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Friday, 29 September 2017

In case you haven't already heard, my boyfriend and I are planning to move in together. It's early days yet as we still need to save and find somewhere, but the hunt is on and boy am I excited.

I've only ever lived with a boyfriend once in my life and I'm not sure that entirely counts because a) it was actually into a shared house where we still had our own rooms/space if we needed to, b) we lived with creepy housemates and c) we only moved in together out of convenience. 

Well I'm nearing 30 now, half my purchases go on homeware as opposed to clothes and, well, my boyfriend and I only drive each other slightly mad when we spend tons of time together. He gets annoyed when I don't wash the dishes properly (apparently I leave them to dry when there's still washing up liquid on them) and I get annoyed when he leaves crumbs in the bed or wet towels on the bed.

All normal arguments, am I right?

Anyway. There's so much that I'm looking forward to so I thought it would be nice to do a blog post about it.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | 10 reasons why I'm excited to move in with my boyfriend | Love | Personal

Yes, I'm sorry to bring that dreaded word up so soon and even though at this rate we wont be living together until the new year, I'm still super excited for our first Christmas together/first Christmas in our new place, especially for things like decorating the tree (that will never be as good as my mum's!), Christmas feasts and movie binges. Oh, and a vegan Christmas dinner of course.

My boyfriend said I'm not allowed to cook naked because I am the world's most clumsy person, but now that we don't live alone, I hate the fact that I can't roll out of bed looking rough as f*ck and stumble into the kitchen to make breakfast. I mean I still wear lazy clothes and that, but I always wear a bra to avoid getting caught out by his flatmates.

To be fair, I've already bought a laundry basket, a mirror, storage bags and a laundry basket for his room (and next I have my eye on a rug) but shopping for home stuff is JUST SO FUN. I now realize why I love The Sims so much. I can actually play it like IN REAL LIFE by decorating my own damn place. Unfortunately I don't think my boyfriend will agree with my luxurious gothic bathroom with black walls idea, but I'm sure we can compromise.

Okay we have a shower over a bathtub here and I have a bath at home so I swear I do wash, but I can't wait to have somewhere with a proper bath (as in without a shower over it). I'm going to stock up on so many Lush products and really nice candles and sh*t.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | 10 reasons why I'm excited to move in with my boyfriend | Love | Personal | Kit Out My Office

I actually finally have my own blogging space here, but currently at my desk I have the beautiful view of a curtain or, er, ASDA. To be able to push my desk against a wall and cover it in inspiring prints is THE DREAM. But I do totally love my current blogging space too.

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones...the list is endless. In fact we're already planning to throw our first binge-party this Halloween with a Stranger Things viewing party. It's not quite the same in his small room with limited seating, but we'll manage. Then when we have our own place, we can go all out with themed food and decorations and such.

And speaking of parties...

I have not had a house party in YEARS. I feel far too old to be bothered with putting on heels and going on a night out but good drink, good music and better company in the comfort of my own home sounds AMAZING. And since my boyfriend is a bartender, we're totally going to get one of those cool drink trolleys that you always see on Pinterest.

My boyfriend taught me how to make this amazing Sandwich Of Justice and call me the total opposite of a feminist but I can't wait to make it (with or without his help) for all our friends on a hungover morning. Seriously. This is one of the reasons I love my boyfriend. At the discovery of this sandwich all I could see was our future together and living together, having friends crash over after a night out (or in! See previous point...) and making hangover food like the SOJ for everyone the morning after. Is that weird? I don't care...

Yes, I spend more time here than at my own home right now, but for those days in between, it is an absolute b*tch dragging a big bag full of makeup and my laptop on and off the bus/to work. I'll have another car soon so that will make it a bit easier, but it can still get ever so confusing living between two places. I still don't know where my fitbit charger/favourite bra is currently. Who knows if I'll ever find out...

Finally, the reason why I'm most excited is just that I'll get to live with the person I love. I get to go to sleep next to him every night (apart from when he chooses to be a geek and stay up gaming, haha) and wake up with him every morning. I get to have breakfast with him (when I eat breakfast) and dinner every night. We get to choose a flat and make it a home together and create a future together. And as soppy as it makes me, that's the best part of it all.

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

As mentioned in my previous post, during our visit to Brighton, my boyfriend and I made sure we stopped at Purezza for dinner.

I'd heard plenty of times that Brighton is great for vegan food (and it is!) and Purezza was one place I constantly heard great things about; in fact it was one of the places I was most excited to visit in Brighton.

Purezza was actually the UK's first plant based Italian restaurant and offers raw food as well as pizzas in a pizza wood fire and other food. It was also the first vegan pizzeria in the UK when it was founded back in 2015. The restaurant is based just a short walk away from the seafront and is a quaint little place.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Foodie Review | Purezza | Purezza Brighton | Vegan | Pizza

We were surprised at how small it was but this is by no means a bad thing. We were welcomed immediately upon arriving and found the place to offer a really relaxed atmosphere. Staff were friendly and easy to talk to, as well as more than helpful.

We ordered so much food; for starters we had garlic bread (with delicious melted cheese! It's always a win in our books when we find somewhere that offers vegan cheese...), focaccia strips with a dip selection (hummus, pesto and caramelised beet/onion), and cheesy bites. It was all ever so delicious, and the caramelised beet/onion dip was surprisingly tasty.

For mains, we each went for a pizza. I chose the Portobello Road, which offered toppings such as mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, rocket salad and a mushroom sauce, whereas Vincent went for the 'meaty' Fumosa: chestnut mushrooms, smoked beet & fried tofu, topped with BBQ sauce. Yum yum.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the toppings such as smoked beet and sundried tomato looked like meat at first glance and with so much packed onto each pizza, we barely noticed any lack of meat. Much like when I eat my fake sausages, I find it's all to do with the presentation; if it looks like meat then you rarely notice the difference.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Foodie Review | Purezza | Purezza Brighton | Vegan | Pizza

I tried only a bit of my boyfriends pizza but mine was delicious. It was tasty and filling and had a whole lot of flavour. We often do mushroom pizza at home, but I'd never thought of topping it with sundried tomatoes. I can see us re-creating this pizza at home.

Also, I have to give a shout out to the menu. With pizza names like Cheesus, Popeye and Pesto Manifesto, it gave the establishment a quirky and fun twist which I loved. We kind of want to go back and try each pizza one by one...

We couldn't finish our food so took some of our pizzas to go, as well as some dessert Tiramisu and a brownie. I actually never got round to trying these in the end but I was assured by my boyfriend that they were delicious.

Everything was super affordable and I can't tell you how great it was to binge on delicious food that seemed unhealthy in thought but was actually really good for us.

If you're ever in the Brighton area, I'd definitely recommend popping to Purezza for some delicious vegan food.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Last week my boyfriend and I took a mini trip down to Brighton.

The main reason was to go and see my fave band, The Maine, as Vincent had never really been to a proper rock gig before (only a festival), and obviously going to gig's is one of my favourite things in the world so I thought it would be nice to go.

I usually see them in London but we figured why not go to the Brighton date instead and make a trip out of it? Well, I did, anyway. Vincent did get rather annoyed when I informed him that train tickets and a hotel were more expensive than originally planned and he admitted he thought we were only going for the day (as in coming back after the gig). Apparently it didn't occur to him that when I asked him to book two days off work, it would involve staying overnight and he thought it was just incase we were hungover..!

Anyway. We headed off from Luton station on Monday morning and arrived to somewhat warm weather just a couple of hours later.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | (Just under) 48 hours in Brighton | Travel | Brighton | Brighton Pier

The first thing we did was check into our room at Ei8ht apartments, a cute townhouse that offers serviced apartments and rooms pretty much a stone's throw from the seafront. We were really pleased with our room; it was small but really quaint and cosy and great for the price too!

We threw our stuff into the room and then took a short walk towards the beach before descending onto the pier. We mooched around for a bit, enjoying the view and having a few games in the arcade where Vincent shamelessly beat me at Dance Revolution. I used to be obsessed with the game as a kid, so it's kind of our tradition to play one whenever we see it. We also walked to the end of the pier to admire the view and had a go on a couple of rides too.

After, we headed into central Brighton via the Lanes. We popped into Choccywoccydoodah to marvel at the displays and browsed a couple of other shops before exploring Snoopers Paradise. We didn't buy anything, but enjoyed rummaging around nonetheless.

By the time we were done, we were starving so we headed off to this amazing vegan restaurant called Purezza. We'd heard great things about it - and it didn't disappoint. I'd love to write all about it but I'll instead be doing a separate review post on this!

After we stuffed our faces with delicious food, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the gig. Doors weren't until seven though and we were exhausted so managed to sneak in a quick nap before getting ready! It had been a while since I'd been a gig, so I took my time perfecting my 'rocker' look, with smokey eyeshadow, a deep purple lipstick and cute space buns.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | (Just under) 48 hours in Brighton | Travel | Brighton | Food | Pizza | Vegan | Vegan Pizza | Purezza

The gig was held at The Haunt, which is the same place where I saw The Maine a few years back. We arrived to hear the last couple of songs of The Technicolours set, and then checked out Night Riots. I was ecstatic when they played a song I actually knew and liked - I hadn't realized it was by them so it was nice that I knew a song!

Next The Maine boys came on and they did not disappoint. They put on a good show as usual, but I was sad that they didn't play some of my all time favourites. Still, it was still an amazing show, even if I did feel old when at least four different girls came up to me to say hello and note that they recognised me from past tours!

Oh how times have changed. Though younger than me, nearly all of them are still doing tour after tour, whereas in this case I was actually at the gig during a mini break with my boyfriend. Remembering the old days, I quickly downed a beer in cheers of my old groupie self, knowing that now that I'm on the wrong side of 25, my groupie days are long over.

The following morning we headed to the seafront for some classic seaside chips. Whilst Vincent practiced his skating (he recently purchased a longboard), I relaxed with the peace around me and read a book. This was probably one of my favourite parts of the mini break; just kicking back and enjoying the atmosphere and peace!

Shortly afterwards, Vincent beat me yet again with a game of crazy golf, we met up with a friend for lunch at another sweet vegan cafe, Wai Kika Moo Kau, had another final mooch around the shops and then headed back to the station to catch our train.

Also, oddly enough, we had GREAT weather. Apart from tons of rain on the Monday night (when we were inside anyway), it was actually kinda warm. I'd bought myself a new parka jacket, expecting to get a lot of use out of it during our time in Brighton but on the Tuesday I barely even worn it! So we were really lucky with the weather too.

At the time, I didn't realized we packed so much in but writing about it now made me realize we got up to a fair bit, even though we didn't have time to do all the stuff we wanted like visit the Penny Arcade and such.

Still, we had a lot of fun and I enjoyed taking my boyfriend to Brighton for the first time and to his first rock gig. I love Brighton because it's so close by that even just a day visit is viable, so there's no doubt we'll be heading back soon.

Have you been to Brighton lately? Let me know with a comment!

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Recently, I've been very open about my experiences of online dating.

There was once a time when I was slightly ashamed of it and wouldn't even tell my friends, but then apps like Tinder and Plenty Of Fish came on the scene and all of a sudden everyone was a lot more open about it and the idea of meeting strangers online became the norm.

I also realized that it's something a lot of us have been doing for a lot of years anyway and meeting strangers (safely!) online kind of goes hand in hand with our generation; we've made friends on Myspace, bloggers like myself have bonded via Twitter then met at blogging events in real life and I've even discovered bands online which have led me to meeting some awesome people.

There is still a bit of stigma around it though and I can sort of see why. I used to have the notion that if I told people I was online dating, they might think it's because I'm not pretty enough or approachable enough to meet men in real life. I definitely do not think that anymore though as I soon realized that everyone and their dog was on some form of dating website anyway!

But I digress. Here's some benefits of online dating if you're single but still a little cautious about giving it a go.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | 7 benefits of online dating | Online dating | Dating

...even when it doesn't evolve into a relationship. Online dating is pretty great I guess in a way that you sort of already forge some form of connection before meeting in real life and that connection doesn't just go away if things don't work out, so many people often go on to become friends afterwards. This wouldn't happen if you just gave your number to someone in a club. Similarly, you could also make contacts this way. I've made contacts in music, graphic design and photography in the past, which is pretty cool.

For a while, I used online dating apps and websites just to go on dates and not necessarily for a relationship. This led to some real fun dates which is often one of the best parts of being single. Some of my most fun dates included going to an Arctic Monkey's gig, spending the day along Southend seafront and drinks at the quirky underground 1940's themed bar, Cahoots. 

I used to be so shy and that's part of the reason why I turned to online dating. I could never approach a guy unless I was drunk and on a night out, but online I found myself coming across as super confident and this paid off in my favour. I think this helped me become more outgoing in real life too, especially as the messages exchange online often led to meeting in real life. Also, heading down to Southend to meet a stranger for a first date was way out of my comfort zone, but it paid off and I ended up dating said guy for around six months. 

Even though I know plenty of people that have forged relationships through the use of Tinder, it is still an app that is often considered the most playful of all of them and you're never judged for whatever you're looking for on there. If you don't want a serious relationship or just want to dip your toe into the world of online dating, apps like Tinder can always lead to a bit of fun!

Strangely enough, I've had more relationships/'dated' more people online than I've had 'single first dates' (if that makes sense), which is weird when a lot of people think online dating is used for people looking for just one thing. I've been with my boyfriend for just under seven months now and in that time we've gone to Blackpool, Brighton and even Romania together (I'd never have seen myself visiting such a beautiful country before meeting Vincent!) and are super happy and in love. The proof is in the pudding = online dating does work.

Want your friend to set up your profile for you and find some dates? There's a website for that. Actually looking for something long term and serious rather than just fun? Take your pick of many websites aimed at those being a bit more serious with their choices. You can also find websites such as a Bedfordshire dating site (perfect if you really want to look local), over 50s dating, over 50s dating Northamptonshire, and, again websites that are more area specific; a Tayside dating site and over 50s dating Tayside. No matter what you're looking for, there's bound to be a website or app for you.

Meeting strangers these days isn't what it used to be. A lot of websites do necessary checks when allowing people to sign up and you usually get a good feel of a person and their character before meeting in person. That said, many websites recommend some safety measures too, such as meeting in a public place and letting someone know beforehand where you're going to be. Like I said, luckily it's more accepted these days so there should be no embarrassment with telling a friend that you're off on a date with someone you met online, and lots of people have a get-out plan with their friend in case the date isn't going as well as planned! Plus, who can forget that bar from St Albans that went viral last year for the notices in their toilets offering daters a subtle way to leave the bar in case they felt any unease on their date...

Will you be giving online dating a go or have you in the past? Let me know with a comment!

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*Please note, this is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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Saturday, 16 September 2017

I've wanted to be (or be with, at least) a rock star for as long as I can remember and music is one of my biggest passions. I have the uttermost respect for those who have that talent to create music but unfortunately, despite a failed attempt at learning guitar when I was younger (I learned two songs on it before giving up on practicing), I don't have that talent.

That said, I have always wanted to learn another instrument after my failed attempt of learning guitar and I've been leaning towards drums for a good few years now. I think I'm pretty good at rhythm and I do Pound Fitness, which I've been told doesn't make you good at drumming at all but is still kind of similar.

So when AB Music Academy got in touch and asked if I wanted to give one of their trial sessions, I couldn't say no. 

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Music | Drumming | ABMA | AB Music Academy

The company is based in Acton (in West London) and at their quant studio they offer both vocal and instrumental tuition, as well as hosting live events, performances and workshops. Students have also gone on to create bands, and the studio can also be used for recordings and rehearsals as well as lessons.

I headed down on Wednesday and found the studio easy to find in a quiet part of London. There were many train problems that day however, with a few delays, but if this hadn't been an issue then the journey would have been relatively simple. 

Though Acton is a long way from Luton, anyone based in London will find the studio easy to get to and not too far at all. 

My taster session took place with co-founder Florin Pascu, who greeted me warmly and first spent some time telling me a little bit about the studio and what they offer there. He then taught me some basics of drumming, such as what parts of the huge drum kit I'd be using during my session (Hi-Hat, Snare Drum & Bass Drum), and briefly explained to me how to read some basic music.

Reading music sounds super complicated but he made it seem really easy. Of course we only went over a few basics so that I could learn a relatively simple beat, but I felt like I took a lot away from it and hadn't expected to actually learn how to read a bit of music during my short taster session.

Next, I was given some headphones to protect my ears and Florin taught me how to hold the drum sticks correctly. He explained that when playing drums, it sounds best when your hands are relaxed rather than stiff.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Music | Drumming | ABMA | AB Music Academy

Then it was time to actually drum. We took it slow, getting used to using just the Hi-Hat first, before slowly adding the bass and snare drum. It took me a few goes to put it all together of course, but it wasn't long before I settled into a rhythm. 

I found the best way was to not think too much and let my hands do what they're supposed to; often I made a mistake when I was overthinking things. But of course this is natural being that I was learning a new tune.

By the time the half an hour was up I'd pretty much gotten it and felt really pleased. Even now I can remember the beat in my head and want to practice!

Florin even said that it was clear I could pick up the rhythm quickly and recommended I come back; so at least I wasn't a complete failure.

Will I continue?

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Music | Drumming | ABMA | AB Music Academy

I think I definitely will. I enjoyed and learned enough in such a short time to feel confident that I can continue learning and will go far, but of course London is rather far for me to travel for regular drumming lessons.

AB Music Academy offer lots of great deals on bulk lessons however and I really love that they offer taster sessions which means you don't waste a lot of money booking lessons when you're not even sure how well you're going to take to an instrument. It's a really sweet deal.

I'll be continuing lessons perhaps maybe monthly, but overall I was very impressed. I've held back from looking into lessons before as I thought I might find studio's too professional or lessons too expensive, but this wasn't the case here. My taster session was very relaxed and informal and when I messed up, Florin was encouraging as opposed to judgemental.

For anyone that has even a small interest or flicker of passion to learn an instrument, I'd 100% recommend booking a taster session (and hopefully regular lessons after that!) with AB Music Academy. 

I learned so much during such a short time and think it's amazing that by spending just half an hour with the academy, I was already sold on the idea that drums are the instrument for me.

Would you ever pick up a new instrument? Let me know!

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

The last couple of posts I've enjoyed writing sat at my own desk in my very own blogging area - which is a far cry from where I normally blog (in bed, usually!).

I've wanted my own desk for blogging for a long time now but unfortunately lack of space in my room just hasn't allowed it. Likewise, at my boyfriend's place, I've wanted my own space in general, especially as I spend more time there than at home. Therefore, when Kit Out My Office got in touch and asked me if I wanted to try out a desk, I jumped at the chance.

The only thing is, I didn't realize quite how tough it would be trying to decide on the perfect/right desk for me. Being that my boyfriend and I are looking to move in together, I wanted something that would last and that I could take to the new place, not just a desk that looked pretty now.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Home | Creating my own blogging space with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review

Firstly, I wanted a typical all white desk, much like most bloggers. But as I scrolled through, I just wasn't sure. I wanted a drawer with the desk, but the all white desk and drawer just didn't seem ideal for me; nor did a white desk with a natural oak drawer.

In the end, I decided on an all over natural oak finish with one drawer, put in my order and tried to stop myself buying everything office/stationary related at TK Maxx until the time came. (I failed. I bought a few things, but just a few!).

I also chose the size W800mm which was the perfect width when there's not a lot of space. I did like how I had the option of two different sizes though. There's also a lot of variation on the website too; there's desks with drawers either side, desks with cupboards above and much more.

My only worry was the drawer really, as I thought with the desk being smaller in width, my legs would end up hitting it. This hasn't been a problem at all, however, if it had been, the drawer can easily be removed or moved further over.

Speaking of which...I put the desk together myself (my first attempt at DIY!) and I am very proud of myself.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Home | Creating my own blogging space with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review

Anyway. Once the desk was set up, I couldn't believe how sleek and sophisticated it looked. It's ever so lovely, the natural oak finish is a really durable but versatile colour and the finish is so smooth.

Since getting my desk, I've slowly been personalizing it bit by bit. It has a way to go yet - currently it overlooks either ASDA out the window or some dark curtains but I'm hoping once we move the room around, I can set it to face a wall and exhibit some cool and inspiring graphics above.

In the meantime, I've picked up a lot from TK Maxx. The year planner and matching desk planner I already had, and I also picked up a gold magazine/folder rack and some cute sticky notes that also match the whole theme I have going on. I picked up a candle too and I currently display a little snow globe from our time in Romania. There's also a cute coaster for my cups of tea and now I'm on a look out for a small desk lamp and a cute Halloween decoration for the upcoming season.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Home | Creating my own blogging space with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Home | Creating my own blogging space with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review

So it's still looking very simple (but clean, which I like!) but it's nice because it's all mine; my own little feminine and sophisticated area.

But I think the best part about it is just having my own space; especially to blog. The drawer is spacious for things like my spare notebooks plus some extra bits like my laptop charger and such. I've also been using it for different things like doing my makeup (carefully as not to spill any on my shiny new desk!) each morning and just in general.

Beforehand, I'd either blog in bed or on the sofa, or try and make some space on my boyfriends desk (near impossible as he has two PC screens, a keyboard and lots of random junk) but now I have my own area where my laptop can be kept at all times. It's great too because obviously when my boyfriend is home and gaming, I can really focus on getting stuff done which is hard to do when you're lying in bed, half slouched down and sleepy. Sitting up at an actual desk gives me more motivation and helps me do what I need to.

Overall, I'm really pleased with my desk and love it's look overall - as well as how I've personalized it. It's a real investment as I feel this is going to last me for years and years to come and is probably a desk I'm going to take with me as I move into our flat and hopefully one day a house soon.

What do you think? Let me know!

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Monday, 11 September 2017

I love any hacks that come along with saving or earning any extra money. I'm on nearly every cashback and survey site going; and I've tried quite a few different saving methods over the years; from putting the remainder of a paycheck into a different account the day before my next pay or just saving old pennies.

I wouldn't say they entirely failed - I do have a bunch of pennies hiding somewhere at home - but I wouldn't say they were entirely successful either.

Which is why I recently took some time to research into some new saving methods; after all, I have a lot to save for now and I'm pretty sure you will all benefit from this post too what with Christmas fast approaching!

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Money | Money Saving | Chip | Chip App | Lifestyle

Chip is my latest go-to money saving app and so far I am thoroughly impressed. I installed the app in July and have earned/saved £41.72 - although, bear in mind, I didn't actually start getting paid from my new job until mid July. This money has come out of my bank account bit by bit without me even noticing.

The way it works is this. Chip is like a personal savings bot (you can even chat to it via the app) and you give the (totally safe) app access to your bank account so that it can analyze your spending. Every few days, it calculates a small amount that you can afford to save, based on your spending. 

So, rather then choosing a set amount to put aside each month, this app takes into account the fact that some months you might be spending more than usual. It calculates just enough so that it doesn't affect your day-to-day life, so, for example, you don't transfer a huge amount and then find yourself short at the end of the month. Likewise, it really analyzes very well, so you don't save just a tiny bit and then spend loads of money that you have left over unnecessarily.

I was a bit wary at first but I decided to give it a go and I can honestly say it feels like free money as I've not even noticed the money being taken.

You also get a notification a few days beforehand to let you know how much will be taken so if you really feel like you'll be short, you can cancel the transaction. Plus, the bot shares super funny gifs throughout which is always a win in my eyes. You can use the chat to report a problem, so although you speak to a bot, if there is an issue, an actual person will get back to you.

You can pause the app, withdraw your money anytime and can even change how you want to save: at first I had my saving level set to low, then, when I started getting a regular income, I changed it to high.

You can make your own manual savings too, just in case being able to see saved money in your own banking app makes the temptation that much easier to spend it, and you can also save in your overdraft - and we all know how hard it is to save when in your overdraft.

It's extremely smart, especially for millennials like you and I. I'm very much the type of person to see what I have left over at the end of the month and save that but, as we all know, all too often this does not work.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Money | Money Saving | Chip | Chip App | Lifestyle

And yes, it's entirely safe and legit. Their website states:

Chip is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) through its agency status with Prepaid Financial Services (PFS). You can look PFS up in the Financial Services Register (FSR) and you’ll find us on the PFS website too. Sorry about all the TLAs, btw.


Chip has a data control licence - you'll find us on the ICO register - and we always act in full compliance with the Data Protection Act. Your online banking login details are protected using 256-bit encryption and Chip does not store your data.

That's cleared that up then.

The app has recently released a new feature to help you save. You pop in details such as how much you want to save and what for and it automatically updates you on how long it will take you to save that amount based on your current activity. It'll send you regular reminders as you get closer to your goal too.

Finally, there are always tons of incentives to earn that bit more - recently, the app offered a £10 sign up bonus for friends and, currently, if you get a friend to sign up, both you and your friend you will get an extra 1% interest (per friend) for a year.

PSST! - my bonus referral code is JLB3BY if you're interested in grabbing this 1% interest!

Please note, I have of course used my referral code in this post (every little helps!) but you also know how transparent I am with these types of posts. This is not a sponsored post, I genuinely have had a great experience with Chip so far and often like to share any tips on this blog when it comes to saving money. Alternatively, if you are interested in using Chip but would not like to use my referral, you can learn more at

So, overall, the fact that I've managed to very easily save close to £30 (which would undoubtedly be more but I've only had two paychecks since using the app!) since July without even noticing it is a total win in my eyes. It's perfect for my current financial situation and my lifestyle too.

Would you ever try Chip? Do you have any budgeting apps? Let me know!

You can also find me on
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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Every now and then I stumble across a new brand that I fall absolutely head over heels for. This time, I discovered the brand via Facebook advertising, and that brand is the edgy but sophisticated Little Lies.

The brand is described as offering 'boho' fashion, home and accessories but I also think some of their things are really quirky and totally up my street for being a bit different. The name, Little Lies, comes from the classic Fleetwood Mac song and they have the most amazing 'favourite things' list.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Brand Crush: Little Lies | Brand Crush | Little Lies | Homeware | Fashion | Boho | Edgy
I mean who doesn't love number seven? It's one of my favourite feelings/experiences in the whole world...

The website has a thriving music section where artists are featured and playlists are created, which I love, and they even have their own blog.

Skulls and skeletons feature regularly so, yeah, I also love that obviously!

Although pretty much everything from the site is to die for, I'm particularly lusting after their homeware range.

Here are some things (across the whole site) that I really want right now.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Brand Crush: Little Lies | Brand Crush | Little Lies | Homeware | Fashion | Boho | Edgy

This cute but eye-catching little necklace is a stunner. Dipped in 24 carat gold and otherwise completely natural, this necklace gives off an edgy-but-boho feel. What's great is that each product differs ever so slightly (due to the Chrysoprase being natural), which means each one is one of a kind.

This desert skull jewellery dish is small but that doesn't make it any less special. It's perfect for rings and any other small bits & bobs of jewellery and I love that it's a desert skull, meaning it'll no doubt match my floral cardboard stag's head I aim to one day get. The gold horns give it a real sophisticated vibe too.

Oh my. These hilarious but cool candles are what first drew me to the brand; of course my favourite is the rock hand but how cool are the peace ones and swearing one too? These would look great on any mantlepiece and would also double up as a great conversation starter. Plus, the colours they come in are uber cool too; gold, white and silver. They just need to launch a black one now - or would that be too obvious? You can buy all three, the pair or a single one.

Another skull, of course. This skull candle jar is really something and I love that once the candle melts, you can use it for something else (my bet's on cool cocktails). The wax is actually natural soy wax (so vegan!) and burns for up to 40 hours. There are also bigger skull candles available too (as in not in a jar), but I like that you can get a second use out of this.

I've only had a quick look at the fashion but this playsuit immediately caught my eye. The model is totally rocking it with an oversized hat and loose curls, but the floral pattern can mean you can go from boho-rocker to super girly and sophisticated with just a change of accessories. The playsuit is aptly named 'Stone Roses Playsuit', and it's only £34 which is a total bargain; I'd have expected it to be at least £40...!

These are just five products I've got my eye on from my new favourite brand, Little Lies, but I haven't even properly looked through the site yet! The fashion is really versatile and wearable, no matter what your style is, and I love that the homeware is so different without coming across as tacky or trying too hard.

Have you checked out Little Lies yet? What do you think? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

When it comes to travel, sometimes there are so many beautiful countries and places to stay that I can't help blogging about - even if I haven't yet had the opportunity to visit!

One (or two!) of these places are the luxurious B&B's of  La Dimora dei Cherubini in Florence, a timeless and classy classic travel location no matter what time of year or type of break you're looking for. Like Berlin, or Amsterdam, Florence is the kind of place that is always popular and never grows old.

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When I imagine a B&B, I usually think of a small but quaint family run kind of place with breakfast on offer - but  La Dimora dei Cherubini breaks all of these misconceptions. Although it has a homely atmosphere, a stay at  La Dimora dei Cherubini also offers modern and charming rooms with a welcoming atmosphere and classy and luxurious decor.

Both B&B's are close by to the station Santa Maria Novella in the center of Florence, with only a short walk between each. Whereas #DimoraDegliAngeli and  La Dimora del Centro offer charming and intimate rooms, both also offer some unique points too.

La Dimora degli Angeli Florence is set on the third and fourth floors of a historic palace, Via De’ Brunelleschi, and La Dimora del Centro Florence is located in the 19th century palace of  Piazza della Repubblica. This palace was proved to be an inspiration for the poet Eugenio Montale.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | La Dimora Degli Angel | Florence | France | B&B

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | La Dimora Degli Angel | Florence | France | B&B

Each B&B also offers rooms overlooking
Duomo of Florence and feature en-suite bathrooms, free wi-fi, air conditioning, safes, satellite TV and more. 

If you can drag yourself away from the room, guests will find Galleria degli Uffizi nearby and shops in Via de’ Tornabuoni. 

If you've got your eye on a visit to Florence anytime soon, then a stay at La Dimora dei Cherubini is certainly worth visiting. 

What do you think? Would you stay at either of these luxury B&B's? Would you like me to do more blog posts focused on specific hotels and places? Let me know!

*Please note, this is a sponsored posts but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

I'm a big fan of theme parks but Blackpool Pleasure Beach is hands down one of my all time favourites. 

I have so many great memories of going there as a child and in fact a visit to the park - or a ride on the The Big One - is a good enough reason alone for the long drive to Blackpool! Until I went recently I actually used to always have dreams about the famous Pepsi Max (seriously, I know it's officially called the Big One now but I can't help call it the Pepsi Max still!) roller coaster too, haha.

Therefore it's no surprise that following our time in Blackpool, a post dedicated to Blackpool Pleasure Beach would pop up.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | Lifestyle | Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United Kingdom since it opened in 1896. Though it has a lot of modern roller coasters, it's also a very classical theme park. It's one of the only theme park's in the world to still have a traditional wooden wild mouse roller coaster and still has some of its earliest and classic rides such as Steeple Chase, Grand National and Derby Racer.

This is one thing I love about the Pleasure Beach, the fact that it has so many classic elements and rides. It's nice to go back and see the rides I used to go on when I was younger, like the funky Alice in Wonderland ride which is for kids but I always insist on going on still.

There's a real mix of rides too with different themes throughout the park. So no matter what your age or your thrill factor, there's something for everyone. I still insist everyone should go on the Pepsi Max at least once though as you really can't beat the view at the top, nor the feeling when you hit that first drop.

Food wise; there's a lot on offer too, though not much for vegans that we could find. I guess most of the traditional theme park foods were pricey, but we enjoyed grabbing a hot drink in one of the restaurants by Valhalla which had a cute french chalet theme inside. 

It's also supposedly haunted! Shows such as Most Haunted and Great British Ghosts have both featured the park and it's well known for the haunted ghost train ride which is haunted by a former ride operator named Cloggy.

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As well as rides, there's also crazy golf, amazing shows, scary walkthroughs and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Personally though, my favourite rides are the Pepsi Max/The Big One (obvious choice!), Valhalla (an amazing ride themed around Viking's and visually stunning), Alice's Wonderland, Revolution, Infusion (even though it was closed when we were there) and Avalanche (basically, all of the big ones!). I also love the Chinese Puzzle Maze and Impossible.

It's affordable, too. Although you now have to pay just to enter the park, as opposed to being able to walk round it for free, I kind of have no complaint about this because why would you visit the park and not go on any rides?! The park has a Rainy Day Return policy too and, what I didn't realize, entry to the park also includes entry into Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Finally, the park also offers some events where it's open in the evening too in collaboration with Ministry Of Sound! This is a great opportunity to not only ride the biggest coasters in the dark but also see Blackpool lit up with the illuminations and the tower.

So, as a whole, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is well worth a visit. Some tips I'd recommend though are:

- Get there nice and early as although the park may seem small, there's a lot to see and do.
- Don't be scared to visit on a grey day. There's the Rainy Day Return policy - as explained above - and its likely to be less busy on a cold day which means less lines.
- Go on Valhalla last, or first (if it's sunny) as you will get very, very wet. It's very, very worth it though.
- See a show too.
- Plan what you're eating beforehand as there's so much choice and once it gets busy, you don't want to be walking around lost for ages and hungry. Alternatively, pop just outside (it's okay though, you can return afterwards with your wristband!) and visit Faringos for some yummy vegan food.

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Sunday, 3 September 2017

I'm kind of over summer. 

There, I said it.

Don't get me wrong; I've enjoyed the hot weather and long summer nights but now I'm ready for winter again. It doesn't help that at work we're currently getting in all our winter accessories; thick scarfs, chunky boots, fluffy hats etc.

Therefore I've decided to do a winter fashion wishlist with Esprit! I want to buy alllllll the winter wear...

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Fashion | Winter fashion wishlist with Esprit | Esprit | Wishlist

First of all, I'm loving this casual deep red jumper. It looks like a really good fit and that it's thick enough to keep warm but thin enough to not be too overbearing which is a common issue with winterwear I find. I actually don't own any basic winter jumpers; only corny Christmas ones or patterned seasonal ones so a basic one like this would be more versatile. 

This stretch mini skirt is a classic which can look uber sophisticated when styled correctly. If wrong, it can look quite immature but with a sophisticated pair of knee high boots (or ankle boots with knee high socks!), it can help put together a really cute and feminine look for winter. Though only available in navy, I reckon it's super versatile and can help achieve that perfect and classic winter look.

I'm actually really digging the preppy look lately would you believe it! It's quite odd for me as you know I always love to dress a bit edgy if I can but the prepping look is really growing on me. Therefore I love this college style coat which is perfect for winter but also a little different than your average winter coat - plus it's bang on trend.

Oooh, this dress has really caught my eye, even though it's totally different to my normal style. It's also quite grown up looking which is unlike me. It's super beautiful though, I love the fit and the design is really sophisticated and eye-catching too. I really like the length of it and feel like pairing it with some thick tights and chunky boots would make it just right for the colder months.

And of course to complete the wish list a nice pair of winter boots is a must. Not so different from other boots, this pair still has the classic formalities of a winter ankle boot but still caught my eye - likely because of the buckle. Again, these are also versatile, so they're a win in my eyes.

So there we have it; a cute mini winter fashion wishlist with Esprit. What do you think of the items featured? Let me know!

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