Monday, February 05, 2018

On Sophie's Shelf | January


I know I said I'd be blogging more regularly, but life got the better of me and I've just not got round to it. I promise I'll get better this year!

One of my goals for twenty-eighteen was to read twenty-six books, which is the equivalent of one every two weeks. Last year I aimed for fifty-two, and lets face it, I failed badly. I went for the smaller goal this year, because I have no idea where this year will take me, and how much time it'll give me to curl up with a good book.

To my surprise, I got ahead of the game in January, and managed to get through FOUR books. I'm super happy to be ahead of my target, and I thought I'd share what I'd been reading with you guys!

The Sun In Her Eyes by Paige Toon
Now, if you've seen any of the books I've read and reviewed before, you'll know I'm a HUGE fan of Paige's writing. This book was no different! The Sun In Her Eyes was beautifully written, and I absolutely adored it. I really loved Amber. She was likeable and was very easy to relate to, but at times she also made really stupid decisions, just like any human does. When it came to the two main guys in the book, I definitely had my feelings towards them at the start completely opposite to what I thought of them at the end. The entire book was like that, really, as I had a few ideas of what I thought might happen, and in the end I was completely wrong. If you're a fan of Paige's books, or if you're wanting to give one a try, this is definitely one to pick up!

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern
I'm also a really big fan of Cecelia's books, and have read a few of hers. Lyrebird has been sat on my shelf for a little while, so I decided to give it a go. I really liked the plot of this book, as it was so different to anything I'd read before. It was warming, funny, and also made me cry at times. I loved Laura, and seeing her personality come to life. I also loved Bo, and reading about how her feelings towards Laura grew, but it broke my heart to see her treated the way she was. I'm not sure if I'd put this up there with my top three Cecelia Ahern books, but I definitely enjoyed it!

Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd
I thought I'd give the fiction a bit of a break within the month, and decided to read Izzy's book Dare to Dream. Although I'm personally not going through the struggles of starting a family, I am a fan of both Izzy and her husband Harry, and that's what encouraged me to read it. It was heartbreaking but also incredibly warming, and it was wonderful to read after knowing that they've got their two little ones Lola and Kit. There were many bits of the book that really tugged on my heart strings, but I think the hardest part for me to read was hearing Izzy talk about her brothers accident, and how much it changed her family's life. For those of you that don't know, my brother also had a bad accident a fair few years ago now, and it was also a brain injury. Thankfully he made a full recovery, but the emotions that Izzy spoke about when it first happened and when he was in hospital were a little too familiar. All in all, it was a really interesting read, and whether you're going through your own fertility struggles or not, it's encouraging and warming, and gives you a great insight into what it really is like going through it.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz
Now, if you follow me on any form of social media, you'll know that I am a BIG fan of the musical Hamilton. At the time of writing this, I've seen in twice, have listened to it hundreds of times, and have tickets for another three shows booked. I'm addicted, I'll admit it. My lovely friend Katie bought me this book for my birthday in January (because I'm not allowed to buy myself any at the moment!) and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. I absolutely love the story between Alex and Eliza in Hamilton, and to read more about how their relationship began was wonderful. I fell in love with the pair of them even more, and this book left me laughing and crying throughout. I can't wait to read more Hamilton inspired books in the future!

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I read in January. If you want to keep up to date with what I'm reading, feel free to give me a follow on goodreads!

Sophie x
Monday, January 01, 2018

Goodbye 2017 | Hello 2018

Well hello, again. It's been a while.

I actually only wrote six blog posts between this one, and the one I wrote at the start of 2017. A lot's happened this year, and I've definitely neglected my blog, but I'm hopefully going to be back for good now.

2017 has been a pretty good year for me. Of course it's had it's low points, but there were definitely some pretty incredible moments, that I can't help but reflect on.

I got to visit my home away from home - Disneyland Paris - six times this year. I got to spend my 24th birthday there in January, experience their 25th birthday in April, ride the newly refurbished HyperSpace Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean in August, run 5K in September, spent Halloween there in October, and see their Christmas festivities in November. I've been pretty lucky being able to visit as much as I have this year, but the most important part of all six trips has to be the wonderful friends I got to spend them with.

In April, Sophie and I booked our trip trip to Walt Disney World. Although we didn't go in 2017, this was a big part of my year, and I've been counting down the days since booking. I've wanted to visit the other Disney resorts around the world for years, and naturally next on the cards after Paris was Orlando. I'm so excited for our trip in February, and if you want to see more on our plans, Sophie and I also set up our YouTube channel - SophieSquared - in April this year.

Another big part of my 2017 was moving out of my parent's house in March, before they uprooted and moved to Portugal in April. I've loved experiencing the last nine months living in London. It's made everything so much more accessible, and has definitely added to the experiences I've had this year. It's also been lovely visiting my parents out in Portugal - I'm actually writing this from their house - and experiencing the life they now have here.

Although those are some of the bigger things, my year has been full of other wonderful, smaller moments, full of love and laughter. It's been a year that I will definitely be thankful for, and it leads me nicely into 2018.

So from me, to you, Happy New Year. Here's to a 2018 full of the little moments, full of love and laughter, and full of things that put a smile on your face.

Sophie x
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tale As Old As Time Afternoon Tea | Town House at The Kensington


It's been a while. Life has been a little crazy these past few months, with me moving to London, and then my parents moving to Portugal, but I'm (hopefully) back for good!

Literally days before my parents moved to Portugal, my mum came into London to see me, and we went to the Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea at the Town House with Sophie and her mum. We had a midday booking, so got there for about 11:45 and sat in the bar outside for a little while. We were then taken into the restaurant, which was a lot smaller than expected, and we found ourselves on two tables next to the fireplace.

The restaurant itself was a perfect location, and the detailing inside the room was just perfect. Each table had a Lumiere light, there were Cogsworth clocks around the room, and there were red roses everywhere.

Beef ragout, cheese souffle, pie and pudding, on flambe...

Firstly, we picked our teas. I had an Earl Grey, Sophie and her mum had a white tea, and my mum had the Rooibos. We were then each served a plate with three small starters - a beef ragu aranchini, a cheese souffle and a bite size vension pie.

Marie, the baguettes, hurry up!

Then came the main spread. Starting from the bottom, we had Marie's sweet brioche baguettes, which were accompanied by a chocolate pot and apricot preserve. These were absolutely delicious, and it made both Sophie and I laugh a lot, when the waiter (whilst explaining the spread) told us with a completely straight face that they were shaped like baguettes because there were baguettes in the movie. Next we had a plate of sandwiches each, which were pretty bog standard. I would have loved for them to theme these, but to be honest we didn't eat half of them because there was so much food.

Try the grey stuff, it's delicious!

Finally we had the top tier, which was in my opinion the best! First off, we had the grey stuff, which was in fact delicious! One of the two came in a tiny chip mug, and the other in a plain glass. We then had the rose jelly, which was utterly genius. It was an edible rose petal, suspended in a clear vanilla jelly. Before we began eating, the waiter turned it the right way up and topped it with cream, which of course was served from Mrs Potts.

A broken clock is right two times a day, mon ami.

There were three other treats each on the top tier. Firstly, we had what was possibly my favourite treat, the Cogsworth chocolate tart. This was so well done, and super delicious. We then had a spiced coconut and chocolate macaron, which was to represent the snowball fight, and finally we had a speculoos and marzipan biscuit, which was in the shape of Belle's yellow ball gown.

All in all, the entire menu was so incredibly thought out, and there wasn't any part of it that I didn't enjoy.

If you get the chance to go, I'd definitely recommend it, although I'm pretty certain it's fully booked until November!

Sophie x
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tropical Interiors | Queensgate Retail Park

I'm just going to put it out there... I love homeware.

I moved house last Friday, and one of my favourite activities both before and after has been looking for new things to decorate with. I'm living in a shared house, so mainly have to keep it limited to my room, but it's still been ridiculously fun.

Pieces from Homesense (Left, Middle and Top Right) and Next (Bottom Right)
One of the interior trends that I've been loving over the past month or so has to be the Tropical trend that I've seen popping up everywhere. And where better to shop for it than somewhere that has all my favourite home brands in one place? The Queensgate Retail Park in Harlow is home to Next, Laura Ashley and my all time favourite homeware store Homesense, as well as twelve other home and lifestyle retailers.

I decided to take a look on what they've all got on offer and show you a few of the great pieces on offer.

Two of my favourite picks from Homesense have to be their Parrot Cushion (£39.99) and their Gold Pineapple Ornament (£16.99). Laura Ashley also have some great pieces, including the Small Feather Trinket Dish (£10) which I absolutely adore, and this Tropical Bird Pillar (£20). Adding a few smaller pieces like these into a room can really give it that tropical feel, without having to change too much of what you already have.

Although it's personally a little bold (and rather permanent) for me, you could make a bigger statement with Next's Palm Tree Wallpaper (£15), or get the same effect in a slightly less permanent way with their Palm Leaf Bed Set (£52). They also have some other fun, on-trend pieces in store, like this Pineapple Lamp and Tropical Flowers Table Light.

Have you spotted any great Tropical pieces in stores recently?

Sophie x

*This post has been written in collaboration with Queensgate Retail Park. Queensgate Retail Park has 15 retailers across lifestyle and homeware, as well as food and drink outlets. Queensgate Retail Park is open 7 days a week, with most stores open until 8pm.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Latest In Beauty's Beauty & The Beast Box

Last Thursday I was invited along to The Lanesborough Hotel to celebrate the launch of the new release by Latest In Beauty - two boxes in collaboration with Disney, to celebrate the release of the new Beauty and the Beast movie.

I headed along to The Lanesborough after work, and met up with the lovely Steph for the evening. The Lanesborough was the absolute perfect location, and the pianist they had playing Disney tunes all evening added to it even more. There were also two adorable girls in Belle dresses, just to add to the magic of it all.

After a glass or two of Champagne, some delicious macarons and countless numbers of pictures taken, we headed away with our own box. I'm not sure if they were all The Beauty Box (as opposed to The Beast Box for men) but I was extremely grateful to get to take my own home!

Let's start by talking about the box itself - isn't it gorgeous? I love that it looks like a book, as it'll fit perfectly with my room, and all of my books. But not only that, the print on the inside is equally as gorgeous - featuring Mrs Potts, Chip, Lumiere and Cogsworth.

When it comes to the contents of the box, I was pleasantly surprised. I usually find with subscription boxes that there are one or two items that I don't get on with, but I absolutely love every item in it.

Burt's Bees Lipstick in Blush Basin | Soigne Betteraves Rouges Nail Polish | L'Occitane Roses Et Reines Hand & Nail Cream 

Gatineau Radiance Enhancing Gommage | Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo | Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet

There was also a lovely gold compact mirror, with a rose print on the top. This has gone straight into my handbag!

The contents of The Beauty Box are worth over £80, and the contents of The Beast Box are worth over £100, so it's a great steal getting either for just £20, with the added bonus of getting the lovely box to go with it too!

Have you ordered one yet? You better be quick!

Sophie x

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Inventions Brunch at Disneyland Paris

One of my favourite things that happened on my Disneyland Paris trip in January was a visit to Inventions at the Disneyland Hotel for their Sunday Brunch. I say brunch, but it was definitely more of a lunch. Our booking was at 1pm, the food was a full buffet and there definitely wasn't just breakfast food.

This was my second character meal that I've done, but definitely my favourite. I went to Cafe Mickey for breakfast back in December 2015, and although the experience as a whole was great, and it was fairly cheap in comparison, the food just didn't compare.

We arrived at the Disneyland Hotel and headed up to Inventions. For the brunch we had, we weren't actually in the Inventions restaurant but had been moved next door to California Grill. It was still super picturesque, and the seventeen of us were sat across 3 tables right by the window. Being sat near the window was perfect for pictures, because the lighting elsewhere was rather yellow.

Once seated, we were given a glass of bubbly and were met by an array of characters. The theme was Russian New Year, so they were all dressed up. We got to see ten characters in total - Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Clarice, Duffy and ShellieMay. Although I'd met six out of the ten characters previously, getting to see them in the rare costumes was definitely worth it. The characters also came round multiple times, and most of them spent a decent amount of time with everyone.

The food was also fantastic - I had two or three plates of savoury food, and another plate full of desserts. Coming in at €70 per person (or €56 with my AP discount) the meal is one of the more expensive ones in the park, but for the amount of food we could have, as well as getting to meet ten different characters all in costume, it was well worth it. They were also extremely accommodating for such a large group!

I'm very very tempted to book the brunch for when I'm there at Halloween, especially after seeing pictures of the villains that attended last year!

Sophie x
Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Season Of The Force at Disneyland Paris

If we were to rewind time back a couple of months, I was in no way a Star Wars fan in the slightest. I did, however, know that I needed to give them a chance because my trip to Disneyland Paris in January coincided with the launch of Season Of The Force at the Walt Disney Studios Park. I took the week between Christmas and New Year to watch them, and within about five days I had seen Episode IV, V, VI and VII as well as Rogue One at the cinema. I've still got Episodes II and III to watch but just watching those five turned me into a huge fan. I can't believe I'd not attempted to properly watch them previously!

I arrived at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris at around 4pm, and by that time had missed two of the daytime events (or at least the English showings of them) - the First Order March and Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away. I did, however, catch the first ever Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration show. The show, which was a combination of projections on the Hollywood Tower Hotel, a stage show and fireworks, was absolutely incredible.

Photo: +DavidAtDisney | @DavidAtDisney

I then had a few days in the Disneyland Park, before heading back over to the studios on Tuesday to catch the two daytime shows. Just beforehand, we managed to be in the right place at the right time to catch the Stormtroopers who were parading. We then took a front row spot to watch the shows. It was great to see the inclusion of The Force Awakens with the First Order March, and then the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away show was brilliant too! I loved all of the different aspects and characters they managed to include in all three shows and it was definitely a great addition to the studios park.

There are a few things that they definitely could have done to improve the experience. Sadly there were no meets with any Star Wars characters, which was definitely an opportunity missed. It would have been great to have gotten to meet Darth Vader, Chewie or Kylo Ren, and even though you could briefly meet the Stormtroopers whilst on patrol, it was down to being the right person in the right place at the right time.

Are you heading over to Disneyland Paris to experience Season of the Force? If not, check out DeAndre's vlog of all three shows here.

Sophie x