Spending Valentine’s Day at Home

LOTD wrap over velvet dress

These days it seems like there is so much pressure for people to impress, to splash the cash and buy the best. That restaurant you tag yourself at to show off to your friends on Facebook, or to get the most perfect picture or idyllic lifestyle image to share on Insta. It’s time to enjoy the *real life* reason behind Valentine’s Day.

Yes, events such as Valentine’s Day have been commercialised these days and don’t I know it…I work in marketing after all. But this doesn’t mean you can’t go against the grain and make a pact not to spend if you don’t want to.

At the end of the day, YOU are the one in control of your pennies and if you’d rather spend that money on something else. That’s totally your prerogative.

Ian and I will be spending Valentine’s Day at home this year. No cards, no presents – just us, a bottle of something lovely, a good steak dinner and an equally good movie. That’s all we need and more. After all, surely the best gift you can give this Valentine’s is your time?

LOTD velvet wrap over dress

LOTD velvet wrap over dress

Velvet wrap over dress by LOTD (gifted)

You can still make it special by getting dressed up, throwing on a lovely dress, a little makeup if you fancy it too. If it makes you feel lovely, you needn’t be going out anywhere to wear your Sunday best! It’s also 100% fine if you want to sit in your joggers and get super comfy, with no makeup and your hair up in a messy bun.

So make a night of it. Simply enjoy being you. Enjoy each other’s company. That’s all you need.

Now, I must be honest, just 10 days after Valentine’s Day is our 3 year anniversary. We will be heading out for a lovely meal then, so we’re certainly not missing out on a meal out this month.

We’ll save our pennies for our anniversary meal and the money we would have also spent on Valentine’s Day can go towards even better things, such as our next home, holidays, etc.

I have to say a huge thank you to LOTD who gifted me this beautiful black velvet dress. If you are saving the pennies this year, I’d really recommend checking out the amazingly affordable fashion available on the LOTD website. I was so impressed by the quality of everything I received from them considering how little they cost. This dress is just £12, can you believe it?

Check out all their collections at www.lotd.com

I have a few other pieces from LOTD that I’ll be sharing with you guys very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for those lovely things too!

So… Happy Valentine’s Day! Remember that the day is whatever you wish it to be. A fancy meal out or a takeaway at home, it doesn’t matter. What matters is time spent together.

The gorgeous dress in this post was gifted to me by LOTD, but of course my thoughts are mine as always.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

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A yummy & healthy snack discovery

Getbuzzing protein bars

You guys may have heard me waffling lately about how I want to get healthier in 2018 after a rubbish year for health last year. I’ve joined a gym, I’m eating relatively well…still with the occasional treat of course. But one thing I’ve really been trying to hunt down lately is an array of tasty and healthy snacks.

I’m trying to find snacks that fit into my busy lifestyle of working full time, trying to keep on top of blogging, running a home and fitting gym time in too – you guys get the drill! Life is busy.

So it was pretty lovely to discover the snacks by getbuzzing lately and find out how awesome they truly are.

First up, these snacks are nut free. Yes not one nut in sight. The company goes to great lengths to ensure nuts are kept well away from their bars, if this is something that’s important to you, I’d recommend reading their about us page *here* where they explain all. The bars also have no additives, preservatives or colourings, just good stuff. getbuzzing even have a collection of gluten free bars too.

They have a huge range of flavours and even have a range of higher protein bars too, which are great for gym goers. So there’s definitely something for everyone. I mean, HELLO Mint Choc High Protein flavour! *insert heart eyes emoji* ..this is my favourite so far alongside the Wowbutter flapjack. Yeap, they even have moreish flapjacks too. Flavours include –  banana, wowbutter (yes, still nut free & delicious!), mixed berries and date & seed. To think these bars are all made with natural ingredients is pretty impressive.

Ian was eyeing up these snacks all last week and asking me over and over if he can eat any yet. He’s been really into the gym lately, and to be totally honest he’s done amazingly well. So the protein bars definitely caught his eye when they arrived and he’s so impressed by the way they taste.

Getbuzzing date and seed bar

It’s so good to find another healthy snack alternative that is so easy to throw in your handbag for a shopping trip or to stash away in your snack drawer at work.  Variety is the spice of the snack life I think.

Ian and I have both been so impressed with the flavours we’ve tried so far. They’re honestly so much more delicious than we thought they’d be.

You can find out more about the getbuzzing range of bars on their website www.getbuzzing.co.uk ..they’re most definitely worth a try.

Thank you so much to the getbuzzing team for letting us try your lovely snack bars for free. As always, all my thoughts are most definitely mine (or Ian’s).

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A Rather Fruity Tea Party

Fruit Tea Party Ideas

Fruit lovers unite! If you’re looking forward to all the parties 2018 is going to bring, here’s a little inspo in case you’re in need of some fruit themed party food ideas.

Last weekend Ian and I had a rather fruity tea party for two and it was so lovely!

I mean, who doesn’t love fruit? So I thought wouldn’t it be lovely to give a twist to the typical tea party full of afternoon tea inspired cakes and put a bit of a fruitier and therefore healthier spin on things. But of course still with a little bit of cake, because a life without cake is not a fun one after all.

So welcome on in to my rather fruity tea party, pull up a seat and pour yourself a gorgeous glass of cloudy apple Pago fruit juice. The perfect accompaniment to a fruit based party!

Pago cloudy apple juice

The lovely people at Pago sent us a case of their beautiful cloudy apple juice to enjoy, which then inspired me to put together this fruity little feast. This drink is absolutely gorgeous – Ian was pretty blown away and kept saying how nice it was. He was like a broken record, which is a good review of the drink in itself I think!

The Pago cloudy apple juice is 100% juice which has been pressed and not filtered, to ensure it retains all its goodness. It also has a boost of vitamin C, which is perfect for me right now as I’m just getting over a cold.

Pago are makers of premium fruit juices and they have a vast array of flavours to try. So if cloudy apple isn’t your jam, how about trying mango, pineapple, rhubarb and pear or even tomato juice.

They use the best suppliers to ensure every glass is as perfect as it can be. If you head over to their website at www.pagofruitjuice.co.uk you can discover it all, and even order a case for your very own rather fruity tea party!

 

Fruit party food ideas…

A really simple party food that takes literally seconds to put together are fruit skewers. I bought the wooden skewers in a pack from Sainsburys, but I’m sure they’re widely available elsewhere too. Then you simply pop pieces of fruit onto the stick. I kept the same pattern across them all, to ensure they looked nice and uniform when displayed.

But there you have it, so so easy to assemble – your party will instantly look great with these! You could always have a fun little “DIY” station where people create their own ones too.

Also…how cute is this pink flamingo melamine platter plate? I bought it in Sainsburys a while ago for just a few £’s in the sale. It’s so fun and just perfect for a fruit tea party.

Fruit skewers

Next up in my very lovely hand blown The White Company glass dessert dishes may I add, we had a simple dish of yogurt and fruit. Again, such a simple and easy snack, but most definitely an underrated one.

Pick your favourite yogurt, or a healthy one if you’re being good (we opted for a protein-filled one as Ian’s all about the protein right now) and then top it up with your favourite fruit.

If you’re feeling fancy, you could always add a dash of honey, chocolate sauce, granola or a fruit coulis. The possibilities are endless with this one. We enjoyed dipping our fruit skewers into it too!

Yogurt topped with fruit

If, like me, you are yet to learn how to bake and become that domestic goddess you dream one day you will be. Then here’s a really super easy way to jazz up some shop bought cakes.

I picked up these little coconut cakes from our local Asda (keeping things on the fruit theme), added a dollop of clotted cream, a slice of strawberry for that extra bit of fruit and then sprinkled a gorgeous topping of grated dark chocolate on the top.

Again, such a simple thing to put together, but they look and taste absolutely divine. Who said putting party food together needs to be laborious? We loved these.

Coconut cake topped with clotted cream and strawberries

The fruity fun needn’t stop there! Here’s a few extra ideas to try if you fancy holding your own fruit tea party…

Chia seeds are bang on trend right now, and for a good reason. These little things might be tiny but they are mighty! They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants, iron and calcium – they’re great at keeping your energy going. So use these fab little things and create a chia seed parfait. Here’s a lovely recipe from Healthy magazine to try – *click here*.

I’m sure you’ve seen these. Next time you’re making ice, why not pop a few blueberries or mini chunks of fruit into the water to make fruity ice cubes. They look amazing in your drinks and leave you with a tasty treat once melted.

Apple and peanut butter is a wonderful and underrated combination, try dipping slices of apple into pots of peanut butter.

Instead of just fruit skewers, why not try them in a more decadent style. Use strawberries, marshmallows and little brownie bites for a naughty but nice more indulgent treat.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed my little fruity tea party post. Here’s to partying our way through 2018!

Don’t forget to check out the fab Pago fruit juices at www.pagofruitjuice.co.uk

Thank you ever so much to the team at Pago who sent me a case of their gorgeous cloudy apple juices free of charge. As always all the writing and fruity ideas are all mine.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston // Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

New Year Home Makeover

WoodWick Wax Burner

Isn’t it funny how our tastes can change in just a matter of years? When I first bought my home I had plans to make it look really cool, fun and funky. And now after years of realising how much “stuff” I own and surround myself with, I’m striving for a calm and clutter free space, and I much prefer the look of a minimal paired back style.

These days I’m much more drawn to interior inspiration that uses natural shades, whites and wooden surfaces. Every day I lust after the homes of interior queen Charlotte Valentine from The Home That Made Me and Lauren from Hunters & Heels, who has the most beautiful country cottage.

Today I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite interior possessions and show you a few that I’m lusting after right now to give my home a much needed new year home makeover! I have a mix of affordable brands and some a little more higher end. After all, there are some amazing bargains to be had out there.

My current favourite possessions…

Grey Ikea Lantern

My IKEA lanterns. I got these as a gift from Ian and they were exactly what I was after, the matte metal isn’t too “look at me” it’s simple, stylish and looks so elegant with these white pillar candles. I have two of these, each sitting to the side of the main window in the living room. They look great! I can’t find these exact ones on their website, but if you love the look of them, they are also available in white – *click here to see them*.

Decluttering the home

I love a little taste of country-esque styling in homes, I really feel it creates a warm homely look. This cream jug from Tesco was an absolute steal, I think it was about £6 when I bought it and it was exactly what I had been looking for for quite a while. It looks lovely sitting on my wooden and cream dining table (not the table pictured). It just shows you don’t always have to shop in expensive stores to find perfect pieces.

Last year I was lucky enough to review some gorgeous WoodWick candles and a beautiful electric melt burner lamp, which looks fab at night – you can see it in the top image of this post. I’m still so in love with this lamp and I will keep it forever! (You can read the blog post about WoodWick *here*). Just pick your favourite scents to burn on the top, switch it on and enjoy all of its beauty. WoodWick have a vast array of styles and designs to choose from, so if this one isn’t your cup of tea you’re bound to find one that is.

Heart of House Stag Cushion

My Heart of House (by Argos) stag cushion. I ended up with this cute little addition after I spotted it in a sale last year. I think it cost me about £6-£8, so it was a real bargain and I’m super pleased with it. It’s a lovely quality and I love the watercolour style. Again, it just goes to show sometimes you don’t have to spend a fortune to fill your home with lovely little items. Save your pennies for the bigger more well-built items such as furniture!

What I’m lusting after…

Now it’s time to talk *wants* from little goodies to bigger investments, here’s what’s on my wish list right now.

I love *these Laura Ashley baskets* that I spotted in their sale. We’re definitely on the hunt for more storage at the moment, both in the form of some kind of sideboard in the living room and at least some kind of trunk style baskets (or something similar) for the master bedroom. I love these trunk style baskets from Laura Ashley, they’re a decent size and are £50 down from £100 in the sale right now. I love the colour and the wicker style, I think they’re really timeless and something you could keep for many years to come instead of just buying quick “it’ll do” storage items like plastic boxes.

French style arch mirror

Not that I have anywhere to put one right now, but I absolutely love arch window mirrors. They’re so different and a real statement piece. The photo above is from a beautiful place my parents and I stayed in when we visited Whitby last year, their mirror is gorgeous! Mirrors can be super expensive sometimes, but I’ve found *this lovely white one* at Dunelm if you’re on the hunt for one of these right now…

We’ve also been thinking about getting a stylish looking bin for our kitchen. So I’m totally lusting after *this simplehuman voice activated, yes, VOICE ACTIVATED bin!* I mean, can you get any fancier and hygienic? I was searching for a simple sensor bin and came across this little piece of not-so-rubbish (excuse the pun!) luxury and now I really want it. So if superhuman read this post and fancy sending me one for a review, I’m totally game! Haha :)

Another lovely little addition I’d love to add to our home at some point is a cake stand or two. I just think they’re such a lovely way of displaying both cakes and other lovely treats. I’m undecided whether I want a plain white or cream one, one with a beautiful print or something a little different like *this slate 2 tier serving stand at Lakeland*. I’d love to know what you guys have at home? I’d love for you to comment below with your recommendations if you have any. I need some inspiration!  A bigger cake or a lovely collection of cupcakes would look lovely taking pride of place in *this glass cake stand by M&S*. It’s simple, understated but still such a lovely luxury to add to the dining table, I definitely want one of these as well!

Thomas Sanderson bay window shutters(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

I’ve fallen in love with the shutters by Thomas Sanderson too! I’ve often wondered how you can add character to a newer built home, and I think these are just the ticket. When I buy a home I’d happily have some of these up on the windows, as I just think they’re such an easy yet stunning way to add character and really change the box-like look of more recently built homes. You can see all their shutters by *clicking here*. They do a really big range which is great, so if you have bay windows, curved windows or want to fit them in higher humidity rooms like your bathroom or kitchen, then they have it all. I really like the idea of fitting them to a bay window if I end up having one of those in my next home, you can see those ones *here* if you have one. The lovely Charlotte Valentine (as mentioned earlier) from THTMM has shutters in her home and I think they look stunning. Very chic.

The list of my wants could seriously go on forever! Lottery win is most definitely needed. I do hope this post has inspired you with a few ideas for your own home though. And I’d love to know what you’ve spotted in the stores right now, leave me a comment below with your amazing finds or things you’re lusting after so I can add them to my list too! :)

This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Thomas Sanderson, who have the most beautiful shutters that I will now be lusting over until we buy our house! Haha. Of course all the thoughts and writing in this post is mine as always. Now I’m off to hunt down that storage we need…

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston// Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

How I’m decluttering my home for the new year + competition

Decluttering the home

Who doesn’t love a fresh new year? I most certainly do!

I simply love making plans and goals for the year (you can read about mine for 2018 *here*), and also donning a “out with the old” mindset.

If you’ve read my plans for the year, you’d have seen that Ian and I are looking into the idea of possibly buying our first home together. So with this thought in mind and in case it happens sooner rather than later, I’m making sure my home gets as decluttered and fresh looking as possible in case I put it on the market.

Decluttering certainly seems to be an ongoing battle in my home (it’s something I’ve mentioned I’m doing time and time again), but I’m determined to win the battle!

If, like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the “stuff” in your home, here’s what I’ve been getting rid of and the processes I’m using in case it inspires you to do the same.

Top tip before you begin… Make it easy. Start with one room, one drawer, or one box to go through. Breaking down the process makes it so much easier.

Toiletries

I’m having a good think about what I have stashed in my spare room. Time and time again I’ve overlooked how long I have had some of the things in there. And I really mean *long*. This time I’m going to go through *everything* piece by piece to see if it deserves to stay.

Gone are the old suncreams that I bought years ago and kept “just in case” I need them, even though I have plenty of fresher bottles to use. Gone are the matching old aftersuns too. It’s probably safer using fresher ones anyways! Do you have anything lurking around like that? Maybe now is the time to just get rid.

Old toiletries have been put out on show in the bathroom to ensure I actually use them, and use them up first before starting on the newer ones. I will apply this method to all my toiletries and makeup too so they’re all in some kind of order.

I’ll admit, I’ve been slacking on giving myself some proper “me time” lately. So I’m trying to get back into a proper beauty routine and will subsequently make sure that I’m using up and enjoying the products I already have….before buying anything new that catches my eye!

That is another big tip. Try to challenge yourself not to buy anything new until you’ve used up what you have. Not only will your home look better, but your purse will thank you for it too.

Donating, regifting, selling… For anything brand new that you have and won’t end up using. (Queue those Christmas presents that aren’t your cup of tea!). Don’t feel ashamed to regift it to someone who you feel may love it. As long as you’re careful not to give it back to the person who bought it for you, I don’t see the problem in doing this at all. Otherwise, why not donate sealed items to a charity or try to sell it for a few extra £’s here and there.

Receipts and Bills

My receipts have all been shredded away! I even found a few stashed from 2015! So pull every drawer open, look in every box, there’s always something lurking around that can be thrown.

All those notes, receipts, old bills, etc. Grab a cuppa and go through them all, shredding whatever you don’t need to keep. It might seem like a huge task, but you’ll feel so good once it’s done and out for recycling.

…there’s something so therapeutic about using a shredder!

Marketing Materials

I’ve also been making a point of getting my address removed from brochures I receive through the post from companies. These days we can access most things we need digitally, and as lovely as it is to go through the brochures, realistically I don’t often get the time to sit and read through them.

The same goes with any leaflets I come across on my travels or ones that people try to hand to me, I try to say no more often now as it just ends up as more clutter!

Whilst you’re at it. Unsubscribe from email mailing lists you no longer need to be on too!

Clothes

I have a 3 door wardrobe, two underbed drawers, and clothing rails in the second bedroom filled with clothes. It’s ridiculous. And seeing all these clothes everywhere is quite frankly doing my head in.

So to declutter my clothing, I’m going to get rid of anything I just don’t fit into, things I have not worn in the last few months or so, or things that maybe I have just worn once in a season and have plenty of other options to choose from that are similar, nicer, or that I wear more often!

I’m sure I only wear about 20% of my wardrobe!

Miscellaneous

I’m sure we all have random “stuff” lying around that we don’t need. I recently came across a whole load of mini notebooks that I definitely didn’t need, so I rang my parents to see if they had any use for them…and they did! They also took a few pens and pencils off my hands which was so helpful. So be earth friendly and ask friends or family if they have any use for what you’re getting rid of – I’ve often given away unneeded makeup or accessories to friends!

Magazines, I’m a hoarder of them. I’ve even recently been taking some lovely Elle magazines from a neighbour once she’s finished with them, but I just haven’t got round to reading them! I have a few home magazines I’ve kept too – thinking I will go back to them for ideas, or to create an inspirational mood board on a creative day… It’ll never happen. So, very soon I will be getting rid of practically all of them and I think I will have to say no to my neighbour for the next lot she offers too!

When decluttering your magazines, consider your family, friends or maybe somewhere like your local doctor’s surgery as places to donate them too if they wish to receive them!

It’s good to take a moment to truly be honest with yourself and evaluate how often you use your things. Some items may have sentimental value, but do you ever use it or look at it to remember where or who you got it from? Sometimes it’s good to just let go. Obviously, be careful not to throw away items that have *genuine* sentimental value. Just learn to draw the line somewhere in order to live your best life now and for the future – one that’s clear of clutter!

Saying No

This is the new process I’m taking on to beat the battle against clutter. Saying no.

Saying no to unneeded new clothes, makeup, toiletries, stationery, basically everything and anything that comes into the home. Of course, there will still be times I treat myself to the odd thing I don’t really need. But the more I can say no and buy less, the nicer my home will be!

Keeping a bit of a minimalist head on as I continue through the year will ensure my place stays clear of clutter too. Tidy home, tidy mind.

Decluttering my home

It’s competition time…

To kick off the new year in style, I thought I’d give away some lovely new stationery to help a lucky winner to get super organised for 2018 too!

In this bundle of loveliness there’s a daily planner to help you break down your day by hour to keep you on track whether you’re at home or even at work, along with a “to do” section, a notes section and a “quote of the day” area to write down a mantra to keep you inspired! I’ve also included a matching notepad for all those helpful notes you need to write down during the day, alongside some matching sticky notes too! I also picked up this gorgeous boxed pink & gold pen from Clintons to scribble down all your decluttering plans and goals for the year.

So if you fancy getting super organised and winning these goodies, here’s how to enter…

Enter on Twitter – Follow me *here* and retweet the competition tweet which is pinned to the top of my page.

Enter on Facebook – Simply like my page *here* and like & share the competition post which is pinned to the top of my page.

Enter on Instagram – Follow me on Instagram *here* find this photo on my feed and follow the steps under the image.

One overall winner will be chosen at random from all my social pages. Feel free to enter via all of them to increase your chances of winning!

Competition ends midnight Saturday 13th January 2018. UK only. Good luck! :)

I hope I’ve inspired you to declutter your home! I’d love to know what you’re doing to get your home ready for 2018.

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston// Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

A year full of opportunity

2018 plans

A fresh new year, a new moment, another chance to build on previous successes and work towards the new. I’m really excited for 2018.

If you follow me on either my social media or here on my blog, you’ll know that 2017 surely had its amazing highs and equally not-so-great lows. It really was a year of one thing after another. However, I’m not here to dwell on the negative.

2017 brought some amazing opportunities, such as visiting Iceland with Ian and being able to watch the Northern Lights dance away in all its multi-coloured beauty across the sky. A once in a lifetime moment. I was lucky enough to enjoy a week in the sun with him in Tenerife too and spend a week with my parents discovering beautiful Yorkshire. (You can read about our Tenerife adventures *here*).

Ian and I both got new jobs which was fantastic as we’re now both really happy with the roles we’re in. …and I joined the gym for the first time ever in my life! Gulp. Oh and Ian moved in with me! Eeek! So 2017 certainly had some momentous highs to remember.

Oh the excitement of what 2018 may hold is most definitely real.

So here’s just a few of my 2018 Plans…

Travel More

Of course, each year just has to be filled with travel. Whether that’s abroad or exploring this beautiful country we live in. Ian and I are hoping to get at least one big trip in, maybe somewhere a little further afield, definitely a trip with adventure of some kind.

I would love to see more of England too, either somewhere by the coast or in the middle of the beautiful countryside. So I really hope I get a chance to stay somewhere in the UK too this year.

Blog Plans

I am so thrilled to have had so many fun times with my blog in 2017. I’ve made some lovely new friends, been lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing brands, and it’s really pushed me forwards as a person all round and that’s always a good thing!

This year I want to change the layout of my blog to give it a little lift and make it easier to use for readers to discover both new and older posts. I want to photograph more and simply discover more. I’m really looking forward to blogging all my adventures in 2018.

I’ve already been making plans for the type of content I want to create this year and the direction I want to take my blog in. Don’t worry! There won’t be any huge changes in what I do blog-wise, I just want to give it my all a little more this year, so I do hope you enjoy my posts in 2018!

Big Plans

In your twenties it seems like each year has some kind of big plan go into place. Whether that’s graduating, buying your first home, buying a new car, moving in with your other half…there’s always something new happening.

This year Ian and I will be exploring more into the idea of buying a home together. Scary, but, a worthwhile next step. I already own a flat (you can read about how to save a deposit for your first home in my blog post *here* – I hope it helps!) and Ian has been saving hard across the years. With both of us in new jobs and being happy in them, it’s enabled us to feel happier about looking into this next adventure.

Just the other day we got a “decision in principle” which is when you ask the bank to properly tell you how much they’d be willing to lend you based on your current situation, deposit, salaries etc. We even had a little look around a couple of show homes in one of the areas we’re considering – which was fun! So it’s just baby steps for now and setting in plans to save as much as we can to put us in the best situation possible for when the time comes.

I’m a real home girl and I would love just a little more space now and really create a beautiful home for us. Look at me sounding all domesticated. I’ll still leave the cooking to Ian for now though!

Get Healthy

Yes, as mentioned, I’m now a member of a gym. I’ve really enjoyed it lately. After rubbish health stuff last year and having a pretty poor immune system, I’m really looking forward to just generally being fitter and healthier.

Yes, I want to lose some weight that I put on last year when I couldn’t exercise as much. But I want to do it in a healthy and sustainable way. It’s all about a lifestyle change rather than a sudden drop in weight, so I haven’t been weighing myself and focussing on that. I simply want to eat as best as I can and move more, and in turn I should see my weight naturally change.

New Year, Old Challenge

The last one is a bit of a random one, but I’d love to get back into snowboarding.

A few years ago in my old job we got the chance to try out snowboarding or skiing lessons for a cheaper price, which was great. I’d always wanted to try snowboarding since I watched it on the Winter Olympics years and years ago, so I just had to give it a go.

I loved it at first, but I did get stuck on one bit. Maybe it’s a knack I need to get a feel for, or maybe it’s my core strength that wasn’t quite up to it. Either way, I’m going back and I’m going to challenge myself to get over that hurdle.

My plan is to do it once I’ve got a little fitter and stronger at the gym. I’ll probably be in a more confident headspace then too!

The aim is simply to be able to snowboard enough so that I can go on holiday with Ian who loves to go snowboarding abroad as much as he can. It would be amazing to go with him in the not so distant future!

 

…so hello 2018! Let’s all have an amazing year!

What are your plans or goals for 2018? I’d love to know! :)

Join me on social… Twitter: @Amanda_Alston// Instagram: @Amanda_Alston // Facebook: facebook.com/amandaalstonblog

A Week in Tenerife

Playa de la Americas Tenerife

The first time I had a holiday in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife, I was about 10 years old and I remember loving the lazy days by the beach and my Dad telling me I should try out a jet ski! (I declined, but I would love to try one out one day!).

I was lucky enough to head back to the island this year for a wonderful week in the canarian sunshine. We relaxed, we explored and we ate and drank through our bodyweight of delicious food and drink. You can’t beat a cold fruity glass of sangria!

Tenerife is such a beautiful island with something for everyone, so if you’re looking for a little bit of holiday inspiration for 2018, here are my recommendations.

We stayed in a hotel which was just on the edge of Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje. One of the most stand out reasons to choose this side of the island is how this beautiful stretch of coastline offers you the most stunning sunsets. Perfect to watch with a cocktail in hand!

Playa de las Americas is a lively resort resulting in choice for everyone. Restaurants, cocktail bars, beautiful beaches, clubs, shops (credit cards at the ready ladies!), watersports, kids entertainment…you’ll be sure to find the perfect little spot for you and how you wish to spend your holiday. It caters for families, couples and singles alike.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite trips and things to enjoy during your stay in Tenerife. Hopefully this inspires you to go and explore this gorgeous island that’s steeped in both natural and manmade history.

Mount Teide

You can’t go to Tenerife without considering a trip to the island’s most focal point. Teide is the third largest volcano in the world from its base. Standing proud at 12,000ft. Originally, Tenerife was actually three different islands, but it was all brought together due to the volcanic activity of Teide.

If you’re not afraid of heights, be sure to book a ticket in advance for the cable car to take you up onto Teide. I’ve done this both this year and when I visited as a child and absolutely loved it both times. It’s a really fun way to travel up to see some beautiful scenery.

Playa de las Americas Tenerife

Teide trip Tenerife

Wild Whales & Dolphins

One of my favourite things to do in Tenerife is to go out on a boat to spot whales and dolphins in the sea. You just can’t beat seeing animals in their natural habitat just doing their thing.

We didn’t manage to see dolphins this time but we saw loads of beautiful pilot whales including some baby ones too! It was so magical and a real privilege to see them.

We went out on a catamaran and paid a little more (about 10 Euros) to have a lovely VIP bed on the front of the boat, which is really worth doing if you get a chance to.

Playa de las Americas Tenerife

Whales Playa de las Americas Tenerife

The City of Garachico

It’s definitely worth exploring the different areas on the island, and one place I’d really recommend is Garachico.

This city is full of history to discover all about the lava flows that came from the eruptions many years ago. We had a guide to walk us around the town, so I’d recommend a guided tour or grabbing a Tenerife guidebook that may explain all about the town and its history.

If you’re a strong swimmer, I’d recommend packing a swimsuit to jump in and enjoy the rocky pool areas by the sea! Waves flow in to this secluded area of water, creating a really fun place to swim (like a wave machine in a pool, but a naturally made one!). We watched person after person jump in and enjoy themselves, we were quite jealous we couldn’t join them!

Garachico City Church Tenerife

Exploring Garachico Tenerife

Rock Pools Swimming Garachico Tenerife

Wine Tasting & Food to Enjoy

Tenerife and the other canarian islands actually produce a decent amount of wine! We headed up into the hills on a guided tour and wine tasting session, which was great fun and really interesting.

Whenever I travel somewhere, I always try to make an effort to try the local cuisine. In Tenerife it’s all about beautiful seafood dishes. We had a lovely octopus starter in our hotel’s restaurant, but you’ll find a whole host of options either in your hotel or at nearby restaurants I’m sure.

Another typical treat to try are the canarian potatoes, which are divine! These salty tasting potatoes are found everywhere and are most definitely moreish.

As you travel round the island, you’ll be likely to notice the vast amount of banana farms. The bananas over there are a little sweeter to the taste, so definitely try those out too!

Tempted to holiday in Playa de las Americas in 2018?

You may want to pop over to the Holiday Gems website here and discover all the wonderful holidays they have on offer. There really are some beautiful hotels to book on their website. It’s definitely giving me the travel bug once again as I write this!

I really hope this post has given you a flavour of what’s on offer on the stunning island of Tenerife. Why not hire a car and make the most of the island?

*This is a sponsored post thanks to the lovely people at Holiday Gems, but as always my thoughts on the beautiful island of Tenerife are most definitely my own.

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