Monday, 8 October 2018

New Beginnings

Hey guys.

I haven't posted on my blog for a while; and in all honesty, I kinda fell out of love with it. The constant need to be on social media took a hold of me, and I would get annoyed with myself if I wasn't posting on Instagram or Twitter daily. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it seemed to be the only way I could get my posts read. Which is exactly what the issue was.

I started writing this blog as an outlet, somewhere I could just write about anything and everything. But the amount of views started to take over, and it made my blog become a chore as I was constantly posting on social media about my posts. Don't get me wrong, that's absolutely fine, and I don't see anything wrong with it. But it got to the point where I would check my stats quite a lot, and would feel disheartened if a post I had put loads of effort into had hardly been read. This was supposed to be a hobby, something that I would do for myself. I don't know, I guess I just started thinking, what was the point?

I'm now in my fourth and final year of university, and even though I'm excited to see what happens in the future, I can't help but think; what the hell am I going to do next year? I have spent my whole life in education, which is mad if you think about it. I actually remember talking to a friend at school in 2012 when the world was supposedly going to end (lol) and saying how if it did end, we would have spent our whole lives in education. I can remember thinking, with all of my teenage angst and hatred for the education system (again, lol, who did I think I was?), I wish I could grow older and get a job and be one of those women who has their lives together. I can actually remember wishing I was 21.

Well, Grace mate, I can assure you that you do not have your life together at 21. I'm sat here thinking what would I like for dinner? And the fact that I've got food in feels organised to me. Yep, that's the extent of my organisation. Well, not really, I'm actually on top of my work (for once) and seem to have an idea of what I want to do after graduation. However, even though I'm so set on this goal, the thought of it terrifies me. What if it doesn't pan out? Where am I going to live? As you can tell, I'm basically having an existential crisis.

But the one thing I'm sure of is this. I am so bloody proud of my blog. It's mine, I created it, I can write whatever the hell I want and it's just fab. It's somewhere I can talk about stuff like my existential crisis at the age of 21, and then hopefully look back in 10 years and think wow, I really needed to stop being such a drama queen. Hopefully. Or maybe I'll still be a drama queen in 10 years. Well, let's hope I'm a drama queen with a job.

But I think the point of this post is that I feel like I need my blog. I need somewhere to vent my thoughts. And you know what, even if I don't get the numbers that I want, I'm still going to write. Even if it is just for me, because I bloody love it. So there you go, moral of the post - do what you love, and don't let anything get in the way of it. Because I stupidly started to think it was about numbers, but it's not. I really do appreciate everyone who reads my blog, and I really do mean that. But I think I had it in my head that it would be easy to get yourself out there. But I can assure you that it is not, and hats off to anyone who is a blogger, because it is hard work.

Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. I will be back with a post in the near future, and will not leave it another 5 months (oops). But yeah, welcome to Love, Ellena Grace 2.0. Expect a bit of beauty, a bit of lifestyle, a bit of travel, and a hint of Grace's good old rambles.

Thanks for reading, and lots of love,

Grace x

Friday, 18 May 2018

An Insider's Guide to Bari Vecchia | Travel

I've lived in Bari for a pretty long time now, so thought it was about time that I should probably do a mini travel post! My boyfriend has come to visit me for a few weeks, so I am V EXCITED to show him all my favourite places to see and eat (most importantly eat), and we began our travels by taking a trip to Bari Vecchia.

This historic part of Bari is the Old Town, and is just suuuuper picturesque. Not gonna lie guys, it's bloody Instagram-worthy. Also, gonna do a shameless plug here, but I have posted quite a few pictures of Old Town on my Instagram, so for a cheeky preview of my travel pics, you can check it out here.

It's kind like travelling back in time, as the houses and buildings are so quaint, and the streets are so narrow, you always end up getting lost. Well, I do, but then I always end up finding new places to explore, which I personally think is a win. But then I always end up not being able to find my way out and end up going in circles and there is mass confusion. But at least the scenery is pretty.

So here are a few pictures of our tour around Old Town. Here, you can find some local cuisine sold in the street, such as the local women selling the Orecciette pasta, which I love, as well as local shops selling fresh fruit and veg.

You can also find local cheeses, which are the absolute BEST; I have realised since living here that I have never realised my true love for cheese, and now, I want it ALL. If you're a cheese fan like me, you definitely have to try the Burata cheese here, which is basically like Mozzarella but with a more runny centre. Okay, I'm not really selling it with my description, but I promise, it is very good!

There are also really cute coffee shops, including one of my favourites, Ciclatera Sotto il Mare. They do amazing chocolate cocktails, and I would definitely recommend giving them a try. Alex ordered one yesterday that literally tasted like Christmas in a fancy glass. They're hot, which is baffling on the first try, but it's literally like an alcoholic hot chocolate. You can't go wrong really!

You will also find St Nicola's Basilica, which holds the remains of St Nick, as in Santa Claus himself. The basilica itself is stunning and definitely worth a visit, and there is a crypt that you can also visit which is where St Nicola's remains and relics are. I don't have any pictures inside of the Basilica, but it is truly stunning, and is definitely a highlight and must-see of Bari Vecchia.

The best place to visit, however, is Piazza Mercantile, which is the main piazza in Bari Vecchia. Here, you will find an array of restaurants, gelaterias and bars. There are also roads leading off that have brilliant cocktail bars - a favourite of mine is Chat Noir, which is just off a side street. I think the easiest way to describe it is a cocktail bar with a Moroccan theme - very cool decor and a very cool drinks menu. My aim is to get a picture inside, but as I always go in at night, I can never get the lighting perfect, but fingers crossed one day I can show you guys a photo that does it justice. Plus, I took this outside and the waiter came out, so I quickly ran.

The best ice cream you will ever have is also here - Martinucci's. Genuinely, once you have been here, you'll always have to come back for more! Pretty sure that I've been at least weekly whilst living here, because their ice cream is just to die for, and it's soooo cheap! My personal fave mix is Stracciatella and Coconut, and for a small cup, it's only 2 euros. And I'll be honest with you, the portions are anything but small!

Here is a picture of me staring intently at my beloved ice cream. After this photo was taken, it was gone in under 1 minute. It took a lot for me to wait to get this photo. I am very proud of my will power.

There is also the castle, which I'm not gonna lie to you, is a bit of a letdown. It doesn't really showcase any of Bari's history, so if you do visit, I'd say maybe skip this for something else if you are short of time. I got a picture next to the castle because it's a pretty cool backdrop, but again, I don't think it's worth a trip inside. Definitely worth looking at its exterior though, as it's pretty cool. There are many museums around Bari Vecchia, such as the St Nicola's museum and the Archaelogical museum.

Bari Vecchia has so much to offer, and is definitely worth a visit if you're ever visiting Puglia! I hope to write more insider guides, such as where the best places in Bari are to eat, and also tips about travelling to the surrounding areas of Bari, including Polignano a Mare and Monopoli! I hope my little travel guide has been helpful, and I will be sure to post more about the beautiful city of Bari!

Much love amigos,

Grace x

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Don't Be So Hard On Yourself

In the words of Jess Glynne, don't be so hard on yourself, no.

I mean, I really don't like that song as it has been waaaay too overplayed, but I feel like it's pretty relevant. I often sit and think oh crap, I have literally done nothing with my life, and I have no experience, and I'm never going to get a job, and I am going to have to live in a box in the street labelled Grace's Box and children will call me crazy box lady. Yes, I got all of that from I have done nothing with my life.

But then I stop for a second and think, actually, I have done something with my life. I mean, I may not have 5 years worth of experience in the field I want to go into, which many job applications ask for (lol, why is this a thing??), but I have done some stuff. I have travelled to some pretty cool places, I have gotten into university, and I have moved abroad. BY MYSELF. Take that, anxiety.

I guess I just see all of these people all over social media doing amazing things, and these people are my age, or only a couple of years older, and I am sat in on a Friday night watching reruns of Friends and eating chocolate muffins (I have no regrets), but I often think, why aren't I doing that? But then I think, Jesus Christ Grace, give yourself a break. I mean, I'm only 21 (which I hate admitting, I was asked for my age the other day and I said 20 by accident, and when I realised I was in fact not 20 anymore, I genuinely died a little inside. Well, not really, but it's a scary thought). Hey, I haven't travelled the world (I can hear my bank account crying at the prospect of this #studentproblems) and I don't have an amazing job, but I'm doing okay. I am quite content with where I am.

I think I just need to get into the mentality of the fact that things don't just happen. You have to work for them, and if they don't happen, then just try again. Resilience is the key.

See, I'm a grown up. I use words like resilience and talk about a positive mentality.

On a serious note though, I'm in Italy, eating pizza every day, and loving life. I mean, my social anxiety is currently horrendous, and I sometimes struggle to leave the apartment, but I am getting there. Not every day will be the same, and I will get through this. When my mental health is bad, it's incredibly hard to think that it won't always be like this, but I'm getting there.

I think the whole prospect of finishing university next year kinda terrifies me, and I just have no clue as to where I'm going to be next summer. Will I get a job, will I not, will I end up getting Grace's Box and having children shout at me in the street? Who knows? But I guess that's all part of the fun.

Thanks for reading my rambly post, I feel like I just needed to sit at my laptop and write, as I have been feeling a bit crappy recently. I love that I can just sit and write exactly what I've been thinking and the fact that it automatically makes me feel better. It's as if I can finally rationalise what I've been thinking, and be like, hold on a minute, to tackle this, I need to do this. I bloody love my blog, you know?

Much love amigos,

Grace x

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Book Review

Hey guys,

My first book review is finally here! As you can probably tell, I am very excited, as I have wanted to start reviewing books over here on Love, Ellena Grace for a while now, but just didn't know where to start! f you follow me on Instagram, then you will know that I have been reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and I thought it the perfect book to kick off my book reviews with! I will try not to give too much away (as this book has a lot of unexpected twists!), but will give a general overview of what happens.

When I first started this book, I genuinely had no clue as to what it was about. I had heard many a great thing, but had never explicitly heard anything about the plot. The blurb doesn't really give much away, which I quite liked, as it gave the book a bit more mystery. Due to this, it could be perceived as being a bit slow to begin with, as you are thrown in with not much of an idea about the characters or the plotline. However, this book really was not what I was expecting.

Eleanor Oliphant, the protagonist, is a woman who has a lack of social skills, and speaks as she thinks, which results in a lot of hilarious parts of the novel. It begins with her daily routine of work and going home, and how her life has never really changed in the past ten years. However, one day she meets Raymond, someone who she openly does not warm to immediately, but as the book goes on, we see an unexpected friendship develop. It's incredibly heartwarming to see Eleanor and Raymond's friendship develop as it does, especially when you find out more about Eleanor's past. It shows how even small things can affect someone, whether it be good or bad, and how we should not take those small gestures of kindness for granted.

The novel includes topics that are quite harrowing to read about, and shows how much childhood can affect you in later life. I think it is written very well though, considering how the issues raised have to be written in a very sensitive way. Also, I like that fact that it is from Eleanor's point of view, as it adds a more innocent style to the narrative, and doesn't give too much away too early in the book.

It made me laugh, it made me cry (I never cry at films, but have been known to cry at books, which is odd, does anyone else do this?), and was incredibly moving. The book is written in a somewhat light-hearted manner for the topics that are mentioned, which I also assume is so that not much is given away. The book often has twists that you would not have expected, and is most definitely a page turner. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and definitely would recommend giving it a read. I can also confirm that Eleanor Oliphant is NOT completely fine.

I would rate this book a 4.5*.

I hope you enjoyed reading my very first book review, and I will definitely be writing more of these! Let me know what books you have been loving recently down in the comments, I'd love some recommendations!

Much love amigos,


Sunday, 25 February 2018

My Experience at Working at Penguin Random House!

Hey guys,

So, if you follow me on social media, then you will know that I was working at Penguin Random House Publishing at the beginning of February, and it was honestly the most incredible two weeks! Before I started work experience here, I was very unsure about what I wanted to do with my life (I do English at uni, I literally could not have picked a broader subject), but left knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

So yeah, was a pretty helpful and insightful experience! (I do apologise for the delay in this post, I've legit been away from my laptop for about two weeks now, hence the lack of posting, but I'M BAAAACK!)

So, I'll start with the application process. I saw work experience being advertised on the Penguin Random House Careers Twitter page, so thought that I'd apply, as it looked like a great way to get an insight into working at a publishers. However, as it was Penguin Random House, one of the biggest publishers in the world, I wasn't hopeful. I guess I just thought that there would be a hell of a lot more people with more experience than me who would get it.

However, Penguin actually place their work experience randomly, so everyone has a fair chance of getting work experience. I personally think this is fab, as I have only had one prior placement in marketing, and, as I am a student, I don't really have time to get work experience during term time, and I work through the holidays.

Within Penguin Random House, I applied to marketing and publicity, as it was something that I was always interested in, and after my work experience last summer, I knew that it was definitely something that I wanted to pursue.

A couple of weeks after completing my application, I found out that I had received a work experience placement at Michael Joseph in the marketing and publicity department. I genuinely could not believe it when I opened my email, but I was so unbelievably excited!

So, the only issue that I had was the fact that it was in London. And I live very far up north. And don't have any family or friends near London (well, who would be there during term time), so next was the issue of accommodation.

However, Penguin actually have an agreement with the Book Trade Charity, and have a bungalow in Hertfordshire for their work experience who don't live in London to stay. So yeah, I ended up staying here for the first week, and it was lovely! It was so easy to commute into London, and only took about 45 minutes to an hour to get to work every morning!

In the second week, I ended up staying in student accommodation, yet would not recommend this, as it was incredibly overpriced and was not worth the money at all! However, I do know that Penguin/publishers have a scheme called the Spare Room Project. This is where where people who work in publishing open their spare room to someone on work experience who isn't local.

In terms of the work I did there, I got to do a range of tasks, including sending out packages and writing letters to authors, celebrities and influencers (which was pretty damn cool!!). I also got to pitch my ideas, and also got an insight into PR and marketing campaigns, which was so interesting!

One of my tasks was to go and get some balloons from a shop on the Strand, and I soon came to realise that carrying 10 helium balloons when it's windy is never going to end well, and I sincerely apologise to the people who I hit in the face. Multiple times. Oops.

I also was very fortunate to attend a book launch for Elizabeth Enfield's new novel 'Ivy & Abe', and it was AMAZING! It was quite a small launch, with just friends, family and people from Penguin Random House, but I thought this made it quite special, as it was in a book shop just off Leicester Square, so made it seem more personal. It was definitely one of the highlights of my work experience! Plus, I got a signed copy of the novel, and I am so looking forward to reading it!

All the people on the work experience also got to meet with others from a range of departments, giving us even more insight into how things work in a publishing house. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and I couldn't have asked for a better place to get work experience!

I hope this was helpful, and gave a bit more of an insight into what it's like to get work experience at Penguin, and I can honestly say, no two days are the same, and it's definitely a great place to work if you're a book lover like me! Plus, you get to see books that haven't even been published yet, and you get FREE BOOKS! The absolute DREAM. I literally came home with about 20 books (my mum was well happy), and I am so excited to get through them all!

This work experience has also inspired me to start reviewing books on my blog, as it is always something that I have wanted to do, but never knew how to start! So be sure to look out for those!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all soon!

Much love,
Grace x

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

2018: The Year of Realising Stuff (and Feeling Better For It)

So, in the very wise words of Kylie Jenner, 2018 is the year of realising stuff. Well, with a couple of the facts changed. She said 2016 was the year of realising stuff, but hey, we're all different. 2018 is the year that I, Grace, am realising stuff. 

I genuinely don't know where I was going with that.

Basically, I just feel like I've grown up a hell of a lot in the past couple of months. Not a clue as to why, maybe it's because I am now 21(!!!) and have obviously developed a lot of wisdom in my old age. In the words of Joey Tribbiani, I am very wisdomous.

Lol, let's be honest, no I'm not. 

I still laugh at stupid things and sometimes give the worst advice (lol, soz to all my friends who I have been no help to). But I'm overcoming my mistakes and realising that actually, it doesn't matter, and I'm allowed to mess up or laugh at stupid things, which I guess is kinda mature, right? Plus, I am never gonna stop laughing at stupid things, but let's be honest, who would want to give up that trait? Weirdos, that's who.

I don't know, I think I have just realised that there is more to life than how people perceive me, which played a big part in how I acted. I was quite reserved as a teenager, just because I was scared about what people though of me, but I quickly learnt that it didn't matter, as if I spoke up I was annoying and if I was quiet then I was boring. There is just no pleasing some people. 

It has literally taken me 21 years to realise this. 21 years. For god's sake, Grace.

Instead of dwelling on things, such as how someone may have taken something I had said which was harmless, but could have been perceived as not, or worrying about how I look when I go to the shops, I have started thinking 'who am I trying to impress?'. I literally do not know the answer to this question. I mean, I wear make up for me, because I like experimenting with it, and I feel more confident with it on, because I no longer look/feel like a child that hasn't slept in 21 years.

It's just that, I have finally realised that who cares? Who literally gives a shit if I put mascara on and it went clumpy, or have my jeans accidentally tucked into my very colourful socks. Yes, it was an accident, but it was an excellent fashion statement.

I have been doing work experience in London for the past two weeks, and I genuinely feel like a different person because of it. I mean, I am in no way a confident person (anyone will tell you that), but I have just learnt to fake it 'til you make it. I am staying in London, by myself, travelling on the tube everyday, by myself, sitting in restaurants and eating, BY MYSELF. And I know this doesn't sound like much to some people, but to someone who has pretty bad social anxiety, this is a massive win for me. 

All because I don't actually care what people think of me anymore. And the people who do have an opinion and who are negative towards me when I have literally done nothing to offend them or anyone else, well they can just do one. I just don't care anymore. I'm gonna do what makes me happy, have fun, be kind and enjoy life, because what is the point of always being worried about other people?

As someone who has constantly been self conscious, I know that if you're reading this and you are how I used to be, then this may seem like something that will never happen. But I promise that it will, and always know that it genuinely doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, as long as you're being kind and you're happy, do whatever the hell you want. 

I always do the year method. If you're wondering what this is, it is well-known, and probably has a better name than the 'year method', but this is just what I call it because I can't remember what it's actually called...

So basically, think about what you're worried about and think, will this be an issue in a year? Or even a month? And the answer is almost always no. Plus, you're probably never gonna see these people again, so just do you!

Toxic people, be gone!! *insert that girl emoji with her arms crossed over her face*

Jesus, I guess my realising stuff hasn't stretched to how to describe emojis.

Thanks for reading my very rambly post, but I felt like I just needed to get this out, as I know younger Grace would have loved to have read something like this, as I genuinely did think I would always be that way. But hey, being 21 has changed me. I am a changed woman. I can now drink in the US. I mean, this isn't helpful at all, as I don't live there, but it's always nice to know.

Much love amigos, 

Grace x

Monday, 22 January 2018

Get That Glow

I'm very much a glowy kind of person when it comes to base make-up.

Even though I'm an avid user of Estee Lauder Double Wear (what an absolute gem of a foundation), which leaves you with a matte finish, I always use products that will make my skin glow.

These range from primers, highlighters and setting sprays, so I thought that I would show you my favourite products for getting that glow!

Firstly, we have two absolute staples if you want a glow - the Anastasia Beverley Hills Glow Kits in That Glow and Aurora. To be fair, you don't need both, but I thought I would show you the two in my collection, as I feel they are both very different, but just as beautiful as each other. That Glow is very much a gold-focused palette, with a hint of a pink undertone in the shade Bubbly. This palette is absolutely perfect for summer, as it compliments a tanned skin tone. However, I do use the shade Bubbly all year round (as you can probably tell, I have well and truly hit pan), as I feel it is the one shade that suits pale skin tones in this palette. Plus, it's pretty. So of course I'm going to use it everyday.

The Aurora Glow Kit is one that is a newbie in my collection. It is very different to That Glow, as the shades have more of a icy reflect, and includes purple and blue tones.However, there is still the odd gold hue here and there! I feel that these give something a bit different to a make-up look, as they aren't the stereotypical highlighting shades that you normally find, as most palettes purely focus on a pink or a champagne undertone. Plus, these suit a paler skin tone, so they are perfect for me. I love experimenting with them too, and using different shades to highlight different areas of my face.

Next up is another new addition to my collection, the Urban Decay Naked Highlighting Fluid in the shade Aura. This is perfect for mixing in with your foundation to add a bit more of a dewy effect, and I also sometimes use it under my foundation on my cheekbones, my cupid's bow and the tip of my nose, just to highlight these points even more.

My favourite primer for a bit of a glow is the Estee Lauder Illuminating Primer. This is perfect for putting under your foundation, and leaves your skin feeling hydrated. Also, it helps your foundation blend so easily into your skin - I have used primers that literally do not help at all, and my foundation just clings to my dry patches! Plus, it helps your foundation last all day, which is fab!

I also have two setting sprays that I love for finishing off my glowy make-up look. Mac Fix+ is my absolute favourite setting spray for leaving my skin feeling hydrated and refreshed. It leaves your skin glowing and looking so healthy. It's just fab, and, as you can see, I've almost ran out (sad times), so I will definitely be repurchasing.

The Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray is a new addition to my make-up collection, and it is definitely a great one! I had heard great things previous to getting this, but saw no point in straying away from my trusty Fix+. However, I'm so glad that I did! This does exactly as it says on the tin, it literally lasts all night. So if you're struggling with making your make-up last all day, then definitely give this a go!

I thought that I would show you both, as I actually use them just as much as each other; I use Fix+ for a more natural, dewy look for during the day, and All Nighter for exactly that, a night out!

I absolutely love all of these products, and they are all definitely staples in my everyday make-up! However, I am always on the look out for new products to try, so do let me know which glowy/dewy products you have been loving recently in the comments below!

Much love amigos,

Grace x

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