When I spotted The Christmas Tag over at Sophia’s blog, I just knew I had to take part. I’m a huge fan of quizzes like this as it is (thanks to being a former Myspace emo gal!) and a Christmas one just seems so fun. So obviously today’s post is going to be a little more lighthearted!

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | The Christmas Tag

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE?
There are so many, it’s very hard to narrow them down! The Grinch (the one with Jim Carrey of course!), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Scrooged are three of my favourites, most of which I grew up enjoying. I have a soft spot for Jingle All The Way too, but my ultimate favourite has to be It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s a total classic, it’s my Dad’s favourite and I have fond memories of always watching it with my parents when I was younger.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A WHITE CHRISTMAS?
I remember it snowing once or twice on Christmas Day when I was younger, but other than that, I mostly remember it snowing in the run up to Christmas or after. I used to often get caught in the snow when taking a coach home from Sunderland for Christmas!

WHERE DO YOU USUALLY SPEND YOUR HOLIDAY?
Always at home. I can’t ever imagine the day I don’t..!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS SONG?
Again, I have loads. I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter by Connie Francis is a big favourite because it’s just so happy and upbeat, but Have I Told You Lately That I Love You by Van Morrison is my ultimate favourite because it was my mum’s favourite. I know it’s not really a Christmas song as such, but I always listen to it on Christmas and it is in One Fine Day – and that has Christmas in it, doesn’t it? So it counts. (Or does it? I haven’t seen it in years now so I’m second guessing myself!)

DO YOU OPEN ANY PRESENTS ON CHRISTMAS EVE?
Not anymore. I used to open one when I was younger, but now I prefer to wait.

CAN YOU NAME ALL OF SANTA’S REINDEER?
Rudolph, Blitzen, Dancer, Prancer…I think that’s all I know..ha!

WHAT HOLIDAY TRADITIONS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR?
A foodie spread (y’know it’s Christmas when you can’t be bothered to cook and just put on a spread of things like mini party sausage rolls and stuff but still end up cooking loads), and lots of lazy days spent watching Christmas movies.

IS YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE REAL OR FAKE?
Fake..but maybe one day when I have my own place I’ll have a real one.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE HOLIDAY TREAT/FOOD/SWEET?
Right I know it’s not vegan but Christmas is one time to splurge yourself so it’s gotta be mini party sausage rolls. I may have already had some yesterday…! But I also love a good Snowball or a Bailey’s = yum.

BE HONEST, DO YOU LIKE GIVING OR RECEIVING GIFTS BETTER?
I love receiving gifts of course but I also love the process of giving someone a gift – even though it can be stressful, I put so much thought into what presents I give!

WHAT IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
I couldn’t pick just one. From the big to the small – I always appreciate what I’ve been given. I’ve had my sister take me to Paris for NYE and my mum buy me a teddy teacup pig because I made her promise to one day get me a real teacup pig – both were so thoughtful and just goes to show that as long as there’s heart behind the gift, I’m happy.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PLACE TO VISIT FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON?
I’d love to spend Christmas in a cabin somewhere either in the woods or at a ski resort. I can’t ski or snowboard but I’ll definitely give it a go! Also, the cabin must have a hot tub.

ARE YOU A PRO WRAPPER OR DO YOU FAIL MISERABLY?
I’m not good at the actual wrapping but luckily I make it look beautiful with ribbon or whatever.

MOST MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS MEMORY?
My sister, mum and I once spent a long girly weekend away in Bruges in the run-up to Christmas. We had the most memorable time – Bruges looks like a fairytale during that time of year and it was great to spend some genuine time with them.

WHAT MADE YOU REALISE THE TRUTH ABOUT SANTA?
I’m not really sure – I guess I just realized gradually as I got older. I still leave out milk and cookies though, ha!

WHAT MAKES THE HOLIDAYS SPECIAL FOR YOU?
Spending time with family and just having time away from work to focus on myself; whether that’s being lazy and catching up on all my TV shows or taking part in hobbies. And also just having that last day of work knowing I can go home and spend the next week sleeping all day on the sofa if I want to…time seems to stretch out for me to do whatever I want!

I can’t lie; I’m well into my Christmas celebrations now, especially since I break up from work this Friday. Are you going to take part in The Christmas Tag? Let me know if you do!

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As if it’s December! I know this is a really silly thing to write – as I know everyone feels the same way as me regarding this subject – but how the bloody well in hell can it be December already? As in Christmas is THIS MONTH. It’s crazy.

I’m reigning it back on the Christmas celebrations this year (such a stark contrast to last year when I was off to here, there and everywhere, soaking up the seasonal atmosphere!) but there’s still tons to look forward to, including a very generous three weeks off work.

Do I plan to get dressed and leave the house during that time?

Not a bloody chance.

Here is what I am looking forward to, however…

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | Hello December

THE EVENT
I may be getting old, but nights out clubbing just don’t appeal to me anymore (unless it’s a birthday and I get to wear a sash or something), so I’ve become a big fan of BBC Introducing Nights over the past year or so. Not only has each event introduced me to some amazing talent so far (Rocky Nti, Ten Tonnes and Folly Rae to name just a few), the laid-back acoustic evening is held in the uber cool Bear Club in Luton (likely one of the last good clubs in Luton). The Bear Club – which is a jazz club – has the coolest vibe too. The next BBC Introducing event will see Jack Cullen, Emma McGrath and Ed the Dog perform – all unsigned and somewhat local artists oozing with talent.
BBC Music Introducing in Beds, Herts & Bucks takes place on the 11th.

THE BOOK
I love a good chick lit, especially if it’s not your traditional boy-meets-girl storyline..which is why My Favourite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren has caught my attention. This modern story – dubbed as being ideal for fans of She’s The Man – tells the story of Millie Morris who is often seen as ‘one of the guys’. When a black tie gala comes up, Millie and her friends make a pact to jump on online dating to find dates for the event. Only after making the pact, she ends up sleeping with one of her guy friends, Reid. Complication ensues, especially when she creates a brand new name and persona online to get better luck – and ends up matching and talking to Reid online. The storyline definitely has me intrigued and I’m already eager to pick this up and see how it all pans out..!
My Favourite Half-Night Stand will be published on the 4th.

THE MOVIE
Aquaman. I don’t know the storyline or the basis behind it – and a couple of parts in the trailer looked a little corny – but it’s got Jason Mamoa. Fun fact: I thought he was a complete d*ck in Game of Thrones and didn’t start fancying him till much later on. Still, I’ll definitely be seeing Aquaman when it drops later this month.
Aquaman will be released on the 12th.

THE NETFLIX SERIES

If you haven’t already binged Nailed It! – where have you been? This hilarious baking show follows less than talented bakers as they try and take on the toughest – and most Pinterest worthy – edible masterpieces. The results are HILARIOUS so I’m super pleased to hear the return of the series with a Christmas special. Nailed It! Holiday! is going to be perfect for that daytime viewing over Christmas when you’ve eaten too many Pringles and the one-too-many Snowball’s has got you unable to move from the sofa…
Nailed It! Holiday! will be available from the 7th.

ANYTHING ELSE?

It’s officially time to start celebrating Christmas at last. I’ve got a jam-packed month full of content (that’s if I don’t have too many Snowballs!) but in the meantime, all I can say is it’s finally time to start going Christmas crazy! Enjoy.
What are you most looking forward to this month? Let me know!
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No matter who you are – no matter what your age, race or beliefs are – absolutely anyone can make some small changes to become a more sustainable person. Small changes may not feel like much but if enough people make ‘small’ changes, these ‘small’ changes will very easily turn into big changes!

Not all of us have the time, money or expertise to do a whole lot of good on this planet so it’s important to take control of the little things we can. I try to be as sustainable as possible in my day to day life. Sometimes I forget and sometimes it’s not convenient but the important thing is to at least try. 

Here are five small changes you can make in your everyday life.

Formidable Joy | 5 ways to be more sustainable | Sustainability

BUY A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
This one is a no-brainer really but also benefits YOU as well as the planet. Stop buying plastic bottles of water and pick up a nice reusable bottle. You can buy them for as cheap as 99p in Wikos and, elsewhere like H&M and Primark, you can buy ones with super cute slogans. Not only can plastic bottles of water release harmful chemicals into your water, but the plastic tops of bottles cannot be recycled and are another contributing factor to the plastic harming our oceans. The bottles themselves also require huge amounts of fossil fuels to produce them and they often go to landfills once used as they’re tough to recycle. Using a reusable bottle will make loads of difference and always carrying one in your bag will also encourage you to drink more water.

MEAT-FREE MONDAYS
I do preach about veganism sometimes but I am also aware that it’s not the easiest thing in the world. That’s why I often suggest people try giving up meat just once a week. It’s better for your health and it’s a really good way to get more creative with your cooking, too. If ten million people gave up meat for just one day a year, for example, it would reduce water usage by 13 million tonnes and save up to 5,700 acres of land for example. And that’s just one day a year. Imagine if enough people did that once a week?!

SAY NO TO PLASTIC BAGS
Use reusable shopping bags (even better, say no to a plastic bag for life and instead buy a paper or material bag. H&M are well known for cheap conscious bags at their till points!) and stop buying fruit in plastic packaging. I’m a sucker for buying a two or four pack of avocados from Tesco, which I never finish before they go out of date (the ripe window for avocados is so hard to nail down) so not only do I waste plastic by buying these, I also waste food too. Instead grab your fruit and vegetables loose. It’ll cut down on plastic packaging and make you more thoughtful and aware of how much food you really need, therefore stopping you wasting any.

BUY SUSTAINABLE TOILETRIES
These days, there are lots of sustainable products on the market right now which makes it almost overwhelming. My favourite brand is PicnMix however, who provide an array of products and kits including a festival kit. They sell things like bamboo straws, natural deodorant and even biodegradable toothpaste. The festival kit really does cover pretty much everything, which is why I always take it with me when travelling now too. I absolutely love the toothpaste and the natural deodorant because they do a much better job than you’d expect! Plus, ordering a kit like this means you don’t forget anything when packing for a festival or holiday.

GO PAPERLESS
I’ll never forget the time I worked at Next and had an email asking me to print out a notice…it was a seven-page-long guide to recycling! I still laugh at how ironic it was that they not only needed seven pages to put the message across but that it needed to be printed off in the first place! This final step is pretty easy; many banks, for example, are paperless now anyway, but it’s so easy to forget how to reduce paper waste when working in an office for example. Now, we use scrap paper in the printer if it’s not an important printout and on the very rare occasion I go to an ATM, I always say no to a receipt. Easy choices – though often forgotten – that make all the difference.

These are just five seemingly (but not really) obvious steps to make a small difference to be more kind to our planet = why not make some of them your new year’s resolutions?

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Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited down to Sake no Hana‘s Maple Leaves event – something Becky and I were both looking very forward to as she was already a fan of Sake no Hana and I personally loved the sound of a Maple Leaves event!

Running until the 24th November – Sake no Hana – the Japanese restaurant from Hakkasan Group, is celebrating the change of season with an Autumn Leaf installation using Autumnal red, orange and yellow leaves that will encase the floor to ceiling glass windows at the front of the restaurant on St James Street, in partnership with Belvedere vodka and Ruinart Champagne.

Executive Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi has created a limited-edition menu utilising seasonal ingredients and flavours for guests to enjoy whilst sipping on warming cocktails, Japanese sake, and whisky.

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | Sake no Hana Maple Leaves Event | Food & Drink

Fiery red, warming orange, and frosty yellow leaves are used in the installation to honour the Japanese maple leaf season, as well as Kengo Kuma’s architecture, giving guests a feeling of nature as they enter the restaurant. The installation offers guests the chance to experience ‘momiji-gari’, the Japanese tradition of viewing the maple leaves whilst enjoying modern authentic Japanese cuisine in the heart of Mayfair.

The installation has been specially commissioned to respond to the unique space and the season and created by The Edit Events. Managing Director Sarah Kay commented, “We were delighted to work closely with the Sake no Hana team to develop an Autumn Leaves install. This time of year in Japan sees an incredible array of colours, shapes and textures which we have emulated within the design. Adding a modern twist is a signature of Hakkasan Group hence the inclusion of metallics and a sprayed artistic style which creates an urban Autumn install within the heart of London.”

Although we, unfortunately, did not get any decent shots of the installation, the beautiful red leaves outside the ambient restaurant were absolutely stunning, very easily standing out against the grey London skyline. However, the bar area itself was buzzing with a relaxed but friendly atmosphere – perfect for pre-drinks or bar nibbles before a night out in the capital.

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | Sake no Hana Maple Leaves Event | Food & Drink

The limited-edition menu was created utilising warming Autumnal flavours and ingredients. Dishes included Kinoko misojitate, wild mushroom and chilli yuzu miso soup; Shitake tofu, shiitake mushrooms filled with homemade tofu and wasabi sauce; Salmon kurumi miso yaki, pan fried Loch Duart salmon with walnuts and Kyoto miso; Tori sumiyaki, chargrilled miso chicken with sesame chilli miso; Gunma wagyu beef maki, asparagus, caramelised onion and kizami wasabi. The dessert, Autumn Leaf, is a hazelnut feuilletine and hazelnut chocolate parfait with chocolate and maple syrup soup and a mascarpone mousse.

Some of these we got to try on the night, as well as cocktails and limited edition drinks such as a warming Maple toddy utilising Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Akashi-Tai Umeshu sake, ginger, maple, chocolate and edible rice paper art in addition to the Shisho 54, Belvedere vodka, Midori, lime, shiso, Fever-Tree slimline tonic and Prosecco, and Koyo nora using belvedere vodka, cardamom, mandarin, yuzu and edible rice paper art – delicious!

We only planned to pop our heads in and see what the fuss was all about before moving on to our other plans but we enjoyed our visit so much that we actually stayed for the majority of the evening!

Though the setting itself was high end, the Autumn Leaf installation and the limited-edition menu only costs £40 per person, which is so much cheaper than you’d expect! As well as a beyond beautiful installation (which you really have to pop down and see with your own eyes to believe), it’s the perfect winter evening spent with friends or a date.

The special installation and seasonal menu can be found at Sake no Hana until the 24th November.

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After a super busy month of October (doing so many Halloween things like CopyCat, The Howl Scream Park, Poppa Plock’s Wonky Workshop and The London Bridge Experience), I’m looking forward to a much more chill month of November. I plan to go into hibernation and spend the majority of my time binging TV shows and online Christmas shopping.

Here’s what I’m exciting for in November.

Formidable Joy | Lifestyle | Hello November

THE MOVIE
It’s gotta be Bohemian Rhapsody, no? I’ve grown up listening to Queen and I still remember seeing a Freddie Mercury tribute act in Blackpool when I was younger – and from that moment on, I was obsessed with his fascinating life story. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this film and I’ve no doubt that Rami Malek has played the part well; but will he be able to capture that special something Freddie had just by walking into a room? Who knows, however, I can’t wait to find out…
Bohemian Rhapsody is out now.

THE BOOK
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson sounds a little like The Hunger Games – but with magic thrown in. It tells the story of Wren who is chased by enemies every Christmas – judges who are set on destroying Wren’s kind. To protect her family, Wren takes on a dangerous undercover assignment – an intern under a judge who may hold the key to ending the war. The reviews of this book have praised it as being unique and everything but corny, which is often found when reading books to do with magic.
The Wren Hunt will be released on the 6th.

THE NETFLIX SERIES
There isn’t much coming to Netflix this month, but I’m gonna go old school and admit that I’m excited for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. I only saw one or two episodes when I was younger, and admittedly, know more about He-Man, but there’s no doubt this is gonna be great – and perfect for those late nights tipsy and scoffing on a takeaway after a night out.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power will be available from the 13th November.

THE GIG
I’ve never been a big fan of Bring Me The Horizon as I’m not a lover of ‘heavier’ music, but I’ve been enjoying their music more and more in the last few years and I especially love Manta and Wonderful Life – their most recent releases. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to bag any tickets to their upcoming tour as of yet, but I’m certainly asking about to see if anyone would like to go. Knowing the band is amazing – and having never seen them live before – makes me think about just how amazing they’ll be on this tour!
Bring Me The Horizon play at Alexandra Palace, London on the 29th.

ANYTHING ELSE?
I can’t believe I’m actually typing these words but I AM GOING TO AMERICA. Oh yes. My bestie is going travelling next year and I’ll be joining her on her Californian leg of the trip, which will include visits to LA, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, San Diego And Tijuna…plus four days renting a car for an epic road trip. I’m so, so, so excited that I cannot contain myself! It’s not till next year but you can bet I’ve already gone into full planning mode so if you have any tips or amazing blogs I can check out, let me know!

I think that’s it for this month! Apart from a lovely date to a fireworks display last night, I’m pretty much determined to keep the rest of month as relaxed (and as inside!) as possible. What are your November plans?

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