Monday, 31 October 2016

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


I hope you've had a great weekend celebrating Halloween, and if you're doing something tonight, have fun! :) My weekend celebrating was fairly chilled, with a lot of baking, Halloween films and unfortunately studying (the joys of a Masters student eh?). However I've still had a great one, being able to hang out with some of my family and see my best friend Annie - going to Millets Farm (one of my favourite places to go to at this time of year), baking cookies, watching Harry Potter and Disney films and eating chicken. Yep, that was a highlight.

The cupcakes below are from +Tanya Burr's recipe for Halloween cupcakes in her book Tanya Bakes (if you've read some of my other posts you'll know I'm obsessed with this book) - I just changed the icing style slightly and sprinkled these Halloween-themed sprinkles that I got from Waitrose for about £2 or so. I get them every year! I baked these on Saturday night before settling down to watch Addams Family Values, which I absolutely love. If you've not seen it, I recommend it - it's hilarious and not at all scary, in case you don't fancy a horror film around Halloween!

I also make sure I carve at least once pumpkin every year, and I always like to do something a little different than your standard pumpkin design; this year, I decided on a haunted forest/tree type thing for one, and then just a simple moon and bat design for the other. I always look on Pinterest for these types of things! The lights I used were multicolour, as we picked up these circular orange battery-powered lights from Aldi, which were only about £1 each. It actually worked really well, as I can't find any tealights anywhere in the house, and you don't need to worry about the inside of the pumpkin burning.

The cookies that Annie and I made were originally a recipe from Prue Leith, which my mum and I have been using since I was little (we make them every Christmas), but we added chocolate chips to the mixture, and decorated using orange, green and black icing with the same sprinkles as before. Annie and I have turned this into our little tradition that we bake together every Halloween and Christmas, which I really love as we always have so much fun!



















Hope you have a great time tonight whatever you're doing!

M x
Sunday, 30 October 2016

A North American Road Trip Adventure!

So: 2 weeks, a car, your loved one, 4 states, 2 countries, 2 provinces, and a limited budget? Welcome to the North American road trip!


My boyfriend Paddy and I decided that whilst we were on holiday in the USA, we'd like to take the opportunity to explore as much as possible...even if that meant hopping across the border into Canada.

We'd previously spent a few days together in New York after my tour ended (read about that here) and were due to fly back from Chicago as we wanted to visit there too. We had 2 weeks in between, and both of us wanted to explore areas of the country that we'd never been to before - so that meant New England, essentially!

The Route:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Portland, Maine
  • White Mountains, New Hampshire
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Toronto, Ontario
Planning a road trip that spans across a lot of land takes a bit of effort, and a lot of planning ahead. We decided the big cities we really wanted to see were Boston, Montreal, and Toronto, before heading south to Chicago, but we wanted to make sure we got a good dose of New England on the way. So, after a lot of research, we planned stops along the way in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, depending what made the route easier, what sights there were along the way, and where we could find nice, but not too expensive places to stay.

The Transportation:



We hired a car through Alamo, which is a car hire company in the USA and Canada. We had to pay a couple of premiums on top of the original price because we're both under 25, and we were picking up and dropping off the car in two different places. Overall the total for 2 weeks came to about £150-200 between us. You can pick the size car you like depending on how much you're willing to pay, how many people there are, and how much luggage you have. We ended up going for the second smallest and then upgrading when we went to pick up the car as it just wouldn't have been big enough for all our stuff!


The actual car you get isn't up to you - you only pick the size. Luckily though, we got given a Dodge Dart, which was a really nice and spacious car, so we were chuffed!


The Accommodation

We stayed in a mix of hostels, hotels and an AirBnb on our stay, depending on what worked out cheapest and how long we were there for. For instance, we stayed in a hostel in Boston as we were there for 4 days, but at a hotel in New Hampshire as we were part-way through our journey and wanted to treat ourselves to a nicer bed and room for just the night.

Bear in mind though that the biggest cities will be more expensive no matter what; so unless you want to spend more money on a hotel there, I'd recommend exploring hostels or possibly AirBnbs as they're much cheaper and can be just as comfortable. Also, lots of hostels are really great at giving recommendations of places to visit and/or eat, and the employees usually know of the best deals!

We stayed with HI Hostels in Boston, an AirBnb in Portland, The Bernerhof Inn in New Hampshire (which was beautiful, I absolutely recommend), and the Planet Traveler Hostel in Toronto. I can't quite remember the name of the one we stayed in in Montreal, I'm afraid - and a quick Google hasn't brought up any old memories so it may well have changed its name!

The Trip

We spent 2 weeks driving 740 miles from the north east coast moving out towards the midwest. It was one of the best trips I've ever done, and doing it together as a road trip made it even more fun! If you can do a road trip while you're in that part of the world, I really recommend that you do. It's a great way to really explore the country, and find parts that you didn't know existed.

Boston, MA






Portland, ME



White Mountains, NH




Burlington, VT





Montreal, QC





Toronto, ON






At some point I'll be doing individual posts about each place, but if you have any questions or if I've missed anything out, leave a comment below or feel free to drop me an email! :)

Happy driving!





Thursday, 27 October 2016

New York, New York


Last year, during my North America travels, I finally visited the one city I had always wanted to go to: NEW YORK.

My excitement about this city really first came about from watching films like You've Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, The Devil Wears Prada, etc. and it always seemed to me like somewhere I could really feel at home and enjoy.

So when I was planning my travels it was first on my list!

Brooklyn bridge!
I had previously been part of a +G Adventures tour starting from San Francisco, that went cross-country to the Big Apple in 3 weeks. Our last night as a group was in the city, but we ended up staying in Brooklyn; I didn't get to see much of it unfortunately, but it's definitely somewhere I want to revisit and explore more of.

Breakfast in Brooklyn - oh my goddddd that bagel was good!


Sundays in Brooklyn

We arrived and unpacked our bags, before we hopped on the subway from Brooklyn and headed first for the Brooklyn Bridge. It's FAR longer than you think so I wouldn't necessarily recommend walking the whole thing! We managed half and turned back around haha!

Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge


Next stop was Battery Park, which is a little park right at the south of Manhattan Island; it's where you can catch the ferry to Staten Island, and it looks out towards the Statue of Liberty, so it's definitely a place to visit! The park is beautiful, but small, and there are loads of food places around to pick up something between attractions. It's also down the road from Wall Street, and the One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial - which are well worth a visit too.

Battery Park

One World Trade Center


After dinner, we all went to Times Square, which was one of the brightest and busiest places I've ever been to, but it was amazing! Pictures of it just don't do it justice, it's something you must experience for yourself.

Times Square




Later, the group said our goodbyes and split up, and my friends and I thought we'd make the most of our short time in the city (I was only there for a few days) to do as much as possible. We headed to the Empire State Building.

NYC from the top of the Empire State Building!

Empire State Building

The view was absolutely incredible! We went late at night when everything was lit up and it was beautiful; I definitely recommend visiting at this time.

Over the next few days, once my boyfriend had flown in (after NYC, we had a road trip to go on!), I explored the incredible city that New York is; including Central Park, the 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center, The High Line, Rockefeller Center, and Staten Island - we only got the ferry to and from the island; we wanted to see the Statue of Liberty up close, as well as the full city skyline, but it was free!

Radio City Music Hall

Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry!

Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry

One World Trade Center

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Plaza

Cooling off at The High Line


The city from the top of Rockefeller Center

At the top of Rockefeller Center with Central Park in the background!


Central Park





Overall, we probably explored the tiniest part of the city, but it has left an imprint on me. I desperately want to go back and explore more of the less known places, as well as find some individual cafes, restaurants and boutiques. I would've loved to have had the time to visit Coney Island, the Hamptons, Brooklyn...that's the thing about New York - there's just so much to do! :)

(Fingers crossed I win the lotto and can afford to go back hahahaha)

Grand Central Station (pretending I was in Gossip Girl)

The Chrysler Building

The BEST candy store in NYC!

A wonderful welcome to the city..

Have you been to NYC? What are your favourite places?