Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 review & 2016 goals


I don’t know about you, but 2015 was a busy year, full of highlights – yet at the same time, it seemed to go far too quickly and I can’t begin to think where the months went. I was lucky enough to go on four city breaks as well as a summer holiday and work trip; I bought a new car; celebrated a number of birthdays and even went to a wedding. Throw in lots of yummy food at some amazing restaurants and enough afternoon tea to last a lifetime and the day when Barnet finally got promoted back to the Football League and you’ve got my year. Here is my year in picture form:

My 25th birthday at Madison, St. Pauls A long weekend in Budapest Early mother’s day treat: afternoon tea at Andaz Afternoon tea at Amba with Rob: the second of three in three weeks Celebrating Mariah’s birthday (after more afternoon tea) at Be At One Barnet beating Gateshead to win the league and promotion from the conference to League Two Bank Holiday in Brentwood with the bestie A week in Italy: staying in Lake Garda but going to Verona and Venice on daytrips Unbirthday afternoon tea at the Connaught with Vicky A summer picnic at Alton Water with Jake My auntie and Uncle coming over from Madrid and enjoying a family barbecue Laura’s birthday weekend in London Chris and Emma’s wedding at Woodhall Manor, Woodbridge Saying goodbye to my yellow baby and buying a brand new car A long weekend in Amsterdam My first bloggers’ meet up in Bury St. Edmunds, thanks to the lovely Daisy -  A long weekend in Prague Going on a work fam trip, on board Azamara Journey A long weekend in Vienna Christmas at home with the family

At the beginning of the year, I had said I wanted to make a dent in my ’30 before I’m 30’ list – you can follow my progress by clicking here. However, I also set myself two ‘resolutions’, so how did I get on?

(1) Get back to my post-uni weight ­
Well I didn’t manage this one, although I managed to stay the same all year, which is good. I think it’s got to the stage where I’m beginning to be happy – if I ever reach my target, I’ll be happy, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I’d rather stay the same, than keep fluctuating, as it’s not good for your health or well-being

(2) Have a sugar detox
After reading I Quit Sugar, I managed to complete the eight-week programme. But once it was done, I easily went back to my old eating habits and that was something I really didn’t expect to happen. Maybe doing eight weeks on, followed by eight weeks off would work better? Depriving myself for such a length of time made no difference and if anything, I think I probably binged afterwards

So to 2016: what would I like to achieve? Well I have two personal goals and two blogging goals. I’m not sure how easy they will be to achieve or stick to, but that’s all part of the fun isn’t it?

(1) Take time out to relax and unwind in the evenings
Whether it’s a spa day, some home pampering, reading a book or cooking more, I’d love to make time to just relax. I’d also like to go at least one night a week without the need for technology. I spend far too long refreshing Twitter, playing Kim K Hollywood (don’t judge), checking my emails and texting. I’d just like an evening where my laptop isn’t on and my phone isn’t glued to my hand. I think both of these would definitely help my sleep pattern too

(2) Spend more time with friends
I wouldn’t really say I have a friendship group and instead have a number of friends from different parts of my life (childhood, work and blogging to name a few). I’d love to spend more time with my friends and am aiming for a monthly catch up. I love lunch dates and can think of nothing better than gossiping over a bottle of wine or prosecco. Or, a day out would be a lovely alternative

(3) Reach 200 followers
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about numbers. I started blogging because I love writing and wanted my own little space to document my thoughts in the hope that someone would read it. But my view count is close to 100,000 – yet my Bloglovin follow count isn’t even at 100. People may follow by other means, but there is nothing more depressing getting that weekly email with -1 showing in the follow count. I’m going to take the step to buy a template in the New Year, so hopefully a new look might entice followers! You can follow me on Bloglovin by clicking here

(4) Go to more meet-ups/events
I was lucky enough to attend the Suffolk Bloggers Meet organised by Daisy in October and I had so much fun. I met some great girls, which is what the blogger community is all about. Living in Essex, but within distance of London and Suffolk, I’d love to attend more events and meets, but really don’t know where to start. The majority of my friends I know from blogging so it’s been such a great hobby to have, I’m just not a fan of the ‘Twitter Cliques’

I wish you all a Happy New Year and the best of luck with any resolutions or targets you’ve set yourselves. Leave your links below so I can see what you’re aiming for in 2016.

Love, Lucy xx

Monday, 28 December 2015

Tokyo Treat | December Unboxing


Tokyo Treat. Subscription, Japan, Sweets, Drinks, Crisps,
Tokyo Treat. Subscription, Japan, Sweets, Drinks, Crisps,
Following my July Unboxing post, the lovely people at Tokyo Treat asked if I’d like to review the December box and I just couldn’t say no. The last box got mixed reviews but I feel this one – with some special edition and festive products – will be much more positive.

In case you didn’t see my last post, Tokyo Treat is a monthly subscription box, sent over from Japan and full of incredible, and sometimes weird drinks and snacks. These range from crisps to biscuits, sweets and chocolate. Each box contains a DIY kit – that’s a kit where you’re required to make the item, often sachets of powder to add water to – and there are three levels of subscription:
(1)  Small - $14.99 a month (5-7 treats)
(2)  Regular - $24.99 a month (8-12 treats)
(3)  Premium - $34.99 a month (13-17 treats, including a special item and two DIY kits)

All options offer free delivery and the opportunity to unsubscribe online at any point. I have to quickly say that I mentioned in my last post about the speed of delivery and the fact I was able to track where my parcel was. This isn’t actually available for regular subscribers yet – but I’m sure eventually it’ll get rolled out. But it’s well worth waiting for and the boxes always arrive in excellent condition.
Tokyo Treat. Subscription, Japan, Sweets, Drinks, Crisps,
The guys at Tokyo Treat were kind enough to send me the Premium option, that’s all the items of the Small and Regular boxes, as well as a handful of extra goodies. So let’s have a look and see what was in December’s box...
Tokyo Treat. Subscription, Japan, Sweets, Drinks, Crisps,
Chirin colour pen chocolate – a crayon that actually works and contains tiny chocolate balls, similar to smarties. I thought this was really cute, although it’s impossible not to eat the chocolate all at once.

Meiji banana chocolate – these looked and tasted exactly like banana. They reminded me of those hard fruit shaped sweets you could buy from those 20p machines at swimming pools and bowling alleys in the 90s.

Meiji cotton candy gum – with the taste and texture of candy floss, this magical sweet then turns into a bubble gum. This was cola flavoured and very fizzy – but I loved it.

Glico light potatoes – I haven’t tried these yet. They make look like those Mikado/Pocky biscuits, but they are in fact crisps. I guess they’ll be similar to Chipsticks, but I loved the packaging.

Tohato caramel corn (fun Christmas special edition) – another product I haven’t yet tried, although I had the original caramel corn in the July box. These light puffs are a special Christmas edition and I’m looking forward to opening them. The original were a cross between caramel and peanut so I wonder what flavour this variety will be...
Tokyo Treat. Subscription, Japan, Sweets, Drinks, Crisps,
Majomajo neru neru – the first of two DIY kits. All I had to do was mix the sachets with water to make a paste, before adding another sachet which gave the mix a fizzy and aerated texture, to replicate a witch’s cauldron. The flavours were a bit too artificial for me and the mix was sweet and sticky. I did enjoy the sugar stars and popping candy though.

Lotte Star Wars bikkuriman – a layer of thick milk chocolate sandwiched between two wafer biscuits. This was quite sweet but made a good afternoon snack – and given the release of the new film, this made for a topical snack.

Meiji gochi gummy cola – I loved these sweets, as the middle was sweet and the sugar coating, sour. This product actually tasted like Haribo cola bottles and the large discs (and re-sealable pouch) made a good treat for sharing.

Coris sharitto puru gums – this bubble gum melted in the mouth, before popping with apple jelly pieces. The mix of apple and yogurt flavours didn’t last long, but the product was still enjoyable.

Calbee hard fried potato ride –I couldn’t work out what flavour these crisps were: they had a strong smell and taste of shrimp, similar to prawn crackers, but were covered in green herbs and seasoning. They were light and crunchy, but I’m not sure if I enjoyed them.
Tokyo Treat. Subscription, Japan, Sweets, Drinks, Crisps,
Snowman ramune – this was this month’s ‘special’ product: a bottle of carbonated drink in the shape of a snowman. This was a mix between vanilla and bubblegum, which I think is the flavour of original ramune. The bottle exploded everywhere when opened, but it was still a nice drink.

Riddle puchitto – this was the second DIY kit, although a lot less effort was required for this. The bag contained two different sweets: an apple and an orange star. You could eat them separately or mix for a fruity taste sensation. It was also possible to pull the shapes apart, to create your own design.

Matcha collon – don’t let the name of this product fool you, these little crisp bites were incredible. I’m obsessed with matcha at the moment and the light wafer was so sweet, while the centre was so creamy. These were so moreish and one of my favourite products of this month’s box!

Meiji cream & caramel – these small sweets are individually wrapped and have a strong caramel-ly butterscotch flavour. In terms of their shape and size, they’re similar to Starburst, but come in a box. I shared these with my brother and we both loved them!

Each box comes with an a4 sheet explaining the contents, in translated English. I dont think the sheets get translated into any other language but Tokyo Treat do ship worldwide. One quick point on their customer service which was excellent: responses are quick and the staff are friendly, helpful and professional. Special thanks to Melisa for sorting out my box for review, too.

Id thoroughly recommend Tokyo Treat to anyone interested in foreign snacks, Japanese popular culture or looking for a subscription box thats a little different from the norm. Still unsure if its for you? Why not check out the website (https://tokyotreat.com/), or find out more on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?

Love, Lucy xx

*Tokyo Treat sent this box to me FOC for review purposes but images and opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas | Top 10 films


Christmas, Films, Movies, Top 10, Classics,
So this is going to be my last post until next Monday, ‘cos I’ll be having way too much family, festive fun. I did have a post scheduled, but I thought it would be better to share with you my top 10 Christmas films. I’ve booked next week off work so think I’ll be dedicating a couple of days to watching most (read: all) of these! These aren’t in any particular order.

(1) The Snowman
This is the ultimate Christmas film from my childhood and I’m not ashamed to say every year since I was 2, maybe 3, I watch it and the ending makes me cry. Why does he have to melt?! He knows where the freezer is. That and the music are so sad. The Snowman & The Snowdog doesn’t have a patch on the original

(2) The Holiday
Because who doesn’t love a bit of Jude Law at any time of year? He’s still hot when he pretends to be Mr Napkin Head! Every time I watch The Holiday, it makes me want to go to the Cotswold or somewhere else in the countryside for Christmas: just relaxing in a cosy cottage and hoping for snow

(3) Love Actually
It’s like tradition to watch this yearly around Christmas time. I love this film because all of the characters' stories are linked and it sums up for me what Christmas is about: being with the ones you love

(4) Miracle on 34th Street (original)
I can’t remember the first year I watched it but I know my dad put it on and I managed to sit all the way through it; it must have been the one of the first ‘old’ films I watched. I just loved it and it’s not Christmas if we haven’t watched this as a family – I had to get it on DVD last year, in case, god forbid, BBC forgot to show it

(5) Home Alone
Home Alone is such a classic and it’s absolutely hilarious. I used to hate being home alone, but I almost wish I got up to some of the shenanigans Kevin got up to! If you haven’t seen Home Alone, then where have you been?!

(6) Elf
Elf is another hilarious classic, which I think everyone has seen. I’m not actually that much of a fan of Will Ferrell’s (as people at work know!) but how can you not love Buddy the Elf? And let’s be honest, he makes the film!

(7) Four Christmases
This is probably such a controversial one, but I think Four Christmases is such an underrated Christmas film. If you like The Holiday and Love Actually, you’ll love it. And the plot pretty much sums up #modernfamilyproblems

(8) The Santa Clause
This was another of my favourites growing up and one I still don’t get bored of now. The sequels aren’t great, but the first is so funny. It brings out the big kid in me and I just think it’s brilliant that Tim doesn’t believe, until he accidently kills Santa and has to become him!

(9) The Nightmare Before Christmas
This was another family favourite of ours and is just Tim Burton brilliance. The scariness of the characters, the magic of the music, the drama – it just ticks all the boxes. I have to admit, when I was younger, it terrified me and actually gave me nightmares. It’s an incredible film

(10)           It’s a Wonderful Life
For the same reasons as Miracle on 34th Street really. It’s just a classic Christmas film and is one that provokes a mixture of emotions. When you haven’t seen many films or know very much about a certain era, it makes you appreciate it a whole lot more – the cinematography is brilliant

What are your favourite Christmas films?

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

Love, Lucy xx