In a post PLL world…

Dresses, Royalty, TV series

What do we do now with no Pretty Little Liars in our lives after the season finale and how do we fill the massive gap it has left in our lives?! You truly know your life is blessed if this is one of the daily problems you face…but still HOW DID I LIVE IN A PRE PLL WORLD?!

PLL lovers, whichever girl you were (I was Hannah) I am so pleased to inform you that there is a life after PLL!

Apart from reading the mountain of articles now published debating the conclusion, what questions were left unanswered, alternative plot outcomes and what will happen next, I have turned back to Netflix in desperate hope of finding something that can meet my required daily dose of drama and dresses.

Netflix did not disappoint.

Firstly if you have not watched Gossip Girl then GO AND WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY! (But don’t if you have a big project to do….there is a high likelihood you will lock yourself away in your room and bite the head off anyone who suggests you: go out/ work/ sleep/ eat/ or DO anything that takes you away from your GG cocoon)

I mean four girls looking fabulous? Somebody worked out this dynamite formula long ago….Gossip Girl got the ball rolling, PLL took it to the next level and it just gets better with the new series I found.

Gossip Girl

Pretty Little LiarsReign

Let me introduce you to my new obsession:ย Reign

An American fantasy historical romance about Mary Queen of Scots life after moving to France to be married to the French Dauphin and all the dramatic events in Europe in the 1500s. But if you wanted a historically accurate drama then this is not it…the only thing that is correct is the names of the characters. According to this drama the Tudors were well versed in slang and had bra underwiring, elastic, high heels and respect for girls’ honour (by the King of all people!)

BUT IT HAS THE BEST DRESSES EVER!!!! So we forgive it the MASSIVE historical flaws.

Reign

Reign

Mix Gossip Girl, PLL and the Tudors and you’ve got Reign and Adelaide Kane who plays Mary, has the style prowess of the Duchess of Cambridge, who you wouldn’t be surprised to see wearing one of these dresses…and here’s photographic evidence.

Duchess of Cambridge Style

And don’t even get me started on the wedding dresses.

Royal Wedding Dresses

So these dresses are Kate Middleton worthy and we would do anything to get our hands on one of these unique pieces…hang on, did the Internet just say we can buy these?

Just to clarify…Internet, you say we can BUY the dresses of PLL, Gossip Girl and Reign?

YESSSSS!!!!! Brain explodes!๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽ‰

(Goodbye student loan, life savings and all my furniture)

Go to Shop My TV to bankrupt yourself.

ReignReignReign

Coffee breaks and gluten free num-nums

Handmade, Num nums

Starbucks Chai Iced TeaHomemade SmoothieBean Around The World

I could easily live in coffee shops, if it weren’t for the calories and price, cake and yummy drinks would constitute the majority of my diet. I’ve been gluten free for a decade and so am always on the look out for GF friendly cafes…and please STOP displaying the calories in everything; ignorance was bliss ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿท Little-piggy-me!

In my head I am not an “adult” until I drink plain filter coffee…so it’s only mocha-frappe-smoothie with cream goodies for me!

Latest was a Starbucks Chai iced tea (in an attempt to hide from caffeine) which was so yummy and very photo-worthy. Really creamy with a hint of mulled wine, it’s light and refreshing (and a little healthier, which I made obsolete by having a GF Honeybuns millionaire shortbread!)

I regret nothing.p

If you’re trying to save the monetary pounds and lose the weight pounds then make yourself this brilliant creation of my friends! Blend ice, banana and blueberries…that’s it! Give it that coffee shop feel by putting it in a smoothie jar/glass with a pretty straw (Paperchase and Not-on-the-high-street)

Earlier this year caffeine found me…hello mocha smoothie and GF brownie at Bean Around The World, I did slip into a caffeine coma afterwards….

Animal Socks!

Mega Cute, Shopping

Animal Socks

ANIMAL SOCKS!!! Nothing could be more adorable and make your day by wearing these bad boys! Totally-worth-it shopping, if like me you have desperately trying curb your shopping addiction, this is guilt free like a 0 calorie cake you can enjoy!

BUT THEY ARE ONLY ยฃ4 (for 3 from Sainsburys)

So if you need that retail hit, grab these- best ยฃ4 ever spent ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿป๐Ÿผ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿง

…..don’t pretend you’re too old/cool for animal socks- your inner child is screaming “gimmie gimmie gimmiee!”

Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair

Dresses, Homeware, Jewellery, Shopping, Vintage

Lou Lou's Vintage 12 Novย  ย Everything Vintageย ย  Lou Lou's Vintage 14 Nov

I love shopping and I love vintage so it was no surprise that I had marked Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair in Southampton Guildhall weeks in advance. Entry only cost ยฃ2 (which is less than a coffee) so this counted as a guilt free way to spend a beautiful afternoon.

There were about 20 stalls there selling everything from jewellery to jumpsuits, with jazz music playing through the speakers and a tea and homemade cake pop up cafe in case you need to rest (shopping is a sport).

Quite aware than I could empty my bank account in the space of the afternoon if my spending was not kept on a short leash, I took out ยฃ30 and mentally cut up my bank cards, when down to my last ยฃ5 I would have to decide between cake or one last trinket (first world problems…a girl should never have to choose between cake OR something, cake is very much a word that goes with AND…)

20 stalls would be too much to review, hard to believe but it didn’t seem right to write more than I had for academic papers, so I chose my favourite three that I HAD to buy something from.

Forage and Find

Forage and Find is a mother daughter team who create beautiful jewellery from vintage items and present them on old photos and postcards and look so beautiful I could have bought every item!

Forage and Find

Check out their website http://www.forageandfind.co.uk but be prepared to spend money, I challenge you to resist. Or visit their stall on Winchester High Street every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.

Forage and Find

My favourite pieces were the lockets and necklaces made from vintage clock parts ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ•’

Forage and Find

If you like original vintage items then Little old me vintage is a shop to visit, selling everything from lighters, cufflinks, cameras and jewellery sets as well as handmade necklaces incorporating glass and flowers.

Little Old Me Vintage

Find more of their creations at http://www.littleoldmevintage.com or Facebook littleoldmevintageLittle Old Me Vintage

Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Great Gatsby and James Bond, these are just some of the themes you can find at Little Treasures, handmade vintage inspired costume jewellery made by a pair of friends. You will find something you love here and if you fight the urge to buy something for yourself, you will cave and buy someone a gift, either way have a look at their website http://www.lovelittletreasures.com

Little Treasures Little Treasures Little Treasures

I now pronounce you Mr & Mrs…

Dresses, Num nums, Weddings

Best Wedding Snacks!ย  ย  ย  ย ย Beautifully handmade

There is always that point in your life when everyone starts getting married, over the last quarter of a decade there has been at least one every year. But this isn’t a complaint…could I talk about everything wedding related every day?

Am I a girl who demanded her mum make her a veil and train from net curtains, repeatedly lined up all her toys along the “aisle” and wanted “being a princess” to be a full time occupation?

YES!!!!!!!!๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘—๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ’Ž๐ŸŽ€

*** I actually have a friend whose job is being a princess! See a later post, I am so jealous ***

The most recent wedding I attended really would be at home on the pages of a wedding magazine, the level of detail and time spent creating it really was incredible.

Normal table centre pieces consist of flowers, candles or confetti, so if you’ve got beautiful flowers worthy of being a brides bouquet, what else do you need? More flowers of course!

And candles.

And heart confetti, but not just pink heart confetti, personalised heart confetti cut out of maps due to the couples love of travel.

Oh and the little bouquets were in a variety of recycled jars and bottles adorned in ribbon and lace. SO CUTE.

Fall in Love with FlowersOnce upon a timeRemember Remember

So along with the main room being beautifully decorated, the bride had also created an adorable reception room, complete with a writing desk with typed and written messages of the couples first conversation. You could follow the story of their first encounter:ย part 1 in the typewriter, part 2 in the notebook, part 3 in the letter and the remaining in the filed envelopes! Not only was this incredibly personal, with both of their dissertations and travel plans laid out, you ended up wanting to take the writing desk home with you!

On ANOTHER table were photographs of both sets of parents and the grandparents who couldn’t be there to share the day with them, along with a candle and a journal for guests to leave wedding messages in.

The table plan was brilliant, I have never seen this done before. It’s quite common to see tables with themed names or places, but they are usually shown on a room plan. This bride (I would like to credit the groom as well, but I fear she is the one with the artistic talent) used a map as the backdrop for the different areas/ tables written on vintage postcards and on its own looked like a work of art compiled over many years.

To Those Who Walked Before ThemMap Table PlanChic Street Snacks

And finally the food, weddings are difficult because you want to wear a nice dress but have the problem of the almost guaranteed onset of…the food baby.

If you somehow had avoided edible substances all day on account of your recently purchased dress, that fits perfectly…on an empty stomach but after you eat it becomes hard to breath in, (for the academics out there that formula is๐Ÿ‘—+๐Ÿฐ= ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿท^๐Ÿ˜ฉ) the bride had a solution to that as well.

When hunger reaches a level that you wonder “if I eat a bit of decoration off the wedding cake, will anyone notice?”, there was a TABLE OF PICK AND MIX AND A MINITURE POPCORN MACHINE!

No girl has ever felt so happy tucking into her little box of popcorn before filling a pink striped sweet bag to her hearts content. I have now made a rule to only go to the evening events of weddings for the good of my dresses/ weight (you cannot eat a cute box of popcorn and little pink bag of sweets and feel guiltly, ONLY HAPPINESS) ๐Ÿ˜

Las Vegas Check List and Rules

Vegas travels

So you’re going to Las Vegas, Sin City, Palace of Dreams where everything is possible, what do you after you have finished doing air pumps…

…make a rational list of course, very wise ๐Ÿ˜Ž (That is the closest I can get to a smiley with glasses, Apple have been great at providing smilies of different race, sex and sexuality but can I find a smiley looking studious and wearing glasses…of course not.

Rule #1 REMEMBER YOU ARE IN A DESERT (so it doesn’t feel like it and all the hotels are air conditioned but you can’t control the climate). Sunstroke is just as bad as a hangover.

  1. Take a big sun hat (or buy one…did I mention the shops ๐Ÿ˜)
  2. Take sunglasses (see comment above)
  3. Take (and use!) sun cream….yes I sound like my mum (red burn lines are not attractive)
  4. Take water. If you are out at a cafe you can ask for free tap water but at lots of places it is just as expensive as beer. So fill your hotel ice bucket up and let it melt to fill your water bottles the next day. (If you drink hotel tap water you will not have a Sex In The City film Charlotte moment)

Ruke #2 TAKE LOADZA MONEIES!!! You will spend money, lots of it and it will be completely worth it (how many times are you going to be in Vegas?)

5. Rough budget of ours for 7 days

  • Cirque du Soliel and other shows: $100 pp
  • Helicopter trip: $400
  • Transport: $10 a trip (monorails 24 hour pass is $12 and taxi from airport to Strip is $30)
  • Baseball tickets: $15
  • Exhibitions: $25-35 each (you can get a deal of 3 for $58)
  • Food and drink: $20 a meal (get your basics from a local shop)
  • Shopping and gifts: $$$$$$$ (that’s down to you, but if you want standard cheesy stuff go to a street store rather than getting it from the hotel for twice the price)

Total spend for 7 days: 4 shows, helicopter ride, exhibitions, food and drink, booze, transport and shopping $1,500/ ยฃ1,000

Worth every penny.

Rule #3 USE YOUR ROOM SAFE AND SLIPT YOUR CASH (each room should have a free wall safe, only take out what you need for the day and don’t keep it all in one place in case you loose your hand/hold luggage, purse/handbag or are just drunk.

6. Take a handbag with a zip top (or if you are like my friend and can totally pull it off- a bum bag!) Just because there is loads of money here doesn’t mean there isn’t poverty. If you have a bag with an open top and your valuables visible you are just being silly. Deep bags are great because everything falls to the bottom and someone needs to get past the zip and then put their whole arm in your bag without you noticing them.

Rule #4 TIP!!!! Staff don’t get paid service charge so you usually leave 20% of your bill even if you’ve just had tea and toast. With taxis just round up the total and if you’re at a bar don’t ask for change unless it’s more than $2! We took our bags up to our rooms instead of using the hotel service as we had no idea how much or how to tip!

7. Take a phone with a camera and calculator (if your phone doesn’t have this WHAT ARE YOU USING?!) Makes tipping, converting between ยฃ and $ and divvying up the bill easy.

Rule #5 PRIORITISE (there are a million and one things to see and limited time)

8. Get a guide book, most hotels have a free one in their lobby with a map of the Strip and most of the things you can see and do. Pick your top bucket list things and work out a rough plan for the week (we thought we could walk the Strip in a day) OH NO YOU CAN’T

9. Take a camera wherever you go…and attach it to yourself as you will probably never have cause to put it away.

ABOVE ALL: ENJOY IT & GO WITH FRIENDS. Relatively responsible friends who will stop you reenacting the hangover, getting married, going bankrupt or worse. Love every second.

10. Have a place you all meet if you get lost and make sure your phones work out there so you can communicate (remember you can get lost in your own hotel)

Helicopters, Hoover Dam and The Grand Canyon

Vegas travels

Colorado Riverย  ย  Road to Nowhereย  ย  Grand Canyon

SEE THE GRAND CANYON BY HELICOPTER!

That’s an order, not a request- otherwise you are missing out on seeing one of the wonders of the world.

You can visit the Grand Canyon lots of ways, hiking, bus trips, skywalk, driving but if you are going to have enough energy to appreciate it and not get tired of seeing rocks and desert, there is only one way to really take it in, that’s from the sky.

Apologies for the knees…they are not mine

Middle of Nowhereย  ย  Lake Meadย  ย ย Hoover Dam

There are lots of companies doing different deals but we went with the highly recommended Papillion company which will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airfield. You can do just a loop without landing but we went for champagne lunch IN the canyon itself…I mean when are you going to do that again.

Total cost $360 with lunch and transfers and I paid $50 extra for the seat next to the pilot. 100% worth it.

If you go with Papillion along with 30 minutes in the Canyon for Lunch you also see the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, lots of the Colorado River, the Google Maps official “middle of nowhere” and the ghost roads that were made to support a desert resort that was never built (someone realised that actually you’re in the middle of nowhere…IN A DESERT)

Vegas Weddings, Baseball and Harley Davidsons

Vegas travels

Vegas WeddingsLittle Chapel Little Chapel

When you think of Vegas you think of 3 things: gambling, partying and of course THOSE little church weddings. Surprisingly though most hotels have a wedding chapel they are really rather beautiful without even a hint of a fat Elvis. So you might have to venture out to find one. If you are walking to the Vegas sign there is one on the East side of the road. It was shut when we saw it but it was that perfect little chapel wedding venue…which we hate to admit but was quite pretty and intimate ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿผ

Wedding carย  ย  ย  ย Chauffeur Driven

If you have time I would highly recommend going to see a baseball match, the local team are the Vegas 51s and you can get a ticket for a local game for $14. Experience the real USA, the atmosphere is brilliant, you can get $1 beers and if you’re lucky catch a baseball! (Or if you’re us, just ask very sweetly for a ball from a camera man and get all the team players to sign it!).

Baseball Vegas 51sย  ย  ย  ย Baseball Vegas 51s

Wouldn’t suggest walking and getting a bus to the stadium, even the locals say the area isn’t very safe so just get a taxi it won’t be more than $30. Or get the sheriff to drive you home (English charm ๐Ÿ˜œ)

Harley Davidson Harley Davidson Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson Heaven…on the way to the Vegas sign on the East side, next to the Little White Chapel is a mega Harley Davidson shop. I don’t even ride a bike and I came away a little in love. It is expensive though, not just the bikes, a top is $60 so I didn’t even look how much a jacket was!

Harley Davidsonย  ย  ย ย  Harley Davidson Harley Davidsonย  ย  ย  ย Harley Davidson

Las Vegas Sights

Vegas travels

Vegas Stripย  ย  ย ย Las Vegas Sign

People say 2 or 3 days in Las Vegas is enough, so when we booked 7 days we thought we would be running out of things to do. WRONG. If you’re going to be boozing, partying and staying up all night partying then yes 2/3 days is probably all your body can take. But that side of Vegas is only one small part, there are so many more things to see and do, we were left having to prioritise to choose which things we were going to do (hence there was a roller coaster ON our hotel and we didn’t get time to go on it).

And I was travelling with girls…..organised girls, so there wasn’t even a hint of what guys do on “don’t tell the bride” and suddenly find its the final day to do things!

The Mirage Volcanoย  ย  ย ย Vegas Eye

To start with, you won’t have time to go round each hotel, we picked 10 to go round and still only managed a walk into the entrance. Our main 10 were:

Caesars Palace (3,960 rooms)- opened in 1966!

Mirageย (3,044 rooms)- opened 1989 ALL WE SAW OF IT WAS THE VOLACNO!

MGM Grand (6,852 rooms), Treasure Island (2,884 rooms) and Luxor (4,407 rooms)- all opened in 1993

New York New York (2,024 rooms)- opened 1997

Bellagio (3,950 rooms)- opened 1998

Paris (2,916 rooms) and Venetian (4,024 rooms)- both opened 1999

Palazzo (3,068 rooms)- only one to open this century in 2007!

Vegas Stripย  ย  ย ย Vegas Strip

So considering each hotel is huge, you can easy walk a mile in them and get lost multiple times, you’re going to be hard pressed to see them all. If seeing hotels is high on your to do list, use the monorail- saves time walking and getting distracted by all the things you see (Harley Davidson motor bike coming out a building, other hotels, show girls and Chippendales in the street, Bubba Gump bench etc etc etc)

 Harley Davidson Cafeย  ย  ย ย Show Girl and Chippendale

Bubba Gumpย  ย  ย  ย Cosmopolitan ย  ย  ย ย ย Shopping Centre Chandelier

Think there are only tourist shops…WRONG. If you dont spend all your money on gambling, food and drink, shows and attractions then the shops will finally bankrupt you. Dior, Chanel, Topshop, whatever you want, you’ll find it in Vegas. Did I mention that Vegas in the home of the LARGEST H&M IN THE WORLD! And don’t even get me started on the dress shops…it was all so beautiful we put ourselves on a strict no shop entry, dragging ourselves away from each store window in a team effort. I could move to ย Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops and live there for a week…OK a month- I would have to sell a kidney and blow my entire life savings BUT IT WOULD TOTALLY BE WORTH IT ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘›๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ‘™๐Ÿ‘—๐Ÿ’„๐Ÿ‘œ

Shops on the Stripย  ย  ย  Shops on the Strip

Dresses ๐Ÿ‘—๐Ÿ’—ย  ย  ย  ย Dresses ๐Ÿ‘—๐Ÿ’—ย  ย  ย  ย Biggest H&M Ever

If shopping is not you’re thing then there is still a million other things to see. To start with I could have spent a week just watching the shows: Cirque du Soleil is just a must, they defy gravity and physics…just spend the money and see one show at the very least (we saw KA and were so blown away we went to see Mirage, the original and the one you see in Knocked Up) ๐Ÿ˜‹

We saw the Chippendales of course and apart from a room a SCREAMING women it was really fun, NOT a strip show despite the serious lack of clothing. If you are in Vegas on a hen do then you have to go, some hens get to go up on stage! And collect the free glasses (the drinks are so expensive, take as many as you can!)

FOR ANY SHOW, IF YOU WANT A GOOD SEAT, BUY IT DIRECT FROM THE HOTEL SO YOU CAN CHOOSE, KIOSKS OFFERING LAST MINUTE CHEAP TICKETS DO NOT HAVE SEAT ALLOCATION.

If you like illusionists I recommend David Copperfield, we saw the Saturday matinee show which was cheaper and pretty incredible. It’s a little cheesy and American but you forgive him as he is utterly charming.

Still got more time? Museums, exhibitions and downtown original Vegas Strip are next on your to do list. Get deals or use a loyalty M card for discounts, these also work on shows.