31 January 2014

Word of the Week

I meant to post this on Sunday. I wrote it on my hand, but soap washed it away. Biro ink usually takes ages to come off. I remembered the word anyway, as if I had written it on my memory. Remember to write about that, Naomi.

This happens all too often when I'm waiting to fall asleep at night. Maybe I'm thinking about someone, something - an event - and I'll furiously type out a powerful post about love and strength and goals and happiness - all in the endless space in my mind. And then I fall asleep because I tell myself now is not the time - I have to be up in six or so hours and there is no time to be feeling inspired. I'll write about it, maybe not straight away, but when it niggles and makes my fingers fidget and I have to log on and type it out, get it out, at a sensible time of day.

So, here I am writing about this, and it's been a work in progress for the entirety of this week so I'm pretty pleased that I haven't whimsically published it without thinking to read it through. It's not the middle of the night, but it's getting there.


On Sunday I went to church and took with me a new notebook. I decided it would be a good idea for two reasons:
1. I could write in it to stop me falling asleep in case the sermon was boring
2. I could write notes on the sermon if it wasn't boring
It turned out that I would write notes on the sermon, because, after all, it wasn't boring. A woman called Kath was speaking and I enjoyed and understood everything she said. She spoke clearly and passionately, but did not use volume to try and push her words onto anyone. I liked it and the first two pages of my notebook were filled with helpful verses and things I need to remember like, God approves of me, and I should share my troubles with people I care about - it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I spend too much time comparing myself to others, thinking of ways to improve myself, to make myself more like people I deem 'better' than me. Anyway, Kath used a word during the talk that I knew I wanted to be my word of the week, and that word was 'thwart'.

Do you ever notice that with some words, they just keep popping up? For months my predictive text on my phone automatically changes the word 'thinking' to 'thwarting' and it has been irritating me so much! It was only on Sunday when I heard the word used in context that I really appreciated it, and wanted to incorporate it into my own vocabulary. I won't let anyone or anything thwart me, least of all the thoughts in my head.


29 January 2014

Loving: Coconut

Never have I been more obsessed with a particular scent or flavour as I have been with coconut recently. I think I have Estée from essiebutton to blame (or thank!) - she does seem to have quite an influence on what I purchase beauty-wise but what can I say, the woman knows her stuff and since she first talked about using coconut oil in her hair I was curious to do the same.

After a bit of research I realised that the coconut oil I bought from Superdrug was the 'refined' type and there was a more expensive sort that is raw, completely natural and versatile. I wanted to make some body scrubs and creams for Christmas presents so I ordered this 500ml jar of coconut oil from Amazon and I have to say, the difference in quality is astounding. The consistency of the natural coconut oil is much smoother - it melts almost instantly in my hands and the smell is incredible. Plus, you can eat it! (Check out my recent post on coconut popcorn here to see how).

The coconut oil worked amazingly in the body scrubs and butters I made, and it also acts as a fantastic scalp treatment and body moisturiser. Last weekend I rubbed a scoop of the oil into my hands and massaged it into my dry hair, tied it up for an hour and then washed my hair like normal - my hair was soo squeaky clean and shiny afterwards! As a moisturiser it isn't greasy at all. It absorbs quickly and leaves skin soft and smelling lovely.

The Body Shop do a great range of coconut products and I have had pretty much all of them on my wishlist for a loooong time. I got the shower cream for Christmas and decided to buy the body mist and soap when there was a 40% sale a few weeks ago (LOVE their sales). I have got myself into a bit of a routine now: coconut shower cream in the shower, moisturise with coconut oil, spray the coconut mist all over my body and hair to lock in the coconut goodness. You can never have too much coconut.

Are there any other coconutty things I should know about? I think this is a love that is here to stay!

27 January 2014

Rude Health Almond Drink

I'm not usually one to follow food specific or food eliminated diets. I suffer with Crohn's disease as most of you know and I generally have to check with my doctor before I make any drastic changes to my diet. However, after reading and hearing about the health benefits of cutting back on dairy products, I was keen to do some research and figure out a way to cut back on my intake and improve my general health.

I had heard of Rude Health before, having tried some of their cereals and snacks but they are quite expensive and cost more than what I'd pay for breakfast items in my weekly shop, but it's fine if my mum is paying ;) I only discovered their dairy free drinks range recently, though, when I was doing a Sainsbury's online shop. I had tried Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze almond milk and was not impressed at all (it tasted like chemicals, and that is exactly what was in it). Rude Health's almond drink is different though - all its ingredients are 100% natural, so I was sold instantly. Two cartons later and I'm in love. I can't say I'll give up cow's milk completely, because I love a good hot chocolate when I'm out and most coffee shops only offer soy milk as a dairy alternative (yuck) but for my breakfast I will happily stick with almond milk from now on. 

I love everything about the packaging. It lists the ingredients clearly, has a nice, simple layout and doesn't make a fuss about what it is. It also looks natural, just like its contents.

56kcal per 100ml is pretty impressive. I have about 200ml in a glass so compared with cow's milk I'm getting less calories, fat and just as much calcium per serving.

The drink is very creamy and white - just like regular milk, and this was the main thing I was impressed with when I first drank it. I expected a thin, watery consistency but it pours just like cow's milk and smells no different either. Admittedly, the taste does take some getting used to - it is very sweet (naturally - because of the almonds and rice) but once you have grown used to it, it's absolutely fine. I am sure this is psychological - because almond milk is something completely foreign to most of us, we automatically decide we don't like it straight away, but after a few drinks of it we can grow to like it - that's what happened to me anyway, and with olives too, but that's another story entirely...

I haven't been too strict about my dairy intake since starting drinking Rude Health's almond drink but when I switch back to cow's milk after a week of having this in my porridge and with a couple of cookies before bed I do notice a difference in the way I feel generally and the appearance of my skin. Regardless, I like to drink this for the taste more than anything now - it tastes so much nicer in my porridge than cow's milk, and there's a certain luxury in drinking a glass of this with a cookie - it just tastes creamy and delicious and considering it's packed with health benefits I would encourage you to give it a go too.

Have you tried Rude Health's almond drink? I would recommend it highly over any other milk alternative. You know you're drinking something natural and good, and it's on offer at the moment at Waitrose for £1.59. You can also check out Rude Health's full range of products on their website here.

25 January 2014

Chocolate Coconut Popcorn

I've been obsessing over coconut lately, as you'll probably see in a few posts to come, and I'm not sure when this love started, but I can't get enough of the stuff. It's coconut EVERYTHING right now, and the scent and taste of it is taking over my life. I just love it so much.

When I came up with this recipe I was amazed at my own creativity and the end result was impressive to say the least. Not only does it look stunning - the dark chocolate coating half of each piece of popcorn and dessicated coconut laced on top - it tastes pretty damn good too. I'm gonna give myself a pat on the back for this one. Here's how you can make some too, and enjoy all of it for yourself because it's too good to share - plus, it's healthy, yay!

  • 100g dark chocolate - the darker the better. Dark chocolate is good for the brain and gives you the sugar fix you need without eating too much of it.
  • 1tbsp raw virgin coconut oil - so so good for you, I don't even know where to start but for more information on the health benefits of coconut oil click here - it may be a pricey oil to invest in but it's versatile, smells and tastes amazing and will last you a long time.
  • 50g popping corn
  • 1tbsp dessicated coconut (optional - not pictured)

1. Put the coconut oil into a large saucepan on a low heat. This stuff melts crazy fast.

2. Add the popping corn and stir it around to ensure each kernel is coated in the coconut oil. Then place a lid on the pan and let it heat up - it might take a while before you hear any kernels begin to pop but you must keep it on a low heat otherwise it will burn.

3. While you're waiting, melt the chocolate in the microwave and line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper. Make sure you keep an eye on the popcorn and shake it about every minute or so (this will require two hands - I had a bit of an accident here and half the popcorn ended up flying out of the pan so please be more careful than I was!)

You could just leave it at that and have yourself a super healthy snack, but why not put in a bit of extra time and effort and create something even better. It's so worth it.

4. I started off with just dipping the popcorn in the melted chocolate, but decided a bit later on that I would get the dessicated coconut out of the cupboard and mix it up a bit. I did about half dipped in coconut and half just plain chocolate - just to give some variation in flavour and texture.

6. Leave the popcorn to set on the tray - I left mine at room temperature and they were set in about an hour, but if you can't wait that long stick them in the fridge.

Now to eat all of it and feel good about not having parted with silly amounts of money for a cheap and easy to make snack :) I am so happy with how this popcorn turned out! Usually I'll eat a whole bag of Tyrrells popcorn but with this homemade stuff I was good with just a handful. Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @hello_flower if you decide to try this recipe.

19 January 2014

Word of the Week

I sometimes think to myself how fortunate I am to be a native speaker of the English language. It is a complex, hypocritical and ever growing language which I am sure I will be learning about for the rest of my life. I think that's fantastic.

At work I have been learning the differences between homophones - some of which I never even knew existed before, like, did you know there are three different meanings and spellings for the word 'palette'? I knew there were one or two, but not three. I am learning so much in my new job, and every day when I sit down at my desk I can't help but smile and think about how fortunate I am to be working in a job that I enjoy.

Anyway, I haven't written a word of the week post in quite some time, and this is because over Christmas I admittedly didn't do very much reading. However, this week Glorydory commented on my post 'Twenty Minute Friends', describing chance encounters as 'absconding', which stood out to me. I didn't know what it meant, so I looked it up on dictionary.com and it prompted me to get back into writing this series on What Naomi Wrote because I love keeping a record of all the new words I learn, and sharing the words I find most striking.

Abscond - verb (used without object)
to depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution: The cashier absconded with the money.*

What do you think of the word 'abscond'? Have you learnt any new words recently? Let me know in the comments below!

16 January 2014

Easy Chinese Pork Belly Noodles

Don't you just love it when it's something good for tea? My Saturday was made a whole lot brighter when my mum told me she was making Chinese pork belly noodles. She said she just made it up, but I had to know the recipe, because what am I supposed to do when I move out again and I have to make it myself? It's a recipe worth sharing, even if there is no real structure to follow. The end result is sweet, salty and authentic, plus, it is cheap and easy to make. Yay!


Don't be put off by the thought of cooking pork belly. It's really very easy, and a cheap piece of meat you can get at the meat counter at your supermarket or butcher. This recipe will serve four. All you do is pop it into a baking tray and add the following:
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Some black peppercorns (or ground black pepper)
  • Some soy sauce
  • Some rice wine
  • Some white wine (or water)
I say 'some' because it really is just a guesstimate. You want enough liquid in the pan to keep the meat moist and to have some left for the sauce when it's cooked so use your initiative ;)
If you're really not sure, start with 1 cup of each liquid ingredient and see how it goes - follow your gut instinct - add more water/wine if it's looking a little strong.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 100°C. Cover the meat in foil and put in the oven for 5-6 hours. You can do this in the morning before work and it will still be OK when you get home in the evening. Just make sure you keep it on a low heat - you know your oven.

When the pork is done, lift it out of the pan and onto a serving dish. You will be left with a glistening pool of juice ready to be sieved into a jug to pour over your noodles. 

Next to make the noodles. Again, very easy. Thinly slice some vegetables of your choice - pictured are peppers, carrots and spring onion - and fry them in some oil for a few minutes. Boil the kettle and cook your noodles according to the packet instructions, then drain and toss in the crispy vegetables.

My mum dished out the noodles and we helped ourselves to the pork. Pork belly is quite fatty but that's where a lot of the flavour comes from, and it's so worth it for the stringy bits of meat that pair so perfectly with the noodles.

This one is for the cookbook I keep telling myself I need to write - of family recipes and adaptations of dishes that never get old, recipes I will share with anyone who will have them. Good ideas and good food are to be shared.

13 January 2014

Book vs Film - Never Let Me Go

I'm a slow reader. It's probably something I should work on considering my job requires me to do a lot of it, but I value thoroughness over careless skimming, which is what it comes down to for me. I'll miss something important if I go too quickly. Sometimes I read a book twice. It's always better the second time around. It's not always ruined if you know what is going to happen, but you are always presented with another layer when reading a good book for the second time. 

I have read Never Let Me Go once so far. It took me a while, but it was fantastic, and I can't wait to get stuck into it again. I bought the film on DVD way back in June last year, and decided I would wait until I had read the book to watch it. The night I finally did, I stripped the DVD case of its cellophane wrapping and slid the disc into my laptop. I snuggled up in my marshmallow bed and fell in love. It made its way into my list of top films of all time, as did the book.

The Book

Reading a book with a narrative similar to that of a friend telling you a story is comforting. I felt valued while reading Never Let Me Go, like Kathy, the narrator, trusted me. She was investing so much time telling me about her life, and it was fascinating. Ishiguro's simple yet clever stream of consciousness style of writing is engaging and one that I will always favour over needlessly wordy sentences and paragraphs that, yes, are often poetically put together, but can confuse and detract from the story itself.

Nothing is left out and nothing is forgotten. Everything is significant, even the seemingly pointless anecdotes that thread the entire story together. Nothing has to happen, exactly, for a story to be good. That is one of the many lessons I learned in my three years at University studying creative writing. What doesn't happen can often be the biggest arc in a story, and the unwritten is sometimes just as powerful as the words that are in print before you.

If you like stories that invite you into another world - somebody's life, with a subtle but emotive subtext then you will love Never Let Me Go as much as I did.

The Film

I used to dislike Carey Mulligan. I think after watching The Great Gatsby my mind was changed and I decided that she is, in fact, fantastic. She certainly didn't disappoint in Never Let Me Go, either, and she portrayed Kathy just as I imagined her when reading the book. 

Of course, being limited to a 90 minute time frame, lots had to be cut from the original story but none of it was lost - just condensed, and so brilliantly, too. Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield were spectacular, and excelled in their parts as Ruth and Tommy. I think the film conveyed a much stronger sense of a love triangle between the three friends, and upon reflection, I have decided that this is much because of the visual impact of 'looks' people can give in certain situations - a lot of which were exchanged in this film, as were many of the silences that filled many of the scenes. 

It sounds cheesy, but at the end of the film I suddenly felt all too close to Kathy - like I could really identify with her character. Just one of the lines she says in the final scene of the film really rang true to me and I suddenly felt like we had thought the exact same things in the hour or so I had seen into her life and the twenty-one years I had lived of my own.

It's been two weeks since I lost him. I've been given my notice now. My first donation is in a month's time. I come here and imagine that this is the spot where everything I've lost since my childhood has washed out. I tell myself, if that were true, and I waited long enough, then a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field, and gradually get larger until I'd see it was Tommy. He'd wave and maybe call. I don't let the fantasy go beyond that. I can't let it. I remind myself I was lucky to have had any time with him at all. What I'm not sure about is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time.*

It was, predominantly, a visual experience, but one with a script so sound and poetic, I was happy with Alex Garland's creation. The film evoked so much feeling within me, making me want to watch it again straight away. 

This may be the one occasion in my life to date where the film and book have aligned in terms of worth and quality. I can't decide which one I prefer, and maybe I don't have to. Maybe I can appreciate both for what they are, as separate pieces of work. I only wish I had discovered them sooner. Have you read the book or seen the film? If not I urge you to do so - they are both exceptional and you might just feel a little different - somewhat changed - when you get to the end of either one.


8 January 2014

Twenty Minute Friends

To the guy I found myself sitting next to on my train journey back from London,

I stood arm weighed down by my bag filled with food and stuff. Stuff like my pills and three water bottles which I had to pack just in case, and my purse I've had since I was sixteen. Five different shades of lipstick, in stain, gloss and balm form. I had a book to read, and my new diary, and a notebook, and a journal. But only one pen, right at the bottom of all that stuff.

Some hyper-active children were running about the place squealing at strangers. At about eight or nine they looked too old to be behaving that way, but we all develop at different ages, don't we? That's what I've been thinking about this past year. I have these things going on in my head for a long time, and eventually some sort of conclusion is made - influenced by just one thing someone might say that makes me think, yes, that's it - that's exactly it. But I haven't got there with this one yet. I still ponder over the fact that we all develop at different ages. And when do we finally get there? What is the final destination?

Eventually the platform was announced for our train and a herd of suitcases hurry their way behind their owners, and I followed, unbuttoning my coat along the way, sipping on the orange mocha that I regretfully bought from Starbucks. It tasted like orange peel, and too much sugar.

I used to come to London with my ex boyfriend, but London is so big that it doesn't get marked by people or memories so much. Every time you go there you make new ones, and the taste of the past still is there in the present, but it's not too strong - not too painful. We used to play this game where we would guess what platform our train would be on on the way back home, the tension building in Paddington station as passengers waited, eyes glued to the screens for the number to flash on - it was never announced until just a few minutes before departure. I remember winning once. Platform one.

But that evening I met you I was going somewhere else entirely. I was glad that I hadn't booked a table seat, at least. Inevitable eye contact and brushing legs and too many bags. I like to stare into the back of the seat and listen to whatever is going on behind me, or think about tomorrow or the weekend or talk to God or just listen to my crazy thoughts and either take them too seriously and panic or laugh. But that evening - 2nd January 2014 - I found myself reading my book. I read for the longest time. Maybe I just didn't want to talk to you. I can't even remember your name. Sorry. It really isn't anything personal.

About twenty minutes before my stop you turned to me, plucked the earphones out of your ears and put forward a hand.

"Hi, I'm bored, that's why I want to talk," you said. I know why I didn't believe you - because I'm naive and skeptical at all the wrong times. You genuinely were bored, I knew that the moment we parted ways, and you did just want to talk. But straight away I thought of ways to get out of this, knowing you would ask for my number at the end of it all, thinking of an excuse, all the way through the following.
"That's ok," I said, dog-earring the page of my book and putting it into my bag.
"What's your name?"
"Naomi." Then the look. "Nay-oh-me." Unfortunately, I had to repeat a third time. This wasn't the best start.
Soon enough I was telling you all about my Christmas and New Year, where I went to uni, how I was starting a new job on Monday, everything I had been thinking over the words I was reading in my book previously.

We had a fair amount in common. You said you lived in Scunthorpe but really you just work there. I can't remember the name of the village you said you lived in. You said you studied engineering or something, but again, my memory fails me. It's not that I don't care, but when these things happen, I forget the important information straight away. You told me your name and I forgot almost instantly because I'm too busy examining your face, wondering why on earth you thought it a good idea to get your tragus pierced (perhaps you think the same about me), figuring out your story, when really I should wait to be told.

It was easy saying goodbye. It was nice, in fact. And then when I walked away I felt a sense of relief, like I had achieved something, like I just finished an exam that I just knew I had passed. Maybe I am getting better at being an adult. Thank you for that. We were friends for twenty minutes, I am sure of it.


6 January 2014

Loving: Olive

Olive Store, Cheltenham, England
One thing that came from my three years spent in the spa town of Cheltenham was discovering the beautiful shop Olive. Situated just off the high street in the town centre, the window displays of neutral, unique and attractive garments drew me in, and from the first time I stepped inside, I was in love with the place.

Every time I went into town (which was, admittedly, quite a lot) I would go into Olive and admire each item and long for pretty much everything they sold. Of course I never bought any of it, what with living on a student budget, and the stock being so fairly priced, but each Christmas and Birthday I hoped someone would take note of how much I loved the shop and buy me something from there - because I said and I still maintain it to this day that I would happily sport anything sold in Olive. Everything in there is stunning.

Hurrah for Christmas day 2013! Every year, my best friend Bethan comes round after church and we exchange gifts. This year I was a little hungover and she had slept in so neither of us made it to the Christmas day service but she came round anyway and presented me with - among other lovely things - this absolutely beautiful scarf. 

I am in love with this scarf. It is so soft and the colours are perfect. My winter coat is navy blue and so is my hat. Olive had actually posted a photo of a range of these scarves on their Facebook page and I had shared the post on my wall, stating 'Christmas please!' thinking nothing of it, and Bethan - who lives in Cheltenham still - sneakily went into the shop and chose this one for me. 

I miss being able to go into Olive and admire the clothes, but they have a website and a newly opened store in Bristol Cabot Circus which I am eager to visit. They sell a lot of wardrobe staples which is great, because the clothes are good quality and long lasting, as well as some stunning unique pieces that you won't find in Topshop or Zara, so if you are looking for somewhere new to shop then I highly recommend checking out Olive. I'll be bookmarking items for my Birthday in five months time... :)

4 January 2014

Post Uni Life: Buying My First Car

Had someone told me this time last year that in a year's time I'd have graduated with a first class honours degree, secured myself a full time job in publishing, and bought my first car, I would not have believed a single word of it. 

I don't know what I was planning last year. I think that was where I went wrong. I seemed to just go along in life without any aspirations for the future, hoping that University would last forever and that I would never have to take responsibility for anything. I'm glad I pulled my finger out and went through all the rubbish I did, because at the end of it all was a whole host of rewards waiting for me, and now I am happier than ever.

So, here's me and my car just after I'd bought it, ready to take it home. Where I'll be working is nowhere near any public transport so a car is essential. I have been on a practice run to the offices but I am still quite nervous for my first day.

It's incredible how quickly things can change - from bad to good, and sometimes good to bad, but that's the best thing; it doesn't take much for one's life to turn around. A few months ago I was thinking I'd have to work in a shop for the next year to save up to move out, but now I have the chance to gain some experience in an industry in which I am very much interested, as well as get back on the road and gain some confidence. 

I know I am extremely fortunate to be in the position that I am, and I know how difficult it is finishing uni without any idea of what to do next, but sometimes things just happen, and I have my friends, family and faith to thank for the way things have turned out for me.

It is such a big step in becoming an adult in the real world and getting your first car. I feel like now I will grow even more independent and stronger as an individual, and I hope that when I am traveling to and from work every day I remember to count my blessings and thank God for all of it.

3 January 2014

New Year Lunch at Mishkin's - Covent Garden

One of the reasons I started What Naomi Wrote was because I stumbled across Estée's blog and YouTube channel 'essiebutton' at the end of 2012 and was inspired to create my own space on the internet. I discovered a whole world of bloggers and youtubers that I never knew existed before. I was amazed - this was what I had been looking for pretty much my whole life. I don't read many magazines - they are expensive and usually filled with rubbish so discovering quality online content was great.

To this day I still make sure I catch up with Estée's channel and blog because she is so honest, down to earth and intelligent. I feel like I can trust everything she says even though I have never met the woman. Okay, I realise how much of a creeper I sound, but if you haven't followed Estée's blog or subscribed to her YouTube channel, do it now. She helped me save a tonne of money when I was switching my high end brands to 'drug store' brands. Even though I am not a beauty blogger, I still love to read others and Estée's in particular.

Anyway, in a few of Estée's videos she mentioned a place in London called Mishkin's - and like a lot of things she shares on her channel and blog, I was interested. I wanted to visit this place. I wanted to taste the Reuben on Rye for myself. I love sandwiches. I love pickles. I love pastrami. I love cheese. I like most food but I really liked the look of this place. So, when I was visiting my good friend Jess in London over the new year, we took a visit to the restaurant that describes itself on its website as 'a kind-of Jewish deli.'

Situated on Catherine Street in Covent Garden, opposite the Theatre Royal where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical is showing (excellent musical - go see it!), Mishkin's was filling fast but my friend Jess and I were seated straight away.

When everything on the menu calls your name, you know you've found the one. I wish I had gone to Mishkin's sooner, but I know there will be plenty more visits in the future.

Mishkin's resembled somewhat of an American diner, although a more polished version of one you might see in a movie. What Jess and I loved was how close the tables were to each other - we enjoyed listening into locals' conversations about their typical Londoner lives while we chowed down on our fat sandwiches and fries.

The staff were so nice and attentive. As soon as we sat down our waiter poured us some water and handed us the menus. We both ordered a half sandwich each and East End fries and onion rings to share. Another plus was the option of small or large for each dish, consequently reducing the overall cost of the meal which is always good, especially in central London. I nipped to the loo and by the time I returned our food had arrived.

I have to say, the onion rings were a tad on the greasy side and I would have liked them to be slightly browner but that's just me being picky - everything else was spot on.

Those pickles. Oh my. As I write this I can feel my stomach longing for another Reuben on Rye. The bread was delicious and perfectly toasted. There was a generous serving of meat and cheese stuffed inside and I think it goes without saying that it tasted fantastic. I don't know what more I can say - if you like sliders, mac n cheese and salt beef - and who doesn't - you'll love Mishkin's. I can't wait to go again. 

The only disappointment was the 12% service charge automatically added to the bill which I just don't agree with no matter where I dine, especially since it used to be 10%! I am all for tipping exceptional service,  but when it is assumed or taken without consent it bothers me. We visited another restaurant during my visit and when we paid the bill the waitress actually asked us if we wanted the change! We said yes out of principle. We were shocked that she had even asked. In my opinion, tipping is at the discretion of the customer - not the company. Regardless, we were happy to tip Mishkin's as the service and food were equally outstanding.

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