Tuesday, 26 January 2016

ON #FIRSTWORLDINSTAGRAMPROBLEMS . . .

I love Instagram. Love posting it, love stalking people on it, love looking at food pics on it. Maybe a little TOO much.

It does pose a lot of first world problems though...

or, in this case #FirstWorldINSTAGRAMProblems . . . ;-)

  • Taking a picture of a lovely view but the view is somewhere without a signal - how are you going to post it?

  • Having to take the prettier portion of food for yourself so you can take a picture of it. (And it'll probably go cold in the meantime.)

  • When your boyfriend confiscates your glass of wine because he wants it in an arty picture of your alcohol. Even though you're probably in Wetherspoons.
(Disclaimer: THIS particular one wasn't actually taken in a 'Spoons. But most of the time it would be...)
(Photo credit for this one goes to @sbailz74 . . . thanks fella!)

  • If you didn't take a picture of it, it didn't happen.

  • A picture of your sister's kitten you posted gets more likes than any selfie you have ever posted of yourself. That's not a kick in the teeth at all.

To be fair, she is absolutely gorgeous!
  • No matter what filter you use, it's still blatantly obvious you're drunk. (And the cat pic is definitely going to get more likes than that.)

  • You get serious ab envy from looking at all of the fitness related posts. All the time. Forever.

  • Thanks to all the food pictures you look at, you are constantly hungry. Forever. (Which is slightly counterproductive in the quest for abs.)

  • Vegetables never look as inviting in real life as they do on instagram.

  • And finally, as far as I'm aware, no one is running Instagrammers Anonymous meetings yet and it may soon be necessary. For me...

Do you have any first world instagram problems to share?

(Oh, and feel free to join me on Instagram  - and Twitter too, where I originally posted some of this content -  I'm pollypoptart on both sites... #shamelessplug)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

USA, WILL YOU PLEASE ADOPT ME???

Over the years I've been blogging, I have posted a few guest posts on other blogs. Since I personally think some of them were good subjects, I've decided to re-share some of these on my own blog. This was previously posted on a blog in 2008 which no longer seems to exist. I hope you enjoy!
 
 
USA, WILL YOU PLEASE ADOPT ME???
 
Hi everyone! Some of you (all of you?) might not know me so let me introduce myself . . . (drum roll please!!!) . . . I'm Paula from Insert My Blog Name Here and the reason I'm inserting my BLOG here today (see what I did there?) is because Heidi and myself are taking part in the Twenty Something Bloggers Big Blog Swap.
 
So what to blog about? To be perfectly honest, I was a bit clueless at first as what I could talk about, after all, I've only ever guest-starred on someone else's blog once before and so am a bit of a novice. But then I figured in honour of the fact I'm posting on an American blog, I would do a little something in honour of this. So here goes . . .
 
When I was a kid I always believed I was born in the wrong country – more specifically, I believed I should have been born in the USA. Even MORE specifically, I believed I should have lived in Sweet Valley, California, and gone to Sweet Valley High.
 
Unrealistic, I know. Just a smidgen. After all, Sweet Valley isn't a real place after all, and my dreams of being Jessica Wakefield's best friend and co-captain of the cheerleading squad probably would have been futile anyway. After all, I wasn't a perfect size six with flaxen hair and eyes the colour of the Pacific. I'd have been more likely to be one of Liz Wakefield's causes, goody-goody that she was – probably because I was being BULLIED by Jessica. But there you go . . .
 
Seriously though, did their lives seem so much more interesting than mine or what? Not least because I didn't have a psycho trying to steal my identity (which to be frank I could probably have lived without). But everything seemed to come so easy for them, didn't it?
  • Break up with your boyfriend? Don't worry, a gorgeous new guy is just about to come into town. You may have to fight for him, perhaps even for the entire length of a book, but don't worry, you'll always come out on top.
  • Overweight? Don't worry - you'll lose tons of weight, possibly without even TRYING, become a cheerleader and meet a great guy. (And possibly end up with an eating disorder a year later, but let's not dwell on that one.)
  • Bullied? Don't worry, you'll be popular in several books time. (Possibly because you've became a cheerleader and met a great guy).
  • Without a date for the prom? Don't worry, there's always a spare hunky guy around to ask you.
I can't help but feel a little cheated. Because my life was never like that. We stopped having school dances after my first year in high school because half the year (and bear in mind there were 350 plus of us in the year so we're talking a fairly significant amount of kids here) were drunk and disorderly – at the ages of eleven and twelve!!! We had a school prom but I didn't go. I was never asked on a date in high school. I was never particularly popular. When a guy loads of people fancied admitted to one of my friends he liked me, I honestly thought it was a joke – and it never came to fruition (until three years AFTER high school, that is). I didn't have my first kiss until I was sixteen. I didn't have much of a social life because all my friends were getting into the pub and I was too young to pass for eighteen. AND I DIDN'T HAVE A SODDING SUNTAN because Scotland's weather does not compare remotely to Southern California's.
 
When I was younger I had this idea that all of American teenagers are like characters from Sweet Valley High (although I suppose programmes like “The Hills” and “My Supersweet 16” do sort of reinforce that stereotype) and I was so jealous. Then recently I found a website which basically rips the whole idea of Sweet Valley High apart – and I realised just how unrealistic my view actually had been while I was growing up. I can't BELIEVE it took me that long to realise that (how dumb AM I?) but it did!
 
I'm sure it's just another symptom of the “grass is always greener” syndrome, but I do feel like my adolescence was tainted by the view that my life wasn't good enough. Even now I sometimes think people in the States have a far better life than I do – that everything seems ten times more exciting. Please reassure me that I'm wrong???
 
And does anyone fancy a life swap???

Thursday, 21 January 2016

ELEVEN THINGS I LEARNED FROM "FRIENDS" . . .

Ah, the show "Friends" - man, I miss that show. I've documented my love of it on here before, and can bring it into practically any conversation I have ever had in my life - although I do sometimes try to restrain from actually doing that!



                            A wee bonus blooper video for you all, just cos I love you. ;-)

Like most tv shows or films though, there are many completely unrealistic factors to it . . . so I've decided to make up a very tongue-in-cheek list. So I present to you below the eleven things I've learned from "Friends" . . .

1) It's totally okay to just walk into any workplace your friend or partner is working in - never mind security, forget work passes or secure doors . . . the friends would just randomly wander into the offices of Bloomingdales, or let each other use the photocopier in Ralph Lauren. You can even just pop up on the set of a famous soap opera if you want, just because yer pal is a soap star. It's all fine! (As Ross would say!)

2) If a guy says he can get you your dream job in Bloomingdales if he gets your number, he'll totally get you your dream job in Bloomingdales! It's not a line, it can really happen. He's not trying to get into your pants. (Well, not at first anyway . . .)

3) Having trouble finding a flat to live in? Just turn up at the coffee shop of a long lost friend wearing a wedding dress while having a panic attack. You'll be moved in within hours!

4) Getting a date is the easiest thing in the world. You literally just need to walk outside of your apartment and guys/girls/whatever your preference will just fall at your feet begging for dates. Although, maybe that really is a New York thing...

5) It is entirely possible to decide to move in with your partner, find a flat, move in that night and change your mind by the following morning. Well, Phoebe and Gary managed it anyway.

6) You can get ridiculously far into an airport without a valid ticket . . . oh, and buying the cheapest last minute ticket you can without any luggage doesn't seem to raise any suspicion at all.

7) Oh, and speaking of airports, you can also just use someone else's ticket to go to Greece at the last minute. Apparently.

8) It's completely appropriate to turn up at a dying woman's apartment and befriend her just because you want aforementioned apartment for your friend.  Of course it is - that's how I'm planning to get my next flat as a matter of fact . . .

9) It's totally okay to ride around in your friend's fella's police car, just for shits and giggles. Enough said.

10) You can be a right bitch all the time and not get punched in the face. Phoebe proves that.

11) Peeing on someone who has been stung by a jellyfish will calm down the pain. Oh wait... that one is actually true. :-/


Have you learned anything from "Friends"?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: SCOTLAND IN THE SNOW . . .


Normally I use my Scotland the Beautiful series to focus on a specific area or sight in Scotland . . . today is a wee bit more random as we are taking in a stretch of around 100 miles and spanning a large chunk of the west of Scotland and several glens!

Last weekend we woke to find it was snowing in the west of Scotland. So we decided, after checking to make sure the snow gates weren't closed, to head over to wonderful Fort William for the night. Our timing - and laziness - meant we made our way west through Glen Coe mostly in darkness, but on our journey back towards Glasgow along the A82 road some of the views were absolutely spectacular.

So, without further introduction, I share with you the journey back from Fort William to Glasgow, via Glen Coe and Loch Lomond . . . all accompanied by some of that cold white stuff we call snow! I hope you enjoy even a fraction as much as we enjoyed the journey . . .



























Tuesday, 19 January 2016

INTRODUCING OVERNIGHT OATS . . .

Breakfast on the go can be a difficult one, can't it? I don't know about anyone else, but while I have time to cook up something hot and delicious on the weekend (ideas here, just sayin') I simply don't have time to do the same thing during the working week!
White chocolate overnight oats, topped with coconut yogurt
So when one of my friends told me about overnight oats a year or two ago I was intrigued by the idea I could have something relatively healthy that I could a) prepare in advance and b) take in and eat easily at my desk without any fuss. Instagram quickly confirmed this was actually a pretty popular idea and I was converted!
So what are overnight oats? Well, their name pretty much sums them up! Just soak your oats overnight in the fridge, add whatever toppings you want in the morning then go.


It's so straightforward. You just mix 40g of oats up with 40ml of milk - I like to use coconut or almond milk as regular milk is sadly not my friend anymore. Then the world is your oyster!

  • I will often use a sachet of low calorie hot chocolate to flavour mine up, which works an absolute treat. My favourites are praline, white chocolate or orange chocolate - all a lovely little treat in the morning!
  • Alternatively you could add some sort of nut butter and melted berries to create a "peanut butter and jam" effect.
  • Cacao powder and chia seeds create a healthy "raw" option (incidentally chia seeds are also great at thickening overnight oats in general).
  • Or you could try the I Quit Sugar Carrot Cake overnight oat whip! (recipe here and picture below! I tried this one last week for the first time and despite the long list of healthy ingredients, it was surprisingly delicious!)
Carrot cake whip overnight oats
  • As an alternative to milk, you can use a tub of Muller Light - loads of flavours to choose from there! The toffee flavour, various fruit flavours and coconut with a hint of lime will all go down a treat when mixed in (or layered!) with the oats. My most recent experiment was the below - after dinner mint layered overnight oats topped with an after dinner mint I got after dinner in an Indian restaurant a few nights ago. Simple, pretty and delicious!
After dinner mint overnight oats

They're so portable too! You can stick them in a tupperware box or, to look trendy on the cheap, just stick them in an old (clean!) jar.

Great wee brekkie on the go!

Do you like overnight oats? What's your favourite flavour if so?

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

MY BOOKS OF 2015 . . .



I feel like I read less and less these days - I blame work, a fairly busy social life, and an even busier social media life for distracting me from reading. Which is a shame as I actually love getting stuck into a good book. I read a tweet last week where the tweeter had made  new year's resolution to have a weekly "date night with a book" this year . . . that sounds like a good idea to me!

So last year I didn't really get a lot of books read .  .  . but there were still a couple that stuck out for me, and if you are a fan of chick-lit at all, then hopefully you'll love these too.

Three Amazing Things About You - Jill Mansell

This has probably been my favourite Jill Mansell book to date (and trust me, I love her books!) - in fact, I believe it is also her favourite of all of her books, and it is a lovely read, both funny and heartbreaking in turn.

It features three very different girls who don't know each other. However fate has them destined to keep coming across one another for some reason or other. And ultimately one very important reason.

It was definitely my read of the year. If you haven't read it, please do! Just maybe don't read it in public - I read a big chunk of it while on a business flight back from London and was crying so much that I was very glad my boss had been seated several rows in front of me . . .


The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance - Kirsty Greenwood

I loved Kirsty's debut "Yours Truly" but this book was even better. It's a bit of a modern-day "My Fair Lady" where Jess, a bit of a ladette, moves to London to stay with her estranged grandmother . . . who ends up using her outdated Woman Guides to turn Jess into a lady, as well as attempt to win the heart of a lothario she whole-heartedly dislikes. It's funny, page-turning and unputdownable. I loved it.

Always the Bridesmaid - Lindsey Kelk

I've been a fan of Kelk's novels for years and I really liked most of her "I Heart" series but I love being introduced to a new character or ten, so "Always The Bridesmaid" was a breath of fresh air.  Maddie is our lead character in this novel, having a crappy time with her boss, a friend who is about to go on full-on Bridezilla while her other best friend is in the midst of a divorce  . . . oh, and she has the usual man trouble. Might seem like standard chick-lit fodder but it is a great read and has many humorous moments. It was my favourite read of my birthday holiday in October.


One Hundred Proposals - Holly Martin

Harry and Suzie are best friends who work together in a wedding proposal business and Harry has decided he is going to find the perfect proposal for Suzie . . . by proposing to her in some of the most exotic places in the world. The problem is she is madly in love with him and would love to say yes... This is a lovely little book, romantic and sweet, and with a wide variety of unique proposals all over the world. I have now loads of new places to add to my "must visit" list thanks to this book!

 

Any other chick-lit fans out there? If you have any suggestions for me, or any comments on my reads of last year, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: BLACKNESS CASTLE . . .


So I posted back in November about free castle admission being available over St Andrew's weekend. At the time we snapped up tickets for Linlithgow Palace and Blackness Castle for the Saturday of that weekend. Unfortunately it was one of those days where the weather was shitty and we couldn't get out of bed and ready until the afternoon (probably hungover) - and when we got to Linlithgow we couldn't find  parking space. So we headed to Blackness instead . . . and it was a good 'un!

 The castle juts out onto the Forth, with a lovely view of the Forth Rail Bridge and is in the shape of a ship, which is pretty damn cool.  It also was my favourite type of castle, hundreds of years old with loads of bits and pieces to explore, as well as the aforementioned fab views. You can climb stairs and duck into chimneys, as well as walk along the side of the water - although that day in November that was a bracing walk!












In terms of castles, it's a great one to visit (and if you have kids, they will undoubtedly love being able to explore it), it's got a great history, is fairly easy to get to (Blackness is not far from Linlithgow) and it's relatively cheap for the experience (it's £5.50 for an adult ticket) - so it's got a lot of plus points. I'd also like to thank the woman working there who was so lovely to us and explained more about the castle to us despite knowing we were on free tickets - sometimes people can be weird about that so thank you for putting me at my ease!

I would definitely recommend a wee trip to Blackness Castle - you can find more information on the castle itself here.

And, if you fancy seeing some of the other amazing places and sights Scotland has to hold, why not check out the rest of my Scotland the Beautiful series?