The best way to keep a positive mind is the remember the positive and happy things that are happening to you. In my bid to be the sparklier, sassier and best version of myself I wanted the document 5 things that make me happy in a month. Whether it’s experiences, an item or something thatContinue reading
When I was 22 I was fresh out of University and I was living in hope that the perfect job would fall at my feet. The job market was pretty pants but I didn’t think I’d be one of those graduates who doesn’t get a job. I didn’t think I’d be a statistic and I certainly didn’t think I’d be living at my parents for 18 months. These things happened though and at 22, I took on the worst job I’ve ever been in and lived a really unhappy life.
The job was a very basic administration role and it did get me the job I do today. With the job came an office full of very catty girls who took a disliking to me. There were many times where I thought about handing in my notice but the job was only until September. It had an end point and it wasn’t forever. I tried applying for jobs whilst I was in this job but I’d always get to the final interview and never get it. I was told I was a lovely girl but not enough experience or technical knowledge. After about six months in this job, I re-evaluated my situation. My job was going to end in September either way, I was in the perfect opportunity to save some money and I’d always wanted to go travelling. Why didn’t I just go? What was stopping me for going for a few weeks? Nothing except myself.
I came across Trek America whilst browsing on places to go. I didn’t want to go for very long as I only had a few months to save the cash and I also didn’t want to organise anything. I just wanted to turn up, see some sights and make some friends. I wanted to go with a group as no one had to spare cash or annual leave to go with me. Luckily, I found Trek America and it fitted the bill perfectly. After finding the perfect trip for me and e-mailing their sales team, I was booked onto a 2 week trip in November.
I flew to LA a few days after my twenty third birthday. It was the longest flight I’ve ever been on. I was feeling pretty nervous of what was going to come but the moment I landed on California soil; I felt free. It was something I hadn’t felt for a long, long time and I instantly knew I was going to have the best time of my life. I wasn’t wrong, I honestly had the best 2 weeks of weeks of my life. Each trip offers freedom, a bunch of like minded people, a tour guide with amazing knowledge of everywhere you go and best of all, memories.
When I was booking my trip, I was clueless on what to pack and what to expect. Surprisingly, there’s no many articles out there offering future Trekkers a guide on what to expect. So, I’ve devised my top 6 tips that I learnt on TrekAmerica
- Buy a fleece/hoody
If you follow one piece of advice, follow this one. Please take a fleece or a hoody with you. Before I went, my Mum got me the most ugly looking fleece from Marks and Spencer’s. It was plain black but it was the warmest thing I have ever owned and to be honest, I still wear it when I walk Rufus in the morning. When my Mum bought it home, I didn’t think I’d need it but I did – it’s bloody freezing in the desert at night. I honestly spent a good few days wrapped up in my fleece and everyone was pretty jealous about it. So please go and buy a bad boy like this. You will not regret it.
2. Make sure you bring enough $$
Before I went on my trip I worked out how much each activity was. TrekAmerica tell you what activities there are in each trip and give a rough price. I calculated the higher end of each activity I wanted to do. Then you need to add about $10 per day for pit stops and an extra couple of dollars for tipping. You spend a lot of time in the van and it’s surprising how many snacks you buy. Naturally, every snack is a novelty but be aware of how much you spend!
3. Don’t fill your case up before you even get there
You don’t need to take every single essential with you. I filled my bag up with my sleeping bag, shampoo, straighteners, conditioner – the absolute works, when it reality I could have just stocked up in Walmart and bought more things from America back home with me. Trust me, it was a total nightmare trying to fit all the present I bought back in my case. Besides, everything in Walmart is super cheap, I grabbed a pillow in there for $2 and it was honestly the best pillow for sleeping in the van and the tent.
4. Bring campsite essentials
One of the things I wasn’t sure of when I booked this trip was how I’d get a long with camping. I really really hate camping. I’m not a girl who sits well in the cold and I’m not a huge fan of the toilet facilities. Also, I probably didn’t like it even more because I was massively under prepared. I didn’t have a torch or flipflops. But I did have one of these super camping towels which save you a shed load of room in your luggage. So, take some anti bac, get some cheap flip flops for the toilets and get yourself a torch then you are already doing better than me.
5. Consider going alone
I booked my trip alone and I’m really glad I did. A lot of people do these trips alone and I feel you are more likely to make friends on your own. On my trip the group consisted of 4 British, an Australian girl, an Irish guy, a lovely guy from Korea, 2 friends from the Netherlands and 2 best friends from Norway. It’s a great way of getting to learn about other cultures too. You just need to remember that everyone is in the same boat and are willing to get to know each other. A bonus of Trek America is that a few weeks before your trip, you can connect with your camp friends before you fly out on their social media site. It’s a real bonus when booking with Trek America.
6. An open mind
It’s not very often that you go on a trip with so much freedom. It was one thing that made me book with Trek America. All I literally had to do was get to this hotel in LA and have a holiday of a lifetime. Each city you visit comes with so many activities and opportunities. If you can, I would say take them all as a lot of them are once in a life time. Go horse riding in the desert, get ridiculously drunk in Vegas, take the helicopter tour around the Grand Canyon, go on each and every hike. Make memories that last because you’ll soon be back in the UK before you know it.
If any of you are off on a Trek America trip then I’m really jealous. I’d give anything to do another trip. If you have been on one before, what would your top tips be?
My name is Becky and I am a proud dog momma. Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved dogs. I’ve always wanted to work with them and I knew I’d be content with life as long as I had a nice house and a dog by my side. I got my first dog for my thirteenth birthday. I spent 5 years asking my Dad every day for a dog. He finally gave in and Alfie, the west highland terrier, was bought into my life
Alfie was the naughtiest, cheekiest and smartest pooch I have ever met. He literally ran my families life. He would demand when he wanted to go on a walk (right after Emmerdale), he would stalk my Dad for lamb chop bones and he would tell me when it was time for us to go to bed. Although hilarious, it was hard having your life dominated by a ball of fluff. Unfortunately, Alfie got really ill in 2013 and we had to have him put down just after he turned 10.
I was stricken with dog grief and I missed my little friend more than anything. I missed being greeted at the door after a rubbish day at work and snuggling up with him in bed at night. It took me a good 18 months to make the move and say I was finally ready for another piece of fluff in my life. I knew he had to be different and I knew I had to change as I didn’t want my life controlled by a dog again. I didn’t want him to look exactly like Alfie but I did want a sparkle of Alfie in him. After searching and searching, I came across this little guy.
Rufus is a Tibetan/west highland terrier cross. He’s 7 months old and he’s bought a sparkle back in my life. He is honestly one of the loveliest and brightest little dogs I’ve ever met. He’s super friendly; a flirt with the ladies especially! We bought Rufus home at the end of March and our hard work in the first few months has paid off to produce this gorgeous lad. It’s a long journey raising a puppy and here are my tips that really helped me with Rufus.
1. Patience – Gary Barlow said you need to have patience and he is right. This is the one thing I’d say to anyone; make sure you are patient. You need to prepare yourself to mop up wee constantly, have sharp little puppy teeth nip you and get up super early. That’s just the beginning! I’ve cried a fair few times when he’s been whining at the top of the stairs whilst I’ve been getting ready for work. You just need to remember that puppy doesn’t know what’s happening and they’ll only learn if you tell them and reinforce the positive.
2. Treats at every door – When we first got Rufus, we had jars full of treats at every door, every place we sit and all over the house. As soon as he did something good, we could praise him straight away and give him a treat. I found this especially useful with house training as I didn’t have to fumble about with the packets and before we both know it, he’s forgotten what he’s being praised for. Make sure you keep them out of pooch’s reach, otherwise, you’ll have a chunky monkey
3. Socialisation – One of the main things with Alfie is that he hated people. We rarely had anyone come round as he’d just go nuts and bark at them for around 3 hours straight. It was one thing I was adamant I wanted to change with Rufus. I wanted him to be friendly and accept people into his home without getting upset or scared. When we first had him, I made sure a lot of people came round to meet him and play with him. I think in his first weekend he met my parents, brother, best friend and her boyfriend and my grandparents. Safe to say – he was knackered!
It’s not only socialisation with people that’s a must – you would ideally want your dog to be friendly to other woofers too. When we first started taking Rufus out on his walks, I kept asking people if they wouldn’t mind him saying hello to their dogs. Most owners are willing to let Rufus have a sniff and it really helped.
4. Training – I think training classes are a fab idea for puppies. I enrolled Rufus in the Kennel Club Puppy Foundation class and it’s the best training centre I found. Our group has around 5 or 6 trainers to 8 puppies so it’s practically one on one. I did train Rufus to sit and lie down before we signed up but I think it’s worth paying out the money just for them to meet other dogs on a regular basis. It’s also nice to catch up with other dog owners with puppies the same age and not feel so alone in the puppy saga.
5. Take lots of photos – It’s no secret that my Instagram is 90% Rufus and 10% food. Puppies grow really quick and it’s nice to capture the moments when they were tiny. When we first bought Rufus home, he was literally a ball of fluff who I could pick up in one hand. There was nothing to him except fluff. Now, he’s doubled in size and I can’t quite carry him round as much as I used too. Still, it’s lovely to go back on those photos and see how tiny my little man was!
6. Summer time or winter time – I’ve had both a puppy in the summer and in the winter. Let me tell you, I would never ever get a woofer in the autumn/winter again. I had Alfie for my thirteenth birthday. My birthday is right at the end of October so Alfie joined the household at the end of November. My mum will tell you it was a nightmare and she wanted him to go back after 3 days. Unlike summer, you couldn’t keep the back door open, it was dark by 5pm so you didn’t know if they were going for a wee or not and the majority of his walks were in the rain. My mum practically lived in the kitchen for six months whilst she toilet trained him. I made the conscious effort to get Rufus in the spring and it’s definitely saved my sanity. We can keep the back door open, the majority of our walks have been dry so we can spend more time training him to walk properly rather than getting soaked and by the time the clocks go back in October, he’ll be more than halfway to becoming a well trained hound.
Rufus is coming on to be a smashing little dog and I love talking about him. I really am that crazy dog lady. Do you have any tips in dog training?
I’m the worst person in the world when it comes to buying loads and loads of fruit at the beginning of the week in a bid to be healthy then throwing it away come Saturday. I’m a real fuss pot when it comes to bananas too as I hate it when they are all smushy and bruised. Luckily, Ginge adores banana bread so it’s a constant recipe in our house. I thought I’d share you the recipe I use. It’s super quick, delicious and simple.
You will need:
- 285g of plain flour
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 3 or 4 overripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 225g of caster sugar
- 85ml of milk (mixed in with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice)
- 110g of butter
Firstly, you need to pre-heat your oven. I have mine set to gas mark 4/180 degrees.
You then need to add the flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Give it a mix and set aside.
Add the butter and sugar together. You need to mix this for a while until the mixture is nice and fluffy and all blended together. Once its mixed, you need to crack the two eggs into the butter/sugar mixture until they are fully together and then add the milk. I then put this aside for a moment whilst I chop my bananas into chunks in a separate bowl and mash them together. Depending if you want chunks of banana in your bread depends how much you mash them. Once mashed, add the bananas to the mixture and mix them together.
Finally, you need to fold in the flour mixture into the other mixture. Add the flour gradually and fold the flour into the mixture. Once all the flour has bee folded in, I quickly grease up my loaf tin. Usually, I use butter and rub around all the sides but I found Clover Cooking Spray in Morrisons the other day. I only had to spray the tin and it was all ready to go. Good invention Clover.
Once your tin is ready, pour the mixture into the tin and whack it in the oven for an hour. It may take a little longer than an hour but once it’s golden brown its ready. Once you take it out the oven, leave it to to cool. I usually let it cool for half an hour or so before taking it out of the tin. Then I make a cuppa and I’m ready to serve.
If you want, you can add raisins to the mixture for a bit more fruit and flavour. It’s a great way to use up the ripe bananas in your household and doesn’t take too long at all.
We’re well and truly into summer now. We’ve had the heatwave, the kids are about to finish school and everyone is just about to set off on their holidays. I’m jealous.
I haven’t got any plans to go away this year (sob) except a cheeky weekend in Kent visiting some friends. I’m hoping the weather holds out for us so I can get one day on the beach. Still, a break is a break and beggars cannot be choose. Whether you are going abroad or not, I’ve listed by top 5 essentials for summer.
I wouldn’t go anywhere without this – sudocreme. It’s the holy grail for sorting out all types of sunburn and it’s not summer for me if I don’t get burnt at least once. You think at nearly 25 with really pale skin I would have worked it out by now but, I haven’t.
When I inevitably do get burnt, I always whack this on overnight and it soothes the skin and reduces the redness. When I get up, I jump in the shower and wash it off. My skins super soft and back to a relatively normal colour. My friend told me this tip and it’s saved my life ever since. There’s too many times where I’ve had to cover my face in foundation and try to make the burn look like a blusher. I’ve only ever exceeded at this once which was on Monday so it is doable!
I’m not a girl who is massively into labels and designer brands, however, when I was about six or seven and my Dad got a pair of Raybans (which were beautiful) I knew I needed a pair in my life. I didn’t get my first pair until I was 21 and had worked 60 hour weeks at the pub continuously to pay for my holiday to Turkey. I had some spare cash and it was as if Rafiki from the Lion King appeared and said, ‘It is time’. Birmingham Airport’s duty free delivered and my goal was complete. I was an official Raybands owner.
Having a small face, I actually got a pair in the kids range as the adults make me look like a cool Deirdre Barlow and they fall off my face, a lot. They have been the best investment. I wear them all the time and I recommend anyone who drives to invest in a proper pair of sunglasses.
The one thing I really hate about the summer is that my hair cannot handle it. My hair is a mix between Mufasa’s from the Lion King mixed with Hermionie Grangers in the first 2 Harry Potter films and best of all, it hates summer. I’ve learnt not to take straighteners when I go abroad as there is no point. Seeing as I have to wash my hair everyday on holiday, it takes a good 2 hours to look decent and the moment I l step outside, I’m back being Hermfasa.
I’m trying to embrace it’s natural volume as best as I can and these products seem to be winning at the moment. R & B Hair Moisturiser by Lush is the best thing I have ever been introduced to. It smells gorgeous with an orange, avocado blend and it just seems to tame the beast. I use a small amount after I’ve towel-dried my hair and run it through the ends.
Mixed with R&B, I use the product everyone else is raving about – Moroccan Oil. It’s a little pricey at thirty quid but I generally buy a bottle every six months (if that). I know it’s so 2013 but it’s an every day staple, especially in warmer weather. Again, once I have towel dried my hair and after I apply R&B, I use about a 20p sized amount and run it through the ends of my hair. It takes away the frizziness of my hair and seems to calm it down.
It’s not summer unless you are sat in a beer garden with some of your closest friends. I’m a huge fan of pub culture and have had some of the best nights of my life in my local. I honestly don’t think you can beat it – a refreshing cider, fabulous dress, sunglasses and good company.
Since Rufus entered our lives, I like being that person who sits in the beer garden with their pooch. He seems to love it too as he gets to people watch and people fuss him every 5 minutes. It’s also a real nice way that Ginge and I can spend an afternoon together without having to rush back home to Rufus.
The maxi dress is always in and it completes summer. The best thing about maxi dresses is that you can wear them work, wear them for Friday night prosecco o’clock or an evening out. They are total wins and anyone can find one to suit them.
My favourite maxi dress of all time is my beautiful FatFace one from around 2 or 3 years ago. It’s totally gorgeous with blue and white stripes. One of the best things I love about them is the minimal effort involved with wearing them – your legs don’t have to be super smooth, you don’t your whole make up collection on your face and you just feel ace wearing them.
What are your top 5 summer essentials? Is there anything new I could try out this summer?