In 2014 I discovered the Reddit Gift Exchange and became a little obsessed. I’ve taken part in four exchanges: snacks, bath & shower, make up and secret Santa 2014. Each exchange has had its ups and downs, so I thought I’d post a little guide to help anyone navigate the way through their first exchange.
Christmas has previously never been a big thing to me. Growing up, my family never really used it as an excuse to get together and I don’t exactly come from a family that can ‘afford Christmas’. This isn’t a sob story, it’s just the way it was and I’m totally fine with it.
However, for the past 2 years I’ve been trying to change my outlook and get into the Christmas spirit.
Notes on my outfit: It’s finally time to crack out the wooly hat! I’m a huge fan of winter clothing and I’ve been counting down the days to be reunited with my tights and knits!
Once upon a time I’d have shunned the Northern Quarter as a hyped up area where only yuppies congregate. It’s easily done. You see a guy in a top knot and offensively tight jeans, sipping artisan coffee and think it’s a place only for hipsters.
Manchester’s Northern Quarter is host to some of the most incredible eateries in the city, which welcome anyone with open arms. One of the most recent additions to this district is Superstore.
Restaurant on top, supermarket below; its easy to walk by this place without a second thought. Whilst many of the neighbours have outdoor seating, bunting and quirky marketing ploys; Superstore doesn’t need to shout about its offerings.
I was spoilt for choice with the Superstore menu. This wasn’t your average ‘mushroom burger to keep the vegetarians quite’ place, every dish was designed to be bursting with flavour. Whilst I was impressed, I’ve heard many suggest some of the dishes were ‘trying too hard’, but what’s wrong with a newcomer offering us something different for once!? If you’re after a simple steak or burger, there’s a hundred other places to go.
My friend and I opted for a small plate and side as we had plenty of important things to be doing (shopping) and didn’t want to spend too long of our day eating (for once).
Look at how glorious their salt&pepper tofu is! This was much different to the greasy take out version I’m used too. The aioli was a perfect accompaniment and wasn’t too overpowering, so I could still appreciate the flavour of the tofu. I can’t be certain, but I feel like saying they used the silken variety. The contrast between soft inside and crispy exterior gave excellent texture.
I ordered a side of fat chips that came with what was described on the menu as a ‘sexy onion dip’. It genuinely lived up to the name!
Washed down with a caramel tea, this was a great way to refuel after being battered by the crowds in the Arndale.
How Superstore didn’t win the best newcomer award at the Manchester Food & Drink festival I’ll never know *cough* fix *cough*. My friend and I both agreed Superstore fully deserved to win and I take her opinion highly as she’s a chef herself.
I’ll be returning to this wonderful place soon to tackle their vegetarian breakfast, who’s coming with me!?
Lush Cosmetics have managed to absolutely excel themselves every year. I thought they wouldn’t be able to out do last year’s seasonal offerings, but oh how wrong I was! Since Lush is accountable for absorbing a huge chunk of my monthly outgoings, I’ll be doing seasonal run down posts.
I’m well aware not everyone has an addiction as serious as mine, so if you’re only a fleeting fan here are the halloween products you should be taking note of.
Wizard – Bubble Bar
This gorgeous little fella smells ten times more amazing when you crumble him into the water. Slightly herbal with just a touch of citrus, if you loved Jingle Spells the Wizard bubble bar will be your go to gift this year.
Designed in the same way as The Christmas Penguin, you’ll unfortunately have to decapitate him for a perfect measurement. I snapped mine just above the eyes and I’ll probably get 2 more baths out of what’s left. It’s all down to personal choice, I’ve seen people use the Wizard bubble bar all at once for extra purple water. As you can see, my bath looked rather anaemic, but the beautiful glittering display made up for it!
I used half of this bubble bar as I was feeling extremely delicate after my gym class (woe is me.) The scent is nothing short of divine, hence why I’m so bothered by so many people giving the wrong description. With juniperberry, grapefruit and lime oil this is heavy on the citrus, but there’s a subtle spicy note that cuts through. If like me you’re not a huge fan of cinnamon there’s a chance you’ll still like this as it’s not too intense.
Sparkly Pumpkin eased every ache I had and the scent lingered on my skin, long after bathing.
Northern Lights – Bathbomb Wand
I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw everyone on instagram posting images of Northern Lights. What a beautiful bathbomb! I’d love to know which little Lush genius drew up this concept!
There’s a little controversy over this product being classed as both halloween and Christmas stock – by controversy, I mean people are being completely pedantic! You’ll find this on the Lush website under both categories.
The scent reminds me slightly of Sex Bomb. I’m a huge Jasmine fan and I truly wish this gorgeous smell was bottled up and sold as a fragrance! I’d say Sparkly Pumpkin had a longer lasting scent, but Northern lights is a lot lighter and my flatmate noticed it for a lot longer than I did.
The rest of the range
There are of course more halloween products to buy, but these are definitely the ones I’d highly recommend. I love Lord of Misrule, but it was out last year hence I didn’t want to shout about it.
The Sparkler bathbomb is also impressive, but just didn’t compare to Northern Lights in my eyes. Packed full of glitter, it certainly puts on a show and the scent is gorgeous. Have you tried Rose Jam shower gel? This bathbomb has the same scent, but I’ve found that it simply doesn’t linger on the skin as well as the shower gel seems to.
Fairy Ring soap is also a great product from the Lush halloween range 2014, but again the scent slightly let this one down. However, this soap did make my skin feel super soft. I’m putting that down to the addition of shiitake mushrooms, notoriously used in anti-aging formulas. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re more of a shower person.
If Friends ever returned, my flatmate and I would make excellent script researchers. Watching old episodes really made us think about how old the show actually is. The first episode went to air 20 years ago and many of my personal favourite episodes are those filmed in the 90’s. Yet, even the more recent episodes seem so old now.
For example: Ross films Emma birthday on a camcorder, Chandler takes a print film photo of Ross’ tan (I’m a four?!); and don’t even get me started about the lack of hipsters with laptops in the background of Central Perk. It got Natalie and I talking about how different the story lines would be if Friends ever returned to air.
Now I’m not saying it should happen this way. I’d be a little scared of ruining the magic if the gang did ever reunite, but if Friends was still being filmed it might look a little like this…
The one when Joey gets catfished
Joey would definitely be on Tinder if Friends was still on air. Despite his undeniable charm working in person, I think he’d certainly struggle online. “How you doing?” doesn’t quite have the same effect via text, does it?
Eventually after not much luck, Joey receives a reply from a beautiful young woman. Bragging rights indeed. Until he finally meets her and realises who the mysterious woman is… Janice!
The one when Ben is ready to propose
Ben (now 18, whaaat!?) falls madly in love with his first girlfriend. Turning to his father Ross for advice, he admits that he’s ready for marriage. Cue awkward life coaching and flash backs from serial monogamist/divorcee Ross on how now might not be the right time.
The one when Phoebe goes viral
I’d dread to think there would ever be a time that Phoebe stopped making music, but I imagine that her marriage to Mike tamed her wild heart somewhat.
After not picking up her trusty guitar in years, she’s shocked to be recognised on the street. Smelly cat has resurfaced and it has become the anthem to a new ‘slacktivision’ campaign to raise money for a national animal shelter. Whilst Phoebe tries to cope with the new found fame, she uncovers the fact that the money might not be going to the animals after all!
The one with the fashion bloggers
You know exactly who I’m talking about. Despite the ‘blogosphere’ being full of total babes, there’s always a few bad eggs. In this episode Rachel hosts a launch event for a new line with Ralph Lauren. Amongst the traditional journalists are group of bloggers who are unimpressed by what they’re presented with.
They each write a scathing review of the event and Rachel is certainly not happy. She starts her own blog in competition to them to show them the error of their ways – talk about damage control.
I genuinely cannot believe Friends is almost as old as I am. I will never get bored of watching reruns of this fantastic show. I doubt it will ever return to screen for a new season and part of me is glad that it won’t. We can always dream though, right?
If Friends ever came back, what other story lines do you think they’d use?