Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

I would describe myself as a foodie, myself and Alex both love our food and try to visit various restaurants in our city. I thought that I would give a mini review of the best restaurant I have ever visited in case any of you are planning a trip to Florida and need ideas on places to eat.

When planning our honeymoon, I made an itinerary that included where to eat. As any of you who have visited Orlando will know the holiday is very busy with lots to do so it helps to plan on where you will visit and where you plan to eat – this ensures that you get the best for your money and if you plan it right will guarantee that you see and do lots more than playing it by ear.

I have always been someone who loves to plan and do research on different things, so when it came to planning our honeymoon I loved reading other traveller’s food and holiday guides to pick up recommendations for things to do and restaurants. One restaurant that kept coming up was Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal Studios City Walk and after browsing the menu I quickly added it to our list of “must dos”.

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Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is themed as a chocolate factory owned by Penelope Tinker Toothsome and her robot assistant Jacque. The theming inside the restaurant is incredible and has a strong Steam punk vibe. The restaurant has two floors and a bar that serves speciality drinks such as Chocolate stout.

On entering the restaurant, we had the pleasure of meeting Penelope, who told us all about her favourite dishes and offered a history of her factory. To the right of the reception area was the gift shop (more on that later) and we were quickly greeted by a waitress who led us upstairs via the elevator. On the way up, another waiter joined us in the elevator carrying two plates of food – the food looked and smelled delicious which made us even more excited about our meal.

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We were shown to our table and given the menu, the menu wasn’t so much a printed list of foods but an atlas size hardback story book, with top quality images of certain dishes and on the first few pages a narrative style introduction explaining the story of Toothsome. The menu was a little overwhelming and we had to ask for more time twice when the waitress came to take our order. I asked the waitress what her favourite dishes on the menu were and she was very informative and helpful with the information that she gave us.

After looking over the menu for a while we decided that we would like to order, for starters we ordered the pork belly sliders which came with Caramelized onions, mustard aioli, chocolate bacon, all served inside a pretzel bun – DELICIOUS. The pork belly sliders cost $11.95 and were absolutely worth every penny. We also ordered some warm chocolate almond bread which cost $2.95 and came with salted caramel butter. The bread was gooey and chocolatey but a little rich, so we ended up putting it in a doggie bag at the end of the meal.

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For our main I ordered the “May contain bacon burger” which was a half-pound patty, lettuce, Smokey bacon, grilled pork belly (I obviously couldn’t get enough of this stuff), pineapple chutney, cheese and again, was served in a pretzel bun. I can safely say that this burger was the BEST burger I have ever tasted. The mix of flavours was amazing, the saltiness of the bacon, the sumptuous  pork belly and the sweetness of the pineapple chutney with the kick of the jack cheese, was just perfect. My dish came with a big portion of fries which were great too. This dish cost $15.50 and when Alex had a taste he agreed that it was the best burger ever. We expected just a “hint” of bacon, and we weren’t disappointed.

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Alex ordered the Sedona Barbecue Chicken Salad which cost $12.95 for a huge portion of yumminess. The salad contained grilled chicken, lettuce, black beans, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, spiced pumpkin seeds, peppers, a chipotle lime vinaigrette, and crispy tortilla strips. Alex really enjoyed his meal and when he let me try some I thought the salad was really refreshing and the flavours tasted amazing. This is something that we believed Toothsome get right with their dishes, the flavours are diverse but work incredibly well together. As we were eating, Penelope and Jaque were making the rounds, coming over to each table and spending time with each party which we thought was a nice touch. I loved chatting to both characters who stayed in character throughout their time on the restaurant floor.

When researching Toothsome there was one thing that I knew I had to try and as full as I was I couldn’t leave without ordering a milkshake. I had seen so many photographs and videos of Toothsome’s amazing milkshakes so I chose the Heavenly Hazelnut shake from Jaque’s speciality milkshake menu, this cost $12.50 and was what the name suggests – Nutella ice cream, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, and fresh whipped cream on top. The milkshake was very delicious, but we had eaten far too much so could only manage a few sips so asked for the souvenir mug that it came in to be cleaned out so that we could put it in our bag to keep.

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After paying and tipping we decided to look around the Toothsome gift shop which was an experience within itself. The shop was filled with quirky trinkets and had a large glass chocolate display cabinet with different truffles and chocolate flavours encased within it. The shop also had lots of Toothsome merchandise and original sweet goods to buy. The prices were reasonable, and we enjoyed looking at all the items. We bumped into Jaque again who didn’t drop character once while interacting with us, we watched him walk around the shop, picking items up and looking at everything in detail and we loved it.

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Overall, we loved Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and would recommend it to anyone visiting Orlando for a family friendly, stylish, and delicious experience. We left full, happy and with chocolate almond bread in hand which we enjoyed back at the hotel that evening.

Toothsome is admittedly a little pricey but it makes for a special treat on holiday and we will be visiting again if (when) we visit Universal Orlando again.

mrandmrs

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First smear test

Alex and I had only just walked through the door after arriving back from our honeymoon when I spotted a letter addressed to me sitting on the kitchen side. After I had opened the letter and read the first line I had a huge knot in my stomach.

The letter explained that I was at the age that I needed to have my first smear test….

I have always feared hospitals and GP’s and I will try my very hardest to avoid the doctors at all costs, unless I am very poorly – which I think most people feel the same, who likes going to the doctors?.

A few months had passed and I still hadn’t booked my appointment, despite having a follow up letter from my GP explaining how important it was that I came in for my smear test. I put it to the back of my mind for a while but would think about it regularly. I had very mixed feelings about the test, I felt embarrassed, nervous, and scared, I didn’t know what to expect because it wasn’t something that I had discussed with anyone before.

I would tell my friends at work that I needed to book my smear and I was met with negative comments and a lot of my friends that were younger than me said how they were dreading getting their letter. I decided that enough was enough and that I needed to get it done, so I rang my GP to book my appointment which was booked in for a few days’ time.

Those few days before my appointment were filled with nervous butterflies and a huge feeling of the “unknown” but on the actual day of the appointment I felt strangely calm. I made a video of myself talking about how I felt and that I wanted to document my experience to help other women who were feeling very nervous about their test.

I walked to my GP which was a 5-minute walk and checked in at the desk, I took a seat and waited at least 20 minutes before my name was called – that 20-minute wait was horrible because it made me more nervous, as always, the anticipation makes things a lot worse than the actual thing you are waiting for.

After a wait that felt like FOREVER my name was called and I followed the nurse into the room who closed the door behind me. The nurse was very lovely and explained everything to me – what she needed do, what she would use, what it would feel like, how long it would take etc… this eased those nervous feelings for me and I was very thankful that she had taken the time to explain things fully to me. *I am not going to go in to too much detail in this post but I will leave some useful links at the bottom if you would like to do some research.

It was time for me to get undressed and lie on the bed, the nurse gave me privacy to do this and asked me to let her know when I was ready. One piece of advice that I would give is to wear a dress and tights/leggings, this made it a lot less awkward and easier.

The test only lasted a few minutes and then it was done. I got dressed again and sat on the chair for a chat with the nurse. The nurse told me that she had found two lumps on my cervix and that she wanted to get a second opinion on them – the nerves were back, and my stomach sank.

The test itself had been a positive experience, it didn’t hurt – yes it was a little awkward and embarrassing but you must remember the nurses carry out multiple smear tests daily. I wanted to follow up my video with all the positivity but after this news I didn’t feel that I could.

I was booked in for a follow up appointment with the doctor which was set a few days after my smear test and was told not to worry too much it was just to be sure with a doctor’s opinion.

A few days passed, and I was back at the GP, waiting on the sofa with magazines scattered about me – trying to keep my mind off having to have this done for a second time in two days. I was called and followed the doctor to the same room as my last appointment. The doctor explained that the nurse had booked me in for a second appointment as she had found the lumps and wanted to be sure that they were nothing serious, so I would have the same procedure as the smear test to check that everything was ok.

I lay on the bed and the doctor had a look, again, this only took a couple of minutes and I was back sat in the chair chatting to the doctor who explained that everything was fine, it is quite common for women to have lumps on their cervix but it is always important to contact the GP if you notice any lumps or growths on your body. The doctor was happy that the lumps were nothing serious and that was that.

I wanted to make this post initially to explain how easy and simple it is to get a smear test done, as it was my first it was understandable that I had my concerns but now that I have had one done I will not feel as nervous next time.

I received a letter a few weeks later letting me know that I had no signs of cervical cancer and that the test came back with no need for further investigation – that was it, I had done my first smear test and I waved goodbye to the Doctor for another 3 years for the next one.

I got my initial letter in May and didn’t actually have my test until October which I now regret, I put it off for that long because I was too scared and embarrassed to do anything about it, but I would like to say to you all – book it, get it done because you never know what could happen. The lumps that the nurse found on my cervix were not dangerous, but they could have been. Don’t be afraid, the nurses and doctors who carry out the tests have seen it all before – a thousand times, they are there to make sure you are healthy, not to judge you or make you feel embarrassed.

A smear test is not compulsory, at the end of the day it is your choice whether you have it done or not, but I would highly suggest that everyone books their appointment when their letter comes through because in my experience it was no where near as bad than I thought it would be.

*If you would like more information about smear tests, please follow the links provided bellow

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Hub Hotel – Westminster

Back in November I booked for Alex and I to see a show in London for part of Alex’s Christmas present. What started out as a day trip to see a show and grab some dinner, quickly changed into a  feature length affair when I began researching hotels.

Alex and I love to get away when we can, work consumes both of us so any quality time we can spend together is always much appreciated. As most of you will know, a hotel in London is not cheap – one night in the centre can average around £60 – £90 or more, so when I started looking I didn’t expect much luck in finding a great deal.

After trawling through booking.com and not really finding anything I decided to have a look on the Premier Inn website to see if they had any reasonable deals going, this is when I discovered “The Hub by Premier Inn” I clicked on this and was redirected to another website – A new concept of hotel by Premier Inn but nothing at all like the typical Premier Inn you would stay in.

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The Hub is a hip, modern and cosmopolitan vibe layout but with the price tag of a budget hotel. In London you pretty much only use your hotel as a base while site seeing and seeing shows etc… so we are not too fussy when it comes to choosing places to stay. After reading up on The Hub and looking at photos I knew that I wanted to visit and paid £90 for a two-night stay in Westminster (literally a five-minute walk to Westminster Abbey) – amazing deal.

January 24th came around quickly and we were on our way to London for our Birthday trip. We got to The Hub at around 12pm – check in was stated for 2pm but we thought it would be a good idea to drop our bags off and head off for the day.

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You can check yourself in on the touch screens below. As you can see from the interactive map, we really were in the most ideal location for sightseeing in London!

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On arrival we were great by the lovely Ava who was an angel our entire stay (more on this later…). We asked if we could leave our bags and she said we may be able to check in straight away if there were any rooms ready, Ava told us to go and chill in the bar and she would come and get us in 20 minutes when a room was ready.

The Lounge bar was lovely, cosy and had lots to look at.

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Alex and I sat down and perused the drinks menu…

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We decided on a coffee and a diet coke and ordered a meat platter to share– this was different cured meats, olives, sundried tomatoes with mozzarella pearls and sourdough bread – basically my favourite kind of lunch! This came to £7.50. The vibe in the Lounge was very chilled and the staff were friendly.

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After our lunch Alex went to see if our room was ready yet, I was sat there for about 20 minutes wondering where he had gotten to when he returned with Ava. At first, I thought “Oh no… there’s something wrong with our booking” but Ava came over with a beaming smile and said, “Happy Birthday for tomorrow!… do you like Prosecco Elizabeth?” – I’m not a big drinker but as it was a Birthday trip I said yes!

Alex led us up to the 6th floor of the hotel and we got to our room 618. Now, I had only booked a standard room which was meant to be like a little pod – see the picture bellow for reference:

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*Image taken from the Hub Hotel website (please contact for removal)

Well, when we walked in I quickly realised that we had been upgraded to a – Double room. I couldn’t quite believe it because things like that NEVER happen to me – I never get upgrades or free stuff, so I was a little overwhelmed. Alex said that he had been to reception to ask if our room was ready yet and had got chatting to Ava (such a babe) and had told her that it was my Birthday tomorrow and asked if they did any complimentary drinks or anything special they could do for us to celebrate, he said that without hesitation Ava said “Yes! I am going to upgrade you!” It was a perfect surprise.

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The room itself wasn’t too big but had lots of storage to make up for it which we both decided that we would love to take as a minimalist concept for our own home.

The coolest thing about the room was definitely the touch pad at the top of the bed – this controlled the lights, fan and also the DO NOT DISTURB button outside the room. I loved the fact that it could all be controlled from the bed making it more convenient when getting in/out of bed. While researching the rooms I did read somewhere that you can download and app which can also control the lights etc… I didn’t get around to trying this out, but this will be something I will have to try next time we visit a Hub hotel.

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The bathroom was through a door at the entrance of the room, again this was minimalistic, clean and had everything you need for a city break including the obligatory shampoo & soaps. There were also two shower heads.

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Our bed was super comfortable and the duvet was rolled up at the end of the bed with this cute message attached to it. The duvet cover was 13.5 TOG.

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Behind the bed was a huge mural, which was a map of London made up of all of the names of places and the Rive Thames running through it. I really liked the mural because it fit in really well with the colours and overall theming of the room. I have to say that we both had an amazing nights sleep on both of the nights we stayed at the Hub Hotel.

We set out for the day to see some shows and do some sightseeing, we returned to the hotel at 11pmish and sat in the Lounge for a while. The Lounge had various retro board games that you can play so we decided to have a drink and play a game of battleships (I won). Then it was A1 And B1 to B.E.D!

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We woke up on the 25th – my 26th birthday and as we were getting ready there was a knock on the door, it was Ava and she had brought us some cake and Prosecco, this was such a lovely gesture and kicked my birthday off to a great start.

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When we were ready we headed down to The Lounge for breakfast, this cost £6 each and consisted of a cooked breakfast and a continental breakfast buffet, we both thought that this was great value for money as you could have as much as you liked.

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There was also a wide variety of teas and juice to choose from.

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After our breakfast we sat and played another vintage game – this time we chose Scrabble.

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We had a relaxing morning playing games and chatting before we headed out for the day. Because we were in such a great location we decided to do some sight seeing. When Alex and I have been to London previously, we never really have time to have a proper look around but on this trip we left the day free so that we could take our time.

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We ventured out, our first stop being Westminster Abbey. The walk only took a few minutes and we stopped to get a few photos while we were out and about.

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Overall it was the best mini break in London we had ever done. We would highly recommend the Hub Hotel Westminster for it’s value for money, location and for the lovely staff that we encounter on our trip – a special shout out has to go to Ava on reception, she was so welcoming and made our trip that extra bit special.

Thank you to everyone at the Hub Hotel, Westminster

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Pho

A few weeks ago, Alex and I stumbled on a new restaurant in Leicester city centre. We have a lot of trouble deciding where to eat at the best of times and this occasion was no different. “Do you fancy Nando’s?” No “Turtle Bay?” No… there wasn’t really an option jumping out at us so we decided to walk further to see if inspiration would take hold…… 

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On the way, something did catch our eye – we decided to check this place out and I am so glad that we did. 

As you enter Pho, the restaurant is in an open kitchen style set up with tables and booths to sit in. There are a lot of dark wooden features and metal chairs and wall hangings which create a industrial, urban setting. Imagine a dimly lit cavernous bar in some lively seaport and you’re there.

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We were shown to our table and ordered our drinks, then we had a read of the menu. We decided to go for the lunch time menu which was a starter and a main for £9.95. 

The tables in pho are laid with chopsticks and there is a plethora of authentic sauces and spices on each table that you can try.

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I haven’t really ever used chopsticks before so I didn’t feel confident, I embarrassedly asked the waiter if I could have a knife and fork and he was more than happy to get them for me.

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Our drinks arrived quickly and we were asked if we had chosen what we would like to eat. Alex went first, he ordered Chả giò – Crispy spring rolls with pork and I ordered the vegetable version to start. I had read that the Spring rolls came with a peanut butter sauce so I was really excited to try them.

The restaurant wasn’t very busy but there was still a pleasant atmosphere within the place. The open kitchen adds a sense of welcome and invites us to catch a glimpse of the Pho pro’s in action. I feel that touches like this always create interest within a restaurant.

Our starters came out and I was amazed with how good they looked. Vegetable spring rolls have to be one of my favourite foods so I was pleasantly surprised to see how big they were and how many you got for a starter. They came with the much anticipated peanut sauce which had chopped peanuts on top. They were absolutely delicious, crispy and filled with veggies. The peanut sauce complimented them really well and Alex really enjoyed his starter too.

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You get more than enough as a starter, the rolls are quite big and they are filled with vegetables – definitely a must try if you are planning on going to Pho.

For our main meal we both ordered the Bun noodles. I absolutely love noodle dishes and after looking over the menu and being very indecisive (as usual) I decided to go with this because it sounded lovely.

Once our starters were cleared away, our main meals swiftly followed and again we were impressed by the amount of food on our plates. The Bun noodles are served in a large, deep bowl and is crammed with noodles, vegetables and chicken. The dish is served with a lemongrass and chilli topping, I could really taste the lemon in mine which made the dish very refreshing.

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The Bun noodles were made up of chicken, veggies such as carrots, cabbage and beansprouts and lots of noodles. The dish also had chopped nuts on top of it and two of the large spring rolls that we had for our starter. We both agreed that both courses had been excellent value for money because of the amount of food that we had been given. The meal not only tasted delicious but made us feel very full which is always a good sign of a great meal out.

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Our server was friendly and answered any questions we had about the menu, food etcc.. we both would definitely recommend Pho!

We cannot wait to go back and try more from the menu!

If you would like to find out more about Pho or locate a restaurant near you, please check out their website here.

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Plymouth

The sun was beaming down on Sunday, I was in Plymouth visiting my good friends Laurie, Jake and their gorgeous little girl Isabelle.

While I was taking in the sites I had my camera ready, snapping shots as we walked around, here are my favourite shots from the day…

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Elizabeth x

mrandmrs

Hannah

My lovely sister in law, Hannah visited us last weekend. We had a great time watching Alex’s show and spending quality time together. Hannah is living in London at Drama school so it is always a pleasure having her stay with us.

Hannah and I planned in this photo shoot as I had not done much photography in a while and I was keen to start this up again. The images below show my favourite images from the shoot which are a mix between black and white and colour.

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Elizabeth x

mrandmrs

Clifford’s crib

As we are nearing the house hunt stage of our lives we are thinking more and more about the way we would like to style our home.

We have always been creative souls and I personally love looking at home décor and watching videos on ways to put your own stamp on your home so this process is very exciting for both of us.

As we are building up ideas, I thought I would share a few of those with you here –

KITCHEN

I absolutely adore copper accents within a kitchen, this style is very in right now too. I think copper works well with crisp white walls / tiles. I also think adding little touches of black really create a stylised, modern look.

Like the images, shown below, I love having lots of little trinkets dotted around on shelves and worktops. I think this adds to the personality of the room. We would use the idea of adding cook books and art/décor on shelves to add our own personalities into the space.

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LOUNGE

For the lounge we love grey with mustard yellow accents. I also love the idea of adding in other muted colours like the images below – adding in dark rich purples, black tones and cool blues. Again, like the kitchen, we aim to add as much of our selves into this room. The lounge is where we will predominantly be spending our time so it is very important for us to put our mark on it.

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BATHROOM

For the bathroom we are thinking of going for white décor but introducing new colours such as dotting plants around and using bathroom accessories to lift the room. I love how the images below show lots of storage ideas which is what Alex and I need. The wooden ladders within a bathroom have always been a favourite of mine.

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BEDROOM

We would love for our bedroom to be quite minimalized by using lots of storage like shelves. I love the idea of the trolly on wheels to store things like make up, skincare or even books. We think that this room should be the least busy in decoration as it needs to be somewhere calming for us to relax after work. We are really hoping to get a decent sized bedroom as we would really benefit from having an office corner much like the image bellow. Pink and blue tones for the bedroom offer an extra element of calm.

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At this point we are unaware of the amount of space we will have so these are just general styling ideas.

We get all of our ideas from Pinterest, which is a serious addiction! We cannot wait to get into our own house and start making it into our little home.

What home décor trends are you loving at the moment?

Elizabeth x

mrandmrs