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UN Palace of Nations - Entry CHF12

I visited Geneva, Switzerland in February this year for a stunning four days over a long weekend. It was a spur of the moment booking (as all my bookings are) and was just the retreat I needed. Four days was the perfect amount of time for Geneva, if I had more time - I would have loved to travel out for a spot of skiing (not that I have ever skied in my life...)

I would definitely recommend the Jet d'Eau/Lake Geneva, UN Palace of Nations, Broken Chair, Conservatory and Botanical Garden, Flower Clock/English Gardens, Plainpalais Flea Market, a thermal bath, Natural History Museum and take a quick trip to Mount Salève.

Botanical Gardens - Free

Cathedral Saint Pierre - Free
Chapel of the Maccabees (not the band) - Free
Jet d'Eau Water Jet - Free
Natural History Museum - Free
Broken Chair - Free
Parc Des Bastions - Free
Reformation Wall - Free
Plainpalais Flea Market - Free
Love this, can you imagine drinking a bottle of red wine at a car boot in England? We'd get banned...

One thing I would definitely recommend is to hop on a tram then bus to Mont Salève which is technically France but whatever. The bus ride will take you through picturesque villages and towns and drop you off at a stop near the Salève Mountain cable car. Walk uphill through the sweet little village and you'll find yourself queuing for a cable car ride that will take you up to see an incredible and breathtaking view of The Alps.

Mont Salève

Just some things to note about Geneva; it is "expensive" in the way that it's pretty much similar in cost as England. Don't buy a Geneva pass as you can get transport cards from almost any accommodation and the local supermarket is called Migros.

Due to the alpine area of Switzerland, the country is a haven for crystals and rocks so if you're a collector like myself, stop by the Plainpalais Flea Market and pick up some unique crystals. They're also available in a lot of shops and also the Natural History Museum. 

Now let's talk about Evian water; it's actually sourced from Lake Geneva and so the tap water is basically just Evian water - drink to your heart's desire! I discovered this by accident when I realised I just swallowed the tap water. But it tasted so good, I had to Google it.

Now the picture you're all waiting for...

Get yourself some chocolate, cheese, Birchermuesli, toasted almonds (they are to die for) and definitely try to find some fondue and raclette.

This trip was a neat little break for me and while the culture wasn't entirely different, I found myself learning a lot about this city and met some very interesting people. One woman I met gave off such positive vibes, it healed me instantly and put a lot of my anxiety at ease. 

My flight cost less than a waffle...

What do you do when Ryanair have a £2 sale and it's about to end in 8 minutes? You book a spontaenous week's holiday to Belgium obviously...

I've never been that person to plan a holiday way in advance, never have been and never will be. My life is spontaneous, you can't always plan things and sometimes it's better not to plan things.

The flight was £2.04 each way to Brussels Charleroi in November so £4.04 in total, which ended up being less than what I paid for a waffle and little did I know, it would change my life...

I started off in Brussels and stayed at a train-themed hostel aptly named the Train Hostel in Schaerbeek which is possibly one of the best hostels I've ever stayed in. It was ridiculously clean, well-equipped and I met some lifelong friends here too on a holiday I will never forget. Schaerbeek reminded me a lot like San Francisco which its sharp and crisp architecture and hills.

I met a lovely group of people in my dorm, all girls and have kept in very close contact with three of them. One is a nut-job from Australia (the only type of Aussie), another was a sweet girl from Italy who is the least Italian Italian I have ever met and lastly, my sassy and incredibly supportive Egyptian beauty. The Aussie and Italian ended up moving to the UK and now we're taking turns to hold weekends for one another. 

We got into a lot of mischief and fun in Brussels, we went on walking tours, did a bit of shopping, watched the Christmas Market opening, visited the Atomium, the Rene Magritte museum and ate loads of waffles, frites and moules. I would definitely recommend the Atomium and the Rene Magritte museum, and a walking tour is essential.

Atomium - Paid

Transport is super easy, but if you're stuck - just use Google Maps.

Considering there hadn't long been a terrorist attack, it was so special to see everybody rise above the terror.

Cinquantenaire - Free
Grand Place Grote Markt - Free

Mannequin, Jeanneke and Zinneke Pis - Free

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula - Free

Museum of Rene Magritte - Paid
Place du Jeu de Balle (market) - Free
Le Botanique - Free
Royal Palace - Free
EU Quarter - Free
Opening of the Christmas Markets - Free

As my well travelled father had previously lived in Belgium (get in, dad) I made a conscious effort to visit Antwerpen too to see the city he lived in. Bruxelles was very commercial but Antwerpen was much more quirky... Antwerp is just an hour on the train and well worth the visit.

Cathedral of Our Lady - Free
Modemuseum (Momu) - Paid
Plantin Moretus Museum - Paid
Mas - Paid
And last but not least, feast your eyes on the Belgian food we had, from waffles and frites to Belgian chocolate and moules. I am very adventurous when it comes to food, I love trying new things so when I visit a new country, I always write a list of everything I want to eat, just as much as things I want to do in the city.

I would never have considered Belgium as a holiday destination and purely went because of the Ryanair sale which I'm grateful for because it's by far one of the most enjoyable holiday's I've had and I've made three new amazing friends. I see both the non-Italian Italian and the nut job Aussie every now and then, and recently went to Egypt and has a sweet little reunion with my Egyptian beaut.

Also side note, the boys in Belgium are fiiiiiiiiine.

Fits To A Tea | The True Tea Club

I have always been a big tea drinker, but not necessarily an adventurous tea drinker. The standard was always English Breakfast, can't go wrong with English Breakfast. I have previously ventured out and very much enjoy Green Tea, but other than that - I've not have the best experiences with new teas. The worst being Russian Caravan tea which funnily enough to me, tasted like a Russian caravan...(not sure why I was surprised)

The lovely people at The True Tea Club sent me over a new selection to try and I'm glad to add Earl Grey onto my list of beloved teas. I was sent Mighty Mango, Earl Grey, Rainbow Chaser and Vanilla Cupcake. All of which I enjoyed apart from the Vanilla Cupcake, this I found way to weird for my basic tea palette. And the Earl Grey being my favourite of the bunch. 

You can see here that I decided to use my strainer, this is because although I found the reusable drawstring tea bags a handy little extra, it didn't infuse all that well. I found my teas were stronger with the use of my steel tea leaf strainer. 

This subscription is perfect for that little pick me up or as a gift this Christmas for any tea lover. Now that it's getting colder, it's ideal for cosy nights and Netflix binges. Tea has a very calming affect on people, it's soothing and de-stressing. In our hectic everyday lives, we need to find more time for a nice brew and some time out.

Literachore No More

I've always tried convincing myself that I would read more because it would help mould me into a more rounded and intelligent person. Did this plan ever come to fruition? Not until now.

I have an overactive imagination; think of a kid on e-numbers who is afraid of the dark. A book has to be terribly engrossing to impress me which is often why I only end up reading wellbeing books or historical literature. I found Silver Linings Playbook awfully mundane and the film even worse... I found reading a chore because of this.

The lovely people at Fernweh Fiction contacted me about a new subscription box called The Travelling Reader. The name wasn't enticing enough as I already knew I had issues with books, however - when the concept was described to me, I found it utterly magical. 

The idea behind it is that every month, you are sent a piece of literature to read and goodies surrounding where that book is based. What a 'novel' idea (badum-chhhh)...

I was sent The Moon Field which in short, is about how war changes a man. Now I'm not a big fan of novels about war, nor am I films but there was a certain innocence and vulnerability to this book that I was actually a fan of. 

The book was set in Keswick, Cumbria and included quaint little extras such as a white musk soap, postcards, chocolate, bath bombs, colouring pencils and a metal charm bookmark.

Society has it these days where we are all just glued to our phones, checking and re-checking our social status. Go check out The Travelling Reader over at Fenweh Fiction and get lost in a book even just for a few hours. You owe it to your soul.

Zaful Wishlist // Burning Man 2017

Zaful Wishlist // Burning Man 2017

I recently discovered Zaful.com and had been taken back by the amount of affordable and fashion-forward pieces they had. Whether you need a midi dress or swimwear, they have it all and there's always a sale on too which is a bonus.

It is with great sadness that I announce I will not be attending Burning Man this year, although I was awarded a ticket. Needless to say, throughout the month(s) of August/September, I will mainly spend my time crying (about the fact I'm not there) and my Burning Man chummy and I will be embarking on our own private Burning Man ceremony to celebrate the memories made at Black Rock City in 2016. For those of you who are attending, check out my Burning Man 2017 wishlist below for outfit inspiration for this year's theme 'Radical Ritual'.

Want to be the more fancy in this summer? Just do it! Discover our newest summer arrivals! Surprise code: ZFEN

If you haven't already seen my blog post about my time at Burning Man, take a look here and discover more about the eye-opening life-changing gathering in Black Rock desert. 

How To Minimise Food Waste

As an aspiring zero-waster, I'm always trying to find ways to minimise waste - whether it be food waste or non-decomposable waste that will eventually end up in landfills. The average household will throw away a tonne of waste every year - that's the same weight as a car! And every year, we produce 3% more waste than the preceding year.

Now you may think that because food decomposes, it's fine to leave it in a landfill - WRONG. When you send food waste to a landfill, it creates dangerous methane gas which is a greenhouse gas that affects our climate. But what about composting? Composting promotes aerobic decomposition which creates less methane gas and generates nutrient-rich dirt that can be reused and recycled.

However, I know that being environmentally-friendly is a long and arduous task. Sometimes it can cost us a pretty penny and I know that being completely green is unrealistic. But there are little changes you can make to your every-day life that can benefit the planet we live on and help us become more zero waste.

Supermarkets alone throw away 115,000 tonnes of food waste every year and this figure has sparked mass controversy. The first food-waste supermarket was opened last year called The Real Junk Food Project and it aims to sell off food from local supermarkets and businesses that would otherwise be thrown away. 'Communal Fridges' have also began popping up, whereby the local neighbourhood can donate food that is close to expiry to a communal fridge for others to use instead, helping to reduce food waste.

In Manchester, we don't have anything like this but I discovered a pretty neat app called Too Good To Go which is available all-throughout the UK and it shares a similar concept. The app lists local businesses that have signed up with TGTG and it lets customers buy leftover food for as little as £2 and a maximum of £3.80. Pick-up times are always at the end of opening hours (understandably) so this can range from 3pm all the way to 10pm but for the price, there really isn't anything to complain about.

I decided to try it out myself and it did not disappoint. The app is incredibly user-friendly with a very soft interface. The app will locate nearby businesses listed with TGTG or you can manually select a location yourself. Each business will describe what you will get from them and also detail their pick-up time slots. You pick what you want, pay via the app, pick-up at the allocated time and show your code when you arrive - it's that simple.

I decided to pick up a box from Kettlebell Kitchen in Ancoats which is a high-protein clean-eating fast food restaurant located just opposite a Pure Gym in Manchester. I had previously eaten here and enjoyed their fresh and healthy Kettleboxes and their gym-themed restaurant in definitely Instagrammable. 

This box, although seemingly small - could dish out three lunches or two larger meals and it contained chicken, sweet potato mash, kidney beans, butter beans and peas. All for £2.50!

These are perfect for snacking, a healthy and affordable takeaway alternative, for late night shifts or why not try donating one to the homeless?

About a third of the food produced on the planet never gets eaten. Think of all the waste water, carbon emissions and non-decomposable packaging we create, just from food waste alone. Considering we've been graced with a planet as naturally beautiful as the one we live in, I think it's rather ungrateful of us to then destroy it. Don't you agree?

Star Sew Bright

The lovely Cara from Nana Momo Makes contacted me to review a new monthly sewing box. The subscription just launched in November and began with a quilting course which I found exciting and was definitely up for the challenge. I am a keen sewer but by no means a pro, however - quilting was a first for me. 

When you join the subscription, you have access to the video tutorials Cara personally creates for you which run you through step-by-step just what you need to do to achieve the end result. If you want to take up quilting as a hobby, I would definitely recommend purchasing the additional instruments that Cara advises you to. 

As a newbie to quilting, I found that I had to improvise with what I had lying around but definitely thought the end result would have been finished more professionally had I had the right equipment. 

The pile of fabric comes neatly piled and tied with a ribbon, and comes with all the relevant information to get you started. The video tutorials run through these pages visually and makes it more digestible, as this information can be a little overwhelming at first!

I did make a couple errors including sewing down the middle line but this wasn't an issue as I had to cut down it anyway. And also, I didn't align my squares from the centre so the star at the end was a little misaligned. 

However, I was very happy with and proud of the outcome of the star even with it's imperfections as they added a little more character to the piece. I also love the fabric choices she included and found this mustard print adorable. 

Cara includes enough fabric to create two of these and while I probably won't be taking up quilting full time, the box has given me enough fabric to make another star which I could use as a creative way to wrap presents. 

As I'm a budding zero waster, I'm hoping to decrease the waste I produce and get more crafty at home to replace products I would otherwise buy and then throw away (like wrapping paper). The box has also taught me how to make this unique gift and I'll be keeping the instructions for reference as I'd love to make more of these adorable quilt squares. 

I'm very grateful for Cara for reaching out to me about this box because now I have learnt a new skill and something which is invaluable to me. Both my mother and I are very creative and my father, has a creative engineering mind. My mother has recently learnt how to crochet from being an avid knitter herself, but sewing is not her forté and relies on me to teach her whenever I get the chance. Having learnt this new skill, I can now use this to bond with my mother the next time I'm back for some home comforts.