AN ONLINE BIRTHDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR THE YEAR.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Over the last few weeks, I've had 6 friends' birthdays take place. In between me travelling and everyone self-isolating due to the coronavirus, we haven't actually got to celebrate any of them *sad times*. Luckily thanks to the internet, it's still easy to FT and say happy birthday or create a IG story post for them - who doesn't love being tagged in embarrassing old photos? It also means you don't have to physically see your friends or family to send them a present. Here are some gift ideas for any birthdays you have coming up! 

Browns Rosa Mer Collection - gifted



Under £20



The Sims 4  - the fact we all have a lot more time on our hands now means that we can get away with wasting several hours playing this. The game is currently at 75% off (£8.74), and if your friend already plays The Sims, why not buy them an expansion pack? 

Personal Growth Book - everyone has different tastes when it comes to reading, but pretty much everyone can benefit from reading a self-help or personal growth book. Some popular ones include 'Get Sh*t Done by Jeffrey Gitomer' 'you are a badass by Jen Sincero' and 'The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle'. 

Under £50



Eyeshadow Palette - my sister is the easiest person to buy for because she's very into her make-up, so every year I just buy her a new palette. The Morphe palettes are good quality for money, as you get 50 high pigmented colours in it for £24. 

An 'out out' outfit - if you know this person (and their style) pretty well, why not order one or a few items for their next night out? and we all know it's going to be a big one after the world finally defeats this virus. 

Under £100 



Event tickets - sadly the likelihood of attending any events over the next few months is slim, but a lot of artists are announcing tours for 2021 (a.k.a Harry Styles), so that is a safer bet. Even better if you can find something that you're both a fan of, so you can treat yourself too! 

Over £100



Jewellery - if you're looking to splurge a bit more, you can never go wrong with a pair of earrings (just make sure they have their ears pierced first). I very kindly received a pair of aquamarine and diamond stud earrings (£150) from Browns jewellery and I can't wait for the day to come that I can get dressed up to wear them. They are crafted from 9ct white gold and I love how the aquamarine gemstone shines in the light, without looking too blue. 

Air-pods - so I didn't actually know these were that expensive, I thought they cost £70! Turns out they start at £159. I wasn't that bothered about these because I have wireless headphones for the gym, but I borrowed my boyfriend's and well,  I now want a pair of my own *hint hint*. 

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40 THINGS TO DO WHILST YOU ARE IN SELF-ISOLATION.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

As some of you know, or many of you because we all know how fast rumours  news spreads in Gibraltar, I have spent the last 14 days in quarantine in my bedroom to see if I developed any corona-esque symptoms. I think if you handed me a paper with 100 shades of blue I could probably tell you which one is the same colour as my walls because I've spent so many hours looking at them. I was in this position because last month I was travelling around Vietnam, and on my flight home my 2 hour layover in Bangkok, Thailand landed me a ticket to self-isolation for being on the 'high risk countries' list. Vietnam has had a total number of 20 cases of coronavirus and Thailand has had 43, but let's not talk about how those of us with no symptoms have had to be quarantined meanwhile passengers from UK (273 cases) and Spain (430 cases) have come in and out as they please. 

Anyway, it wasn't the end of the world. I felt like I was in a VIP prison - I had unlimited Wi-Fi, home cooked food brought to my door, unlimited phone calls and wine, which doesn't sound as lonely as I made my friends have a drink with me via FaceTime. I know there are others who are currently in quarantine (thanks to the frequent updates on social media), so if you're worried about going insane or finally sick of watching Netflix, I'm here with 40 things to do to keep yourself occupied.



NOTE: I wrote this blog post before Gibraltar went on semi-lockdown, so I have added a further 20 things to do in self-isolation/quarantine. I know being indoors sucks. A lot of my joy comes from having trips, festivals and social activities to look forward to, but this is not the time to be selfish. ⁣⁣You know what sucks more than cancelling holidays and not being able to go out partying? Losing people you love. Missing out on stuff for a few weeks or months is nothing in the grand scheme of things, especially if it will help slow down the spread of the virus. I also know a lot of people depend on routine and social activities to help with mental health, so that's why I've compiled this list. Just think about how great it will feel to celebrate once all of this is behind us.

40 things to do whilst you are in quarantine


1. Binge watch a TV series - I finally finished Power, and then my mum suggested I watch Toy Boy para 'practica tu espaƱol anda'. 

2. Go through your drawers and find letters, diaries and other stuff you wrote when you were younger, and cringe all over again. 

3. Download tik-tok, learn tik tok dances and then send them to your friends for their entertainment. 

4. Make a playlist of all the songs you're going to dance to when you're out of quarantine. 

5. Organise your wardrobe - find stuff you want to give away and stuff you want to bin. 

6.  Find out how long you can hold a plank for. 

7. Try not to think about how much fun everyone else is having in other countries where they're still allowed to go out, I suggest avoiding Instagram stories from the hours of 8pm-3am on a Friday night. 

8. Face Time people you haven't caught up with in a while, wine is optional. 

9. Come up with a new gym routine. 

10. Brush up on your Spanish, after living in Australia for a year I definitely needed to!

11. Think about what you want to get out of the rest of the year. 

12. Write a love letter, and then throw it in the bin when you realise how embarrassing and mushy you sound. 

13. Download The Sims. 

14. Go online shopping for all the significant events or nights out you're going to have once you are released from captivity to the outside world. 

15. Find a new recipe you can make once you have the luxury of going to the kitchen. 

16. Unsubscribe to the annoying emails you get. Unroll.me makes this pretty easy to do. 

17. Plan what you're going to go as for Halloween - it's never too early right?

18. Plan your future holidays. There's nothing I love more than creating a new google doc itinerary, ooft. 

19. Sleep in. You don't have anything important to wake up for anyway.

20. Think about how whilst you're lying in bed eating snacks and watching trash TV, some people still have to go to work.

21. Look at houses on RightMove in random places around the world that you know you'll never be able to afford.

22. Make a 'future' Pinterest board full of clothes, hairstyles, furniture or whatever you want to purchase once the world returns to normal.

23. Listen to albums you used to listen to in your teenage years, it's an instant mood booster.  Currently listening to All Time Low and I'm air guitaring around my room.

24. Wish everyone on your Facebook a happy birthday, now that you have the time to.

25. If like me you find quizzes and trivia amusing, head to Sporcle

26. Have a movie night with your friends via Netflix Party - whatever you're watching will be synced and there's a pop up chat on the side to discuss.

27. Learn a language - now you don't have the excuse that you don't have enough time (I must have redowloaded Duolingo 3 times).

28. Get your friends together on Skype, put some music on and play some drinking games as if you're heading out after, but instead you're going to collapse in bed.

29. Watch all 236 episodes of Friends, by the time you're done this will hopefully all be behind us.

30. Call your grandparents.

31. Fill up a 1.5 litre bottle of water every morning and make sure you've drank it by the end of the day.

32. Take 10 minutes a day to stretch or do yoga poses, or you'll be walking like Quasimodo once you can go outside again, trust me.

33. Find out if you could be the next Taylor Swift by attempting to write a song.

34. Try and learn a new skill online - Photoshop, coding, SEO etc.

35. Read some self-development books, here's 25 of the best.

36. Help where you can - if your country still isn't on total lockdown, help the elderly with their shopping or volunteer where you can.

37. Keep a gratitude journal. Since the beginning of the year I've been writing a highlight of everyday and it helps to focus on the positive or the little joys.

38. Have a family games night. If you don't have any board games download the Heads Up app.

39. Go through your camera roll and delete all your useless photos and screenshots.

40. Try and limit your talk about the virus, unless it's breaking news. Hearing all the negativity, panic and rumours surrounding the virus on social media will just make things and your mental health worse. Stay safe and informed, but don't let it control your life.


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5 MUST HAVE EXPERIENCES WHEN TRAVELLING THE NORTH ISLAND IN NZ.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

New Zealand had been high on my list for a long time, although being from Gibraltar means that it isn't the easiest or cheapest place to get to. But after doing a working holiday in Australia, planning a trip to the neighbouring country suddenly seemed a lot more doable. I spent 10 days travelling around the North Island of New Zealand with the help of skip bus. Stopping in Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo and finally the capital, Wellington. These were my favourite 'must do' experiences. 

teawithgi tongariro crossing

1. Hobbiton Movie Set (Rotorua)



Probably the most visited attraction in the whole of New Zealand, is the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movie set. The attraction is in Matamata but there are tours running from Auckland and Rotorua and tickets are priced at $84NZD (£40). This includes transfers to the site and a guided tour around The Shire. Between us, I've only ever seen the first LODR movie so me and my friends just watched the trailers to the rest of the franchise films the night before.

hobbiton movie set

2. White Water Rafting (Rotorua)



This was super fun aside from the 2 minutes I got stuck in a rapid and my life flashed before my eyes. I'd never gone rafting before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, apart from there was a high chance of us falling into water, in January. The team at Kaitiaki Adventures were so much fun and full of energy and it definitely added to the whole experience. We got to slide down the world's highest commercially wafter 7m waterfall, and none of us fell out of the raft! (the same can't be said for everyone).

rafting

3. Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Taupo)



Doing this trek first made Mount Batur in Bali seem like a walk in the park. This trek isn't for everyone, it's challenging and cold but the views are amazing. We made the stupid mistake of only bringing a t-shirt and jumper and forgot to factor in that the top of the mountain was going to be significantly colder. We were walking so fast to warm ourselves up that the 0 degrees temperature didn't hit us as hard. The track is 19.4km long and takes around 6 hours to complete. The best time to visit is between November and April, otherwise you'll need alpine skills to combat the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures (definitely not for me). 

Even if you're not the fittest, you are given plenty of time to complete the hike at your own pace, as you're picked up at 5am. Just make sure you bring at least 1.5 litres of water, layers, a ham sandwich (never has the reward of a ham sandwich tasted so good) and waterproofs. 

tongariro alpine crossing


4. Bungy Jumping (Taupo)



Some people go on holiday to relax by the pool or get a massage done, and others voluntarily throw themselves off a cliff. I don't know if I would have been able to do it if the jump was over ground, instead it was over Waikato River. It's a 47m jump which you can do by yourself or tandem, and although their website states that you can 'touch the water with your fingers' I was dunked like a doughnut. As you can imagine the video was quite entertaining for my friends and family to watch. I think the scariest part was actually jumping off the edge, I felt like Wendy when she's made to walk the plank in Peter Pan but then once that's over you kind of want to get up there and do it again. The Taupo Bungy costs $185NZD. 

taupo bungy

5. Eat ice cream (Auckland) 



I'm not talking about a regular scoop of ice-cream - this is a unique, overpriced and gluttonous experience. Giapo's serves a range of unique ice-cream flavours and there's a variety of ways to have it. Including on a weird octopus chocolate cone, a set of lips and on a 'selfie' cone. There's usually a queue for this place, as once you're in you're talked through the process and get to sample all 12 flavours before you choose which one you'd like to go for. I chose the 'hokey pokey' flavour which is unique to NZ (vanilla ice cream with honeycomb pieces) and had it 'a little bit melted'. 

giapo ice cream auckland



Which of these activities would be up your street? If you've been to New Zealand, what were some of your favourite things to do?

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what to do north island new zealand

DATE NIGHT IDEAS DURING LOCKDOWN (AND AFTER).

Thursday, 5 March 2020

[this is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own.]


The current state of the world has forced a lot of couples not living together into online or long-distance relationships, because of household lockdown rules. My partner is currently on the other side of the world so even as lockdown rules start to ease in individual countries, some of us still have to wait a bit longer until border restrictions are lifted *sad times*. Whether your country is still preventing meet ups, or you finally get to see your partner soon, here are a list of date ideas whether online or in person. 



1. Open a bottle of wine. 



If you're an extrovert, chances are you've had a few FT or zoom calls with friends or partners throughout the lockdown period including alcohol am I right?  In my case there is a 8 hour time difference with my boyfriend, so I have to make sure I have a pretty big lunch before starting the day drinks on a Saturday. If you want to make things more interesting, you could use the time to ask each some deep questions about them and your relationship (Thought Catalog has loads). 

2. Watch a film together on Netflix Party. 



It's not quite the same as going to the cinema, but at least you can chat about the movie without disturbing anyone right? The Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension and allows you to share what you're watching with someone else. Your screens will sync so the movie will start/stop at the same time, and there is also a chat option on the side.  

3. Play games using the House Party app. 



Everyone went crazy for this app back in March and then the hype kind of died down, but if you enjoy playing games then you'll enjoy this if you can't be in the same room as your partner. You can video chat whilst also playing 'guess the drawing' or heads up or trivia questions. 

4. Send each other a surprise takeaway. 



Who doesn't love free food? If you know what your partner likes then either plan to send each other a surprise take away and then eat together on FT or maybe don't tell them and just send a pizza to their door without their knowledge, no one will ever be disappointed with that! 

5. Buy something nice for when you get to reunite. 



One of the biggest struggles for couples being apart during lockdown is the lack of intimacy and being able to touch your partner. But it's also nice to think about how great it will feel when you'll finally get to hug them, and another things. Have your partner pick out some sexy lingerie for you or leave the element of surprise and pick out a few things yourself. 

6. Have a picnic in the park. 



So in a lot of countries it is now fine for you to meet up in a park with members of another household, but if restaurants aren't open yet then why not go old school and put together a picnic in the park. Buy some rose, bring a blanket, and if you're not up for preparing food just bring along a meal deal. 


7. Be tourists in your hometown. 



Since it may be a few months until we can travel abroad again, why not plan a day out 'from a tourists point of view' in your own town or city? You'll be surprised what places close to home you haven't actually visited or restaurants that you pass by everyday that you've never eaten in. 


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PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST - MY SELF-CARE ADVICE.

Monday, 2 March 2020

[This post was written in collaboration with Bathrooms Direct Yorkshire who provide modern bathroom accessories and all other bathroom fittings at affordable prices.] 


I've been travelling around for two months and I'm finally back home, and it feels so good to just be able to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. This generation is so obsessed with being constantly busy, when all it does is wear us out and empty our pockets. I'm currently in self-isolation for two weeks because I had travelled to Vietnam (no symptoms, don't worry) so I've definitely had to think of creative ways to keep myself occupied or entertained. Here are a couple of ways I'm working on myself lately. 

tea with gi


1. Take a day to do whatever you want without feeling guilty about it. 


I spent yesterday in bed watching Power for 6 hours, eating a bag of twirl bites and learning Tik Tok dances on Youtube. If this was my life everyday then yes it would be worrying, but it was a Sunday and sometimes you just need a day to do nothing productive and just give your body what it needs or craves, and on this particular day it was an excessive amount of chocolate. I can now go a few days without eating it and all will be good. 


2. Get a skincare routine (or don't). 


I know every self-care article tells you to go run a bubble bath and put on a face mask, but that isn't everyones ideal way to relax. Personally, I have a lot more fun using those floss sticks to floss between by braces or cleaning my ears. 


3. Use your hands. 


I always find writing in my journal therapeutic. If writing isn't your thing then drawing, painting, colouring. Anything that allows your brain to work in a different way than it does when you're just scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. 

4. Have a highlight of the day.


I started this last year and it's so nice to look back on, but it also allows you to find a moment of joy in even the most insignificant days. I have a note on my phone titled '365 days of happiness' and just as it sounds, every day I write a line on what the highlight of the day has been. Even if it's something as small as having a really nice coffee at breakfast. 

5. Learn to say no. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, being busy isn't always the best thing for us. That also means learning to say no to plans that you're not really interested in, or saying no to catching up with people who don't interest you at all or bring negative energy. It doesn't make you mean, it just means valuing your time and choosing to spend time with people who uplift and inspire you. 


6. Disconnect. 


It might not be as easy to go on a holiday or climb a mountain but just taking sometime to disconnect from social media and just be present does a world of good. Go to the beach, go on a walk or find some good trekking spots in your area. You might also want to take a look at ayurveda tips for relaxation.


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5 INEXPENSIVE WAYS TO CHANGE UP YOUR APARTMENT.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

                               [this is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own.]


Anyone else have a bunch of interior design boards on Pinterest even though you don't own your own place yet? I even sometimes find myself snapping a photo of apartments I like when when I spot one in a TV Show or movie, like Harden's apartment in After, Darby's apartment in Love Life. Basically anything that looks like a quirky New York apartment with the exposed brick walls and colourful furniture, and an indoor plant of course. If you're lucky enough to own your own property, and fancy a bit of change without breaking the bank, here are some ways to modernize your apartment. 


apartment


1. Add some greenery. 



Pinterest is actually a great resource to find out what plants are the lowest maintenance and how to care for each one. The Japanese Sago Palm looks beautiful, although with my record it would probably be dead in a week. If you're not great at remembering to water your plants or don't have much of a green thumb, then you could always opt for some fake indoor plants. Apparently they also help reduce stress and calm your mind, so if you're still stuck working from home, this is a win!



2. Buy some wall prints.



I kept seeing something on Facebook where you could get a wall print of the constellation in the sky on a specific date/time. I thought it would make a cute gift, but then I clicked on it and the poster alone cost £60! I love the website Desenio as they're affordable and have such a variety of prints for whatever aesthetic you're trying to achieve for any room in the house!

Photo Credit



3. Change your flooring. 



This one is obviously going to take a bit more work, but it can instantly make your apartment look new. The great thing about living in Gibraltar is that it doesn't get too cold, so we don't need to rely on carpet floors, anyone who has lived in UK knows how annoying they are to clean! I think wood flooring is the best option and looks the best, in my opinion! 

Photo Credit


4. Buy a pretty bookshelf. 



I still have all of my John Green books that I read 8 years ago (some are falling apart) just so that I have enough books to put on my bookshelf when I get my own place. Even if you're not much of a reader, you can fill it with whatever you want. Picture frames, bottles of Gin, your mug collection etc! If you are looking to add some reading material to your shelf, have a look at my book recommendations here

Photo Credit


5. Change the colour scheme. 



This doesn't mean you have to get a new furniture, but if you have quite a neutral sofa for example then it's pretty easy to buy new pillows, a rug and so on to match the season. We all know the best and cheapest place to go for this, is Primark of course. 

Photo Credit


GUEST POST | WAYS TO IMPROVE SLEEP.

Let’s face it; when we have a bad night’s sleep, we feel pretty ratty the next day. If you can’t seem to achieve a deep level of sleep most nights, poor sleep can become a real problem and affect other parts of your life.

However, there are lots of small improvements you can make to your sleep routine and bedroom environment that can help to ensure you are achieving a high quality of sleep each night.

Photo Credit


Why Poor Quality Sleep is Unhealthy


As well as affecting our mood, insufficient sleep can create a multitude of other mental and physical problems.

The NHS website explains in detail why a lack of sleep is bad for you. It can have serious consequences if left untreated over a prolonged amount of time. It can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, not to mention it is also responsible for decreasing a person’s life expectancy.

However, the damaging effects of inadequate sleep don’t just stop at your physical health. It can also negatively impact your mental health and develop into disorders such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, a poor amount of sleep can be responsible for creating a cycle of stress and tiredness, with a lack of sleep affecting your stress levels and vice versa.


Tips for Improvement


Below, I take a look at how to review your sleep routine and environment. If you feel like you are suffering more severe symptoms of lack of sleep and experiencing periods of insomnia, please seek the advice of a medical professional who will be able to give you tailored advice and support.


A mug on a bedside table with a bed in background

Establish an Evening Routine


Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way, and creating an evening routine which you can stick to can help to regulate your sleep and improve your body clock.

An evening routine is there so you can unwind at night and prepare your body and mind for sleep. This means that you need to avoid any strenuous exercise late in the evening and choose activities which will help to ease your mind.

For example, you might find the below comforting:

  • Reading a book.
  • Writing in your journal.
  • Listening to a podcast.
  • Drinking a hot drink.
  • Having a bath.
  • Evening yoga.
  • Meditating.

Whatever makes you feel more relaxed, do it and schedule it into your evening at exact times. The more often you do this, the more your body will get used to it, and it will become habitual.

Try to Keep on Top of Your Stress Levels


There is nothing worse than tossing and turning at night, worrying about the next day. Sometimes, there are certain life events where this feeling cannot be helped. However, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Organise Your Morning the Night Before


There are plenty of small things you can incorporate into your evenings to help keep on top of your stress levels, including preparing for the next day in advance. Things such as packing your bag, choosing an outfit, knowing where your keys are and prepping lunch can all be completed the evening before, which will reduce any unnecessary pressure in the morning.


Soothe Your Mind


Use techniques such as meditation and yoga to help calm any racing thoughts or worries. You can do specific yoga for sleeping which will help to relax your body and mind as well as invest in meditation apps, such as Calm and Headspace, which offer guided meditations for sleep.

You can also take CBD oil for sleep which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, meaning your mind is more prepared to rest at night. It is definitely not a miracle cure, and shouldn’t be treated as such, but it can help to reduce levels of stress for some.



A laptop on a wooden table

Turn off Your Screens


Many people blame poor sleep on to their evening interactions with technology. This applies to laptops, phones, tablets and TVs.

Not only can looking at emails and messages cause feelings of stress, but the blue light which they emit also affects your body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Instead of sending us to sleep, the light keeps us feeling awake and alert.

It is good practice to turn them off, or at least put them on a nighttime setting which reduces any blue light, to help your body prepare for sleep.

You may want to factor this into your sleep routine too. For example, stop using your phone at 8 pm. Prepare for the next day and then read a book with a hot drink at 9 pm ready to sleep at 10 pm.



A bed with a white duvet and a bedside table with a plant

Create a Good Sleep Space


Ensuring you have a comfy sleeping space is essential when trying to improve your sleep. There is much to consider to ensure your bedroom is a healthy place to sleep. You may want to adopt the following points:

  • Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. Anything else can interrupt how quickly you fall asleep as your brain starts to associate the bed with other things that are not sleep-related.
  • Ensure your room is the correct temperature and open windows or invest in warm blankets if not.
  • Invest in earplugs, blackout curtains or eye masks if the surrounding environment is too loud or bright at night.
  • Make sure your mattress, pillows and duvets are comfortable.
  • Hopefully, these tips will help to ensure you sleep better and deeper! Remember to seek medical support if you feel like the changes you make for the better are not working.

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