Mr. Robot – 1.9 eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt

Let’s be honest, if you’ve watched Mr Robot you’ll know how much of a roller coaster ride it is from the very beginning.  But the penultimate episode of season 1 is where so many things that have been building up throughout the series come to a head.  Shit gets real guys.  And when Maxence Cyrin’s beautiful piano cover of Where is my Mind plays at the end (a cheeky little nod to Fight Club) I get goose-bumps every time.  That scene between Elliot and Tyrell is a perfect climax to all the tension that’s been building up between them.  Ugh, perfection.

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Star Trek (The Original Series): Operation: Annihilate!

The crew take on a weird race of parasitic aliens that happen to look remarkably like pancakes.  So much so that I successfully found out the name of the episode by searching ‘Star Trek pancake alien episode.’  A childhood favourite.

pancake alien

Friends – The One with the Two Parties

It’s so hard to narrow Friends down to just one favourite episode, and of course for a soppy old romantic like me, the Monica and Chandler proposal might seem like an obvious choice.  Another solid contender was The One with the Video Tape, as it’s so cleverly done.  But I actually chose a slightly more serious episode as I feel like it handled Rachel’s struggle with her parents’ divorce really nicely.  We have a touching moment of bonding between her and Chandler, and I melt when he gently moves Rachel from his arms into Ross’.  So sweet and lovely.  Plus the logistics of the two parties and trying to keep Rachel’s parents from running into each other makes for some great comedy.  Also, this beautiful moment:

Joey kiss Mrs Green

Gilmore girls – Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Again, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one episode.  I’ve chosen this one for three reasons:

  • Friday night dinner. This is so well-done, and I feel like the director let himself get really creative with this scene.  It’s over the top, almost theatrically so, but the dialogue as always is fast-paced and witty.  Plus the POV camera angles put you right into the chaos of all the different arguments going on at once.  It’s an interesting technique used to great effect for the first time in this episode, and never again after.friday nights
  • Lorelai’s fantastic and (for some reason) British impression of her mother. ‘Alert the corgis!’ Makes me laugh every time.
  • Emily: I only wished I’d remembered to call her a cocktail waitress.
    Lorelai: [gasping] Oooh. That’s my mother’s version of the ‘c’ word.

The Office – The Job

I think this pretty much sums it up.

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The emotion.  Dreamy sigh.

A close second would be the episode where Jim enlists a friend to masquerade as him and convince Dwight that Jim’s been Asian all along.  I love all of Jim’s pranks on Dwight, but that has to be my favourite.

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Parks and Recreation – Halloween Surprise

Because I had to get a proposal episode in here somewhere and this is undoubtedly one of the best.

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LOST – Man of Science, Man of Faith

Our first look down the mysterious hatch.  THE NUMBERS!  So much intrigue.  This is easily one of my favourite episodes of LOST, though I was originally going to go with the episode where Jin and Sun die.  But I didn’t because, y’know, I’m not a monster.

Jin and Sun

No YOU’RE crying.

Brooklyn Nine Nine – Halloween II

Jake attempts to pull off another Halloween heist, this time the Captain’s priceless watch.  A clever episode with a fun twist.

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Star Trek Voyager – Twisted

I don’t know why but this episode has always been a favourite of mine.  A strange phenomenon wreaks havoc with the ship and turns it into a weird twisting labyrinth.

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Sabrina the Teenage Witch – Pancake Madness

I’m ending this list on an absolute high, obviously.  I can’t decide what makes this episode so great, whether it’s the ridiculous song about pancakes being the answer to the riddle (which I’m physically incapable of stopping myself from singing when I eat pancakes), Harvey’s terrible singing of said song, or the giant syrup bottle Sabrina hallucinates when she’s having pancake withdrawals.  Oh yes, that’s right, the premise of this episode is Sabrina developing a crack-like addiction to pancakes (those pancakey bastards up to no good again!).  Also, the syrup bottle’s name is Mrs Mapleton.  10/10.  Absolute genius.  Watch now.

pancake madness

 

I was so excited when the lovely people at Bluebird Tea Co. contacted me to offer me some samples of their lovely new summer teas.  I’ve never been to one of their stores (you can find them in Brighton, Bristol and Tunbridge Wells), but I’ve heard good things from lots of people, including Zoella, who has raved about them in several of her vlogs.  I have to say, after trying some of their teas I can see why!

Never one to miss an opportunity to eat cake, I asked my lovely friend Julie if she’d like to have afternoon tea.  She went all out with lovely finger sandwiches, delicious homemade lemon and blueberry cupcakes and some tasty fresh fruit.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, right?

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Bluebird’s new flavours include Sangria, Strawberry Split, Red Velvet (OMG!), and Jelly and Ice Cream.  I was kindly given Sangria and Jelly and Ice Cream to try, but the other two sound incredible as well (I’m definitely ordering some of the Red Velvet!)

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I tried to get a bit arty with the tea leaves, though I’m not sure it worked too well.  But seriously, look how pretty they are!

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What I loved about the Sangria tea was that you can really see all the ingredients, in particular lots of lovely big chunks of dried fruit.  And it smelled absolutely gorgeous too, very citrusy and fresh.  It contains hibiscus, apple, rosehip, orange peel, coconut, pineapple, cardamom and lime peel.  I could definitely smell the orange and pineapple, and it made me think of summer holidays by the sea, and lovely warm balmy evenings.  I thought it kind of also smelled like jelly babies, but Julie wasn’t so sure!  Both teas can be enjoyed hot or cold, and we decided to try this one hot.

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IMG_20160617_150151 Blue kettle

It had a wonderfully fresh and tart flavour, and really did taste as vibrant and fruity as it smelled.  It wasn’t unpleasantly sour like some fruit teas I’ve tried, and we found it didn’t need any sugar.  Gorgeous, fresh and summery, this one was definitely a hit!  I look forward to trying it iced, I imagine it’s very refreshing.

So next we tried Jelly and Ice Cream, which I must admit I was more excited about of the two.  This one contains Rooibos tea (which I love!), coconut, strawberry, hibiscus, apple, elderberry, rosehip, vanilla, cornflowers and pineapple.  Doesn’t that just sound incredible?!  Smell wise, it didn’t wow me like the Sangria did, but oh my gosh it was delicious!

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We had this one iced, which we did simply by straining the tea over a cup of ice cubes.  It can be drunk with or without milk but we decided to go without.

Oh. My. Gosh.  This was divine.  So smooth and sweet, you can really taste the vanilla and strawberry.  It’s not too sweet though, and like the Sangria, it’s packed full of flavour.  So often I’ve bought fruit teas that smelled wonderful but tasted of nothing.  You definitely don’t need to worry about that with these teas.  I could really pick out all the lovely different fruit flavours, and it was a perfect balance of tart, sweet and smooth, just as you’d expect from jelly and ice cream.  A perfect drink to serve at a garden party or picnic, and a huge thumbs up from me.

After that, our lovely civilised afternoon took a bit of a turn when this little delinquent decided to gatecrash.

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Meet Mr T, Julie’s pet tortoise! Isn’t he sweet?

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I had such a lovely afternoon and the teas were a big hit.  There are so many other amazing sounding flavours I’d like to try, so I see a rather large order to Bluebird Tea Co. happening in the near future!  Julie was a big fan as well, and we both agreed that they’d make a lovely gift for any tea-lovers in your life.

Thank you so much to Julie for putting together such a gorgeous and Instagram-worthy spread.  And a big thank you to the lovely guys at Bluebird Tea Co. for sending me my very first blogger mail!  Being sent free tea- I’m living the dream, right?

Check Bluebird Tea Co. out here.

Those of you who are local to Bournemouth may be familiar with the veritable Valhalla of sugary treats known as American Fizz on Wallisdown Road.

Dave and I have been known to spend far too much money on American sodas (root beer for him, grape soda for me), Twizzlers, and Pop Tarts in every flavour under the sun.  They also have tonnes of amazing savoury snacks, condiments, and of course the indescribably delicious Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese.  If you haven’t tried it, trust me, it’s MAGICAL.

I mean, just look at it. ALL the heart eyes.

This gif should come with a NSFW warning. It’s basically pornographic.

This time I picked up some of my tried and tested favourites, as well as some new things.  And then proceeded to roll around on the sofa like a walrus and eat my yearly allowance of fat, salt and sugar in one evening.  Good times!

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Grape Crush

Now I’m normally more of a Twizzler kinda gal, but much like the shelves of Doose’s market after movie night at the Gilmore house, American Fizz was a Twizzler AND Red Vines-free zone.  Not to be deterred I went for these, swayed largely by the fact that they were grape flavour.  Seriously, why do we insist on having boring blackcurrant as a flavour in the UK?  Grape is so much better, sort it out UK candy manufacturers!  These did not disappoint.

Pancakes and Maple Syrup Jelly Belly Beans

I’m always a big fan of Jelly Belly beans, but these were in a league of their own.  My new favourite jelly bean flavour?  The maple kind. (And no, I will never stop finding that dog video hilarious).

Maple Bacon Pop Tarts

Um…so I don’t really know what to say about these.  I couldn’t resist buying them out of sheer curiosity and they (perhaps not surprisingly) were absolutely disgusting.  I’m pretty sure even the dog in that video would not be a fan.  Kellogg’s, I have some serious questions.  Namely, whose idea was this, and what were they thinking?  At any point did no-one think that perhaps bacon flavoured icing was a step too far, and maybe it was time to put a stop to the madness?  Did anyone except me actually buy these?!  Answers please!!

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Swedish Fish

I’ve always been curious to try these.  Their website assures me that they “taste like fruit, not like fish,” which is good to know, and their slogan is the delightfully nonchalant “try some if you want.”  I do want.

Combos

These are hands-down my favourite American snack.  We bought the pizza ones (the best flavour, IMO), but we also grabbed a pack of the Buffalo Blue Cheese (which sadly didn’t last long enough to make it into the photo!).  Eat these NOW.  Thank me later.

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Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts

Kellogg’s, you are forgiven for your bacon-flavoured atrocities.  These are sublime.

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Are you a fan of root beer, or do you (like me) think it tastes like Listerine?  What are some of your favourite American snacks?  Is there anything I should definitely try next time?  Let me know in the comments below!

I feel like fanfic gets a bad rap.

I think it’s probably because people assume it’s all shameless smut full of Mary Sues (when an author writes themselves into the story, usually as a troubled but bad-ass heroine, or the love interest of their favourite character).  And sure, there is some terrible stuff out there, but there’s also a lot of amazing work written by talented writers.

For me, fanfiction, or any fanworks, make up a valuable part of their fandom.  They’re about picking up where the original left off, exploring alternate realities and delving deeper into the characters’ lives.  I think it’s wonderful that fanfiction brings together talented, creative people, who are so inspired by the world created by their favourite film, book or TV show, that they simply want to live in it a while longer.

Some of the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read have been fanfiction, and it’s no surprise to me that publishers trawled through fanfic to find their next superstar author (though I’m personally not a fan of 50 Shades of Grey, I think E.L. James’ discovery and subsequent rise to fame is pretty incredible).

Fanfiction may well lead you to some weird places.

For example, and no judgement at all here, but I personally don’t get the whole wolf pack A/B/O dynamics thing.  However I know what I like and what I don’t, and sites like AO3 have a pretty good system of warnings and tags, so you usually know what you’re in for.  Also, I recently stumbled upon Chuckle Brothers fanfiction (I bet my husband that it would exist somewhere, and quickly wished I’d been wrong.  Read in all its bizarre glory here).  I know, I’m as confused as you are.

emma stone what

Sites like AO3 and Fanfiction.net foster a wonderfully creative and (for the most part) supportive environment, where people can share ideas, theories, and character analysis.  As soon as I finish a show I love, I check out fanfic, often to see other people’s take on a particular scene/character, or what they think might come next.  If fills in gaps, gives a unique insight into other people’s interpretations, and sometimes challenges my own.

I love to write fic as well, get myself completely lost in the world, and truly become friends with the characters.

I think what most writers love about it is there are no limits or restrictions, which can take you down some bizarre paths, but can also be wonderfully freeing.  The creator of the original work has established the universe and its parameters, but you’re free to bend them however you like.  You can bring in characters from other universes, change gender and sexuality, and explore alternate realities.

I’ve been reading and writing fanfic since I was a teenager, and it’s always disappointed me that it’s seen by many as nerdy or lame.  It’s exposed me to some truly gifted writers, made me laugh and cry, and meant I could keep enjoying my favourite books/films long after they ended.

Fandom in general gets a bad name, and is perceived by many as screaming girls obsessing over their favourite celebrities.  But for me, it’s so much more than that.  It’s wonderful to get lost in something, over-analyse it, and let your imagination run wild.  And really, isn’t that what entertainment’s all about?

There’s a lot of different fic out there.

Personally, I prefer fics that stick to canon.  For me, that’s when the best stories are born, the ones that truly delve into a character’s mind and explore their motivations and relationships with others.  But again, each to their own.  And that’s truly the joy of fanfiction.  There’s something for everyone.

 

I’ve been feeling really good recently.

No, make that great!  Like, smiling at strangers in the supermarket and feeling like I’m an unstoppable force kinda great.

At the weekend I had the immense joy of watching two of my favourite people in the world get married.  I was a bridesmaid for the very first time and I loved every minute.  I laughed, cried, caught up with old friends, drank too much champagne, and danced all night.  My thighs are still hurting, but it was totally worth it!  It was a perfect day.

No YOU'RE drunk.

No YOU’RE drunk!

You know it’s been a good day when you start off looking like a princess and end up looking like Boy George!

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The days are getting longer and warmer, I have some potentially exciting opportunities on the horizon, and I’ve finally started planning my Scandinavia trip (June 2017, fingers crossed!)

All in all, life is looking pretty fantastic.

On a personal note I’ve been working on being more positive and focusing on all the times I feel good.  CBT has taught me to take stock of all the ways my anxiety can manifest itself physically.  I’m supposed to focus on symptoms like tingling fingertips, shortness of breath, or feeling lightheaded, and remind myself that these sensations aren’t anything serious, but rather my nervous system misfiring.

I haven’t felt any of these things for a while now, which feels like a really big step, but it’s got me thinking, why am I not channeling that same focus on all the lovely ways my body responds to happiness?

Like the way laughter rises up through my stomach in little uncontrollable bubbles, or the tingle of goosebumps down my arms when I listen to a beautiful song.  The warmth that spreads through me when someone pays me a compliment, or the way I felt so overwhelmed with joy at my best friends’ wedding that my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, but in the best way possible.

We all lead such busy lives and get so wrapped up with the stresses of adulthood that I think we sometimes forget to slow down and take stock of all the times we feel good.

So next time you feel butterflies of excitement, or the uncontrollable urge to smile, take a moment to really enjoy the sensation.  Focus on all the other things you’re feeling, and truly savour them.  These are the moments that we take for granted.  When we look back on this time in our lives we’ll remember the big things that made us happy, but we’ll forget all the tiny little snapshots that helped to make up the big picture.  I feel like I’m ready to stop dwelling on my anxiety and start cherishing my own happiness, however small and insignificant it might seem from the outside.