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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Paris Travel Guide - Where To Stay, What To See, What To Eat & More

A few months ago I wrote up a proper travel guide of York as George and I spent a few nights there and I wanted to share all of the wonderful things we did and got to see. I enjoyed writing that post so much so I really wanted to do the same for Paris, after enjoying our honeymoon there in May, it's just taken me ages to finally get round to it! We went for 3 nights and whilst there was still so much left to see by the time we left, in this post I'm going to share the things we did do, give hotel recommendations and more so if you're planning a trip to Paris in the future, hopefully this will give you some inspiration.
The Louvre

Where to stay

When it came to choosing a hotel for our trip to Paris, we didn't leave ourselves with a huge amount of choice. As we were looking at going via the Eurostar, we noticed they did package deals where you could get the train and hotel for a price much cheaper than booking separately and so that's how we ended up finding something. We'd looked at Holiday Inns, smaller boutique hotels and more but with going to a different country I just never really know where to start. Booking it through the Eurostar at the same time made the whole process really easy and in the end the hotel we managed to get was the Hotel Westside Arc De Triomphe. As I'm sure you can tell by the name this is located close-by to the Arc De Triomphe, about a ten minute walk and this means you pretty much see it whenever you're on your way out as it leads onto the Champs Elysee, has a view of the Eiffel Tower and is next to several metro stations. So in terms of location it's pretty brilliant, you really aren't far from anything, there's a supermarket just down the road and you're surrounded by restaurants. If you're after a budget friendly hotel with no fuss then this is for you, but if you really want something special then consider spending a little more. For a few nights it's great but it's very basic and on the first night we had the fire alarm go off 4 times which resulted in very little sleep and kind of hindered my view on the place for the rest of the stay. The staff were lovely and it didn't happen again after that so I'm sure it's not a regular occurrence but been woken up at 4am for the fourth time isn't brilliant and it definitely makes me think about booking somewhere else in future. There is a pool though so you know positives and negatives.
Hotel Westside Arc De Triomphe
Source

What to see

There are so many wonderful places in Paris that I could include but I've just tried to keep it to the main ones we saw and visited as this post would just go on forever otherwise!

Eiffel Tower - The most iconic place in Paris, how could you not pay a trip to it? We saw this several times during our 4 days as it's just such a beautiful area. The first day it was unfortunately cloudy but the second it was so warm and sunny and it was just absolutely stunning. We didn't end up going up it but I'd love to next time.

The Louvre - Another go to place, it's incredible to see such a masterpiece in real life. On the day we visited the actual museum was closed so we just stayed outside but the weather was lovely so it was so nice to just sit and take in the views.

Arc De Triomphe - As I mentioned we saw this several times during our stay but each time I couldn't get over it. It was the first place we saw when we came out of the metro station on the first day and each time it still felt special. You can go to the top too if you want but I was definitely too scared for that!

Montmartre - If you get chance definitely pay a visit to the town of Montmartre. It's much more chilled out than the lots of other famous attractions in Paris as you can imagine but really lovely. Rows and rows of the most picturesque houses and it's also where the Moulin Rouge is located. We went during the day so didn't get the best photos but I'd absolutely love to see it all lit up at night.

Notre Dame - My favourite place in Paris! We visited the Latin quarter twice which is where the Notre Dame is located and I'd probably do the same again if we go back. It's far calmer than other areas I found, the cathedral is just outstanding and it has some of the loveliest restaurants. Here you'll also find the famous Shakespeare and Company book store.

Champs Elysee - One of the avenues leading off from the Arc De Triomphe that is just full of shops! I don't think I actually bought anything when we had a walk down but it's full of designer stores, restaurants and of course there is a Sephora.

Place de la Concorde - If you've seen the film The Devil Wears Prada then you'll recognise this place. It's from the end of the film where Andy leaves Miranda and throws her phone into the fountain. I actually didn't think about this place until we were there but I'm so glad we saw it.

Pont Alexandre III - This might just seem like a bridge but it is absolutely stunning! On the day we went over it, the sun was shining and the whole area was breathtaking. There are so many other attractions around this area too so it's definitely worth taking a walk around.
Eiffel Tower
Arc De Triomphe
Notre Dame

What to eat

Crepes - You've got to have a classic crepe in Paris! On our first morning we found a little Parisian restaurant near the Arc De Triomphe and the crepes were delicious. I so wish we'd gone back for more.

Pastries - Like crepes, pastries are a bit of a must in Paris aren't they? We found a little bakery near our hotel and we had the nicest fresh pain au chocolates. There are bakeries on pretty much every street so you won't struggle to find your daily dose of pastries.

Pasta at Cafe La Bucherie - If you take a visit to the Notre Dame, just across the road is a lovely little restaurant called Cafe La Bucherie, in fact just next door to Shakespeare and Company. The waiters are the friendliest people you could possibly meet and the food is just incredible. We both went for a pasta dish and it was one of the best meals I've ever had.

Amorino Ice Cream - The place to go for ice cream in Paris! The one we found was located near the Notre Dame but as far as I'm aware there are several dotted around. They shape your ice cream into a rose, you can have as many flavours as you want, and even a macaron and it just tastes divine. I had the vanilla and chocolate and it was some of the best ice cream I've ever had.

Granitas - If there is one thing you try in Paris, let it be a granita. It's basically a slush but they do some insane flavours and trust me on a warm day, there isn't much better. We had a few during our time in Paris but the best was definitely just by the Eiffel Tower. It was the peach and apricot flavour and trust me when I say I would go back just for one of those, it was that good.
Food to eat in Paris
Amorino Ice Cream
Food to eat in Paris

Travel and getting around

As I mentioned at the start of this post we got the Eurostar to Paris, it was such an easy process and I'd definitely do it again. We got the train down to London and then checked in at the Eurostar and we were on our way! The train was so comfortable and I really have no complaints. Of course you can get planes to Paris too which are affordable but I personally loved the option of getting the train there and it really wasn't much hassle. Once in Paris you have a few options of getting about. Whilst not all of the main attractions are close-by, there are quite a few where you can walk from one to the other, and when the weather is nice, it's a great way to take in the views. Though our first experience with the metro was quite stressful due to strikes, by the last two days we had got the hang of it and it's a great way of getting about. It's so cheap too! One thing I have to mention when planning travel for Paris is the bus tours. I couldn't recommend these enough! We booked tickets for two days via big bus tours before we went and this meant that on those two consecutive days we chose we could hop on and hop off whenever we wanted. There are a few different routes and they cover all of the main attractions. We got on at the Arc De Triomphe and then stayed on til wherever we had planned first for that day. One day we also got on the bus that takes you around Montmartre and this was such a lovely part of our trip as we just sat for the whole hour and took in the views. It's completely up to you where you get off, or if you chose to stay on and just see the sights of Paris, and totally worth the money!
Paris boat tours
I know this post is incredibly long but I just wanted to share everything I could regarding our little trip to Paris. It felt like we saw so much but looking back we only scratched the surface so I'm sure we'll pay another visit in a few years. Though at times it was stressful trying to navigate around a different country, it's just such a beautiful city, how could you not enjoy it? Reading this post back has made me miss it so much!

Have you ever been to Paris?

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Monday, 30 July 2018

My Top 10 Hamilton Songs

Will I ever stop talking about Hamilton? Probably not. After kind of falling in love with the soundtrack and and then finally booking tickets to see it, I now I have so many ideas of blog posts to do with the show and I've been so excited to get sharing them. I know musical theatre can be a bit of a niche thing, it's really not something I see people blogging about often, and I've hardly seen any Hamilton related posts but that's kind of why I want to talk about it. It's a passion of mine and if I can't share that here where can I? and I'd love to see more posts from other people in future too. Hopefully if you're a fan of musicals you'll like this post which is my top 10 Hamilton songs. As the whole show is rapping and singing there are several in the soundtrack to pick from so this was definitely a hard decision, but I think I've picked some really great ones from an amazing bunch.
Top 10 Hamilton Songs
1. Wait For It - It's only recently this has climbed to the top for me but now it's there I can't see anything beating it. Sang by one of the leads Aaron Burr it's about his misfortunes compared to Alexander Hamilton's successes and how he is prepared to wait, knowing his time to shine will come eventually. Lin Manuel Miranda said 'I think we've all had moments where we've seen friends and colleagues zoom past us, to success, or to marriage, or to home ownership, while we lingered where we were - broke, single, jobless. And you tell yourself 'wait for it'. I think it's such a stand out moment and an incredibly powerful song. Leslie Odom Jr sings it beautifully on the soundtrack.
2. The Room Where It Happens - This has been near the top for such a long time for me. It's so unlike everything else on the soundtrack and was one that really got me hooked in the first place. Another sang by Aaron Burr and for me it kind of steals the show. The clip below explains a little what the song is about, as I just can't do it justice but if you can find other clips on Youtube, you can see how it plays out on the show and it's just so cool.
3. Yorktown - I love this for so many reasons but one being the line 'Immigrants we get the job done'. I've seen a few clips of this online and the reaction it gets just gives me goosebumps. Aswell as this line, this song is just such a moment in the show and in Hamilton's life with him just having being promoted by George Washington and his wife Eliza being pregnant with their first child. I've heard from a few people that when you see this live it's a real masterpiece so it's really one I'm looking forward to when I see the show.

4. Satisfied - Angelica Schuyler is one of my favourite people in the show, I love her sass and attitude and how outspoken she is compared to her sisters. Her main song in the show is Satisfied which comes just after Eliza and Alexander have got married and it tells her story of her love for him and basically how she wishes it was her he was with. Whenever I listen to the whole soundtrack I always feel for her as she gave up on what she wanted because of her love for her sister and I think the way it was put into song is so clever.

5. Non Stop - This is the song that ends the first act and I think it's such a moment and a perfect way to lead into act 2. I never used to think much of it previously but now it's one I play on repeat. So much happens in this one song, we notice the rivalry between Burr and Hamilton and so many other people are involved too, Angelica, Eliza, Lafayette etc. I honestly don't know where you would even start with writing this as it's just song after song blending and the tension between the characters building and building.
6. One Last Time - This is a song that just leaves me with goosebumps, and I can't even imagine what it must be like to hear it live. This song is about George Washington's decision to not run for re-election as president wanting to introduce America to the practise of a peaceful transition between administrations. It's another song that is put together incredibly well with part of it having an excerpt from the actual historical text of Washington's farewell address. The video below shows original Broadway cast Christopher Jackson and Lin Manuel Miranda who played Washington and Hamilton singing it at the White House when Obama was near the end of his run as president.
7. Dear Theodosia - This is definitely one of the more chilled out songs in the show compared to most as a lot are just rapping and quite full on! This is Burr and Hamilton welcoming their respective children Theodosia and Phillip into the world and I really love how this is sung. I think it shows another side of both men and explains a little why they fight for what they do.

8. Helpless - This is actually where Eliza and Alexander first meet and it all plays out in this one song leading to their marriage. This is another that has grown on me over time, I often can't decide if I prefer this or Satisfied which this leads into. I love how this tells Eliza's side whereas with Satisfied we get Angelica's view.
9. The World Was Wide Enough - This is one of the final songs and it's one of the big moments as it's when Burr and Hamilton finally duel and Hamilton loses his life. There are so many different sections to this song but the bit I like the most is towards the end when Burr realises what he's done and the repercussions of it. Despite Burr being painted as the villain, I've never really viewed him in that way. There's more to it than that and I think this bit shows that side of the story.

10. Cabinet Battle #1 - There are two cabinet battles in the show but the first one has been one I've always enjoyed. Both songs portray the discussions in the cabinet of the administration of George Washington in the style of rap battles between Alexander Hamilton who is the Secretary of the Treasury and Thomas Jefferson who is the US Secretary of State with James Madison occasionally jumping in. I love the rap battles because that's exactly what they are, nothing like you'd usually see in a show and they actually allow for some audience participation which is something else a little different. Whilst a lot of the show is rapping, I think the cabinet battles are just something else and really show off the casts talent.

There were so many other songs I could have included in this list, there are literally no songs on the soundtrack that I skip or that I'm not a fan of but I absolutely love the ones I did choose. I love that the whole show has such a mix of rapping and singing and that it's so unlike any other musicals out there at the moment. It's just incredible.

Are you a Hamilton fan?

Similar posts - 5 West End shows I'd like to see // Broadway to West End transfers I'd love to happen

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Friday, 27 July 2018

Pastel Elixir Mystery Box

I'm such a fan of all things stationery. I'm pretty much always picking little bits up here and there so I couldn't help myself when I noticed Ellis from Pastel Elixir tweet about some new mystery boxes she had added to her shop. I'd seen so many cute bits before from Pastel Elixir and whilst I always meant to place an order I just never got round to it, so once I saw the amazing prices for the mystery boxes, I grabbed one straight away!
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
As I'd not ordered anything before I thought this was such a nice way to get a feel for the shop and as I guessed it would, as soon as I opened the box, I wanted to go and order more. Before I get onto what was included, I just wanted to mention that if you haven't had a peek at Pastel Elixir before (ran by Ellis and James along with their two beautiful dogs Vespa and Custard) then now is the time! They stock all of Ellis' wonderful illustrations on prints, cards, badges, bookmarks, mirrors, notebooks and more and they are all incredible. She is so so talented, everything is just adorable so definitely have a little look.
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
There were two mystery boxes to choose from, £5 or £10. I went for the £5 one this time which included so many goodies. There were 3 big prints, 1 smaller print, 2 cards, a bookmark, 2 badges, a mirror and stickers. I'd had my eyes on the llama print for a while so I popped in a note on my order about this and it was one of the first things I saw when I opened the box which was lovely.
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
I absolutely love putting prints up around our home and the bigger ones I received are perfect to add to our photo wall in the bedroom. How cute are the squirrel and badger prints? I can't stop looking at them! You can tell that so much time and effort has gone into them to make them perfect. I think I'm going to save the llama print for the office aswell as the little yummy things one and maybe start another little photo wall next to my desk.
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
I was so happy to see a few little badges in the box as I'm really into things like this at the moment. I've got a few already which I've added to my bag and I'm going to add these on soon now too. I got the fairy badge and the potion badge, and aswell as these I also got one of their little mirrors. I always have something like in my pocket when I go out but I really needed a new one so this came at the perfect time! Another thing that was included is a llama bookmark! I always seem to be misplacing my bookmarks so this was another great addition, and it's just so cute. 
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
The final few bits were two cards which I've already put aside for any events coming up over the next few months. I love having a little stash of cards ready for anniversaries, birthdays, christmas etc so I'm always prepared so I can't wait to use these soon. The llama card is brilliant, and I love the unbirthday card too, the colours are beautiful!
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
I absolutely adore the contents of this mystery box and know I'll be ordering more in the future. I've already seen some bits which I think would make lovely birthday gifts, all of the designs are so unique so are definitely worth considering for something a little different. Clearly so much care goes into these designs, it shines through in every single thing! Something else I'm really impressed with is how much Pastel Elixir care about the environment and the steps they are taking to do what they can to help, from sending contents in recyclable boxes to reducing plastic and switching to bio-degradable packaging. Every little step like this helps so I think it's a great a small business are implementing this.
Pastel Elixir Mystery Box
I couldn't recommend Pastel Elixir enough, how could you not love these goodies? Make sure you have a look at some of the other bits they stock on their website or even order yourself a mystery box, they've actually just added some new ones! You won't be able to resist.

Have you ordered anything from Pastel Elixir before?

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Thursday, 26 July 2018

How To Get Out Of A Blogging Slump

Whilst starting a blog is literally one of the best things I've ever done, I do have times where I feel really low about it and struggle to find the motivation to even open the laptop. I think because there are SO many bloggers now it's easy to feel that you aren't good enough or don't compare to others, or that's how I feel sometimes when really we should all be celebrating how unique are blogs are and that we all have our own space of the internet to talk about the things we love. I definitely experience highs and lows with blogging and recently I had a massive blogging slump and took some time out. For a while I really wasn't sure if I'd come back to it but I did and I'm so happy about that, so I thought I'd share a few things I did to try and find my love for blogging again.
Tips and advice on how to get out of a blogging slump

Take a break

First of all if you're struggling with motivation when it comes to blogging then my biggest tip is always take a break. There is absolutely no point forcing yourself to post something when you're not feeling it and it will come across to your readers if your hearts not in it. When you're buzzing with inspiration and passion for blogging, it shows in your posts so if you're not really proud of a post or are just posting for the sake of it, that also shows. I like to try and post 5 times a week and last year I was so hard on myself but now my thinking is, what is going to happen if I don't post today? Nothing! Don't be too hard on yourself and just take a step back.

Read blogs

When I'm lacking in inspiration I find reading other blogs really helps. There isn't much more that gets me back into blogging like having a proper read through some of my favourite blogs on Bloglovin with a cup of tea and just relaxing for an hour or so. Seeing their love for it and reading some fabulous posts always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and I just want to get back to my blog and write. It's also a great way of getting ideas for new blog posts, and that does not mean in any way copying, but sometimes you see something on another persons blog that sparks an idea for you.

Reflect and make changes

If you're struggling with finding motivation to blog there's usually a reason behind it so it's important you reflect on that and what's caused it so you can try and not get into the same rut in future. We all have ups and downs with our blogs, that's completely normal but recently I got really sad about mine and for a while I really did think about stopping all together. When I took a bit of time out and really thought about it, I realised I'd been putting too much pressure on myself to try and earn money from my blog and that needed to stop for me to get any enjoyment back from it. After going self-employed with my blog and it sort of becoming my job, it meant that I took it really hard when I had months where things were a bit quieter and nothing seemed to be coming my way. I'm fortunate that I'm not in a position where we rely on my income but that still wasn't a comfort, I wanted things to be as good as they have been in previous months and a really quiet month just made me reconsider it all. After a bit of a break though I decided I just needed to go back to basics and write about the things I truly love and if opportunities come my way, then they do, if not then they weren't made for me. And once I went back into it with that attitude, that week I had more emails than I'd had in weeks, which is just typical isn't it.

Remember why you started

This kind of ties in with the previous point but really just remember why you started when you're feeling down about your blog. I started mine because I just wanted a place to share my recipes and some of my favourite things and recently I've really stripped it back and gone back to those sorts of things and I've been enjoying it so much more than before. Whilst working with brands and earning money is a fab bonus that comes with blogging sometimes, that isn't my sole focus, it's not why I started and it's not what I want this to just be about. That's the reason you'll now be seeing more musical theatre posts on here and more recipes because those are some of my favourite things to talk about and really why I started this blog in the first place. It's so easy to get caught up with what other bloggers are doing but just take some time and try and think back to why you loved blogging in the first place.

I know I don't have loads of tips for getting out of a blogging slump and these probably won't be telling you anything you don't already know but these really did work for me. Just having a break and looking back on what I've already achieved with my blog made me so motivated to get back to it! Do you have up and downs with your blog? What do you do to get back into it?


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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The Sisters by Claire Douglas Book Review

Time for another book review, and this time it's The Sisters by Claire Douglas. I started this the day after I finished 5 Years From Now, and whilst they are very different books I have to say I enjoyed it just as much and had the same feeling of 'I can't put this down, I NEED to see how it ends'. I tend to go for the typical romance stories when looking for a new book but after the heartbreak I felt from 5 Years From Now, I just needed something a little different to my usual and this was perfect.
A book review of The Sisters by Claire Douglas
One lied. One died. When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive. After a tragic accident, still haunted by her twin sister's death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets siblings Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle. As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start happening - precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention? When the truth outs, will either sister survive?

My review

First of all this book is an absolute bargain on Amazon at the moment! I got it for £2! I never see books that cheap so this was an absolute steal. As I mentioned earlier, this wouldn't usually be my typical choice, I enjoy love stories and things a bit more lighthearted but I decided to give this a chance as like I said, I was still reeling from 5 Years From Now and just needed something totally different. Well that's exactly what I got, and pretty much straight away I was hooked.

From the beginning there's lots of intrigue around Abi and what sort of role she had to play in her twin sisters death and then we see her basically trying to rebuild her life. When she meets Bea and Ben she thinks everything has fallen into place but unfortunately her new friends aren't all they seem. We find out as the story goes on that Abi's sister Lucy bears a striking resemblance to new friend Bea and that's kind of when things start to get a little creepy and we're left guessing who's doing all of these things and more importantly, why? Is it Abi trying to find a replacement for her sister, or is there more to Bea than we thought? This is such an interesting story so I really don't want to ruin it for you, but honestly once you start this, you won't be able to stop. Instantly I was intrigued by Abi and what had happened to her sister, I was dubious of Bea but I couldn't quite work out why and I saw Ben as this hero who was the person Abi needed in her life, but let's just say things didn't turn out how I expected. At one point I thought I knew who the culprit of these weird happenings was, in fact I was convinced and then towards the end, that was all flipped on it's head and there is a huge twist!

The storyline is just brilliant, Claire has written it in a way that just grips you and doesn't let go, there are so many options throughout of where the story could go but whenever you think you have it figured out, she takes you in another direction which I loved as you really can't predict how it's going to end. Despite lots of twist and turns throughout the book, it flows really well and I never felt confused or like I had to go back and get to grips again with it which I have found with books like this in the past. This is told from both Abi and Bea's perspective and again usually this is something I struggle with in a book, flipping from one person to another but Claire did this bit so well and I soon got used to it and actually enjoyed hearing from both sides as that only added to the intrigue of both of the characters and really left me debating throughout whose side I was on. Since finishing this book I've thought about it several times and how it ended, the last line in particular leaves me feeling a little confused as it indicates that even after everything there is still so much more to Abi than we realised, even after the whole book, we're left with, hang on is there still more to this?! What is this girl doing? To say I'm not usually one to reach for a thriller book like this, I'm now desperate to read more, especially from Claire herself. The way she has handled sensitive subjects like mental health in this, the way she kept us guessing even to the very last page about the characters and the way it flowed, have all made for an outstanding book. I have no idea why it's so cheap at the moment as I'd definitely pay far more for this, but while it is, now is the perfect time to snap it up. Even if this isn't usually your sort of genre, give it a go, you'll be so glad you did!

I actually don't think I've explained myself in the best way possible with this book but I hope it at least made some sort of sense without ruining it for you. It's one of those books that leaves you with so many thoughts throughout, sadness, shock, sympathy, happiness, and just OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING so it's hard to convey that without totally giving it away!

Have you read The Sisters? If so let me know as I'd love to hear your thoughts on the last line!

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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Celebrating our 7th anniversary with bakerdays*

I've been lucky enough to work with bakerdays twice before, the last time being for my birthday and I was so happy to work with them again to celebrate George and I's anniversary at the start of July. I could never say no to bakerdays as their cakes really are beautiful and such a special way of celebrating any event. 
Bakerday letterbox cake review
If you've not heard of bakerdays before, let me tell you a little bit about them. They provide a huge range of cakes for all sorts of occasions throughout the year. You can personalise your cakes either with your own message or picture and you can pick from a variety of flavours, and sizes. You really can create something totally unique to you and it makes such a wonderful little gift for birthdays and anniversaries.

Like the past two times I've worked with bakerdays, I was sent one of their letterbox cakes to review for our anniversary. Before I even get onto the actual cake and design, one of the first things I love about these particular cakes is how well packaged they are. Arriving in a protective tin, they can fit through your letterbox (I had a bit of an issue this time with a delivery driver not realising that but every other time it's been fine) and they are securely packaged to survive the drop to the floor. You don't have to worry about the cake being damaged in any way at all, all of the ones I've tried have been in perfect condition. Having the ability to get them delivered through your letterbox when you're not in is brilliant as it means if you want to surprise someone with one of these you don't have to worry about anything! The protective tin and box also ensures they stay fresh for up to 14 days and each time I've tried one of their cakes, they have tasted like they have just been made, I have no idea how they do it!
Bakerdays letterbox cake packaging
Now onto the cake I chose this time. With it being for our anniversary I went for the Love You Beary Much cake. I'm sure you know by now my love for all things bear so when I saw this on the website, there was no other choice in my mind. I was so happy with the cake and design when I opened the tin, it almost looked too good to eat! Of course we tucked in eventually though and the flavour I chose this time was lemon. In the past we've really enjoyed the chocolate flavour and also the vanilla so I was excited to see how the lemon would compare. Well it was beautiful! The sponge was soft and moist, the lemon flavour just perfect, not too overpowering, and the icing was delicious. I'm never normally too fussed about plain icing on a cake but there is something about the one you get from bakerdays, it's so moreish and actually probably my favourite part! The size of the letterbox cakes are ideal too, this was just for the two of us so in the end we had two slices each over a few days, but if there were more of you, you could definitely spread it out further for everyone to enjoy.
Bakerdays letterbox cake closeup
As always I'm so happy with the cake I was sent to review and it was such a lovely way to add to the celebrations for our anniversary. These letterbox cakes are perfect for occasions like this but as I've already said they are great for birthdays and more too, especially if you don't have time to make your own cake, or just don't know what to get someone. It's so unique aswell as being convenient and is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. If you want to try one of these out yourself or do want to surprise someone, they are priced at £14.99 and can be ordered up to a year in advance. Aswell as these letterbox cakes, there are also small, medium and large cakes available and even cupcakes and you can find out more on the bakerdays website.
Bakerdays letterbox cake design closeup
Have you tried one of the letterbox cakes before from bakerdays?

*Cake provided for the purpose of this post

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Monday, 23 July 2018

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again Film Review

I can't actually remember the last time I wrote a film review for my blog but after seeing the new Mamma Mia film on Friday, I just had to dedicate a full post to it, I have so much I want to say!
Mamma Mia Here We Go Again Film Review
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As soon as I heard about a sequel to the first Mamma Mia film I was thrilled, the first film is one of my all time favourites, it just makes you feel good but with a follow up there's always the worry that it just won't quite live up to the original. As soon as I could listen to the soundtrack though, I did and I just knew it was going to be brilliant, so I managed to book us tickets for the opening night and I so glad I did. The screen we were in was pretty much full and that only added to the atmosphere as everyone was reacting at certain points. The sequel follows Donna's daughter Sophie, now pregnant re-opening the hotel along with the help of Sam. Aswell as this we also have flashbacks of a young Donna played by Lily James and we see how her life on Kalokairi came about aswell as her meeting Sam, Bill and Harry and having Sophie. All of the cast from the first film are back together which was so lovely to see, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard are perfect casting, so funny in every part they're in and also Christine Baranski and Julie Walters who I could watch all day. They definitely have some of the best lines and it wouldn't be the same without them. I don't how they've done it but the casting for a young Bill, Sam, Harry, Tanya and Rosie is spot on. The looks, accents, mannerisms, just everything about what they've done is perfect and it meant that the transition from flashbacks to present day just worked. Lily James playing a young Donna makes the movie though, who knew she had such a good voice? again a brilliant choice, so much fun but also completely breaks your heart in some scenes. In terms of the story there isn't actually a great deal that happens compared the first film, a lot of it is flashbacks but it was nice to see that side of Donna's life and find out more about her. I love how they fitted so many songs into it too. There are a few from the first film including Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen which they've re-done for this but also loads of ones I'd never heard before which I'm now obsessed with! Angels Eyes with Sophie, Tanya and Rosie was one of my favourites along with Why Did It Have To Be Me with a young Donna and Bill. Though I don't want to spoil any of the plot for you, there had been lots of rumours around whether Donna played by Meryl Streep in the first film would be alive in this one, all I will say is the parts she is in the film are beautiful and have such an impact. The final few songs had me sobbing like a baby, I honestly can't remember the last time I left a film feeling like that, all the feels ❤️️ I've Been Waiting For You sang by Lily James and Amanda Seyfried was where I started to feel emotional, the lyrics are wonderful and then going into My Love, My Life with Amanda and Meryl was heartbreaking, so bittersweet. One final thing I have to mention of course is CHER! Though she doesn't have a huge role, the parts she is in, steal the show. She is just fabulous and was everything I hoped she would be in this. Her coming into it totally worked, especially because there's lot less of Meryl in this film who added so much to the original. Oh and we're also still no clearer as to who is Sophie's real dad in the sequel which I am totally fine with, I love that there's a bit of mystery to it and we'll never really know! Going on what we see of a young Donna with all of them though, I definitely think she's Bills!
I left the cinema wanting to walk back in and see the film again. I don't think I could say it's better than the first one, they're definitely on the same level for me but I utterly love them both. For a sequel that's kind of a prequel too I think they've come up with something wonderful, I can't stop thinking about it! It made me laugh, smile and cry and I just don't know how you couldn't love it!

I'd love to know if you've seen this yet or if you're planning too? Let me know your thoughts!

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Friday, 20 July 2018

4 Ways To De-Stress & Cheer Yourself Up

Do you ever have one of those days where you just wake up in a mood and you know it's not going to be a good day? I do, more often than not and it can be so hard to get anything done when you're just feeling stressed and in a slump. Though some days it seems impossible, most of the time I can kind of get myself out of it and usually that's with a bit of self care and time to myself so I thought I'd share the things I like to do in case any of you ever feel the same way.
4 tips on how to de-stress

Start The Day Off With A Shower

Or a bath, whatever you prefer! If I've woken up feeling really groggy, tired and irritable, a hot bath or shower really does the trick. If I decide to run a bath I'll add in some of my favourite Radox which I always have in as it's so cheap, and sometimes I'll also use a bath bomb. Sometimes I just find scrolling through social media or pinning on Pinterest is quite relaxing in the bath and other times I like to shut myself away with a good book. If I opt for a hot shower, I like to use some of my favourite products to make myself feel the best I can. I'll use my favourite shower gel, usually something from the body shop, I'll shave my legs, do a skincare routine and use my favourite haircare products. I usually end up getting out feeling far better than before and just that alone usually de-stresses me a little.

Have A Pamper Session

You can do this whilst in the bath if you prefer, but a little pamper is always a sure way to make you feel better about yourself. A face mask can cure so many problems! After my bath I like to pop on one, I usually have a few from Superdrug in my bathroom cabinet which are only about £1 and I'll also make the effort to do my nails. I always feel better when I've got fresh nails, does anyone else? and then I try to get ready for the day. Even just putting a little bit of makeup on makes me feel like a new woman!

Take A Walk

Getting out the house is something that massively helps with my mood. I sometimes have to psyche myself up for it because with working from home, you know it's effort sometimes but I always feel so good afterwards. Just a walk to the corner shop gets you some fresh air and it's better than being at home stewing over your mood and getting yourself worked up again. If you have a park nearby aswell if it's a nice day, why not take a book or a few magazines and just sit a read? Time away from your phone to focus on something else for a while, in the sun aswell, does wonders.

Find Time For What Makes You Happy

Whether that's baking a cake, popping to the supermarket, writing, whatever it is, try and find time to do that thing. It can be easy with work and life to forget to take time to do the things you enjoy too and when you've built up all of this stress sometimes you just need an hour or two to do that thing you love. When I'm feeling down or if I've just been a big ball of stress that day, just spending an hour in the kitchen making some brownies, really makes me feel good. It's something I know has a great end result, who doesn't love warm, gooey brownies? and I also get to share them with other people which is something else that makes me happy. I love creating food for others and when they enjoy it, it gives me such a buzz so something like this is kind of a two in one for me.

These probably all seem like quite basic things and they're definitely not groundbreaking but they're things that work for me, and might work for you too. With everyone constantly on the go all the time, just having a few hours to sit in the bath, read a book and partake in your favourite hobby, it really can do the world of good and completely alter your mood.

What do you like to do to cheer yourself up when you're feeling down?

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Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Body Shop Bath Bombs Review

A while ago I noticed that The Body Shop had released a new range of bath bombs and I can't even tell you how happy that made me. That might seem a little weird, I just love a pamper night with a relaxing bath but the price of some of my favourite bath bombs just seemed to have increased over the last year or so I stopped buying them as often. I just can't justify spending £5 on something that's going to disappear in minutes. I'd been turning to Bomb Cosmetics which tend to be around £3 each but when I saw these were only £1/£1.50, I couldn't wait to pick up a few and see how they compared.
The Body Shop Bath Bombs Review
I only managed to pick two up last time I placed a little order but they do quite a few other scents too which I'm definitely going to look out for in future. This time I managed to get hold of the Candied Plum Bath Bomb and the Pink Grapefruit Bath Bubble.

Candied Plum - Starting with the Candied Plum bath bomb, I was honestly so impressed. Though it's far smaller than usual bath bombs you might find, the impact in the water was pretty much the same I'd say. As soon as it the water, it started fizzing away releasing a beautiful purple colour. It didn't have any pretty patterns or any other colours emerging from it which I've found with other bath bombs in the past but the purple was beautiful and though it might not have picked up on it very well on the photo, the colour just intensified as it went on. It also had a beautiful sweet scent which filled the bathroom and it definitely didn't fizzle away quickly which I was happy about.
The Body Shop Bath Bombs Review
Pink Grapefruit - It's not often I use bubble bars anymore, I always tend to reach for bath bombs but I was really excited to see what this was like. As soon as I took it out of the packaging, the strong grapefruit scent hit me and like with the candied plum, it completely filled the bathroom. It was gorgeous! Grapefruit is one of my favourite ranges from The Body Shop anyway as it's just so refreshing. I held this under the tap and let it slowly break down and fill the tub with a lovely pastel pink. I ended up using this all in one bath but I definitely think I could have got another use out of it. This definitely didn't create the brightest colour ever but the pastel pink was so pretty. The scent alone is a winner for me but for the price you can't go wrong with this!
The Body Shop Bath Bombs Review
The Body Shop Bath Bombs Review
Overall I'm so impressed with the bath bombs I've tried so far from The Body Shop. The price is just brilliant, and whilst they are only small, I don't think you miss out on anything that you get with bigger and more expensive ones from other brands. I'm definitely going to pick more up next time as they're so handy to have in for a little pamper evening. I also think they make great stocking fillers for Christmas or as little extras to throw into someones birthday presents!

Have you tried any of the bath bombs from The Body Shop?

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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Broadway To West End Transfers I'd Love To Happen

A few weeks ago I wrote a post all about why I love musical theatre so much and it got such a good response. I was so nervous to publish it because it's one of those things that I find not everyone gets and I just didn't want it to look weird, but as I said in the post I want to start blogging more about the things I genuinely love and the things that make me, me and musicals is one of those things. So I'm going to be posting more musical type posts when I feel like it and today I wanted to talk about a few of the Broadway to West End transfers I'd love to happen. We have so many incredible shows in the West End, but so many have opened up on Broadway over the last few years that I would just love to see doing well over here too.
Broadway To West End Transfers I'd Love To Happen

Waitress

I first listened to this soundtrack last year and I soon got hooked. It's done so well in America and I can totally see why. It's inspired by the Adrienne Shelly film of the same name, and it tells the story of Jenna a waitress and pie maker, in an unhappy life, dreaming of more. A baking contest nearby and the town's new doctor could give her a new start in life though, but as with anything it's not all as straight forward as you might hope. With music by Sara Bareilles, everything about the show just seems brilliant. I could listen to the soundtrack over and over, and ever since that first time I've been desperate to see it on stage. There have been some incredible actresses playing the role of Jenna in the Broadway version and I personally think Rachel Tucker who I saw in Wicked, would be perfect for when it eventually does come to the West End.

Dear Evan Hansen

I actually discovered this around the same time as Waitress and for a long time I just alternated between the two. The first song I heard from this was Waving Through A Window and it instantly resonated with me. As Evan suffers with anxiety and that is something he struggles with throughout the show, and sort of is the reason for some of the decisions he makes, I just felt like I could totally relate to it. I mentioned in a previous musical post that if you know anyone with anxiety, it's a song you have to listen to as I feel it explains a little what it's like for that person with anxiety and how lonely it can be sometimes. I've read quite a few posts from other people who have said how brilliant it is that there is a show like this highlighting the struggle of anxiety and what it sometimes feels like for those with it, and I totally agree. Just from the soundtrack I wouldn't say it's particularly the most uplifting musical ever but an important one and there are some amazing songs included.

Frozen

Whilst this isn't my favourite ever Disney film, though it's not too far from the top of the list, I would absolutely love to see the story come to life on stage. It's doing so incredibly well on Broadway at the moment and I can't see it being too long before it comes to London. I mean, it's Frozen! Hearing Let It Go live would just be amazing, even now when I watch the film it still gives me goosebumps when it starts.

Mean Girls

This has only recently opened on Broadway but it's another one that is completely smashing it and given the success of the film, surely it's going to come over here too? From what I've read online quite a few people seem to think it's going to be here sooner rather than later and I am so excited for it. It's one of those films that I can watch over and over, and never get bored and I'd just love to see how they've managed to turn it into a stage show. Some of the songs are so catchy!

Are there any shows you'd love to see on the West End?

Similar posts - My favourite musical soundtracks // Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre review

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