The Best Gift For A Literary Lover In Your Life

Hello Lovely,

I know I can be pretty boujee at times but now you guys are going to think that I’m pushing it. I love trying new products and recommending them to you guys, and occasionally I stumble upon a product I’ve never heard of. Sometimes I wait to share things with you because I want to ensure consistent good service before I recommend the company. I should let you guys know that even though this is a paid promotion, all opinions are completely mine and I don’t HAVE to give a positive report.

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Earlier this month Literary Book Gifts reached out to me to promote their writing gloves. Now forgive me, but I had heard of driving gloves before, but never writing gloves. I thought, are these some kind of special glove that somehow improves your handwriting? Or is it just some fancy thing to wear to look extra boujee when you write? Apparently writing gloves actually serve a purpose outside of aesthetics. They work essentially as hand warmers and that makes a lot of sense.

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Sometimes my boyfriends house is cold with the AC on, so I wrap up extra tight at night. Often when I can’t sleep, I want to reach for my phone, but I don’t want to remove my hands from the warm covers. Writing gloves are basically socks for your hands, and I know that’s probably underselling it. These writing gloves are fingerless (like most). They made out of a soft cashmere knit so these gloves are perfect for handwriting, typing, touch screens, and crafting. Specifically the gloves are made of a breathable knit of about 35% cashmere wool, with a blend of cotton, polyester, and microfiber for durability. They’re available in 13 different colours including Blush Pink (pictured), white, electric blue, violet, heather purple/grey,/navy blue and charcoal just to name a few.

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I wore these gloves all day while typing on my computer and scrolling through various apps on my phone. Not only did it successfully keep my hands warm, but I also felt support for my wrist, which is super important since I have carpal tunnel.

September Favourites

Hello Lovely,

Oh yeah, look who’s bringing back the monthly recaps! We've made it to the end of September and I am exhausted! Starting a new job brings so much anxiety but from my first day, I felt welcomed and appreciated, which I didn't have on my last job. The teamwork between myself and the others in my department was stellar, so I'm really looking forward to rest of the school year. Can you believe I now teach a grade SEVEN class???? I was terrified for my first class, especially because we didn't have an actual classroom, but it went well and I became less anxious over time.

This has definitely been the month of recipes! I shared 11 recipes with you guys this month! WOW that is a lot! But ultimately my favourite recipe was the Eggs Benedict Casserole from the Magnolia Table cookbook!

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Who knew something as luxurious as Eggs Benedict could be so easy to make at home!

My most talked about post was this photo that I shared about my weight on Instagram:

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The outpouring of support was absolutely incredible! I really think the more we begin to accept our bodies and stop shaming each other for the tiniest imperfection, the happier we all can be.

Most Popular Blog Post

My most popular blog post this month was actually a very personal post about why I chose not to get too personal on my blog. The truth is, everyone doesn't need to know everything about your life, but you also shouldn't be so ashamed of the truth that you create a completely false life just to please others who are probably struggling with the same shit as you. So I shared some of my biggest insecurities and it felt great to be heard, understood and accepted.

I had a lot of fun with my hairstylist on re-creating this hairstyle from Tamera Mowry. I got so many compliments on this, it just may be added to my regular rotation of hairstyles!

I want to thank you guys for being so patient with my schedule shift to 3 posts per week instead of 5. My new job is much more time consuming so I definitely don’t have the time to write and create like I used to. Thanks so much for the support! What was your favourite post this month? Share your favourite moments in the comment section below!

Is Randomise The New Party Game?

Hello Lovely,

I'm here with another product review for you guys. The game is called Randomise and it is offered by a UK company.

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What is Randomise?

In this game, players are given random identities – such as a dizzy robot bungee jumping,  a confused octopus eating spaghetti or a disguised giraffe playing air guitar – and can choose whether to act, describe or draw their identity for their team mates to guess. The rules are simple, but with more than a million random identity combinations possible, every game is different…

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How to play

Split into two teams and alternate taking turns. When it is your turn, you must declare whether you are going for an EASY or HARD challenge, and whether you are going to DESCRIBE, ACT or DRAW your way to victory. Then select a card from each of the three piles of cards (A, B and C). The opposing team will then give you three random numbers from 1 to 3 (eg. ‘3,1,2’).Look at the words on the cards that match these numbers to discover your new identity. Card A will always describe you (eg. Happy, Hairy, Vain), card B will tell you what you are (eg. Octopus, Astronaut, Lion) and card C will tell you what you are doing (eg. Eating spaghetti, Playing football, Baking a cake).

When you are ready, the opposing team will get ready to time your turn, and you will have 30, 60 or 90 seconds to reveal yourself:

  • DESCRIBE – You have 30 seconds to use your voice to communicate your identity. You can’t say any of the words on your cards or use rhyming words or letters to give clues.
  • ACT – You have 60 seconds to use your body to communicate your identity. You can’t make any noises, point or use any props.
  • DRAW – You have 90 seconds to use your artistic skills to communicate the phrase. You can’t draw any letters or numbers.

Your team can shout out as many guesses as they like. The aim is to get them to shout out your complete identity before your time is up. Scoring works as follows:

  • ALL LEVELS – You get 1 point for every card your team successfully guesses (max 3 per turn)
  • EASY turns – You get 1 bonus point if your team shouts out your full identity before your turn is up – eg. ‘Nervous mole eating spaghetti’
  • HARD turns – You get 3 bonus points if your team shouts out your full identity.
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Stealing bonus points

If your team doesn’t shout out your full identity before the time is up, the opposing team has a chance to steal the bonus points. They can confer, and then have one guess at your full identity. If correct, they steal the bonus points (1 or 3 depending on difficulty level).

Winning the game

The first team to reach 30 points claims victory! But if this team started, then the opposing team will have one turn to equalise/steal the victory. In the case of a draw, you can play sudden death, awarding victory as soon as one team takes the lead after both teams have taken a turn.

When I first played Randomise, it was with my students at school. Despite the fact that the game is designed for kids, they did not understand the game at all. No matter how many times I explained it, my kids from grades 3-6 just couldn't get it. I realised the biggest issue was they didn't know what some of the words meant, like goth and  kingfisher because these are words we don't use every day in our vernacular. So i tried it with my teens during one of our group therapy sessions and they thought it was hilarious! It was a great social skill builder to help them form stronger bonds. But when I tried this game with my girlfriends at my Galentine's Day party, they did not enjoy the game at all. They found the instructions to be confusing, a little boring and truthfully we really only lasted about four rounds. See for yourself below

So is this a good party game? It depends on who's playing. Teens really seem to enjoy it, but kids and adults seem confused by the antics. I would suggest using this game as a part of play therapy and even with special needs kids if they're up for the challenge. It's a great game to let yourself go and be silly for a moment and I plan on using it more in a group therapy context. If you want to buy a copy of this game, you can get it here for only £11.40!

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Would you buy the game? Have you already tried it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Exclusive Deal + Free Shipping on All Wall Murals & Canvas Prints at Photowall

Hello Lovely,

I'm so excited to share this exclusive deal with you! I recently received one of the best Christmas gifts in the mail from my new favourite company! Photowall is a company based in Sweden that provides amazing wall mural and canvas prints. All of their wall murals and canvas prints are environmentally friendly, fire-retardant in accordance with Swedish standards and do not fade in sunlight. Today I'm giving you an exclusive 20% discount on all prints and free shipping on your print to the US, UK and other EU countries! You can chose to use one of their photos or one of your own. I chose to use the photo of when I was at Stonehenge because my first choice of the skyline featuring Big Ben and the London Eye wouldn't work with the crop feature. I chose this photo because not only am I standing in front of one of the most mythical creations on the planet, but that day almost didn't happen because my bus pass didn't have enough money and I couldn't swipe your credit card to top it up. With the help of a generous bus driver who let me ride back home for free so I could swap passes with my friend I was able to get to the tour with only two minutes to spare! It was one of the luckiest moments of my life.

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This is my print here!

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I was so excited when I saw it! I couldn't believe what an amazing job Photowall did with my photo. My photo was 4 x 3 ft, which is the largest size offered. I didn't expect it to be so big, so I'm still looking for a place to hang it, but it is a very impressive print. The colours popped so well. Even the assembly was a piece of cake. No tools required at all. 

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So how does it work?

You can choose any one of the existing canvas prints and wall murals featuring classic motifs divided into various categories, including, for example, citiesforestsskiesanimalsmapsbeaches, and much much more. All canvas prints can be re-sized and ordered with or without tenter. Prints can even be sorted  by room type to help you find the right print for a specific room. If you have your own image, perhaps a photo you’ve taken, a picture you’ve found online or an illustration, Photowall can turn it into a canvas print or wall mural of any size for you! You can order your canvas print with or without their do-it-yourself tenter frame. The frame is 29 mm thick.

You decide what kind of edge you would like. You can choose white, black or printed. A printed edge means the design continues onto the edges. The edge is the part of the canvas that covers the frame around the side of the print. The edge is 29 mm wide and is added onto the dimensions you specify in your order. For example, if you order a print 100 cm x 100 cm, the canvas will be 106 cm x 106 cm including the edge.

Even the frame is easy to put together. I thought I would've needed tools like a hammer, nails and a staple gun, but the frame comes with it's own screws that are easy to twist and turn in place. Then, there's no need for a staple gun to adhere the canvas to the frame because the frame has a tape that peels off to reveal a sticky surface the canvas can easily be adhered to. See?

It's as simple as that!

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When you go to Photowall to place your order, don't forget to use my exclusive code: OliviaRussellCampaign2017 so you can get 20% your order. It's only available for 30 days so you have to act fast! And remember free (and FAST) shipping to the US, UK and all other countries in the EU. What are you waiting on?

Brunch Chronicles: Biggity

Hello Lovely,

Last week, I had the company of my best friend, Doran and I was super excited. He had never been here before so I wanted to make sure he had fun and most importantly, ate well. With my work schedule, I couldn't exactly take him all over the place but we did enjoy a few sights and tastes. Last Saturday, I took him to Biggity, downtown. It was my first time ever going there. 

I immediately fell in love with the re-purporsed design scheme. Although this trend is everywhere, I love the idea of re-using an old item that normally would be thrown away because it's economical and great for the environment! We were able to choose a seat anywhere. There was only one setting for two people so we sat there. This is definitely a place to go with a small group of friends or family. Why the name Biggity you ask? Apparently the name comes from a bold scotch bonnet pepper sauce. Shortly after being seated, we were presented with a menu.

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I was disappointed to see so few choices for brunch, but I appreciated that each meal came with a cup of coffee, and the prices weren't bad. I couldn't decide between the Bacon Wrapped Omelette and the Conch n Waffles, so when Doran said he'd get the waffles, I knew I could get the omelette and we'd share. We also ordered a side of Johnny Cake to share. While we waited to order, I couldn't help but notice the restaurant seemed to own the entire collection of Boyz to Men greatest hits. At first I loved the nostalgic feel, but after the fourth song or so I wondered out loud, "How many more songs could they possibly have?" After awhile I heard other artists playing but it was still R&B. The slow R&B music really didn't fit the feel of the restaurant.

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The coffee took forever to come, which I couldn't understand because the machine looked like one of those Instant Nespresso type machines. Then the server forgot that I wanted white chocolate syrup in my coffee and had to bring it after the coffee was delivered. Everything came piece by piece. Doran's coffee came first, then a small carafe of milk (no choice in the milk, just plain milk). Then the sugar, then my coffee, then the syrup. And the coffee wasn't even hot, but actually room temperature. By the time we left, I had a mug of iced coffee.

Luckily the food did not take long after that. I loved the presentation of Doran's plate, but mine looked a little thrown together. I was dismayed to see they had used one of those frozen hash brown patties and not fresh handmade hash, so it stuck out on my plate like a sore thumb. The fruit was a bowl of caramelised apples way too sweet to eat. And my omelettes were in fact, mini frittata muffins. Despite my initial disappointment, I must admit, the food was delicious. The conch and waffles were absolute perfection so I must order this the next time I go.

I loved the creative presentation for the bill but $35 really is a bit much for two people for brunch (I'm frugal and still remembering the days breakfast was £15 for Doran and I in London).

FINAL VERDICT: Go for the atmosphere, that is, the decor, not the music. The food is great, but don't expect well trained excellent service. Come prepared to relax and spend about an hour with a good friend.

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Dream Matcha Powder Review

Hello Lovely,

When I was asked to review a new matcha powder, I couldn't resist! I love matcha but it can be so costly, it's almost not worth it. I wasn't always a lover of matcha and it's still a hit and miss for me. I had a matcha green tea frappuccino at Starbucks once which wasn't bad but when I had a matcha iced coffee at a local coffee shop I wasn’t very convinced. It was terrible! But I was determined to find a reason to love matcha so I bought some from Whole Foods during my Christmas trip. I spent about $18 for 2 oz. I didn't realise there would be so little in the canister.  After about 6 servings, it would be all gone. It definitely felt like a rip off.

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That's why I love Dream Matcha Powder. At only $16, you definitely get your monies worth! So far I've enjoyed a steaming cup of matcha tea and I already have plans for other recipes to try with it this week. I'll keep you update on how that goes.

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What is Dream Matcha Powder?

Dream Matcha tea is a high quality ceremonial grade matcha green tea powder, imported directly from the Uji region of Japan. Renowned  as the matcha capital of the world, the Uji region produces only the finest quality matcha green tea.

Matcha green tea comes as an extremely fine, bright green powder. It is ground through exclusive stone mills and has a lovely smooth, sweet taste unlike any lower grade matcha powders offered elsewhere.

Each pouch contains 50 g, equating to roughly 30 servings. Matcha powder is mainly used as a tea but also has many other uses; it can be used in smoothies, food, shakes and more.

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You can purchase Dream Matcha here. I can't wait to share all of the fun recipes I try with this product!

How do you enjoy matcha? Share your favourite matcha recipes in the comment section below and maybe I'll try it!

Basic Invites for Every Occasion

Hello Lovely,

The holidays are coming up and that always puts me in the mood for a few things. Today we're talking about Holiday Greeting Cards! I bet you didn't know before I started this blog, I actually had a small business making handmade greeting cards for special occasions! Many years ago, I got into greeting cards with my mum when we took classes on how to make your own. We actually still have some because we just couldn't bear with part with our beautiful creations.

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Of course it's not always practical to send these overseas, so when I want to send someone a really nice card, I go to Basic Invites! I've referred a friend to them for  first birthday invitation  and with all of the parties coming up you should check them out for the perfect party invitation. There's even quincenera invitations. Stationary may be a dying art, but there is still something so special about receiving a physical card from someone.

Why Choose Basic Invites for Your Next Occasion?

Almost Unlimited Colours - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited colour options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the colour of each element on the card to over 180 different colour options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This is what we feel sets us apart from almost any other online stationery company and is what we feel is our biggest draw.

Custom Samples - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Over 40 Different Colours of Envelopes - Basic Invite is just as colourful with our envelopes as we are with our invitations. Customers can choose from over 40 different colours when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. All of our envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed.

Free Address Collection Service - Use our free address collection service to request your addresses with just three simple steps. Share a link, collect addresses, and get free envelope printing. 

Have I sold you on trying them out yet? Need a little more incentive? How about 30% off when you use my special code: holi30? I knew that would get you! Don't forget to Follow Basic Invites on all of their Social Media platforms:

The Place to Be: Piadina Bar, Amsterdam

Hello Lovely,

If you're ever wandering the streets of Amsterdam looking for a nice place to have a drink or lunch, the Piadina Bar is the place to be. It's a hidden gem on Stadhouderskade. We found it after we tried to go to the Heineken factory. I say we tried to go because the wait was insufferable with an entry fee of roughly $70 for the both of us. My friend and I were only in Amsterdam for one day so that didn't make any sense to us. Hell bent on finding a bar so that we could taste "real Heineken" we stumbled upon the Piadina Bar down the street.

The Piadina Bar is an Italian style cafe with a cozy family feeling. It's name comes from a flatbread, folded and filled with a variety of typical Italian products, such as Prosciutto, Mozzarella di Bufala or Parmigiano Reggiano. Even though it's a pretty busy cafe, it could be a great place for getting some work done. In the back of the cafe is a lovely couch area to get comfortable on. And our waitress was so nice and helpful. She even recommended solutions for me when I didn't like my drink and it worked!

What did I order?

My friend ordered a Heineken but we found out afterwards that he got the lager which was like a pale ale instead of the full draft. It tasted watery and sadly we never did get the draft Heiken. As for me, all around Amsterdam, I saw posters advertising the Aperol Spritz so I couldn't wait to order it. The drink looked amazing and I wanted to take the glass home with me. But the taste...not so much. I hated it! It was SUPER strong and bitter!

Lucky for me, my waitress understood and offered me the best tasting 7 Up I ever had. So I drank some of the Aperol Spritz to make room for the 7 Up, then added it and stirred. It made a HUGE difference! I think if I were to ever get the drink again, I would request 7 Up or Sprtie to be added to the drink while it's being made.

We didn't eat there but the food looked amazing! It was less than $20 for our drinks and we had a great time. Stop by if you're ever in that area!