Thursday, 18 May 2017

Priorities

Being an adult comes with a lot of decisions, and the answer for most of them comes down to a matter of priorities. Often these priorities are things like do you go out tonight when you know that you have to be in work first thing tomorrow? Or what do you spend your money on, food or holidays? There are a lot of priorities to get your head around on a daily basis - but for me, I've really had to consider and test my priorities in the past few weeks. I've had to finally be a really life grown up and make decisions that will result in a lot more than me having a bad head in work if I choose incorrectly.


I've had to decide what I want for my future - I've had to decide on my university place, make contingency plans, sit and decide whether I should put my mental health or my academic future first (no brainer by the way guys. Or brainer, as in, that should come first). I've had to decide whether to spend time working or book another holiday, I've had to decide whether I'd be willing to leave my home town, and this area, in order to keep up with my studies - Katy and I have had to decide whether we would move together to another city if it came to it, and whether we'd be willing to stay there for at least three years. There's been a lot to decide, and not all of it has been easy.

For a long while, in fact at least the year that Katy and I have been together, I have been so reluctant to make anything my priority, I have been happy to drift along and make no decisions for the fear that I'll only ruin what I do have - but now things have changed and I've realised that I know what my priority is; it's Katy. It's Katy and I, the marriage that we have on the horizon, the travelling that we're going to do together and the life that we're going to create. I've known that for a while though, the one that came as a shock is that my new priority is also me; I'm going to be selfish, get the education that I want, live a life that I want, I'm going to put myself first if and when it comes to it.

So things may change very soon, they may completely turn my head upside down - or they may not and, though they physically might not change externally, I feel like no matter what the changes: I have changed a lot internally. Sitting down and recognizing and identifying what I want in life, and who I want to be, has really changed a lot for me - so here's to the future.

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

#YourNewMcDonalds (ad)

Blogging has brought me a lot of opportunities, from meeting Charlotte Tilbury, to providing me with more makeup, clothes and skincare to fill a small office - but this week it offered me something I never thought I'd do again; the chance to visit a McDonald's kitchen. For those of you that might not know, I spend a lot of my teenage years working away over vats of oil making fries for the good people of my hometown; and so when McDonald's invited me back to look around their kitchen and make my own lunch, and to discuss their new kiosks and other high tech options and changes; I have to say I was pretty excited.


When we arrived at McDonald's, we had a chance to sit down and discuss some bits and pieces with the Franchise Manager of the McDonald's in question; which was Huyton Page Moss, and we got to discuss his four other franchises (and one on the way!), as well as discussing the changes that Huyton Page Moss has seen in the past few months, including a new roof, moves to make the whole business venue more eco-friendly. Additionally to this though, and more importantly, they've also introduced the now infamous McDonalds kiosks, allowing food to be ordered, customised and paid for via an electronic screen; with the option to have the food delivered via table service, or picked up at the counter.


As an ex-worker, I have to say that a lot has changed since 16 year old Sam first found herself in a McDonald's kitchen, and instead of using food warmers, orders are now cooked faster using better technology; which allows not only a quicker wait for you on a Sunday morning when all you're dreaming of is a Sausage and Egg McMuffin, but also lowers waste and allows for much fresher food for every customer who's ordering; irregardless of how fussy you might be with your order. Additionally; gone are the days of children running wild around the restaurant, there are now iPads in place to allow them to play games, as well as allowing us technical lot to check our social media and browse google, and interestingly you can even use these to look into a career in McDonalds.


To prove the speed of the food, I got to make my own Big Mac, and it really is something impressive, with the whole meal seemingly being made in 3 minutes at the very most, and that was when it was being made by a beginner, and using two buns because I might have burned the first bun beyond the gold star standard. After getting under just about everyone's feet, I got to sit down and eat my meal and gossip about some future plans McDonald's have (yes, they are trialling delivery, but more importantly, they're currently trialling an app where you can order ahead of time then scan the QR code as you arrive to get your food), as well as taking some time to get my head around the fact that that over 50% of McDonald's now have kiosks, and over 40% of customers use them to order their food.


All in all, a lot has changed since I worked in McDonald's, and food is fresher, quicker and much better than ever before; combined with the fact that there' much less waste and they're just set to open another brand new restaurant just outside of Liverpool City Centre, it seems that the iconic chain are going absolutely nowhere, unless you count going strength to strength.

Sammy xo.

This post was written in collaboration with McDonalds but all words and views are my own.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Pho Bold Street

Katy and I aren't very adventurous when it comes to food, mostly because we disagree on so many pieces of food and our likes and dislikes, and so when Pho Bold Street invited us along to try their Vietnamese menu, I was dubious. Nevertheless, we made the decision to step out of our comfort zones and head over to Bold Street in Liverpool to give their food a go. With a cool, fresh interior, a good location and staff that made us feel very welcome from the get go (even letting us move so we had better lighting when I was filming for my vlog), the food immediately had a lot to live up to.


I wasn't drinking when we went, and so whilst Katy opted for a cocktail made with rice vodka, I only had a sprite, which seemed a little boring when you saw all of the amazing alcohol options on the menu, but I quickly forgot about my boring drink when it came to ordering. For my starter, I opted for crispy, tender squid, though I was slightly worried by the fact that squid can be a little hit and miss, and I wasn't sure whether it was going to be battered, seasoned or completely bland. Luckily, it was lightly battered, and came with a side dish filled with salt, pepper and chilli which you squeezed lime into to made a sort of sauce and then dipped the squid into, which was much nicer that I'd initially anticipated. I also added Sriracha sauce for a little kick, which was also really tasty.


For our mains, we obviously opted for the restaurants namesake, Pho (pronounced Fu). This is a Vietnamese noodle soup, made with beef stock I believe. Katy opted for chicken and swapped her stock for chicken, but I had beef stock with flash fried steak and garlic - and let me tell you that these bowls come heaped, and you're not going to be going hungry any time soon after one of these. The bowls are full of (almost impossible to, with both chopsticks and a knife and fork I was definitely lacking some sort of skill) noodles, a thick warm broth, our chosen meat and a ton of veggies - but also come with a side plate full of additions that you can choose depending on your taste; including chilli, coriander, herbs, and other spices and herbs, some of which we were familiar with, and others not so much. There were also a number of sauces and oils on the table which you get a tutorial for, which help you to tailor you Pho to exactly how you'd like it.


We finished up our meal with a Chocolate Truffle Slab and a scoop of green tea ice cream and very, very full, decided that we couldn't possibly eat anymore. Even from an eater who likes to stick within her comfort zone for the most part, I have to say that the food was amazing, full of flavour, easily customisable and most of all - pretty affordable, with a three course meal with a drink here easily not even breaking the £30 mark. Bold Street is a whole melting pot of amazing cuisines, but if you're up that way make sure that you keep an eye out for Pho, because it's definitely something really special.

Sammy xo.

Monday, 15 May 2017

My Top 5 Travel Destinations Wishlist

Katy and I spend a lot of our time travelling and, when we aren't physically away from home, that means that I spend a lot of my time looking at flights, air bnbs and things to do in all manner of different places. Although we're going to need to tick a ton of these off the bucket list after we've finished our travels for this year, there's an ever-growing list of more places I want to see and more holidays that I want to book. So, without further ado, here are my top ten travel destinations at this very moment.


1: Transylvania (Cluj-Napoca) - Romania
This is one of the  most expensive European breaks I've ever found; flights always seem to err on the side of expensive (or at least for Europe flights), so does accommodation and I'll be honest, we just don't have the money right now with all of the other holidays we have this year. I really want to visit this part of literary history, and especially as it's in such a beautiful country; so, for the minute this is definitely my number one on my travel destinations wishlist.

2: Venice - Italy
I always resent that fact that I never chose to travel to really typically tourist places when I was old enough to travel on my own, and Venice is definitely one of the places I want to go to, even if it's just on a whistle-stop tour. I especially want to visit at the moment whilst two giant hands, representing the effects of global warming, have been placed in the Grand Canal to look as though they're holding up Hotel Ca'Sagredo (artwork by Lorenzo Quinn); realistically, they're only up until November this year and so I probably won't get a chance to see them, but this city is still high on my wishlist.

3: Tokyo - Japan
One long haul flight, and the amount of saving that's come alongside it, has definitely been enough for this year, but the next one I hope that we manage to book is definitely to Tokyo. This, admittedly, is largely down to the fact that I really want to visit Disneyland Tokyo Sea, but I find the whole city something completely beautiful and fascinating, and Katy and I are both desperate to make it here. If you've been and written a blog post about it, please to link it in my comments so I can take a look.

4: Reykjavik - Iceland
Katy and I consistently talk about going to Iceland, and really the only think that stands between us and the northern lights is the sheer expense when we get to Iceland. I'm desperate to get there when it's all snowy and obviously I want to be a basic bitch and stay in a clear glass igloo, but realistically I'd even probably settle for an air bnb or a hotel if it meant that I got to spend a week in this wonderland.

5: Tivat - Montenegro
Finally one that's actually affordable but we just haven't gotten round to yet - Tivat in Montenegro. It seems every Air bnb here and will cost you no more than £30 per night for the privilege - and to be honest, if we had the money I'd definitely book this now. Generally speaking, this is a cheap holiday, with amazing sights, and you'd have instagram content for months after you go back. Don't you dare all go and book this now though and make it more expensive for when I finally get around to booking it.

Let me know any of your favourite places, or link me to any of your travel posts, below!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

#designbettersex

When brands offer to send me things its always cool, but I can normally safely guess that it's going to be skincare, make-up or sex toys; so when a company got in touch and asked Katy and I if we wanted a surprise, we eagerly agreed, but didn't really expect a paint can full of condoms and lube to be the aforementioned surprise. It's time we welcomed the new kids on the block when it comes to safe sex, and sexually pleasure - and they're the one. No, really, their name is actually ONE.


I'm all about anything that has people discussing sex more openly, and this is definitely something that will go a long way towards helping. With condom packet designs that are round and look like moons, quotes, mario mushrooms, magic lamps and naked gnomes, these were definitely something I would have talked about with my friends had they been around when I was in sixth form and starting to be more sexually open and adventurous, and, to be honest, they probably would have made me a lot more likely to carry a condom back when I was younger and this wasn't something that ever would have entered my mind.


These aren't just a pretty face, however - there's a condom for just about everyone who might want one. Whether you want a more skin like feel (ONE Vanish Hyper Thin), something a little different (ONE Glowing Pleasures) or something flavoured (ONE FlavourWaves) there's a condom for each situation that you might find yourself in. There are also three different types of condom created for more pleasure for the receiver that go far beyond the typical ribbed options; there's an option that's rubbed in tattoo designs (ONE Tantric Pleasures), one that's textured with extra large studs (ONE Super Studs) and one with increased headroom (ONE Pleasure Done).

Now I'll be honest, Katy and I don't usually use condoms - we're both free of any STIs and this is a decision that we made as a couple; however, there are also a number of products in the paint can that we can make use of; as we also received a Hybrid Personal Lubricant and a Premium Personal Lubricant. The Hybrid Lubricant is very thin and watery, where the Premium Lubricant is a lot more like gel. Both have a pretty strong smell, almost like PVA glue, but it does go as it's absorbed, so it's not too bad, and definitely not unusable - but it definitely could smell a little better.


All in all - ONE is a really cool new brand, that I genuinely believe will get people talking - and the good thing is that they genuinely appear to be no more expensive that other condom and lube brands (find a 12 pack of assorted condoms here for £9.99, around the same price as 12 Durex condoms). This isn't a sponsored post but they're pretty cool- I mean, come on, they sent their products out in a paint can. They're now being stocked in Superdrug, so either grab some here or check them out next time you're picking up some shampoo.

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies - however all opinions are my own. Please view my disclaimer for more information.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

My Favourite Escape Rooms Liverpool/Chester/Manchester

We go to a lot of escape rooms, and so we've been to not only a lot of different breakout companies, but a lot of individual rooms. I don't tend to blog about them most because it can be hard to do an entire post on an escape room when you can't take any photographs when you're in there, and you don't want to give any spoilers away - but I thought that today I'd give you a brief (ish) rundown of my favourite escape rooms within Liverpool, Manchester and Chester with as few spoilers as humanly possible - so, in no particular order... (I'd like to point out at this point that we got out of all of these rooms. One with only 6 seconds to spare, but that's not really the point, and escape is an escape).


1: Amphitheatre at Escapism Chester
This was literally one of the best rooms that I've done so far - to the extent that I was actually quite annoyed that Katy and I had done the room on our own because Kaz, our usually third escape room member, missed out on the experience. Meant to mimic Chester circa when the Amphitheater was a working attraction, you play the role of a slave who has an hour before battle - the only way that you can get out is to collect the gold bars around the room and pay off the master, otherwise you'll be put to death.

This is one that's really tailored to the city that it's in, which is not only fun but, especially when you've grown up learning so many stories about the city, seems a little nostalgic and almost personal. This was a five star room, and it was one of the harder ones that we've ever done, but if you want a truly immersive game that's tailored to the city that it's in the heart of; Ampitheater is definitely the one.

2: Armageddon at Gamescape Liverpool
Gamescape is a really cool little independent escape room in an old building that backs onto China Town in Liverpool. Though there's only three games in the entire building, it houses one of the most innovative escape rooms that we've ever done. Located in the Basement of the building, you're placed into a secret bunker to activate a mysterious weapon that can stop an asteroid destroying the whole of the planet.

This is a really modern escape room, with puzzles, challenges and technological bits and pieces like we've never seen in any other room. This gives a modern feel to the escape room traditions, without falling into the trap of making you into a detective or a spy. If you're into technology, or you've done a lot of escape games and you're looking for something different, make sure you head over to Gamescape. You'll even see us at the tenth place on the board for this game, so see if you can beat our time.

3: The Facility at Breakout Liverpool
This is one of the most intense escape rooms that we've played, and much harder and more full-on than it's counterpart Facility X in Manchester, by far. Don't let the small room deceive you here, because there's a lot to be done, with a surprise around every corner, and puzzles that don't have obvious answers to consistently keep you guessing. Here, you're placed into a room thinking that you're going to a conference, but really you're at the will of a mad scientist - and if you don't make it out in an hour, his virus is going to make sure that you never do.

This is slightly horror themed, but definitely not so much so that it would put me off going if I wasn't a horror fan, but the whole feeling of the room, an the complex nature of the puzzles, does make it a lot more intense than a lot of the offerings at Breakout Liverpool. This definitely isn't one of the easiest games that Breakout (across the board, not just in Liverpool) have to offer, but it's definitely not one that's so hard you'll be completely lost midway through - a good option for when you're getting good and you want a real challenge.

4: The Dream at Lucardo Manchester
This one is the trippiest, most bizarre room that we've ever done, but definitely one of the ones that we enjoyed most. We've consistently raved about Lucardo since our first game there before Christmas, but now that we've done all four, I feel comfortable sitting here telling you that if you can only do one, you should definitely pick the dream. Prepare to be blindfolded and let into a room, where you're led into your deepest subconscious. You're dreaming of the winning lottery numbers, but they're slowly slipping out of reach, and you need to get them before you wake up and they're lost in your subconscious forever.

Prepare to be completely lost for a good while in this one, seemingly hitting dead ends every time you find something until suddenly, a few minutes before you're ready to get out, everything will finally slip into place and you just might get out with enough time to spare. There's a couple of really nice unexpected twists in this one, and if nothing else the entire room has a theme that will leave you completely lost - a jagged, un-put-together type of an escape room, but in the best way possible.

So there you go - as of May 2017, here are my favourite escape rooms in Liverpool, Chester and Manchester; but if you have any suggestions, please do leave them below!

Sammy xo.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Elizabeth Arden Sheer Kiss Lip Oil

If you've been around these parts for a while, you'll know that I love a good gimmick and so when this Sheer Kiss Lip Oil from Elizabeth Arden appeared in amongst some other post a few weeks ago I was truly transfixed. It's not that I'm a particularly big lover of lip oils; in fact the complete opposite, I absolutely hate how they feel on my lips, I think that they're a waste of time (just use a lip balm) and generally I just tend to think they're overrated though. This though? This has me considering adding a lip oil to my bag (I mean it's more like a passing consideration, but still).


 My fascination for this lip oil comes directly from the packaging - how cool is this? It's a circle of hard plastic, only the top comes off and the middle bit is slightly more pliable so you can push it to dispense product. Is it gimmicky? Yes. Does it fascinate me? Yes. Is the product inside amazing? Mediocre. Is it a waste of packaging? Almost definitely. Let's get this straight - the packaging here is cool, but it's also a huge waste of plastic, and as much as I like the idea, the cool packaging on this just doesn't really make up for the outside.


It's cool, sure, but for £18 a go, I'd want much more than cool packaging - and that's coming from the gimmick queen. Don't get me wrong, the product inside is fine - more lipgloss than lip oil, thick, glossy with a sweet minty like flavour - but it's just not £18 worth of fine. The colour is really pretty in swatches on my hand, but looks like nothing on my lips, the cool packaging gets lip oil all around the dispenser when you use it, and one too-vigorous push can have product just about everywhere in a minute flat.

The lip oil definitely works, it makes you lips feel glossier, shinier and less dry - but this is much closer to a thick, sticky lip gloss than a luxurious lip oil, and if I wanted a sticky lip gloss that smelled like mint (though without the cool packaging) I could head over to Boots and grab one from the Natural Collection for under £2 and it'd probably be much easier to apply, and it might even have the added bonus of glitter. Like I said earlier - it's not that this is a bad product as such, it's just that if it was packaged into clear tubes and had a really cheap brands name on the outside of it, it definitely wouldn't seem out of place enough for anybody to flag it up.


So there you go - you're welcome for me showing you the cool packaging, but now you've seen it, head over to Superdrug, because there are a thousand products just this good there, and they'll probably be under a quarter of the price.

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies - however all opinions are my own. Please view my disclaimer for more information.

 
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