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TEA IS THE ELIXIR OF LIFE 

As most of you guys know, I'm a huge tealover. When my friend Raven Romance told me about a monthly subscription box called True Tea Club my interest was piqued immediately. I decided to place an order containing some loose teas of my own choice before signing up to the monthly subscription.

At the moment I can't tell you guys anything about the subscription boxes (soooonnn) but I can tell you about two loose blends I've ordered and True Tea Club's customer service.

Customer Service - ☕

When I received my package, it was opened and resealed by Royal Mail itself, with an apology if something was missing. And unfortunately, my Caramel Crusader tea was missing! (shame on you Royal mail) I immediately mailed to True Tea Club's customer service, telling them what happened. Within 5 minutes I got an email back from Matt, telling me they were very sorry for what happened (although it wasn't their fault at all) and if I could mail them photo's of the state of my package, so they could contact royal mail about it. Within 5 days I received a new package with a full replacent order and complementary gifts. I am very satisfied with how they handled a problem that wasn't even caused by the company itself. Thank you very much Matt!


TEA BLENDS


CARAMEL CRUSADER -

£3.80 - Caramel Crusader Rooibos Tea - 50 Grams

Holy Guacamole Caramel! I knew this was gonna be good from the moment I opened the satchel.

This tea has the most intense caramel scent you can imagine! I decided to try this one first and I must say, I LOVE IT. The best way to describe the flavor is: Christmas at Hogwarts

It tastes like warm caramel, giving that special tingle in your mouth (if that makes any sense) that makes you want to cuddle up under a blanket by the fire and watch the snow fall down from behind the window. I made Lennert take a few sips of this blend, knowing he's very picky when it comes to tea-flavors, and he immediately asked how much I payed for it and if I could order one for him so he can take it to work. Double approved!


SPICY PUMPKIN PIE -

£5.25 - Spicy Pumpkin Pie Fruit Infusion - 50 Grams

Can I just say how pretty this tea looks? I really love the colorful chunks!

I love everything with the words pumpkin and spice(y) in it and it isn't any different with this tea blend! It has an intense and warm taste and I can't wait to combine it with soymilk. I currently have two satchels of this blend and will definitely order more when I've finished both of 'em!


EXTRA- ORANGE CRUSH -

This extra «smaller sample» satchel is just pure orange in it's full glory. It smells good, is fruity and reminds me of summer on an exotic island! Although I really like the flavor (and smell) I don't think I will order a bigger satchel because I'm more interested in trying special and fall/winter flavors.


EXTRA - TEA STRAINER MAN, MATT

I called the little teastrainer guy Matt, named after Matt from True Tea Club who gave me such a good service. He's funny and flexible (the teastrainer that is!) and Lennert already stole him from me to take him to work with his Caramel Crusader.

I really appreciate such small gestures, it made this company really stand out for me.


OVERALL EXPERIENCE WITH TRUE TEA CLUB -

I will be ordering some extra batches of Caramel Crusader, some new loose blends and I will sign up for the monthly subscription box!

https://trueteaclub.co.uk/

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Fall does not only mean the turning and falling of the leaves, sweaters and pumpkinpicking.

It also means trying out delicious fall recipes with lot's of pumpkin, cinnamon and apple in it. I tried out a few recipes this month and I'm going to share two simple but fun to make «and consume» recipes with apple.

CANDY APPLE

INGREDIENTS

- 6 small apples

- Thick, round wooden sticks

- 2 cups of sugar

- 3/4 cup of water

- 1/2 tablespoon of red foodcoloring

- «optional» Cinnamon extract


- Put out a bakingsheet with parchment paper and sprinkle some sugar on top

- Wash and dry the apples, put the stick through the core

Mix together 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon extract into a saucepan. You now have a smooth mixture with a bright red color.

Set up your thermometer in the mixture but be sure that the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan. Put on high heat and let the mixture boil untill it hits 150C Be sure to keep an eye on everything because when it gets beyond it's boilingpoint it will burn or turn into pure sugar. (happened to me the first time I tried to make candy apples)

When your mixture has reached 150C, take it of the heat and tilt the pan a little. (be careful because it's hot af) Roll your apples through the mixture untill every inch is covered.

Hold your apple above the pan and let it drip for a few seconds.

Now put your apples on the bakingsheet and let them dry for about 15 minutes.

Your apples are ready now, enjoy! 🍎

APPLE-CINNAMON JUICE

- 8 Apples

- Water

- Cinnamon sticks

- Sugar


Fill 1/2 saucepan with water and put it on a low fire.

Wash and dry the apples, cut them in 4 parts and remove the core. Let the apples cook for 45 minutes with the lid on the pan. (you can add some cinnamon if you like) The apples will start to fall apart and will start to look like apple sauce.

Take the pan of the heat and mix the apples with a handmixer. Put a sieve in a second, larger pan and put a dishcloth on top of the sieve. Pour your mixture into the cloth/sieve, the parts that can't pass through the dishcloth are for the wastebin. You now have applejuice in the second pan, put a cinnamon stick or two in the pan and let it cool in the fridge. When it's completely cooled off you can put the applejuice in glass jars or bottles.

- If you used sour apples and the applejuice is a little to sour for your taste, just mix some sugar in the second pan before putting it in the fridge.


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Remember, remember the 1st of september. The day that fall was brought upon us.

That's right, fall starts for me on september 1st and the entire month counts as pre-halloween month or like some folks like to call it: All Hallows Eve. October is Halloween month, November post-Halloween month and when December arrives everything just goes downhill. «Insert Grinch emoji»

I always wanted to make a Fall bucketlist, like you see on Pinterest and Tumbler, but I never got to making one. Until now!

I made a «small» Fall bucketlist and a Fall Movies bucketlist. It's very personal but if you want to use them feel free to download and don't forget to hashtag #ripleysautumn

Activities that I can check off 🎃

🎃 Make a Fall Bucketlist

🎃 Make Pumpkinsoup

🎃 Visit a Cornmaze

🎃 Make Pumpkinpancakes

🎃 Decorate the House for Fall

🎃 Make Candy Apples

🎃 Go Chestnutpicking

🎃 Drink a PSF at Starbucks

🎃 Buy a New Cinnamoncandle

🎃 Wear a Witchy Hat

🎃Wear dark Nailpolish

🎃 Go Pumpkin Picking

Do you have a Fall/Halloween bucketlist? Or any fun fall activities in the agenda?

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'FOR THE PAST 8 MONTHS, EVERYDAY IS COCOA DAY' 

I have a confession to make.

My hair is been abused for several years. It has been colored and bleached on too many occasions, wrapped up in unhealthy buns and mistreated with overheated stylingproducts. The result? Unhappy brittle hair that refused to grow.

A year ago I decided to pay a visit to the hairsalon, get rid of most of it and go for a lob-haircut (long bob). A hairstyle that didn't suit me at all but had to be a healthy new beginning for my locks. It wasn't. Because of my stubborn hair with an unnapealing length I still needed to use my flatiron everytime I needed to walk out the door. The fact that I was using an agressive and harsh red color on my hair wasn't helping either. So I went back to the hairdresser, this time for an even shorter haircut. Ofcourse a bob haircut suited me even less than the one before but I had to do something. I stopped using heating products on my locks (I only use them on my fringe) and I said goodbye to my signature red locks and opted for a warm and natural brown that only needs recoloring every 3 months. (Red was a pain in the bum and needed to be recolored every 3-4 weeks)

Hello healthy new start, hello luscious long locks!

Nope.

Okay, I admit. My hair looked a little healthier but didn't grow at the normal rate of 1 cm a month. I was lucky If it grew 1,5 cm in three months. As if this wasn't frustrating enough my hair was still brittle and while washing and brushing my hair big chunks of hair would fall out. (not enough to create bald spots, but too much for my taste) I tried various hair vitamins, none except one (that was way too expensive at that time) did wat it had to do, so I gave up.

At the time I was gaining a lot of followers on Instagram and I was taking my babysteps to become a social influencer. An UK based brand called Cocoa Locks contacted me with the question all (beginning) social media influencers want to hear: Are you interested in a collaboration with our brand and would you like to join our ambassador program? We will send you our product to try out.

Erhm, yaaasss!

The first thing I did, and always do when I get an online collaboration proposal is check out the brands website. Every tab, every review, it will be inspected by detective Ripley. Cocoa Locks passed the test, I couldn't find a single negative review, the product has a fair price and it promised to help me with my hair from hell. I agreed to collab with them and receive my monthly '1 month program for healthy locks'.

I always receive my package within a week of mailing them to let them know my stock is running low. So it's a very quick service. They also check up on me every once in a while to make sure if everything is still okay and if I'm still satisfied with their products and service.

Concept:

The brown paper pouch contains cocoa powder to make one cup of hot chocolate a day for an entire month. Most people use the powder with hot water or heated milk. ( I use soymilk because I don't like the watery taste and I'm against drinking cowmilk) I've noticed I always have some left after my 31 day use, so the pouch contains more than the promised quantity for one month. In my opinion the taste is just as amazing as any other hot cocoa, I even find that it tastes better with soymilk instead of cowmilk. I know this because I ran out of soymilk and the stores were closed already. Unfortunately, I had no other option but to use the regular milk.

🐮

+ It's vegetarian & gluten free

For a list of their ingredients click HERE


What do they promise?

Increased collagen production for extra strength

Nourishment for your hair from within

Decrease in hair loss

Increased speed in hair growth

Prevention of hair breakage

Noticeably glossier locks


What did I get?


Literally all of the above.

I've started my Cocoa Locks journey at the beginning of january 2017, we are at the end of august whilst I'm writing this.

In 8 months I got my ends trimmed twice, got stronger & healthier hair with a beautiful shine that doesn't break everytime I touch it. My hair from hell started growing at an amazing speed, even with two visits to the hairsalon in between, and never looked so beautiful and healthy.

The big question: Is this product worth it's money and does it work?

Yes & Yes!

As you can read in this article and see on the pictures below, my hair was saved by this product. I'm genuinely happy with their customer service, the flavour and ingredients, the fact that it's vegetarian and gluten free and the amazing results. I will continue the use of this product, even when reached my desired hairlength, to keep it strong and healthy.

If you wish to experience the benefits of Cocoa Locks you can purchase the product HERE

and you can use my personal code SIGG20 for a 20% discount on your purchase.

The first picture was taken in September 2016, before the second major haircut to a short bob (I don't have anymore pictures from that period) and the second one is taken mid-august 2017.


-Xo Ripley





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"Heavenly burgers in an unique setting"

My fiance and I love food more than anything (except maybe eachother) and we always seek out new places and restaurants to try out. The last time we were at the Zimmerplein in Lier my eye fell upon a neon sign in the shape of a miter and the word burgers. Needless to say that I was intrigued (by the aesthetics and the thought of food) and we both agreed to visit this place next time we would be in town.

And as you know, sundays are for holy things ...

As you probably already figured out, IL CARDINALE is a burgerbar. <insert hamburger emoji here> Their menu has lot's of options with all different kinds of meat, salads, sidedishes and desserts. One of the things that make them stand out from a regular burgerbar is the fact that they have veggie and glutenfree options on the menu. They also have the option, if you make a reservation and clearly state that you are vegan or have some sort of other foodallergy they will take note of it. I was really impressed by this because a lot of restaurants don't have veggie/vegan/glutenfree/allergic options and that's in my opinion not the smartest and customer friendliest move.

SCORE FOR THE MENU/OPTIONS: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔


So what did we order exactly? I must warn you, you will be hungry after reading this blogpost.

This is what I ordered (and this will not come as a suprise)

THE HOLY GUACAMOLE 'OH MY GOD' XL BURGER WITH HOMEMADE FRIES

Ingredients: chickenburger, sour cream, guacamole, salt popcorn, red onion & tomatosalsa

(BIG ASS) HOMEMADE ONIONRINGS

The onionrings come with a delicious pinkish sauce (I forgot to ask what it was)


Lennert opted for something slightly different

THE GODFATHER 'OH MY GOD' XL BURGER WITH HOMEMADE FRIES

Ingredients: beefburger, mozarella, sundried tomatoes, pesto, Italian ham & crunchy parmesan cheese

(BIG ASS) HOMEMADE ONIONRINGS

We also shared a 1L can of homemade detox water

Ingredients: water, cucumber, lemon, fresh mint, grapefruit

🍔

Everything was literally OH MY GOD XL, we even couldn't finish our last bits and bites although we desperately wanted to, because #ohmygod, it was delicious. Everything was well prepared, fresh, the different tastes and flavours were a perfect match and the plates were aesthetically pleasing to the eye and stomach. (and also very Instagrammable) +1

+ They also have a #selfie burger, an option where you can choose everything you want on your burger (5 ingredients) So, for example, if you want the Holy Guacamole burger but don't like sour cream and want a veggie option, you just order the selfie with a veggie burger, the guacamole, mozarella instead of sour cream and two other ingredients to your liking. I think this is a smart move to avoid the hassle of: 'I don't want this on my burger but can you add that?'

You can freely choose whatever you like without making things difficult for yourself and the staff.

SCORE FOR FOOD/DRINKS: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

What about the price?

For a large 1L can with detoxwater, two starters and two XL menus we barely paid 50€, so it's a fair price-quality ratio. The big portions, fresh ingredients and superb service are worth their money for 100%

About the service and interior...

We were warmly welcomed by the owners, two wonderful and kind people who made the time to connect with their 'parishioners' (Il Cardinale's term for their customers) and glady explained everything on the menu. I also have to give these people 10/10 for originality and humor when it comes to the burgerbar's interior and concept.

Il Cardinale is Italian for the cardinal and literally everything in the interior makes you want to convert. There is a chill/waitingroom with a bright and cosy interior that's called 'Heaven can wait' and which has a view on the Zimmerplein. You can find lots of crosses and funny 'Godly' quotes in the interior but my two favorites are the Gregorian chant music they are playing in the restrooms and the wall in the back which is filled with little statues of Mother Mary. Aesthetically pleasing, even for an atheist, and instagrammable? Erhm, YES! Next time I want a table in front of that wall so Lennert can take pictures of me and my food while I artistically stare in the endless abyss (the kitchen) and whilst the virgin Mary's eyes burn in the back of my neck. Everything for the 'gram' right?

SCORE FOR INTERIOR: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

SCORE FOR SERVICE: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

🍟

Some other +'s worth mentioning:

- 3 stories high where you can sit, one of them specially designed for people with kids (where they can play)

- They have an elevator to get to the toilets in the basement and the other floors so disabled people have an alternative when level 0 is too crowded.

- You can make online reservations where you can let them know your preferences (foodallergies, glutenfree, vegan)

🍔

Il Cardinale in a nutshell:

Delicious food in large portions delivered by kind and enthousiastic staff/owners who think about the comfort and needs of everyone!

Therefore, book a daytrip or citytrip to Lier (one of the loveliest cities in the province of Antwerp) and be sure to book a table at Il Cardinale because it will be an experience on a whole new level.


🍔

IL CARDINALE FACEBOOK

IL CARDINALE INSTAGRAM

IL CARDINALE WEBSITE


FULL SCORE:

🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔


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I've always had a weak spot for artforms that are different from the mainstream. Burlesque is one of them.

Since I was fourteen I wanted to be a burlesque performer, a showgirl, like Dita.

(Cliché, I know!)

I loved corsets and as a gothic teenager I wore them almost everyday. I wore them to Vampireparties, meetings and even to school. Hell, I would even slept in them if possible! (I don't have a fetish, I promise) When I was around fifteen I had my first professional photoshoot (in a corset, duh!) and things went fast after that. I did even more photoshoots, about three a week, joined a modeling agency, got payed assignements, did even more photoshoots and lost a lot of friends because of this. I was still interested in taking some burlesque classes/workshops (I was around 17 by now) but because of my modeling a lot of people had critique. How could I be a model? I must be paying the photographers instead of the other way around. Who would ever want to shoot with such an ugly and fat girl like me? Friends dropped me, cyberbullied me, even made 'hate-pages' on Facebook where they photoshopped my modeling pictures to the point where I looked like a man or had a nose like Pinocchio. A lot of the people who participated in these acts of cyberviolence were complete strangers, people I've never met but had connections to 'my friends'.

Burlesque was out of the question!

Why? Because I believed those people. Because apparently if I wasn't good enough to be on a picture why would anyone be interested in seeing me shake my booty to a retro tune and undress?

(Now I know I'ts a whole lot more than just that!)

Burlesque performers look like Dita, not like Ripley.

I stopped modeling, not because of the negative people but because I wanted to focus myself on my higher education and because there are a lot of aspects in the 'modeling-world' which are against my principles. After a while I forgot about modeling and burlesque.

Untill the early summer of 2016 when I saw an announcement on Facebook from a girl I knew very vaguely.

NE TOUCHE PAS WILL BE PERFORMING AT THEIR FIRST HALLOWEEN BURLESQUE SHOW

STAGEKITTEN WANTED!

I don't know why, I don't know how and I regretted it five minutes afterwards but I immediatly gave myself up for auditions (Now when I come to think of it I didn't even had an audition, I was immediatly hired)

WHY? NO! I CAN'T DO THIS! I'M A NOOB, A NEWBIE. I'M FAT. HELP!

I really wanted this and I really didn't want this. It was my first chanche to finally take a peek in the world of burlesque, to be on stage and steal with my eyes. I had no clue what to do, what to expect.

Hours of research and rehearsals later I stood there: On stage dressed like a black cat in front of 250 people who thought I was hilarious (mainly because I told some rude catcallers to f*** off without using any words) together with about 10 other girls who were just as nervous as I was.

A year has passed since I first signed up to be NTP's new stagekitten. We had two sold out shows in the past year and our third one will take place on october 28th. I've been a stagekitten, showhost, hoopdancer and now I can finally call myself a burlesque performer. I've performed at some private events together with my troupe-sisters and I will be doing a solo at our Naughty in New Orleans show in october. In a year time Ne Touche Pas has grown so much, the ladies, our name, everything had a boost and we are still learning every day. Besides being a burlesque performer I'm also one of the creative directors of NTP, I love doing the troupe's social media, photoshoots and events. The real credit ofcourse goes to Raven Romance (click her name to visit her Facebook page) who built NTP from scratch and gave me the chanche to be a part of this amazing, crazy family. If she didn't believed in me, there would be no Ripley Brown and I would be missing out on a lot of fun.

I have eleven troupe-sisters, magnificent women from various ages in all shapes and sizes with their own special talent. A year ago these women were strangers, now they are family. Sometimes we have our disagreements but we are (in the first place) women who always support one another, who are always there for eachother.

Burlesque learned me to be postive, confident and creative. I've learned that it's okay that I don't have a size six (and that it's okay that some of my troupe sisters do have a size six, haha) I don't know how it is in other burlesque troupes but Ne Touche Pas represents positivity, friendship and fun. (And glitter, lot's of glitter)

My message to all the ladies who want to do photoshoots, professional or not or who want to become a burlesque performer:

JUST GO FOR IT! If you want it, you can do it. Flawes and sizes don't matter when you're on stage, the public will love you anyway. Please don't let anyone tell you that you can't because *insert invalid reason here*

Envy is something very nasty and It's better to keep those people and their self-caused unhappiness in their 'little green envy bubble' and keep on doing what you love most. It is your happiness that is important. In the end they will buy tickets to see your show anyway ;)

I hope to see you guys at our Naughty in New Orleans show on october 28th

Click this *LINK * for tickets or this *LINK * if you want to take a look at our website.


-xo Ripley


PS: If you aspire to join the world of burlesque, prepare to find glitter everywhere. And I really mean EVERYWHERE. (Even weeks after a show)

PS²: Your boyfriend will probably hate it! (the glitter I mean)


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He has a good influence on me

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Frank and I met about a month ago and we hit it off right away.

After a while he came up with the splendid idea of a #gonatural challenge, to delete all of the toxic things out of my life.

I swooned, I said yes and here we are, one week in the challenge. Oh boy, sure a lot has changed.

The day before the #gonatural challenge I cleaned out my bathroom drawers and threw away everything that wasn't organic or cruelty free. What does that mean?

Well...

I threw out everything that:

  • Is tested on animals
  • Contains parabens, PEGs & Phtalates
  • Contains silicons in hairproducts

Which means, I threw out quite a bit and had to repuchase organic shampoo (that's about it)

I don't miss any of the products that I threw out and I've noticed a huge difference in my skincomplexion.

I'm not wearing any make-up during this entire month, not even when I leave the house (hooray for permanent eyeliner) and I don't have the feeling that I'm naked or missing something. My skin glows, looks good and I feel very confident. For now I only have expierenced the benefits of going natural in the bathroom and I can't list any downsides.

This week I will be focusing on detoxing the kitchen and adjusting my eating habits. Since I am a true Burgundian, I know this is going to be a though one for me. I already cut out sugars and soda's out of my diet since a few days before the challenge and this hasn't been a problem so far, there is just more to this than just these two aspects.

See you next week for my #31daygonaturalchallenge update!

PS: You can still join the challenge and say goodbye to toxic ingredients and hello to 20% off selected kits HERE .


-xo Ripley


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