Wednesday, 30 December 2020

My Top 5 of 2020 - The Things That Got Me Through A Tough Year

 I'm not going to lie, this post is totally inspired by the Zoella team's top 5 blog post which was shared just recently but as soon as I read it, I knew I had to do something similar. 2020 has been awful, or at the least the majority of it has but I think where we can, it's important to look for the positives. This was still a year of our life and whilst I'm sure it's not one a lot of us will want to look back on often, I still think it would be nice to pick a few things that got us through. I'm going to share my favourite tv show, book, memory, hobby and album of 2020 and I'd love to know what yours were too!Doughnuts on a plate on a pink fabric background

TV Show
It's got to be Normal People. This was released during the first lockdown and honestly it was the thing that got me through those first few weeks! I've read the book too and whilst I enjoyed that, there's just something special about the TV adaptation. The casting of Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell was just perfect in every way and the chemistry was insane. They brought the story to life in a way I don't think anyone else could have and I still think about some of the scenes. To me, Normal People just sums up that first love feeling and I think Sally Rooney has got the intensity and all the feelings that come with that spot on. I've already re-watched this since Spring and I know I'll go back to it time and time again.Normal People TV show

Book
I'll be sharing my top 5 books of 2020 next week so I'll keep this short but my favourite book of the year has to be The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It had sat on my bookshelf for months and months but after seeing it all over Instagram at one point, I finally started it and I pretty much read it in one go. It was like a movie playing out in my head. I could picture every single little thing and the characters felt so real to me. It genuinely felt like Evelyn Hugo could be in Hollywood right now living this life. Just incredible.The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid book held up in front of the Christmas tree

Memory
Despite how crap 2020 has been, I do have some really fond memories, some from before lockdown was even a thing and some from the months where we actually got our lives back a little. One of the main things from 2020 I think about often is when we went to London for my birthday in January. We saw Les Mis and it was incredible. I miss the theatre so much and will never take it for granted again. Another memory that stands out is when we went to Oxford in September. We seemed to have a few months over Summer and Autumn where things weren't too bad and we all started to get out there a little bit again. It was the most beautiful city and I can't wait to go back as soon as we can. I think as we hadn't done anything like that for so long, it felt even more special.Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre

Hobby
I've kind of turned my hobby of baking into a job now with Bear's Brownies and More but it's something I did a lot of in the first lockdown and the months that followed. There was so little to do so I just found myself in the kitchen all the time baking or cooking and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Who knows if without that I'd have decided to start my own business? Also I don't know if it really counts as a hobby but I became a bit obsessed with TikTok earlier this year and it's actually not even funny the amount of time I can pass just scrolling through now.Mint Aero brownies

Album
I saw & Juliet last September in Manchester and I LOVED it more than I can put into words so ever since I've endlessly played the cast recording. I listened to it a lot in Spring and Summer, meaning it was pretty much the only thing in my Spotify wrapped but I'm still not bored of it and don't think I ever could be. It makes me miss theatre even more when I listen to it but I know that first show back which I really hope to be there for in London is going to be electric. This has definitely got me through some down days.& Juliet cast recording

I'd love to know what makes your top 5 this year! Do you have a favourite memory from 2020 despite everything?

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Monday, 21 December 2020

My 2020 Reading Challenge - Update #5

Books marked * were either sent via Netgalley to review or as PR sample but all views are my own

 Finally, it's time for my last reading update of the year! Kinda scary to think we're already at the end of 2020. Throughout the year I've been updating you on how I've been getting on with my goal of reading 100 books in 2020 and whilst at times I didn't think I'd do it, I've just finished book 102! It's not been too long since I last shared a reading update but if you're new to my blog, I basically share a little review of each book I've read every few months and I personally find it's a nice way to look back at the end of the year when I choose my five favourites and it hopefully give you some recommendations too! So, I better get started. Here are the books I've read in the run up to Christmas.Stack of books held up in front of a bookshelf

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh - ⭐⭐⭐ 

I was so excited to read this after seeing so much about it online but it did also make me worry that I'd go into it with too high expectations! I was so intrigued by the story, two sisters both blaming one another for their fathers murder and I found myself going back and forth constantly over who I believed. I was also really intrigued by Eddie, one of the sister's lawyers. I'm not usually a big fan of crime fiction and I can't say that this has made me want to read much more of it but there's no denying this is brilliantly written and such a fascinating premise.


The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt* - ⭐⭐ 

I shared a review of this book once I'd read it so I won't go into it too much but on the whole, I enjoyed it. It's the first LGBT book I've read and I really enjoyed finding out more about Sophie and Nora's past relationship whilst hoping they'd end up together all the years later. It did take me quite a while to get into it though and I can't say I loved the majority of the characters.


The Split by Sharon Bolton* - ⭐⭐ 

I was a little disappointed with this. It had some really tense moments throughout and I genuinely did not have a clue what this was going to be about or where it was going to go but I just found it so hard to picture anything that was happening. It was SO different to any book I've read and just felt really overcomplicated at times.


This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I absolutely loved this. I needed a really good romance and this was exactly that. Very much like One Day In December, it had a cosy festive feel to it at times, it had so many likeable characters and I just adored Minnie and Quinn, I felt the chemistry between them and rooted for them right from the very first moment they met. I'd love to see this as a film one day.This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens held up in front of Christmas tree

The Silent House by Nell Pattison - ⭐⭐ 

I had been waiting to read The Silent House for SO long. I went into it with high hopes. It's a story about a deaf family waking up to find their young daughter has been murdered in the night so I expected it to be very morbid and uncomfortable to read at times. I was just generally disappointed with it though to be honest. It never felt that tense, I thought it was quite predictable from the start who could and couldn't be trusted and nothing ever really wowed me throughout.


Pretending by Holly Bourne - ⭐⭐⭐ 

I never know quite how to feel about books by Holly Bourne. I have enjoyed the ones I've read so far and there's no denying Pretending is brilliantly written and focuses on some major topics for women but I can't say that I loved it. I'm not even particularly sure why, I feel really mixed about it.


All I Want For Christmas by Joanna Bolouri* - ⭐⭐⭐ 

This was the perfect Christmas read! A really fun, light-hearted book with so many funny moments throughout. Full of likeable characters that felt very believable and I really enjoyed that it was all Nick's perspective throughout, offering a male's point of view in a romance which often doesn't happen.


Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

As soon as it was announced Stephanie Meyer had finally written Twilight from Edward's perspective, I knew I was going to have to get my hands on it. I realllllllyyyy enjoyed reading this and I loved being able to know how Edward was feeling as up until now we've only ever had Bella's point of view. That being said I do think I'd have loved it more had I been about 14 or 15 again. I'll always love the Twilight books and films (in fact I went and watched the films again after reading this) but it's definitely not quite the same at 25 as it was when I was a teenager. 


The Secret by Rhonda Byrne - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
I've seen so many people rave about this for years and just after starting Bear's Brownies & More, I thought it was finally the right time to get the book for myself. I've become really interested in the law of attraction and manifestation this year so I think I went into it with the right mindset and therefore really liked what I was reading. I can see why it might not be for everyone and there were some sections I felt a bit unsure about but generally it made me feel so good after reading it every time I picked it up. I found I was in a far more positive mindset, I felt so much more motivated and I genuinely think it's part of why Bear's Brownies has done as well as it has since I launched. Maybe that's crazy but I personally feel I've been putting positivity 'out there' into the universe and it's been rewarding me. It might not be for everyone but I know I'll be going back to this time and time again.


I Found You by Lisa Jewell - ⭐⭐⭐ 
I Found You was a classic Lisa Jewell book, a really intriguing story that gives very little away at the beginning, fresh characters that you genuinely care for and short and snappy chapters making it a breeze to read through. It's not my favourite of Lisa's though.  I Found You by Lisa Jewell book held up in front of bookshelf

The Prison Doctor: Women Inside by Dr Amanda Brown - ⭐⭐⭐ 
I read The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown last year but had no idea there was a follow up book until recently. As I enjoyed the first book so much, I was really excited to find out more about Amanda's work in Bronzefield Prison but whilst reading this, it just felt a bit flat. It was nice to get a bit more background about Amanda's life but a lot of the stories of the prisoners were the same and by the end I just thought was another book needed? 

Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - ⭐⭐⭐ 
I'm really not sure what to say about this! It felt very current since the MeToo movement given it focuses on allegations of sexual harassment and men in power abusing their position and I was definitely intrigued from the very first chapter because of that. I thought one of the twists, though a little predictable was excellent. The ending felt quite rushed but I'm excited to see the Netflix adaptation with Michelle Dockery and Sienna Miller.

The Push by Ashley Audrain* - ⭐⭐⭐ 
Where to even start with this? The Push grabs you at the very first chapter and doesn't let go. I flew through it! I absolutely loved how short and snappy the chapters were and because of that I felt so invested in the story. I'll be sharing a review of this in January so don't want to give too much away but I thought it was such a thought-provoking look at Motherhood and the relationship between a mother and a daughter.


Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft* -  
A really heartwarming read. I loved getting to know Hannah and Nico and I loved that Sue has touched on some tough subjects throughout, eating disorders and addiction to mention a few. It didn't feel particularly festive though.


Two Wrongs by Rebecca Reid* -  
I absolutely loved Rebecca's last book, Truth Hurts so I was so excited to read Two Wrongs. This was quite a slow burn at the start but at one point it seemed to really step up a gear and things got far more interesting. I was really intrigued by all of the characters and I couldn't have predicted the ending but I do think I prefer Truth Hurts over this. 


The Open House by Sam Carrington* -  
I definitely feel I'm in the minority with not loving The Open House. It's got great reviews on Netgalley but it just wasn't for me. At the time of reading this I felt I was being particularly picky with books so maybe that's why! It seemed to takes ages to pick up the pace and by the time it did, we were near the end and it all started to feel rushed. I didn't like ANY of the characters and just found it all overly confusing at times.

Last Christmas by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson - 
I was quite disappointed with this to be honest. Last Christmas features stories from a range of people from those working in soup kitchens in Covent Garden to actors and celebrities like Meryl Streep, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman and Richard Ayoade. Each person shares what Christmas means to them and whilst I liked each essay being so different from the other, it kind of left me feeling a bit sad by the end! It definitely made me realise how lucky a lot of us are compared to some but I didn't find it to be the uplifting read it's sold to be! Emilia Clarke's story in particular about the last christmas with her dad was my favourite though.

The First Time We Met by Jo Lovett - ⭐⭐⭐ 
Ahh I absolutely adored Izzy and Sam. This was just the book I needed in the run upto Christmas. Full of charm, incredibly heartwarming and some of the loveliest characters in a book I've read for a long time. The story is very much along the lines of books like One Day In December so if you like a festive romance like that, you'll love this.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss - ⭐⭐ 
I can't say this felt this was particularly festive despite it's title but it is a lovely romance you can get lost in. It didn't wow me but it had some lovely moments throughout and I liked the characters.The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss held up in front of Christmas tree

The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland -  
I thought this was so predictable. From the first few chapters I kind of guessed where it could go so towards the end when what I expected to happen, happened, it wasn't a real shock. It had some good moments throughout and it was definitely tense in parts but nothing really stood out to me as a wow moment.

Life in Pieces by Dawn O'Porter - 
I usually really enjoy anything by Dawn O'Porter and whilst this is different from her other books as it's more of a diary entry than anything, as it was only 99p on Kindle I thought I might aswell give it a read. There were some moments throughout that I could relate to given we've all been in and out of lockdown this year and it's been hard for everyone no matter what our circumstances. There were funny moments and there were sad moments too, particularly whenever Dawn spoke about her late friend Caroline and I really felt like I got to know her a little bit. I can't say I LOVED it but I'm glad I read it.

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews - 

I always tend to enjoy something by Carole Matthews. Whilst this isn't your typical Christmas romance, I still really liked it. It's not my favourite of Carole's and it's definitely a little unique in where the story goes but it's nice to have another book of hers ticked off my list.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling - 
I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, I watch the films every year around Christmas but whilst I remember reading some of the books when I was younger, it had been a long time so I thought it was about time I start them all again. It was so nice to get a bit more detail in certain parts that we don't get given in the films and it really did give me that magical feeling. 

So, that's my final reading update of 2020! I'd love to know if you've read any of these books and what your thoughts are too. I'm signing off now for Christmas and will be back in the New Year. I know under the circumstances it's probably not going to be the Christmas any of us hoped for or we're planning but I hope it's still special for all of you regardless. Fingers crossed for a much better year in 2021!

Merry Christmas xx

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Thursday, 17 December 2020

An End Of Year Look At My 2020 Blogging Goals

 Following on from a post a few weeks ago where I shared how I'd got on with my personal goals for 2020, today I'm talking about the blogging goals I set myself. Back in January I was so motivated for a great year of blogging and set myself 5 goals that I really wanted to achieve so now we're almost at the end of what has been a pretty horrendous year, I thought it was about time I look back and see how I actually got on with everything. I'm not gonna lie, I don't think these ones have gone brilliantly but I actually don't mind!Woods and trees in Autumn

Finally reach 5000 Twitter followers
I don't know why I try setting myself goals with Twitter because I just never seem to grow much on there. After being stuck around the same amount of followers for ages, I really wanted to finally reach 5000 this year but alas, it was not meant to be. To be fair I haven't tried that much. I've definitely been a lot more active on there over the last few months and I have noticed my followers creeping up recently so I have hit 4000 but I'm not that fussed anymore. I'm kind of done with focusing on the numbers so much, it takes the enjoyment out of blogging for me.


Up my Instagram game
When I set myself this goal I didn't even really know exactly what I meant, just that I wanted something to change. My followers had been stagnant for ages so I never intended to really try and grow it but I wanted to change my photography at least and I do feel I've done that a little this year. Really, I've just been sharing what I want. I've moved away from flatlays because I just don't enjoy setting them up and I don't have an endless amount of products to talk about and I just wanted to get the fun back with it. I've stopped caring about the likes as much, I've been posting as and when I feel like it and I've not forced myself to post often if I didn't have anything to share and I do enjoy it much more. I do tend to post more on stories now and obviously I'm working more on the Bear's Brownies and More instagram so my own Instagram feed just isn't really a priority anymore.


Earn a regular income from blogging
2020 has been a very up and down year in terms of blogging opportunities. I personally really noticed a dip in what work was out there around the time Covid started and then with lockdown understandably there wasn't as much around (or at least for me anyway) and it's only in the last few months I've noticed it picking up again. I couldn't say I've earnt a regular income from blogging this year, far from it actually, but like with Twitter, I kind of didn't try for a lot of it too. I shared some thoughts about blogging not long ago but in short I fell out of love with it and I just didn't have that passion in me anymore to keep going with it like I had before. 2020 has made me re-evaluate A LOT of stuff and blogging has changed for me. I needed a new challenge and something different to do everyday. Lockdown inspired me to get creative with baking again and obviously I then started my own brownie business just two months ago and that soon became my only goal and focus. So far it's going really well and whilst I'll still be blogging for fun, I can't say that I'm particularly bothered about making money from it anymore!


Get organised & find a routine
I definitely feel like I've become more organised with blogging again this year. Towards the end of last year I got myself in such a rut with leaving writing blog posts until the last minute, not posting when I'd planned and just generally being very dis-organised which isn't really like me, I'm a bit of a Monica so this year I really wanted to get on the right track again. Whilst I do have days sometimes that I plan to post and then don't, it's now because I'm either too busy with Bear's Brownies or because I have plans and that's life really isn't it? I'm proud that more often than not I've stuck to my schedule of 2 posts a week and I always tend to have at least a few posts ready in advance. I'm doing better than I was last year!


Share more book reviews 
I've thoroughly enjoyed blogging more about books this year and I think I've shared a really good variety. I only tend to blog about books I've really loved or felt passionate about which is why sometimes there can be big gaps between each review but I definitely think I've achieved this goal! Some of my favourite reviews from 2020 are The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, So Lucky and Normal People.

I might not have achieved every blogging goal I set myself this year and I can't say I'll set myself many next year but I'm quite happy with what I did do. Aswell as starting my own business and doing everything that entails, I've still kept up with blogging, I've made my Instagram more me again and just got through 2020. I think that's something to celebrate!

Did you set yourself any blogging goals this year? How have you done with yours?

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Tuesday, 15 December 2020

The Christmas Films You Need To Watch This December

 I know I talk about films a lot on my blog, sharing Disney+ picks most recently and of course many Netflix recommendations but to be honest, there's not been a great deal to do recently apart from binge-watch boxsets, have many a movie night in and read. Or that's at least what I've been doing in lockdown 2.0. I can't say I'm feeling quite as festive as I usually would be at this time of year but I'm trying my best to get into the spirit of things. Each Christmas I love nothing more than a cosy night in with the duvet, the christmas tree lights lit and a hot chocolate and of course a cheesy Christmas film. I've shared lots of my favourite festive films over the years (best believe I'll be watching Love Actually for the 17th millionth time & crying at THAT Emma Thompson scene) but this year I wanted to share some of the new movies that have come out over the last year that I think you NEED to watch this December. We all need a little joy right now and these films are sure to bring that to you.collage with Christmas film posters

Last Christmas
George and I always try to get a cinema date in around Christmas (very sad that won't be happening this year) and last year's film was Last Christmas. It was the first film that popped into my mind when planning this post. To me, it's exactly what a Christmas film should be. It's funny, it's romantic, it's London at Christmas which is just the best and it's the perfect movie to really get you feeling festive. Emilia Clarke plays Katrina, an aspiring singer who's had a tough few years. Working as an Elf in Covent Garden, her life changes when she meets Tom but is it all too good to be true? It's quite emotional at times and just as much about Katrina finding herself and getting her life back on track as it is about romance so something everyone can enjoy in my opinion.Last Christmas gif

The Princess Switch: Switched Again
Okay I'm not gonna act like this is anything other than pure cheese but some days that's just what you need. The Princess Switch: Switched Again is the sequel to the 2018 film The Princess Switch starring Vanessa Hudgens so it will obviously make more sense if you watch that before this. In this, Vanessa Hudgens plays 3 characters so it's definitely a little confusing at times but actually quite funny and really festive. The sequel sees Duchess Margaret (just one of Vanessa's characters) unexpectedly inherit the throne to Montenaro. Netflix are fab for always coming out those Christmas films that really you should probably hate but actually end up loving.The Princess Switch: Switched again movie poster

Write Before Christmas
I first watched this last year just after it was released but this year it seems to be playing quite often on Christmas24 so plenty of opportunity to catch it. This is definitely one of the better films I've seen on Christmas24 in recent years and it has Chad Michael Murray in it so what's not to love? In Write Before Christmas, Jessica decides to send Christmas cards out to 5 people who've had an impact on her life, one of them being a famous singer. By doing this she meets photographer Luke and there's an instant connection. It's so heartwarming, has the cutest dog in it and really gave me that festive feeling.
Write Before Christmas poster

Happiest Season 
As soon as I saw the trailer for this just a few months ago I knew I was going to love it. With a cast including Kristen Stewart, Dan Levy and Aubrey Plaza, it was always going to be good. Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis play girlfriends Abby and Harper. They head to Harper's parents for Christmas and Abby plans to propose but there's a problem. Harper hasn't come out to her parents yet and her family are complicated to say the least. It might not sound like the most christmassy film ever but it's got that cheesy, heartwarming feel we all love with a Christmas film. It's got some hilarious moments throughout (mainly because of Dan Levy let's be honest) and at the heart of it is a story that a lot of people can probably relate to. I loved it.Happiest Season Dan Levy gif

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
If you liked The Greatest Showman, I think you'll like Jingle Jangle. I had no idea this was a musical film until I started it but it works so well! Jingle Jangle is brand new to Netflix and stars Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key and Hugh Bonneville just to name a few people but the star of film has to be Madalen Mills as Journey. Jingle Jangle tells the story of a once joyful toy maker whose apprentice many years ago betrayed him and stole all of his inventions. His young granddaughter, Journey, arrives unexpectedly one Christmas and it turns out she's going to change both of their lives forever. It's a really charming film and the music is brilliant. A great one for a cosy Saturday night in with the family.Jingle Jangle gif

So that wraps up the 5 Christmas films I think you NEED to watch this December. I can't quite believe Christmas is less than two weeks away, how has that even happened?! 

Have you watched any of these festive films?

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Friday, 11 December 2020

3 Of The Best Chinese Meals You Can Try Cooking At Home*

 AD - This post is in collaboration with KMC Seasoning

Here on Food and Other Loves, we love our Chinese food! This cuisine always delivers on a variety of flavours and is a perfect treat when relaxing after a long day or a celebrating a special occasion. While you can't go wrong with a trip to the takeaway or a local Chinese restaurant, one of the best things about Chinese food is the fact that you can challenge yourself to re-create the dishes in the comfort of your own home. There are so many Chinese meals that you can choose from so whatever you or your family fancy, chances are you will find an option to suit.Chinese salt and pepper seasoning has become increasingly popular in the last few years, especially in Northern cities of the United Kingdom. This type of seasoning adds a bit of a kick to any cuisine and is popular with both local takeaways and homemade cooking. One of the most popular brands of salt and pepper seasoning is KMC seasoning. What started as an experiment in one man's home has turned into a foodie's dream. The seasoning combines a range of household ingredients, such as chilli, garlic and ginger, to create a simple solution for increasing flavour - all while making sure it remains healthy and nutritional.

KMC Seasoning have kindly provided us with this blog post where they have detailed three of the best Chinese meals that you can try cooking yourself at home. For a bit of extra taste and spice, all these dishes go well with salt and pepper seasoning!

Salt and Pepper Chips
We're going to start with one of the most popular items on any Chinese takeaway menu... salt and pepper chips! This dish always goes down a treat, especially for people who enjoy foods with a bit of a moderate to hot spice, and it's definitely an excellent recommendation for a hangover cure! At KMC Seasoning, we're regularly contacted by takeaways and restaurants who wish to use our seasoning to add a bit of extra taste and spice. To help you make your own meal at home, we've created our very own salt and pepper chips recipe. You really can't go wrong with it and it's probably one of the easiest Chinese fakeaways that you can make! First of all, you need to decide the type of potato-based chips that you prefer. It doesn't matter whether you choose traditional chips, skinny fries or wedges. Start by cooking the chips in the oven as specified by the manufacturer's packaging. You'll also want to sprinkle on a generous amount of KMC salt and pepper seasoning, and mix in with your fingers so that the chips are nicely seasoned. Make sure to turn the chips part way during cooking and if needed, add a little more seasoning. While the chips cook, chop a red chilli pepper, green pepper, red pepper, small onion and 3 spring onions into fine pieces. Fry these ingredients in a pan on a medium heat until they appear golden brown. When the chips are cooked, add them into the pan along with another dose of seasoning and toss the ingredients together. Congratulations, you've made your own salt and pepper chips!

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Next up on the list is an absolute favourite of ours and a regular choice when it comes to dining out! Sweet and sour chicken is a Chinese dish that offers a range of flavours such as crispy and tangy taste. Start your homemade preparation by slicing a selection of chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. You can then coat the chicken in ingredients which may include corn-starch, egg whites and salt. When the chicken is fried to the level of crispiness that you more prefer, you can begin to focus on the delicious sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is often made up of pineapple juice, salt, vinegar, brown sugar and ketchup. To round off the meal, you may wish to add in some pineapple chunks and chopped bell peppers. This dish is best served with fried rice and a portion of chips.

Chow Mein
If you ever mention Chinese cuisine to someone, one of the first things they will most likely think of is a noodle dish. Noodle-based meals are a very prominent part of what Asian cuisine typically offers. One of the most popular Chinese noodle dishes that you can enjoy is, of course, the classic chow mein. Chow mein meals always guarantee an explosion of tasty flavours and it can be a really healthy option. The perfect chow mein will usually feature a choice of meat, a vibrant selection of vegetables, any type of noodles and a savoury sauce. There isn't quite a standard way of making a chow mein. You have the option of picking and choosing ingredients as you see fit, as long as it still technically makes a chow mein meal! The process of cooking a chow mein dish involves using the stir fry technique which is relatively simple to master. You start by cutting your meat, which could be anything from chicken, pork, beef or even seafood. Cook the meat in a frying pan with a little bit of oil until you are happy that it has browned enough. You can then begin to add your vegetables, which can be prepared by yourself or by using a ready-made mix pack. Once the vegetables have mixed in nicely with the meat, add in your stir fry sauce. Again, you can either choose to make the sauce yourself or use a ready-made sauce from a popular brand such as Blue Dragon. Stir in the ingredients fully and process to add in your noodles, which could be any of ramen, instant or egg noodles. If required, add a small amount of water, and continue stirring and tossing the ingredients on a low heat. When you're happy that everything has mixed in fully, it's time to serve and tuck in!

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Friday, 4 December 2020

An End Of Year Look At My 2020 Personal Goals

 God I've been dreading doing an end of year update to my 2020 goals. I don't think the ones I'll be talking about today, my more personal goals, will be too bad, I do actually feel despite lockdown and the hell that 2020 has been, I've achieved quite a lot and really worked on myself but my blogging goals... yeah I'm not sure I'll have achieved many, if any of those. I'll be talking about those next Friday though so make sure you come back if you want to see how I got on. Anyway, let's see how I did with the personal goals I set myself at the start of the year.Bear sat on the settee, bunch of pink flowers held up next to him

Travel more
Great one to start on hey? Travel has been pretty limited for a lot of us this year so we definitely didn't get to go on the holidays we had planned in 2020. As much as I was gutted that we missed out on our anniversary trip to Amsterdam this Summer and our plans for this Christmas had to change, when we could get out again and it was safe to do so, we had a few UK city breaks instead and honestly I loved them SO much. In August we had a night in one of our favourite cities, York, and then in September we went to Oxford for a little break and both were amazing. Oxford was just absolutely stunning and I'm so glad we got to see so much of what the city has to offer. We had plans to go to Edinburgh this Christmas and I'm not gonna lie, I'm gutted we've had to cancel and if I think about it for too long I get emosh cos Christmas in Edinburgh just looks like a dream but fingers crossed it's not too long until we can re-book. I always appreciate any holidays or trips we go on but after 2020, I will never ever take anything like that for granted again.


Finally work on my anxiety
I actually think I dealt with things this year far better than I would have any other year. I can't say I'm over my anxiety, far from it, but I feel like I'm managing it much better. A few years ago when my anxiety was at its worst, lockdown would have floored me. All of our plans being cancelled, not being able to see people, no idea when any of it was going to end, I would have massively struggled and I honestly don't know how I'd have got out of bed. Luckily I feel far better than I did then so I think I dealt with lockdown and 2020 in general pretty well. I had my down days like I'm sure we all did but I got through it and I'm proud of that. I found positives in having all that time at home, I kept myself busy and I finally started working on ideas for my own baking business. Not gonna lie I found Lockdown 2.0 TOUGH but overall I feel like I had a bit of a breakthrough with my anxiety this year.


Read 100 books
This year so far I've managed to read 92 books. When I set myself a goal of reading 100 books, I wasn't sure if I'd do it a second year in a row but I just adore reading so it's not felt difficult at all. I had months where I read hardly anything then weeks where I very rarely didn't have a book in my hand so I've managed to get through quite a lot. I'm confident I'll hit my goal again by the end of the month but reading's supposed to be enjoyable so I'm not going to force myself to reach it.


Save, save, save
For me it feels a bit weird to talk about money right now when there's no denying lockdown and all that Covid brought with it, has had a devastating impact on a lot of people financially. Not to get too political but I dread to think about how many people have lost their job or business and many at probably the worst time of year, just before Christmas. George and I were really lucky that we could keep on adding to our savings throughout the year. As we weren't going out and doing anything (like everyone) we just put all our spare money into house savings and holidays funds (who knows when we'll get to go on them) and we've had a really good year of saving money. That being said though we now have the issue of the state the housing market is in at the moment. 10% deposits have pretty much disappeared (love that for me) so we're still saving and waiting it out and just hoping that 2021 is a much better year for everyone in every kind of way. I'd love to be writing a post like this next year in our new home and I do feel positive about it but we'll see.


Push myself more with cooking & baking
Well I think I can safely say I achieved this because I started my own baking business! I've been sharing recipes on my blog for years now so this year felt like the right time to actually do something with that and see where it takes me. I adore baking, I adore brownies so it made sense to start a brownie business and I'm just absolutely loving it. I had no idea how it was going to go and if it would be received well but I'm so proud! I've been baking most days since the launch, I've got so many ideas for the future and I just hope it continues like this. If you want to know more about Bear's Brownies & More or maybe even want to treat yourself, just head to my Etsy!


Start to take proper care of my skin
I've never been one to try out loads of different skincare products, spend loads of money on it and I've probably never really taken care of my skin like I should but I did get better with it in 2020. I've been using and loving the Vitamin E range from The Body Shop for most of this year. It works perfectly with my skin and whilst it's not cheap, it doesn't break the bank either and for me that's all I need. I can't say I'm an angel with my skincare routine everyday but I'm getting there and I have noticed a difference in my skin this year.

I'm pretty happy with what I achieved this year despite everything and I actually quite liked looking back over 2020 and seeing what I managed to achieve! It might have been a pretty crap year overall but I definitely can find some positives and I'm sure it's one we'll all remember for a long time.

Did you set yourself any goals this year?

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