Being the homebird that I am, one of my favourite things about Winter is spending the evening in, under a pile of blankets, with some good food and entertainment. As such, I want to share with you some of the best things (in my opinion) to do of an evening at this time of year.
1. Watch TV
This might seem like an obvious one, but of course it had to be on the list! After a long day at work I love nothing more than to chill out on the sofa and spend a few hours enjoying my favourite shows. We’re actually looking for a new TV at the minute, preferably a Panasonic which I know we can trust, and I have my eye on this Panasonic UHD 4K TV. It has excellent picture quality, cinema display and Smart features, and all the reviews I’ve seen are really positive! Just need to save a few pennies now.
We’ve been binging on Netflix lately, and I highly recommend Black Mirror, Glitch and Stranger Things. We’re currently on Season 1 of Bates Motel which I’m loving too!
2. Play Games
I actually prefer board and card games to computer or console games, and I’m a big fan of playing them with a group of friends, or just with my partner, complete with a large Dominos pizza on the side! I find it’s a great way to socialise and have fun without having to go out in the cold and rain!
At the moment I’m really into two particular card games – Fluxx (the Adventure Time version) and Sushi Go! Both can be played in groups or pairs. Sushi Go! is ideal if you like cute, simple, quick games, whereas Fluxx requires a little bit more commitment with its ever-changing rules! Both are available on Amazon.
I’ve had an obsession with books for as long as I can remember, and even after spending five years studying literature at University, I still get a kick out of reading. There’s just something so comforting about settling down in front of the fire, with a hot drink and a good book, exploring new worlds and characters.
I want to read a lot more this year than I did last year, and I’m already off to a good start. My 2017 reading list is getting bigger and bigger, and as well as dipping in and out of several non-fictions, I’m also reading A Kind of Loving by Stan Barstow at the minute. I have a soft spot for working class kitchen sink realism, so I’m really enjoying it.
What are your favourite things to do of an evening during Winter?
It’s been a while since I last signed up to a (non-edible!) subscription box, and I’d been missing that buzz of getting a nice surprise through the post each month, so lately I’ve been on the lookout for a new one to trial. I was looking for something featuring collectible items rather than beauty products or anything like that, and I knew exactly where to turn for recommendations. One of my favourite bloggers, Chrissie of Plus10Kapow, regularly reviews popular subscription boxes, and after seeing her publish several positive reviews about Loot Crate, I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a one-off box, just to see whether I like it or not.
Loot Crate are a US-based company founded in 2012, who each month ‘ships a themed mystery box of the best geek, gaming, and pop culture gear to a subscriber base of over 100,000 Looters’. From what I’ve seen their boxes are always well thought out and beautifully curated to suit a theme – something that a lot of other subscription services just don’t quite manage to get the hang of. The box I signed up for was the August Villains 2 box, which is quite possibly one of the best themes for me as I do love myself a supervillain! Loot Crate released their first Villains box last year, and this one is the sequel to that.
I ordered my crate on 19th August, and after much impatient waiting it finally arrived on 1st September, which was a little later than most people’s, so it was incredibly difficult to avoid content spoilers online!
I was expecting to find six or seven items in the box, as this seems to be the norm according to the reviews I’ve seen, but this month there were only four (plus the usual magazine and badge). However, all four items are high-end and good quality, and according to Chrissie’s calculations are worth a whopping £65.04 if bought separately online!
So, here’s all the loot!
Captain America Hydra Pin Badge
Pins and badges are one of the many things that I collect, so it was nice to find one of such great quality in the box. This Hydra pin is very well made, and has a double pin on the back. I reckon this would look awesome on a simple black jacket.
DC Collectibles Wooden Joker
As a lifelong Batman fan this wooden Joker figure was my absolute favourite item in the crate. There’s just something so nostalgic about it as I remember having toys like this when I was younger, and the changeable faces and poseable arms make this figure even more fun. I can see myself collecting more of these in the future (I’ve got my eye on a Batman one I’ve seen), but this one is extra special as it’s a Loot Crate exclusive.
Carnage 16oz Mug
There were two villainous mug designs being sent out in this crate – Venom, and Carnage, which is the one I received. My fiancé is more of a Marvel fan than I am (I’m a DC girl), so he was especially pleased with this. The mug is a good size and makes a nice addition to our ever-expanding mug collection, although for some reason I can see it being used for make up brushes or pens rather than tea!
Los Pollos Hermanos Apron
I love Breaking Bad and I do a lot of cooking, so this apron was a great addition to the box. The quality of the apron is really high, and the colours are nice and vibrant (although you can’t tell in the picture… my camera dislikes yellow for some reason!). This is something that I’d probably buy myself, and the exact same apron is currently being sold on Amazon for over £14.
Badge and Magazine
Every Loot Crate includes a badge to match the monthly theme, and a magazine. This month’s badge feature’s Venom’s spiky smile, and I absolutely love the Joker art on the front of the magazine. When I first saw the magazine at the bottom of the box I thought it was a print, which really excited me as I’d definitely hang this on my wall. In fact, I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t. Perhaps something for Loot Crate to consider in the future?
So, after receiving my first Loot Crate I must say I’m impressed. Everything about it is fantastic – the premium items, the attention to detail, even the fun design inside the box. A monthly subscription to Loot Crate costs just under $30 (about £20), or you can sign up for 3 month, 6 month of yearly packages at a discounted rate. I had a $3 off discount code and ordered a monthly box, making this one $26.95 (a little over £18), with free delivery. For what you get, and the combined total worth of each item, the Villains 2 box was without a doubt worth the money. I’m definitely considering keeping my subscription open for longer!
Are you signed up to Loot Crate? What were your thoughts on the Villains 2 crate?
Rustics is a small subscription box company with a difference, as most of the items in the box are lovingly handcrafted using eco-friendly materials, by the very talented Nic. She also tries to source products locally where possible, and all boxes are packaged from her home studio.
Every box contains around seven to ten items, such as stationery, craft kits and gift items, with an approximate value of £30. The items inside the box are kept as a surprise, but Nic releases sneak peeks of the contents on her website and social media (you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
A limited number of boxes are launched at 8pm on the 1st of each month. The first box – a heart themed Love It Box – was launched in June, and I was lucky enough to receive one through my letter box (the boxes are the perfect size to fit through, so you don’t have to worry about missing a delivery!)
The first thing that struck me when I opened the box was how nicely it was packaged. The box was sealed with monochrome heart washi tape, and the contents inside were carefully wrapped with tissue paper. The monochrome heart theme continued with the items inside, and there was far more crammed into that little box than I was expecting!
So what did I get? Well, inside was two handmade heart greetings cards, a hand printed cotton tote bag, a decopatch wooden heart craft kit, two mini wooden heart tags, a heart pencil, a handmade jasmine tea bag, a ‘You Are Something Special’ print, and some heart-shaped confetti.
Everything in the box is fantastic quality, and the theme is impressively consistent and carried off well. There’s nothing in the box that I don’t like, and it’s hard to pick a favourite item, but I must say I’m really looking forward to having a go at the decopatch kit when I have a free weekend!
There are three payment options for the boxes – a buy now single payment is £17, a monthly subscription is £15 a month, or a three-month single payment is £40 – and all come with free delivery. But however you choose to pay for your subscription, Nic will donate £1 from each box to a different charity each month.
I’m so impressed with Nic’s boxes as they’re so different from any I’ve seen before, and it’s obvious how much love and thought goes into every single item. If you want to bag one for yourself, check out the Rustics website.
On Saturday, Charles and I headed down to London to watch the annual Pride parade. We managed to get a front row spot on Oxford Street so we had a great view of the day’s events, and to top it off the weather was beautiful and sunny. This year Pride came one day after same-sex marriage was made legal in all 50 US states, which made the day feel extra special. The atmosphere was so positive and happy, and everyone looked like they were having a fantastic time celebrating. By the end of the afternoon I was covered in confetti and stickers, and had a huge smile on my face.
One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) leading one of the parade sections. The film Pride, which tells the story of how and why LGSM was formed, is one of my favourite films, so it was fantastic to see the group out in force, over thirty years later, especially considering the similarity between our current political climate, and that of the 1980’s.
Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos, and they’re not the best quality as I was using my phone, but here are a few of my favourites from the day.
We also went to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, which was an amazing and overwhelming experience. I’m hoping to go again during July, and I also plan on reviewing the exhibition, so check back soon for that.
Did you go to Pride this year?
I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety lately for various reasons, so to remind myself of the good things I have going on, I’ve decided to take part in a tag that I’ve seen doing the rounds lately – 50 Things That Make Me Happy. Making this list has actually helped me feel a bit better and shift my focus away from the negative, so I tag anyone who’s been feeling a bit down in the dumps lately!
So in no particular order, here are my 50 things…
1. My fiancé, Charles.
2. My pet rats, past and present.
3. Cooking, and trying out and inventing new recipes.
4. Spending time with my family.
5. Seeing my friends.
6. Going to gigs. I love that feeling of being in the same air space as my musical heroes, and hearing them sing my favourite songs live.
7. Taking photographs. Whether it’s a snapshot for Instagram, or a shoot with my DSLR, photography is a definite passion of mine.
8. Being outdoors. I try to get out as much as possible as it makes me far happier than being cooped up inside all day.
9. Theme Parks. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you get from a massive rollercoaster!
10. Eating out at my favourite restaurants.
11. Being appreciated at work. It’s always nice to hear some good feedback, either from a manager, a colleague, or a student.
12. Running for charity. I try to complete an event every year. This year I’m doing the Race for Life.
13. That feeling of buying and wearing new shoes and clothes.
14. Glastonbury. The town, not the festival. It’s a beautiful place.
15. Dublin. Another of my favourite places.
16. Watching wildlife. Squirrels, foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, everything. I especially have a thing for birds. My mum likens me to Bill Oddie…
17. Volunteering. I recently did some volunteering at the local wildlife hospital and I loved it.
18. Chocolate, cake, puddings, pastries, ice cream. All the sweet food.
19. Chilling with my favourite TV shows.
20. Mine and Charles’ takeaway and movie nights.
21. Getting home from work.
22. A good cup of tea.
23. Coca Cola from a cold glass bottle, especially on a hot day.
24. Finding a bargain. It makes getting something new feel that little bit sweeter!
25. Going to carboot sales. See above.
26. Books. The way they look, the way they feel, the way the smell, the stories within them.
27. Watching Grav3yardgirl videos.
28. Listening to my favourite music. In particular, Kate Bush, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo and Mike Oldfield take me to my happy place these days.
29. Fireworks. And bonfires. And Bonfire Night in general.
30. Halloween. It’s one of the best days of the year.
31. Going to the cinema.
32. Writing. Blogging, scribbling in my journal before bed, jotting down stories. Love it all.
33. Saving money for a house. I smile every time I see my savings account balance go up.
34. Weekend breakfasts. They usually consist of pain au chocolat, croissants, fruit toast, or something like that. Yum.
35. Storms. Thunder and lightning reminds me that I’m part of something big and powerful, and it’s amazing.
36. Walking and hiking.
37. Geocaching. It’s been a while since I last did any but it’s a lot of fun.
38. My mum’s cats.
39. Boxing Day. I like it more than Christmas Day and Boxing Day lunch is one of the best meals of the year.
40. My birthday.
41. Family and friends’ birthdays.
43. Foot and back rubs.
44. New Walk Museum in Leicester. It’s been one of my favourite places to go since I was a kid.
46. People showing that they care, with a gesture, a question, a smile etc.
47. Getting a good night’s sleep. They’re rare, but damn do I appreciate it when I get one.
48. Winning things. Competitions, games of Monopoly. S’all good.
49. Swimming in the sea.
50. Camping. Feeling the grass on my feet, the fresh smell of dew in the morning, watching the sun set, cooking breakfast on a camping stove. God I love it.
What are 50 things that make you happy?
I try to do at least one charity run every year, and this year I’ll be doing the Race for Life again. The Race for Life is a huge nationwide event which runs every year, where women and children of all ages come together to run, jog, walk, or even dance a 5k or 10k route, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I’ve signed up to do the local 5k race on 5th July, which gives me just under two months to do some fundraising!
My fundraising target for this year is £50, but I hope to raise as much money as possible. So, if you can spare a few pounds, please sponsor me via my JustGiving page. Also, if you’re a UK taxpayer, please tick the Gift Aid box, as this will increase your donation by 25%, at no extra cost to you.
Thank you everyone! And please check back in July for my Race for Life photos!
On Sunday I went out for a lovely meal with my in-laws, to celebrate Charles’ Grandma’s 90th birthday. We went to The Grey Lady in Newtown Linford, and had a private room for twelve to enjoy our delicious three course lunch.
I decided to wear something colourful for a change, so I went for this gorgeous burgundy dress that I bought from Everything5Pounds a little while ago. Considering it was so cheap the quality is fantastic, and I adore the subtly patterned floral fabric.
Of course, I had to get some black in there somewhere, so I teamed it with black tights and a black shrug from George (it was a bit chilly out!), my Blonde + Blonde boots, which are becoming a wardrobe staple of mine, and one of my favourite bags.
You might have also spotted our neighbour’s little kitty, who likes to photobomb when I take outfit photos! She’s the cutest.
When I hit my 20s I decided to create a bucket list, and though I’ve managed to tick a few things off over the last few years, my list is still growing. Quite a few of the things on my list involve travel, and though I’m not yet very well travelled, I’ve been lucky enough to tick a couple of them off fairly recently, albeit the ones that are close to home. In 2013 My fiancé and I flew to Dublin for a fun-packed mini break, and last year we went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – something I’d been wanting to do for years. However, I’m still saving up to go on my three big bucket list holidays, so I thought I’d share them with you today.
1. Ontario, Canada
When he was young my dad lived in Ontario in Canada, and his stories of the hot summers and snowy winters of his childhood have had me longing to visit there for years. I’m a sucker for a beautiful landscape, and from what I hear Ontario has an abundance of them, especially during Autumn, when the rust coloured trees transform the mountainsides into glowing dunes. I’m a keen photographer and hope one day to hike through Canadian woods, and take a boat trip over Ontario’s lakes, so that I can photograph the natural beauty of the land.
I’d also like to visit Toronto whilst I’m there, as I’m not averse to the bustling city vibe either. I can just picture myself grabbing some poutine from a little independent café, before wandering the streets and browsing shops full of books and trinkets, before stopping for dinner in Hogtown Vegan, a fab little vegan restaurant that I’ve heard nothing but good things about.
2. Pennsylvania, USA
California, Florida and New York tend to be the American holiday destinations of choice for most people, but I feel more drawn to Pennsylvania. As well as Ontario, my dad spent some of his childhood in Pennsylvania, so one day I want to take a trip there to see where he grew up. I’d love to stay for a while, and treat the state more as a home than a holiday spot, blending in rather than doing the tourist thing, so that I can really get a feel for what life is like for the people who live there. I want to visit all the spots that my dad has told me about, and eat the food he used to eat. I’d also like to go to some NFL games, as my fiancé is a big NFL fan. It would be great if we could see his team (Minnesota Vikings) playing my team (Philadelphia Eagles)!
3. Oslo, Norway
Last but certainly not least is my ultimate bucket list travel destination, and that’s Norway. Or any Scandinavian country for that matter. Ever since I was a toddler I’ve been fascinated by space, and one thing that’s always intrigued me is the Northern Lights. Every time I see a photograph of clear night skies lit up with smudges of green, pink, purple and blue, like an oil painting, my heart skips a beat at the sheer, phenomenal beauty of it. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to stay in a humble log cabin, in the snow, under the stars, next to a roaring fire, under a blanket with my fiancé, eating toast and watching as the magic of the sky dances above us. It would be amazing. Truly amazing.
Visiting Norway would also be a great opportunity to pack in some action, and create lifelong memories with activities like husky sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer spotting, and trekking through vast forests. Imagine the stunning photographs that I could take!
This post is my entry into Transun‘s #TransunLights Blogger Competition, and the prize is to win a trip for two to see the Northern Lights. Winning would help me tick a trip off my bucket list, which would be incredible, so I’m keeping everything crossed!
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Working full-time all week means I get very little time to have a relaxed day. Even at weekends lie ins are rare, so when I do get the chance to catch up on sleep and wake up slow, breakfast in bed always makes the morning that little bit more special.
No breakfast in bed is complete without a mug of strong tea, and a couple of slices of hot toast, with either peanut butter, marmite or lemon curd. For me, great toast is thickly sliced, lightly browned, but still soft and fluffy on the inside. Roberts Bakery bread is ideal for toast like this. Just call me a toast connoisseur!
Of course, it doesn’t have to stop there. I’m also partial to a hard-boiled egg, warm pain au chocolat and croissants, fresh orange juice or pancakes and waffles with maple syrup, but ultimately it always comes back to tea and toast. Perfect.
I’d been hoping for Krispy Kreme to come to Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre ever since it was redeveloped in 2008, and I know this was a wish shared by many. And now, after years of waiting, thanks to popular demand, Leicester finally has its first kiosk! The kiosk, which is located on the ground floor of Highcross outside Tiger, launched on 14th February, with 170 people waiting in line before it even opened. Unfortunately I was unable to make it down on opening day, but I made a visit last weekend to grab myself some much coveted doughnuts!
I got there just before the kiosk opened at 10:30am, and there was already a queue forming. The kiosk is bigger than I was expecting, with a full-size cabinet full of sweet treats, hot and cold drinks available, and a fairly large seating area. I was also impressed by the staff that I met, who were all friendly and efficient.
At any one time, Krispy Kreme has around fifteen different varieties to choose from, and you can buy them singly or in threes, or you can choose one of their boxes – original glazed dozen, assorted dozen, or choose your own dozen. I got the assorted dozen, which featured twelve of Krispy Kreme’s best sellers, including my two all-time favourites – Strawberries and Kreme, and Chocolate Dreamcake.
I also spotted Krispy Kreme’s two latest limited edition offerings in the cabinet, both of which I will be going back for. The Lotus Caramelised Biscoff doughnut is filled with biscuit spread-infused Kreme, and is topped with biscuit spread icing, biscuit crumb and white chocolate shavings. The Reese’s Peanut Butter doughnut is filled with, you guessed it, Reese’s peanut butter! It’s then finished off with chocolate icing, hazelnuts, and Reese’s peanut butter drops.
Krispy Kreme is very much a welcome addition to Leicester, and I’m looking forward to visiting again soon!