Friday 11 July 2014

Summer Abroad: Travelling Coast to Coast USA

Well would you just look at that map! If there's anything that summarises 'living the dream' then it's got to be this right here, don't you think? 

On the 1st January this year I had one of those 'this is going to be my year' pep talks with myself and took the plunge to book a 5 week trip from New York to Los Angeles. Nobody thought I'd do it, I didn't even think I'd do it - but I did it. (Booked it, that is)

It's organised by a company called Trek America who have a huge range of tours of America, ranging from 4 days to around 12 weeks! (Their 'Full 48' tour of all the US states except Alaska and Hawaii looks flipping amazing!). My trip is called the Coast to Coast South and it's a primarily camping trip, with some nights spend in hotel, hostel or B&B accommodation and we're transported from location to location by our trek leader who will drive us around in a mini bus. There's 12 of us in our group, mostly booked as solo travellers, like me, and we've all 'found' each other via Facebook and have already made a start on getting to know each other before we've even left the country. 

I've got butterflies in my stomach thinking about being dropped at Manchester airport and just boarding a plane to Newark via London Heathrow all by myself and arriving at Newark Airport Hotel ready to face to face meet the people that I'll be spending the next 5 weeks with. 

I'm going for a total of 38 days and considering I couldn't even stay 1 hour down the road at uni for more than 2 weeks, I think this is going to be a challenge for me. But of course, this isn't university with coursework and cheap nights out in sluggy Preston night clubs; this is a trip of a lifetime from New York and Philadelphia, tours of Washington DC, through to Florida with trips to Disneyland and Universal Studios, Miami, a drive down the southern most tip of  the US to Key West, experiencing the southern charm of Texas and New Orleans, alien spotting in Area 57, weeks of national parks and jaw dropping sights of the Grand Canyon (and more!) with the bright lights of Vegas and the surreal culture of LA and Hollywood to finalise the adventure.

There is no trip more perfect and I couldn't think of anything that I'd rather be spending my summer doing! Most of my updates will be on Instagram - @hannahripley1 so you can stay tuned that way, but I'll try and get some more details up on my blog in some sort of diary fashion whenever I can.

I leave 2 weeks today, and I'll be back in September!
Ciao England!

If you want to read more about this sort of thing, I was influenced to do this trip by the wonderful and fabulous posts from In The Frow and you can see her travelling updates from the US here

Thursday 10 July 2014

Free Protein with The Protein Works

If you're curious about trying these little bottles of amazingly creatively flavoured protein powders from The Protein Works, then look no further! If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen that I have whey protein samples of: lemon shortcake, apple cinnamon swirl, caramel macchiato, choc mint brownie and cherry bakewell! Now I'm not sure which one of the flavours sounds more delicious (any of them are much better than plain chocolate or vanilla), and I'm also drawn in by the handy little plastic bottle with the correct amount for one serving ready and waiting for you. Next time I go to the gym all I'll be taking is one little bottle of these and then I can just chuck it away - no bulky and potentially stinky shakers weighing down my bag!

First of all, to receive this freebie bonus you have to be referred and that's where I come in :)
I have a code that you can use when you register on the site and I know the writing's not crystal clear on that image, but it's a 7, not a 1 on the picture above.
My referral code is: HR90074

You can also follow this referral link: The Protein Works

The one catch is that you have to spend £10 on your first order, but that's not a very high minimum spend and you can spend it on absolutely anything at all on the site. I just got myself a 500g bag of whey protein in ROCKY ROAD flavour which was £10.99 and then I qualified for my free protein samples.

It's super simple to claim, but if you need any further clarification then this page explains it all clearly:

Just make an account, enter the code, make your purchase and the freebies are yours!
Enjoy your summer bodies guys and gals
and remember: strong, not skinny!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Life Beyond A Screen

Don't get me wrong, I'm a slave to social media as much as the next person. I'd say as much as the next 'young person', but my mum is as much hooked onto Facebook as I am - it's stretched to all generations; young and old. Even my grandparents now have smartphones so they can see my Instagram updates while I'm in America! ..and don't get me started on my 10 year old cousins and their square eyes!

Sparked by fairly recent Banksy work of 'Mobile Lovers', and a similar style piece (not confirmed to be Banksy) of a young boy expressing distress over not receiving social media attention and validation through notifications and superficial 'likes', I've been having deep thoughts about life and the Internet. 'Mobile Lovers' really got me and my own 'lover' discussing the topic of using our phones when we're in each other's company and how inappropriately unnecessary it is to be engaged with an iPhone screen and Twitter feed of pointless updates from people I barely even know. Okay, so somebody I had one class with in sixth form is ordering a chinese for their tea, and somebody who lives down the road is going on holiday on 246 days. Somebody I've never even met or spoke to is hungover. Great. Fab. I'm so glad I spent 15 seconds of my life reading that update on my little phone screen. I'd much rather be watching my boyfriend speak to me and tell me about his day so I can read the emotions from his face, rather than his emojis on a screen.

In my Break From Blogging post I shared a couple of the things that I've been up to and how refreshing it's been to take a step back from being engrossed in online updates and social feeds and instead get out and about experiencing different things each day. I've actually been meeting a lot more new people recently and I always find that when you meet somebody new and gain an insight into their life and how they live, it can really open your eyes to new perspectives on life. There's always so much to learn and the best way to learn it is from meeting new people, but meeting them online and chatting via 140 characters isn't always the best way for this to happen. (See the video at the bottom of this post!)

I don't hate technology and I do appreciate instant communication with anybody in the world, but the viral video titled 'Look Up', which is embedded in this post, made me think about trying to detach from the digital world, and fully embrace the life beyond a screen.

Seeing pubs with funny messages outside like 'no wifi in here, talk to each other instead' makes me giggle, but the reality of being in genuine situations surrounded by friends/colleagues with each and every one of them looking down at their phones, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram instead of engaging with the real life human that is sitting right next to them, is something that has been rubbing me the wrong way for the past few months. 

“look up from your phone, shut down the display, take in your surroundings and make the most of today”.

If you haven't yet seen this video, or at least seen it recently, then please please watch it. It's 5 minutes long and I can guarantee it will get you thinking about how much you use social media and how much more you should enjoy the world around you. 

Use technology, embrace technology, but don't let it consume you.

Monday 7 July 2014

A Break From Blogging

Sitting here and opening up feels a little bit alien.
I haven't written a proper blog post since April!!
Any of the ones that went live in May were scheduled and not 'proper' posts, and then June, well.. June was a complete no go! Zero published posts. Zero.

As much as I dislike 'blogging tips' kind of posts, the ones that lay out rules and step by step instructions on how to be a 'good' blogger.. the recurring advice that you'll always see is
a) to be yourself, and
b) don't force it
if you don't feel like blogging for a bit, then don't!

It feels much better to be writing about what you want to, because you want to, and not through some sort of forced obligation. No one will mind if you take a little time off, as long as you come back to it..  but coming back to it was the part that I struggled with. 

I stopped blogging because the final parts of university work got on top of me (March - May) and I was dedicating every second of my free time to my dissertation and then exam revision after that, and I always said that straight after my exams I'd hop straight back into blogging.. but I just couldn't seem to do it. The writer/blogger's block got too much for me so I took a major step back and I'll hand on heart say it was one of the most refreshing and beneficial things I've ever done. I actually have a post planned tomorrow; life beyond a screen, discussing how we can all become a little too wrapped up in the online world and social media especially, and how nice it is to break free and enjoy 'real life' without the worry of documenting every moment of it. 

I've always known I'd come back to Cosmetic Crave, but I didn't enjoy feeling as though I had to keep publishing new content and keeping my traffic at a reasonable level because of the advertisers that had paid to promote their blog through me, so (combined with the fact that demand has drastically declined) I'm going to temporarily suspend my blog advertisers and just blog for me

Here's what I've been up to since I last updated my blog:

- I finally finished my double dissertation and obsessed over exam revision

- I completed 3 years at university and celebrated like the wild student I once used to be
- I changed my hair and got a tattoo

- I reconnected with friends I'd once pushed away and enjoyed catch ups and nights out

- I spent quality time with my sister; lunch dates, cinema trips and spa days

- I went to Parklife festival and partied in the rain
- I went to see Jason Manford and spent time up the Lakes with my boyfriend
- I got my exam results.. 2:1 honours degree in law!! And started to prepare for my summer in America.
Life got real!!

Follow me on Instagram for more: @HannahRipley1

Also, I finished working at my part time job (now officially unemployed!) andddd..
I was shortlisted for a Cosmopolitan Award!
Say whaaaaaaat?!

I actually feel a bit guilty about being shortlisted after my big break, but it's amazing to know that the support is there for Cosmetic Crave and I'm very much in shock! I need to get my head around it and process that this has happened.. but if you nominated me then THANK YOU!
Now excuse me while I go freak out on Twitter and congratulate the other nominees!
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