2016: A End of Year Reflection

It’s the final day of 2016 and a day for reflection on the year past and to look ahead to the new year. I always look forward to a fresh start to a new year and making a list of goals and wishes I hope to achieve.

Many feel this year has been the worst year ever, I wouldn’t go as far to say that, each year has its challenges, darker days and problems, but there are also plenty of good times to remember. Some years are better than others, we can all relate, but each year teaches us lessons which shape us as a person.

2016 has taught me a number of lessons, which I thought I would share here.

1.Be a Good Friend

My friends live across the UK and I don’t get to see them as much as I would like, but one thing I do treasure is that every time we do get together, even if it is only twice or a few times a year it is like we saw each other yesterday. We all care deeply for each other and what is going on in each others lives. Good friends are very hard to come by, so it is important to be the best possible friend you can.

Jess-Orr-Lifestyle-Blog-UK-Ireland-Friends

Credit – Karosh Bond

2. Be Kind

It doesn’t take much to be kind people, in fact it takes more effort not to be. Dealing with people has been a big part of my working life, starting back in my waitressing and bartender days. You will get farther in life and working life if you are kind to people, it builds relationships and friendships and can genuinely make someones day better and easier.

3. Look After Yourself

I can be a bit of a perfectionist and I take pride in my work, so work can stay in my mind a lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when it affects your sleep and stress levels, that is when it becomes an issue and can lead to burn out. I have learnt this year that it is important to look after yourself, whether it be taking time to do exercise to blow off some steam, eating better to feel better or treating yourself to a long bubble bath and a face mask at the end of a long day.

4. Never Give Up

Nothing worth having in life comes easy or without action. There are many things I want out of my life and plenty more things I want to learn. So this year I am going to take action towards helping me achieve what I want and to learn more to help progress myself in my career.

5. Travel More

I know almost everyone wants to ‘travel more’. But I think the whole uncertainty with Brexit and not knowing the impact it will have on traveling throughout the EU hit something with me. I want to travel more this year because I enjoy it and I love discovering some place new. Each year I always want to visit somewhere or a country I have never been to before and this year is no different. In 2016 I had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona, Sitges and Torremolinos in Spain. If the opportunity arises to travel somewhere new, take it! You only live once ?

Jess-Orr-Lifestyle-Blog-UK-Ireland

6. Save More

Something everyone tells themselves they need to do more of. For me, this year has seen some unexpected financial challenges ? Next year I want to set myself up for some new adventures and allow myself backup for when those challenges come a-calling.

7. Be Thankful

I am a big believer that things happen for a reason, but sometimes the things that happen are cruel and hard to understand. A lesson I have learnt this year, is that life is short, so it is important to be thankful for everything and everyone you have and realise that pointless fights and grudges are a waste of precious time.

8. Enjoy the Little Things

Social media is my job and is a big part of my life and others around me. But one thing I can’t stand, is forgetting to enjoy the little things and moments in life without a mobile in hand. My pet hate it going to a gig and everyone there is experiencing the performance through a mobile phone. Or when at a bar or a restaurant and couples and friends aren’t talking to each other, but on their phones swiping and messaging. This year I am going to be on my phone less, to enjoy the little things and the big things for the moments they are.

Jess-Orr-Lifestyle-Blog-Ireland-UK-2016

Credit – Karosh Bond

I hope you all have a fab NYE and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2017 full of great memories ?

Jess x

 

Howard Street Christmas Dining & Cinderella

A festive season must, is getting yourself along to the local Pantomime. The Grand Opera House in Belfast never fails to disappoint. Myself and a couple of friends organised a festive evening of dinner and Cinderella panto fun at the beginning of December.

Howard Street Christmas Dining

There are a number of fab restaurants near the Grand Opera House which run a pre-theatre menu, perfect for when you are wanting to make a night of it. One of my favourite restaurants in Belfast is Howard Street and because it was a festive occasion we opted for their Christmas set menu.

Howard Street is of course located on Howard Street in Belfast City Centre, just around the corner from the Grand Opera House and Fitzwilliam Hotel, and a stone throw from the back of Belfast City Hall.

The decor is minimalistic but rustic and cosy, with high ceilings, exposed and open brick walls, leather seats and soft lighting. They always have the loveliest Christmas tree as you walk through the door.

The service here is great and the food is nothing short of outstanding – each plate looks like food art and tastes even better! Their signature list of cocktails doesn’t disappoint either – my personal fav has to be The Devil’s Slide!

As it was a weeknight, the Christmas set menu was £29.95pp for 3 courses. I opted for the following courses.

To Start

‘Warm Salad Of Irish Stilton Blue Cheese Fritters, Caramelised Onion, Salted Walnuts & Mulled Wine Poached Pear’

Howard-Street-Christmas-Dining-Jess-Orr-Blog

For Main

‘Roast Turkey & Ham, Chestnut Stuffing, Creamed Cabbage, Roast Potato, Honey Poached Cranberry & Turkey Gravy’

Howard-Street-Christmas-Dining-Jess-Orr-Blog

My friends also had the Escalopes of Salmon and Pork Belly for their mains, which were also delicious.

Howard-Street-Christmas-Dining-Jess-Orr-Blog

Howard-Street-Christmas-Dining-Jess-Orr-Blog

Dessert

‘Sticky Toffee Bread & Butter Pudding With Christmas Pudding Ice-Cream’

(AMAZING ?)

Howard-Street-Belfast-Dessert-Jess-Orr-Lifestyle-Blog

The food was as outstanding as ever! If you are thinking of going to Howard Street, I would recommend booking to avoid disappointment.

Cinderella at The Grand Opera House

We left with 5 minutes to spare to take our seats at the Grand Opera House for Cinderella, ample time really, seeing as Howard Street is so close by.

This year’s stars of the show were Gareth Gates as Cinderella’s handsome prince (I have to admit I was that girl who was team Gareth during Pop Idol, so I was a tad excited), alongside Belfast’s pantomime treasure May McFettridge, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.

The Grand Opera House was packed and the show was fantastic, we didn’t stop laughing and smiling the whole time. There was something for everyone! May McFettridge was as brilliant as ever and the two ugly sisters were great craic!

If you haven’t managed to see it yet, the show is on until the 15th January 2017, I couldn’t recommend it more!

Cinderella-Belfast-Jess-Orr-Blog

Jess x

My Festive Favourite at Galgorm

Travel Galgorm Festive Retreat

I have been coming to the Galgorm Resort and Spa for their Festive Favourite offer for the past three years with my mum and sister. It is unreal value and a real treat at Christmas time!

For only £99pp, based on two people sharing you can enjoy:

  • An overnight stay in a superior guestroom
  • Use of the fab Thermal Spa Village
  • A 3 course evening meal with a bottle of wine
  • A hot chocolate and homemade mince pie turndown
  • Full Irish breakfast the following morning

They pull out all the stops at Christmas time, with their decor and a Christmas tree in every room?

Travel Galgorm Superior Room

 

Galgorm Hot Chocolate Mince Pies

Feeling Welcome

The Galgorm is a top travel destination in Northern Ireland if you are looking for a quality hotel stay for relaxation.You are made to feel welcome from the get go to the end of your stay, being greeted by the lovely Maurice at the door in his tweed suit and bowler hat ?

Thermal Village & Spa

Their service is impeccable and without a doubt have the best spa experience in Northern Ireland…probably Ireland. My favourites in the Thermal Village have to be the:

  • Beltane hot tub & fire
  • Outdoor Celtic Sauna
  • River House – grab a rocking chair and watch the river run in peace and quiet
  • Outdoor heated pools
  • The Orangery – chill with a glass of wine in a swing chair and put the world to right
  • Heated stone chairs – grab a snooze on one of these bad boys before returning to your room

Galgorm Spa Village

Wine, Dine & Gin

The food at the Galgorm is great and they sure know how to feed you. With the Festive Favourite offer you have a choice of dining in Gillies Grill or the Fratelli Restorante. Your breakfast the following morning is normally served in Gillies – their fry is one of the best!

If you are a fan of afternoon tea, definitely book in advance for Galgorm’s afternoon tea in the River Room, it is stunning!

Travel Galgorm River Room

If you are a gin lover like me, be sure to make a stop at their gin library for a very special G&T before or after dinner.

Galgorm Gin Library

You can check out Galgorm’s festive and seasonal offers here.

I hope to be returning for another Festive Favourite at Galgorm in 2017 ?

Travel Galgorm Festive Favourite

Jess x

Eat, Drink & be Merry at Belfast Christmas Markets

Jess Orr lifestyle blog Belfast Christmas Markets

Belfast Christmas Markets

Everyone looks forward to the Belfast Christmas Markets returning each year. At this time of year Belfast City Hall is lit up to the nines, the beer tent is hiving and the cabins are offering up  tasty treats for all. The following details my highlights at the markets this year, after visiting last weekend ??

Baileys Hot Chocolate

Grab a boozy hot chocolate just to the right on your way in to the markets from the front entrance – you can’t miss it they have a lot of bottles of Baileys on hand ?

Mourne Seafood Shack

Mourne Seafood have a setup at the Christmas markets this year, offering up something different from the burgers and sausages. I could’ve ordered everything on the menu! But with only having two hands this wasn’t quite achievable. We had Salt and Chilli Prawns, Salt and Chilli Squid, Piri Piri Fries and Truffle and Parmesan fries – SO GOOD, definitely worth a try!

Toasting Marshmallows

An open pit fire for toasting mallows close to Santa’s grotto and the giant snow globe ??

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Belfast Christmas Markets The German Beer Tent

If you are visiting the markets in the evening, prepare yourself for a busy tent. But don’t let it put you off. Grab a stein…or a pint and if you can, a seat at the long tables. The atmosphere is great!

I’m not sure if they have it on tap this year, but if it is be sure to try a passionfruit or cactus beer ?

Dutch Pancakes

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Belfast Christmas Markets

You must join the queue for dutch pancakes! You will not regret it! These babies are devine, especially when there is Nutella involved ?

Melting Pot Fudge

Stop by the stall for some award winning Melting Pot Fudge, handcrafted by a Belfast family business called Blackthorn Foods. They have a fab range of flavours and you can pick up 3 bars of fudge for £5 ?

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Belfast Christmas Markets

If you’re visiting Belfast for a festive weekend, doing your Christmas shopping or on a night out, Belfast Christmas Markets is well worth visiting!

Jess x

 

A Trip to London

I have had the pleasure of visiting London at least once over the past three years, whether it be to visit friends, for work or as a stop-over when going on holidays.

There is so much to see and do in London and even more fab bars and places to eat and drink!

Shoreditch

While visiting London for a conference over the past couple of years I have stayed at the Z Hotel Shoreditch. The hotel itself is 2 minutes walk from Old Street tube station, so it is handy for travelling into the city centre and getting to the train station to and from Gatwick – definitely not off-central!

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Z Hotel Shoreditch

Source: theZhotels.com

The hotel has minimalistic, contemporary, urban styling, the rooms are compact but fantastic, with complimentary wifi and 48″ TV with Sky at the end of the bed. A jug of water is there for you every night before bed and sometimes they even have complimentary wine and cheese in the evenings ?

There is a Starbucks almost next door to the hotel, handy for a coffee run in the morning. Just 5 minutes walk from the hotel on the other side of Old Street tube station, you will find Lantana Cafe, which does the most amazing brunch! I recommend the french toast, corn fritters and their chai latte – unreal! You can find Lantana’s menus here.

Jess Orr lifestyle blog lantana cafe brunch shoreditch

Across the road from the Z Hotel in Shoreditch is a speakeasy cocktail bar called The Nightjar, which I am dying to get to. If you plan on going, book well in advance!

I have heard great things about Boxpark in Shoreditch for shopping, eating and drinking. They also run a number of events and workshops daily. It is only 15 minute walk from the Z Hotel!

 

London City Centre

There are so many amazing places to see, eat and drink in London and of course I have not been to them all. But here are some of my recommendations:

Wahacas

Delicious mexican food, tequila and margaritas! I love Wahacas in Soho and their basement tequila bar ?

Liberty London

Even if you aren’t planning on purchasing, this department store is a must see!Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Liberty LondonCarnaby

carnaby-london-travel-blog

A cobbled street hub for shopping and gorgeous places for food and drink in London’s West End and can be found just behind Oxford Street and Regent Street. Jess Orr lifestyle blog London CarnabyRum Kitchen

This amazing Caribbean eatery is in Kingly Court in Carnaby, a great spot for a jerk lunch and a Mai Tai!

rum-kitchen-london-travel-blog

Flat Iron

Being a lover of steak, I LOVE coming to Flat Iron! No frills, just flat iron steak, sides and sauce and for great value (Flat Iron Steak- £10, Sauce – £1,Sides – £2.50-£3.50). There is a Flat Iron just by Kingly Court, it doesn’t take bookings and can get very busy, it is worth popping by and getting your name on the list and going for a drink until your table is ready!

Oxford Street & Oxford Circus

A must for shopping, window shopping and most importantly TOPSHOP!

london-topshop-travel-blog

Cahoots

A fabulous speakeasy in the underground abandoned Kingly Court tube station, which was once an air raid shelter. From the door, you will literally be transported to the 1920’s. The menus are printed on old newspaper and their retro cocktails are served in teacups, milk bottles and flasks. There is more than one cocktail that is served up with a digestive biscuit! To avoid disappointment, you’re best making a booking with the captain!Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Cahoots London
Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Cahoots LondonLondon Cocktail Club

I have been to LCC in Oxford Circus, where the theme is gangsters paradise with graffiti and clowns spray painted on the walls. The music is unreal and the cocktails are even better! They even have happy hour every Monday ALL DAY and Tuesday-Saturday 4:30-7pm. The bar staff know how to party and make sure you are partying too!Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog London Cocktail ClubThe London Gin Club

If you are a gin lover like me, this place is worth a visit. They have over 250 types of gin, all with their own unique garnish for serving in a copa glass.

Zelman Meats

I discovered this place on the BarChick app, well worth a download by the way to find fab places to eat and drink when you are on a city break. Zelman Meats is owned by the founder of Burger and Lobster. The venue in Soho is furnished with red leather booths and sultry lighting. It specialises in steak ? We had chateaubriand with black truffle and parmesan chips, washed down with a bottle of Malbec – AMAZING!

Piccadilly Circus

Worth a dander to see the Westend, neon lights and Shaftesbury memorial fountain.

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Artesian

On a stop off in London en route to New York a couple of years back, me and my boyfriend (being fellow cocktail lovers) took the opportunity to visit one of the best bars in the world, the Artesian at the Langham Hotel. It is well fancy! The decor is stunningly chic and the service is top notch, their Pina Colada – there is just no words!

food-blog-artesian-london

Burger and Lobster

They have burgers and they have lobsters and it is a great spot! There are 11 of these fab eateries in London, take your pick!

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Burger and Lobster London

Incase you haven’t noticed, I’m a major foodie and have a serious apprecitation for cocktails and great bars. There are many more places I wish to visit in London. I always love to hear recommendations, if you have any please do let me know ?

Jess x

Christmas Tree Picking

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

Christmas with a Real Christmas Tree

It’s that time of year again, for getting the Christmas decorations out and choosing that special Christmas tree!

I have a bit of a thing for real Christmas trees, I just love the smell of them and it isn’t Christmas for me without a real tree ?

Greenmount Christmas Tree Farm

For the past three years we have got our Christmas tree from Greenmount Christmas Tree Farm on the Comber Road, not far from Hillsborough. It is such a quaint place…you will be sure to spot some geese pottering about the yard. They have a selection of Christmas trees to choose from, big and small, as well as some gorgeous Christmas wreaths.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Greenmount Christmas Tree Farm

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

We chose a lovely 6ft Noble Fir Christmas tree that has a blue green foliage and great shape ?The guys at the farm are a great help, they pack your tree and get it tucked into your car for you to take home.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree Farm

We got the tree home and up in the living room, got the decorations out, fire on and a wee hot whiskey – a great way to start December! ?

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Tree

Her Christmas Wish List

I am guilty of making a ‘Santa list’ ?? every year in my Notes on my phone (I can’t be the only one). I love shopping at the best of times, but at Christmas retailers pull out all the stops to get you inspired for Christmas gifting ?, as well as key pieces for your winter wardrobe & I just love it!

I have come across a number of fab pieces while doing my Christmas shopping over the past few weeks, as well as some bits for my own little wish list. So if you need some inspiration for purchasing a gift for a friend, family member, girlfriend or you simply want to treat yourself and don’t know where to start, here are some of my top picks…

Fashion Gifts

A winter wardrobe staple for every girl, a pair of black ankle boots. These black leather sock boots from Next are just stunning and have a nice twist with the colouring in the heel.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Next Black Sock Boots

If like me your giftee likes to dress down a little and loves a good pair of runners, these Adidas NMDs are perfect.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Adidas NMDs

You can’t go wrong with something velvet for the festive season. This party dress from Zara and t-shirt from Missguided won’t break the bank and would make a great Christmas gift.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Zara velvet dressJess Orr Lifestyle Blog Missguided velvet t-shirt

Don’t forget the Christmas jumper! I try to get one each year now if I can, I recently purchased this one from notonthehighstreet.com (one of my besties had it on recently and I just had to have it too – sorry not sorry). How could I resist proseccho ho ho!

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Christmas Sweater

Accessorie Gifts

I am loving the CLUSE watches this season. Being in need of a black and gold watch and loving a bit of marble print this CLUSE La Roche black watch is just gorge.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Black and Gold Cluse Watch

Last Christmas I treated myself to a rose gold Storie locket charm necklace from Argento and I wear it all the time. Their new T-bar locket bracelets are divine, a great choice for a personable Christmas gift for someone special.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Storie locket

If you are buying for someone who has been particularly good this year, the Mini Lily Mulberry bags are gorgeous.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Mulberry Mini Lily bag

Beauty Gifts

This little baby is definitely on my Santa list this year! What girl doesn’t need or love matte eyeshadows in their life? Urban Decay recently launched their new Naked Ultimate Basics palette, which has every matte eyeshadow you could wish for, particularly the nudes we all love! Urban Decay’s Naked palettes are always an great investment, she will love it!

Jess Orr Blog Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics

Lush always have a fab selection of gifts boxes at Christmas. Their Christmas bath bomb knot-wraps make for a great stocking filler or secret santa gift, like this Little Sprout one which contains their ‘So White’ bath bomb. The scarfs are 100% organic cotton and all of Lush’s products are handmade, ethically approved, vegetarian and cruelty-free.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Lush Christmas gift

The Body Shop ‘Gifts to Go Wild For’ campaign is one that hasn’t gone unnoticed this Christmas. For every specially selected Christmas gift you purchase this year from The Body Shop will help protect endangered creatures and restore one square metre of rainforest. You can find more information about the campaign here.

In-store you can also get personalised ‘Wild For’ stickers for any body butters you purchase – the perfect stocking filler this Christmas!

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog The Body Shop Christmas Body Butter

Source: The Body Shop Facebook

You won’t see any ladies disappointed after opening a gift from Jo Malone, their gifts are so beautifully wrapped, smell gorgeous and you can even build your own bespoke gift from their product collection.

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Jo Malone Christmas Gift

Nightwear Gifts

Every girl loves getting home and putting their comfies on and getting cosy, particularly in the winter by the fire with a cuppa in hand. Christmas nightwear is out in force in the shops at the moment, my personal favs have to be from Next!

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Next pyjamas

Primark also have a cute selection of Disney nightwear ?

Irish bloggers Louise Cooney and Lauren Arthurs recently did a shoot for this range at Disney land, be sure to check out Louise’s blog post, it looked amazing!

Jess Orr Lifestyle Blog Primark Tinkerbell slippers

I hope this sparked a few ideas, enjoy the Christmas shopping! Be sure to treat yourself! ?

Jess x