Chang Made – Greeting Card Review

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Things have been a little crazy lately, seeing as Christmas is practically tomorrow (sorta’). Been frantically getting ready for the festivities (a WHOLE week of lie-ins and food…thanks Jesus) and one of my favourite parts of the holiday is sending cards. When I went travelling, I bored my family and friends to death with my postcards as I personally love taking it old school. And yes, the irony of me telling you about that on my blog is not lost.

If you’re in need of a pretty, personalised Christmas (or any other occasion, for that matter) card, then I really need to point you in the direction of my friend Zara. We met at uni and I instantly loved her, thanks to her bubbly personality, kind soul and creativity. Her latest project of handmade cards pretty much sums her up – cute, quirky and 100% original. Huge thanks to her for the header picture for this post!

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Here’s just a taster of some of the stuff she has on offer. She’s really open to suggestions and requests, too. You can get your hands on one for £2.50 (£3 with delivery). Simply drop her an email at info@zarachang.com with your order! Oh, and quote LAURALOVES1 in your email for 3 cards for the price of 2! You can also check out her blog here. (Do it. It’s full of pretty things).

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Cinnamon Soho: Afternoon Tea Review

Saturday evening I met up with my beautiful best friend Leanna and we headed to Soho. It was her birthday last week but as I was in Vienna, I needed to make up for it. I suggested a boozy afternoon tea (obviously) and sent her a bunch of options over text. Like me, she just looked at the prices and the drinks – priorities.

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We headed to Cinnamon Soho, which was in a nice little spot round the corner from Carnaby Street. We were too busy chatting away to take much notice of what was going on around us. It was only when we sat down, looked around and actually clocked the menu that we realised it was an Indian restaurant. Leanna was in her element as it’s her favourite cuisine, and I was happy enough to see a good veggie range on the menu.

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The bellinis came out first and they were cinnamon flavour. They were surprisingly tasty and definitely set the tone of the meal – traditional but with a quirky, eastern twist.

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After a short wait (it was actually quite nice to not feel rushed) the waiter brought us our food. We had no idea what we were eating as we’d not paid much attention to the menu (did I mention the bellinis?) so this is actually a pretty useless review, but it was all very tasty. It didn’t look a lot either, but it was really filling. My favourite part was the spicy scones which basically tasted like naan bread.

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All in all, it wasn’t the most fancy or sophisticated afternoon tea I’ve ever had, but it was certainly very interesting and tasty. And at £35 for two including a cocktail each (and tea) it was really good value for money. (Though it is worth mentioning if you’re a vegan and a tea fan – they didn’t have any dairy free milk). The staff were attentive and the surroundings were nice enough, so yeah…I’d recommend a visit!

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We then carried on the cocktails at a couple of other places, including Shotgun (amazing but not veggie friendly in the slightest), and Lil’s – ideal for a few relaxed drinks in the heart of Soho. We also had a wander looking at all the pretty lights now Christmas seems to have arrived in London!

If you have any afternoon tea/cocktail bar suggestions in London I’d love to hear them, so please send them my way!

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Weekend in Vienna!

There’s not much that makes me happier than travelling. Last weekend myself and my lovely friend Caitlin headed off to Vienna and had an absolute blast.

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Here we are looking VERY merry, after taking full advantage of the free drinks on our British Airways flight.

I’d always wanted to go to Austria and had been dying to book it for so long. Our plans (like most of mine, it seems) started in a bar in London, and then two months later there we were…off on our adventure.

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I was in charge of the boring things like the flights, the transfers, insurance, train stuff etc, and Caitlin got the fun job of picking the hotel (not sure how we worked that one out). But dayyyum did she deliver. She chose the 25hours Hotel Wien, and it was by far the coolest hotel I have EVER stayed in. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. The staff were great, it was really clean, majorly central and oh wait…LOOK AT IT…

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So yeah, she did pretty good. But hey, I got us there AND back. AND made sure we were insured while we did it. Rock and roll…

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We only had two days there, so we didn’t hang about. We aimed to cram as much into our days as possible, starting with an early (and boozy) breakfast. We stumbled upon this really cute place called Burg.ring1 and loved it so much we went both days. They do an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for €20, though we stuck to smaller stuff and cocktails, naturally. The food and drinks were amazing and really reasonable, and it had a great atmosphere. Definitely recommend it if you’re in Vienna and want a nice, relaxed eat.

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Here’s a seductive close-up of our Strawberry Spritzers. Top Vienna tip: spritzers are a really cheap (and bloody great) alternative to cocktails/wine.

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Since our hotel was so central, we decided to see how we got on exploring the city by foot and I’m glad we opted for this over a bus tour, for example. In terms of architecture, I think it’s my favourite city I’ve been to. I appreciate pretty architecture, but felt like some of the buildings here were on another level. The details and sheer size of them were incredible. These were some of my favourite finds…

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I could keep going but I think I proved my point.

As I’ve said about a million times before on this blog (sorry), I often judge a place by it’s food. I have a sweet tooth so couldn’t wait to try a true Viennese staple – Sacher Torte. We went to Hotel Sacher to try the original, and best.

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It was definitely worth the wait. The demo videos showing how they made it were basically pornographic. INCREDIBLE.

As well as eating and drinking a lot, we also thought we better take in some of the city’s culture. Caitlin and I originally met in our philosophy A Level class, so couldn’t resist a visit the the Freud museum, which was full of his delightful quotes…

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We also visited the Mozart museum, which was much more up my street. It was incredible to see the rooms in which he’d written some of his most iconic symphonies.

It seemed as though the city was just about preparing for Christmas, and if we’d literally gone a week later it would have been in full swing. That was a bit of a shame, but we got to see a bit of the markets, at least. I also chose my advent calendar for the year, so if someone could buy me that, that’d be ace.

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So that was my weekend in Vienna! I have a million more photos (mostly of food and drink) that I may do another post with, but hopefully that gives you an idea of what we got up to. If you’ve been, I’d love to know what you thought!

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Death Cab for Cutie Gig Review, Birmingham

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Our melody softly soaring through my atmosphere…

After a beast of a train journey from London – had to stand for an hour…ace – it’s pretty fair to say I wasn’t in the best of moods. But then we walked in to Birmingham’s o2 Academy literally to ‘The Ghosts of Beverly Drive’ and my friend Alex headed straight to the bar to get me a vodka (a wise move). Everything changed. You can blame the cheap, nasty, watered-down vodka if you like – hey, you wouldn’t be the first – but the atmosphere was electric. I still think there is something so special about seeing a band live that you’ve grown up listening to. Legal drink in hand, unlike the millions we had whilst listening to them back then. The nostalgia continued with ‘Crooked Teeth’, and as Ben Gibbard’s shoulder’s dipped with the line ‘I built you a home in my heart, with rotten wood, that decayed from the start’, you know it means as more to them now as it ever did.

It’s been a hell of a year for the band too, with Chris Walla leaving the band shortly after leading guitar and production on their latest album – Kintsugi. Named after the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold, the connotations ring heavy with Walla’s demise and the ending of Gibbard’s marriage to Zooey Deschanel. The name and thematic value was also apparent throughout the set list which was a strong mix of old and new.

Gibbard slayed us with a story about how he accidentally knocked into a 12 year old Brummie kid who proceeded to spew profanities at him. Apparently he admired his no-nonsense Birmingham spirit (let’s face it…arrogance). Damn straight.

The encore was one of the most special moments I’ve ever witnessed at a gig. Gibbard came out alone and stunned us with a flawless ‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’. The entire crowd was singing every word with him, and yes, a lot of sickening couples were groping each other throughout, but it’s one of those songs that means so much to different people. I raised my glass to one friend in particular.

They left the stage with a moving and humble ‘thanks’, and I’m going to leave you with the third song from their encore – ‘Marching Bands of Manhattan’. Enjoy.

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Hipsters and Hoxton…Halloween ’15

My first Halloween in London certainly didn’t disappoint. I’m even experiencing some serious post-Halloween blues and counting down to the next one.

Due to going away next weekend (Vienna, if you were mildly interested), I couldn’t really spend much on my outfit, so was a standard, unexciting cat. But I bloody love a wig, so I was happy enough.

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There I am, looking all catty and happy-drunk.

After a fair few rounds of Cards Against Humanity with Caitlin’s housemates – who I’d only met about half an hour before – the drinks were flowing nicely. (If you’ve not played the game before like I hadn’t, it’s basically deliciously offensive, creepy and awkward. So everything you want from a card game).

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We then trekked it to The Macbeth in Hoxton for their Cave Club night. There’s me and Ollie DEFINITELY NOT drinking on the tube, especially after the TFL man told us not to. Ommmm.

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Here’s me and Caitlin absolutely loving life. It was so much fun, despite it clearly being a huge hipster hangout. I’m a massive fan of The Mighty Boosh and it all it reminded me of was ‘The Party’ episode. So much so I was kinda’ waiting to get offered poppers by Tony Harrison all night.

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Here’s a really terrible photo of the place, but at least it sort of shows you the vibe. IMG_8180

…and here’s a terrible drunken photo of four of us…

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…and here’s a pumpkin, ‘cus ya know…Halloween.

So yeah, it was great! 🙂 What did you get up to?

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Happy Halloween!!

 
Halloween is pretty much my favourite night of the year, and I’ll be spending this one in London!

Off to go get ready (yes this early) for the Goo Goo Muck night at The Macbeth in Hoxton.  Dress code? Motorcycle gangs from outer space. (So obviously I’m going as a cat. Don’t judge. I’m poor. Ok, you can judge a little. I would). 

Will post about it tomorrow if I survive the copious amount of spooky shots we’re going to down.

Partttaaaay!

What’re you up to? 🙂 x  

Handling your Shit when you’re an Anxious Mess

I am in the middle of what feels like a 60th quarter life crisis. I’m also writing this on a jam-packed train in the middle of two people with personal space/boundary issues…but that’s a different kind of crisis.

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I feel like I keep reaching (and swiftly passing) the points in my life where I thought I’d have all my shit together by now. Instead of a series of grown-up successes, it kinda’ feels like I’m moving from one disaster to the next.

I could sit here and be all philosophical and pretend that it’s actually effing fantastic, and that’s it’s all part of the ‘journey’. OR I could quietly remind myself that I spent the majority of my philosophy lessons day dreaming about which hair style would look best on my bald lecturer, or craving a cigarette. (A filthy habit that I gave up long ago, don’t worry mom – we’ve been through this).

So maybe I should think of a new tactic or coping mechanism. I could list reasons why shit could be worse:

1. I could be on fire.

2. My dad could have found out that he was my dad on Jeremy Kyle.

3. Vodka could contain meat.

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Or I could take a stab at optimism. Not easy for a depressed, anxiety-ridden nightmare with a life-long streak of bad luck. But hey – I’m open minded.

I have a a lot to be happy, grateful and dare I say it…proud of. And I am. And that’s the problem with mental health issues – it’s hard to understand why I’m not handling my shit when I’m not on fire. Though I guess in a way, it feels like I am.

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Ok so I searched ‘shit got deep’ on Giphy.com and this was the outcome. I’m not even going to question it. Just gonna’ use it and move on.

It’s hard to not put pressure on yourself. The amount of people I know around my age with problems like anxiety is enough of a reason to be anxious in the first place. We’re constantly told what we should be doing, what we should look like when we’re doing it, and who we should be doing it with. No wonder we’re all losing our shit.

A wise friend just told me (over some noodles, sat on a curb in front of Leicester Square station…where all the magic happens) that the only thing we should compare ourselves to is ourselves. And he’s right. Depression and anxiety are bitches, and they’re not easier to cope with by freaking out about who we should be, and what people think.

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My shit is by no means handled, and it most likely never will be, but these teeny little revelations make things a little easier…on occasion. Oh and realising that I really do have some incredible people in my life.

Woah…so who’d have thought it – blogs aren’t all just for lipstick and quinoa reviews after all…

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