Well, after the previous Ideal Girls Night In, I didn’t expect another one to happen so soon, but I am so glad it has. A night where we chat all things beauty, fashion and fun whilst supping on cups of tea, or wine if you so prefer. The babes at Ideal World TV have organised a full night of Girls Night In over on Ideal World TV from 8pm, but we are starting the party early on Twitter, from 19:30. Using the #IdealGirlsNightIn tag, you can keep up with a fab selection of bloggers as well as anyone else who wants to join in. It was brilliant last time, so I really hope you can make it. Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Girls Night In with Ideal World Part 2 #AD

Some of the products that you’ll be seeing on Ideal World TV during the chat come from their top selling ranges such as Zhuzh, Gel Touch, Linda Lusardi Caviar Skincare, Liquilift and Trophy Skin. In fact, Linda Lusardi will be stopping by and joining in the chat on Ideal World TV. I’ve been getting myself prepared ready for the chat and whilst the weather has been nice, I’ve been trying out the Zhuzh Tan Accelerator. I have a full review coming soon, but I have noticed that my skin has gone a beautiful shade of brown, just from sitting on my balcony.

I’ve also been prepping my skin with the Trophy Skin Mini Micro-dermabrasion Kit. I just want to say that I wish I had known about this before spending so much time and money on salon treatments as it’s really doing the job, especially as I’ve been having nightmares with my skin over the last few months.

Now I’m able to move around a bit more freely, I’m going be painting my toes with the Gel Touch Duo whilst using the Liquilift Slender Wrap to compensate for all the cake and chocolate that I’m going to eat!

Don’t forget to join us tonight between 19:30 and 20:30. It’ll be great to see you all and the hashtag is #IdealGirlsNightIn. See you there!

*In Collaboration with Ideal World

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Just how glorious has this weather been? As I write this post, I’m sat on my balcony basking in the sun. Laptop on my knee, with my feet up on my homemade outdoor sofa, with a bowl of peaches to hand and an ice cold glass of Lambrini Very Cherry within reach. The current temperature on my phone is showing that it’s warmer in Manchester than in Orlando and it’s 4pm in the afternoon. Utilising my time wisely and getting my posts scheduled in advance, means that it leaves me free time to relax and enjoy the weather over the penultimate Bank Holiday Weekend. A chilled out Friday afternoon, that although it’s getting unbearably warm, the Vitamin D is giving me a much needed boost.

I recently spent time decorating my balcony ready for summer, and I for one am in love with the tropical oasis that I have created. Since my last post, I’ve added some greenery in the form of tropical Mountain Palm plants as well as a hot pink Cordyline that fits beautifully with the colour scheme. I can’t wait for dusk each night to watch my fairy lights twinkle away on the railings of my balcony, and it’s really quite heavenly out here.

Summer in the City with Lambrini

Summer in the City with Lambrini

Gone are the days of associating Lambrini with drunken Friday and Saturday nights. It’s become a more refined, easy drinking, sweet and fruity refreshment, that quenches thirst. It’s perfect for the sunny days and afternoons of unwinding, either alone or with friends. The Lambrini Sparkling Fruit Wine has brought out a range of new flavours; Very Cherry, So Strawberry, Truly Peachy, Skinny Original and of course the Original flavour. At 5% ABV, it’s very lightweight compared to other wines and more of an easy, laid back drink. The best part is, it’s only £3 a bottle at Tesco.

To long and lazy summer days…Cheers!

*In Collaboration with Lambrini. Please drink responsibly.

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I’m not one to usually write about events as I am quite a social butterfly when it comes to heading out and meeting brands. As you all know, I’ve not had the best few months and going out has posed quite a problem but I hadn’t left the house all week and I love the events at Trevor Sorbie. When I was invited to meet with Boohoo for a pamper evening, I actually managed to get some face on and head out to meet the girls. It was a much needed night and unexpectedly the following day, and although I’m paying for it now with the most horrific dragging ache in my back, I’m looking in tip top condition.

As you know Boohoo.com have a great range of fast fashion that changes with the seasons and brings the most wanted clothes at a price point that can’t be argued. It’s a site that I have been using since its launch back in 2006, and I remember packing up my suitcase to head off to Majorca for the summer with a brand new wardrobe. Boohoo fashions really do cater to the trends of the moment, and I’m currently crushing on floaty summer dresses and pretty sandals, and you can see my top picks at the bottom of the post.

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The event was held at Trevor Sorbie on Spring Gardens in Manchester. A salon that I have visited many a time, and I always get remembered by the guys and girls who work in there. In our own private area of the salon, we were treated to nail treatments and hair styles, whilst we sipped on Elderflower Prosecco and ate nibbles from The Grill On New York St. Claire from The Spa at Malmaison Hotels managed to save my grown out infills for another week and painted my nails in a hot pink called Bikini Bottoms from Jessica Nails. Although I had popped into the event with a slight wave in my hair, Mai, an award winning stylist, used ghds on my hair to create old Hollywood style waves, which I loved! She also gave me some Trevor Sorbie hair products to try out at home.

When I got home and was looking at my goody bag, I noticed two envelopes inside offering me a complimentary cut and blow as well as the opportunity to try the new Eyebrow King on the block, Ky Dolce and his KyBrows treatment. A day of content, and a Friday well spent back in Trevor Sorbie being pampering to within an inch of my life. My first treatment was having my hair trimmed. As I’m in the final stages of getting the colour out before myself and Tasha at Barn//It give my hair a brand new colour, the cut came at just the right time. A small trim, and keeping the length at the front, Sammie gave my hair the sleekest and bluntest cut that I’ve ever had. Literally sliced to perfection, it’s a look that usually I wouldn’t go for but I really fancies something that would be able to hold different styles as it’s all one length. She’s also cut in the back of my hair in a wedge style so not only does it look thicker but it will make it so easy for my to style at home. I’m still having difficulties with blow drying my own hair so this has made my life so much easier!

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

The Big Boohoo & Trevor Sorbie Event

Ky Dolce is going to be the next big thing, mark my words. On meeting him, I felt instantly comfortable around him and we got on like a house on fire. In fact, I’m not sure how he managed to get my brows so perfect as we were laughing so much. The KyDolce Skin Clinic in Trevor Sorbie offers a wide selection of beauty treatments as well as his own brand KyBrows. Elegance Refined is the tagline, and I certainly feel that is just what he has achieved on my brows. Keeping my natural shape, and giving a beautifully defined arch that fits in my style of having a more natural brow these days, he also used a selcetion of tint colours to define but also stand out. An ombré technique, graphite grey and brown tints have been ran through my brows, with the grey tones working in conjunction with my ashy tones of my natural hair colour. They look perfect, and the great thing is that the tint should last around six weeks, which is usually the length of time that I wait before having my brows done again.

I’m feeling like a new woman right now, and it was so much needed. Although, I can’t move much today, I’m still able to swish my hair around and raise a brow to my new look!

*affiliated links

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The Abel Heywood in Manchester is one of the oldest pubs in Manchester. Situated just off Church Street, right in the heart of the Northern Quarter, the pub named after the Victorian mayor of Manchester has undergone a refurbishment to bring a boutique hotel, restaurant and pub to a thriving corner of the city centre. After being down in the dumps, my good friend Keeley took me for a hearty breakfast to try the new brunch menu on a gorgeous Saturday morning over the Bank Holiday weekend. Our table was booked for 11am, and already the pub was filling up with people starting their weekend, whilst guests were calling in for breakfast after their stay in the newly done hotel. Sat in a cosy booth at the rear of the restaurant, we indulged in some delicious food whilst putting the world to rights over a breakfast cocktail.

The interior of the Abel Heywood is that of a traditional pub, a vintage boozer that has an element of modernity with its leather booths and dark wood furniture. It’s almost a mish mash of old and new, but warm and comforting. Think old mans working club but fresh and clean. The breakfast menu is packed full of hearty food, and although I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, I was ravenous once I’d seen the menu. Starting the brunch with a black coffee, I ordered the ‘Manc’ Madame which was basically a full English on a sandwich. What I wasn’t expecting was the size of the portion and I actually cried out loud that I’d never be able to eat all that when it was delivered to the table. Famous last words, as I love my food. The service was attentive and the the delivery of the food to the table was of decent length. Food needs to be ordered at the bar, like at any traditional pub restaurant, and the servers were very clued up on the menu and alternatives if you have any dietary requirements. Although being lactose intolerant, I do like the occasional piece of cheese, although my stomach doesn’t, but I didn’t seek to see if there were any alternatives for dairy free cheese for the sandwich.

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

Abel Heywood, Manchester

The ‘Manc’ Madame was probably one of the nicest and filling breakfasts I’ve had in ages. Two thick slices of buttered toast, filled with smoked bacon, Bury black pudding, tomatoes and sausage, topped with melted Lancashire cheese and a fried egg. The egg was cooked to perfection and when broken, the yolk was runny enough to dip the remaining bread in. I had to eat it bit by bit rather than as a sandwich, and I couldn’t finish the top layer of cheesy bread as I couldn’t hack anymore cheese although I really wanted to. Anything that contains Bury black pudding is an absolute winner with me.

The Breakfast Cocktail, also known as a classic Bloody Mary was spicy, with enough vodka to pack a punch. I always found Bloody Mary’s to be quite filling, hence them being a breakfast cocktail, so I made sure I had room after my sandwich. Whilst eating, staff came over to ask how our meal was, clear away our finished plates and offered water for the table. There was also no rushing for us to leave the table even after we had been finished for a substantial time. It’s the little things like that that I remember for future visits. I’d be really intrigued to try the evening menu, to see if it reaches the same standard as the breakfast.

If you are in Manchester this weekend and are out early enough for breakfast, I wholeheartedly recommend the Abel Heywood.

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In recent weeks, I really started putting things into perspective regarding my lifestyle and my life. Aged 34, and I am suddenly getting the sinking feeling that I’m being left behind whilst everyone moves on to different stages of their lives. Although I have had a good decade or more doing things for me, the selfishness that I have grown accustomed to has suddenly shocked me into realising that although I thought I had it all, I actually don’t. I have been that person who has always been the life and soul, the resolutely single friend who is so fiercely independent that it’s it difficult to penetrate the huge barriers that I have around me. Holding things at arms length because I’m scared of being hurt, yet the more I think of about it, the more I realise that I’m only hurting myself. It’s funny because when I write these personal posts, I get a lot of messages from friends asking if I am OK. Although I do have a deeper side to me, it seems that it’s very rare that I let people see it, including my close friends.

Anoushka Loves

Having a lot of time to think about things whilst I’ve been off with my bad back has been a blessing as well as a curse. For one, it’s pushing me to try and keep positive about everything that is happening with my back. My MRI results have come back and a piece of disc around 1cm in size has broken off and is pressing on my nerve so I’m now being referred to a spinal specialist to see if surgery is the best option. It’s not the outcome that I was expecting but I will deal with it in the same manner as I have been dealing with things over the last 10 weeks.

I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been forcing myself to be a positive little bunny, or because I have been shocked into looking at options for the future, but it’s hit me quite hard that at this stage in my life that nothing has really changed in the last ten years. I’m still single, I don’t have kids and I’m still no nearer to putting my foot on the mortgage ladder than I was when I was 18. I look at others with envy, I see happy family lives where marriage and babies have happened in quick succession. I’m not even sure if I want a baby, but the option would be nice. I’m absolutely useless when it comes to men. Full of bravado but I’m all talk and no action. I can’t date. I don’t know what to say. The last date I went on was in 2012. Seriously, what is wrong with me that I lack the skills that most people have to be able to go out and meet people.

It came up in conversation last week that out of all my close friends, I was the only one who hasn’t got a failed marriage, a marriage, kids or expecting out of us all. I’m scared that it will get to the point where I don’t actually have anything in common with my own friends as they move on, naturally, whilst I get left behind. Have I protected myself that much, that it’s impossible for people to get in, to get to know the real me and not the blase and flippant ‘it’s all about me’ attitude that I guess I give off.

Last week I said to the future Anoushka ‘do something each day that scares you’. Maybe the terrifying thought that I have let myself get left behind is enough to push me to change things. Because, in all honesty, being left behind is scary and it’s not something that I’m willing to experience. A fresher, brighter more positive outlook and a surge in self confidence and esteem may be the making of me and I’m ready for action.

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It’s May, and although my eyes maybe deceiving me, I’m pretty sure that we are heading into Summer with this teaser of nice weather. Although it’s not particularly warm right now and I’m still having to pop the heating on for an hour or two some nights, I am feeling the blue skies and sunny days. As soon as it starts to look like it’s heading for the good weather, I love to spend time on my balcony. It’s not particularly large or roomy but it’s mine, it’s private and it’s so pretty. In true Anoushka style, it’s got it’s own sense of uniqueness and I’ve tried to make my tiny space into a vibrant, lively area. To add to the ambience, the Cuban Festival Yankee Candles have been bringing my balcony to life. Balcony party anyone?

I like to change things up in my decor frequently, so I utilise shops that offer ‘fast fashion’ with a current style. I love browsing Primark Home and I feel that as a brand it has really upped its game in recent years. It a bloggers paradise for props and also for some truly lovely items. From Primark, these outdoor cushions were a great find and make a particularly bland storage box into a comfortable seating area. I particularly love the Pineapple cushion which was just £3. I’m also a bit of a magpie for fairy lights and when I spotted the watermelon solar lights, I thought they were perfect for the look. I’ve had my patio table and chairs for a few years now and the hot fuchsia pink means that all bright colours look good as a contrast. I can’t help but be a pink girl at heart. Again, from Primark, the melamine plates and tropical print bowls are great for outdoors with no breakages.

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

A Cuban Festival Garden Party with Yankee Candle

Taking a wander into Poundland for some batteries lead me to their summer section where I found the most adorable melamine coral wine glasses and some pretty lanterns which I’ve attached to my balcony rails using vegetable ties. I just need some more fairy lights to brighten it up and I’m going to have the most prettiest balcony in my village! I never expected to find such good stuff in Poundland and I’m under no illusion that it will last forever but neither does summer in the UK.

I can’t wait to get my friends round for Pimms and nibbles, and we can be transported from the villages outside of Manchester, to Cuba with the beautiful scents from Yankee Candle. The Cuban Festival collection comprises of five scents; Cuban Mojito, Viva Havana, Tobacco Flower, Tropical Fruit Crush and Delicious Guava. Having spent a lot of time in Cuba over the last ten years, there is something special to these scents and they do transport you back to the white sandy beaches, clear blue seas and the vibrancy of the Cuban sunshine and nature. Tobacco Flower is the most delicate of the two candles, with a spicy yet sweet, woody scent that brings out the soft Jasmine. I can smell jasmine and tobacco flower instantly, but the warming richness of Tonka bean really comes through when it’s lit. When it’s unlit, the fragrance is a lot different to when it is lit, with the burn bringing the woodiness to the forefront.

My favourite of the two that I have has to be the Yankee Candle Delicious Guava. Tropical to a tee, the guava is at the forefront of the scent, combined with a blend of mango, peach and lemon. It smells good enough to eat and this is the candle that I have been reaching for to burn most recently.

Although Yankee Candles are more on the pricier side, they last for such a long time, around 110 hours of burn, which makes them great value for money. The large jars are £23.99, however they do have the Cuban Festival range in the smaller candles as well as the wax melts and votives. On the Yankee Candle website, you’ll also see the accessories which bring the exotic scents to life in your home. I have a lot of Bath and Body Works candles in my home but since burning my Yankee Candles, I hate to admit it, but the Bath and Body Works ones pale in significance.

With my balcony looking fit for a tropical party, I think it’s a must. Who’s coming round for a Mojito?

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Dear Anoushka,

I sit here and write this letter to you because I see you struggling with dealing with things and I want to tell you everything will be ok. I am proud of what you have achieved over the 34 years of your life. You have grabbed the bull by the horns and you have never rested on your laurels. You have taken everything that life has had to throw at you and although you didn’t think that you were dealing with things, you really did.

Dear Anoushka - A letter to my self (

To my 18 year old self.

Being thrust into adult life and desperate to fit in with those who I thought were superior to you, taught you to be yourself. Although you didn’t know it then, you would grow to flourish in life. You thought you were an outcast; being tall and go forbid fat. If I was as fat as you thought you were back then, I would be a very happy person. You developed skills that you didn’t know you had. Courage and bravery and started on the road to self confidence on not caring what people thought of you. You’d been through some tough times and made some questionable choices but you had fun. You experienced the things that young adults should experience; clubbing all weekend, working hard for a living and starting to become an independent young woman. You didn’t go to University, but you thrived by working and being part of a team with a lot of responsibilities. Of course, going out and partying sometimes took over but you reigned it back and cleared your overdraft. I am proud of you.

Dear Anoushka - A letter to my self (

To my 22 year old self.

That day when you went home to tell Mum that you were heading off to live in the Balearics was very daunting, but you did something that you needed to do. You needed to be independent and live alone, meeting some amazing people on the way including your best friend Matt. You developed as a person, you became strong after dealing with situations you didn’t think you would have to deal with. You confidently dealt with deaths and serious issues in your career abroad and you did this with integrity and tenacity. You returned home after two years ready to start a new career and ready for what your next challenge would be.

Dear Anoushka - A letter to my self (

To my 30 year old self.

Over those 8 years, you have made me incredibly proud of your achievements. You started a career that you loved and fulfilled an ambition. You also took it upon yourself to start University and completed a six year part time degree, in three and a half years whilst working full time. You learnt to be self motivated, and even more organised than you already were. You dealt with a break up that unfortunately had a huge impact on your life and although it made things difficult for the future, you used the experience to be more aware and guarded of being hurt in the future. You made a house a home and you made some incredible friends. You started writing a blog because you had a passion and that passion has led to some amazing opportunities in life. You’ve travelled the world and experienced things that you would never have experienced if you didn’t grab the bull by the horns. You also hit some intense lows in your life, but rather than hide it away, you took the first step of admitting it to yourself and taking steps to change things for the better.

To my 34 year old self.

This last twelve months haven’t be easy, but you have dealt with things with aplomb. You have fallen down, but you have dusted yourself off and got back up, no matter how many blows you have been dealt. You’re dealing with some vicious demons in your head and you’re dealing with them in a way that I am proud to be you. Having a poorly family member puts things into perspective that life is too short and you never know what life has to throw at you. Deal with what is going on, and deal with it in your own special way. You can rant, you can avoid it, you can be rational or even be irrational but you have a close network around you who will support you to the very end.

To my future self.

Take chances, live each day as it’s your last, work hard to gain your independence back. Ignore the haters, forget that they need the gossip to get through their pathetic lives. Open new doors, start new challenges, be positive. Trust few, love hard and have a small circle of those who you can rely on. Be passionate, be strong, be you. Continue to say how you feel – if people don’t like it, it’s their problem, not yours. Don’t be afraid. Don’t hide away in bed when you think it’s all too much – put on your big girl pants and show them that you are a force to be reckoned with. Carry on keeping that damn cat alive although he will be the death of you. Keep your friends and family close. Keep your enemies closer. Find new things each day to thrill you. Have a mid life crisis. Get tattooed, get pierced, do something each day that scares you. If you want to dance round the house to Steps on loud, do it. If it makes you happy, do it. Don’t stop doing something for the fear it will offend others. You are amazing. You have achieved more so far than others ever will. Stop worrying about the little things. Deal with each obstacle with poise and grace. Be zealous, be controversial, be yourself. Be you.

It’s very cathartic to speak to you as a younger self, and even more so to my future self. It’s time for a new chapter, and a new door will be opening very soon. I don’t know what it will be, or how you will get there, but you will. You will succeed in all that you do.

Love, Anoushka x

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I really don’t want this post to be a woe is me kind of post but I wanted to write my experiences and document things down so I can look back at how things have changed in my life over the last two months. Going forward, I want to be able to see how things have improved and changed and hear from others about their experiences and how others are dealing with their chronic pain. I honestly never thought that I would be in a position where my life would change to an extent where I would be on constant medication, struggle to do menial tasks and feel like I’ve lost my independence. Let’s take it back to the beginning and what has happened.

Chronic Back problems

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I do struggle with bouts of depression and anxiety which is controlled by medication. Most of the time I get through each day without it becoming too bad, however one particular evening, I was in a horrible slump. Tearful with nothing to pin point it on, a general low feeling and not wanting to get out of bed, I took myself off for an early night with the intention of hoping that a good nights sleep would help the fatigue side and lift my mood. I stayed in bed til around 1pm that next day, and was forced out of bed as Thomas the cat was miaowing for food. I shuffled down the stairs, still feeling a bit pissed off, in my pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown. I could tell I was in a bad mood as I was slamming things around in the kitchen. Opening the cupboard to reach for his box of food, I bent over to pour the food in his bowl. The most horrific sharp pain shot up my back. It had gone into spasm, and it’s probably due to how stressed and tense I was. This wasn’t the first time it had happened but I knew from previous experience that if I got on all fours, with my back straight, it generally would right itself in a few minutes. No such luck this time, and I was in absolute agony. I had to try and lie on the floor, which was a task in itself and because I was so uncomfortable on my front, I managed to turn myself and lie on my back. Big mistake. I was absolutely frozen solid. It took me around an hour or so to slowly inch myself from the kitchen to the hall, with the intent of being able to try and use the stairs to pull myself up. I couldn’t get further than the kitchen door and I was having spasms all down my spine and left leg. With regret, I had left the key in the door and the safety chain across, so my neighbours wouldn’t have been able to get access to rescue me.

After around an hour of being half in the kitchen and hall, I knew I had to get an ambulance to come and get me. The emergency services were amazing. They stayed on the phone whilst the ambulance turned up, as well as the police who had to break my front door down to gain access to me. I was a sorry sight, lying on the floor in my pyjamas with one slipper hanging off my foot and tears rolling down my face. I was pumped full of morphine whilst I was taking gas and air to try and relieve the pain. It took three paramedics to get me off the floor before I was taken to hospital to be prescribed some more drugs and get checked out.

It took three days before I was able to move around without my back going into spasm. The doctors gave me a huge prescription of medication including Gabapentin which is a mild epilepsy medication which is being used to stop the shaking in my left side, plus strong pain relief and Diazepam to relax my muscles. I’ve gone from hardly taking medication to having up to 12 tablets daily to control the pain, spasms and shaking.

A physio assessment confirmed what the Doctors had hinted at, and that is a slipped disc that is pressing on my sciatic nerve causing the severe weakness in my left side. Even now, 7 weeks later, I am still struggling to hold things in my left hand and stand for long periods of time without my left leg shaking uncontrollably. With physio exercises to help with stretching my hamstrings, which has been causing me problems in bending over, I have slightly improved with getting around although I won’t be doing any cartwheels anytime soon.

I have an MRI coming up to see what the actual damage is inside, and I’m just hoping that it is just a slipped disc and nothing worse. The thought of having to have back surgery in the future terrifies me and I’m hoping that once we kn ow what it is, it can just be controlled with pain medication.

In terms of pain, I’m constantly aching but I am having pain everywhere else except where I’ve damaged my back. Whether its down to using other muscles and over compensating so I don’t injure the area again, I don’t know but I have never had my body ache so much. The weakness in my left hand side is still quite bad, although not severe, and unfortunately my back has since gone back into spasm. I keep getting told off because I’m not resting enough, but I also need to be active to stop seizing up. The medication is making me sleep more than I’ve ever slept before and I feel drowsy most of the day, with a clouded head and muggy thinking. Almost as if I’m drunk, I can’t formulate sentences properly and I keep forgetting things moments after thinking of them. My body feels stretched and although walking is good for me, I feel like after a while my gait changes like I can’t hold myself up. I’ve invested in an orthopaedic V shaped pillow which has been an absolute god send for keeping me propped up as well as holding me in place whilst I’m in bed. I wake up each morning feeling like I have bubbles behind my forehead which I have been told is a side effect of the Gabapentin and should settle soon but could take up to three months before the side effects start to subside. How long I will be on this medication, I do not know but because it’s a medication that alters cognitive processing, I’m not allowed to stop taking it without consent off my doctor. I’ve also developed what can only be described as a sprain in both my left ankle and left wrist and I’ve been wearing a support bandage to compress it to help. I’ve also got a trapped nerve in my groin which is very awkward, as I just want to rub it to relieve the tingling but you can’t do that in public!

The strength, or should I say weakness in my left side is really hard to deal with. I can’t lift, carry or grip anything without shaking and it’s had a huge impact on daily chores that I can do. For example, washing the pots has now become a military operation as I can’t stand still at the sink as well as lift things in my left hand without having strong tremors run through my leg. Even filling the kettle is painful. I can’t hoover as I have a Hetty and can’t bend or find the strength to be able to push it along the carpet. Even the simplest of tasks like taking a shower and washing and drying my hair have proved to be quite difficult, although it is getting slightly easier as the weeks go by. The most annoying thing is not even being able to hold my DSLR, and you know how much I love my photography.

The worst thing from all of this is that I feel like I’ve had my independence taken away. In the last 7 weeks, I’ve left the house just 10 times and the majority of those have been with friends or family as I feel like I have lost my confidence in getting out and about myself. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place because I need to keep moving but I have to plan it out as if I do go out, it wipes me out with fatigue for the next day or two. To say it’s driving me mad is an understatement. It’s going to be a long recovery process I know, but I will get there – that I’m sure of!

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This post has been playing on my mind for a few weeks now, however in light of recent situations it has come to the forefront of my mind and given me a lot to think about. Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. To me, I find success in completing my to-do list, for making sure all my laundry is done in time for the start of the working week and for keeping money in my bank account past the 10th of the month. Other success comes from different areas in life and one of these successes is of course my blog. A blog that started out as a small hobby, where I put in writing my opinions on make up that I had bought. Not expecting anyone other than my Mum to read it, I can now say that after nearly four years I have written around a thousand blog posts on make up and beauty, travelling, fashions, events and other things that I have felt the need to talk about. Not only that, but I have also amassed a strong readership, loyal followers, and a great working relationship with not only some of the biggest brands in the UK, but across the world. People often tell me how lucky I am to have so many products sent to me, but I’ve always said that my success isn’t down to luck. It’s down to sheer hard work and consistent fine tuning of a small hobby that has grown into a personal success.

Anoushka Loves bedroom

For those who do not blog, I suppose that from the outside looking in, it seems like all I do is play around on Instagram and Twitter, throw up a blog post every now and again and share the amazing products that have been delivered on a daily basis. For the outsiders, they don’t see just how much work goes into creating just one blog post. Historically, you’ll have seen that up until my back injury, I was posting almost every single day. Each blog post takes me around 3 hours from start to finish. Designing a photography background for the product placement, taking images, editing them before watermarking them, writing said post, editing and proof reading, plus the smaller things like social media promotion to ensure that all my efforts don’t go to waste and that people actually read it. A full time job in itself, all whilst having a full time job. Not only that but the inspiration and creativity involved to create posts that people want to read and share. Having a muggy head filled with medication has really scuppered this recently and I’ve not been able to find the words that I want to say, which pains me as I love to write. I’m not succeeding as of yet, but I’m sure that I will be back on track soon to be able to.

My success of my blog to people who don’t blog does lead me to an unfortunate situation, and one that may cause some controversy. Most people that I know who don’t blog are very proud of me. They champion all I do, and what I have gained through my hard work and dedication and they know that I am still humble of everything. People know that I actually don’t like talking about my blog, let alone when people start to read it in front of me. It makes me cringe. I suppose maybe it’s because I treat it like my own personal diary of thoughts. There are some people though, who seem to take great pleasure in trying to bring me down because of what they perceive to be my success. They are the people who don’t see me working through the night if I have a deadline, they don’t see my sobbing because this little hobby has got to much and I’m under immense pressure – which I have since learnt to let it go! They also just see what they want to see. Now, I’m not throwing the word jealousy into this, because I don’t believe that personally I have anything to be jealous of. I work hard, I work hard in an industry which I’ve wanted to work in since my mum taught me to do a smokey eye aged 9. People are appreciative of my opinion, my recommendation, my knowledge of the industry yet there are still people who don’t understand the blogging world who will try and take me down and speak poorly of me because I am doing something that I love to do and putting the work in to it. Believe me, when I see other people’s lives on social media, I also feel a pang of ‘I wish’, or ‘I’d love to do that’. But, what is stopping you? Why are some people so intent on letting other peoples success be a measure on their own lives.

This then makes me think about recent events for those within the blogging industry. It has all come to a head over this Easter weekend that there are a certain amount of bloggers who have been cheating the system by essentially buying followers or using an automated bot to increase their following. Some of the peoples names that have been outed have really disappointed me. As I have been championing their success, and being proud of all they’ve accomplished, it has gutted me that their success has been built on cheating the system. You may be thinking ‘oh well, it’s just a few followers’, however when a brand comes to choose who they are working with, it is a sad state of affairs but yes, follower numbers play a huge part in being chosen for outreach. The more followers, the more people will see it, but when those followers are fake accounts, where is the return on investment? When people like myself may be passed over because I don’t have enough followers compared to the girl who has been using bots to grow her Instagram by 200 new followers a day, it’s an unfair comparison. Sadly, it’s the world we live in yet my aim for success doesn’t have cheating the system in mind. My success comes from hard work and trying to grow my social media by using a strategy that is honest and although hard work with the current algorithms, it is working. The authenticity is there and that is more noticeable than ever in times where people are cheating. I have never wanted to be famous. I don’t want to be Insta-Famous and I most certainly would define my success on Instagram by cheating.

It does concern me greatly at how being ‘famous’ takes over the morals that I have personally built my blog on. I am proud to say that I am known for being straight to the point, for being outspoken and most of all being honest. People trust what I say and the amount of people who tell me they want my opinion before spending hard earned money on products spurs me on the most. With the Instagram cheating, the people involved who aren’t even holding their hands up and admitting what they’ve done, my words for you are these – You may think you may have the success now, you may think it will all blow over, but all it has done is tarnish your reputation. Spending X amount of years building a personal brand built on honesty and respect has all been removed overnight. I hope your success of being famous on Instagram is worth it.

Success – an accomplishment of an aim or purpose. If your aim is to cheat, well done. You’ve succeeded. If your purpose is to belittle my hobby because of your insecurities, you’ve also succeeded. But, has it been worth it? My aims have been completed with results way higher than I could have ever expected. Success. It definitely comes as a price, it’s just how you deal with it that counts.

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It feels like it’s been a long time since Manchester has had a new restaurant and bar opening that I’ve been genuinely excited about. Having seen the pre launch images of Grand Pacific, I was even more certain that I had to pay a visit to the newest Living Ventures project, based in the building of the old Reform Club on Spring Gardens, at the top of King Street, Manchester. The building itself is beautiful and totally in keeping with its neighbours on Spring Gardens and King Street. The Grade Two listed Venetian Gothic style building is quite captivating, with it’s turrets, beautiful long windows with exterior balconies and winged beast carvings above the main entrance. For Living Ventures to bring this building to life, it had to be out of the ordinary, and I really do think they’ve captured the essence of the building with the new Grand Pacific.

Walking up to Grand Pacific, I noticed a lot of pineapples within the design and decor, including on the door handles to the entrance to the building. Although pineapples seem to be massively in fashion with the blogger community at the moment, they actually represent something more than just the fruit. Here’s some pineapple history, just for fun. Pineapples originally began as the fruit of the wealthy, with them being used on table centrepieces. Pineapples also were once an expensive dessert, whilst rooms that had pineapple motifs carved into furniture were seen as being luxurious and welcoming, which was more commonly seen in Colonial America. The Colonial theme is quite apparent within the interior of Grand Pacific. With pineapples representing the assets in which we base a home, it’s a perfect symbol for Grand Pacific; warming and welcoming, good hospitality and friendship.

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Heading up the dark wood curved staircase, I was absolutely blown away by the opulence of the interior. Dark walls, dark wood tables, with gold accents and a huge palm tree leaf chandelier above the bar area, it’s resplendent. Heading to the bar, there are plenty of high tables to sit on, or you could mingle at the long bar and watch the bar staff create incredible cocktails including the Grand Pacific Signature – Wax Seal. The whole place screams high society, and I can’t help but think of the words of the great F.Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby – “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” With the music pumping, but not loud enough that we couldn’t converse, the atmosphere was electric. Whether it was due to being the launch night, or because Grand Pacific is the place that Manchester has been crying out for, it’s really took a hold of me.

Sitting down at a cosy table for two, we didn’t need to peruse the menu as both myself and my sister had already decided on the food around three days before our visit. The food has an Asian fusion vibe, with the dining menu having a tag line of ‘a mesmeric voyage of tastes from distant shores’. I started with the Thai fishcakes with a pineapple dipping sauce whilst Paula had prawn and mussel Laksa. Service from ordering our food to getting the starter was fairly quick and the food arrived on the table with an expert presentation. It was noted that they did take a note of who ordered what so it was presented to the correct person upon arrival. The Thai fishcakes were really tasty with chunky pieces of fish mixed with the potato and spices. The pineapple dipping sauce was my favourite; an explosive combination of sweet chilli with a subtle sweet yet slightly tart kick from the pineapple. The fishcakes were served with a fresh slaw and a tempura battered vegetable fritter. It was more than adequate for a starter and actually quite filling. The prawn and mussel Laksa looked incredible and the attention to detail on the presentation was impeccable. Noodles with a citrus labne were topped with butternut squash and edamame bean, and a generous portion of prawn and mussels, topped with roasted peanuts.

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

The wait time between our starter and main course was getting on for a good 40 minutes from having our starter plates removed, however the service staff were attentive and filled up drinks, changed napkins and cutlery over and engaged in conversation. The wait time wasn’t particularly an issue as we were having a great time and it could be put down to a very full restaurant as it was the launch night.

When the main course arrived, I was really hungry and looking forward to it much more since there was a considerable wait. I had spotted the Lamb Massaman curry on the menu prior to my visit and I was practically salivating by the time it came to the table. Served in individual dishes rather than the usual mix of sauce and rice on the plate, the Lamb Massaman came alongside Forbidden Rice and Gunpowder Potatoes with two pieces of naan bread. In China, Forbidden Rice is actually black rice, however this was a mix of both white and brown rice. It was seasoned beautifully and I couldn’t place the flavours that it was seasoned with, but it was certainly moreish. The Gunpowder potatoes were very tasty with both white and purple new potatoes being used, alongside sweet potato cubes that were topped with sliced spring onions and chilli peppers. The lamb curry can only be described as a food orgasm. I have never tasted anything as delicious as that curry. The lamb fell apart as soon as it hit my mouth whilst the massaman curry sauce was rich in flavour, smooth in taste and had enough of a kick of spice to bring the Asian taste to life. The only thing that let the dish down was the naan bread; it was slightly floppy with no particular taste or texture like naan should have.

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Grand Pacific Manchester

Whilst I had the curry, Paula had the Tempura Szechuan Sea Bass with crispy noodles and pineapple and cucumber garnish. From what Paula said on the evening, the fish was cooked perfectly, with a light and crisp batter, whilst the noodles were quite dry alongside the fish. The dish needed a sauce of some kind to make it easier to eat as the cucumber and pineapple, which tasted great with the fish, wasn’t enough to eat alongside two whole fillets of sea bass. A soy or Hoisin dipping sauce would have been a great accompaniment.

Although there should always be room for dessert, we were both pretty full to busting, so we ordered something light and fresh to finish off our evening. The Pineapple Carpacchio was served with a scoop of coconut ice cream and a sesame twills, topped with pistachios. The tartness of the pineapple was offset by the maple syrup drizzle whilst the coconut ice cream was so incredibly creamy that you would think that it was frozen coconut milk. It was a perfect palette cleanser, and an ideal dessert to take away the pang for something sweet at the end of the meal.

There’s a lot of attention to detail right down to the delivering the bill to the table, which came in a hollowed out book. It’s very meticulous with the ‘first class service’ that it’s apparent that they are going for. I do hope that this doesn’t start distracting from the food and the little things like service time in between courses. Grand Pacific reminded me of the Titanic; the luxurious and over the top designs, the monogrammed napkins, the intricate designed cutlery. It’s very well thought out and quite beautiful, however I do feel like they could be a victim to their own success if the little things aren’t ironed out. Our server for the evening was very apologetic over wait times, and again I have no reason to complain about his attentiveness but if this was a paid for meal, I would be a bit annoyed at having to wait for such a long time. I’m really looking forward to going back to try out the Sunday roast, and see how that fares compared to other places within Manchester.

* The meal was provided FOC however we paid for our drinks. All opinions are my own.

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A rainy Sunday in Manchester isn’t a rarity, but finding a cosy nook to have a top notch Sunday dinner is. With Manchester containing a plethora of bars and restaurants, with new places popping up all of the time, it’s very rare to find a place that gives that warm and cosy feeling without making you feel like you are being rushed. With a rise in ‘hot desking’ and finding a comfortable spot to work away from the office or home, The Refinery in Spinningfields has captured the essence of hygge whilst serving delicious food and amazing cocktails. I visited one rainy Sunday and I was reluctant to leave.

The Refinery has taken a trendy bar, an open plan kitchen and the comforts of a lounge to create a modern, relaxing space that wouldn’t look out of place on a Pinterest mood board. With a Scandinavian vibe using plush sheepskins, and relaxed lighting from ultra modern lamps and candlesticks, the whole vibe of The Refinery is that of comfort and feeling at home. Dining with Keeley from Phat Cupcake, we had our Sunday dinner in the lounge. Sitting on sumptuous couches, at a copper table with a marble top, it’s probably the most blogger-esque place that I’ve visited.

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

Having planned a long lazy grazing day whilst we caught up on all the gossip and what life has had to throw at us recently, I started with a hazelnut latte made with soy milk before trying a Monkey Business smoothie. Banana, pear, ginger, almond milk and maple syrup make this a truly delightful drink to the palette. Thick and creamy, without any dairy, it’s nice for someone like myself with a intolerance to dairy to be able to choose something off the menu with ease.

A Sunday dinner was the only thing on my mind, with the beef option jumping out to me straight away. I also asked for pigs in blankets which do come with the chicken dinner which they gladly obliged. It’s a long time until Christmas and I do love a pig in blanket. I was not expecting the sheer size of the food that was presented to me. A case of my eyes being bigger than my belly, I did wish that I hadn’t had a smoothie as I was lacking in room. I like to leave an empty plate so I did my utmost best to demolish the thick and juicy slices of beef which were cooked to a medium rare perfection. With roast potatoes that melted in the middle, and a delicious selection of vegetable including roast parsnips, carrots, broccoli and red cabbage, it was a very good rival to my Nanna’s Sunday dinner. Gravy, horseradish and Yorkshire pudding that were as big as your head, it really was the epitome of Sunday lunch.

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

 

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

It doesn’t matter how much you eat, you can always make room for dessert, and my choice was Pecan Tart. As I was so full, I really didn’t make the most of it and left at least half. For what I did eat, it was good however it was slightly burnt however the inside was moist and gooey with chunky pieces of caramalised pecan in a soft shortcrust pastry casing.

Finishing the luxurious lounging, a cocktail was in order. It was Sunday after all. The Tiki Punch cocktail was served over ice in a copper tiki cup which was very Instagrammable. The only downside to tiki cups however is they freeze your hands with the amount of ice. Sat curled up on the deluxe couch, I could have been mistaken for being in my own home. Good food, great company and opulent surroundings make The Refinery something very special.

Once I’m back on my feet, I feel like The Refinery will be a place where I will be spending plenty of time with my laptop and a warming latte or even a bottle of red whilst I catch up with friends and get some work done. It’s surprising how much more motivated you are to do work when you’re not in the house.

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

The Refinery Spinningfields

Once the weather is a bit better I’ll be looking forward to sitting outside on the terrace with the sheepskin furs for comfort and the additional blankets to keep warm in this questionable UK weather that we have. If you are local to Manchester, I really do recommend that you call in, if not for a Sunday roast but to experience the homely feel that The Refinery has to offer. You can also read Keeley’s review and she her thoughts on The Refinery.

*Meal provided in return for review however my opinions are 100% my own.

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‘I wish I was thin.
I wish I was pretty.
I wish my thighs didn’t chafe when I walked.
I wish my boobs were smaller, my stomach flatter, my ankles were slimmer.
I wish I was someone else.’

I feel like I’m constantly doubting myself, knocking my own confidence and damaging my self esteem because I can’t reach to the impossibly high standards that I’m trying to set myself all the while striving to keep that confident façade that I’ve built up as a barrier around me for so long. Impossible goals and unrealistic standards. I’ve had a huge blip this week and I’ve felt like everything that I do or say isn’t right. I feel at the bottom of the pile, surrounded by people who may not have it all but make the most out of what they’ve got, and I can’t do seem to understand why I can’t do it myself. I feel useless, like I’m an after thought, a back up plan, a second choice.

Let's Get Real

Not only in life, but within my blog and creative outlet where I can create images and construct prose that wouldn’t give off any indication of how I feel. A perfect flat lay, a selfie of when my winged eyeliner behaved, a curated and filtered shot of the latest makeup. It’s all so constructed but yet, another barrier to hide behind. I try not to go into too much detail of my life. After all my blog is about makeup and pretty things, and who wants to hear about things that don’t fit in with the niche? I feel like I’ve fallen out of love with my blog at the minute. I’m not happy with the design and layout, but haven’t got the passion to rectify it. I hate my images, yet I can’t be bothered to try and improve them. Maybe because all the blogs I’m reading recently are all to such a high standard that I just feel inferior to the glossy images taken by personal photographers instead of with a camera on a tripod in a mirror. Beautiful destinations that people are jetting off to, a photo crossing a busy road in downtown Manhattan whilst swinging the latest designer bag. Everything feels to such a high standard that I can’t, not that I want to, compete. I just can’t seem to do it.

I try to make myself happy. I do what I want and when I want. I have a great job, great friends and to most people, a great lifestyle. But, when you have this constant drone in your head, it becomes difficult to appreciate things. Mindfulness, hygge, appreciating the smaller things in life is all well and good, but It’s bloody exhausting. Everything is exhausting. Maybe I’m writing this as a cry for help to myself, a memento of just how low I’ve gotten to write a post like this. I doubt I’ll post it. It’ll sit in my drafts as a reminder that I do have somewhere to let it all out instead of bottling it all up. My thoughts and feelings are my demons and until I can stop being so hard on myself, the longer they will stay.

I’ve always spoken my mind, and I’d rather be prided on the fact that I say how I feel than lie to fit societies standards. Unfortunately, people don’t like the truth and would rather live in a sugar coated world. Sure, it works both ways and the cold hard truth, although tough to deal with is harsh and yes, I can see how people don’t like it. But? What you see is what you get. I’d rather be known as the person that says it as it is, than the person who is two faced and loves you to your face but slags you off behind your back. I’m honest, I’m truthful, hell I’m blunt as it comes but you know what – you’ll always know where you stand.

I’m going through some crappy mental health issues right now and this façade is so difficult to keep up with. I want to cry majority of the time, I don’t care about anything or anyone. I have no reason to see a future right now and I’m sick, absolutely sick to death of trying to fit in when I quite clearly don’t. I’ve never been as unhappy in my life and all the fake smiles and fake happiness will never fix this.

A chemical imbalance my doctor calls it. I call it a unreliable, exhausting, weight bearing mind mess and I’m done with it all.

Over and out.

NB – Sometimes we just need to vent and get thoughts and frustrations out. It doesn’t mean that this is the end or that things are too much. It’s about dealing with issues in the best way possible. Of course, The Samaritans are always there if you feel that you are struggling to cope. Call 116 123 from any phone.

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It’s not often that I’m in country, and it’s also not often that I get chance to have a much needed weekend off so I can catch up with everyone who works a Monday to Friday job. One person who I miss dearly as I very rarely get to see her, is my Mum. Grasping an opportunity of a rare Sunday off together, I decided to take her out for dinner at a place where we had both never eaten; Jamie’s Italian in Manchester. Situated at the bottom of Hotel Gotham on King Street, the site is a former bank with beautiful huge windows, exceptionally high ceilings and still features the original vault downstairs.

The restaurant itself is split into a bar area, which not only holds bottles of wines but a huge selection of cured meats, before splitting into the dining area with an upstairs mezzanine. During the day the bar area reminds me slightly of a school canteen with rickety wooden table and a stand of Jamie’s Italian merchandise. Taking time to have a pre-dinner drink, it gave the perfect opportunity to take in the beauty of the interior of the building. Manchester really does have some of the most incredible architecture, and the King Street building is one of top five commercial buildings to be built in Manchester. Previously home to the Midland Bank, designer Luytens has created a majestically stunning building, that would’t be out of place on the streets of New York.

Moving into the dining area, we were seated downstairs rather than on the mezzanine level, which has a more comfortable and cosy atmosphere. I do like to people watch and it was nice to see other Mother and Daughter duos coming in for nibbles and a glass of prosecco. The waiting staff were attentive, and kept check of the table even with a busy turnover, and although the time between courses could have been reduced, it was nice to be able to sit back and have some much needed catching up.

Having never been to Jamie’s Italian before, I was really looking forward to my meal and having previously browsed the menu, I had a fairly clear idea in my head as to what I wanted. Starting with Jamie’s famous planks, we shared the classic meat plank at £6.95 per person. A selection of meats and cheese including Fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata piccante, with mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino & chilli jam, pickles, olives and purple slaw. Personally, for nearly £14 for two of us to share the plank, I don’t think it was a great value for money and although the meats and cheeses were delicious, I think there could have been a bit more to it. That being said, I have never had buffalo mozzarella like the one I had at Jamie’s. It was like cream in the middle; unbelievably melt in the mouth with a soft, smooth flavour.

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Autumn/Winter Menu at Jamie's Italian, Manchester

Going to a restaurant usually means that I will have a steak and being a creature of habit means that I don’t try anything new these days. It’s very rare that I would choose a pasta main dish, but stepping outside of the norm led to me choosing the Jamie’s Italian Famous Prawn Linguine. Available in two sizes, I went for the larger after asking the advice from the waiter, who insisted it wasn’t a huge bowl. If you can’t hack a large amount of pasta, the smaller bowl will be enough. I couldn’t even finish all of mine, and this girl likes to eat. A vast amount of buttery linguine in a sea of tomato, fennel, saffron and chilli with a substantial amount of garlicky prawns and langoustine tails topped with fresh rocket. I was overfaced with the amount but I made a good dent into it, but the carb coma soon caught up with me. The pasta was quite stodgy in the centre and tasted slightly waterlogged but the spicy tomato sauce offset this with its delightful chilli kick and light consistency, whilst the seafood was juicy without being overpowering.

I’ve always said that there is a special compartment in your stomach and no matter how full you are, there is always room for dessert. The Epic Chocolate Brownie certainly was epic with a generous serving of brownie covered in salted caramel ice cream and caramelised popcorn. I do have a sweet tooth, and this rounded up the meal beautifully. The brownie was perfectly done; crispy chocolate on the outside that melted into a gooey centre, whilst the salted caramel ice cream was mouthwatering. The popcorn tasted slightly stale but we can forgive that as the brownie was so delicious.

For my first visit to Jamie’s Italian, I was relatively pleased with both the service and the food. I do think it’s expensive for what you get which is the only thing that would put me off from going back especially when compared with other food establishments I’ve eaten in recently. Overall, my bill for the two of us including one soft drink each and a bottle of water, with a sharing starter, a main course and a dessert each came to £75 which to me, is an awful lot to spend on a Sunday afternoon. The food was good, but was quite a way away from being of exceptional taste, however I do feel that as a chain restaurant, it does lack the authenticity of going to an independent Italian restaurant. The waiting on staff couldn’t have been anymore helpful, and that alone gives me good reason to revisit, as well as experience the beauty that the restaurant is set in.

* I was provided with a gift card to review the menu at Jamie’s Italian. All opinions are my own.

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Although I’ve lived in my house for numerous years, I’ve always been a bit lax when it comes to decorating. It’s never really been high on my list of priorities, as I’ve been quite happy with the plain magnolia walls and the furnishings within each room. I blame Pinterest mainly, because ever since I’ve been getting inspiration from there, I’ve really started to step back and notice just how much my house could use a lick of paint. When Inspired Wallpapers approached me with a decorating challenge, I gladly accepted. My spare room was going to be updated into a serene and tranquil space where I can take time out to chill, and more importantly, have a space for my blogging paraphernalia which would free up space in the lounge. From simply hanging my chosen wallpaper, I have accessorised and created not only a beautiful space, but one that is ‘so blogger’ that I’ve been inundated with requests where each item is from. So, for all my blush pink, pale grey and copper lovers out there, you can thank me later!

Half of my spare room is taken up by hanging rails packed full of clothes and bookcases stacked with shoes and bags. As it’s a work in progress, I want to update you with this at a later time. Keeping the bed as a focal point, I wanted a comfortable area in which I could laze around and get cosy. How to Hygge has really come into force with the textures and fabrics that I’ve chosen, alongside the lighting and soft furnishing.

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

The Bloggers Bedroom Copper Blush Pink Pale Grey

Sticking with a colour scheme that won’t date, a mixture of greys and pale pinks keep things feminine, with the copper accessories adding a modern twist to an otherwise classic colour scheme. I’m itching to get a day bed for the room but until then, I am keeping my bed which has come with me from my family home. The grey and beech of the bed frame are in keeping with the colour scheme and the rest of the furniture in the bedroom, and a string of rose gold heart fairy lights twisted around the headboard give that extra touch. For ultimate cosiness, brushed cotton is my favourite. Not only does it feel amazing but it’s so warm. This Collection Brushed Cotton Single set in Blush Pink was only £12.99 from Argos. Using different shades of grey, I’ve added a Heart of Home at Argos Single fitted sheet in Dove Grey, and dark grey pillowcases from Primark. A pair of lined curtains in charcoal grey finish off the essential bedroom items.

To dress the bed, a grey sherpa throw £5, and a cream heart shaped cushion from Primark caught my eye as soon as I saw them. Primark Home has some really gorgeous things in at the moment, and I find myself popping in quite frequently to see what’s new on the shelves. They have a huge selection of accessories and fairy lights as well as the blogger favourite trinket dishes, ring holders and cacti in copper pots. What I have loved the most about creating a new space, is finding some really fantastic homeware websites. Rooi; a luxury living website has been the source for the most gorgeous faux Mongolian Fur Cushions in pink and grey*, at a really reasonable price of £24.95 per cushion. The faux Mongolian fur is almost like the real thing, whilst the cushions are plump and feel great to snuggle up into.

No bedroom is complete without a bedside table and when I spotted this amazing copper geometric framed table with wooden top from Maisons Du Monde, I knew it would complement everything in the room whilst giving a modern edge. The ZigZag table is only £26.99 but shipping is £7 as it comes over from France. I would advise to have a good browse and see if there is anything else that you need as now I’m kicking myself for not getting a few accessories that I wanted, and I totally object to spending £7 on shipping. For the bedside table, accessories such as potted plants and vases, light up decorations and trinket plates have been sourced from Homesense, Primark, B&M Bargains and New Look. With items like these, going into store is ideal as they rarely show up on the website, especially with places like Homesense which has such a high turnover of stock that it’s like an Aladdin’s Cave.

Two of my favourite pieces in the revamped room both happen to be lighting; a bedside table and a ceiling light. At the moment, both items are showing as out of stock, but it’s worthwhile checking back frequently as I did get them very recently. The Iconic Lights Industrial Talisman Lamp with marble base, £20, is every bloggers dream. It seems that Aldi released this lamp prior to Christmas and every one has gone mad for it. Since buying this last week, I have been asked so many times as to where it’s from as it’s so photogenic and fits perfectly into the the colour scheme of the room. The Rustic Globe Bulb, £6 is from Wilko, and complements it beautifully. For the ceiling light, I fell in love with the Wilko Copper Cage Pendant, £12. I wasn’t intending to get this but when I saw it in real life, it looks so expensive and gives that bijoux New York loft feel, especially when combined with another one of the Rustic Bulbs from Wilko.

All in all, I’ve redecorated and dressed a room for under £200, included lighting and made it into such a beautiful space. I keep finding myself coming into the room just to sit amongst the cushions, so I am utilising the whole space as a dedicated blogging space/wardrobe.

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Do you ever just stop and think ‘woah, where am I heading in life’? It’s becoming more and more frequent for me at the moment, and sometimes I just need to let it all out and get some much needed head space. I’ve taken four weeks off my blog. My blog that I have carefully curated and nurtured for nearly four years. After Christmas, where I was under immense pressure to get so many products featured, I knew that taking some time out would be good for me, and my mental state. No pressure, no stress, no crying into my pillow because I had a deadline I didn’t think that I was going to meet because I’d been called out. It’s been pure bliss to have this head space and to be able to breathe. Life is really too short to stress, so 2017 is going to be YOLO. Or, ROLO if I carry on eating sweets like am doing. You only live once. Yes, you do. Facing each moment head on, tackling those things that haven’t made me happy, and changing things in my life to suit me and not others. Being spontaneous and a little bit crazy, grabbing life by the balls. If I want it, get it – I work hard enough to justify it.

You Only Live Once Anoushka Loves

You Only Live Once Anoushka Loves

My goal for 2017 is to create a happy space around me, and first on the list is updating my home. I’ve lived here for nine years now and although I love it, I needs a juhz and a lick of paint. I’m a single gal, but you know what – I can decorate, I can paint, I can gloss and I can wallpaper. With some help of course, but I can do it. My first project has been my spare room which is well on it’s way to becoming a tranquil space of blush pink, pale grey and copper hues that is giving me deep joy every time I walk past it. The next on my list is the lounge. Again, fresh paint and some fancy wallpaper will make all the difference, and I’m so tempted to splash out on a fancy Panasonic 4K TV because I deserve it.

Spontaneity is heading up high on my list of goals. I need to turn ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’. So many times have I stayed in, inside the comfort of my home and then backed out of events and meet ups because a small attack of social anxiety hits me, or I decide that it’s too cold outside. I am full of excuses and I need to stop it. It’s the year of the yes, and yes I am doing it. What is spontaneity? Does booking a flight to the other side of the world, on your own, class as being spontaneous? Well, I think so. Nervous as hell, doubting myself to the max yet feeling proud as punch that I’ve arranged flights, hotels, transfers and spending money for Sephora in just a few months. If I can do this, I can do anything.

Rather than having target based goals to achieve, my ultimate goal in life is to be happy. After struggling with mental health for several months, I’m finally in a place where I can step back and take stock of the situation and deal with things appropriately rather than sweating the small stuff. Being of a logical mind, analysing every little thing was creating problems rather than solutions and i’m not one to shrug things off with a f*ck it kind of outlook, so instead I am to not carry the world on my shoulders. It’s not worth it.

You only live once can be misconstrued into thinking that a wild and hedonistic lifestyle is the way forward, but to me it’s more about taking what life has to throw at you and turning it into something special. Follow your dreams, and what your heart is telling you, but still making sensible decisions in your head. Don’t be afraid, be brave. Earn it and spend it how you like, it’s yours. Stop justifying why you can’t, and embrace why you can. Staying in because it’s cold? Wrap up warm and stop being soft. I, as an adult, still have a lot to learn, but I will get there. I have to, because you only live once. Make it a great one.

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Living in Manchester has it’s advantages. It’s a big city with an extraordinary amount of bars and restaurants, with new eateries popping up left, right and centre. Although I like to try new places, I always find myself back in my favourite haunts. One of those places happens to be Artisan, located in Spinningfields, Manchester. A thriving and bustling area, filled with high end luxury shops and some fabulous places to grab a cocktail or four, Spinningfields is the area to be in when heading out. Artisan opened in 2013, within a 12,000 sq ft industrial space. Bare brick walls, and a laid back vibe, it’s cosy and comfortable with no element of pretentiousness. Warm and welcoming, artwork covers the stripped back walls, whilst you dine in front of two wood burning ovens that take centre stage. I called in for a catch up with a friend last week and took full advantage of the new menu.

Seated by the window, I relaxed into a plump cushion whilst perusing the menu. Traditional English fayre, handmade rustic dishes and food served straight from the fire. Whilst deciding on food, we nibbled on olives and crispy kale, which was absolutely delicious. Sipping on raspberry lemonade, the conversation was flowing, whilst our very attentive waiter Greg ensured our experience was to the highest standard.

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

I delved into a classic starter of chicken liver and rum paté with golden raisins and chia seed butter. Served with thick slices of toasted granary bread, it was comforting and filling. The flavours of the paté danced on my tongue, whilst it’s smoothness complimented the rough texture of the toast. A beetroot salad intensified the flavours, with its sharp yet vibrant tartness. Steph chose the prosciutto and watermelon salad with a beetroot dressing, that looked really fresh and mouthwatering.

Artisan is famous for it’s wood burning ovens so it was natural that I was to choose something straight from the flame. Handmade flatbread topped with beetroot, avocado and Gorgonzola jumped straight off the menu. I do have a bit of an obsession with avocados and I may indulge in them rather frequently, but they are good for you. As avocados are quite bland, the robust and aromatic flavours of the Gorgonzola melted perfectly together, with just the perfect amount of sweetness from the beetroot. Popular with everyone, a bowl of sweet potato fries accompanied my flatbread. The paprika salt which coated the fries gave them a warming and slightly spicy finish. A casear salad with poached salmon was the meal of choice for Steph, and I would almost certainly order this for myself next time.

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Artisan Manchester

Unbelievably, we managed to fit in dessert and I was really tempted by the chocolate brownie but at the last minute, I changed my mind for the pistachio meringue filled with lemon Chantilly cream. Decorated with rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate, I definitely made the right choice. The sweetness of the strawberries were offset against the tartness of the the rhubarb and light zest of the lemon cream, whilst the pomegranate and pistaschio flavours, although subtle, worked really well together. As the meringue was so sweet, the tangy bursts of pomegranate popped in the mouth. It was simply divine. Steph chose the classic lemon posset, which looked extremely indulgent.

If you are heading into Manchester this weekend, I really do recommend that you head to Artisan, whether it be for a cocktail at the 20ft long bar or to indulge in some beautiful food. With reasonable prices, a casual yet trendy setting and right in the heart of Manchester, Artisan is in the ideal location for a mid shop stop. You can find Artisan on The Avenue North of Spinningfields.

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*Meal provided FOC however all opinions are my own.

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