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September & October 2016 Monthly Favorites!


This week hasn't been the best week for me. But you know what helps me get through a super crappy week? My monthly favorites from September and October! (Sorry it's a joint monthly favorites but I've had so much going on what with traveling and then this crappy week) I love all of these things and can't wait to share them with you! So get ready for some music recommendations, a TV show to watch (if you haven't already), and read about what I got in England and France, and how much fun a live podcast taping is!

Music:

I haven't been listening to a lot of actual music albums, but I've been digging a few new(ish) pop songs (my teenage emo self would be so ashamed for my now unashamed love of pop). Here are some of the ones I've been obsessed with these past couple of months!

That's My Girl- Fifth Harmony
Who doesn't love a girl power song sung by a girl band? Plus, it's super catchy!

Mama Said- Lukas Graham
Am I the only one getting major Annie "It's A Hard-Knock Life" vibes from this song? Because I am and I love it!

Bad Decisions, Thinking of You- Ariana Grande
After listening to these songs on repeat for what seems like my whole trip to London and Paris, I think I may be an Ariana Grande fan. It feels so weird, and yet so good, to finally admit that to myself!

Ain't My Fault- Zara Larsson
I can't really figure out what this song actually means, but all I know is that this song is incredibly catchy and Zara Larsson sounds like a baby Rihanna and I am not mad about it.

The Greatest- Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar
Can Sia not write a catchy song? I don't think it's possible!

Shout Out to My Ex- Little Mix
I love that this song is about "thanking" your ex for putting you through hell so that you can come out of the crappy relationship even stronger. I wish this song had come out when I really needed it, but I still love it and have been listening to it nonstop!


TV:
Channel 4/Netflix
In case you didn't know, Black Mirror's third season just arrived on Netflix and I think I may have finished the entire season in two days. (Let's say three to make it sound less sad and pathetic.) I finished it in three days! If you haven't watched Black Mirror yet, please do because it's scary, realistic (in a futuristic, yet not so distant future kind of way), and just plain ol' good. My favorite episodes from this current season were "Nosedive," "Playtest," and "Shut Up And Dance." ("San Junipero" was also good, but it actually had a sort of happy-ish ending, and let's be honest, if I want to watch something mildly disturbing, I think ending it on a creepy or sad way is how you should end it. But "San Junipero" was a nice break from the bleak and terrifying other episodes! Plus it made me a little teary-eyed, but not as much as "Be Right Back" from season 2. I've only watched that one twice and each time I sob like a baby for hours afterwards) But all of the episodes were brilliant and chilling and so thought provoking. And thanks to my binge-watching of season 3, I've gone back to rewatch the first two seasons to relive that Black Mirror goodness. Now I'm just counting down the days (most likely year or so) till the next season. Ugggh I can't wait!

Odds & Ends/Travel & Souvenirs: 

I have to say, I'm kind of proud of myself. Why, you may ask? Because while I was in London and Paris, I didn't even buy myself a lot of stuff. Even though I was so tempted, and really, really wanted to. I could have bought so many knickknacks and trinkets. So many touristy tchotchkes to fill my house with and that no respecting human being who hopes to live in England would even have on their premises (you mean people in England don't have pencils, plastic dishes, mugs, coffee tumblers, and snowglobes all decked out in and shaped like Union Jacks, Big Ben, red phone booths and double decker buses? I am shocked). I actually ended up spending most of my cash I brought over on presents for my friends and family (is it just me or is it just way more fun now to buy presents for people than it is to get them? Like shopping for people's birthday and Christmas presents is probably one of my favorite things to do). But....

When I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour (post coming soon), I kind of went a little nuts. Not too nuts though, I did show some restraint. But I went overboard enough to qualify for a tote bag for only 2 pounds. What can I say, though, I was on vacation! And it was the Harry Potter holy land, if there was only one place for me to splurge on things just for me, then the studio tour definitely was the place to fill up my shopping basket! Which I did. But not too much (just trying to reiterate that!). But here's what I got in my Harry Potter haul!


The full haul! See, I didn't go too wild! I showed restraint! But I still had fun :) (Note the tote bag in the back that I got for very cheap because of how much I spent. I'm not even upset, because LOOK HOW CUTE THE TOTE IS!!)



As an American, I knew I had to get a copy of a British version of one of the Harry Potter books. And the first book was a perfect choice since I've already grown up thinking it was Sorcerer, not Philosopher. But I had a bit of a Sophie's Choice moment: I really wanted a wand (Luna Lovegood's to be exact), but I also wanted the Philosopher's Stone. They were both the same price, but I knew I should be responsible and only get one. I went over to the wand counter (yes, the Harry Potter Studio Tour had a wand counter aka Ollivander's. So fun!!) and asked if they still had any of Luna's wands. They didn't, and then I knew it was fate that I would get the first book. I'll just have to get Luna's wand at one of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter parks in the future!



I also spent a LOT of time in the Honeydukes aka candy section of the gift shop (which was huge, by the way. The shop, not the candy section. But the candy section was still pretty big), contemplating what I wanted to buy. But I finally narrowed it down to this cute Honeydukes jar that would look so adorable filled with any candy or treats of my choice. After I finish all of these lemon drops, of course! I chose the jar filled with lemon drops- there was another one filled with jelly babies and another with what I think was like licorice or some other generic boring candy- in honor of it being Dumbledore's favorite sweet.



And last but not least, I saw this adorable little mug that looks like a cauldron and I knew I had to get it. Not only could it just be decorative, but I could also make anything I drink out of it (hot chocolate, soda, juice) seem just a little bit more magical!

And now to France! My parents were kind enough to buy this picture for me as we were strolling along the Seine in the rain, and saw that some of the green book stalls (selling books, art, trinkets) were actually open. Look how adorable these cats looking over a picturesque Paris neighbordhood with the Eiffel Tower in the background are! I haven't gotten it framed yet, but it's next on my to do list!



This next one I bought just for me at a stereotypical tourist shop in Paris. It was our last day in Paris and I had bought things for my friends and family, but nothing for me. Then I stumbled across these fancy animal pillow covers! They had cat and dog ones, all decked out in historical outfits and looking very regal. The shop assistant was nice enough to help me (and then try to make me buy two but I said one was enough, haha) pick out the perfect one (I was tempted between two, but I obviously wanted a cat one and the one in the Elizabethean ruff was a nice reminder of my love of England. Plus the cat sort of looks like my cat Harriet!). The pillows (according to the shop assistant) are tapestries and I checked the tag and they said they were made in Flanders, so no wonder they were a tiny bit pricey (at least I didn't get two) but I figured, this is the only thing I'm buying for myself in France, so why not? Compared to other people, this might not even qualify as a splurge! (But it definitely was a splurge to me!)


Look how regal!!!

I love all of the stuff I got from the studio tour and France! It's all just such a nice reminder from all of the fun experiences and adventures from my trip! ♥

Events:

Have you heard of the podcast, How Did This Get Made? It's a really funny podcast where actors Paul Scheer (best known for Andre on The League), June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas (Rafi on The League and my absolute favorite person EVER), and sometimes guests, review/discuss/make fun of really bad movies and it's the most hilarious thing. I've listened to almost all of the episodes, and listened to my favorites multiple times and have actually watched so many bad movies, thanks to the podcast. It's become such a huge cult hit that they now record live podcasts with an audience. And a few weeks ago I got to go to one when I was visiting family in Los Angeles!

It was at a really cool, tucked away small comedy club called Largo in LA/Beverly Hills, with special guests Robert Kirkman and Emily V. Gordon. The movie they were "reviewing" that night was a godawful movie called Gamer, starring Gerard Butler and Michael C. Hall (Dexter!), that came out a few years ago. The podcast taping totally made up for me having to sit through that movie because I had the best time there! Listening to the podcasts always make me laugh, but actually being at a live taping of one is the best way to experience the podcast, in my opinion. Just to see the Paul, Jason, and the other interact with each other and the audience is so much better than just listening to the audio podcast. The visuals and actually being there make it EVERYTHING!

Jason and Paul were on fire and Robert Kirkman and Emily Gordon were hilarious as well too. The thing I love about Jason is that he unabashedly loves Gilmore Girls and always references Harry Potter and Game of Thrones and seems to almost always name drop them in episodes (he totally made fun of us "nerds" in the audience for taking the quiz on Pottermore to find out our Patronuses, haha. I raised my hand with a few others when he asked. I'm not ashamed!). Seeing Jason was the highlight for me and I was so happy that all four posed for a picture at the very end of the taping. My photo of the four of them didn't come out, but I was able to take one of Jason, so I was happy. All in all, it was a great experience and night!


Jason Mantzoukas in all of his awesome, hilarious glory! (Ignore my blurry iPhone 6 camera photo)  ♥


Later that night I tweeted out at the How Did This Get Made? Twitter account thanking them for the awesome show and they tweeted back! The waffle thing is reference to the movie and podcast. (You'd just have to listen!) And June, the other host of the show couldn't be there that night, so I tweeted at her telling her that we missed her and she liked my tweet! Fun in the digital age, right??

Listen here to How Did This Get Made? here:

Earwolf
Soundcloud
iTunes

Totally Random:

Remember how I just said that I love Jason Mantzoukas and his love for Gilmore Girls? Well, I had no idea that he has been a guest multiple times on the Gilmore Guys podcast! He's done two of the podcasts in studio (they review one Gilmore Girls episode per podcast episode) and then he's done two of their live shows, which they actually taped and put on YouTube. It's safe to say I've been rewatching/listening to Jason's episodes because he's so damn funny yet he really get into the relationships and storylines of Gilmore Girls. I haven't listened to a lot of Gilmore Guys, but if Jason was on every single episode I would listen to every single one, even the seventh season ones (and that's saying a lot because I haaaaated the seventh season of Gilmore Girls!). Let's hope Gilmore Guys reviews the new season of Gilmore Girls coming on to Netflix with Jason on as a guest for every one of the episodes!

Jason with hosts Demi and Kevin!
To listen to Gilmore Guys listen here:

Soundcloud
iTunes

Jason's episodes are season 3 episode 7 They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?, season 4 episode 22 Raincoats & Recipes, season 5 episode 21 Blame Booze and Melville, season 6 episode 21 Driving Miss Gilmore, and (just added! I haven't even listened to it yet!) season 7 episode 21 Unto the Breach.

You can watch the video taping of Blame Booze and Melville here and the video of Driving Miss Gilmore here. (Which I highly recommend because they are THE BEST!!! Jason just makes the episodes like 100x better!)


And to end my monthly favorites blog post, here's a gif of Jason absolutely slaying the game by making Kevin and Demi from Gilmore Guys bust up laughing. Oh, Jason.... :D

What did you think of September and October's monthly favorites? Let me know what you think in the comments!

-Emily

10 Reasons Why Halloween Is The Best Holiday Ever



It's the most wonderful time of the year...aka HALLOWEEN! It's my absolute favorite holiday and in honor of it coming up on Monday (so sacrilegious to have it be on a Monday! It's almost as bad as Halloween falling on a Sunday), I have decided to compile a list of all the reason why Halloween is the best holiday ever (it's better than Christmas! Christmas, I say!!!). So put on a scary movie (for some background ambiance, of course) and settle in to read all about the most spookiest and most fun holiday out there!

1. The Weather

Where do I start: falling orange, red, and yellow leaves, the crunch of them beneath your feet, the smell of fireplaces burning, that crisp fall air as the cold starts to set in, the days are shorter, the sky slightly overcast...all signs point to fall (or autumn) and you know what that means: Halloween is near! Screw snow, falling leaves are way better!

2. Pumpkin EVERYTHING

Whether you love it or hate it, once you start seeing pumpkins everywhere (Starbucks menu, most likely), you know sh*t is about to get real. Real spooky! (See what I did there?) Sure, pumpkin flavored everything is a bit much, but there's no denying that it gets you in that fall mood, meaning it gets you in the Halloween mood. Plus, there's nothing cuter than a pumpkin, big or small, decorative or real. And don't get me started on how much I love jack o'lanterns. This blog post would never end!

3. Costumes and the Parties

When else do you get to dress up as something funny, or scary, or just plain ol' punny? Bonus points if you were super creative with coming up with your costume and then actually making it! (I'm so jealous of you crafty people!) And where do you go to when you're all dressed up? (As an adult anyway, since apparently it's frowned upon to trick or treat as a grown up; see below entry) A Halloween party with all of your friends! And if you're lucky they'll have a costume contest and you'll win ALL of the prizes from all the different catergories. Because your costume was that good.

4. Candy and Treat or Treating

Chances are you're probably too old to trick or treat now, but back when you were young enough and did, oh man, those were the days! Dressing up in your finest costume (or hand me down or hastily made costume, in my case), and walking all around the neighborhood to knock on doors and demand treats from annoyed neighbors was the best! As you got older you got to walk further out into different neighborhoods and therefore get more candy. And oh, the candy! The finest mini candy bars (unless you were treat or treating in a nice neighbordhood and they gave away full sized candy bars! Then score!) and fun sized treats were all waiting in your treat bag when you got home, until you dumped them on the floor or table and started to sort them into different catergories (just me? I also gave the gross candy aka Good n Plenties and Mounds/Almond Joys to my parents) and you promised yourself you would ration your candy this year but you knew that well before Christmas it would all be gone and you'd be filled with sadness until you realized that Halloween was only 10 months away and you already started plotting your next costume and your new neighborhood treat or treating route (for optimal candy gathering, of course). Oh, the memories... Now I just have to settle for handing out candy to treat or treaters now. The circle of life, people.

5. The Decorations

Spooky or fun? Cute or sophisticated? From fake cobwebs to full blown blow up lawn figures and animatronics, there are so many different ways you could go with Halloween decorations! I personally prefer a mix of vintage and scary. And my hat goes off to the people who really go all out with the Halloween lawn decorations! (There's always at least one in the neighborhood!) We thank you and salute you for creeping us out everytime we have to walk (very quickly, because you never know) past your house at night. That's how you know they've done a good job! (Talk about #halloweendecorationshousegoals!)

6. Ghost Stories

The original way to get scared. Swapping stories with your friends at a sleepover, or around a campfire, and of course, on Halloween, either at a party or before or after you go trick or treating. Whether it's a story about a vengeful spirit haunting someone on All Hallow's Eve, or the more topical urban legends, Halloween was (and is!) a time to be spooked by scary stories but try to play it cool and act brave, then just end up jumping at the slightest sound or shadow for the rest of the night. (And you know as a kid you definitely slept with a light on on Halloween night!) Even now that you know that ghost stories are just made up (or are they???), you still get those fun goosebumps as you read a click bait article about exorcisms gone wrong or a Creepypasta that is most definitely fake but it still makes you look over your shoulder for the rest of the day. Just in case.

7. Being Scared

A chill crawling down your spine, the feeling of being watched, the sound of floorboards creaking towards you as you lay in bed late at night... All the classic feelings of being scared. But not "I fear I'm going to die" scared sh*tless, but fun scared. Some people have roller coasters, I have haunted houses! (Which are way less dangerous than roller coasters. Except if one of the actors in a haunted house is a murderer. But that's a whole other thing and probably doesn't happen that often. In Final Destination 3 the roller coaster was the bad guy- well, Death was the bad guy but the roller coaster was the catalyst so basically roller coasters are scarier than non-excistent real life murderers in haunted house attractions. Glad we got that cleared up!) And speaking of movies...

8. Scary Movies

While it's always okay to watch horror movies all year round (at least in my book!), you'll still get a lot of strange looks when you suggest a slasher film to watch on a date night (if so. you dump him!) but around Halloween...it's totally acceptable and actually encouraged! No one wants to watch a rom-com on Halloween! People want ghosts, they want murderers, they want creepy children and dolls! So give the people (aka YOU) want they (YOU) want and watch that horror movie! Have a scary movie marathon! There's no better way to get in the Halloween holiday spirit than turning off all the lights, some snacks, some friends to shriek and jump with, and putting on a scary movie! (And then not sleeping afterwards, but that's part of the whole thing. Sorry, you can't have one without the other, you know)

9. Embracing Fears  

Halloween forces us to face what we fear most- and embrace it. Instead of fearing death, ghosts, and ghouls (or whatever scares you!) we make light of the things that scare us. We decorate our houses with gravestones, skeletons, and homemade ghosts made out of soccer balls and sheets. For one night, we're surrounded by skulls, spiders, cobwebs and people dressed up as the Grim Reaper or the Devil (and that one weird guy who always seems to go as a different serial killer. Who invites this guy???), and it's totally fine. It's morbid and dark, with a touch of gallows humor but we're okay with it. And most of all, it's kind of fun to embrace your fears and make them silly and over the top. It's a way of conquering them and showing them you're not scared of them. (At least for one night of the year, but still!)

And last but not least...

10. Halloween Lets You Be You

As weird as this sounds on a day when you dress up to look like someone or something else, Halloween is a time for you to express and embrace yourself. Who cares what other people think? If you want to dress up as something funny, cute, strange, scary, or even a little risque, go for it! If you want to dress up as your favorite fictional character that literally no one else will get but you and then you have to field questions all night? Do it! Or how about your favorite food? Do you love Nutella and want to make sure everyone knows it? Then make yourself a giant jar of Nutella costume and strut your stuff! Or maybe you're feeling a creepy (not sexy) doll costume? Paint your face, wear some pigtails, throw on some fake blood like you just murdered the little girl that owned you- you're a doll, remember- and look as terrifying as you can. Don't worry about what anyone thinks, this is Halloween! If you want to look scary, you look scary! Have fun with all of your eccentricities and go nuts! Halloween is a holiday focused on all things scary, but it's also your chance to have fun and be you. Embrace your inner weirdness and just let everyone see it. If you can't be yourself on Halloween, then when can you? (The answer is everyday :) )

via GIPHY

Thanks for reading and I hope you liked my list of all of the reasons why I love Halloween. Hope your Halloween this year is frightful, fun, and filled with your favorite candies! ♥

-Emily

British Candy Taste Test!


I don't mean to brag or anything but I'm kind of a candy connoisseur. Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm an American and everyone knows that Americans love candy (and junk food. And fast food. And soda. And pretty much everything that tastes good but is super bad for you), but I like to think I know my candy- at least the American versions. I know that the best candy bar ever is a Snickers bar (nougat, peanuts, caramel, all covered in milk chocolate. YUM) and that the holiday shapes Reese's taste better than regular Reese's cups (the peanut butter to chocolate ratio in the holiday ones are perfection). I love M&M's (milk or peanut butter), Hershey's Cookies & Cream candy bars (it tastes like an Oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen but without the stomachache afterwards), and you can't go wrong with a Twix bar (they used to make a peanut butter Twix where the caramel was replaced with peanut butter and the cookie part was CHOCOLATE. Chocolate I tell you! It was the best and they still have a peanut butter Twix but they changed the recipe. I'm sorry, I just feel very passionate about candy...). Chocolate is my go to when it comes to candy, but I've been known to eat my fair share of gummy candies (bears, worms, sharks, frogs, and other fun, whimsical shapes) and other non-chocolate candies.

I love the idea that every single country on earth has different candies specific to their own country, that reminds them of childhood, their home, and happy memories. It's a beautiful thought that even though we're all so different, candy is one thing we all have in common, even if the candy is just as different than we are from each other. But one thing that candy all has in common is that they're all sweet (usually), and judging from how many cavities I've had filled (not that many, but a few), I like my sweet candy! So here begins my first adventure trying candy from different countries, this time from England! Let's see how these English favorites (which I researched online before buying them at a little shop at St. Pancras station while waiting for the Eurostar to take me to Paris) taste to an American used to Hershey's chocolate!

Maltesers

What Is It/What's In It? Malt balls covered in milk chocolate. Pretty much the British version of American Whoppers (the candy, not the Burger King burger)
How Does It Taste? Let me just start this off by saying that I'm not the biggest fan of malted milk balls (which is how Whoppers are described), but I've been known to eat a few here and there. BUT...these Maltesers was the first of the British candy that I tried and I freaking loved them. I kept eating them and had to pace myself so I wouldn't eat the whole bag! They had a less strong malt flavor than Whoppers, which I loved, and the milk chocolate was so creamy and tasty.
Would I Eat It Again? That's a big yes! Again, not a malted milk ball fan, but Maltesers have changed me! Now, on to trying to figure out how to get them in the US...

Jelly Babies

What Is It/What's In It? A gummy (or jelly) candy in different fruit flavors shaped like babies (I love how cannibalistic you Brits are!)
How Does It Taste? First of all, I could not tell they were shaped like babies. and they seemed to be a covered in a light dusting of powdered sugar or something similar like that. I did like how they used real fruit juice in the candy and that you could actually taste what kind of fruit it was without relying on artificial flavors. As for the taste, they weren't too sweet and though the flavors were nice, they were very light. It was honestly just a basic gummy candy. And it was alright.
Would I Eat It Again? I most likely wouldn't buy it again, but it was offered to me, I might have one or two of the lemon flavored ones (the clear winners of the bunch!).

Cadbury Dairy Milk Mixed Buttons

What Is It/What's In It? Little milk chocolate and white chocolate "button" shaped pieces made by the best chocolate company in the world, Cadbury.
How Does It Taste? Delicious! There's no denying it, Cadbury chocolate is far superior to Hershey's. It's creamier, lighter, and just has a more yummy chocolate taste. I'm not the biggest fan of white chocolate but I gladly ate all of these white chocolate buttons with glee.
Would I Eat It Again? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

Crunchie

What Is It/What's In It? Honeycomb covered in milk chocolate. Weird (to me), but I was game to try something different.
How Does It Taste? The honeycomb in the center didn't taste like I expected. It almost had a coffee taste to it (does it have a coffee taste to it usually? Or was mine defective? Or are my taste buds all messed up? It could be all of the above, honestly) and I'm not a fan of coffee. I kind of blanched when I ate it and chewed until the chocolate coating overwhelmed the taste of the coffee flavored honeycomb (at least it tasted like that to me). Very strange.
Would I Eat It Again? Sadly, no. I loved the concept of it, and even though I'm not usually a big fan of honey, I really didn't expect that coffee flavor to bother me so much. But at least I tried!

Flake

What Is It/What's In It? A candy bar consisting of thinly folded chocolate that flakes and breaks apart as you eat it
How Does It Taste? It tasted just okay. The chocolate was almost a tiny bit bitter, but I couldn't tell if it only tasted that way because I'm American and I'm used to super sweet chocolate. Or maybe the candy was old (again, I did buy this at St. Pancras station). Either way, it was just alright. I was expecting to be wowed and I wasn't. At all.
Would I Eat It Again? Maybe. I'd like to try to a fresher one at some point to see if that would make any sort of difference. I'd like to give it a second chance. It's Cadbury, after all!

Wine Gums

What Is It/What's In It? Fruit flavored gummy candies that are called Winegums but don't taste like wine or the gums of an alcoholic (thank god). They have names of booze on them, like "champagne," "port," and "whisky." 
How Does It Taste? Basically they're like gumdrops more than gummy bears- more dense, less squishy. Hardier is, I suppose, a good way to put it. They are a hardy gummy candy!
Would I Eat It Again? They weren't terrible, but they weren't great either. Again, I'm not the biggest gummy fan, but let's just say I'll eat them if they're in front of me! (But only the lime, orange, and lemon flavored ones. Those are my favorite fruit flavors!)

Cadbury Dairy Milk

What Is It/What's In It? Perfect. Just pure perfection.
How Does It Taste? Heaven. Like I bit into heaven and the angels sang. Seriously. And I thought the Mixed Buttons were good. The bar is the original and it's the best. Hands down!
Would I Eat It Again? Really? You have to ask if I would ever eat this again?

Kinder Surprise Infinimix*
*Confession: I actually bought this Kinder egg in France. Oops! But I'm including it here because I didn't buy any other candy in France. Sorry for the inconsistency and the fact that it isn't British!

What Is It/What's In It? A hollow milk chocolate egg (the inside lining is white chocolate), with a small plastic container inside the egg that has a toy surprise! These apparently are banned in the US, due to them being a choking hazard for kids under 3 (laaaame!), so us people over the age of 3 in the US can't enjoy these. Usually. Unless someone like me buys them in another country and then sneaks them back in (like me. Shhhh).
How Does It Taste? For a hollow chocolate egg, it tasted really good! The prize inside was kind of meh (a Lego like little figure that I will keep as an added little memento from my trip) but it's still fun to get an added treat with chocolate! (But chocolate is the ultimate treat!)
Would I Eat It Again? Maybe not a Kinder egg, but I'd definitely try another Kinder product, since I thought the chocolate itself was excellent (Cadbury and Kinder will have to duel it out to win my heart and prove who is the best chocolate).

Lion

What Is It/What's In It? A candy bar that's filled with a wafer (or wafers? Not sure how that works!), caramel, and crispy cereal all covered in milk chocolate.
How Does It Taste? It tasted...okay. Not outstanding, but not terrible either. There wasn't too much caramel and I could barely taste the wafer! (Wafers are delicious in the right situations) And I think I just realized I don't like crispy cereal (like crisped rice? I can tolerate them in Crunch bars but I guess not here!), thanks to this candy bar.
Would I Eat It Again? Sorry, Lion bar, but I'm probably not going to eat one of you again. More for the Lion candy bar lovers out there!

Double Decker

What Is It/What's In It? It's a chocolate bar with cereal crispies on the bottom layer, and a thick layer of nougat on top, all covered in milk chocolate.
How Does It Taste? My first impression was: eww. I opened the wrapper and a whole bunch of nougat had broken free from the chocolate shell, but I set that gross imagery aside and took a bite. Remember how I said earlier that I think I discovered that I don't like crisped rice cereal in my candy bars? The Double Decker has confirmed that theory. Also, I'm not sure I care for such an abundance of plain nougat. It was a bit too much for my taste. All in all, two thumbs waaaay down.
Would I Eat It Again? No. It was super disappointing, for some reason. Maybe because I was really hoping it would be outstandingly tasty, due to its very cute and British name. Sigh. But it wasn't.


So what did you guys thinks of my assessment of British candies? I really liked some, but others were just kind of...meh (though that's also true with American candies. Like does anyone really eat Mounds or Almond Joy? Or original Tootsie Rolls? Please). But I know there are way more out that I'm willing to try, so if you have any suggestions for me, please let me know! Because this was the tastiest blog post I've ever done and I'd love to do it again with different candies from different places.

Let me know if you think I had a good selection or if I totally missed some good ones!

-Emily

Book Recommendation: Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Penguin Books

Book: Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame
Author: Mara Wilson
Genre: Nonfiction

Why You Should Read It (In My Humble Opinion): If you're like me (aka a millennial who remembers the mid to late 90's pretty well, and the early 90's not quite as clearly) then you remember Mara Wilson as Matilda, the incredibly smart and well read wunderkind, vastly unappreciated by her family, and has telekinetic powers. Not only did she play a beloved children's book character (and help bring Matilda to the mainstream and be an influence to millions of other misunderstood, smart girls), before that, she was in Mrs. Doubtfire with the late, great Robin Williams. I mean, come on!  Basically, she was the ultimate 90's cool kid and I was incredibly jealous of her back when I was an impressionable (and quite envious, apparently) young girl. If I could have switched places with her, I would have- in a snap, heartbeat, whatever sort of phrase there is to pull a Freaky Friday with the 90's cool girl (Mary-Kate and Ashley who?).

But who would have thought that the coolest little girl from the 90's would turn into such a badass writer? (And honestly, I still kind of want to be her) I rediscovered Mara Wilson on Twitter (formerly as @MaraWritesStuff, now just as @MaraWilson), where she literally dominates the Twitterverse with her smart, funny, and just damn clever tweets. And I was very happy to learn that she had written a book about her life growing up, from being a child star and beyond. Not only do I love frank, honest, yet heartfelt writing, but I also love a good life of a Hollywood actor behind the scenes look at the industry. But what I got was not what I was expecting, but so much better.

While Mara does talk a bit about her life on the Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda set, she mostly just mentions it in passing or as a brief anecdote, under the umbrella of a bigger subject (her first chapter all about sex is brilliantly funny, honest, and very relatable) but she does have a chapter devoted to the experience of filming Matilda and what a privilege it was to be a part of that iconic film. She makes the point that the experience of filming the movie was so personal to her (she and her family were big fans of Roald Dahl's classic children's book) and to her mother, who was going through chemotherapy during that time (and later passed away after the movie finished filming). Mara paints her mother in a very truthful, honest light. Just from the way Mara describes her, you could tell that her mother was charismatic woman, outgoing, almost brassy, but kind and thoughtful underneath her tough exterior. In her portrayal, Wilson's mother was real, wonderful, and flawed, and we are left with the feeling of sadness of never being able to meet this woman and have her in our lives. In this respect, Mara's homage was incredibly well done, real, and heart-wrenching.

Another thing I loved about Mara's book, apart from her honest views on quitting Hollywood and her incredibly moving piece on working with Robin Williams and the legacy he left in her, and our, heart(s), was her writing on her experiences with depression and OCD. As someone who has been diagnosed with both of those things, I almost breathe a sigh of relief whenever I see other people who have the same issues as me. As if to say, "oh good, it's not just me!" Not that I want others to suffer like I have, but it's nice to know that I'm not the only person who may have intrusive, upsetting thoughts, or an overwhelming fog clouding my vision and my desire to live and exist. Mara started having intrusive thoughts and compulsions when she was younger, and though she suffered for quite a while, after reading a young adult novel where the main character has OCD, she was finally able to identify those thoughts and feelings as OCD (and anxiety and depression. Those things just seem to go hand in hand, don't they?) and get the help she needed. Talk about inspiring!

Mara Wilson might always be known to some as just the little girl from Matilda (or, the little girl who perfectly portrayed Matilda, more like!), but to those who have followed her on Twitter, or read her new book (which I've obviously totally endorsing. Please go buy a copy. I'll wait. You're back? Excellent!), she is more than just a former child star. She's a storyteller; she frequently speaks in New York City (where she currently resides) about humorous and honest stories from her life (in the last chapter of Where Am I Now? Mara writes a very awkward and cringe-worthy story about her attempt to tell a story at a comedy club. While it did not go well, the night ended up turning around afterwards). She's also a writer (example: this book and other pieces for cracked.com), a playwright (her chapter on the inspiration for a certain play she wrote was hilariously inspiring), and basically just an all around cool, awesome person (that's my personal opinion about her!).

If you're looking for a book all about being a child star, I'd look elsewhere (even though she does mention her times in Hollywood, it's not the whole book). But if you're looking for a book that's honest, funny, and just plain old well-written (if her writing in this book is amazing, I can only imagine actually hearing her tell some of these stories during one of her storytelling events!) then this is your book. I can guarantee that after reading Where Am I Now? Mara Wilson will be your hero, but not for portraying Matilda, but for being an incredibly talented writer and genuine person (and also her stories about her first kisses. Not not first kiss, first kisses. As in plural. Just read it, it's great!). Here's hoping she keeps writing (which she plans to) and writing more material for us to consume, enjoy, and live vicariously (sometimes happily, and sometimes unhappily. But whichever way the story leans you feel for her) through. Go Mara go!

-Emily

PS. Sorry for the overuses of the words "talented," "honest," "funny," and all around just worshiping Mara Wilson when describing this book. I just really freaking loved this book and now I pretty much want Mara to be my best friend. Or just my girl crush at this point if she's not looking for a new best friend. It's okay, I'll just settle for her being my girl crush and just worshiping her from afar (aka favoriting/retweeting her tweets on Twitter and hoping that one day when I'm all grown up I can be as cool as her).

Where to Buy:
Amazon
Or, check out a copy from your local library!


Check Out the Author:

My First Trip to London aka London Was Calling & We Totally Hooked Up! (Travel Tuesday)


You might not know this about me, but I've always wanted to visit London. Okay, maybe you did know that from reading this blog or anything I may have written on social media, but I thought I'd just explain in case anyone didn't know. Every since I read the Harry Potter books (so cliche), at the ripe old age of around 10 or 11, I've wanted to visit England. I became obsessed with everything London, from its long and rich history (I've forever loved the Tudors. The actual royal family and time period, not the show. But I do thoroughly enjoy the show!) to the Royal family (there was a time where I read everything ever published about Diana and Princes Will and Harry. I was a teeny bit obsessed). For years I have dreamed about visiting London. But thanks to my health (mental and physical), I was never ready, emotionally, mentally, or physically. But I saved my money and hoped that one day I could possibly go.

And now, at the ripe old age of 27 (27 isn't old, right? Right? Right???), my parents lovingly told me that it was time I went to Europe (they were planning on going and invited me to come along. Hey, I'm not one to complain!) and we started planning! We decided on London and Paris and on September 17 we were off to to visit the British Isles (well, just one Isle, but the big one) and the Continent (well, just France, but still!). To say it was a trip of a lifetime would be an understatement.

I got to visit places I had only read about and dreamed of. I got to hear British accents everywhere I went (in England, of course) and forget all the French I knew (which isn't much) when I tried to buy something in France (but more on that in another post). I had to figure out British pounds and Euros and try different versions of food that I wasn't used to (some of which I actually liked, The trials of being a picky eater vegetarian in another country!). There were some sticky moments (even on a vacation anxiety can still rear its ugly head) but I made it through. For the longest time I thought I would never be able to travel, but this big trip proved that I could and now I want to travel more and more and just experience the world as much as I can.

So for this blog post, I've compiled the best of the photos (with commentary, of course) that I took in London/England and that best encompass my amazing and groundbreaking (for me) trip. Come along with me as I relive my first time in London! (Can I go back already??)

Day #1 In London:


Time to go on a bus tour of London to see the sights! I totally needed to take a selfie on the tour bus before we headed out into London (I was excited, what can I say?). Our hotel was right in Kensington (beautiful city, by the way) so before we started the tour we drove past the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace (hi Will and Kate!), and Kensington/Hyde Park.



Drove by Buckingham Palace and was disappointed to learn that the Queen wasn't home. If she had been, I'm for sure certain she would have invited me in to play with her royal Corgis. Because obviously.



Bye, Buckingham Palace!



Ooh, the London Eye through the bus window! Ignore the glare!



Daaaamn, Big Ben! Back at it again with the London Eye! And that glare on the bus window, though!



Another selfie, but this time with Tower Bridge behind me. I've been to the somewhat original version here in Arizona, but this one was still impressive and obviously very iconic. (And another selfie)



Look! An Underground sign! Or the Tube, as Londoners call it!

After our morning bus tour where we drove by Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, St. Paul's,  Harrod's, and various historical sites, parks, and different London neighborhoods, all teeming with information and stories that I couldn't possibly contain in my overwhelmed brain, the bus dropped us off at Piccadilly Circus (now I've been there too!) and my parents and I walked around and explored a tourist shop before we braved the London Underground system. And then we were at the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone and a whole bunch of other awe inspiring pieces! (I was obviously too awestruck to take pictures. I just tried to soak everything in!)



Some wisdom that was left on the bathroom wall (I'm sorry, loo wall) in the British Museum's women's toilets (not bathrooms or restrooms- toilets). Amen, sister friend!



Look, a pretty much defunct but still very cute and iconic telephone booth! It didn't open so I couldn't have someone take my picture in it. My parents attempted to take a picture of me in it, but either they are terrible iPhone photographers or my non-photogenic tendencies are through the roof! (It's probably a bit of both. And then when I tried to take a selfie, I couldn't get the top part of the telephone booth in the shot because it was too tall. Or I was too short. Either way I gave up and just took a picture of it. Le sigh)



And then we went back on the Tube to go back to Big Ben and see him (Big Ben's a dude, right?) up close. Oh, look, another Underground sign!



(Big) Ben, in all of his beautiful glory ♥ I truly couldn't believe I was finally in England, staring up at it (him. Sorry, Ben!) We even got there right at four o'clock to hear the bells go off!



Another great shot of Big Ben. To me, this completely represents England and still takes my breath away seeing it (him! Sorry again, Ben!). But by now we wanted to head back to our hotel because the jet lag was kicking in plus we had done a lot of walking/sight-seeing. More adventures tomorrow!

Day #2 In London (Well, outside of London):


Day #2 had us get back on another bus and head out to Stonehenge! The ride took about an hour and forty-five minutes which gave our tour guide some time to chat with us and then for us to sleep (aka me listen to music/podcasts on my iPod). And when we woke up, we were at Stonehenge! (Cue Spinal Tap's legendary song "Stonehenge"!)



Yet another selfie, but this time with Stonehenge in the background! This was after I had walked around once already (I walked around twice), trying to take pictures, listen to the recorded tour, AND dodge tourists. I'm quite talented. After Stonehenge I went to go try to take pictures and talk to the sheep in the field next to Stonehenge. (What can I say, I love sheep!)



Panoramic shot of Stonehenge. Thanks, iPhone 6!



Some recreations of the dwellings of the people who built Stonehenge. You got to go inside some of them. It was quite...rustic. And cozy. I can only imagine how cold it was at night, with only a small fire going!



Another little dwelling. Thatched roofs have never gone out of style.

Now back on the bus and we were off to Oxford. Our tour guide was ah-mazing (she was with us in England and France) and knew that some of us were Harry Potter fans (ahem, me. And another couple who wanted to take some Harry Potter pics for their kid) and showed us a couple of the filming sites from the movies (along with some of the other historic and beautiful parts of Oxford. But obviously in my mind the Harry Potter references took precedence. Not that I didn't enjoy every part of Oxford!).



Look familiar?



How about now?



If you guessed it might be the location in the fourth movie aka Goblet of Fire, where Professor Moody (aka Barty Crouch Jr) turned Malfoy into a bouncing white ferret under this tree, you'd be totally right! I literally started squeeing (it's not just an internet thing) when I realized what location it was! Talk about hallowed grounds! Not to mention that it's a gorgeous old tree (I have a thing for trees. It's probably because I grew up in a desert and was surrounded by cactus my whole life).



When the tour guide first showed us this hallway, I definitely knew where I had seen it before! Harry, Ron, and Hermione talking about how Snape wants to steal the Sorcerer's (wait, I was in England, so I guess Philosopher's) when lo and behold, Snape sneaks up behind them and gives them a patent Alan Rickman stare down. Can't you just imagine little Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson on set, all bright eyed and bushy tailed??



Isn't it just breath-taking? And not just because it was a set on the Harry Potter films. All the buildings in Oxford are just living, breathing history! As someone from America, it's hard to fathom something that's older than 200+ years.

After we toured Oxford (we didn't just look at filming sites from the Harry Potter movies, I swear!), we split up to do some shopping (you know, if you wanted to pick up some Oxford sweatshirts and other paraphernalia), get some lunch and just do some exploring before meeting back up on the bus to head go back to London. Our tour guide suggested checking out this certain shop in Oxford because of their cool Harry Potter window display (you can tell that a lot of shops and Oxford in general were totally encouraging welcoming/attracting Harry Potter fans that were on a pilgrimage to see the filming sites).



Look how fun the window display is! You got Oxford gear, Harry Potter stuff, and Lord of the Rings as well (?)!



Wands and Gollum! What could be better? Preciousssss.....



Dobby! RIP. (*sob* He died a free elf *sobs again*)



In case you were wondering, the shop was called Flaggs. They sold a bunch of Harry Potter themed gear, which I would have gladly bought a bunch of, but I knew that my parents and I would be off to the Harry Potter Holy Land the next day, so I was proud of myself for showing some restraint! We did end up at other shops and had such a fun time looking around. I found the British (aka original) version of Philip Pullman's book of The Golden Compass (which is the American title), titled Northern Lights in England, for my sister (we both love the His Dark Materials series) at Waterstone's, which I'm assuming is the British version of Barnes & Noble. As different as countries might be, I love that some things, like book stores, are just the same in the US as they are anywhere else. Books unite us all! ♥ (Sorry for that tangent, but you know how it is, fellow bookworms)



Fun Harry Potter themed shelf display inside of Flaggs! That made me want to buy everything in the store. But I didn't. Yay me!



The floating candles!!!! ♥

Day #3 In London (Our Final Official Day *sob*)

This day was one totally reserved for a very special day: visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour! As you can probably tell, I'm a big Harry Potter fan, so this day certainly deserves its own blog post! That'll be up next Travel Tuesday, so keep your keep your eye out for it!

After we got back from the studio tour (which was incredible, by the way, but obviously I'll be singing its praises officially on my next Travel Tuesday blog post!), my dad and I walked over to the Victoria and Albert Museum before it closed, just to take a look around on our last day. If you've been to London and have never been the to Victoria and Albert Museum, please go! It has art, furniture, clothes and so much more from so many different countries all over the world. Plus they have a teeny, tiny little codex that belonged to Leonardo da Vinci! How cool is that?? Spending time at the V&A Museum was a nice, quiet way to spend our last afternoon/evening in Paris. It was pleasant but still so bittersweet. I couldn't believe my time in London was almost over! Didn't we just get here??

Day #4 AKA Leaving London for Paris via the Chunnel

On day 4 we had to leave for St. Pancras Station to take the Chunnel to Paris. I was so sad to leave London, but excited to see Paris. We had a little bit of time before our train left, so our tour guide suggested that all Harry Potter fans go across the way to visit King's Cross Station to visit, you guessed it: Platform 9 3/4!



Of course they have a shop there. OF. COURSE. (It's good for all of England to be in the Harry Potter business!)



And here it is! They have a fun little display on where they imagined Platform 9 3/4 would be, including an attendant who works at the Platform 9 3/4 shop to assist in taking pictures of people posing with the cart! (They'll lend you a scarf in the house colors of your choosing and even hold it up for you out of frame to make it look like your pushing the cart into the platform. Talk about a dream job!) As much as I wanted to have my picture taken, I usually don't do my hair/makeup on traveling days (is that just me that does that? I don't see a point in looking nice when I just know I'm going to get gross from traveling and lugging my luggage around) so I just decided to take a picture to commemorate this historical site in the Wizarding World. Also, I didn't want want to be sad that the Platform didn't magical let me through to the Hogwarts Express (I mean, I never got my letter to Hogwarts, I didn't want to add on to the hurt!)

Trip of a Lifetime

I still can't believe I got to go to England! I had dreamed about it for so long and it finally happened! I only had three official days in England, so of course there were things I didn't get to see (on our first day, we could have gone on a tour of Windsor Castle, but my parents wanted to go to the British Museum and on the day we went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, we missed the tour of the Tower of London) or go to, but my older sister reminded me of this: When you travel, there's always going to be places you're not going to be able to visit, especially in a big city. Don't sweat what you can't see, just enjoy the things you do see and go to there, and make a list of everything that you didn't see or do so that you can go do those things and see those places on your next trip.

I'm going to take her words to heart and not be frustrated that I didn't tour the Tower of London, or ride the London Eye, or see the Changing of the Guard. I'll get to see all those things on my next trip to England. Which I'm totally planning already. I knew I already liked London, but after visiting it I fell in love with it. I can't wait to go back!!

-Emily

Leave me a comment if you've gone on a big trip out of the country! Especially to a place that you've always wanted to go. Was it everything you've ever dreamed of?? Let me know!