I'm sure you've seen the hashtag circling on Instagram. My best nine picks out the top images from the last 12 months on your instagram account based on likes. However, it made me think about the past year and I wanted to pick out my own best nine moments, and an important reason why each is up there.
1. TREK AMERICA
Obviously top of the list. This trip has inspired the next 12 months of my life, I can travel on my own, so I no longer am limiting myself to other peoples timelines. I've already got bookings ready for Amsterdam and Adelaide (thanks to my new Australian friends I met on my trek). I feel like I learned so much about myself, made new friends and got to experience beautiful parts of the world, a lot of people I know never will see.
2. BEN NEVIS
This climb was unlike anything else I had done, it was definitely the most challenging (with the snow, ice axes and crampons). It made me realise how strong I am and also led onto me climbing the three peaks throughout this year. I'm now planning on completing the three peaks challenge next year, all 3 in 24 hours! I underestimated my passion for hiking and the outdoors, but I now feel confident enough to go solo climbing.
3. WHO MATTERS
In the last 12 months I have had a total of 4 people, I once considered my closest friends, completely walk out of my life. It's made me a tougher person (but a lot wiser too), circumstances change but people don't. They were never really my friends, and unfortunately some people aren't always what they seem. It's been a positive though because some people are very toxic for you (and you don't always see it). I have become a lot closer with other friends in my life, made a bunch of new ones (thanks to this years adventures) and relied on certain people I wouldn't have before. I'm insanely lucky to have all of them in my life.
This year has been quite an ink filled one. A total of 4 new tattoos, all with very important meanings. My first colour one was of Stitch (Lilo & Stitch), this obviously relates to the Ohana phrase 'Ohana means family, family means nobody get's left behind or forgotten'. I have this year realised how important my family is, working and living away means I have spent a lot less time at home. They support and celebrate with you through the bad and the good, I know they're the one constant in my life that won't fade.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA
This blog, my youtube channel and design website, I have put all these into motion this year. I always wanted to be more active and promote myself as well as my work, but previously never had the confidence. It's about giving yourself credit, I put myself down a lot but I think I've realised what other people think doesn't matter. I'm focusing on creating content I want to, if I am proud of what I do then what does it matter if someone else doesn't approve?
This year has been busy work wise and I kicked it off with a trip to Chicago, for my very first show! This was such a responsibility and learning experience, that gave me a massive confidence boost in my work life. I not only learnt about my company and our customers but stepped out my comfort zone for a change. Working in front of our audience, rather than from behind my Mac screen. A bonus was getting to eat deep dish pizza and do my best Ferris Bueller impression.
7. TOUGH MUDDER X2
I smashed my second ever Tough Mudder, I had some hiccups getting there but I worked my arse off to get tougher. I was a lot stronger physically this time, (thanks to a little training from my boyfriend) last year I lacked upper body strength for a couple of the obstacles. I've signed up again, but want to really challenge myself by running the course twice next year, so I think I will be skipping out on the christmas chocolates over the holidays. I'm aiming for all 10 headbands, eventually.
8. TURNING 24
I spent my 24th birthday on Snowdon, where better to think about life that the great outdoors. Our hike was very wet and windy, but since turning 24 I have already done so much and figured out a plan for the next few years. With 12 months of travel ahead, moving home to save for my own house and potentially getting my first dog in the New Year, I'm finally figuring out where I want to be in 5 years time. Most importantly, I want to have plenty of worldly stories to tell.
9. COLOUR RUN
This event was particularly great because of my friends Yasmin & Amy, they are vloggers and just genuinely great people! We have had a few adventures together this year and I hope that continues into 2018. The colour run wasn't so much a challenge, but it was the happiest event I've been involved in. That's what I have been this year, happy. The colour run was people just appreciating having a laugh, not caring how you looked or about competing. I think we all spend too much time worrying about comparisons, that's not what your life should be about. If it makes you happy (even for just a moment) then you're headed in the right direction.
So bring on 2018! I'm looking forward to more headbands, tattoos, countries and mountains.
🍑 A B Y
It's officially December! Which means I no longer have to tone down my excitement for Christmas! As I am a bit concerned about gaining weight over Christmas (too much temptation and not enough running with the cold weather), I opted to do my own creative calendar countdown, rather than the chocolate one.
December doodles is the name of the project, each day up to and including the 25th, I will post an illustration on Twitter. The drawings will be festive themed and that's all, no other requirements. It's an opportunity for me to be creative every day and gives me a push to come up with some original illustrations.
I will be updating the blog with the final set of 25 illustrations, but for now here are a couple of my favourites so far! (Follow my TWITTER to see them all throughout December!)
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One of my favourite things about this time of year, are of course the Christmas Markets, and there's no better place to go than Manchester! I dragged Danny along (who is basically scrooge) with the promise of food, and we headed down early on Saturday morning. Once I managed to get D out of bed, we jumped the train from right outside my flat, into Piccadilly station.
First stop Starbucks, because I'm a sucker for a festive infused beverage and can't function before the first coffee of the day. Particularly the Eggnog Latte from Starbucks which is my favourite every year, the city was already buzzing so we knew it would be quite a busy afternoon getting around the stalls.
By the time we had finished our coffees it was nearing lunch, so we set off in search of food. Last year I opted for the Northern Soul Grilled Cheese (sensational), but I'd heard about the Yorkshire Pudding Wrap this year. It was clearly popular, the queue was ridiculous! People were actually waiting half an hour (probably longer), but then I noticed there was the addition of some fresh, stone baked pizza slice stalls. Danny is a huge lover of pizza, so it was a good first stop. I have to admit it was delicious! We then needed something sweet to complement the savoury and the Nutella smothered pancakes called to us.
We headed over to the ice skating but again it was heaving with people, so we have decided to go ice skating another weekend instead and on the day missed it out. Manchester is busy at the best of times but combined with a Saturday and the markets, it's pretty crazy so you have to be willing to put up with a lot of people.
We continued on our food and drink crawl, stopping off for Baileys hot chocolates (mainly because I wanted the mug). You can't not have hot chocolate at christmas time, plus it helps that walking around Manchester for hours makes you feel like you've burned off most of the calories.
A mulled wine and german sausage later, I was fit to burst. The markets are more for me about the atmosphere than actually shopping. I love to browse the handmade stalls and pick up the odd gift, such as the flavoured coffee beans or blueberry whiskey which was a favourite last year. It started to get dark and so we stopped in the Arndale for a moment, where Danny bought me the cutest early Christmas present! A giant Angel teddy, now for those of you who've looked around my blog you might know I have a stitch tattoo, so it's safe to say I'm a massive fan. I already had a medium sized stitch but they were on sale and we even picked up the baby scrump to match (I went home and watched Lilo & Stitch after this).
It wasn't the cheapest day out but it was certainly the most festive one. Christmas is about enjoying yourself and over indulging, not just on food and drink but you spend more time with family and friends that you would usually. Appreciating the little moments like these are what makes this time of year so special. However, I'm glad it's only once a year or I'd be the size of Santa myself!
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Every year offices across the country employ Secret Santa, for some it's a welcome bit of fun but others dread having to buy a gift for Susan from Sales who you've never spoken to since your first day. Well fear not, I have collected a list of ten items all under £20 and based on practically knowing nothing about a person (except what you can find out online). These would also make perfect stocking fillers for that special someone you're struggling to buy for, without breaking the bank.
The Novice Photographer
Do they fancy themselves a hipster? Post arty shots on Instagram everyday? Then a Mobile Lens Kit is the perfect gift! I've got friends who use these and they're really ace. For just £8.99 on Amazon, the kit comes with a clip and 3 attachable lenses (Macro, Fisheye & Wide Angle). Take a cool group selfie or some drunken fisheye photos at the christmas party.
The Girly Girl
Posh Totty have quickly become my new favourite jewellery brand, because i don't like spending a fortune and prefer something that is personal. They offer a range of necklaces (If you keep an eye out there's often discounts too!), my favourite is the personalised message disc necklace £20. You could put a simple christmas message on it, a quote from something they like (check their Facebook for ideas) or play it safe with their name. I've so many ideas for these, having ordered one I definitely will be dropping hints to family.
I myself am a movie fanatic (Star Wars is out next week GUYS!), and I came across this whilst browsing one of my favourite gift sites Firebox. A 100 Movies Scratch Poster just £12.99, filled with the must see classics. You scratch the movies you've seen off and then use the rest as a guide of what to watch on your next Movie Night with your other half.
The Caffeine Addict
For a coffee lover, this Coffee to Grow £9.99 would be the perfect addition to their workspace. Or maybe they'd prefer this Strongly Worded Mug Gift Set £14.99. You can't go wrong with either of these.
The Food Lovers
Creighton's Chocolate is an absolute dream come true. I haven't yet treated myself from here, but there chocolate concoctions sound out of this world. For that person with a sweet tooth why not get them the Breakfast Buffet Bar Gift Set £10, three 100g chocolate bars in unique flavours including Maple & Bacon! There's plenty more to browse and I guarantee it's better than a Milk Tray.
The Kid at Heart
We went to the Lego Store in Manchester last weekend and they have this thing now, where you can make 3 personalised mini figures for just £5.99! The idea is you create yourself, but you do have limited options in store. If you don't mind spending a little bit more then you can go online and create a Personalised Minifig! These go up from around £12 depending on your clothing / accessory choices but would be a hilarious stocking filler.
The Outdoorsy Type
I myself love hiking so this is an area you can't go wrong with some camping pots and pans or a little multi-tool keyring. I would recommend getting a Chilly's Bottle £20, these thermos bottles claim to keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours, and cold drinks chilled for 24 hours. You'll be perfectly refreshed whether your hiking in the summer or winter and I'd be so grateful to receive one of these. They'll also be perfect for those gym addicts or any fitness fanatics.
Geeky Guys and Gals
These Star Wars Nesting Dolls £20 are absolutely guaranteed to get a giggle if you've got a fantasy fan in the office. Just don't give them to a trekky. If they're not feeling the force then why not gift them these Laser Tag keyring £20 instead, they're sure to be a lot of fun on that final Friday before the holidays.
The Team Player
It's well know that at this time of year you will inevitably end up playing games around the table on Christmas day. Whether they be card games or the dreaded hours of Monopoly, for those adults why not try If You Had To... £16.99 the perfect game for after a few drinks. Once the kids are in bed or at a party on Boxing Day, this game is sure to make you laugh as much as it has me and my boyfriend.
The Crafty Type
Punky Pins are an ace little shop, selling key rings jewellery, patches and stickers. For that artsy person you know whether they love cats (Mystical Cat Acrylic Necklace £12) or Stranger Things (Friend's Don't Lie Enamel Pin £7) there are some cute little pieces available. They can brighten up their workspace or office jumper with the addition of these colourful accessories.
I hope you found this list helpful. I'm super organised at Christmas and love finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, but I know how difficult it can be sometimes especially when there are those people you might not know as well. There's something for everyone here and if all else fails, it's the thought that counts. If you like anything on this list for yourself, just wait until the Boxing Day sales and you might even grab them at a bargain price!
🍑 A B Y
Aby, 24. Northerner.