Monday, 30 November 2015

Travel Blog; My Trip to Ireland

A few weeks ago I was given an extra day off work spontaneously, meaning I suddenly had four days off with no plans. So I decided to do the old fashioned thing of turning up at the airport and seeing where they'd let me go to over the next hour or two!


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Abel & Cole Juicing Box Review

When I first moved to London four years ago I was quite a long time subscriber of Abel & Cole. For those that don't know, they are basically a company that delivers organic fruit and veg to you on a weekly basis. I know that they worked out more expensive than just going to the supermarket, but for me it was worth it as they gave really good quality produce and they kept me eating a variety of things - if not for them, I would just eat mushrooms and raspberries each week most likely! But, then I ended up way too busy and most of my stuff ended up unused so it stopped being worth it to me.

However, I recently discovered that they now do juicing boxes! I love my juices, so I thought I'd give it a try.

As you can see, you get three juice and smoothie recipes...

And all the amazing quality organic fruit and veg you need to make these recipes!

So, here's the ingredients for my first juice.

And here was the resulting juice!

This one was very much an aquired taste, as most green juices are! With the first hit, I didn't like it at all. Then it would start to grow on me. Then it would go down in my opinion again. Then it would get really nice again. And then I wouldn't want it anymore. Basically, this juice was a rollercoaster in a cup - but that's probably how I know it was really good for me, right?

 The ingredients for the second...

And the resulting juice! I will admit to not quite following this as I felt that doing the lemon manually was going to take too long so I just threw the whole lemon into the juicer too but I'm glad that I did as this juice was REALLY really nice. It had a big variety of flavours to it and I felt energised pretty much straight away. I was also surprised by my discovery that sunflower seeds actually do produce something when chucked into a juicer - I genuinely thought I was missing a point and just wasting a bunch of seeds, but nope!

I didn't take pictures of the third juice we made as I made it with a friend when we were in a bit of a rush, but we both really enjoyed that too - him to the extent that he's interested in getting his own juicer now - even after he had to help me clean up mine!

These juicing boxes aren't something I'd get every week as the effort of having to repeatedly clean the juicer out means I'm not going to - plus, they do of course work out quite expensive. That being said, these boxes I do think are good value. I think getting the recipes with your boxes makes a big difference, and there's also a bit of self discipline in there too - if I was to make juices on my own, I would not include any vegetables and just make the sweetest tasting things I can, so it's good to get these as I have to actually put the green things in there as well. I think I may look at getting these every three weeks or so, as I do think they definitely make a difference.

A seasonal juice and smoothie box costs £12.50 - and you can view the details here!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Hotel Chocolat's Christmas/Winter Range 2015

 It's never been any secret that I am a long time Hotel Chocolat fan. I've been a subscriber to their monthly tasting club for probably four years now, I've gone to a few events, and their chocolate boxes are my go-to gift when I don't have something more specific in mind. Therefore when Hotel Chocolat contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in trying out some of their new Christmas and winter goodies, of course I was always going to say yes!

 So when this bag of goodies turned up at my door step, I was beyond excited. Unfortunately, this arrived just before I had to go away for a few days so I left it perfectly wrapped up at first. The perils of having to take photographs of things!

 The first item I chose was this Winter Desserts H-Box, that costs £12. I already knew I was going to pick this one, as literally the day before I had bought this very box as a thank you present for a friend, and he'd spoken so highly of it that I knew I wanted one for myself!

 And look at how pretty it is! I loved the sound of all the desserts and I couldn't wait to get started on them.

 Most of them were absolutely delicious! The Caramel Chocolate Pot was always going to be one of the best ones - if there's one thing Hotel Chocolat does well, it's ANYTHING caramel based. I don't know why, but theirs are just far superior to anything anywhere else produces.

 Other favourites were the Tiramisu, the Raspberry Hazelnut Torte, and the Mousse au Chocolat.

In fact, almost all of them were absolutely delicious - the only one that was a real disappointment for me was the Carrot Cake. I mean, it was true to its name, but it was just way too carroty for me! Overall though, an absolutely delicious box with a real variety of chocolates in there. I think this would be a great gift for anybody as there are so many different flavours in there that there's bound to be something for everybody. 

The next thing I chose were these Dozen Portly Penguins, for £7. And isn't the reason obvious? They are absolutely adorable! I'm a big penguin fan anyway so I was always going to lean towards these, but they are just so cute, I had to have them.

 HOW CUTE?! I can't even. These are made from Hotel Chocolat's delicious 40% milk chocolate, and they're a bit bigger than they look as well. They look like they'd be quite thin but they're not, you get a good solid chunk of chocolate to bite into with these. Again, I think these would be a great present - they're cute and delicious, and who doesn't like adorable little penguins?

My final choice was this Jolly Santa, which costs £7 and like his little penguin friends is made of 40% milk chocolate. I was really impressed with the design of this Santa - he is decorated SO carefully and with so much attention to detail, and I think he looks amazing. Of course, he tastes pretty fantastic too! If you like the idea of him but aren't the biggest Santa fan, you can get Dasher the Reindeer instead! I think either of these would be good gifts - I'd say they're aimed at younger chocolate fans, but they're still something that I think anyone would be pretty pleased with.

Interested in purchasing one of your own? You can look through the whole of Hotel Chocolat's Christmas range on their website, here!


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Restaurant Review: Lunch at Oblix at the Shard

Before I start this review, I should be upfront about the fact that I am not a fan of the Shard. I think it's an ugly building, and I've always felt the restaurants in it to be overpriced so I was never interested in going to them. I love my high up restaurants - I think everything over at the Sky Garden is brilliant, I love the Duck & Waffle, and if you count it I also think the OXO Tower is amazing. But the Shard? Meh. From the second I saw how much they planned on charging for the view I decided that I wasn't interested. HOWEVER, Oblix had a 3 course meal for £35 including champagne offer going on if you go lunch time Monday-Friday - hooray for occasional advantages to shift working, right? And so off we went.

It actually started much more positively than I expected. To get to Oblix, you go through this really cool corridor. I'm serious! It's like a cave. It's dark, lit by torches, with little water features everywhere. I loved it and suddenly my expectations went from non existent to seriously high. Unfortunately, it all went down from there as the rest of the design of the restaurant isn't really there at all - this place is completely the opposite of Sky Garden, in that it's decided that it has a good view so doesn't need to do anything else, which is a disappointment. But on to the food!

 For starters, I began with this salmon salad. Which was very big for a starter, a bit dull but overall a nice meal.

 For mains I went with the chicken. Again I found this a bit dull as they've clearly just gone with simplicity, but it did taste nice.

 And finally, I had the flourless chocolate cake for pudding. This was probably the more creative of the courses as I hadn't had anything that tasted quite like this before! The texture was a bit unusual but in a good way and overall I enjoyed it.

 You kind of forget that the Shard is directly above London Bridge train station - until you actually look down and realise that the majority of the time your view is of trains! I always find it quite interesting watching transport in general from above, no idea why, I think because they look like little toys.

Overall? It was a very average experience. I consider the price that we paid worth it, but I wouldn't pay any more than that and I wouldn't go again. We both agreed that our food was average throughout and there really wasn't anything done with the room - why go to all the effort to make a fantastic corridor of all places but do nothing with the room itself?!

If you'd like to visit and see for yourself, check out their website, here!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Jaw Surgery - One Year On

It's been just over a year now since I had my jaw surgery, so I thought I'd give a little update to you all on how it's going, as I'm pretty sure how it is now is how it's going to remain.

For those of you who don't know, I had jaw surgery last November to correct an overbite. I had my lower jaw brought forward, and at the same time had my chin moved backwards. Mine was one of those annoying ones where it was super obvious to me that there was a huge gap, and super obvious to the hospital staff of course, but most of my friends never actually noticed it. I did get really good at covering it up by automatically keeping my jaw held forward though, so there's that.

It's hard to remember that this time last year I was a complete mess. This surgery was HARD. I couldn't eat for a few weeks, which was just depressing. I'd have to dedicate most of my day to really slowly using a syringe to feed myself all my antibiotics and painkillers, which meant that I didn't have enough energy to actually 'eat' anything else. When I did, I pretty much lived off of syringed yogurt. The original plan was to eat soup, but because it took so long it would get cold really quickly which was just horrible, and I didn't have the energy to go and warm it up as I couldn't stand up for too long and couldn't really carry anything. Eventually I moved on to baby food (some of which is actually delicious, by the way) and I remember this ridiculous sense of accomplishment whenever I managed to eat some of it. I then moved on to soft food like mashed potato, and again I would get this ridiculous sense of accomplishment for finishing a bowl. This was also a scary time as my jaw used to get locked open when I'd get too enthusiastic about it. Thankfully, that hasn't happened for a long time! There's very few things I can't eat now, and it's nice being able to eat things like sandwiches and biscuits by biting into them properly. Little things! The only thing I haven't tried to eat is an apple, I'm still a little bit alarmed by that idea. Not being able to eat was one of the worst parts for me, it's just so demeaning having to sit there and syringe food, usually ending up with it all over your face because you got too hungry, urgh.

I also couldn't talk, I just had to make noises. It took a few weeks to be able to talk, and then a bit longer to get all the sounds. I used to just sit in the bath and read a history book out loud to practice all sorts of different sounds, hahaha. It worked though! I would say the pain was ongoing for a while. it stopped being severe after about two months, but it still took a while to not feel pressure when I'd been using it too much. Even now some foods will hurt for a little while longer. For example, food that was a lot of effort to eat hurts, for some reason one particular type of bacon hurts to eat...!

My swelling was also absolutely horrendous. I'd say I was one of the worst cases I've seen in terms of swelling. I looked like some sort of hippo and it was just hideous. I still remember the alarmed expression on my friends' face when he first saw me, haha. It got worse a few weeks in as I could convince myself that the major swelling was going to go down, but when you're left with these lingering little bits, it's really hard to imagine that it's ever actually going to go away. It did, of course, but I won't lie, REALLY REALLY SLOWLY. By the way, I know I mentioned a lot that one of my main worries was my lips. Before surgery, I had no problem making them meet. Afterwards, they didn't. I was really worried that they were never going to. I read so many blogs from people who had this problem but they got it back within a month or two or never at all. I took a lot longer than most people did, like months longer, but mine do meet just fine now although I will say sometimes I have to consciously remember it's not the effort like it used to be.

In terms of numbness, I don't have any. I never really had much though. At the beginning I had slight numbness in one side of my lower lip and in my chin but that's all gone and feels normal now. Most of mine came back quicker than normal. However, it turned out I had numbness around my gum line where my wisdom teeth are and I just didn't know about it! One day I could suddenly feel my wisdom teeth and it was super confusing from where I hadn't felt anything and thought it was normal. I actually thought it was a bit of bone coming through and was so scared! Nope, turns out I was just numb there before and hadn't noticed. That was weird, and took a few days to get used to!

In terms of appearance, I'd say I was lucky in a way. My chin was moved back pretty much the same amount as my jaw was moved forwards, so I don't really look that different. I know some people have these massive changes but I wasn't one of them. When I went back to work some people didn't notice any change, some people noticed something was different but couldn't place their finger on what. (Although most of them decided it looked like I'd put on weight, which with the swelling was probably not far off...) I know I'm in the minority with this though.

My smile is much better now. There is still a small gap all the way round but it's so much better!

Feel free to ask any questions, and click the tag if you'd like to read my older posts on this :)


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Restaurant Review: Michelin starred Angler

 I recently visited Angler, a Michelin starred seafood restaurant located near Liverpool Street. I was really excited to go and give them a try as seafood is my absolute favourite and of course I'm always up for trying a new Michelin starred place out! Even better, my meal was three courses and a glass of champagne for just £35 - there are some perks of being a shift worker and getting to go to restaurants at lunch time then, hey! Our meal started with the above little pieces which were a good start to the meal, as well as some bread which came with some fishy butter. I'd love to say I could give you a good bit of feedback on it, but unfortunately I only got to have one piece as my friend loved the fishy butter so much he ate all the rest!
 For my starter I went with the beetroot poached salmon with pickled beetroots, walnuts and horseradish cream. Isn't it pretty? I just love when they make an effort to set the food up nicely. Even better, it was delicious too! All the flavours were really strong but all went really well together.

 Speaking of pretty food, my friend went with the seared mackerel with cucumber and avocado and I just love how it was presented. Another thing I really like about the presentation at Angler is the fact that they really do care about how good the food looks - to the extent that your plate colour varies depending on what makes the food look better! It's a little touch, but I liked it.

 For his main, my friend went with the stone bass.

 I went with the cornish cod fillet, which came with aubergine and cumin puree, tomato relish and sauteed prawns. And, honestly, it was just sort of okay. It was fine. This sounds terrible, but really the taste just reminded me of pasta sauce mixed with a bit of fish which was a disappointment.

For dessert we both chose the mango and passionfruit cheesecake, which was absolutely delicious! I loved how it looked and it tasted great - even if I did end up choking on the crumbs!

Overall, this is probably my least favourite starred restaurant I've been to - but it was still of a good standard. I enjoyed two out of three of the courses so it's unfortunate that the main one was a disappointment. However, I will say that Angler run deals relatively frequently so I have lots of friends that have been to it a fair few times, a few who have also eaten their a la carte menu. Every single of one them said that the a la carte food was much better, and most of them were therefore disappointed by the set menu food. In a way this makes sense, as afterall if you're paying much more you expect better value, but it is disappointing if this is deliberate - especially when I quite often use cheaper set menus to decide whether or not I'm happy to go and pay for their full price menu, which unfortunately in this case I don't think I will. All that being said, £35 is still a brilliant price to pay if you're able to get there lunch time Monday-Friday! If you'd like to view their menus, you can do so here.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Month Through Instagram; October 2015

 First of all, I absolutely love this mug. It is the cutest mug. It is my new favourite. I used to have a red VW Beetle, and I know this isn't a Beetle but it still reminds me of him. And anyone who knows me knows that I LOVED that car. Next up is two books I received this month; I've already finished The Girl on the Train, it was THAT good, and I'll have to do a proper review of it some time soon. That's followed by my new little green ducky buddy who I won at Thorpe Park - by the way, total mistake there. Went on a Monday taking advantage of the whole shift working thing, and that's how I found out it was half term. Yeah, pretty sure me and my friend were the only two people over 18 in the queue at one point, nightmare. And finally on this row is my oversized but wonderful body shop advent calendar!

 In October, I took a spontaneous trip to Killarney, Ireland! And it was wonderful. There's two teaser photos for now, and you'll get a proper post on it in a couple of weeks - but how good is that landscape?! I also started getting my Abel & Cole boxes again. I'll be reviewing my juice box in a few weeks, but for now enjoy me trying to enjoy being nice and organic!

Of course, it was Halloween! So here's my lovely ghost shirt and my pumpkin socks. I also went to Harrods where I fell in love with this dress (but don't intend on paying the thousands to buy it any time soon), and I also went to see Kinky Boots which was a lot of fun.

Want to see more? Follow me on instagram then!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Fashion Haul; Autumn/Winter 2015, from New Look!

It's probably no surprise to most of you that have been reading my blog for a while that after my last fashion wishlist post it took me about two days to go and order some pieces off of it. So here's a little fashion haul, with all pieces from New Look!

 First up we have this belt. There's not too much I can say about belts because, well, it is what it is! But I will say this belt is lovely and glittery, much more than it comes across in the pictures. It cost £2.99!

 I also got these boots, which are much more bulky than I expected them to be. These are definitely going to be a good pair for winter as they're really thick and sturdy, and also have this lovely furry lining which helps to keep them cosy. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to wear these with yet as they are a bit thicker than I was expecting - probably just with something simple like jeans! These shoes cost £24.99 which I think is a great price as they definitely feel like they're going to be pretty long lasting.

 I absolutely love this shirt, and it is definitely my favourite piece from this haul. This post is a little out of date as I wrote it just before Halloween - so you can definitely see why I wanted it! I wasn't sure how this one would look as I didn't think the shape looked great on the website, but in person it's actually really well fitting and much more flattering than I thought it would be. Plus the little ghost is so cute, I love him. This shirt was a bargain at £7.99, and since I bought it before Halloween you can probably find him for cheaper now!

 It wouldn't be me without a little bit of a sock haul would it? Love these, and even better, they were 3 for £4. The penguins are absolutely perfect, the pumpkin is so cute, and I got an unexpected surprise with these polar bear socks as the little polar bear is made out of a fluffy material - so cute!

 Sandals aren't the most wintery piece, but because the colour scheme is just so Autumnal I figured I could get away with it. I really like these shoes - I think they're simple but also stand out and are really pretty and such a nice shade of red. However, what I will say is that they are also not in the least bit comfortable. No matter how I adjust them they're uncomfortable and ocasionally painful in three different places. I'm still going to keep this, but these aren't ones I'd take on holiday or anything where you expect to be on your feet for much of the day. They cost £7.99.

 And finally, as a direct opposite to the above, I got these slipper boots. I love how fluffy they are and they're such a pretty pattern, I'm really loving the light blue this year. These are quite sturdy for slipper boots as well which is great for me, I tend to ruin all mine quite quickly by leaning on them and causing them to be all lopsided, but I don't think this will happen with these ones. They cost £10.99!

All these pieces can be bought from New Look.

Which was your favourite?
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