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3/24/2016

Chocolate & Banana Peanut Butter Bites | Just Add Ginger


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One of the things I love to do of an evening is open up my Pinterest app and look for images of delicious recipes that look fantastic, but, let's be honest, I'm never going to make myself. Probably my most searched for foods are chocolate and peanut butter *swoon.* I'd come across lots of different bite-sized heavenly looking snacks, and always remembered one that centred around bananas. Not quite remembering what it was I had spotted, and with some spare times on my hands, I decided to get creative in the kitchen and give something a go. 

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What You Need:

. 2 ripe bananas 
. 3 medium-sized bars of chocolate
. Smooth peanut butter
. Microwavable bowl
. Microwave
. Wooden skewers 
. Knife
. Plate
. Fridge

Method:

. To start, cut two ripe bananas into twelve slices (you need to have an even number.) Arranging them individually on a clean plate, Next, take your bars of chocolate - I used milk - and break up into small pieces before placing them in a bowl and moving them to the microwave for use later. 

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. Next, reach for your peanut butter and carefully taking some out the jar, smooth on to the peanut butter slices. Create a "banana sandwich" and place one slice of banana on top of another until all the slices are used up. (I'm not going to lie, I found putting a layer of peanut butter on top of a banana slice quite tricky, so you may need to enlist the aid of a spoon!) 

. Pop your "banana sandwiches" in the fridge for a couple of minutes whilst you turn your attention to the chocolate. Now, please don't do what I did - pay attention to your chocolate as you melt it in the microwave! I burnt some of mine and it was a disaster! 

. Set your microwave to full power and heat the chocolate up for 10-15 seconds at a time, removing from the microwave after each session and giving the chocolate a stir. You may need to adjust the times you need to microwave, but always ensure you take care when doing this step, otherwise your chocolate may meet the same fate as mine did! 

. Once the chocolate is melted, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and place on a heat proof mat. Remove your bananas from the fridge, and have a wooden skewer to hand. 

. Slide each "sandwich" on to your skewer individually and coat half in chocolate. I had to get a spoon out to help me with this part. Once you are satisfied, place back on to the plate and repeat the process until all your "sandwiches" are covered. Return the plate to the fridge and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. 

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Quick, simple, and only just a tad messy, these bites are the perfect little piece of peanut butter & chocolate heaven, and are the perfect "use up what's in your cupboard" snack. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy some of these with a cup of coffee, and just pray that Boyfriend doesn't want to try any when he gets home! 

What are your quick-and-easy go-to snack recipes?

3/22/2016

Be True. Be You. Bee Happy* | Just Add Ginger


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As the years have gone by, where I once would pile on the jewellery left right and centre, unafraid to break out the bling and sparkle from sunrise to sunset, I have found myself really toning it down. In place of more colourful jewellery pieces, I am now drawn more towards classic pieces that go with everything, and will never go out of style. 

I have been a fan of the handmade jewellery from Teardrop Designs for a while now. Delicate, dainty, and so pretty, each piece carries a message, and evokes a feeling or emotion. As one who always tried to look on the sunnier side of things, walk with a spring in my step, and generally practise positivity, the "Bee Happy" necklace from instantly sang to me. 

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Sitting on a silver chain, the bee charm is just beautiful. Not overbearing. or too large it rests just under my collarbone, and is the perfect piece to finish off any outfit, and the perfect pick for day or night time looks. The whimsy of the bee charm and the understated chic of the silver charm balance each other out beautiful, creating the most perfect quirky necklace that still feels elegant and grown up. Layer it with a longer pendant or let it stand in the limelight on its own, this pretty little piece is timeless, and carries with it a message that really resonates with me.

 It stands as a reminder to me the important place positivity has in my life, and how the best way to tap in to that happiness is to embrace who I am, and to not be ashamed to pursue the things that bring me joy. It may sound cheesy guys (I know it does,) but having that association with a piece of jewellery is something that is really powerful. 

It is so important to support up and coming brands, and Teardrop really deserves praise. With a selection of necklaces and bracelets that are just so beautiful and understated, each carrying an uplifting message, they have really crated something rather special, and something that feels incredibly personal. Each piece is "made with love and care" and Teardrop are kindly extending that love to JAG readers by offering you guys 20% off when ordering online with the code TEARDROP16

At a price that in no way breaks the bank, and with a range of jewellery that is pretty as it is positive, please go and check them out! And remember: 

Be True. Be You. Be Happy.
*This post is in collaboration with Teardrop Designs, who very kindly sent me the "Bee Happy" necklace to review. All my reviews are 100% honest, and are true to my thoughts, tastes, and feelings.

3/20/2016

Tapas For Tea at Lunya | Just Add Ginger

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I am quite a "picky" eater. Not in terms of me being fussy. On the contrary, I'm far from that, but more in the way I eat. I'd much rather have lots of bits of food I can nibble on than a big meal, especially when I'm meeting up with friends. So when Sarah suggested we meet up and go to Lunya, my taste-buds were instantly ignited. Having been to the restaurant a few times before, I knew that choosing the dishes I wanted was not going to be a problem.

Each selecting three dishes from the menu, we sat back, and waited for our food to arrive. Mixing the familiar with the more unknown, we chose Salt Fish Sliders, Croquetas, Cabrales (a very strong blue cheese,Cauliflower Bunuelos (deep friend cauliflower,) Black pudding, and Piquillo Pepper Hummus. (Apologies for not being more specific with the dishes, but I can't seem to re-find them online!)

The black pudding was unquestionably one of my favourite, and something which, to be honest, I'm surprised I hadn't ordered before. Cooked to perfection, melt-in-the-mouth and accompanied by onions and peppers, it was flavourful without being too heavy, which is something you don't really want as part of a tapas dish. 

The salt cod sliders came in second place in competition for my foodie affections. I was a little scared that the fish might be like whitebait (which I am really not a fan of,) but it was deliciously light, and I almost wish there had been more than just one to have each. 

The bunuelos and the croquetas added that crunchy element to the meal which I love. We did not ask as to what flavour the croquetas were, but they did remind me of the bitterballen that Boyfriend and I sampled in The Netherlands. 

The only dishes that left me a little perplexed were the hummus and the cabrales. On the menu it stated that the dishes included pastry cases but when they arrived, the dips were plated alongside what seemed more like mini bread sticks, with no apparent filling. It wasn't enough to raise the confusion with a member of staff, but it certainly left me a bit confused because it was unexpected. The lack of pastry did disappoint me a little, and I don't think I would order either of the two dishes again. Aside from my love-hate relationship with bread, it was too similar to something I could make for myself at home.

Whether it's somewhere to rest your weary feet after a day's shopping and enjoy a glass of sangria, for date nights or dinner with friends, it's definitely worth giving Lunya a try. With a vast menu and warm atmosphere, there's definitely something to please everyone. 

For more information, or to peruse the menu, click here

3/18/2016

How To Stay Positive | Just Add Ginger



I guess you could call me a "glass half full" kind of person. I try to live my life giving out and reflecting as much positivity as possible. Sure, I have been through some really shitty moments in my life, but it never really takes me long to bounce back. I always try to greet the world with a smile on my face, and happiness in my heart. Life is just too short for me to dwell on the things that make me glum. 

And sometimes it isn't easy, I know. We all go through those "Why Me?" or "Bloody Hell" moments in life where all we want to do is curl up in a ball and wait for the storm to pass. But I'm just too impatient for that. I'm the one to get out there, and go all Gene Kelly and start throwing some shapes in that rain. It's just the way I am. 

But for when times get really tough, and we do just want to hide away from the world here are the things I do to help me stay positive

Get Up. Get Dressed. Get Going. 

It's so easy to stay in those pjs all day, but by getting up, getting dressed, and getting things done, it usually kick-starts my motivation, and I'm really productive. The initial crawling out of bed moment may be tough, but once your body has woken up a little bit, and you get yourself distracted by doing chores, heading to work, or doing something you love, it won't be long until there is a smile on your face. The busier we are, the less time we have to think about the things that are getting us down, and will help us gain some perspective. 

With A Little Help From My Friends 

Sometimes it's good to seek out your friends for advice, but other times it's even better to get together and let your hair down. Meet up for a glass of wine, go to the movies, window-shop....but surround yourself with love. Just being around people you care about will instantly perk you up, and remind you of the fantastic support network you have out there. 

Step Out In The Sunshine 

When we are outside, with the sun shining down on us, our happiness levels instantly increase without us even having to think about it. Sure, moping around the house, watching everything and anything on Netflix and eating your weight in chocolate might be fun at first, but trust me, sooner or later you'll get bored, and that space of yours that seemed so comforting will build up with negative vibes, and you'll get really unhappy. So instead, put on your shoes, and get out in to the world. Walk the dog, go to the shops, take a stroll in the park. Do whatever you like, but get outside and soak up those warming sunny rays. 

Tap, Tap, Tap

I was born to write. There's nothing more therapeutic to me than hearing the tapping of my fingers as they strike the keys on my keyboard and I just let all my thoughts pour out of me. I never much plan for things I'm going to write, but let my mind do the talking. My fingers are just the vessel of my creativity. I'm a firm believer in the cathartic nature of writing. You don't have to be a Brontë sister or own a blog. If there's nothing else you feel inspired to write, simply write out exactly how you are feeling in hat moment. Embrace your emotions and let them flow over you as you put pen to paper. Then, after you're finished, screw the paper up, delete the document, take a deep breath and exhale, leaving all those thoughts behind you.

Life can be really tough sometimes, but always remember you have the strength inside you to carry on, put your positive pants on, and overcome anything. You are amazing. Don't forget that!

3/17/2016

Wedding Money Saving Tips | Just Add Ginger




I'm not going to lie to you - planning a wedding can be really, really expensive. You start out setting all your plans in motion, with a realistic figure in your head of the amount you would like to stick to, and then BAM, before you know it, you are on the road to making it triple the amount. As soon as you stick the word "wedding" on to anything, the price that you are looking to pay just instantly goes up. 

Yes okay - we have spent quite a lot on our wedding. But we've put the money on things that are really important to us and trued to keep costs down elsewhere, and this has really helped. If you're in the same boat as us, and looking to save some pennies where you can, here are some tips that should help you cut some corners, and keep you on track with your budget as much as possible.

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Image: @GingerJaxx
1. Shop Online

Having a peruse online can be the best way to bag yourself a bargain. Websites like eBay, Amazon & Zazzle are jam-packed full of wedding table accessories, decorations, bridal party gift ideas, clothes, shoes and more, and there are some really good deals to be found. We've used Amazon for a fair few things, and picked up some bits and pieces that have really helped to keep the costs down in terms of our venue décor in particular. Sales are also a great place to root around. I picked up a bargain of a pair of back up shoes in the New Look sale last year. And I'm still reeling from that find. For the girl who never snaps up anything in a sale, this was clearly meant to be.


2. Call On A Friend 

Don't be afraid to reach out and ask a friend, particularly those who have a certain skill or talent. When it comes to finding vendors for your wedding, it can be a big bonus to have someone there who knows you well, understands what you are looking for, and won't throw in any additional, hidden costs. We've got a very good friend making our wedding cake, and Hannah's mum is doing our flowers. Unlike going to a supplier we did not know, we've revived such a personal experience, know we will be taken care of, and will not hesitate to voice our opinions, ask questions, or speak up when we want something changed

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Image: @GingerJaxx
3. Do It Yourself 

Whether it's deciding to make your own invitations, order of service, or design your own menus and write out place cards, indulging in a bit of DIY can really help in saving some money. MS Word has been our best friend when it comes to finishing off final bits of wedding stationary, typing out place cards, and doing our table plan. I've also had a go at making my own throwing bouquet out of a couple of bunches of artificial flowers I got from Dunelm Mill, and some string we had in the house. Yeah, I'm not the most craft-y of people, but for the sake of having another bouquet to throw, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!


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Image: @GingerJaxx
4. Shop Your Own Stuff

The temptation to treat yourself to a new set of everything can be overwhelming sometimes, but instead of going crazy on the brand new, Boyfriend and I have done a lot of upcycling, re-wearing, and borrowing for our Big Day. I already owned my wedding shoes, our centrepieces we have borrowed, and elements of our décor belonged to relatives. Not only have we saved ourselves some money, but there will be a huge amount of sentiment involved in our day, and you just can't put a price on that.  

Have some top money-saving tips you want to share? Leave them in the comments. 

3/15/2016

Pre-Wedding Q&A | Just Add Ginger


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At the time of writing this, there are only 18 days to go until the wedding. In light of our impending nuptials, I really wanted to do a little pre-wedding Q&A sesh with Boyfriend. It's one thing knowing how you have been feeling during the lead up to the wedding, but it can be quite another for your other half. 

What has been your favourite part about the wedding planning process so far? 

J: To be honest I've enjoyed quite a lot of the process. But I think my favourite parts have been more towards the end. We've done quite a few DIY bits and pieces and I've headed those up, so it's been good to see all those happen. It's going to sound really lame, but I've really enjoyed how much upcycling we've done too!

B: Doing the table plans, imagining all the different dynamics between our groups of friends and family.

What has been your least favourite? 

J: Writing my vows. It's not that I haven't enjoyed it. I just found it really difficult.

B: Not getting to taste our menu. :( 

Is there any part you wish you could have done differently? 

J: Not really. I am so excited to see how every element is going to come together on the day. Both of us have been really excited and involved in the wedding planning process, and I think that will be reflected on the day.

B: The Stag Do. I would have liked to have gone camping or stayed in a bothy. 

Which part of the wedding day are you looking forward to the most? 

J: I'm not going to lie. Of course the vows I'm looking forward to (even though I know I'll be crying the whole way through,) but I'm also looking forward to seeing what everyone is wearing, the wedding breakfast, and dancing the night away! 

B: Seeing Jackie in her dress for the first time walking up the aisle towards me. 

What's the main piece of advice you would give to someone planning a wedding? 

J: Try not to stress. I'm a HUGE stresshead, and it can make me very wound up, but Boyfriend has done a great job at reining me in, whether that's taking my phone off me, giving me advice, or really romantic things like running me a hot bath and playing me some really relaxing music. At the end of it all it's our day, and we should get to enjoy it the way we want to. 

B: Be patient, don't fuss, and don't lose sight of the fact it's both of your big day and no one else's. 


3/11/2016

The "Anti Bridal-Diet" Diet | Just Add Ginger


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As soon as we get engaged and set a wedding date, there seems to be this notion that we need to think about embarking on a bridal diet journey. And I'm not going to lie. At the start I was all for it - I even wrote myself out a diet plan. This lasted about two weeks before I realised - I just couldn't do it!  I love my food. Food bring me joy. I wasn't going to be giving anything up without a fight.

But later down the line, after Id tried on my wedding dress a few times, and realised that I just had to comes to grips with the fact that I had a "curvaceously sexy" (big) derrière, that I should probably at least try to be good and not go overboard with the midnight snacking, time-of-the-month chocolate binges, and overloading on pesto pasta.

For those of you who are like me, enjoy dining out, sipping the fizz, and generally being an all-out foodie, but still want to switch things up a bit in preparation for your Big Day, here is what I did to ensure I didn't go OTT.

I present to you The Anti Bridal-Diet Diet





1. Everything In Moderation

...Without denying yourself anything. The last thing I want is someone telling me I can only have this much, only have this portion size. It just makes it worse, and I crave things more. If you're going out, drink that prosecco, eat that pudding, enjoy that steak. Just maybe don't do it every single night. Eat until you are full, and don't feel like you have to finish what's on your plate (even though you really want to.)




2. Kings, Queens & Paupers

The biggest thing for me is snacking during the day, especially when I was in work. I would just find myself getting so hungry, then picking at food and desperately needing something for the commute home. So I tried out the "Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Queen, Dine like a pauper" method. By eating a bigger breakfast, medium sized lunch, and smaller dinner, I didn't find myself getting as hungry (or irritable.) Of course I didn't stick to this all the time. If I was going out, I ate whatever I wanted, but went back to this the next day. No "eat X with Y" diet plans involved. Just eating good food, a balanced diet wherever possible, and never, ever denying myself a little cheeky something for dessert!




3. Don't Stress

Hands up who has had a wedding nightmare. I know along the way I have a few, mostly featuring something disastrous happening to my wedding dress. Fears like this are inevitable, but it's been really important not to let things get to me. I know when I've indulged a little too much, and pull back, and everything's fine. And regardless, Boyfriend is marrying me for who I am, and not the person I think I should be for one day of our lives together. And we are going to look stunning on our wedding day, so let's sit back, relax and enjoy the wedding planning experience, because before we know it, that special day will soon be upon us!




3/09/2016

Wedding Beauty Sneak Peek | Just Add Ginger



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Hair by: Little Hair Room
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Photo Credit: Polly and Sam Makeup

It's all systems go in our house at the moment. We've got wedding planning coming out of our ears, and now it's getting down to the nitty-gritty, and tying up loose ends, it can be a little bit stressful thinking about the logistics of pulling everything together for the Big Day.

So it was really nice to have some well-earned girly bride-time a few weeks ago and attend y hair and make up trials. It has been an aspect I have been looking forward to for ages, and having just had my last wedding dress fitting, it really gave me the change to envisage how everything will come together.

When it came to my hair, after a few times wearing it down at my fittings, I knew this couldn't be an option. My hair is really thick and heavy, and just after ten minutes of being in my dress, my neck was sticky and beads of sweat were forming at my brow. Pinterest came in really handy at collating my ideas. I didn't want something too polished - I have messy, crazy hair most of the time, so something too neat would have really looked out of place.

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You can tell from my Pinterest board that I was all about the bo-ho inspired messy curls, and that the hairstyle I had needed to look effortless. I am not one for fuss (the wedding reflects that a lot) and for me, simplicity is key. With my lovely hairdresser at Little Hair Room knowing all of this, I left my hair in her hands and she got to work creating something so beautiful, I couldn't help but cheesily gasp at the end "Oh..I fee like a princess!"

When it came to make up, Pinterest again was my best friend. I didn't want to stray away from the look I usually go for. I wanted to stay true to the way I feel the most beautiful. The last thing I wanted to do was try something new. Wedding photos last forever, and I'd hate in years to come to look back and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

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The look that was created for me was everything I had hoped for. I was very insistent on the fact that I wanted my skin to glow, and it really did. There was drama, and a hint of smokiness, but it still looked quite natural. And it stayed in place all day and all night (I went to bed super-late the day I had it done and it hadn't shifted.)

I just can't wait to have it all re-created on the big day. It's coming up fast.... 3 weeks to go...!


3/07/2016

February Favourites | Just Add Ginger


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As a self-professed creature of habit, favourites posts are somewhat of a rarity for me. Don't get me wrong, I love trying out new products, but time and time again find myself coming back to using products/brands that I've been using for a good while, and have never let me down.

But this month I have not only been using products that I absolutely love, but have also brought out items that I haven't used in a while. I'm doing my best at the moment to use up what is in my beauty drawer before I re-stock, and this has meant I've rekindled old flames when it comes to make up. 

Urban Decay Brow Beater: I was very kindly sent this from Urban Decay last year to test out. At the time it arrived, I was using the Soap & Glory Brow Archery, so this lay dormant in my drawer. But one morning, unable to find my current brow product of choice, I cracked open this Urban Decay beauty and haven't looked back. It's amazing. The pencil is smooth and easy to apply, filling in sparse areas and helping you define your brow shape with ease. It's fabulous, fool-proof, and stays in place for hours. I'm now on my second one, and it's one of those products I just can't live without. 

NYX Rouge Cream Blush: I'm not going to lie. When I first got this blush, I really didn't like it I thought it was too sheer, and found it really difficult to apply. However, after a while of bearing with it, and experimenting with different ways to apply it, it is now my everyday colour (I have it in "Natural.") It gives me that "pinched cheeks" affect which is perfect for the winter/spring months, and just gives me a slight glow, which, when you are really fair, is very welcome indeed! 

ESPA Bergamot & Jasmine Foam Bath: If you are a follower of my blog, you will know I could sing about ESPA until the cows come home.So don't worry, I won't too much this time! With the wedding under a month away, baths have been a great escapism for me, and have put a stopper on any stressful/ Bridezilla moments I have had, and the ESPA foam bath, with it's warming scent has been my bath product of choice. (Click here to read my full review.)

Bath & Body Works - Amsterdam Tulips & Windmills Candle: This was a recent present from a dear friend, and I have just been burning this candle non-stop. Not usually one for burning floral scented candles in the living room (these I save for bath times,) this has even overtaking my beloved ESPA Winter Spice candle! I've always loved the look of Bath & Body Works candles and heard so many great thinga about them that I was over the moon to receive this! The scent is right on, and fills the room with a light floral scent that brings such a lovely, calming atmosphere to the space. Unfortunately I don't think this candle is available on the website any more, but I did find one on Amazon (check the link above.) 

What have you been loving using lately? 

3/04/2016

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette | Just Add Ginger


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I had been eyeing up the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette for ages before I finally decided to take the plunge and make the investment. Although it had caught my eye and beckoned me longingly from a distance, it was never a purchase I could completely justify. So when it came to compiling my Christmas wishlist, guess which beauty product made it to the top of the list... 

This has quickly become one of my go-to eye shadow palettes. But firstly, can we just take a moment to bask in the glow of the adorable packaging. This just sings to my inner-chocoholic, and I think the concept is just so cute. To me - and I know I have a quirky imagination - it looks like something you would find presented in a quaint French patisserie. Sweet, opulent, and at the same time oh-so cute! 

Unclip the tin and instantly the sweet, sweet scent of cocoa powder drifts in to your nose. It's sensational for the senses and smells just like Mini Eggs (win!) It's sweet but not sickly or overbearing. 

The range of eye shadow colours is fabulous, and caters for those with a variety of tastes. But it was the amount of neutral shades that appealed to me most, as well as the mix of matte and shimmery shades. There is the perfect balance. The shadow formula is super smooth, and really pigmented. A little goes a long way to create a lovely hue on your lids, and the shadows are very blend-able and easy to build. 


So, s it worth the hype? For me, yes definitely! The Chocolate Bar Palette is versatile, well formulated, with beautiful packaging and a unique, sugary-sweet scent to boot. Perfect for those starting out on their make up journey, and to add to any beauty product collection, this is a palette that will see my through so many looks, season to season. As my first Too Faced purchase, I now can't wait to pick up my next products (the Melted Chocolate liquid lipsticks and Better Than Sex mascara are next on my list.) 

3/02/2016

Not Just A City, It's Family | Just Add Ginger




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Photo Credit: Fat man scrambles
I moved up to Liverpool eight years ago this year, and I've never looked back. Growing up in a small town just outside of London, as soon as I'd finished university I knew I wanted to plant my roots somewhere fresh, new, and completely different. I may not be born and bred in this city, but to all intents and purposes, I am an honorary Liverpudlian. This city captured my heart, and I am definitely one of its own. 

But just what is it about this city that has this hold on me? Aside from being a place that is steeped in history, culture, and art, Liverpool isn't just a city. It's family. It's a place that welcomes you at the door with open arms, ushers you in, and wraps a big arm around you. It takes you in, and immediately takes you under its wing. It doesn't matter where you are, what you do, or where you come from, you will always be greeted with a big smile and a hug. (And yes, just thinking about it now makes me very emotional!) 

Over the years I have lived here, not only has the skyline changed, with the construction of new buildings and re-development of areas, but there has been an ever-growing buzz in the air. Maybe the city being named 2008's Capital of Culture sparked this, but since then, there has been so much love put in to the city, and it has been given the opportunity to show exactly what she's made of. With exciting events constantly going on (food & drink festivals, the Christmas markets, art exhibitions and more) and the city seeming ever-increasingly busy, Liverpool has become a hub of excitement. And it's just what she deserves.

If I had to choose one song that truly epitomises Liverpool, it would be Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. No matter what kind of day you've had, or what you're going through, there will always be something to go or someone to see to instantly put that smile back on your face. And what more could you ask for from the place that you call home?


Want to find out more about Liverpool, and take a peek at just how much this city has grown, head to Travelodge's Evolving Cities website. Oh, and if yo're planning on visiting the city let me know. 

With so much to do, see and explore, I'll guarantee you'll be coming back for more!