• THE PERFECT 48 HOURS IN BARCELONA

    I started this post back in November after I spent 48 hours in Barcelona at the end of October. However, November and December ended up being some very rough months for me for a number of different reasons and it’s only now that I’m getting back to blogging. I still wanted to share some posts from my trip because I had such a good time. its actually quite nice to look back on it now and remember everything that I did. I know people can be a bit scared of travelling alone but if you’re going through a hard time or just need a break to give yourself more space and time to think, I would highly recommend it. I did a bit of research before I went and lined up a few things I knew wanted to do but I also gave myself a lot of time to just wander and explore the city. This post runs through all the spots I visited, as well as where I stayed and how I got around.

    DAY 1

    Park Güell

    This was my first stop in Barcelona and honestly I could spend so much time wondering around this park. It’s a public park composed of gardens and architecture elements designed by Antoni Gaudí. There are free parts you can look around, as well as a part where you need a ticket to get in. I would highly recommend buying a ticket so you can see it all. I decided to do the English guided tour and I’m glad I did. My tour guide was great and it was interesting to hear the history of the park. There was also some other solo travellers in my group so it was a great way to meet people and make friends. There’s just so many interesting pieces and bits of architecture and design, topped off with an amazing view of Barcelona. I think this is a must-see for anyone visiting Barcelona. I would highly recommend getting a taxi or a public bus to the park as it’s at the top of a pretty steep high (I took a bus and was very glad I did!).

    IMG_0805-3IMG_0792IMG_0828-2

    Magic Fountain of Montjuïc

    After wondering around the park for hours, I walked back down to the city and found somewhere to eat. Then I headed towards the Magic Fountain. This was truly one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen. It’s a water fountain display, where the water moves in different ways with different colours and music. The show lasts for an hour and they go through multiple different types of musical; pop, rock, classical, jazz etc. I stood there for the whole hour and watched every single moment. It’s just so cool!

    Something to note: the show happens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and has a different start time depending on the season. They also add an additional night during the summer, but you can check out all of that here if you’re interested!

    IMG_0910IMG_0919

    DAY 2

    Casa Batlló

    For day 2, I started at Casa Batlló, a house that was redesigned by Antoni Gaudí in 1904 and it was a pretty cool building to wonder around. I haven’t been to the other Gaudí designed houses in Barcelona so I can’t compare them, but I really enjoyed my time at this attraction. Barcelona is filled with Gaudi architecture, and it was cool to see how his style translated to interior decor. It’s a self guided tour, so they give you a phone and headphones, and there’s different numbers around the house which correspond with numbers on the phone, explaining the history of the house, as well as how different rooms where used or other bits of information. You can actually hold the phone up as you walk around and it shows you what the rooms would have looked like furnished. I didn’t really use this that much, as I found the design of the rooms interesting enough without any extras but it’s a cool feature.

    IMG_0961-2

    La Rambla, Mercado de La Boqueria and The Gothic Quarter 

    After looking around Casa Battlo, I walked down to La Rambla and I would highly recommend doing that. It took about 20-30 minutes, but the Barcelona streets were made to wonder. La Rambia was very packed so I quickly made my way to the food market called Mercado de La Boqueria. It’s such a cool place to walk around and find something delicious. They have an amazing section of juice, smoothies, fruit, chocolates and so much more. But the juice. Oh the juice. It was SO GOOD.  I bought some and continued walking and strolling into the Gothic Quarter, which is a bunch of narrow streets full of random shops

    IMG_1035.jpgIMG_1038IMG_1040-2IMG_1042.jpg

    The Marina and Beach

    When I needed a break from all the walking, I headed down to Barcelona beach and just chilled out on the sand. It was really nice and relaxing (except for the multiple people coming up to me asking if I wanted a drink, a massage, a towel etc). I love people watching so sitting there with the waves and watching (aka creeping on) everyone was right up my alley. I then got something to eat (food post coming soon!) and wandered along the marina as the sun was setting. I continued to walk towards my hotel and stumbled upon a wine festival. I think that’s the great thing about walking around European cities, you never know what you’ll find!

    IMG_1051

    HOW I GOT AROUND

    To get around, I used a combination of walking and public transport (and if i’m totally honest, I did take a couple of taxis when I was just too tired to get home any other way after walking all day). But other than getting tired, I didn’t have any issues walking. The streets are just so beautiful, and it was so nice strolling around. When I was trying to get somewhere a bit further away, I used the public buses. To figure out what buses I needed to take, I simply used google maps. I bought a 2 day unlimited trips ticket for €15 at the machine at the airport station (this included my trip from the airport into the city). This made life easy because I could jump on the bus as much as I wanted and all I didn’t have to worry about anything.

    WHERE I STAYED

    I booked the BarcelonaBB B&B through booking.com and I loved it. The decor was so interesting and the couple who owned the place were very friendly and helpful. They gave me recommendations and booked a taxi to take me to the airport. The breakfast selection was nice, but very limited for a vegetarian/vegan. However, my final morning I left too early for breakfast so they made me a bag with breakfast to-go to take with me and left it on my bed the day before, which I thought was such a lovely touch. I had to share a bathroom with another room, but that wasn’t too much of an issue for me, and I thought the location was great.

    ___________________________

    That’s about it! I would recommend everything that I saw, as well as where I stayed. It really was a great 48 hours. I fell in love with Barcelona and can’t wait to go back. It’s such a beautiful and colourful place.  One of the things I didn’t get to do was take the cable car from the marina up to Montjuïc Castle, so that will be top of my list next time. I will also be heading straight back to the Mercado de La Boqueria for some juiceMy next post I’m going to talk through where I ate while I was there, including some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, so check back for that!

    Jane xx

     

    SaveSaveSaveSave

    SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

    SaveSaveSaveSave

  • ALL ABOUT BED OF NAILS ACUPRESSURE MATS

    fullsizeoutput_15e4

    I know the spikes look scary. They look like they hurt. And they do, a little bit. But you do get used to it very quickly, I promise. You can always put a layer of fabric between you and the spikes to ease yourself into it if you want. But honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say I have the biggest pain threshold and I can handle it. Now that that’s out of the way….

    What are acupressure mats and how do they work?

    The mat is based on the theory that the body is lined with pressure points which, when stimulated, release the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, similar to acupuncture but this doesn’t involve breaking the skin. The idea for the mat comes from the bed of nails concept which originated in Asia over 1,000 years ago and was used by gurus in the practice of meditation and healing. These gurus would lie on sharp metal nails with heavy blocks stacked on top of them and while this idea can be a bit shocking, it’s not as painful as it may seem as the weight of the body and the blocks is distributed evenly across the nails. The same is true of this modern day equivalent, which is made up of a thin foam mattress with more than 8,000 non-toxic plastic spikes, harmless to the skin, but boosts the same numerous healing benefits, inducing deep relaxation.

    In fact, the Bed of Nails website states that if used regularly for a long enough period of time their products can:

    • Improve circulation
    • Increase energy level
    • Reduce blood pressure
    • Reduce stress and anxiety
    • Alleviate headache
    • Relieve tension and muscle aches
    • Improve sleep and relieve insomnia
    • Relieve chronic neck and back pain
    • Activate the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Benefit weight loss by reducing cortisol levels
    • Improve heart rate variability
    • Revitalize and rejuvenate
    • Improve skin complexion
    • Relieve constipation
    • Alleviate malaise

    That’s a hell of a lot of benefits. I haven’t used my consistently enough to see all of them, but I’ve found even occasional use can help. I got my mat over a year ago because I was having trouble sleeping. I’ve had sleeping problems on and off for years, so I’m always looking for things that can help. And this definitely helped. It’s a weird sensation at first, not quite painful but you can feel the spikes. After a few minutes though, I always start to relax. I would love to be someone who meditated but I struggle with being able to shut off, however this mat helps me feel more at peace and allows me to just lie still for a while.

    After about 10 minutes, I can feel my circulation start to increase as my back starts to heat up. Honestly, the experience is hard to describe but I really enjoy it. Although the sensation when you sit up after lying on it for a while is so bizarre. I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it; it’s pain and pleasure all in one! Speaking of pain, I’ve also found the mat really helps when I have a sore back. My boyfriend’s job involves manual labor and he’s also used it to help reduce tension and pain in his muscles.

    I only recently purchased the neck pillow because I’ve been experiencing pain and stiffness in my neck but I hate massages (weird, I know…). After using it 3 tries, I’ve already noticed a difference. I really do want to start using both the pillow and the mat as frequently as possible because I don’t doubt that their products can produce all of those benefits they state on their website.

    Note: Both my pillow and mat are from the company Bed of Nails. I haven’t done a ton of research but I think you can find cheaper options out there, I just like the quality of their products.

    IMG_8228

     

    Jane x

  • WHAT ARE JADE FACE-ROLLERS AND HOW TO USE THEM

    If you haven’t heard of jade face rollers before, it’s basically just a piece of smooth jade that you roll over your face. They’re very simple to incorporate into your route but they have a lot of benefits; I got mine over a year ago and still absolutely love it. I’ve also gifted them to multiple people after they tried mine and needed one in their lives.

    The Chinese have used the healing properties of jade and deep massaging action to transform skin and facial contours for centuries (my online research tells me it dates back to at least the 7th century). It helps your body’s filtration organs and lymph system to expel toxins meaning that if you’re experiencing sinus pain, this help alleviate the pressure and keeps everything moving. I developed allergies for the first time last autumn and my face roller helped me deal with the blocked up feeling and reduce the pain. I also find it great to use on a plane or just after traveling because my sinuses tend to get sore and stuffed up.

    The jade roller also increases blood flow, promoting cell turnover which helps with spots and keeping your skin looking young. The boost to your circulation also helps improve elasticity and decrease puffiness. I’ve definitely noticed my skin looking fuller and it has a bit more of a glow. I keep my roller on my windowsill and we normally leave our window open so it gets a bit cold (you can get the same effect putting it in the fridge) which makes it really soothing. Jade is a naturally cold stone, even when it’s at room temperature, but this extra temperature drop is even more refreshing.

    I have the medium Yu Ling roller from Cult Beauty, but I do actually want to try the double one that has a smaller roller on the other end that you can use to use on under-eyes circles. There’s quite a few different places online that sell face rollers in different price ranges, just make sure it’s real jade and not a plastic knock-off.

    HOW I USE IT: 

    I roll it over my face and up my neck after cleansing my skin and applying my face oil, which helps really work the oil into my skin and increase the benefits. I roll it in movements from the centre of my face outward, concentrating on rolling from my nose along my cheekbone towards my ear, as that’s were I get a lot of congestion. I then roll from the bridge of my nose along my eyebrow bone and up my forehead. I roll just above my jawline, again from the centre of my face outward. Finally, I roll up my neck. I do play around with all this a bit though and just do whatever feels good at the time.

    b733127ceba4fbeba78fcafeaf67f196-2

    I highly recommend a Jade face-roller to everyone, regardless of age or skin type. They’re universal, nice to use and have an amazing amount of benefits.

    Jane x

  • MY SCRAPBOOK

    I’ve always loved the idea of scrapbooking. I literally have boxes of tickets and other mementos at home. I have such a terrible memory so I think that’s part of the appeal, I’m just drawn towards different ways to keep records of events and things that happen to me because I know I can’t rely on my own mind. The problem is, I also love crafting so I always get carried away and in the past, I’ve spent over a week working on the first 2 pages of a scrapbook before getting distracted and not continuing it.

    However, I was really inspired by Gabriella Lindley’s (VelvetGh0st) scrapbook, which was mainly pictures.  It wasn’t as detailed as the ones you see on Pinterest but it was something I felt was achievable. Last year was pretty crazy for me; I moved to another continent and did lots of fun new things, so I decided to back track quite a bit and make a scrapbook for all of 2016 using the photo stream on my phone as a guide.

    I order a bunch of photos from here and sorted out all the mementos I had. I bought a black paper sketch pad (here) and a silver gel pen (here) from Amazon. I also used multiple glue sticks, super-glue and the label maker my boyfriend got me for Christmas (here). I love scrapbook paper and washi tape but I knew if I started down that rabbit hole, I would never get it finished.  It still did take me a bit of time but I’m pretty proud that I managed to complete it.

    PLAYING AROUND WITH LAYOUTS

    When I printed my photos from the Social Print Studios website, I got 5 different types that they offer: Mightly photos, Miniprints – Rectangular layout, Miniprints – Square layout (these are the ones that look like polaroids)  and Squares. I tried to play around with different layouts, some pages have a lot going on, some are more simple. I dedicated multiple pages to bigger events, but put multiple smaller fun times on the same page. I used my label maker to make headings for different events and used the silver gel pen to write little things to explain the photos. I wanted someone who wasn’t me to be able to look at my scrapbook and know what had happened to me.

    IMG_7234IMG_7265IMG_7285IMG_7241.jpg

    KEEPSAKES

    I also tried to add texture by adding all the little mementos I collected through-out the year. Tickets are the easiest thing to keep but there’s a lot more you can add into the mix.

    IMG_7286

    Lanyard from a work conference

    IMG_7292

    I cut out different parts of the ferry schedule pamphlet and added a picture of us on the boat.

    IMG_7323

    While we were in the metro parks one day, my boyfriend picked this flower and gave it to me. I pressed it for a few months so I could keep it.

    IMG_7266

    My cousin, my boyfriend and I won tickets to a Cavaliers game, so I included the tickets as well as our winning raffle ticket.

    IMG_7244

    During the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Champions parade they shot confetti everywhere and I saved a few pieces.

    INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS

    I added some interactive elements, different cards and things like that so that there was some fun movement in the scrapbook.

    IMG_7252

    A Thank You card from a friend

    IMG_7262

    IMG_7259-2

    Map from the hotel I stayed at in Florida

    CAPTURING A FEELING

    As well as capturing the big things that happened, I wanted to capture the atmosphere and the feelings I had as well. This proved to be a bit difficult but I played around with a few ideas. I think if I want make another scrapbook for this year, I need to make a conscious effort to photograph the little things around me.

    IMG_7278

    I included a page showing some of the little Christmas details around our apartment to remind me of that time.

    IMG_7275

    Unfortunately, my cousin had a miscarriage on Christmas Day. Everything else in my scrapbook is about happy times and I did struggle with whether or not to include bad things that had happened. This had a big impact on me and my family, and I wanted to make sure the baby was remembered so I decided I had to include it. 

    Jane x

  • MISSOMA JEWELLERY HAUL/REVIEW

    img_6249

    LARGE SILVER HORN NECKLACE
    I really love this piece. This type of necklace seems to be very popular with bloggers at the moment, and though it might be a bit over-saturated right now, I still like the look. My favourite thing about this particular necklace is actually the chain; the little silver balls are subtle but add more texture. It feels sturdy, luxurious and perfectly completes an outfit. This necklace, and the fang one below, are part of the collection designed by the blogger Lucy Williams. I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of her before seeing this jewellery pop up everywhere in the YouTube/blogging world. I must have been living under a rock or something, but now that I know who she is, I’m obsessed. I love her laid back and easy style, and I would highly recommend stalking her blog and Instagram if you haven’t already.

    MINI FANG NECKLACE 
    This is my favourite pieces. It’s very versatile; it’s delicate yet still makes an impact. The only thing I dislike is the clasp. I don’t know if it’s just me but I find it difficult to open it. In spite of that, I’ve worn the necklace with lots of different looks and I think it adds a something to every outfit. I’ve always loved pictures of layered necklaces but I’ve always found it difficult to achieve the look. They look so good on Pinterest but they turn into a weird knotted trying-to-hard mess on me. But I’ve actually been able to layer necklaces with this one. I do wish it was slightly longer, I know I have a large neck but I can only wear this necklace on the longest length.

    img_6186img_6274

    STAR CHARM NECKLACE AND CITRINE CHARM
    These are the pieces I’ve struggles with the most to wear.  I like the star but… okay this is going to sound ridiculous, but it’s so small and dainty, it makes me feel like I look bigger. Like I think it might be too delicate and dainty for me. Ridiculous, I know. I’m not sure how I feel about wearing the two of them together, which was my original intention. I’ve started putting the citrine charm on another necklace I have and I’ve been enjoying that.  I think I just need to play with them more to figure out the best way to wear them.

    Over all, I was really happy with my purchases.  The pieces are a bit over-priced but I do think I will get the wear out of them! I also have the bracelet that matches the fang necklace; I’ve worn it a lot (not taking it off for showers etc) and it hasn’t tarnished yet, so I am impressed with the quality of Missoma’s jewellery pieces. The website has a nice variety of pieces, though being a silver gal, I wish they had a few more silver options. They have a really great variety of gold pieces though, so if that’s your thing, definitely check them out!

    Jane x

    P.S. If you want to see some more jewellery content, click here to check out my Daisy London jewellery review/haul 🙂

     

     

  • SHOES THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF

    img_6586-2

    I love these shoes so much. They’re the best. They’re aren’t enough heart emojis in the world to express my love for them.  Most people I know don’t like them but I think they are what dreams are made of. Well, the real ones are what dreams are made of. These are the Public Desire knock-offs. The real ones are from Stella McCartney and I’ve been lusting after them for awhile. The trouble is, they’re a tad bit expensive. Now I don’t have an issue spending more money on accessories that I’m going to use all the time. But I’ve held back from buying the original version of these because I wasn’t sure how much wear I would get out of them. I’m a flats person through and through. I don’t wear heels, I just can’t walk in them. So I wasn’t sure how flatforms would go. I’m not usually a big fan of knock-offs, but I figured they would give me an opportunity to see if I would actually wear them before jumping into the depressing wave of debt that would hit me if I bought the Stella ones (that’s a joke, I would never go into debt for shoes, I was being dramatic, woe is me and all that, but it would definitely sting my bank account balance). I really do love them with all my heart but it remains to be seen how much I would actually wear them so for now, the knock-offs will have to do…Also, Stella McCartney is so much more expensive in the U.S. than in Ireland so I will definitely be waiting until I go home to buy them. If I buy them. Urrggghhh the struggle is real.

    img_6607img_6602IMG_6620-4.jpg