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The Veggie Review: graze

Hi guys!

I’m sure you’ve all come across graze. I remember receiving graze coupons when I first moved into my student accommodation but I sort of forgot about them and never used them. Anyway, it’s a subscription snack service which delivers food straight to your mailbox. The service offers to deliver a box of 4 out of a potential 100 snack options for £3.99. Of course, to entice all customers, the first box is free* and you get to specify what you want in your box. What I like about graze is that it offers something for everyone, especially those watching their calorie intake or those with specific diets (veg/vegan/gluten-free…etc). Snacks include nuts, seeds, dried fruit/veg, mini cakes, biscuits, crackers, dips, and more.

Now, I rarely order food online. The only snacks I recall purchasing online are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos because you honestly cannot find them anywhere in this country. The process online is simple and straightforward with graze but when it came to actually reviewing the four snacks I received, I was met with three hits and a miss. I was left quite disappointed because the ‘miss’ was the one snack I was looking forward to eat.

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Service: graze

Type: Subscription snacks

Website: http://www.graze.com

What I’m reviewing: Herby Bread Basket, Moroccan Harissa Olives, Boston Baguettes, Beetroot Crisps

Price: £3.99 (first box is HALF-PRICE/FREE WITH MY CODE)

Herby Bread Basket: 4/5

The 90-calorie Herby Bread Basket punnet included mini basil breadsticks, oregano crackers and garlic crostini. I chose this one because it’s quite a popular selection and it’s one of the few options sold at supermarkets like Tesco. So, I thought it was worth trying. The flavours were all strong yet they complemented each other quite nicely. Crunchy, buttery and flavoursome… it was worth including in my very first graze box.

Moroccan Harissa Olives: 4/5

I’m a huge fan of olives so I had to include them in my box. There were around 16 green olives marinated with harissa, chilli and garlic in the punnet, which came with a pick-stick. They were juicy and fleshy, subtly spiced and easy to eat. I love my olives.

Boston Baguettes: 5/5

The punnet contained 8 crunchy tomato-flavoured breadsticks as well as a barbeque relish. I enjoyed eating the sticks dipped in the sweet, spicy and almost chutney-like dip. However, if you’re not a fan of chutney, you might not like the dip. I was extremely satisfied with this combination and would strongly recommend this snack to anyone. Also, it was only 84 calories so I would definitely add this in my grazebox again.

Beetroot Crisps: 2/5

Last but unquestionably least… the beetroots crisps. I was actually devastated. No lie. All I could think was, “This is what I’ve been looking forward to try for 3 days?” I’ve been a fan of beetroot crisps ever since I tried Tyrrells Mixed Root Vegetable Crisps last year. I was so impressed with them then that I was positive I was going to like the ones graze offered. But I didn’t. At all. They were dry, stale and flavourless. Nasty! The punnet also contained dry jalapeno chickpeas and sunflower seeds… which are the only thing preventing me from giving this snack a big fat zero.

OVERALL RATING: 3.75/5

Despite quite a good rating, the reality is that you’d probably save more money by preparing your own snacks at home. If you haven’t got enough time, then it is worth considering a subscription to graze… but expect to be disappointed by at least one snack. I personally didn’t love the snacks enough to buy graze boxes on a regular basis. But I will be giving it another go very soon.

Remember, you can get your first box for half-price. Or for FREE with my code!

Message me on Twitter: @sugaviolet

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The Veggie Review: Byron

Hi everyone!

Second year of uni is fast approaching so I thought it would be a good idea to resume blogging. One thing I regret is not blogging at all throughout my first year… even though I was actually looking forward to writing all about my experience! I guess I got too caught up in the new atmosphere…

Anyway, this isn’t another ‘I’m going to blog more frequently you guys, I promise!‘ post, it’s a veggie review. I’ll be reviewing a series of vegetarian options at various restaurants located in both London and Kent. I am aware that reviewing Byron may be unfair, considering they specialise in hamburgers but if there’s a veggie option, there’s a review.

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Restaurant: Byron

Type: Burger joint

Location: Covent Garden

What I’m reviewing: Mushroom burger

What’s inside: Grilled Portobello mushroom, goat’s cheese, roasted red pepper, baby spinach, tomato, red onion and aioli

Price: £7.95

 

 

Visually, the Mushroom Burger itself looked very appetising however the overall presentation of the plate was so-so. It could do without Byron’s signature wedge of pickle on the side and be replaced with fries or coleslaw, in my opinion. Moving on to the actual burger, the bun was squishy and fluffy but didn’t hold the components well enough to eat the burger without any fuss. The supposedly ‘grilled’ portobello mushroom wasn’t as smoky or flavoured as expected and was rather soggy, much like the peeled pepper which, by the way, I just had to remove. The goat’s cheese melted nicely with the spinach, tomato, onion and the hint of garlic from the aioli, but considering the main component is the mushroom, I was left slightly disappointed.

I only entered Byron with high expectations due to the hype surrounding the chain but whatever, at least the carnivores are pleased. On a serious note, I was surprised Byron even provided two seemingly appealing vegetarian options to begin with, the other being the Bean Patty, so I can’t complain that much. I just wasn’t blown away by the Mushroom Burger. I am, after all, a huge fan of mushrooms. In fact, I will definitely be trying the Bean Patty next time as the flavours in the whole burger did work quite well. If I replace the mushroom with a bean patty, I’m hoping it’ll be my preferred veggie alternative.

Rating: 3/5

 

-Lara, still alive

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Quick Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I had it for a long time but I just never got around to reading it. Oops. But I did! I finished! I finiiiiished! (Yes, I am ecstatic because it took me aaaages for some reason… aka coursework, stress, mocks, stress, university prep, stress…) I also promised myself not to watch the film without reading the book first. So this novel is 432 pages long and I will admit it only got really interesting towards the middle because – SURPRISE! – it only gets darker and more messed up than anyone thought. And the twisted person gets his/her way in the end. Hurrah! Yay justice system! (Don’t even get me started on America’s corrupt justice system…)

Here’s the blurb:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
  

Anyway this novel will have you guessing. I promise. But it will also get you bored (beginning), suspicious of literally everyone, even yourself, your family, and your nonexistent child (middle of beginning), freaked out (middle), excited (beginning of the end), aaaaand then it feels lackluster towards the end. Nope. Not having that. Strictly no bull zone.

So it’s a tad bit unrealistic, but we all love that, don’t we? It was quite intelligent but so unreliable as it MESSED YOU UP BIG TIME. I loved this inconsistency, the way it was written with the whole dual perspectives narrative… each of the characters make each other look both amazing and disgusting. Good luck figuring out the truth.

If you ever want to read this, I apologise in advance. I really want you – shoutout to my (0) readers out there – to read it but as I’m still psychologically a mess, I’m probably making it sound either much better or much worse than it is and I quote ‘this book needs to die, while I pet it lovingly’. Take your pick. (See what I did? I’m unreliable. Ha!) If you don’t want to read it, fine by me, just watch it.

I am currently reading Anna and the French Kiss… stay tuned, my precious fans

-Lara, cool girl (giggles maniacally)

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Fun Facts:

I watched this on Saturday.

I had a sandwich from subway and nachos with an awful sour cream dip (from the cinema!!!).

I fell in love with the series again.

It was criticized for being ‘unsatisfying’ due to the lack of plot development (or being closely compared to the amazing Catching Fire), but as it’s part 1, it is merely setting up the foundation for Mockingjay Part 2. Yes, the movie did lack the terror and suspense that it’s predecessors were famous for. However, this one is more dark and political as it digs deep into the roots of the problem. I thought the acting was superb (RIP PSH) and I don’t think anyone could have played Katniss as well as Jennifer Lawrence. The angst was gripping and the cinematography was beautiful. Watch it anyway, it’s worth it.

Here are some good songs from the soundtrack which was curated by Lorde (I am Lorde, ya ya ya)

Yellow Flicker Beat – Lorde

Scream My Name – Tove Lo

All My Love – Major Lazer

The Leap – Tinashe

CHVRCHES – Dead Air

Charli XCX – Kingdom (ft. Simon Le Bon)

The Chemical Brothers – This Is Not A Game ft. Miguel

Roll on November 20, 2015…

-Lara, girl on fire (Don’t ridicule me.)

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American Horror Story So Far…

Season 4 – Freak Show

Ah, yes. 1950s America – Florida, 1952, to be precise. It’s about one of the last remaining freak shows in America. Or the survival of the freaks/performers. Or Elsa Mars’ desire to be famous. Take your pick. My queen Jessica Lange is still at it. She’s just so enchanting to watch and her characterization is so different every season- although she still has that greedy charm to her every time.

This is Elsa Mars. Respected German expatriate freak show owner who collects freaks and provides them with their one true ‘home’… the freak show tent things. Amazing. Also, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but Elsa’s backstory and reasoning behind her actions is beautifully written and gripping.

My second favourite actress on the show – Sarah Paulson – plays Siamese/conjoined twins, Bette and Dot. Paulson honestly does a great job as the twins are so dissimilar I almost forget that they’re being played by one actress. Also, their backstory might surprise you.

Even though the series is an anthology… we have been told that there are connections with previous series. One connection for certain is Pepper from Asylum. Hi Pepper from Asylum.

Verdict: It Keeps Gettin’ Better (note the reference to Christina Aguilera, who is totally irrelevant in this post, but whadaya gon’ do ’bout it?)

-Lara, biggest Jessica Lange fangirl

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Quick Book Review: We Were Liars by E Lockhart

 “A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.”

Cadence Sinclair is the presumably seventeen-year-old narrator of We Were Liars and continues to suffer from injuries she sustained during ‘Summer 15’ on her grandfather’s private island, which she usually visits every summer. Now, during Summer 17, she struggles to remember the reasons behind her injuries, as well as the circumstances leading up to her depressed state.

Sounds pretty promising, doesn’t it? Well, the premise is great… the execution, however, not so much. To be fair it was getting late, but I had to finish reading. And I honestly expected more. It wasn’t a bad novel at all, but it wasn’t that good. Anyway, I’m going to try my best not to spoil this for any potential readers but… I cried. Then again, I cry all the time – out of joy …and sadness… but mostly from onions aka the Satan of vegetables.

Let’s go all high school on this novel and judge it…

What Went Well:

The inclusion of fairytales and references to King Lear and Wuthering Heights were very interesting and original, and I thought it worked.

I could relate to the philosophical aspect of the novel.

The presentation of ‘struggle’ from a privileged perspective was realistic.

The suspense did, admittedly, captivate me.

…again, the premise itself was lovely.

What Did Not Go Well:

The occasional fragmented writing style and indecipherable metaphors did not work well at all.

Character development was weak. Not many of the characters were likeable and the ones who were likeable were developed quite poorly.

The title of the book (We Were Liars, in case you didn’t know) baffles me especially since it was the main thing that lured me into reading this in the first place (the blurb is rather cryptic)… You’ll understand once, and only if, you read it.

…the execution was not to my taste.

Rating: 3.5/5

Why: The idea behind We Were Liars was clever and I really do love dark, eerie novels. The issues tackled were contemporary yet traditional, and seeing through the lens of an upper-class teenager made this novel worth reading.  Nevertheless, I think I set my expectations too high for this novel, but it’s still a pretty good read… just don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Best Quotes: “We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.”

“Be a little kinder than you have to.”

“Better than chocolate, being with you last night. Silly me, I thought that nothing was better than chocolate.”

*SPOILER ALERT*: Spoiler alerts usually attract my attention even more but if you’ve watched the Sixth Sense… I doubt you’ll rate this highly. I mean, come on, M. Night Shyamalan, anyone?

-Lara, bibliophile who is sort-of okay. And stuff.

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Bath and Body Works vs The Body Shop

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Two great companies. Two great sets. One great scent.

I did express my undying love for the smell of Japanese Cherry Blossom in my previous post. So I decided to compare these products.

BBW – Bath and Body Works (left): Body lotion, shower gel, perfume

TBS – The Body Shop (right): Body lotion, shower gel, perfume

And huzzah! The resemblance is uncanny! (it’s not like they’re the same scent or anything…)

The Body Shop’s products are easier to open and apply, however Bath and Body Works feels smoother on the skin. The Body Shop has a more light, feminine smell to its products, as it they are more natural and less processed. BBW products are more overpowering, last a little longer. I remember hearing that BBW care more about the scent whereas TBS cautiously use natural scents and ingredients, making them less artificial and processed. So if you’re more concerned with the ingredients and the overall making (environment-wise) of the product – then I suggest The Body Shop. However, if the scent, range and price are more important, then Bath and Body Works is the one for you.

-Lara, Japanese Cherry Blossom fanatic