#Pokemon20

Yes, I know Pokemon 20 was actually on Saturday, but I was having a really shitty day on Saturday and spent upwards of eight hours lying in bed staring at the ceiling. I wish I was kidding. Happy Pokemon 20 to me.

For those not in the know, Saturday (February 27th 2016) marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Pokémon Red and Blue – the first generation of Pokémon game for the original Gameboy – in Japan. Once Pokémon crossed international waters a year later, it’s safe to say the franchise blew up. As the developers at Game Freak released new editions of the handheld game (moving between Gameboy, Nintendo 3DS and all the models inbetween), fans have been treated to corresponding series of animé, trading card games, toys and movies. Despite buying into the whole lot – thanks Mum and Dad – it’s undoubtedly the games that captured my imagination the most, and still do to this day.

On Saturday I spent a while reading through the comments on Pokémon’s official Facebook page, getting stuck right into the nostalgia that came flowing from users around the world sharing their stories. So, at the risk of sounding trite and predictable, here’s my own to add to the pile.

$_35My first Pokémon game was Pokémon Gold. I received it on my 7th birthday, along with the Special Pikachu Edition of the Gameboy Color – something I was secretly chuffed about, because I’d been so jealous of my brother Jack’s see-through purple Gameboy Color and Pokémon Yellow he’d been given for his 8th birthday the Christmas before. Taking pretty much everything my big brother said and did as gospel as most 7 year old baby sisters do, I was so excited to have an adventure of my own to go on. I can even tell you that Totodile was my first starter!totodile

I would go on to ask for Red, Blue, Silver, Sapphire and Pearl over the years, receive them all as Christmas and birthday gifts, but still never see a single gen to completion. Jack, however, completed every game he owned (Yellow, Crystal, Ruby. There are two kinds of child – those with attention spans, and those hopelessly without.) I’ve since beaten the Elite Four once, actually, with Pokémon Y, and I came damn close in a copy of LeafGreen that I’m still not sure how I acquired. Experiencing the Champion’s procession and seeing the credits roll for the first time was definitely a full-circle, embarrassingly emotional moment for me, even though I was 21 okay yes ssh.

My dad bought us the cheat books for Generation 1 (red/blue/yellow) and 2 (gold/silver/crystal) that you could pick up in Game, which told you exactly how to puzzle your way through tricky mazes, find which region the Pokémon you needed to complete your collection was hiding in and extra little tips. I’m not exaggerating when I say I spent *hours* perusing these. I read our Gen 2 edition so much the cover fell off – but as a result had every extra Berry, Pokémon Egg and Trainer phone number going.

Seeing as I’ve grown up with Pokémon, I finally took the plunge and re-bought into the Nintendo family with my 2DS (third-hand, mind you) last summer, because I was just too curious to see what X&Y could offer. While I bought Y, I convinced Polly to buy X and we sort of played alongside each other, fangirling over the incredible graphics, soundtrack and new features that have brought the franchise into a more modern setting without losing all the authenticity and the charm of those first games back in ’96.

So thank you, Pokémon, for everything you gave my tiny imagination to explore and enjoy. It’s been lovely and I’ll treasure the memories forever.

Until tomorrow (lol maybe),

Emma x

My 2016 In Books

I’ve read three books so far in 2016. I’m on my fourth. Speaking purely on precedent it would seem I’m not that great at posting book reviews as soon as I’m done with a book, or making them that engaging (‘I loved the plot!’ ‘this character felt so REAL!’ ‘no spoilers though’ blah blah)

SO here are the books I’ve read, hopefully without the waffle I’ve become so good at…waffling.

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Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Okay, I picked this one up in Oxfam because I’d heard it’s become a bit of a classic in the gay & lesbian genre, and wanted to see what the fuss was about. OANTOF isn’t the novel I was expecting, and at times it’s difficult to tell whether this has autobiographical elements or not – the protagonist is also called Jeanette, and the fragments that make up her story are told without too much padding of the setting. So the style was very different to what I’m used to, but not in a bad way.

OANTOF follows Jeanette’s transgression from her life as a destined missionary to her decision to leave the church at 16 for the women she has fallen for along the way. As someone who isn’t 100% anything when it comes to their sexuality, it was great to pick this up and have something to identify with, if only a little bit. There’s a great motif of oranges running through this book to mirror her awakening, too – whenever Jeanette begins to act out or question her faith, she is given an orange to eat. By the end of her story, she’s sick of oranges and sick of the person she was raised to become.

“I knew that demons entered wherever there was a weak point. If I had a demon my weak point was Melanie, but she was beautiful and good and had loved me. Can love really belong to the demon?” 

 

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (spoilers!)

If you have so much as a toe dipped into the chick lit world, you’ll have heard of Me Before You. The cover boasts that it’s sold 5 million copies worldwide, I’d only heard glowing reviews from friends who’ve read it before and it’s currently being adapted into a film starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. All good things, right?

Off the back of this hype, I was honestly expecting more. To give credit where it’s due, Me Before You is an unputdownable book – it’s an easy read with parts that did have me laughing. But that’s about it.

Maybe I’m just desensitised to the subject of death in media altogether, but I didn’t find myself connecting to the characters or their plight all too much. I didn’t really feel sorry for Will. His situation was very sugar coated in the sense that, despite his condition, he still had his riches, his dashing good looks and his loving family surrounding him. I’ve seen the uglier side of debilitating illness and can’t help but wish the story had gone a bit deeper with its depiction of quadriplegia. Also, as much as I liked the ditzy, girl-next-door character of Lou, the basis of the plot – that as his carer she could come into Will’s life and change his intentions to end his own life – left a bad taste in my mouth. The subject of assisted dying only seemed to be touched on from the opposing side. Maybe it’s because this contradicts my own views, but I just don’t feel it works. The story could’ve been handled a lot better, in my opinion. Sorry!

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Now, here is a book I enjoyed. Again, bought on the basis of its critical acclaim, and recommendations from so many friends to give it a go. It’s the first proper thriller I’ve read and, if you’re in that boat too, it’s a great introduction to the genre. The novel follows Rachel, who as an innocent bystander taking the commuter train into London one day witnesses something, just off the tracks, that draws her into an investigation much bigger than she could’ve anticipated.

Rachel – and her alcoholism – are portrayed in a very real, no frills way. She’s messy, she’s clumsy, she’s a little bit mad. As the reader I was definitely rooting for her in parts, and along with her I felt Rachel’s struggle in getting her voice heard.

Although this story is Rachel’s to tell, it’s not told entirely from her perspective and I really liked this element. Hawkins uses three viewpoints in total to give a rounded version of events, and I found myself reading quicker and quicker towards the end as the pieces of the puzzle slotted together with every chapter. That being said, the ending still took me completely by surprise – so much so that I threw the book down and shouted something along the lines of ‘what the FUCK’. I’m just happy I wasn’t reading it in public otherwise that would’ve turned a few heads!

So that’s everything I’ve read so far. I’m currently reading ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’, but I’m barely a quarter of the way through so I can’t say too much yet. However, what I can already say is that it’s very unlike any book I’ve read so far with a very peculiar twist element that totally took me by surprise. You’ll have to give it a read to see what I mean!

Until tomorrow,

Emma x

 

 

Was 2015 a good year?

In five days’ time we’ll be in 2016. Just a small reminder for anyone, like me, who forgets this every single Christmas and is then really shocked and disoriented for at least half of January.

So, 2015. If I was a YouTuber this post would be a montage of clips from throughout the year. As I’m nowhere near that savvy (and my day-to-day life isn’t *all* that exciting), we’re here instead. I’m trying to puzzle over in my head whether I’ve had a good year or not.

On the surface, sure, 2015 has granted me some fantastic opportunities and once in a lifetime experiences: I donned a mortar board and graduated university with both my parents in the audience; I got on my first long-haul flight and spent a week sightseeing New York; I’ve felt more ‘me’ this year than I ever have before, and it’s very refreshing. As well as the major events, I’ve got a lot of treasured memories from early 2015 of just enjoying myself in Reading in my final year of uni and getting dressed up with the girls from home for nights out and drinks.

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There’s also the tragic memory of giving myself food poisoning in the spring. I spent two weeks scared to leave the house for fear of what might happen (tmi, I know, but too funny not to share).

However it’s not been a complete year of highs and I’ve experienced some pretty low lows. We sadly lost my (sort-of) uncle Mike in March pretty suddenly, and I attended my first funeral which was an emotional day to say the least. Fast forward to after graduation, and luckily I was able to land a job at my local Caffe Nero making coffee for Malvern’s elite in September (I’m still there now and enjoying it) but that wasn’t before two long, agonising months at home of unemployment. Sitting around doing nothing while not having any income to treat yourself or save for the future is more than a bit disheartening. On top of that, as you all know, my Dad was in June diagnosed with oral cancer, and the past six months of my life at home have been a heartbreaking display of how cancer can barrel into your life and fuck shit up. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else while he was ill and I’m so glad we got to spend the last few months of my dad’s life as a family where it all began.

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All of these I believe have contributed to my currently slighty depressed state. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with anything as of yet, but I’m slowly learning that looking after #1 is my priority which is sort of helping – I’ve recently taken an interest in Lush bath bombs, Yankee candles and saying no to socialising when I’m not totally in the mood too. I’m drinking less, too, because drunk me is the world’s biggest Emma pity party.

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When you cobble all of that together you can see I’ve had a bit of a tough ride in 2015. I come to the end of some years thinking that they’ve been really good years, but not too much has actually happened in them. This year has stretched me as a person and I’m really appreciative of that (no matter how utterly shit it’s been at points).

Until next time,

Emma x

I’m cancelling Blogmas.

For me, not the rest of the world. Hold onto your hats.

It’s already plainly obvious that posting something Christmassy every day is a task which I’m incapable of finishing. I need to make this post for myself, really, because if I don’t it’ll constantly be hanging on my mind that it’s been X days since I last posted and aren’t I awful etc. etc. etc.

Reasons why? There are many reasons, the main one being that I’m really, truly not in the festive spirit this year. There’s not much in our life worth celebrating. Dad’s disease is progressing, there’s a constant rain cloud hanging over our heads and the mental exhaustion of the past six months has finally caught up with me. All I want to do in my free time is lie in bed and watch YouTube videos! As such, it’s come to December and I haven’t made a Christmas list, I’ve barely listened to any Christmas songs and I can count the amount of times I’ve socialised outside of work in the past month on one hand.

That’s it, really. You’ll be happy to hear, on the other hand, that I’m still opening and enjoying my advent calendar, and the novelty of the Christmas gingerbread muffins we’ve got in at work still hasn’t worn off. Father Christmas isn’t stopping here this year, but I’m keeping optimistic.

I’ll still be posting things, but just as and when I can. You won’t get rid of me that easily.

Hope you’re well. Until next time,

Emma x

Beef & Chorizo Stuffed Peppers | Blogmas Day 2

Good evening good evening, one and all!

It’s been a not-so-festive day this end because I’m really not feeling that Christmassy just yet. When your Mum and brother’s birthdays both fall in December, and putting up the tree is something that is done – traditionally – no earlier than the 17th, getting into the groove so early in the month is a bit difficult.

So, instead, I’m bringing you a new recipe I tried out this evening which went down a treat. I found it in the community section of Nigella.com, posted by user CakeMuffinPie (so, to give credit where credit is due, thank you very much!)

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Beef and chorizo stuffed peppers (with extra gubbins on the side, because my portion control is anything but controlled). Lovely, lovely stuff, and so easy to make!

You will need…

  • 6 large peppers
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used rapeseed oil, any cooking oil is fine)
  • 500 grams minced beef (I actually used pork, because we had some that needed using up, and it worked just as well)
  • 150 grams chorizo (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100 grams rice (again, I switched things up here and used a pack of microwave rice. Lazy, I know, and it was waaay too much rice, but if you’re looking to cut corners just follow your heart…)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 75 grams cheese (grated)

Once you’ve got all that together, here’s the method! This dish takes just over an hour from start to finish, if you chop quickly.

  • Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.
  • If you’re boiling your rice the *proper* way, get that underway to start with. If you’re using a packet, like I did, you can make the filling first and come back to this later.
  • To make the filling: Heat your oil in a pan, add onions and garlic and fry until they’re nice and soft. Add the minced beef (or pork!) stirring until it has browned.
  • Add the chorizo, stir in and fry for a few minutes allowing the juice and flavours from the chorizo to come out. Add the chilli, cumin and oregano next, stir them up a little bit then add your chopped tomatoes and allow it all to cook together for about 5 more minutes.

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  •  Getting the peppers ready: chop off the tops just below the stem and put them to the side, but keep them. Place the peppers in a bowl with the seeds and membrane removed, dont forget to include the tops.
  • Pour over freshly boiled water and allow to soak for 5 mins.

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  • Remove the peppers from the water and place upright on a baking tray.
  • Mix the rice in with the filling, and stuff the peppers with the mixture. Replace the tops on to the peppers.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, remove the pepper tops and sprinkle the cheese on to the mixture and return to the oven until the cheese has melted.

Long-winded, I know, but if you’re interested they’re definitely worth giving a go! In the words of LessAmazingPhil, and something I try to live by myself, try new things?

Until next time,

Emma x

Blogmas Day 1!

December has finally decided to show its face, which can only mean one thing – Blogmas has arrived with it. You know the drill, bloggers (and vloggers, which you’re probably familiar with too) post content on every day of December in the run up to Christmas.

A bit of a virtual advent calendar, if you will.

I can tell you ahead of time that I won’t be able to post every single day because, of course, I wasn’t organised enough to schedule some posts in advance and, of course, work will become hectic as we approach the big day because the weather will inevitably take a miserable turn for the worst.

As it’s the first today, I thought I’d start my Blogmas as every December begins – with advent calendars!

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I am *that* person who takes advent calendars really seriously. I’ve never eaten the chocolates in a botched order or all at once, and I’ve never had to play catch up for being away (I transported my advent calendar backwards and forwards – sometimes with a few squashed corners – for all three of the years I was at uni). Growing up, my brother and I had a Nativity advent ‘calendar’, where each day we would add a new character or animal to the stable, and by Christmas there’d be a proper 3d card Nativity scene on the mantelpiece.

This year I’ve gone for something a little different – the Yankee Candle Advent house. I’m always on the lookout for ways to be healthier and while scouring the Internet in November decided I didn’t want a chocolate advent calendar this time round. Not that it’s going to make the world of difference – I’m sure 24 little chocolates aren’t going to have that much of an impact on my already full-of-Quality-Street Christmas body – but I just fancied something a little different. Plus on Christmas Eve the front door opens to reveal a ‘Christmas Eve’ scented candle – *how* amazing is that!?

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Here’s my raw Snapchat reaction. This candle is Snowflake Cookie scented, it’s subtle and sweet and has been burning beautifully in my bedroom while I’ve been trying to declutter.

Happy advent, all!

Emma x

Get your kettles ready.

Happy Sunday evening!

Winter has arrived in bitterly cold fashion in the UK this weekend and therefore it is only appropriate that the kettle is put on at least three times as often as normal throughout the day. If I didn’t get my fair share of hot drinks working at Caffé Nero already, I am now stocked up around the clock after tagging along with my Mum to do a food shop this morning and accidently buying a lot more tea and coffee than is strictly necessary.

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(I’ve spent the afternoon sampling everything I bought and can confirm it is all tip top.)

After nearly forgetting about green tea entirely (something I’d specifically added to the shopping list before we left the house), I ran back to quickly grab a box and ended up being too intrigued by this to not have it. It’s a ‘super green tea’ by Tetley infused with lemon and honey, which promises to boost my immune system. I’m actually drinking this one as we speak and it’s really good – sweet and lemony and not really tasting of green tea at all. I’m going to list that as a pro rather than a con, because I think the majority would agree that if you could reap the health benefits of drinking green tea without having to put up with the ‘green’ taste, you’d do so in a heartbeat.

This little jar of Douwe Egberts infused instant coffee was admittedly a lot smaller than I thought it would be for the price – I think it cost just under £3 – but after seeing the advert for this range on TV I had to try some. At work I am so, so bad for paying extra for and adding shots of Monin syrup to my already calorific lattes, and after a few months of work the novelty is slowly wearing off and I need an alternative! These are perfect. As I went to take the first sip of mine earlier the roasted hazelnut smelled gorgeous and tasted really smooth too. The other flavours in the collection are caramel, vanilla and chocolate which I’m also v excited to try.

Every so often at uni I would add these Double Choca Mocha sachets to my online shopping basket because they’re so good (and they often saved me on nights of assignment stress and minor panics about the future). That’s all I have to say really. Pour sachet into mug, add boiling water, leave for a bit, stir, ta-da. 10/10. Would mocha every day if I could.

Finally I’ve got the Drink Me Spiced Chai Latte powder which, as you can see on the tub, is the exact same powder we use to make chai lattes at work. My Mum is adament that this is a Christmassy drink just because it’s best served sprinked with cinnamon on top. It really isn’t, it goes hard all year round and I’m chai ’til I die because it’s so sweet and spicy and everything you could ask for if you’re not looking for a caffiene kick.

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Now that I’ve done the shameful thing of using ‘chai ’til I die’ in a sentence and published it on the Internet I’m gonna go. Hope this has given you some inspiration to switch things up from your regular breakfast tea this winter!

Until next time,

Emma x