My 2016 Overview.


This year has been a shitty one for the world, let's face it. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. People we look up to and fragments of our childhoods have died, the world is hating each other from all sides, and there's a question as to whether dumb people should vote. It's been a horrible roller-coaster of a year. Which makes it somewhat awkward for me to say that, personally, my year was pretty darn good. From meeting my better half in person, travelling, to personal achievements. And seen as this is my blog, I'm going to choose to concentrate on the good stuff as those are the things I want to remember. Before I get chatting (or typing), I'm going to warn you that I have the worst cold of my life and I'm currently on a whole lot of medication. So if I'm rambly, well, that's just naturally me... but the sentence alignments that make no sense is ill Anne! Blame her!

If I were to categorise my year into levels of importance, love would be the one shining bright. I was in love last year, but I hadn't truly felt the love that one can offer in person. I'm a creature of the Internet, I hide behind screens and put my feelings into text - it's my comfort zone. I didn't think there was anything wrong with it until I was face to face with someone I love, and was able to reach out and touch them. People trash LDR relationships like it's going out of style, but until you experience it for yourself, you can never know how surreal it is to have someone touch you without ever having touched you. If that makes sense. It was weird, overwhelmingly so, but... normal? I don't know if that's the correct word to choose but I can't think of another way of putting it. Despite the way your heart beats with every message and the way your cheeks will hurt from smiling after a Skype date, nothing can prepare you for the sudden wave of happiness that comes from existing with someone in the same space.  I hadn't experienced anything like it and I would happily give a limb to relive it over and over. If my year was a sundae, love would be the entire glass of ice cream.

Originally when my partner visited back in April, we planned to do both Scotland and Ireland. But between funds and limited time, it wound up making more sense to stick to one and save the other for a future trip. It seemed better to devote all our attention to one place and not have a limited experience due to over cramming, you know. Yeah, you know. Scotland was beautiful. The company made it better. You can read about our trip HERE and HERE, but it was easily one of my highlights from this year.

I like to be in America! Ok  by me in America! West Side Story? Just me? Okay. This was the cherry on top of the year or sundae, and not just because of the fact I got to return home into the arms of a man I care so deeply for (making you nauseous yet?), but because it was a bloody massive step for my personal growth. It seems ironic that the girl who gets anxious from having to go to the local shop to pick up a tin of tuna for the cat can travel that far alone. I know, my mind is still a mystery to me and I've lived with it for the past 20 years, I'm proud of myself. Sure, it was terrifying and I almost missed my first plane and I kept freaking out whether I needed to pick up my case or not (next time, future Anne, just listen to the desk clerk... the one that gave you the wrong boarding pass. Okay, don't. Trust your instincts, girl.). The trip itself was filled with love, experiences, and lots of poptarts. I met his family and friends, all of whom were friendly and inviting, which completely boggled my mind because that many people surely can't be nice. Maybe I've been with the British too long (That was a joke, get your hopes down boyfriend). But really, jokes aside, I was comfortable and happy throughout the entire three weeks and for me that is what I'd call an achievement. Life is one funny little thing.

During the trip I experienced things that I never thought would be in my future, let alone near future. The little girl in me spent the entire trip with her mouth wide open in shock. Bar for Germany last year, I've never done a full on vacation and it felt surreal throughout every touristy thing that we did. It was so much fun.

Gilmore Girls
The whipped cream under my cherry (I should really stop using this euphemism now), Gilmore Girls returned! The Stars Hollow groupies got together once more to fill our lives with a little more cheer and family warmth. To say I was excited for this is an understatement, I was counting down those days. Like many, me and my mother see ourselves in the dynamic duo that is Lorelai and Rory. Our relationship has always been more friendship than family and as complicated as that can be, I wouldn't change it for the world. It's shaped me into who I am and I will forever be grateful for weekends spent watching Buffy or Angel on the floor because the dog took the couch, eating frozen lasagna at 2am, and disliking everyone around us. The renewal of our beloved show was all that we could've hoped for. But really... where was Rory's underwear?

My volunteer work took a nose dive this year, partly because a unnamed manager from my previous workplace didn't fully grasp the 'unwell but wanting to help out' motto. Let's be honest, he put me off. Completely. And I hate myself for allowing someone to put a damper on what was initially something I thoroughly enjoyed. I desperately want to get my groove back (cool enough to say that? Doubtful.) in 2017 and try to put my inner worries aside and have faith that someone will be happy to accept my help without constantly sending me home because I'm quite literally useless to them. That aside, I continued with my local volunteering and loved it. I've done more arts and crafts this year than I have done in the past 5 years of my life, and you know what? It was well worth the catch up. Working with children is something that can only described as fulfilling. It's like an instant happiness boost and I only wish I could do it more regularly. Precious memories.

Okay, this is less about my own personal achievements but one for the girls behind #MentalMovement. The growth of this platform has been astounding to watch and I'm like a proud little fangirl in the wings 'yaying!' them at every opportunity. The aim of this entire foundation is beautiful and sits so close to my heart. The fact I'm honoured enough to write a few posts for them is a bonus. This year they grew into a Zine (which you can support HERE) and even if I hadn't been asked to post a little book review for them to be included, I would be so enthusiastic for what this means. The fast growing support and awareness for mental health is beautiful to watch. We still have so far to go, but we're getting there. One Zine at a time.

Physical Health
As a whole. I've had a pretty decent year with physical well being. My mornings haven't been as rough as last year and I'm so grateful for that. I've now completed physical therapy, hydrotherapy, counselling sessions, pain clinic, acupuncture, and am now awaiting an appointment with a psychiatrist (Thank God for the NHS). I've tried various dietary plans and nothing has offered the help I need, yet. But the more I tick off, the faster I am to finding the right thing. So I'm going into 2017 with hope that this year I may find something useful. The only thing that arose thing year that I'm finding difficulty in is car rides. The pain in my back is unmanageable with the constant rocking and any suggestions you may have, I'll truly appreciate. It isn't something I can avoid and in truth, it's worrying me. So.. suggestions, yes, please!

Mental Health
Mental health has been a yoyo, but I'm managing. My confidence has taken a large plummet and I desperately want to fix it next year. I want to eat far better and workout more (Classic resolution, aye?), but more for my mental state than anything. When I treat myself or whatnot, it plays on my mind for far too long and when I'm hating my body, I find it hard to find a positive in anything. Which, yes, is silly but I can't control my irrational brain. I'm never going to love my body, or look in a mirror and find something I'm happy with. I accept that and I know there are far better things to value in life, but if it adds to my overall happiness, then it's worth working on, right? My mind is like a game of dominoes sometimes and if one thing is off, it pulls everything else down with it. Probably something else I should work on.

Dear Future Anne, 
Don't connect all those dots in your brain. You feeling pretty really has nothing to do with why you hate crowds and definitely nothing to do with the moaning dog. Stop connecting! 
Sincerely, me... or you. Or past you. Or something.

Personal Growth : I'm Getting There
As mentioned above, the travelling played a big part in my inner strength this year. I've decided to start accepting that while some other peoples achievements in life right now are massive and defining, mine may be small and that's okay. I can't compare. The classic "grass is always greener" comes to mind, but I loathe grass so I'll ignore that. It's hard being shelled when others my age are doing extraordinary things and shaping their futures. I'm just a slow grower and, again, that's okay. So long as I'm working towards something, I'm doing okay. As written above, health is still not the best for me but I have more than most and I won't be taking that for granted in 2017. I won't hate on myself for only being able to do little steps and needing a rest. At least I'm walking, you know?

So there it is. My year in just over 1,000 words. It's crazy how we can capture a chunk of our lives with so little. This may of been my biggest year yet. I'm proud of all I accomplished this year and I hope to carry that mentality with me into the New Year. Next year will no doubt come with some obstacles, and possibly changes, which I have to learn to be okay with. I can't be the girl who hates change forever. Well, I can, but I shouldn't.

Happy New Years!

- Anne x

Tesco Christmas Hampers || Vegan, British, Gluten Free, Luxury..


At Christmas time, I'm fond of giving people hampers. Whether that be, themed hampers (movie night, pamper evening, holiday prep, etc..), beauty hampers, or food. There's something incredibly satisfying about gathering all these little bits and bobs that you think they'll like. Of course, gifts like these are better done with mass amounts of time beforehand so you aren't running around like a headless chicken finding everything you wanted. That's where Tesco Direct comes in.

I was scroll through the site last night and stumbled upon the food hampers that they offer, and I was pleasantly surprised. They cater to many people's dietary restrictions and aren't too expensive. Don't get me wrong, it would likely be far cheaper to do any of these yourself (with your own budget in mind), but if you're a busy bee and want a quick gift that is also thoughtful - possibly even for a family, these may be your saviour. There are plenty on the site, but these are my top picks:

Vegan Hamper || £29.99

Gluten & Wheat Free Hamper (Alcohol Free) || £29.99

The Luxury Hamper || £49.99

So there you have it. Hopefully one of these tickled your fancy, or just gave you an idea for a gift. People too easily dismiss "hand-made" gifts nowadays. It's always more special to receive something that has a bit of a personal touch. Think about it.

I hope you're having a wonderful day! 
- Anne

A Drop In The Ocean || Sunset State Beach


If on mobile: rotate your screen for better imagery. 
I think I've been converted into someone who likes the beach. Shock horror. Truth be told, I'm the furthest thing you could possibly find to a water baby. I hate the water. It's beautiful to look at, but that's about it. So, being my oh so assuming self, I figured that I would hate the beach. That the view would be meaningless if I couldn't swim in the ocean, that it would be a wasted experience on me. What a silly woman. Note to self: you can't judge until you experience.

When on vacation, I asked if me and my partner could take a quick trip to the beach as, ironically, walking in the ocean was on my bucket list.. Yeah, I'm that kind of girl. But in truth, like so many of the other things on that never ending list, I figured it wouldn't be reachable to me. At least not for many, many, many more years. Unsurprisingly, he agreed to the outing on condition that he didn't have to walk in too (which I fibbed and was all "oh, of course." until we were there, and I then puppy-eyed him into doing it with me. Heh. I win.) . So we ventured out and dipped our toes in the ocean (and accidentally 1/2 of our bodies. Waves are the enemy.). That day has become one of my fondest memories from the entire trip and the photos are incredibly special to me, so I thought a post dedicated to them was warranted. Online life journal, and all.

"A drop in the ocean,
A change in the weather, 
I was praying you and me might end up together.
It's like wishing for rain as we stand in the desert,
But I'm holding you closer than most,
 'Cause you're my heaven."

- Anne x

Best Places To Buy Books: UK Edition


I, like so many smart people in world, hoard books. It isn't unhealthy, quite the opposite actually. Books are great but boy, can they be expensive. These are my top favourite places to get books for a reasonable price.

Book Depository || Free international delivery
If you haven't already heard of this heavenly site, this is a place to buy discounted books with the added bonus of free international delivery. Everyone squeal at once! As with most sites, please remember to always look for a discount code before purchasing something. I once saved a whooping £17 from a 40% coupon I found. Always give a quick Google search.

The Book People || Free delivery over £25
Much like the site above, this is a discounted book site that offers free UK delivery on orders over £25. I personally really like The Book People for the book bundles they sell as you can get a right bargain. Really good for Christmas gifts!

The Works || Free delivery over £20
If you're from the UK you've probably seen this store and assumed it's only good for art supplies, but their paperbacks are usually 3 for £5 or sometimes even 6 for £10! They have a huge selection (as you can view/buy on their website). I tend to buy my Collins Classics from here, especially in the sale as most books go for a £1 or sometimes even 50p. If you don't have the time to browse the store, at least give the site a looksie. If you're a parent or have children to buy for this Christmas, they often have a 10 children's book for £10 offer. 

Tesco and Asda || Free Click & Collect
99.9% of the time, both these supermarkets have the 2 for £7 deal on paperbacks (Or £3.95 each). It's great and I always make an effort to scroll down the book ally before starting my weekly grocery shop. Bonus fact: If you buy them from Tesco, you get the added bonus of clubcard points. Yay! If you see something on their site, you can always do click and collect, which is super helpful for all you busy bee's out there.

Need I say more, really? I felt it a bit dumb to put Amazon on the list as it seems like an obvious choice, but to be perfectly honest, I mostly buy my books secondhand from Amazon. A used book can go for as little as £2.81 - that's including delivery, and I have yet to have a bad experience when ordering a used book. I just favour used books more than brand new ones, I don't fully know why. I think it just adds to the charm. Especially when the spine is cracked and it looks well-loved. I feel like I'm giving it a second lease at life, and hopefully it will one day be passed down to someone who will also love it.

Charity Shops
Don't overlook a good ol' charity shop. My local Oxfam is by far my favourite as they usually do books for as little as £1 and rarely sell anything that isn't in reasonable condition. You can't go charity book shopping with a few titles in mind, but it is handy to keep a list on your phone that you can refer back to when faced with multiple shelves of books in no order. Charity shops are also a great place to pick up the classics that you've been meaning to buy but wind up getting lost off the path by newly released shiny books with stories you know nothing about. 

The Library
Last but by no means least, your local library. I am ever so grateful for my library, I would've read far less books than I have if it wasn't for it. Let's face it, books can be bloody expensive and sometimes you just can't afford to splash out £7 on a new book that you may not even enjoy. My local library has come so far over the years and now have the option of ordering anything your heart could possibly want on their online catelog and it will be shipped to my local library ready for pick up within 5 days. It's great and I feel really blessed for it. No longer are the days of disappointment when the book you've had your eye on isn't stocked in the limited YA range the library holds. 

I hope that's given you a few other places to browse for a new read, or maybe given you a place to find a gift. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to comment them below! #BookLoversUnite

- Anne x

San Francisco: Japantown, Hotel Kabuki, Sushi.


Last month I went on a three week vacation to visit my boyfriend in the USA. Having only previously flown to Germany last year (see blog posts Part 1 and Part 2 here, if interested), this was a heck of a giant leap. Travelling alone has become the norm to me, and I'm actually thinking of doing a sort of travel guide to newbie solo travellers. We'll see. Anyhow, back on topic. I landed in San Jose and we then drove up to San Francisco. My journey over was smooth despite the two, yes, two, layovers I had to endear for the sake of saving £29. Worth it? Questionable. My thrifty side needs to take a backseat sometimes.

Our first trip in San Francisco lasted two nights, but we later went back for a day trip to hit the places that we missed out on the first time around. But I'm going to list everything as if it were one magical trip, otherwise both you and I are going to get confused. (Just me? Shush.)

Where We Stayed:
Hotel Kabuki. Our trip began with a two night stay in Japantown. My partner kindly arranged our accommodation and having stayed there previously, went with what he already knew. The room was beautiful but the view took the cake, especially at night. The hotel itself was within short walking distance from the shops/restaurants that Japantown has to offer and a quick 8-10 minute Uber ride to Highway 101 and the busy streets of San Francisco. It was the perfect fit for us. Local but quiet.

Hotel Kabuki didn't have any flaws in particular, but there was a slight downside of the bed being a little firm. Not a major deal breaker, but if that isn't your particular thing and you're planning on a longer stay, it may not be the most comfortable for you. A highlight of the stay for me was the first night together. We were both exhausted and ordered our traditional pizza (mushroom and pineapple, FYI) on the first night together, and ate on crisp white sheets - which my mother would object hugely to. Being the oh so sweet man that he is, my partner brought a bottle of champagne for us to toast to the trip. And not thinking to call down and request two glasses, we instead drank directly from the bottle under the warmth of the duvet. You don't get fancier than that, folks. Whether it was the situation or non-existent jetlag, I don't know, but I remember being incredibly amused and more importantly, happy. I will cherish that memory.

Things We Did:
Japantown: During the first day, we mostly wandered around the array of stores that the town had to offer and spent an endless amount of minutes flailing over the array of cute cat things. The quaint little independent shops were really fun to look around and having even better company for it made it heavenly (yes, I am going to be sickly in love throughout this entire thing. You're welcome.).

Panoramic Night Tour: In the evening, we booked a two-hour tour with Big Bus Tours to see the beautiful lights of San Francisco at night. The sightseeing spots it offers are as follows; Golden Gate Bridge, Grace Cathedral, Bay Bridge, and skyline views from Treasure Island. It seemed romantic, and it had the possibility to be. The scenery was spectacular. Sadly, we froze to death. Not literal death, obviously. But good God, it was cold. Having forgotten his jacket at home, my better half got the bunt of it. If you're planning on doing one of these, here's my advice: Layer up. Bring your own blanket. Possibly a thermos. The tour itself sells blankets for a whooping $10 each, and it wasn't especially warm. Despite the chilly weather, it was fun. The fog rolled in (shocker, I know.. that was sarcasm), and the rain started to fall as we went over the bay bridge and it was just.. electric. I didn't take many photos due to the shivering and numb fingers, but some things you just have to experience, you know?

The Bay Bridge: After having the quick pitstop here the previous night (see photo above), we decided to take a quick detour during the drive home to take some photos in the daylight. Near treasure Island and within sight of Alcatraz, it's a beautiful spot for photo taking. Especially as it was deadly quiet. Bonus!

Golden Gate Park: In all honesty, we only went here to hit the three places that are location around the area (listed below), but it was a noteworthy spot itself. The area is beautiful and having a stroll around was quite romantic. We got lunch from a food truck, sat on a bench near the fountain, and people watched. Children were laughing and splashing in the water (which, please, don't let your child do. You don't know if there's glass in there and the water itself is absolutely freezing. Not wise. Nuh-uh.), people were going about their day, the sound of water was loud and you could feel the chill in the air that it caused. It was an accidental date, and damn great.

Japanese Tea Gardens: Beautiful. There are no other words to describe this little place of tranquillity. It's strange, but there were so many people crammed around the small cobble-stone paths, yet it still felt peaceful. We didn't go to the cafe due to the mass amounts of people there, but I couldn't find it in me to be disappointed. It's worth going to even if you only have a spare 10 minutes - cost and all. A truly romantic spot.

California Academy of Sciences: Fun but expensive. This is the kind of place that anyone of any age will enjoy. It's fascinating, fun and beautiful in parts. You get everything. I feel like I'm three seconds away from yelling "Fun for all the family!" but it is. With so many different exhibits and various subjects in science that are there for you to both learn and appreciate from, it's worth a visit.

De Young Museum: I failed at taking photos here, as it just didn't seem right. There was a sense of serenity that I just couldn't bring myself to disrupt by bringing out my camera - sometimes the phone is best left in the bag. Walking around the many, many exhibitions that it has to offer, I grew to appreciate art far more than I have done in the past. I'm not hugely knowledgeable when it comes to art, but I do enjoy walking around a space that is homed to so many incredible pieces that hold such sentiment to their artist, and in turn, history. There isn't a particular way to accurately describe it. It's something you have to experience for yourself.

Where We Ate:
Mifune: Sushi was on my bucket list, for no particular reason. Turns out that eating at Japanese restaurants as a vegetarian is difficult. Tip: Always check what they put in the broth. We found our way in the end and ordered. It was good - peculiar for my mouth - but good. We got an appetizer of tempura and a roll of both Kappa Maki and Shinko Maki. The service was good, and their coffee was strong. We went around 1pm and it was absolutely dead except us and another guy. So that's worth keeping in mind.

Chocolate Chair: As we cruised around a shopping centre in Japantown, we noticed a food stand that sold coloured balls that appeared to smoke. Of course, curiosity got the better of us and we bought some. The odd snack is called Dragon's Breathe. Fruit Loop flavoured cereal puffs dosed in liquid nitrogen that causes smoke to come out of your nostrils and mouth. Yum? This is nothing other than a novelty, but a fun one. For $5 (small) or $7 (large), it's worth the laugh. Not to mention the cool selfies.

Bruno's Pizzeria: Decent pizza. Not the best, but not bad by any means. The sauce was just a little lack luster. In spite of that, I was happy with it because my cat is also called Bruno. I'm an easily pleased woman.

Original Buffalo Wings: Yeah, I know. "You're veggie. Weird choice." But I'll rest my case by saying that they did sweet potato fries and my boyfriend is meat friendly. We actually had the food from here delivered (again), and it travelled surprisingly well. I had a garden burger, yes, my inner 2009 Twilight fangirl was thriving #noshame, and it was really good. Homemade veggie patty and heaps of salad. If you want a quick delivery place that isn't pizza, and want it to be fairly reasonably priced and good? This is your spot.

All in all, our two night/three day visit to San Francisco was everything we could of wanted it to be. I wouldn't of changed anything. It was a beautiful city and I look forward to hopefully visiting again in future (ideally with the same company).

- Anne x

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