Posted on: Thursday, 20 July 2017

Less is more: Let's talk Minimalism

About six months ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called 'Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things'. It really makes you think twice about the 'things' that actually make you happy. I like the concept that owning less 'stuff' and not being sucked in by consumerism can improve your own wellbeing, inner calm and generally make you a happier person.

I find the guys behind 'The Minimalists' and minimalists in general really really inspiring. I find it fascinating how some people can live with only 15 items, or have these incredible quirky small houses but utilising their space incredibly well. Really mind-blowing stuff. Anyway, I'd highly recommend watching it.

After being inspired, I immediately started de-cluttering and took ten bin bags, yes ten, down to my local charity shop. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt so much better for doing so.
I wouldn't go to the extreme and say 'I'm a hardcore minimalist' by any means, however, I would say I have cut down severely on my spending habits and removed so many unwanted and unused things from my home.
It's true what they say, less is more, and de-cluttering definitely soothes the soul.

I'm not saying that I never get sucked into consumerism though. I do have the urge to spice up my wardrobe every now and again with a big old' ASOS order. Or you'll often find me being sucked in to buying yet another Charlotte Tilbury lipstick... damn you pretty packaging and perfect shades.
But when I do feel myself getting sucked in, I try to remind myself to only buy things that add value to my life. Do I really need five slight variations of white off the shoulder tops or do I really another nude-pink lipstick when I have 59357 already? (throwing lipsticks away is a weakness of mine, sorry Minimalists).

If I do find myself over-spending and buying impulsively, I like to reel it back in by listening to a podcast or doing a bit of inspirational reading. Here's a few great reads, podcasts, projects you may enjoy too.

It goes without saying, 'The Minimalists' are definitely worth listening to! Each episode is about an hour long, so if you fancy doing something a little different on your lunch break or fancy listening to something motivating while you're at the gym, stick on one of these and feel inspired. They discuss a range of topics from de-cluttering, travel, stress, friends and much much more.

If you don't know where to start with de-cluttering and tidying and want a beautiful minimal space, give Marie Kondo's 'the life changing magic of tidying' a read. It's really helped me discover what's actually important and what doesn't spark joy anymore. Goodbye clutter forever.
If you like Marie Kondo's approach, she has another book called 'Spark Joy' which follows on from 'the life changing magic of tidying' however is more of an illustrated guide to de-cluttering and organising.

If you're liking the whole idea of a minimalistic lifestyle, Project 333 might be something for you to try. Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.

The Minimalists also have a project called the 30-day Minimalism Challenge. Find a friend or family member and each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day, two things on the second, three items of the time and so on. Whoever can keep going the longest wins!

As always you can reach me on social media. I have Instagram: @zoeyoliviablog, and twitter: @zoeyoliviablog

Posted on: Monday, 17 July 2017

Wedding Planning #7 | How I styled my wedding dress

When I was into serious wedding planning mode I was searching for inspiration on how other brides had styled their wedding dress. 

I honestly spent hours upon hours trying to find a bride who had styled the beautiful Eliza Jane Howell Clarissa dress but no luck. So I thought this post would be really helpful for someone who is considering purchasing the same dress, designer or a similar style and has no idea what shoes to match and what accessories to wear!

The dress.  I wore a beautiful Eliza Jane Howell gown, 'Clarissa' was it's name (it's now sadly sitting in a duster bag in my wardrobe). A beautiful classic 1920's design with the most gorgeous detailed beading. It had a the most flattening v neckline, soft fluted sleeves and a fairly small train. It was so lovely to wear and I knew it was 'the one' instantly.

The shoes. I knew I wanted a pair of inspired 1920's heels to match but with a bit of sparkle. I was browsing Pinterest and my eyes lit up when I came across Rachel Simpson's 'Charlotte' heels. How unbelievably beautiful are these babies and they were really affordable for wedding shoes! 

The undergarments. With a super hugger figure fitting dress, I needed a pair of spanx, not the sexiest choice of underwear I know, but boy were these amazing. I had never owed a pair before but I really do think they helped accentuate my figure.  I also wore a strapless wonderbra, my boobs looked great (if I do say so myself ha).
And of course I wore a garter, I spotted this gorgeous hand-made design on notonthehighstreet. It was a one-off design so unfortunately I don't think you can get your hands on this exact one but there are so many that are similar on notonthehighstreet and etsy. 

The veil. I ordered my veil from Morgan Davies Bridal shop in Hitchin where I purchased my bridal gown from. It was the most stunning delicate long veil, it paired so beautifully with my gown. 

The bag. Accessorize have some really beautiful wedding bags. I was so lucky to find my ideal one - a gorgeous embellished number which matched my shoes so perfectly. 

The jewellery. As the dress was heavily embellished, I wanted to keep it simple with the jewellery. I kept my neck bare and wore these stunning antique pearl earrings made by the designer, Katharine Swaine

The hair. Luckily with this particular style of dress you can wear your hair up or down, I decided to have my hair down.

I almost immediately knew what hair-style I wanted, soft 1920's curls. I printed off some hair-styles I found on Pinterest, took them to my bridal hair tutorial and wall-lah, Denise from D&D Make-up created exactly what I wanted.

The makeup. I did my own make-up on the day as I'm a fuss pot and know what I like best. I went for a soft natural glowy look. You can read more about what I used on my face here.  

The flowers. I opted for a wild bouquet with burgundy, soft pinks, white and lots of foliage. I thought these colours were gorgeous for the winter season and looked amazing in photos.

I hope this post was somewhat helpful to any brides-to-be. If you have any questions or any other wedding styled blog posts you'd like me to talk about then please leave them in the comments below.

If you're interested in reading more about my wedding experiences, I blogged about mine and Joe's initial ideas here. As well as my initial hair and make-up ideas here. The stressful period with eight weeks to go, which you can read here. I talked about choosing your wedding make-up here. And last but not least, designing your own wedding stationary (travel theme inspired) blog here.

As always you can reach me on social media. I have Instagram: @zoeyoliviablog, and twitter: @zoeyoliviablog

Posted on: Saturday, 15 July 2017

How to spend: 24 hours in Leeds

Four hours and thirty minutes from London and we arrived at our destination. We only spent a short amount of time in Leeds, but it was really exciting exploring somewhere new and seeing what the city had to offer.

Leeds is pretty similar to London, it's very hip and has a buzzing atmosphere. Theres tons of amazing options for food, the night life is great and it's perfect for some good old' retail therapy. One thing that really differentiates Leeds from London is that everyone is SO friendly, from the hotel staff, shop assistants and even strangers on the street. It's a breath of fresh air for someone you don't know to say hello or even smile as you casually walk by sipping your chai latte...

Where to stay: The Village Hotel.

I haven't come across 'The Village' hotels before, but there are quite a few dotted around the UK. Joe and I loved our stay here, the rooms are super stylish and modern. We had the comfiest bed in the world and I had the best night's sleep I've had in months. Also, the rainfall shower was a delight to use in the morning. (I desperately want one in my future home!)

There were also many perks to our stay, we got to use the gym, swimming pool and sauna free of charge. AND we got a complimentary fry up the following morning. As well as this, there was a little Starbucks inside our hotel. I'm more of a Costa girl myself, but it's super convenient for all the Starbucks lovers out there.

Where to eat: Friends of Ham

Ok I have to admit the name of this restaurant drew me in... Hell yes, I'm friends with Ham. This quirky little place serves a variety of interesting beers and has a wide selection of charcuterie and cheeses.

Joe and I shared a heavenly meaty platter. We had an assortment of different types of ham, Culaccia di Parma, Serrano Gran Reserva, Carne Salata Beef which came with baby gherkins (adorable), and Old Winchester cheese paired with these interesting looking crackers.

We had a lovely time here, food was delicious and the staff were so helpful and lovely.

If you're not in to charcuterie and cheeses, another option would be to visit Trinity Kitchen for incredible street food - they have food trucks who sell Vietnamese, Italian, Indian, BBQ and more.

Where to go for coffeeOpposite - the hidden gem of caffeine goodness. Tucked away near Leeds University, this coffee shop is the bomb dot com. My chai latte was perfect, honestly one of the most deliciously creamy chai latte's I've had in a long time. Joe had a cappuccino and he was super impressed too! Highly recommend stopping by.

Things to do: Shop until your credit card statement makes you want to cry...

I've been on a bit of a spending ban recently, well since I got into the whole 'minimalism thing' a few months ago - which I'm sure I'll talk about in another post at some point. But sometimes, you just need a bit of a splurge to spice up your wardrobe every now and again.

Trinity is a great shopping centre with all my (and possibly yours) favourite high street brands, they have TOPSHOP, PRIMARK, New Look, H&M, Mango, River Island and much more. I treated myself to some really pretty midi and maxi dresses, two pairs of wide legged culottes (big fan of these), the most gorgeous polka-dot jumpsuit, a pair of tanned sandals and a few more basic tops.

Also, visit the beautiful Roundhay Park, it's utterly stunning and is said to be one of the biggest city parks in Europe. You could catch some rays and enjoy a picnic here if the weather is nice (damn you unpredictable UK weather).

So there we have it - a mini guide on what to do in Leeds in 24 hours! Hope this was somewhat helpful to anyone interested in visiting the hip city. If anyone has any recommendations on other restaurants and things to do please leave them in the comments section below.

Follow me @zoeyoliviablog to see what I get up to daily. You can also reach me on twitter: @zoeyoliviablog. Or, if you like Bloglovin', I'm kind of new to it but follow me on there. I also have Pinterest, I'm often procrastinating and pinning my life away... So do get in touch :).

Posted on: Thursday, 29 June 2017

Wedding Planning #6 | Designing your own Wedding Stationary - Travel Theme

Getting your wedding stationary personally designed can be super costly, but if you're a little crafty and you don't mind getting into DIY bride mode, you can save yourself quite a bit of money.
Some of you may know I am a Digital Designer by day, and I used to create hand-made collages back in the day. During my wedding planning, I had the chance to get my hands dirty and create some beautiful (if I say so myself) digital and hand-made designs. So, I thought I'd share these with you, alongside some tips and tricks.

The invitations

First things first, design the save the date invitations! These were the first things I designed, which I did 10 months before the wedding. At that moment, I had no idea what theme I wanted, I just knew that I wanted something that had blues, golds and looked quite classy. Looking back, these don't really flow with the world/travel theme, but I'm happy with the way they look. When I printed them and wrapped them in twine, I was so proud, ha.

If you're pretty graphic design savvy, you can design your invites in Photoshop or Indesign. Or maybe you have a graphic design friend who can mock something up for you.
Doing these myself saved me a huge chunk of money as I only had to order some A5 cream card, some twine and a gold pen from Amazon! Printing them wasn't too costly either - as long as you have a good printer and some ink!

If you don't fancy designing them yourself, there are also tons of people on etsy and notonthehighstreet that create personalised invitations, so I'd highly recommend going on there.

The Table Plan

The table plan is something you may start planning in the final weeks -  I did mine a couple of days before the wedding, which I'm so glad I did as we had a few drop outs. So my advice would be to design two days before your wedding. But make sure you have all your props a few weeks before!

I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the table plan - a huge map with tags pinpointed to all the places Joe and I had travelled to together.

I stumbled across something similar on notonthehighstreet, and ordered the standard world map which was only £10.50. I then ordered some white tags, navy and white striped twine and white pins from Amazon. The frame was from B&M which cost around £5. For the typography, I hand wrote everything in my own 'scripted/calligraphy style'. If you want to achieve that gorgeous scripted style, you can buy calligraphy books to help you practice, I'd recommend this one!

The Areoplane Name Cards

Alongside the table plan we had to think about the name cards. We've been to weddings and people have kept them quite traditional - a rectangle stand with your name printed on. But I wanted to do something a little different. I liked the idea of creating little paper areoplanes, and so I found some designs on Pinterest, sent them to one of my design friends and she created the above.
They are honestly so beautiful and intricate. She did an incredible job on them, as well as having the patience of a saint to design and make over 90 of them!

To create your paper areoplane name cards, all you need is a paper areoplane template - which you can add text your personalised text on Illustrator or Indesign. As well as cream card, brown card, glue and white ribbon.

Table names and Selfie Station Props

The table name designs were super easy to do! I printed off an A5 vintage looking map onto cream card, glued a brown tag onto the map and wrote my desired country name on them. I bought some A5 frames (which matched the table plan frame) which added the final touch.
With regards to styling them on the tables, I thought the frames worked really well stacked on top of a few log slices which I bought on eBay!

We wanted to keep our guests entertained so we decided to have a selfie station with photo booth props - this went down really well with both the adults and kids!
I found this photo booth stick props template online, which you simply cut out and stick on lolly pop sticks or straws.
To make sure the photo booth props are secure and in place, I'd advise using a glue gun which you can buy really cheap from any arts and craft stores!

Joe, myself and my bridesmaids had such a fun evening making these. There were over 100 to cut out and stick together so I'm glad we had the extra pairs of hands.

To style the photo booth props, I bought a set of jam jars from eBay and some chalk stickers from Amazon. We already had a chalk pen so all I had to do was write 'Selfie Station' on them.

Name tags for the ceremony

Name tags for the ceremony are optional. I only created a few for the first two rows which included the main wedding party.

I found a tag template on the internet and added the text in Illustrator. After I was happy with the design, I printed them on brown paper, cut out by hand, hole punched a hole in every single one and added the final touch of twine.

For mine and Joe's chair's, I bought these Mr & Mrs hessian chair covers from eBay.

Extra bits

We wanted a few extra bits at the wedding, one being - wedding wands. We wanted each chair to have one, so that when we walked down the aisle after we said our 'I do's', everyone would wave their wands and it would create a lovely photo.

I bought these from Ginger Ray. I picked ours up in the sale, I think they were about £3 for a pack of 10. So do keep your eye out for any Ginger Ray sales as I know some of their products can be quite expensive. Alternatively, you can make your own if you're on a budget!

Another item we picked up from Ginger Ray were these cute little 'If You Instagram' cards where you write your own unique hashtag, such as #ZoeyandJoey. These retail at £5 for a pack of 5 which isn't too shabby.

Another nice little touch is to print lots of your favourite photographs of you and your loved ones and hang them up. All you need is twine, your chosen photos, mini pegs and some pins! It works out really inexpensive and you'll make use of the photographs afterwards too!

We also bought a few extra personalised things too. We bought our gorgeous gold glittery cake topper from notonthehighstreet, and our personalised ring box from etsy

I found designing and making the wedding stationary the most stress-free and one of the best parts of wedding planning and I'm sure you'll love it too.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful. If you have any questions about any of the above, then please leave them in the comments below.

If you're interested in reading more about my wedding experiences, I blogged about mine and Joe's initial ideas here. As well as my initial hair and make-up ideas here. The stressful period with eight weeks to go, which you can read hereAnd last but not least I talked about choosing your wedding make-up here.

As always you can reach me on social media. I have Instagram: @zoeyoliviablog, and twitter: @zoeyoliviablog.

Posted on: Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Amsterdam Travel Guide

Amsterdam, what a beautiful majestic little city!

Amsterdam has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time and I'm glad to say I've now ticked it off. During our four day stay we visited some amazing cafes, restaurants and sights, which of course I was dying to share!

Where to stay: Amsterdam is known for it's quirky little hotels, from the CitizenM, The Tire station, Qbic Hotel Amsterdam and Fletcher Hotel to name a few. We stayed at The Ramada as my husband collected lots of points from business trips away, so it worked out pretty cheap to stay there. Our room was lovely, it was on the 16th floor and we had a spectacular view of the city.

How to get around: Almost everyone cycles in Amsterdam - no wonder the Danes are so slim and healthy! Hire a bicycle for a few days, it's the most convenient way of traveling around and experiencing Amsterdam as a local.

What to do: Did you know Amsterdam has 75 museums?! The most well known include the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House.
There are also so many quirky ones, such as The Sex Museum, The Cow Museum, The Tulip Museum, there was even a Cheese Museum! They're all very random, but they are definitely worth the visit!

The Heineken experience was really good and I would highly recommend it. I'm not usually a fan of beer (I'm more of a G&T kind of girl), but Joe wanted to go and we really enjoyed it. You learnt the history behind the company, how beer is made, had a little bit of beer tasting, played lots of interactive games and got to enjoy two beers at the end of the experience.

If the weather is nice you have to visit Vondelpark, it's utterly stunning. We enjoyed cycling around the whole park and soaking up some rays here.
If horticulture is up your street, you'll also love the floating flower market which is so vibrant and pretty. It's also said to be the only floating flower market in the world!

Another thing to do is just get lost and wonder around the streets of Amsterdam. There's so much to see - from trendy little shops to niche little cafes. It's also breathtaking to walk around at night time, with all the pretty lights around the bridges and the gorgeous street lamps lit up.

Where to go for brunch: Oh boy does this city have so many amazing food options!

Mook Pancakes: If you're in the mood for some delicious pancakes, I'd highly recommend
Mook Pancakes! I ordered the 'good morning' and it was incredible. I also had a healthy ginger tea which was also lovely and well... you know, you have to balance out the bad with the good ;).

Metropolitain: What a little gem! This spot is right in the city centre and serves the most wonderful sandwiches, burgers, and salads. I had peaches, parma ham, walnuts and cream on toast. And, Joe had a salmon burger with truffle chips. Also, the strawberry lemonade was delightful - just what you need on a hot Summer's day.

Teds: another great spot to grab some brunch is Teds! I can see why this is a local's favourite as I had the most amazing chicken, rocket and avocado sandwich here. Highly highly recommend.

Bakers & Roasters: Bakers & Roasters, a locals favourite and I now know why!
This was the only restaurant where we had to wait - only 10 minutes or so, so it wasn't too bad... where as some locals had said they have waited up to an hour to eat here!

If you go here, you have to try the banana nut French toast, seriously seriously amazing. Joe had a pretty interesting brunch with pulled Pork, chiplotte sauce, poached eggs, avocado, melon, sourdough toast, with a side of bacon, which he loved.

I also tried a Turmeric latte for the very first time - it has a little bit of a kick, but very enjoyable.

Where to go for sweet treats!

Sticky fingers: Oh my these little pies of goodness were right up my street. I wish I could have stuffed ten in my suitcase!

We shared the lemon meringue and banoffee pies. Both equally incredible. We also had a hot chocolate and cappuccino, mmm so creamy and lovely.

I also loved the interior. Very Instagrammable - a designers dream!

There are some great ice cream shops that you have to stop by. One being Banketbakkerij v.d Linde. The most amazing whipped creamy ice cream. Another two great options are Yscuypje and Cons IJSFabriek Monte Pelmo.

Coffee stop.
The white label coffee: If I lived in Amsterdam, I could see myself working here every day! The atmosphere is very chilled and they serve delicious coffee.

Where to go for dinner:

Foodhallen: If you can't decide on what to eat, the Foodhallen is a great place to go! It's full of a variety of trendy food stalls. Options include; dim sum, burgers, Dutch cheese balls, pizza, Vietnamese and much much more. We came here twice as we loved the atmosphere and food so much!

If you do stop by, you have to try The Butcher's succulent burgers, De BallenBar's incredible melty cheese balls and the delicious dim sum from Dim Sum Thing.

There's also a dedicated gin & tonic bar! On one of the day's we went it was world gin day so they had lots of special options to choose from.

If you're in a meaty mood, you have to check out is Cafe De Klos' ribs. Joe's sister and boyfriend recommended this place and boy oh boy did it live up to the expectations! The ribs were so succulent and juicy.

If you're planning on visiting Amsterdam, do let me know if you pop by any of the above places in the comments below! Or if anyone else has any suggestions of things to do/see/eat in Amsterdam, also leave them in the comments section so this post can be helpful to fellow travellers.

Follow me @zoeyoliviablog to see what I get up to daily. You can also reach me on twitter: @zoeyoliviablog. Or, if you like Bloglovin', I'm kind of new to it but follow me on there. I also have Pinterest, I'm often procrastinating and pinning my life away... So do get in touch :).