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Thursday, 14 December 2017


I'm afraid I've jumped onto the latest bandwagon and that is the #2017bestnine - aka your nine most liked photos on Instagram in 2017. Of course it's always fun to see what content people have liked the most and it's nice to look over old photos and memories from throughout the year.

Mine told me that I received 8,665 likes across 124 posts in 2017 - I thought I posted more than that! Anyway, here's my top nine and a sum up of what each photo is. 

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | #2017bestnine | Instagram | Year In Review

ONE
So from top to bottom, left to right. My first photo is a veggie haloumi burger from a place called Relish Real Burgers in St Albans. I'd met my brother after work one afternoon, having not long started my job in H&M. The burger was delicious, if a little messy! 

TWO
My second photo was my first full vegan lunch from Prets. I do struggle with Prets because I find they have a lot of choice but some of it is so varied and out there - to be honest more often than not I'm just happy with a vegan alternative to a cheese and onion sandwich! But this falafel salad was surprising and I actually really liked it, despite the beans in it. It filled me up too.

THREE
Next up is a smoothie I made back in January when I was on a health kick. Despite actually losing weight and getting healthier that January, I can safely say I did not keep up with my smoothie obsession. Mainly because I can never be bothered to buy all the ingredients and then I get really excited to see the 'four ingredient' smoothies which actually just don't taste of anything. I even brought enough fruit for a few more servings of this particular smoothie and I froze it all and labelled the bag. That bag is still at home in my Dad's freezer...hey, maybe next January, eh?

FOUR
Fourth is a fairly recent photo of my desk set up at my boyfriend's flat! There's not much to say about this really - it's an inspiring space with a beautiful desk from Kit Out My Office and I actually feel really grown up and sophisticated having my own 'blogger space'.

FIVE
Following on from that photo is a quick snap I took of/at the Milton Keynes Christmas display. It's only a small one but it's ever so pretty and means a lot to me as I've visited every single year since as long as I can remember. Going with my family used to be a huge highlight for me at Christmas and my parents used to often surprise me by taking me there. These days I tend to go with friends or my boyfriend but it always brings back really nice memories - I'll always remember going there to meet Santa with my cousins or, when I was older, doing Christmas shopping too with my parents.

SIX
OH MY GOD VEGAN PIZZA. This pizza from Purezza in Brighton was soooo good. My boyfriend and I popped down to Brighton for two days/one night for a gig and to just visit the seaside and of course made a visit to the heavily recommended restaurant. They're about to (or maybe just have, I can't quite remember) open another branch in London, too. This makes me both happy and sad because it's great that it's nearby but it means I can no longer talk my boyfriend into a trip to Brighton just to visit. Still, the food was AMAZING and I'd definitely recommend everyone visit (vegan or not).

SEVEN
Ahhhh, fond memories. Here's me standing in front of a pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico and CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE I ACTUALLY WENT TO MEXICO AND HAVE THIS PHOTO?! I still can't believe I had the guts to book onto my Mexican BLT trip with TrekAmerica, let alone actually go on it! Still, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I feel so lucky that I managed to go on such an amazing tour.

EIGHT
Another one from my Mexican BLT trip! This is a beautiful sunset taking place in Campeche - what a wonderful experience to have.

NINE
And, my last most popular photo of 2017 is me posing with a 'unicorn' of course. This was at a really fun event with Bompass & Parr where I got drunk in a hot tub, slid down a waste chute and peed in a park on the way home - and that's just what I remember. Classy as always.

So there we have my top nine. They seem to mostly focus on food, fun events and travel but I'm surprised no photos of my boyfriend and I made it up there nor more photos of my time in Mexico! Still, it's nice to look back and see a snapshot of how I spent my 2017. 

Have you seen your #2017bestnine yet? Let me know with a comment! Oh and by the way, if you're interested in my 2018 adventures, you can follow me on twitter here ;)

You can also find me on

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

In light of my first LOTW in like, ten years (okay, I lie, a few years!), I must admit I've slowly gotten back into blogging about fashion. So when JD Williams got in touch to ask me if I wanted to review a few of their items, I was pleased as punch!

I've definitely gotten more into fashion again since working at H&M again too, choosing to style and mix up my outfits more instead of just choosing clothes based on comfort.

It didn't take me long to decide what I wanted from JD Williams; two cute jumpers for winter and a gorgeous feminine pair of winter boots. I only really have 'biker' boots or my Converse to wear during winter, so I knew a more durable but stylish pair of ankle boots would go down well.

I've wanted a pair of boots like this for a while but could never find a pair quite right and I was always worried they'd end up being uncomfortable. These ones are a dream though; they're really warm and comfy on the inside, keeping my toes nice and toasty. They're super versatile too and you barely notice the heel. My feet only started to ache a little after a long day walking around Waddesdon Manor, which is a feat for me as usually any form of heel has my feet in pain within the hour!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Stepping into winter with JD Williams | JD Williams

I also chose this sweet Oasis embroidered jumper. I bought a lot of thick and oversized jumpers for work recently so I thought it would be wise to pick a lighter and more stylish jumper for days out or when the weather isn't too cold. Floral embroidery is really in right now so not only is this jumper really versatile but it's bang on trend too. It has a sweet bow detail at the back and I also love the ruffle cuffs; so simple but sweet.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Stepping into winter with JD Williams | JD Williams

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Stepping into winter with JD Williams | JD Williams

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Stepping into winter with JD Williams | JD Williams


As well as the black floral jumper, I also chose a looser light blue one with similar cuffs. This one is really soft and girly which I like and it's so simple but stylish that I wish I'd ordered it in a few other colours too! It's a really comfy fit and although it looks bright in the photos, in reality it's not so harsh on the eyes and is more like a versatile icy blue - perfect for winter.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Stepping into winter with JD Williams | JD Williams

Overall, I'm really pleased with my picks. They're good quality timeless pieces and I'll certainly be getting a lot of wear out of them this winter. I think JD Williams are fast becoming one of my new favourite brands too - especially for footwear!

What do you think? Have you ever styled anything from JD Williams before? Let me know! 

You can also find me on

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Sunday, 10 December 2017

I've found that since going vegan, I've become a lot more creative with my food but one thing I don't have much of anymore is a curry. So when I was asked if I wanted to try some Yutaka products to make a Katsu vegan curry, I was right on board!

Unfortunately it took me a while longer than I hoped to get this curry made. First of all our flatmates stole some of our ingredients (by accident, of course) and second of all I waited until a day I could make the curry early on in the day so I could take some decent photos in a natural light. Oh the woes of being a blogger.

I finally got around to making it today, although with the snow, the natural light wasn't amazing. Still, what's important was the curry.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan Katsu Curry | Cooking | Vegan | Katsu

I was sent Yutaka Panko (bread crumbs) and Yutaka Japanese-Style Curry Cube to create the dish. The recipe advised me to use either vegetables as the base (an aubergine and a sweet potato) or tofu, and I chose tofu simply because I'm trying to experiment more with it in cooking.

The recipe - which I'll post below - was easy enough to follow, although the only issues I had was that not a lot of breadcrumbs stuck to the tofu - normally when you cover something in breadcrumbs, you use egg yolk to help them stick but obviously I couldn't do that. My boyfriend advised me to use a little oil and this made a lot of difference, but overall it would have been better if it was more 'breaded'. This didn't defer from the taste though!

The second issue was - and I always struggle with this, so this is through no fault of the products - is that the sauce came out more like a watery sauce then a thick one. I didn't mind one bit because it was still packed full of flavour but, next time if I want it thicker, I'll remember to add some flour.

I quickly realized (after some research) that I was actually making a traditional katsu dish - which differs from what we know as a curry. It was delicious. The dish overall reminded me of food I used to always get from my local - breaded chicken with a thick curry sauce. This definitely rivaled it and the sauce itself had tons of flavour without being too spicy.

I added some vegetable samosas too!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan Katsu Curry | Cooking | Vegan | Katsu

It was so delicious and we were actually left with lots of sauce left over which I think will go great with some vegan chicken nuggets and perhaps even pies at a later date. 

I'll be honest though: when serving up with the less-than-thick sauce (due to me never being able to make a thick sauce) and slightly breaded tofu pieces instead of a curry, I wasn't expecting much. 

But it was amazing. I'd somehow managed to re-create one of my favourite pre-vegan dishes and the whole thing was super filling and filled with flavour. My boyfriend absolutely loved it too and has already asked me if I can buy a few more products and make it again next week.

Which I definitely will. Because I've fallen into the trap lately of just shoving frozen food in the oven and not actually cooking, and making this has reminded me that proper cooking doesn't have to be long or inconvenient. 

Here's the original recipe:

INGREDIENTS
· 1 Large Onion
· 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
· Water 800ml
· Yutaka Japanese-Style Curry Cube 100g
· 1 large aubergine
· 1 large sweet potato
· Plain flour 100g
· Salt & Pepper
· 50g cornflour mixed with water
· Yutaka Panko 200g
· Olive oil
· Steamed White Rice

SAUCE
Chop onion into small pieces. Add a little oil to the pan and gently fry chopped onions on low heat until lightly browned. Add 800ml of cold water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 7 minutes. Then let the sauce cool down for a few minutes. Add 100G of Yutaka Curry into the sauce. Stir until fully dissolved. Simmer on low heat and stir until sauce thickens.

VEGAN KATSU
Cut the sweet potato and aubergine into half cm slices and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour then dip into the cornflour mixture and coat with Yutaka Panko. Add oil to pan and once hot, cook the slices on each side for a couple of minutes or until golden brown. Leave to drain on a paper towel. Serve with boiled rice and add the sauce.

The whole dish took around twenty minutes to make. My tofu was quite crumbly so I had to abandon some and there was a lot of sauce left over so this would have easily have served between 3-4 people. I will note that the sauce came in one big chunk divided into six, so next time I'll ensure to only use what I need when just cooking for two.

Overall, my first vegan Katsu curry exceeded my expectations and even now I'm wishing I made enough to go back for seconds! It rivaled my favourite pre-vegan dish and will serve as the perfect week night dinner.

Have you ever tried any Katsu products? Would you try this curry/dish? Let me know!

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Friday, 8 December 2017

This week I dragged my boyfriend to Waddesdon Manor, a beautiful 1870s country house near to Aylesbury. To be honest, I say I dragged my boyfriend, but he was actually very happy to go! 

The reason I wanted to go is because the manor (and it's grounds) has so much on at Christmas and I visited years and years ago with my nan and parents, having an amazing time. I'd always wanted to go back - and we always tried to - but it just didn't happen. So as part as my birthday present, my boyfriend agreed to take me on a day that the Christmas fair was on.

We also booked tickets to go inside the house and see the decorations as on my last visit, my family and I only visited the grounds.

After just an hours drive, we arrived near to the house where we were welcomed with two tall beautiful Christmas trees. We were actually nowhere near the house but already I felt festive! We drove down through the gates and to the car park, where we hopped onto a shuttle bus that took us down to the house.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A seasonal visit to Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

Though the walk itself is only twenty minutes or so long, it was very chilly so we decided to take the lazy option! As soon as we stepped off the bus I was blown away to see the magnificent house in front of us. Pretty Christmas lights twinkled in the trees surrounding the house and down each side of the long lawn, pop up cabins/chalets hosted the Christmas market.

We got stuck in, admiring the decorations from each cabin and the delicate string lights criss-crossing from cabin to lampost, emitting a romantic glow as we walked beneath. The first cabin we visited was a foodie one and even had a vegan burger on offer - perfect! Vincent scoffed his in no time (it was too spicy for me!) and we began a slow walk to check out what was on offer. Though we saw lots of great things, we actually forgot to buy any gifts and just bought some chilli sauces for ourselves!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A seasonal visit to Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A seasonal visit to Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

After a mooch around the market, we explored the grounds. The stables looked particularly festive - and the walk from the house to the stables was nice. It was a winding path through trees but lit up with small lantern lights. We spent half an hour in the playground too - there were some fun things to do as adults! - and generally just spent the rest of the time gazing at the festive decorations.

When it was almost time for our timed entry into the house, we walked up and realized there was an outdoor light show. With floodlights changing the colours of the trees and sound effects, we were treated to a short but sweet show held against the backdrop of the house. We saw colourful butterflies fly over the walls outside and even snow! It was really beautiful.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A day at Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

Inside the house was even more festive. Even though we only saw a handful of rooms, each had a different theme and the trees were out of this world. I got so many ideas for our tree (when we eventually get one!) and loved walking through the old walls and delving into the houses past.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A seasonal visit to Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A seasonal visit to Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | A seasonal visit to Waddesdon Manor | Waddesdon Manor | Christmas Market

My only qualm is that we didn't get to see much of the house at all. Obviously not every room is decorated for Christmas, but as we spent £30 for the both of us to visit the house, I was quite surprised to find we were in and out within only twenty minutes. Still, I was glad we got to see inside and the trees really were beautiful!

We also had issues finding somewhere to eat, though this is through no fault of Waddesdon. There was lots of food on offer, but this was mostly pop-ups or cafes which of course served nothing vegan. We should have booked in advance to eat in the restaurant really but didn't think that far ahead.

Saying that, I was pleasantly surprised to find even a vegan burger on offer at the market, it's just a shame that it was too spicy for me! We found solace in the raclette cabin which offered cheesy chips and gravy - we ordered it without the cheese to make a delicious but light vegan snack.

All in all it was a really lovely and festive day. Waddesdon Manor is still one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and there really is nothing like it come Christmas. From the Christmas market to Waddesdon Imaginarium (the light show projected onto the house), there really is so much to see and do this winter, proving that it's worth risking the cold to make a visit.

Have you ever been to Waddesdon Manor? Let me know!

You can also find me on

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Monday, 4 December 2017

- by Christine Cook

Cleopatra's beauty is still a frequent subject of discussion even decades after her death. She became known for exhibiting her exquisite looks to seduce powerful men for political gain. However, her ethnicity has become a hot topic in recent years and ThoughtCo revealed that some biographers insist that Cleopatra was in fact black. Conversely, some historians believe she was Macedonian, seeing as she was a part of the Ptolemy dynasty that ruled over Egypt. 

Regardless of the debate, her physical appearance helped her gain her status, and Cleopatra remains a legendary queen. Her name and image has become synonymous with that of Ancient Egypt's prime.

Even nowadays, Cleopatra is still seen as a beacon of beauty, and her makeup styles are often used because of how effective they are in cultivating long-term health especially in terms of skincare. 

She has many skincare hacks to thank for her looks, some of which you can do as well, and we have listed below. 


MILK AND HONEY BATH
Beauty and Tips Magazine claimed that Cleopatra bathed in a mixture of donkey milk, fresh honey, and almond oil. To do have your own Cleopatra milk and honey bath all you need is to mix a half cup of honey with 3 cups of (cow) milk and add 5 tablespoons of either almond or olive oil. You can pour this mixture into your bath or directly on your skin while you shower. 

EXFOLIATING WITH SEA SALT
Cleopatra was also said to have achieved radiant skin by applying a combination of sea salt and olive oil. The practice was included by The Alternative Daily in their list of 13 natural beauty secrets from the Queen of the Nile. The mixture exfoliated and moisturised her skin, as well as helped replenish it after being exposed to the hot Egyptian sun. 

CLAY MASK
For her face, The Manila Times reported that a clay mask was a main component in the pharaoh’s beauty regimen. She used it to remove impurities and retain smoothness. It was said that the compound is comprised of clay, honey, sour cream, and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. All ingredients were of equal parts. To do the same, mix the ingredients and leave it on your face for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, wash it off with warm water followed by rinsing with cold water to close your pores.

To this day, Cleopatra’s beauty resonates in society. She has been played by many beautiful actresses in movies over the years such as thespians Claudette Colbert and Vivien Leigh. She has also appeared in many other facets of pop culture, including TV programs and video games. Take for instance, the online slots game Cleopatra on Slingo that showcased the Pharaoh in her iconic look, complete with the classic eyeliner extension – a popular beauty trend. Considering all the modern works tied to her name, the Egyptian ruler’s image evidently transcends time, and her skincare rituals only add to her status in terms of her appearance. 

While there might never be a conclusion to the argument regarding her true ethnicity, her allure still remains and will continue to do so for decades. A lot of methods in Cleopatra’s skincare regime still on hold true today, and for that reason alone, the Queen of the Nile already lives on. 

Have you tried other skincare tips that Cleopatra also implemented? Don't forget to share them through your comments below.

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