and have it fit within this new structure. 

PLANNING CONTENT

I use the term planning content loosely because, like forming a structure, it’s never been something I’ve taken to. In the world of ItsHollieAnn, planning content means ‘Having a vague idea of what you want to post’. I started with my blog and decided, roughly of course, what kind of order I’d share posts in. I didn’t want to be left with four travel posts, one beauty then two more travel posts and one wedding post. Whilst that would be completely fine, for me, it doesn’t work. I like an even spread. I’ve also started making conscious effort to plan for all posts to be sharable whether it’s on Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my blog and online presence and it's easy from the outside for others to say it isn't a job so it doesn't need attention but that's for me to decide?
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I’m all too aware that this isn’t brand new information but I wanted to stress that if you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media, whether you're a creator or consumer, you can change it and make it whatever you want to be.
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Monday, 13 May 2019

What We're Planning To Do In San Francisco

What We're Planning To Do In San Francisco
Seven months ago we booked a weekend trip to San Francisco, a city we've always wanted to visit, as a short stop before heading to Las Vegas. Little did we know that in the seven months that followed I'd have two months in Charleston under my belt, we'd be five months into an engagement and getting married in five short weeks on said trip. It's been a whirlwind, I can tell you that. 

Though our minds have been elsewhere with wedding planning, now that our trip is getting closer we're starting to think about what we want to do with the 2.5 short days we have in the city and trust me, people have not been short on their recommendations. I thought I'd put together a list of what's definitely on our agenda so far and welcome any suggestions you might have, just like when I arrived in Charleston

First up, let's talk tourist. Of course we want to see the Golden Gate Bridge - Preferably from a view point but more so from a bike which I'm told you can rent from our hotel or from pretty much anywhere in the city. Lombard Street is a must because, hello, how could you not and I also quite fancy lying on the grass near the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square and taking it all in. 

We've already booked an early bird tour of Alcatraz through Alcatraz Cruises as tickets can sometimes sell out up to five weeks in advance and afterwards we were hoping to catch a baseball game at AT&T park but I don't think the schedule fits in well for us. 

In terms of eats, of course Cheesecake Factory at Macy's has been highly recommended for it's views along with Mamma's for brunch and pretty much anywhere on Fisherman's Wharf for seafood. Also, though a bit of an Instagram cliche, the treats on offer at Mr Holmes Bakehouse are said to be a dream. 

Being a gay couple, Castro comes highly recommended as somewhere to relax as well as somewhere to find great bars and clubs. I'm unsure if we'll make it up to Union Square or Croit Tower with us not having a whole lot of time, but I wouldn't rule them out. 

Other San Francisco musts include riding a cable car up Nob Hill and trying my best to capture the terrain and surrounding views. Ideally I'd like to get a really unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge, maybe from a beach or something, but again it all depends on how much time we have. 

Above all we really just want to explore in the way we like - Not cramming too much in but feeling like we've made a good dent in the city. SF already seems like it could be somewhere we return to but we'll see. 
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Any San Fran recommendations, send them my way. As I mentioned, we already have our Alcatraz tour scheduled along with out hotel but things to do, places to eat, bars, you name it. Send it my way! 
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Monday, 6 May 2019

Wedding Chat: Things Are Coming Together

Wedding Chat Things Are Coming Together
It's just over six weeks until our wedding day and I can't believe I'm saying this but everything is coming together, finally. 

When we first started planning we set big things in stone pretty quickly including our planner and photographer along with our outfits and cake. Luckily that meant that we could relax for a little while before getting down to finer details like choosing our wedding bands, printing our invitations and starting to think about songs for our DJ.

With not long to go, were now at a point where we're organising even finer details - It feels like I'm constantly adding things to my to-do list but I know that in the end, everything will come together just fine.

Since I last updated you my fiancee exchanged her wedding ring and I have my engagement ring back - Finally it fits perfectly. In terms of decor for our venue, we've sourced some wooden logs to go in the center of our tables and ordered a few decorations from Ginger Ray to tie the venue together. We're meeting with the event co-coordinator at our venue in a couple of weeks to go over final details for the night including food and drink choices along with the general timeline of the evening. 

We've taken care of our licence pre-application to make things quicker in Vegas and also arranged some non-wedding bits like our transport to the airport and my fiancee's ESTA and passport. 

I've yet to collect all our RSVPs but with only twelve outstanding, I think that's pretty good going. We still need to take our clothes to be tailored but I'm assured it'll only take a week so I'm leaving it for until almost last minute in a bid to shift a few pounds! Oh, I also forgot to mention that I managed to find THAT Aldo bag after months of searching what felt like the whole internet - I probably won't use it on our wedding day but as for the week leading up to it and potentially our hen party, it's a yes!

Speaking of which, our friends are organising our joint hen party so I'm just waiting to know where to be, when and what I should wear - I'm so happy that it's something that we don't have to worry about, we just need to turn up for a day of drinks and laughter. 

Lastly, I think all we're waiting on is our wedding timeline which our planner has assured me will be with us in just over a week. 
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I think that's about all I have to update you on at the moment though to me, it feels like far more. It's the small things I'm ticking off that are making me the most satisfied - Let me know if it's normal to breathe a sigh of relief to not have to think about straws ha!
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Monday, 29 April 2019

Photographs from Kos, Greece

Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
Photographs from Kos ItsHollieAnn.com
It's been almost two years since we travelled to Kos but it was a place we fell in love with so dearly. We always knew we were going to return and our honeymoon felt like the perfect time. In light of the gorgeous weather we've had this weekend, I thought it would be the perfect time to showcase some fresh edits of our time in Kos ahead of our trip later in the year. 
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There's so many more Greek islands on my wishlist but I'd love to know yours.

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Monday, 22 April 2019

Making More Time For Myself

Making More Time For Myself - ItsHollieAnn.com
So far, 2019 has been a somewhat crazy year. Between planning a wedding, attending birthdays, fitting in time with the girls and remembering that I do actually need to wash my hair, it feels like my mind is racing 24/7. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have a lot going on. I'm excited to see our wedding plans coming together, I'm loving the new found time my friends and I have to catch up and it's great to be there to celebrate milestones in other peoples lives but lately, I've been finding ways to slow down, collect my thoughts and take some time for myself. Here's how. 

Putting down my phone

Cliche? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely. I've been making a conscious effort to put my phone down of an evening and when I get into bed. It's not just that I sleep better when I do but more so because I end up seeing something on Instagram, which I then Google. Which leads me to another thing and then another and before I know it, my mind is racing again. I don't need the extra mental stimulation of an evening. Less phone, less thoughts. Winner.  

Making lists

It goes without saying that getting the endless streams of things to remember down, all into one place is brilliant. I have lists upon lists and I don't even mind. Food shopping, wedding to-do's, things to watch, things to buy. You name it, I have a list for it. It may seem less productive to have 5 lists but it works for me, you do what works for you.

Heading to bed early

I always feel better when I manage to lie in bed for a little while before falling asleep so I've been trying my hardest to say no to another episode in favour of having a moment of quiet before sleep. 

Asking for help

I'm the first to admit I'm guilty for wanting to deal with everything on my own and not worry anyone else. I often struggle to delegate things in favour of wanting to do it myself so I've been trying my very to best to utlilise my amazing friends and fiancee to help with what's on my mind. Whether it's an opinion, advice or running an errand, my friends and partner have been on hand just I would be for them. 

Clearing my calendar

Not as drastic as it sounds but I've really been making an effort to only say yes to things I absolutely want to do or finding ways to still do the things we've planned but make time for ourselves at the same time. In short, we've  basically just slashed the number of days we'd spend on the sofa after too many proseccos in favour of driving to bars and heading home at a sensible hour. I'm sure we'll be back to cocktails at 2am when things calm down but right now, I'm all about getting home with enough time for a cup of tea before bed. 
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Now more than ever I've realised how important it is to really take care of you and how it's okay to admit that sometimes, things can be overwhelming. I'd love to know the ways you make time for yourself and any tips you'd recommend.

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Monday, 15 April 2019

A Few From Our USA Bucket List

A Few From Our USA Bucket List ItsHollieAnn.com
My fiancee and I have always kept a list of places we want to visit. Whether it's countries or cities, restaurants or national parks - If there's somewhere we want to go, we'll jot it down or save it on Pinterest and look back at it when pondering where to go next. Of course, we'd love to see the world in it's entirety however, for now we'll keep adding to our list and crossing off as we go.


Our travel bucket list spans the globe but I thought I'd share a few from our USA bucket list first of all. This list is in no way complete but it's a snippet of the places we're dying to visit. I'd love to know if you've been to any of these places or where in the US you'd like to go.

ARIZONA

Hackberry Store I never thought I'd visit the US until later on in life but after first seeing a photo of this store four years ago, I knew I wanted to do it sooner. Having never hired a car on our visits to Las Vegas means we haven't driven out to it yet but I'm hoping some day we'll find the time to. Also, the fact it was the inspiration for the store in Cars is just the cherry on top of this awesome place. 

Monument Valley Something about Monument Valley calms me. I don't know if it's the interesting landscape, the vast open roads or just desert in general but something has always drawn me to it and I can't wait to visit one day.

CALIFORNIA

Joshua Tree National Park Something about renting an air-stream out in the desert appeals to me massively. Couple that with miles of Joshua Trees, cacti and huge rock formations and you've got yourself a deal.

Palm Springs I can't believe we've not visited Palm Springs yet after lusting after it for years. The combination of green palm trees and mountains is something I've always been in awe of and those mid-century vibes? The cherry on top of a dreamy vacation!

San Francisco The Painted Ladies, Cable Cars and Alcatraz are just three reasons I can't wait to visit this amazing city. The Golden Gate, great food and LGBT culture are three more. The list could go on and as I mentioned in my honeymoon destinations post, we're finally heading there this summer.  

Yosemite National Park Mountains, trees, landscapes. Incredible. 

COLORADO


Aspen The idea of drinking a warm cider by the fire at a cozy ski lodge in Aspen could literally send me to sleep. It looks like an absolute dream and is definitely on my wishlist.

LOUISIANA

New Orleans Who doesn't want to stroll down Bourbon Street, listening to Jazz music, chowing down on great food? I've seen and heard a lot about this city and that coupled with every balcony in the French Quarter looking like a dream, makes it an incredible place to visit one day.

NEVADA

Burning Man Festival The more I see of Burning Man, the more I'd love to go. Such a cool concept and to be out in the desert with like minded people at an event you don't see anywhere else is way, way up on our bucket list. Realistically, I probably couldn't hack it but it's wishful thinking.

Valley Of Fire Nevada's state parks are all absolutely breathtaking but there's something about the orange sand contrasting with the blue sky in Valley Of Fire that looks stunning. 

NEW YORK

Brooklyn As much as we'd love to visit all of the NYC boroughs, Brooklyn is way more up our street. Cobbled streets and industrial buildings filled with cool bars and eateries are so our style, plus, I've wanted to take THAT photo of the Manhattan bridge from Washington Street. 

MICHIGAN

Lake Michigan I don't know if it's me or if I've been watching too many spring break movies but since I was in my early teens, I've wanted to get a beach house on Lake Michigan and spend my summer there without a care in the world. 

OREGON

Portland For us, Portland seems like the Manchester of the US. A city we feel like we could completely submerse ourselves in and spend time roaming the streets and parks, stopping off for incredible coffees at every chance we get. 

SOUTH CAROLINA

Beaufort I wish I'd have known about Beaufort when I visited SC because it truly looks like the dreamiest place.  All that Southern charm, antebellum mansions and right by the water? How could we not want to visit. 

Charleston Though I spent two months in Charleston, I'd go back in a heartbeat. There were so many things I didn't get to do and so much that I'd like my fiancee to see. It's such a charming city and is full of history, great food and some of the nicest people I've ever met. 

TENNESSEE 

Nashville Visiting Nashville is a dream as old as time and I can't believe I haven't gotten there yet. Such a charming city filled to the brim with talent, history and hot chicken. 
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Let me know if any of these places are on your USA bucket list or if you've ever visited any of them before!

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Monday, 8 April 2019

Wedding Chat: Choosing Bands & Meeting Our Officiant

Wedding Chat: Choosing Rings & Meeting Our Officiant - ItsHollieAnn
I know it's only been a few short weeks since I posted a wedding update but I couldn't help but share another because.. We've chosen our wedding bands! We'd originally decided on getting them in either late April or early May but the more we thought and the more our calendars filled up, we decided it would be best to get them early so that we've got longer to make any changes. 

As always our appointment with Rob was a dream. We caught up on the past few months over a coffee and champagne before the big reveal. I fell in love with my band as soon as I saw it - It's ever so delicate and compliments my engagement ring perfectly. My fiancee's is the perfect classic band however she's undecided whether to go for one that's an extra mm in width - You wouldn't believe the difference it makes.

We've decided we'll have them engraved after the wedding and I'm toying with the idea of getting my engagement ring done too. It's currently off to be resized which is giving me all kinds of separation anxiety but hopefully this time around it will be the perfect size, plus it'll get a little polish too so it'll be even more sparkling. We also chose to emboss our boxes. My fiancee's was ready yesterday but mine should be with my when my engagement ring comes back - It's exactly the same but the initials are reversed. 

This week we were also introduced to our officiant, Judy, over in Las Vegas. She's an award winning officiant with years of experience with all different kinds of ceremonies. She's down to earth, very fun and right up our street so we're very excited to be working with her.  

Also, we finally got round to having invitations printed so we're in the process of sending those out as we speak - I'm a bit nervous that people are going to tell us they're coming but not actually RSVP so I can see myself chasing people closer to the time. I'll apologise to them in advance.

We're still putting together a playlist to send to our DJ but I'm hoping he'll get the vibe and play some songs we've probably forgot to add. I almost forgot to mention that we also found vases for the tables at our Celebration/Reception party yesterday - They were a bargain from Ikea and they look 5x the price. Very happy indeed!
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As of today, it's 75 days until we get married. I say this all the time but it's coming round so quickly! We're both incredibly excited but we'll be so sad that the planning and prep is over because we're truly having the best time!

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Monday, 1 April 2019

Current Base Staples

Current Base Staples - ItsHollieAnn
It's about that time of year where I start switching up my beauty products. Now that the cooler months are almost over and done with, I'm craving that natural looking dewy skin that will see me right the way through summer. My skincare has remained the same with the exception of switching to a lighter moisturiser so today I wanted to round up the beauty base products I'm currently reaching for on a daily basis, to give me that natural glow.

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream

This CC cream has actually been a staple of mine for I don't know how long. I love the way I can customise the coverage depending on whether I use a sponge or a brush and I also love that it doesn't feel heavy or cakey on my skin. I've not come across a product yet that doesn't layer well with this CC cream and despite it becoming a little tough to get hold of, it's remaining firmly on my dressing table for as long as physically possible.

L'Oreal Infallible Magic Essence Drops

Blue drops to brighten my complexion? Yes, I too was skeptical. Whilst I don't feel like these alter the luminance of my skin, they do an excellent job of hydrating. Upon first impressions I compared them to The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid  but after using them a little more, I think I prefer these because the consistency isn't thick making them very easy to blend out. Also worth nothing that, considering they're blue, you actually don't look like a smurf after application. 

L'Oreal Glow Mon Amour Highlighting Drops

I first discovered these about a year ago when searching for the perfect 'no makeup makeup'. I instantly fell in love with their versatility and their ability to not appear as though I'd poured a pot of glitter onto my face. At first I found them quite oily and though this is no longer the case, I do use them sparingly on my nose and forehead just in case. At the moment, I like applying them after the essence drops but before my CC cream - Sometimes I'll top them up afterwards too. Definitely a must have, especially since they're a fraction of the price of some others on the market.

Glossier Stretch Concealer

I have a love hate relationship with Glossier whereby I love their products but my skin hates them. This concealer is no different but I think I've found a way to finally make it work since I want to love it so much. As this concealer isn't as sheer as I first thought, without any other makeup, it's incredibly noticeable and often dries out over spots and under my eyes. Underneath my CC cream however, it works like a dream - I've been using it under and around my eyes, around my nose and even to cover blemishes and it no longer dries out or ends up sliding around my face. Since discovering this new-to-me way of using it, I've honestly been having the best time. I'm even considering replacing it - It's finally love. 
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There you have it, my four current base staples, why I love them and a little bit about how I use them. Thanks so much to everyone that voted for this post in my Instagram poll, it's one I've been meaning to share for weeks! What are your current base staples or beauty bits you can't live without?

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Monday, 25 March 2019

Wedding Chat: Where Are We Up To With Planning?

Wedding Chat Where Are We Up To With Planning ItsHollieAnn.com
I knew our wedding would come around fast but as of today, it's 94 days until we get married. Where has the time gone? Since it's coming around so quickly I wanted to let you in on where we're up to with the planning and what we've still got left to arrange. 

I've mentioned previously that we're planning to elope and marry in Las Vegas whilst we're there in the summer - We booked the trip months before getting engaged but it seemed perfect to tie the knot whilst we're there since it's one of our favourite destinations. 

In terms of planning for the actual day in Vegas, our lovely planner Angelica is taking care of the bookings and logistics which takes a huge weight off our shoulders. I found our photographer through Instagram and she's now been confirmed along with the venue and officiant. Angelica has sent our flower requests over to the florist and is also taking care of our dinner reservations for the evening - She's a dream. We've yet to arrange transport from our hotel to the photo locations then on to the venue but Angelica has assured me that it's all in hand and  so I'm expecting an email about it any day now. We both know what we'll be wearing and so we just need to have some alterations taken care of and we're good to go. Of course, we'll need to sort a licence when we get there which should be easy enough after filling in a pre-application online. 

I've been pleasantly surprised by how stress-free organising a destination wedding has been. Angelica has been on hand whenever we've had questions and our photographer - who I'm keeping a secret because I can't wait for you to see the photos - has been equally wonderful in helping us with everything we've needed. 

In terms of the party or Wedding Celebration when we come home, again, I'm surprised at how stress-free the planning has been. Since we were planning this wedding in less than six months, the date and venue were chosen almost straight away with us securing the only available Saturday until the end of the year. This meant the Save The Dates were sent out less than three weeks after us getting engaged and I've got the invitation template ready to follow as soon as we've confirmed the guest list. 

Our food and drinks are being taken care of by the venue as is the lighting, we just need to select some additional decorations to make the venue come together. We picked a DJ after his bio read 'Not your usual cheesy DJ' which was perfect and he's also an aspiring photographer so he'll be taking some very candid shots when he's not playing the best of our mostly 80s playlist. We're undecided as to whether to do favours as it's not a sit-down meal or an actual wedding so to me, it doesn't seem necessary. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we've also chosen our cake after going tasting a few weeks ago - I'm so excited for it, you wouldn't even believe. In terms of what to wear, my other half is sorted. I'm undecided as to whether to wear the same outfit I get married in or something completely different - Truthfully it depends on whether I ruin it in Vegas which is highly likely unfortunately. 

Rings! How did I almost forget? We're still deciding when is best to get our rings because we don't want to get them too early and our finger sizes change for whatever reason. I also need to have my engagement ring resized, yes again, so we're trying to work out when is best. We have Rob at Tiffany on hand so he's ready to go when we are - We'll probably leave it until late April or May I imagine. 

Hen parties, a very apt question for two ladies getting married - We've decided to have one together. We weren't going to have one at all but one of our good friends insisted it'd be a good laugh and something us girls can all do together. We have the same friends so it didn't make sense to have separate parties. I'm forever hoping they're keeping it casual and so far I've heard Liverpool and pub-golf being thrown around which works perfect for me. Fuss free and so chill - Like our entire wedding. 

I didn't think I'd have a lot to update you on but boy, here you go. To be honest, we're very nearly done as we have been since the end of January. There's just a few little things to confirm/organise and then we'll be done. I thought this process would be a lot more stressful since people throw the term Bridezilla around like it's this mythical creature every bride-to-be becomes but truthfully we've enjoyed it so much and haven't been stressed once. It's been good. 
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I'd still love to hear your best wedding planning tips since we still have a few things to do. Oh, one more thing, I'm double-barreling my name. How very 2019.

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Monday, 18 March 2019

Our Easy Chili Con Carne Recipe

Our Easy Chili Con Carne Recipe - ItsHollieAnn
We make a chili every other week in the colder months and last week was no different. When I was tucking into leftovers, I asked over on my Instagram if anyone would like me to share the recipe and since everyone said yes, here it comes.  

INGREDIENTS 

500g 5% Fat Mince
400g Chopped Tomatoes
415g/1 Can of Baked Beans
405g/1 Can of Kidney Beans
300ml Beef Stock
1 Onion
1tbsp Tomato Puree 
2tsp Cumin
1tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Lazy Chili/1 Chopped Chili 
2 Garlic Cloves

METHOD

Fry the mince and onions together until the mince browns, breaking down the mince with a spoon if necessary. Add the garlic and chili and stir in until distributed then add the cumin and ground coriander. Once the mince is coated, add in the tomato puree and beef stock and let everything reduce.

When reduced almost entirely add the chopped tomatoes and stir in before adding the kidney beans and baked beans. Bring to the boil and then let simmer to the consistency of your choice - We like plenty of sauce if we're eating it with rice but not as much when eating with tortilla chips.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings depending on size. We'll often store leftovers in the fridge and eat it a day or two later. 
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This is honestly one of our favourite meals, I'd love to know if you make it too. 

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Monday, 11 March 2019

This Years Travel Plans & Our Honeymoon Destinations

This Years Travel Plans & Our Honeymoon Destinations
It's taken us about a month to finalise our plans but we've now marked our calendars with the trips we're taking in 2019. We're packing a lot more than usual into this year but it's going to be ridiculously exciting. So where are we heading?

SAN FRANCISCO & LAS VEGAS

The first trip in our diaries this year takes us back to the US. We'll be heading to San Fran for the weekend before heading to Vegas for a week. I'm super excited for San Francisco having not visited before but we're only in the city for a few days so we're trying to be selective about what we do. We'll then take a short flight over to Vegas for a week where we'll get married and relax.

ROME & PARIS

The first of our honeymoons, Rome and Paris. Two cities I can't believe we haven't visited. We actually planned on taking these trips separately so we could spread them out over the rest of the year but the price of flying to Rome, Paris and then home was far less than one trip to Rome and one trip to Paris so we're doing it all in one. Plus, since we weren't able to make it to Paris last year, there's no way we're missing this year. We're going to spend three days in each which will hopefully be enough time to see the sights, drink lots of wine and eat great food. 

KOS 

I've talked about how much we loved Kos previously and our first trip is one we still reminisce about now which made it the perfect place for us to honeymoon. We loved everything from the scenery and the people to the town and the food and so I'm really excited to be heading back later in the year. We decided to treat ourselves to 10 nights so we're really able to unwind and conclude the year we got married. 
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I'm so happy that we've finalised our plans and that I can now share them with you. I honestly feel like this is going to be one of the most exciting years not and not just for travel. I'm excited to see what else it will bring. What are you travelling to this year?

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Monday, 4 March 2019

Turning 24 & Reflecting On The Past Year

Turning 24
I turn twenty-four on Wednesday and after just getting over a two day hangover (my friends are the worst influence) I'm finally ready to have a little chat and reflect on the past year and what's coming up. 

Twenty-three was very fun and, dare I say, it was the first year I really felt like I had my life together. I started the year making more effort with friends, finally parted ways with others and  throughout the year reconnected with people I'd lost touch with years before which felt great. 

We took another trip to Las Vegas and this was probably our favourite trip yet. We hung out, just the two of us, ate lots of amazing food and just spent the week being us. 

In the summer, I talked about selling your skills and the tips I shared helped me land a two month secondment in my company's US office, something I never even thought was in reach. I left my girlfriend behind to spend eight weeks in Charleston, a city I'd always wanted to visit, and became friends with people I couldn't imagine my life without. 

It was great experience and whilst I'd already decided I didn't need a five-year plan,  it really put things into perspective in terms of what I wanted out of my relationship, my job and life in general - It also made me realise things I didn't need. What I got out of that trip was more than I'd ever expected and I'm so glad I took the plunge and did it - Even if I did have a minor breakdown in Philadelphia airport en route.

I got home just before Christmas and to my surprise on New Years Eve, my girlfriend asked me to marry her. Of course, I said yes and so we've spent the last two months planning our wedding and that's just one reason why this year is going to be so exciting. 

Not only are we taking a trip to San Francisco and Las Vegas in June but we're also getting married whilst we're there.  We're then planning a party with our nearest and dearest when we come home before honeymooning in Rome, Paris and Kos later in the year which we're both over the moon about.

There's something about twenty-four that just feels right. I feel like I'm exactly where I'm meant to be. This last year was absolutely incredible and though the hangovers are already worse, I feel like twenty-four is going to be my favourite year yet.

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