Tuesday, 30 December 2014

That Was The Movie Year 2014. My Personal End Of Year Report

Film review 2014

The last day of 2014 has come and in the last few remaining days of the year, I managed to catch up on some films. In total, I've seen 94 in 2014 at Cineworld. Given the fact that each movie had a running time of approximately 2h, I spent around 188h (around a week and a half) at the cinema (OMG I need a life!). Anyway, you can see all of my personal high- and lowlights of 2014 in today's post.

Movie Highlights 2014


Begin Again: This romantic comedy stars the gorgeous Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. It is a fantastic piece of an easy to watch film but at the same time, it encourages you to never give up and there's a second chance for everyone in life. Begin Again has charming characters, indie-pop music and a drama/comedy plot that you can watch over and over again.

The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet: I can't stress it often enough how much I love this film. I've only seen it once but it has ever since stayed with me with its powerful images and strong message. It is drama at its best and a true piece of art in itself. If you're intrigued, you can find my full review film review of The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet here and the DVD is currently around £8 on Amazon.

The Maze Runner: This adaptation of James Dashner's YA fiction novel really surprised me. It is action-packed and full of suspense. I had no idea what to expect and every minute of this film tied me to my seat and I wanted to know more about what was happening. It is so mysterious, intriguing and gripping that you won't recognise how fast the time goes by. It finishes off with a truly wow/wtf ending so the first thing I did when I came home was to order the first book and planned a second trip to the cinema. Even when I watched it for the second time, I found it very adventurous and energetic. I'm now reading the second book because I can't wait to know what's going to happen next!

I found the first half of the movie year 2014 relatively average and there were few films to stand out. Good films were rare and only towards the autumn, the movies got better. Further film highlights of the year were Linklater's Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Nightcrawler, Men Women and Children, St. Vincent and Night At The Museum 3.

2014 Film Flops


2014 saw disappointing films and most only received an average rating in my personal film list. Some films that didn't make it over my 5 point mark are: Inside Llewyn Davis, A New York's Winter Tale, A Long Way Down, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Maleficient, Hector and the Search for Happiness, Life After Beth, This Is Where I Leave You, Fury, Mr Turner, Horrible Bosses 2.

Something To Look Forward To


I'm really excited for 2015, especially for The Theory Of Everything, Stephen Hawkins biopic to kick off the film year. Then Disney will enchant us with Into The Woods and Cinderella, Jurassic Park and the new James Bond film bring some action in the summer and The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials will continue the series in autumn.

Which film was your movie high/low light in 2014? Are you looking forward to the new film year? Join the discussion and let me know in the comment section.

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin
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Thursday, 18 December 2014

My Top Three Christmas Movies

My Top Christmas Movie List

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the wonderful films that you can watch all over again to get into the festive mood. Ever since I moved out of my parents home, it is my very own tradition to watch a film on the evening of the 24th December (instead of unwrapping presents) and then celebrate Christmas in the morning of the 25th.

Some of the films are mostly anime and cartoon-based as they remind me of my childhood and I feel that these movies bring back that special festive magic which I experienced as a child. I don't really like the modern, hyperactive American movies ala Home AloneMiracle on 34th Street, Santa Claus or Jingle All Away. My ultimate all-time-classic Christmas movies are:

1. Anastasia (1997)




In a dramatic night, the entire Russian tsar family Romanov is killed by the evil magician Rasputin. Only grandma Romanov and the youngest daughter Anastasia can survive the attack and flee, but are separated and Anastasia suffers from amnesia. Many years later, Anya (Anastasia) leaves her orphanage and searches for her history and origins. The only clue she's got is a necklace with a charm reading 'Together In Paris. United'. On her quest, she meets young Dimitri and his friend Vlad. Both are fraudsters (Anya doesn't know but will discover it later in the film), but charming and good-hearted. They are on their way to Paris to see grandma Romanov who has put a reward for those, who can bring back her lost grandchild Anastasia....

This masterpiece comes from 20th Century Fox and can definitely keep up with the high quality of Disney classics. I would even say Anastasia is better than some of the Disney's films. Having learnt Russian in school for more than 8 years, I'm familiar with the royal history of the tsars and I think the story is quite complex but is charmingly told for children. The anime feels very realistic and authentic, with a lot of attention to detail. I particularly like the colours and drawing style which reminds me of 'Beauty and the Beast'. The cute sidekicks Pooka, the dog and Bartok, the bat, are very child-friendly but I think Rasputin is a bit scary. I also really enjoy the music, which has a unique charm and catchy tunes which enchant me every time. I regularly press the repeat button when the first song 'News From St. Petersburg' finishes - I love it so much!

2. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)




I have to confess though I studied literature, I'm not too keen on Dicken's stories but The Muppet Christmas Carol is always a pleasure and fun to watch. Christmas in my family always runs the same procedure. First, it is granny's birthday in the morning, but when The Muppet Christmas Carol comes on in the late afternoon, it means Christmas is finally here and we will unwrap presents after the film.

The characters are all lovingly animated and the film finds the right balance to portray a Victorian society appropriately for a child audience. It shows the harshness and change in Ebenezer but still remains a children's movie. The mixture of muppets living with humans makes the film interesting and I find Gonzo as the storyteller and Rizzo the rat very cute. Another great aspect is the music, which makes me nostalgic for my childhood. Some of the emotional songs can even make me cry as an adult! This is such a wonderful little Christmas gem, do not miss out on it!

3. Beauty And The Beast (1991)




What would Christmas be without a good, old Disney classic? Beauty and the Beast is, in my opinion, one of the best films ever. The atmosphere, the music, the anime style...every detail is truly enchanting and magical. A mysterious castle haunted by a beast, an enchanted prince, who can only be rescued by the love of a beautiful girl. That's so romantic and to me a Christmas must-see.

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There are so much more brilliant Christmas classics out there. I haven't even mentioned Love Actually or Disney's Enchanted, The Nutcracker Prince, Grimm's fairy tales, including Hänsel and Gretel or Frau Holle, nor all the wonderful Czech fairy tale movies including Cinderella, Stag with the Golden Antlers, The Hunchback Pony, The Tale of the 12 Swans, Flame Red Rose (the Russian version of Beauty And The Beast).

Hope you've enjoyed and let me know your favourite Christmas movie! Let's get festive.

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin
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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Bloggers Love Hub Blogger Event In London. Part 2

Bloggers Hang Out Blogging Event In London

I know this post comes a bit late but I only found some time now to write this one up. Every Monday in November, Danielle from Bloggers Love organised events for bloggers to meet brands and vice versa. I went to the first Bloggers Love Hub Blogger event in London and I enjoyed it so much, that I decided to return for the last one on the 24th of November.

Bloggers Hang Out Blogging Event In London

This time, the event was held at Mahiki's sister club Kanola in the Holborn area and it took me a while to find the venue. The Blogger's Love events are very popular so when I arrived at 4 pm, the club was already super busy! Kanola is as dark as Mahiki (sorry for the poor quality of pictures) but it is slightly bigger and more spacious, which I really enjoyed as there was so much to see and more brands to meet. However, I wished the club would have had a cloakroom, as it was so hot in there and I felt desperate to take off my winter coat and leave my heavy Christmas shopping bags somewhere.

As one of the first people I spoke to this evening, I met my lovely fellow blogger friend Rebecca who was the official video blogger for the event. Her videos are always fun to watch and capture the atmosphere of the events, so if you couldn't make it to the blogger event this time, Rebecca's video blog is perfect to catch up!

Meeting The Brands


Bloggers Hang Out Blogging Event In London beauty PR Luxit
Bloggers Hang Out Blogging Event In London Nadia Minkoff

One of the first brands I spoke to was Nadia Minkoff. The London-based designer showcased her fashion jewellery and handbags. Nadia's collection is available in Selfridges and Liberty and bloggers were gifted a matching London-inspired bracelet and necklace in the goody bags. 

This event was dominated by beauty brands, which is not really my area of expertise but I met nice and chatty people during the evening and it was great to connect with so many new brands. Kelita from Yours Truly Organics introduced me to her skincare brand which is currently in the stage to get into John Lewis and Liberty. The collection features face balms, gel cleansers, balancing toners and serums and uses natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Shea butter to be as gentle as possible to the skin.

Bloggers Hang Out Blogging Event In London Yours Truly Organics

I also spoke to Swedish skincare brand Luxsit and had a little sneak peek at Apricot's new stylish summer collection.

Next on the list was Vita Liberata, known for their extensive fake tan range. When I approached the stand, I was surprised to see a collection of skin illuminators and got really excited about it. Course I wanted to know more! I tried for a while to speak to the PR lady but it was quite busy and I didn't really get the chance to speak to her directly so I listened whilst she explained some of the products to other fellow bloggers and moved on to Slendertone.

Bloggers Hang Out Blogging Event In London Vita Liberata

At the Slendertone stand, I met a smiling Charlotte who introduced me to the brand's fitness products. Slendertone is a worldwide leader in providing products that improve muscle tone and body shape. Charlotte explained the special technology used in Ab-belts, arm belts or bottom to improve your shape in these areas to get a more defined body. I was kindly gifted a system-abs belt, which I'm going to start using in the New Year and it will hopefully help me to get rid of all the Christmas guilty pleasures.

I did have a good time, though I wished it was less hot and crowded in Kanola. Danielle has yet again organised a fantastic blogger event and I'd like to say a big Thank You for having me. Blogger's Love Hub events are such a great opportunity for all kinds of bloggers and it is always a pleasure to meet fellow bloggers and amazing brands.

Did you attend the events organised by Bloggers Love in London in November? Have you heard of any of the brand's mentioned in the post?

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin
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Monday, 15 December 2014

Ben & Jerry's Winter Editions. Ice Cream Review

Ben Jerrys Minter Wonderland

Even when it's cold and frosty outside, I like to enjoy some ice cream. In the UK, Ben & Jerry's have two special winter editions* on the market at the moment and it goes without saying that I HAD TO try and test the new flavours.

Joy to the swirled and Minter Wonderland

Joy to the Swirled is a rich and creamy vanilla ice cream with oozy caramel and dark chocolate swirls and Minter Wonderland is a mint flavoured ice cream with big chunks of dark chocolate.

Joy To The Swirled*: This vanilla ice cream comes with swirls of caramel and dark chocolate fudge and looks absolutely delicious. When I opened the lid, a stream of thick, oozy caramel drizzled out and just made me more excited to dig my spoon in. Once you get your first scoops out, the ice cream reveals layers of rich and creamy vanilla and chocolate ice cream with hidden 'veins' of caramel and chocolate. Once you hit these, the swirls are oozing and mix with the ice cream. It looks a bit like a mess but the taste is divine! Joy to the Swirled is so rich in flavour and the chocolate is very dominant. At one point I had my mouth full of gooey caramel, which tasted so so good, but the ice cream was filling at the same time due to the intense chocolatey flavour. I enjoyed Joy to the Swirled but I warn you, you can't have too much of it, as it fills you up quickly. This is quality food porn for very special moments.

Joy To The Swirled Ben and Jerrys Limited edition
Minter Wonderland ice cream review

Minter Wonderland*: Now, Minter Wonderland is in comparison to Joy to the Swirled harmless and seems to be a bit boring. The simplicity of a minted flavoured vanilla ice cream with chunky dark chocolate pieces, however, is genius. The texture is just right for me, not too creamy but icy. I like it when ice cream has a solid texture and you can taste bits and pieces of ice crystals. This one is just perfect. The vanilla ice cream is not too sweet and has a light flavour of mint. The ratio of chunky dark chocolate pieces (none of them were broken) was just right and the pieces had a lovely crack when you eat them. I had at least one piece with every spoon. The chocolate has a subtle note of mint as well and complements the vanilla ice cream. The flavours are great and I could have eaten a whole tub without feeling sick.

Ben and Jerrys limited winter editions

The winter editions are perfect treats for the pre-Christmas period. Joy to the Swirled is for these special moments when you crave a chocolate and caramel overkill whereas Minter Wonderland has a lighter note and is perfect to enjoy in front of the fireplace. I found the special editions only at Tesco's and they are priced at around £4-5.

Have you seen the winter editions yet? Do you like Ben & Jerry's ice cream? Which one would you get?

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin

*PR sample.
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

My Clothes Show Outfit #ootd

Clothes Show Outfit

I went to the Clothes Show last Friday (have you seen my day out in Birmingham post yet?) and here's what I wore. I bought this butterfly jumpsuit a while ago and found a great opportunity to finally wear it. I teamed it up with my MK Hamilton handbag and my signature boots from Clark. Let me know what you think of the outfit.

Butterfly jumpsuit Miss Selfridges fashion
fashion at the Clothes Show Birmingham
Michael Kors Handbag
What to wear to the clothes show in birmingham?

Here's What I’m Wearing:

Butterfly Jumpsuit: Miss Selfridge (current winter season 2014, £45)
Cognac Leather Boots: Clarks (winter season 2008/2009 £100)
Hamilton Handbag: Michael Kors (bought 2014, £270)
Watch: Olivia Burton (current season 2014, £69)

Hope you enjoyed the post and the outfit. How would you style the jumpsuit? Did you go to the Clothes Show?

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin
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Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Day Out In Birmingham

The Clothes Show in Birmingham

Happy Sunday everyone, hope you had a great weekend so far. I started mine with a fabulous day out in Birmingham on Friday including a visit to the famous Clothes Show with blogger friend Karen.

Since August (at least!) the blogosphere went mad over the Clothes Show. I've never been but heard it was supposed to be the second-biggest fashion event after famous fashion fair Pure in London. A fashion event in the Midlands? Sounded great and I was pretty upset, when I was rejected a press pass to the Clothes Show (though I met their requirements that's a different story). Anyway, luck had it, that I won two tickets for the show with Olympus over on Twitter, so I was definitely going which excited me a lot to not miss out on what seemed to be a great event for bloggers and fashion lovers. I asked Karen to join me, so we met at 8:30 am to start the day early and got the most out of it.

The Clothes Show in Birmingham with Karen

The Clothes Show


I've been to a few fairs at the NEC before (the BBC food show and Gadget Show) so I was kind of assuming, the Clothes Show would be a fashion/trade fair, with brands introducing their new products. I couldn't have been more wrong. There were brands such as Binky, Rimmel, ASOS and Models Own but apart from that, most "fashion brands" were no-name brands each selling the same items. There was this poncho which I've been watching for a while now, and it comes £20 on Ebay (at the most!). At the Clothes Show, I've seen it at least at four different stalls retailing at £35 and over (some even didn't have a price tag, so free I assume). It had the feel of a shitty Sunday afternoon market in Wolverhampton town centre. 

The Clothes Show in Birmingham
The Clothes Show in Birmingham

I decided to go on a Friday in the hope to not be amongst kids, but it was bursting with school children all over the place, even at 9 am! Karen and I wondered if they dropped out of school or if there were any holidays on. It was insane!

Anyway, we had tickets for the fashion show at 12:30 so we sat down at the Alcatel Theatre and watched a really good runway show, which was centred around a year in New York with cool dancers and very pretty models. It was such a joy to watch the show and the atmosphere was superb.

The Clothes Show in Birmingham Fashion Theatre
The Clothes Show in Birmingham Fashion show
The Clothes Show in Birmingham Alcatel Fashion Theatre

Karen and I had a look around at the Clothes Show but nothing really caught our eyes and we enjoyed walking around, spotting the one and other "celebrity" (Peter Andre, Amy Childs and we went past Neon Jungle a few times) and chatting to each other. Overall I don't think I'll return next year to the Clothes Show. The tix would have cost £30 each if I had to buy them and it felt like you paid entrance to a big shop. You had to pay for "goodie bags" and it just seemed to be not worth it. I was expecting it to be a bit more like a fair where you meet brands and find out about their products (oh I'm spoilt by the Bloggers Love hub events) which didn't happen. It was really just selling products and I don't see a sense in buying an overpriced ticket to go shopping.

Birmingham Markets And Bodega


In the afternoon, Karen and I went into town and had a cheeky Bodega meal. Bodega is kind of mandatory when you're in Birmingham. It is soo good. They do South-American food and their nachos are divine!

Bodega in Birmingham
Bodega in Birmingham
Bodega in Birmingham

We also had a chocolate filled crêpe at the Christmas markets, checked out the Canal Side in The Mail Box area, took pictures of each other with the Bull, who wears a fancy new Christmas jumper and tried Costa's new festive drinks.

The Bull in his Christmas jumper

I had a fantastic day and it was such a pleasure to meet Karen. Thank you so much for a wonderful day and a great time! Let's do it all again anytime soon :)

Hope you've enjoyed today's post. Have you been to the Clothes Show? What did you think of it? If you'd like to see how I dressed for the Clothes Show, you can find my Clothes Show OOTD here.

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin
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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas At The Traditional German Markets

German Christmas Market Leipzig

I always go home for a few days before Christmas to see my family and I've just got back from a trip. We celebrated the first Advent, meaning there are only three more to go until it's Christmas Eve time. Germans love a traditional Christmas and for some, including me, the pre-period leading up to the 24th December is the most exciting time of the year.

The first advent marks the opening of the famous Christmas Markets and for the next couple of weeks, people will come together to get into the festive mood and celebrate one of Germany's oldest religious traditions.

Weihnachtsmarkt in Leipzig
Christmas Markets In Germany
Dresden Striezelmarkt Germany
Dresden Nutcracker Christmas Market

Though I'm very happy to see that parts of my culture are taken over by other countries such as Belgium and the UK, I find that hardly nowhere are the markets as beautiful, magical and authentic as they are at home. Usually hold in medieval market squares surrounded by old churches, town halls and restored Renaissance houses, the markets give you that special feeling of Christmas. It is already frosty cold, most likely minus degrees, the snow has covered the roofs and you can see your breath when you exhale. These are the perfect conditions to go to the markets.

Christmas Markets: Food, Food, Food


Christmas is the time to celebrate the harvest of the year and to eat and celebrate. Germany makes no exception and in my culture, mulled wine, gingerbread and oranges are the food symbols of December. I know it sounds a bit weird but Christmas Markets are in the first place a treasure trove of food. You usually go there when it gets dark, which is around 3:30-4pm and then you eat most of the time. You drink hot mulled wine to keep you warm, chew a hard gingerbread heart, indulge in candied apples and in between changing food stalls, you look at all the amazing wooden crafts.

People drink their hot beverages out of personalised market mugs (there's a 5 € fee) which you can keep afterwards as a little souvenir. The Dresdner Hand bread, a fresh from the oven hot-filled bread, as well as Langos are traditional savoury dishes served at the markets. Candied apples, chocolate-coated tea cakes, quark dough balls and fruits, as well as candy floss and gingerbread hearts are for sweet tooth lovers.

Ginger bread and sweets
Langos Christmas Markets
Germany Christmas Markets in Dresden
                                 

Christmas Markets: A Place For Fun And Entertainment


So food and getting drunk are two good reasons for visiting the markets. Another one is that the markets are a fantastic place for fun and entertainment - most likely there's a funfair with a scooter (dodgems), a wheel and other rollercoasters at the end of the food stalls. If you're not a fan of funfairs, then there are stalls selling Christmas gifts, small concerts by the Christmas pyramid and nativity plays. In the middle of every market is a big pyramid with candles and scenes from the nativity play to remind people of the religious purpose and idea of Christmas.

Christmas Tree on the Altmarkt in Dresden
Pyramid at Dresden Christmas Markets
Christmas Time in Dresden
Nutcracker Leipzig Christmas Markets
Stalls at the Leipzig Christmas Market

Hope you enjoyed today's festive post. Have you been to the German markets yet? What's your favourite thing from the markets? I think mine is to enjoy the atmosphere of happy people, eating Langos and sweets and to listen to our Christmas songs. Let me know what you think.

Thanks so much for reading and till next time,
Carolin

PS: Pictures are taken from the Christmas Markets in Leipzig and the Strizelmarkt in Dresden (one of Germany's oldest markets 580 years this year!).
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