Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Mostly - Looking Back

A lot of bloggers have done a round up of 2013. For me, 2013, has been a long difficult year, which for the last 4 or 5 months appears to have been tainted with sadness and difficulties. That's not to say the whole of 2013 has been terrible, far from it in fact. It's just that sometimes the bad seems to outweigh the good. As a family we did have some sad times at the beginning of the year, although I didn't necessarily blog about those.

January to April

January saw the start of my Mostly.... post and my first post focused on the heavy snowfall. I loved seeing Toby hunting for snowballs that he failed to catch, and us all coming home cold and wet to snuggle up in the warmth together. Sometimes the best things in life are very much free!

February seems to have been the month of staying in and watching various TV programmes, DVD box sets, reading plenty of books and doing a wee bit of shopping. 

March was a lovely month, as I took the opportunity to take some well needed time off from work, and completely revamped my spare room cum office. I've prettied up my desk even further since then and it genuinely makes me happy to sit there and work or blog. I also has a lovely day out thrifting in Lincoln with my best friend and chief bridesmaid, and we indulged in plenty of cake and vintage shops. I also celebrated my blog's first birthday (I can't believe I'm almost coming up to 2 years in a couple of months!) and I really enjoyed researching various tips tricks and posts to put together my series of posts about blogging. 
I went to see my favourite band, Stereophonics, for the 7th/8th time? I can't remember to be honest, I've seen them so many times now, but I could literally go to one of their gigs every week!
I also got to meet some lovely bloggers including Alex, Char, Rosie and, Sophie when they kindly allowed me to gatecrash their blogger weekend for lunch one afternoon.

In April I finally got to meet my blog-girl Sarah! Sarah was one of the first bloggers I really interacted with, but since the middle of the year she has disappeared from the blogging world, for various reasons. She has recently come back with a bang and a shiny new blog so please go give her lots of love. We met up with the beautiful Rachel for a fab day of shopping in London, and are hoping for a repeat of this in the near future - maybe involving a few cheeky vinos this time Sarah?
Me and my bestie also took my Mum and her bestie to see Meatloaf in concert which was fab!

May to August

In May we decided to take a leap and actually book our wedding. May was a flurry of wedding activity of booking the church, reception venue, DJ and photographer. Strangely enough after that, it went very quiet on the wedding front - it does seem to come and go in spurts really.
May was another a month for blogger activities in the form of the #SheffieldMeetUp. I got to meet up with lovely Abby and we've stayed in touch since - although despite many discussions regarding the issue, we are yet to meet up again! 
I had a fab weekend away with my girls in Newcastle, which mostly involved lots of giggles, glam dresses and alcohol. Geordie Shore we were not but hey, we had an amazing time! The only fly in ointment of the whole weekend, was that my cat went missing for over five days whilst I was away. I was absolutely devastated, and as she is a house cat and we live so close to a main road, I obviously feared the worse. I was so relieved when she came back and we haven't stopped spoiling her since!

June was my birthday month, but it was a reasonably quiet affair after our raucous behaviour in Newcastle. My favourite part of June, and probably the whole year really, was spending a few days in Northumberland with my two boys, in the middle of no where, for days filled with dog walks, evenings in the hot tub, and books by the fire.

July saw a bit of a heatwave in the UK and it was nice to spend so much time outside, barbecuing, wearing lovely summer outfits and generally enjoying the gorgeous weather we were blessed with. This also resulted in a frantic week spent at the vets when Toby became really unwell.
I also found out I was successful in gaining a promotion position at work.

August saw another flurry of wedding planning and organising and thinking about some of the finer details. August was a really stressful time work wise, and I struggled to keep it in check at times. I did a post about my simple pleasures in August, which did help refocus my mind about what was important in life and what made me genuinely happy.

September to December

September pretty much saw the decline in positivity and spirits in our family. There were two bereavements on separate sides of our family in September, Scott's granddad and my grandma. I'm fortunate to say I reached the age of 28 without having ever gone to a funeral, and in one year I ended up going to three! Towards the end of the month I had a week off work following having two wisdom teeth removed. I read plenty of books though!

I spent a lot of October visiting my grandfather in hospital as he became ill quite suddenly in some respects. I did manage to fit in a bit of a shopping binge, but between the hospital and working like a mad thing in order to start my new job, October flew by without doing very much at all.

I began my new position at the start of November, which I hoped would be a turning point, sadly it was not meant to be, and on Armistice Day, my grandad sadly passed away. It was also his birthday. The last time I'd visited him, I'd just bought a new car, as the gearbox on my beloved Mini began to fail, but the fact that the money had to come out of the wedding fund took the shine off it somehow. My Mum and my auntie asked me to do the reading at my Granddad's funeral, and as we decided to cater the wake ourselves, I baked cakes which I knew he would have loved.

Unbelievably December featured a funeral as well, as my Grandmother's sister died. This had been anticipated for sometime but attending the day before Christmas Eve was not what I had anticipated. The other downside to the losing of relatives (aside from the obvious!) is the inevitable family fall out that comes with it all. One of the nice parts though is the discoveries that are made, and my great great grandparents love letters were one of these.
By the time Christmas rolled around, I would have almost not minded if it had never arrived. My Mum had to work on Christmas Day, so I didn't see my family properly over Christmas, but we spent the day with Scott's family and Boxing Day was the first day we had spent at home in over two weeks. Needless to say it was therefore a day of Pj's onesies and chocolate for breakfast! I'm having my parents over for dinner tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to but all in all, '13 was an unlucky year for me, and I'm very much ready for 2014. We are still deciding what to do this evening, as a number of our friends and family are away, but as we got enaged at midnight on New Years Eve two years ago, we would like to celebrate in some respects.




 Don't forget to enter my book giveaway!

Monday, 30 December 2013

BBB Book Review & Giveaway - The Taming of the Tights

I'm doing things a bit topsy, turvy this month by posting my book review before my monthly mostly post. Both posts are late, and last month neither post made it to being published! Those of you that read this post will fully understand why though.

Anyway, I finished work for Christmas on 13th December, and I've been very lucky to have a whole three weeks off! During that time I've been catching up on some well required R&R, which for me always involves a good book.

"The tights run wild and free in the hilarious new novel from the Queen of Comedy! 

Tallulah Casey is putting all thoughts of wild boy Cain behind her. He is literally an animal in trousers...oo-er. Not like nice boy Charlie (who she's totally not thinking about either). The Tree Sisters are chasing those golden slippers of applause at performing arts college but Dr Lightowler seems hell-bent on spoiling everything for Tallulah. And with all her mates loved up, can Tallulah resist the call of her wild boy?"

Having previously read all of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson novels, I was keen to read her new series, featuring Tallulah Casey, so when I was asked if I would like to review Tallulah's latest outing, I jumped at the chance.*

Tallulah and her thespian friends attend Dother Hall (or Dither Hall as its known to the locals) a theatre school in North Yorkshire, and the books are her diaries chronicling her (mis) adventures and pursuit of the local lads and Woolfe Academy boys. If you're a teenager, have ever been a teenager or remember being one, you will find this very very funny.

I would say that if you haven't read the previous books, you will struggle with this one, as you're not likely to have a clue who anyone is, what's going on, or what random phrases such as "the golden slippers of applause" and "corker-holder" (although I'm sure you can guess!) are all about. If you have read the others then you'll really enjoy this particular episode, as out of all three books, this is the one that made me laugh most often. Louise Rennison's books are always laugh out loud funny, and reading this one late at night, whilst my other half was asleep, was probably not the best idea!

I didn't expect to enjoy this, as I was worried it might be too similar to the Georgia Nicholson books, but I actually identified with Tallulah's character much more than Georgia, particular that feeling of not always quite fitting in and being a little on the outside. All three books end similarly, with performance for the locals, and I wonder how Rennison can keep this theme going, or actually whether she should deviate from this in her next book.

I really enjoyed this, and look forward to the next outing of Tallulah and the Tree-Sisters!

Now is your chance to win your own marvy copy of The Taming of The Tights! I've considered how best to run this, and rather than the usual Rafflecopter you-must-follow-me, tweet a gazillion times, and jump-through-flaming-bring-hoops malarkey, I thought I'd keep this one simple.

In order to be entered to win a copy of The Taming of The Tights, please leave a comment below telling me:

"What's your favourite laugh-out-loud, comedy book?"

Please also leave your email address in your comment so I can contact the winner easily.  I will then put all the valid entries into a hat and draw out a winner. I will run this for one week and any entries after the 6th Jan 2014, will not be counted. Only one entry per person.

Please do feel free to tweet about/share the giveaway if you wish, but this isn't part of the entering process.

Good Luck!




*This book was sent to me to review

Monday, 16 December 2013

Tartan Trend



Tartan, check, plaid, we all might call it different things, but this season, this print is practically everywhere! It's made its way into our wardrobes and into our home wear.
Ever since I was a kid I've loved tartan. I remember my Dad buying me a tartan dress to wear one Christmas (did anyone else get a new dress and new pjs to wear on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day) which I loved. I recall I had tartan ribbons in my (then) long ginger hair. It was very similar to the current one that's in Primark right now. It was probably a bit geeky back then, but now I'd be the height of cool, right down to my knee high cable knit socks!
Tartan, in particular, Black Watch, will be playing a large part in my wedding plans, the theme of which we have dubbed 'Highland Vintage" (watch this space!!) and that, and its associated heritage, mean a lot to my family.
Its hardly surprising then, that I've fully embraced the tartan trend, and looking to add more to my wardrobe. Since buying this Glamorous dress a few weeks ago, I've been on the look out for other ways to add this gorgeous print to my wardrobe.
I'm no stranger to a good checked shirt, but every wardrobe could handle another, and I love the combination of brown and pink in the check of this one by Equestrian Clearance.
This Zara scarf is all over Pinterest, but seems to have sold out everywhere! (Photo source) I've also come across the one in the black watch tartan on Ebay that I am determined to get my hands on, but I may just have to have both! Well, the blue and navy won't go with every outfit, will it??
This brown oversized jacket by Boohoo, is a great way to try out the tartan trend if your a little nervous of the more obvious tartan prints. I'm not a big fan of the red myself, although I've been a little more drawn to it now the festive season is here, but I'm not sure it will have the longevity of some of the other colours.
Finally, the tartan I've been banging on about throughout this post. This little skater skirt in Black Watch by Daisy Street is as cute as a button. All that's missing is some super cosy tights and a big old chunky knit on top! Can you guess my wedding colours yet??
Are you embracing the tartan/check/plaid trend? What do you refer to it as?





*PR Collaboration



Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas Wishlist

Untitled #8


I'm so behind with posts and haven't even started on Christmas yet!

When it comes to wishlists and choosing gifts for myself, I think I'm a pretty straightforward person t buy Christmas presents for. I'm one of those people that ask for all the 'boring' things. You know those lists where they list the most unimaginative gifts you could buy for people? Yeah well buy them all for me!
 
I'm happy with pyjamas; socks, slippers and smellies. Top me off with a book token, and a scented candle and that's my perfect night in right there under the tree!
 
Although I'm a serial spender, certain things I don't tend to  spend my own money on. Everything in my wishlist (aside from maybe books) are all those things. I love to get luxury bath products for Christmas, as often friends and relatives buy me products I never would have even thought of selecting for myself. Is tore them all up in my bathroom cabinet to use at my leisure through the year then.
 
Cosy slippers and snuggly pj's are a must for Christmas. Coupled with socks (chunky fluffy cosy ones of course) they are a January staple, as lets face it, I'm not going to be going out anywhere! So I intend to spend the majority of month (when I'm not at work, in my Christmas-bought lounge wear). I've also got a not so secret craving for a onsie (sorry not sorry)
 
On my wishlist this year I have added two books I'm desperate to read. I've been so tempted to buy them on my kindle, but I'm made myself wait in the hope that some nice person buys them for Christmas (Scott I'm looking at you here!) I'm not back at work unti; 6th Jan, and wth my new job, I seem to have a lot less work to do, which means I have more time for reading and blogging when I'm at home! Yey!
 
Finally on y wishlist is a new purse. I've had my current one a couple of years now, and although it's still pretty intact, some of the edging has started to wear off and its generally looking abit tired. I'm qite fussy about my purses, and choices are therefore limit. My specifications are a slot of notes so I don't have to fold them up, plenty of card slots, and a zip or clasped coin purse. This one from Nica fits the bill.
 
So when you're considering buying gifts for someone, don't necessarily strike off the obvious, as they might have a wishlist just like mine!
 
What 'unimaginative' items are on your wishlist this year?
 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

100 year old love letters.........




One of the many downsides of losing a relative is the sad and often laborious process of going through a person's belongings. The memories and belongings of the now deceased. The hidden secrets that when they were alive, there would have be no question of even looking at some of these things, but now it seems acceptable to look at rifle through and read anything that the hand touches.
 
During one of the many hours spent in this task - deciding what is no longer of use, what is to be saved, sold or given away, I came across a navy blue suitcase. Among the many other boxes cases and crates, this was in pretty good order, and the perfect colour for my upcoming nuptials.
 
Inside was a vintage treasure trove of letters, photographs and postcards.
I soon realised these were the letters sent to my Great Great Grandmother from her husband (a photograph can be seen in this post) both prior to their marriage, and during his time in the Boer War and World War 1.
 
Prior to the marriage, both my Great Great Grandparents were 'in service'. I'm not entirely sure of his role, but I believe she was the cook. The family certainly took her with them whenever they travelled to any of their other residences.
 
The letters discusses their day to day lives, carrying out their duties, general gossip, and often, how much he misses her.
 
June 1902
"Well Dear I expect there is no hopes of you coming down this week. I wish they would come if only for a day it seems such a long time wince you were here Love. But the time is passing on now we shall soon have June over then there will only be July and the London season will be over Love."
 
July 1902
"I got weighted to day. I have lost 10 pounds in this last fortnight so I think I shall get down to riding weight"
 
It appears Great Great Grandfather Fred, let a rather large cat out of the bag on one occasions - although Rosa obviously forgave him, as they married in Nov 1902.
 
Aug 1902
"Love I did not think there was anyone knew anything about it but ourselves Love. I remember Ernest asking me when we came back from Nottingham if you like your place Love and if I thought you would stay in it and I told him you did not like it and you were not staying in it and then I told him I knew you would not take another Love as you was going to give up service."
 
It all sounds rather Downton Abbey!
The letters stop for a number of years, until he goes away to war.
 
May 1916, Cyprus
"Well Love things are just about the same here. I got 241 more in on Friday they keep coming and going but the funny part about it we never get any of our boys they are all strangers to me. "
 
"Well Love how is Mary and Willie going on. I expect Mary is getting a big girl now. I often try to imagine standing against the school wall that last time I left home Love." 
 
Occasionally he discusses the horrors of war. I one poignant letter, which I could barely read for the tears flooding down my face, he describes his first death, of one of the men in the hospital in which he worked, and how he arranged the best burial he could with what he had available. When I've read of such things, the idea of a burial has not even occurred to me in the past. I suppose their was no prospect of the dead being returned home for burial back then.
 
approx. Sept 1917 Egypt
 
"Just a line to let you know I have arrived at my new station and taken over my duties......I think I shall like the job alright and they seem a good lot of chaps what I can see of them. I shall be able to fill you in more on my next letter."
                                                                                                                                                                             
All are signed either "with fondest love" or "your loving husband" and numerous kisses for her and the children.
 
In the pictures you can see a number of my ancestors. The embroidered postcard was one that Rosa sent to Fred, to send him her love and well wishes. There are no letters from her, only cards and postcards. In the postcard album are a number of photographic postcards, which Fred has sent home. Pictures of animals such as camels, which he sent home to his children. There is also his field diary where he recorded when they landed and disembarked at certain locations. The men they left with, and how many returned.
 
There was also a small "Birthday Book", which upon sight my Mum scurried away. In it are the births deaths and marriages of every single family member. It was started by Rosa, and my Grandad updated it as recently as 2008. My Mum has decided to continue to tradition, and it was a real comfort to see his words in his handwriting, knowing the pride he took in his family and his loved ones. Knowing that I am part of that, and part of a much bigger family then I often realise.
 
I have archived all of these letters in plastic wallets with their corresponding tiny envelopes. It seems such a sad thing to do, as I loved taking each one out and carefully unfolding it, but as so many are written in pencil, the words are slowly being rubbed away.
 
I have Mary to thank for saving these wonderful things. It seems strange to think she was being referred to in letters over 100 years ago, yet I met her, and have rather strong memories of her. I believe I was also one of her "favourites" from the stories I am told.
 
My grandfather made it back from the war safe and well, and lived well into his 80s. He and his wife (I am told) remained very much in love throughout their lives, and their is a rather beautiful quote on her gravestone that he chose for her.
 
I intend to use the suitcase to hold my cards at my wedding. Considering it has held the letters of a loving couple for so many years, it seems rather fitting it should hold the love and wishes for our future too, don't you think?


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Bookworm Tag

source

I wanted to start off by saying thank you those of you who took the time to comment on my last post, or send me tweets or emails. They all meant a lot and I needed very word.

I thought I would get back into blogging by starting off with a tag post. As this time of year makes me want to hibernate in a snuggly jumper with a good book, I thought I'd do a book tag. Jennie is one of my recent blog loves, and like me, is a real bookworm. She did a couple of tag posts on her blog, which I've combined into one here.

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
I can't exactly remember how, but I remember why. It was most definitely through my mother. A fellow bookworm with her own library it was certainly a love she nurtured in me. I recall reading every single Secret Seven and Famous Five, before moving on to The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High. I regret getting rid of a lot of these now!
 
Where do you usually read?
Usually in bed. I always like to wind down, even if its for 10 minutes, by reading before I turn off the light and sleep. If I'm reading during the day, I like to be snuggles up on the sofa, amongst the blankets and cushions, with Toby and Star snuggled up with me. Accompanied by a cup of tea of course!
 
Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
One at a time. I can't understand how people can read more than one book at a time - that seems like watching half a film, switching it off then starting another before getting to the end. I'd lose the thread of the story and the characters.

What is your favourite genre?
Mystery stories are my favourite, again I think this comes from my mum, as this is pretty much the only genre she reads. Despite this, we do tend to prefer different authors and styles of writing to one another, although there are certain authors we both love.

Is there a genre you will not read?
I wouldn't say I would never read any genre, although I tend to avoid anything within the true-life abuse types stories, such as A Child Called It. You know the ones I mean - they are usually in abundance in the local supermarket. I have read A Child Called It, but for me, it's like going to work, and I like books to be a bit more escapist.

Do you have a favourite book?
Surely this is akin to asking a mother to chose a favourite child! It is impossible to pick just one. It's all dependant on my mood. I think I will play safe and go with the Harry Potter series (yes I know that isn't just one book), but it's series I hold very dear to my heart, for so many reasons, a series a grew up with, and still love no matter how many times I read it even now as an adult.

What is your least favourite book?
I don't tend to read books that I think I might not like, or if I do, I stop reading them halfway through, so I can't really think of any I didn't like.

What is the longest book you have ever read?
I genuinely had to look this up, as I couldn't think of anything longer than Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix. Turns out, this is the longest book I've read! I don't tend to select books by length, but I must go for shorter ones!

What was the last book you bought?
I bought a few books all in one go recently - Jamie's Ministry of Food, Save with Jamie, A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb, The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith, (which I reviewed here) and Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs.
 
 Do you prefer library books or buying books?
In my early teens I practically lived in my local library. I often volunteered and helped out too, and I would easily take home my full 16 book quota for the month and read them all. Now I tend to buy my books, as my local library is rather small and the opening hours are rather limited, so I was often getting fines. By buying books it does mean I tend to stick to known authors or genre's. I will occasionally try a book out if I've seen a cheap one in the charity shop.

What are you currently reading?
A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb.
 
Where do you buy your books?
Lots of places. I tend to go to Amazon first and trawl through the new and used if I'm looking for a particular book. I'll pick up books I've got on my 'to buy' list, or that just catch my fancy if I'm in the charity shop. Whenever I go in the supermarket I am inexplicably drawn to the book aisle, to see what has recently been released and what is on offer at that time, as they are often just as cheap as Amazon. I don't tend to shop in places like Waterstones, but I love a good secondhand bookshop!

Do you ever pre-order books?
I don't think I've ever pre-ordered a book, even though I've known ones coming up that I want to read. I tend to wait until other people have read them and then buy their used copies if I can.

How many books do you buy a month?
I haven't bought any books since the ones listed above which I bought in October. I probably won't buy any this month either as I'm hoping to get some for Christmas! Books as gifts always make me happy! (Assuming I haven't read them!) On average I'd say 2 per month.

Do you use your local library?
I've sort of answered this question further up. Now that I have a bit more time to read with my new job I might venture back down there. Even though I don't use them very often due to my working patterns, it would be a real shame for them to go, as a child I loved them, and they are a great way to encourage kids to read.

What do you think of library books?
I think they are a great way of trying out books you may enjoy without spending a penny. I like to collect certain books I enjoy so if I read something in the library, I'm just as likely to go and buy it anyway!

How do you feel about second hand charity shop books?
I love them. I have absolutely no issue with buying secondhand books. Sometimes I love books when they are a bit battered and worn in than when they are brand new, as they seem so much more loved. You never know what you might fall upon in the charity shop, and I always gravitate towards the back of the shop to the bookshelves.

Do you keep your rad and to-be-read books together?
Yes, as I group my books together by 'sets' on my bookshelves, so they all get mixed in.

Do you plan to read all the books you own?
Absolutely. I only keep books I enjoy and that are usually part of a series, so most of them are already read, but I will read all the others too.

What do you do with books you own that you know won't be re-read?
Some I keep, particularly if it's part of a series I enjoy, as I may re-read it in the future, or lend it out to people (like my own library!) otherwise I give it away or donate it to the charity shop.

Have you ever donated books?
Yep all the time. Aside from textbooks I've never sold books, I always donate them or give them away if I'm not keeping them

Have you ever been on a book buying ban?
I try to go on spending bans and include books within that, but no not really. I don't necessarily see books as a commodity, and I certainly think they should be much cheaper to encourage people to read.

Do you think you own too many books?
No way! If I've got the space I'm happy to fill it with books. My Mum owns hundreds more than me and she's still collecting them! When I run out of room, I might have to be more ruthless with that I keep, but for now I can't see it being possible to own too many books.


Well doing this post has inspired me to go off and read a book, so I tag you all to do this post too. If you do, please let me know in the comments below!
 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Blog Brain Dump

Source

Despite promises of various posts to come I've yet to achieve any of them. I could blame things such as lighting and being too busy, but that would essentially be a lie, and I like to be honest.
 
The reason I considered not being honest is that generally, this blog is my happy place, but sometimes life isn't always happy. So this is not a sympathy post, it's an explanation, it's therapy, call it what you will, but please don't call me attention seeking.
 
Next month when I come to reflect on the year 2013, I will quite frankly be glad to see the back of it, as it's been a year full of sadness for my family and loved ones. You my remember from my September monthly post, that we lost two family members recently, well it's time to add another to the list. Previously my other half lost his step-grandfather, and I lost my grandmother. I can now add my granddad to that list, who we lost last week. On his birthday. Armistice Day. Next years two minutes silence will have so much more meaning than any other year passed before. I have now lost all of my grandparents, and I cry even as I write this. Not just for me, but for my future children, who will not know the joy and fascination of having great-grandparents and the stories and the history they hold, in the same way I did. For that, is a great loss. Instead, their memories will have to come via me, and the aid of some beautiful documents left behind, found in a vintage suitcase, whilst clearing out my grandparents home.
 
I know in my heart of hearts that he is in a better place, free from the pain and suffering, and mental anguish, that comes from the cruelty of degenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's. Robbing a man of memories of even his own children's existence. But selfishly, I long for one last humorous conversation.
 
In amongst his sadness, my heart bleeds for my poor mother, who has not only lost her parents, but three of her beloved dogs this past year, one of which also last week. I wonder how the fates can be so cruel at times, but this is the risk of rescuing these poor unloved souls. The comfort is knowing the love they had in their golden years.
 
On what is perhaps a slightly less sad note for many, but couldn't really have come at a worse time, was my faithful little red mini decided it was also no longer for this world, and the time came where I had to bite the bullet and invest in something else. While for many this should be a pleasurable experience, for me I have had no joy from this. As it came at a cost. The cost of my wedding. Although plans continue, due to the many deposits and bookings lost, for so many family, the financial implications adds stress and anxiety to what should be a joyous occasion.
 
There also couldn't have been a worse time to start a new job, although the business helps keep the mind functioning. It's somewhat unsurprising that day to day elements of my life are getting forgotten, such as eating, sleeping, blogging. At times its a wonder poor Toby gets fed, but the unconditional love from him, his feline friend, and my glorious husband to be, keep me going.
 
I could not have even written this post a week ago, and come next week I will be much the same. But I always know the blogging world is still there, waiting for me, to comfort me when I need it most. To share in the good times, and sometimes, the not so good times, and I hope will still be there, when the previously promised posts come to fruition.
 
Thank you for listening (reading?) 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Autumn Fashion & Beauty Haul










Well here it is! My almighty haul! I don't actually want to think about how much I've spent here, as it's probably far too much money!
 
I started off by picking up a few treats from MAC as I'm a bit of a MAC virgin. I loved the shade of this Viva Glam lipstick when the artist put it on me, and she even taught me how to do the elusive eyeliner flicks. Now just to try it out at home!

As I anticipated, my Lush Skincare regime hasn't held up to the change in weather, and I'm suffering dryness and redness flare ups, so I've gone back to to my tried and trusted Clarins set up. My skin is definitely thanking me for it!

I feel in love with these two dresses from Glamorous UK. The blue and pink one will see me through the Christmas party season and even next years wedding season. I've seen so many people wearing the Primark tartan dress, but I wanted something with more of a skater skirt, and I love this green check! It reminds me so much of a dress I had as a child on Christmas day. I'll be wearing this for Christmas day with thick tights and a cardigan. Perfect!
 
No haul post is complete without something from Primark. This rose print tea dress is so pretty at £8, and at this time of year, I can't go into Primark without buying super cosy tights or pjs! I love this statement necklace for a over a plain jumper or cardigan. I needed to return the dress for a slightly larger size. This is always a disaster! I'd managed to avoid the scarf section the first visits (because what I need in my life is more scarves obviously!) but ended up leaving with three the second time around! Oh dear!
 
I am in love with this Eva Boohoo coat!!! It literally hasn't been off my back since I bought it. It ticks so many trend boxes - biker oversized coat; pleather pockets; shearling collar. Tick Tick Tick. I would have perhaps liked pleather sleeves but I can get over that. At £50 it's still a bargain, but I found a 20% discount code which made it even more bargainous!
 
I originally saw this tribal print cardigan on Mary Jane Fashion website, but they had sold out. I then found it on Amazon, and it was slightly cheaper too! The chunky fisherman jumper is from Chiara.
 
Finally, I seem to be inexplicably drawn to New Look. I stocked up on some basics - pair of jeans, nude and black cardigan, and corresponding shoestring vests. I also bought a longer length black vest, so I can wear it over leggings, even if the my jumper is slightly short. All told this only came to £40 which is pretty good for this many, good quality basics.
 
There are  a few other bits I've bought in the run up to autumn, but not all at the same time. I think I'll show these within another outfit post, but all in all, this is definitely my autumn winter wardrobe done! And on that note I am now on a self-imposed spending ban!

What do you think of my Autumn/Winter purchases?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

BBB Book Review - The Railway Detective




Can we just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the cover of this book is?

Taking my cue from Jennie I wanted to try and take some of my own pictures for my book review posts rather than just using stock pictures. As this book is set in the 1800s I thought a sepia-style filter was required on this occasion!

"In 1851 England, the city of London anticipates the grand opening of the Great Expedition. Excitement is mounting with each engineering triumph of the railways, but not everyone feels like celebrating. A sudden attack hits the London to Birmingham mail train and it is looted and derailed.
Planned with military precision, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck fights to untangle a web of murder, blackmail and destruction. As Colbeck closes in on the criminal masterminds, events take an unexpected turn when the beautiful Madeline, daughter of the injured train driver, becomes a pawn in the criminals game.

With time running out, good and evil, new and old, battle against each other. But will the long arm of the law have speed on its side? Full of historical detail, unexpected twists and memorable characters, this is a mystery that will surprise you at every turn"

I found The Railway Detective, by Edward Marston, along with the rest of its set, in my Mum's library and was attracted to the vintage style cover. She reliably informed me I would enjoy it and she wasn't wrong!
 
The descriptions of life, society, expectations and fashions in the 1800s was really detailed within the book, but were useful and welcome rather than detracting from the story line. I found this a really easy and quick read, and had I been able, I would have easily finished this in less than a day. (Sadly time wouldn't allow this!) The book was a really good cosy mystery story and the backdrop of the railway made me wish I was reading whilst riding in a sleeper car somewhere - I'm such a nostalgic! The only downside was that as the reader, you knew whodunit before DI Colbeck did, but this wasn't a completely bad thing, as it wasn't made clear how the perpetrator was related to the story.
 
My Mum is currently in the process of moving house so all of her books have been packed away, but when she has unpacked at the other end, I will definitely be digging out the next book in this series!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Monthly Mostly......October 2013

Source
Not my at, and in no way related to today's post, but because there's not enough cat pictures or cat's playing in autumn leaves pictures on my blog

Once again the end of the month has whipped in with the wind, and October is almost over. It barely seems as though we've had 'real' autumn yet, as September and October have both been fairly warm, and I haven't even worn one chunky knit scarf yet! I'm still holding out for a proper, crisp frosty morning!

Anyway here's what my month has mostly consisted of:-
Shopping
I've had what can only be described as an almighty splurge this month on clothes and make up. I haven't bought make up or skincare in ages so I feel this was a well needed spend. There were a few chunky knits thrown in too, which probably weren't needed, but most definitely wanted! I will feature some of my purchases in a haul post. (It's been ages since I've done one of those too!)
Watching
My Sky+ box has literally exploded over the last month!! So many of my favourite programmes have started back. I've been recording The Paradise, which I loved last autumn, (there's nothing nicer of  Sunday afternoon than curling up to watch a period drama about shopping!) Revolution (how would I survive without electricity!?!) Miss Fisher Mysteries (which I've mentioned in a previous monthly post) Homeland, Elementary and Downton Abbey. I'm still a bit of a newbie to Downton, and I'm slowly working my way through the box set, but I've recorded series 4 in anticipation. New discoveries have been Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Blacklist, The Tunnel and Sleepy Hollow.
Doing
Like in my last post, I've been working like mad. My promotion date has been brought forward and I now start in a week!! I'm quite excited to be starting a new position, although I will be taking some of my old work with me, due to the earlier date. In between working I've been spending some time visiting relatives in hospital, which was not anticipated, and has resulted in a lot of long days, and arriving home late. I'm enjoying a little quiet time in the evenings over the weekend, but even during the day I've been busy working.
Reading

The one upside to spending lots of time in hospitals is that I've managed to read two books this month! Some months I struggle to even manage one. I've read The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (who may remember my review of The Forgotten Garden. The Secret Keeper has so far been my favourite), and The Railway Detective by Edward Marston. This will be this month's book review post.


In some respects I don't seem to have done much, but between work, hospital, reading and watching a recorder box full of TV programmes, that's my month done!

What have you been Mostly....?





Sunday, 20 October 2013

OOTD: Autumn Maxi Skirt




Skirt Charity Shop (similar in Primark)//Jumper H&M via Charity Shop// Jacket New Look// Scarf Asda (old)// Gloves Primark (old)// Bag Zara
 
I spent most of my summer, floating around in my coral maxi skirt and I just love how comfortable it is. When I came across this burgundy beauty on a charity shopping trip, the heavyweight jersey material just didn't seem very summery. When the weather dipped recently, it seemed the perfect time to bring out my burgundy maxi skirt, and introduce it into my autumn wardrobe.
 
Unlike my coral skirt, its made of much thicker material, however, the chilly wind still gets through, so a pair of Primark super cosy tights underneath is definitely a must! Teamed with a good pair of ankle boots, I've got toasty toes. The key to making your maxi skirt move through the season is layering, so on top I've got a cami, a long sleeve black jumper (another charity shop find) and my trusty New Look jacket, topped off with a scarf, hat and gloves. As you can see, burgundy is my go to colour for the Autumn. I've recently invested in a burgundy fedora, and can't wait to team to two.
 
I saw the Zara Mini Office City Bag on Abby's blog a few weeks ago, and knew I had to have it in my life. When the blog world went mad for the original, I was not that fussed, as I don't lug my laptop around with me on even an irregular basis, so it seemed an overly large bag for no real reason. However, the mini version is perfect, as it has a padded Ipad zip pocket in the middle, which suits me perfectly! I'm not going to go into an all out review here, as I'm going to do a 'What's in my Bag' post, where I'll review it in more detail then. Safe to say though, I love the colour!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Living with Rosacea


I've often read other bloggers talk about things that affect them, such as anxiety or depression. I don't suffer from any debilitating illness, and it wasn't until I was researching new products, that I thought maybe it was time to share something that affects me, in the hope that it helps someone else.

I suffer from rosacea. This isn't a big confession or anything, in fact most of my friends are probably more than aware of this, as they will have seen the signs, but they probably don't know it has an actual name. Rosacea is a skin condition, which mainly affects the face. There are slightly different types of rosacea. Mine is known as vascular, which is categorised by flushing, which can sometimes be sore and itchy. Another type involve papules and pustules.

Being fair skinned and female, I'm well within the bracket of sufferers. It's most common in women over 30, but symptoms can start as young as childhood. I'm reasonably lucky in that I don't suffer from constant and permanent redness, or the papules or thickened skin, but I do worry that one day this will come, particularly the permanent redness.

There are a number of triggers for my own rosacea. I love this time of year, but my skin doesn't. The constant changes in temperature, going from the cold, into a room with central heating results in an instant flare up. The worst culprit for me is alcohol. Within a couple of sips I end up with redness all around my cheeks and chin, with a white ring immediately around my mouth. This is often when I get very itchy and sore as well, and I can literally feel it spreading across my face. Christmas parties are a nightmare! When I'm stressed out I often get little rosy cheeks. The patch on my left cheek is always really dry, and sometimes sore, whenever I get a flare up. I'm always very red faced during the summer months too, especially when it's particularly hot. I'm really partial to a very hot shower, and I come out with very dry blotchy patches all over my face. I then have to wait for it to calm down until I can start applying make up
 
Although my form of rosacea is quite mild, and not likely to result in much more than redness of the face, there is no 'cure'. For other types, the symptoms are treatable, but it's always there. Some people may try to cover it up with lots of make up, but this doesn't really help me, due to the sensitivity of my skin. I've talked a lot on my blog about how I'm allergic to toner, and I am very careful about skincare, as the wrong cleanser can create a flare up.
 
I'm reasonably accepting of my skin condition and pretty much just accept it now. I know as soon as I sip a glass of wine or cider, I'm going to have an instant redness flare up. It's a bit sore and embarrassing for a short while, until it settles down again, but it does calm reasonably quickly.

I haven't done this post for sympathy reasons, as rosacea doesn't affect how I live my day to day life. I just wanted to share some of my experiences, as there may be people out there who never even knew they were suffering from it.

Would you like to see some of the products I use as a follow on from this post?
 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Cosying up for Autumn

Before
 



 
 
After
 








 
As well as changing my wardrobe over with the changing of the seasons, I also like to make a few changes in my home in preparation for those long, dark, cold evenings, spent snuggled up inside. There's nothing more enjoyable than listening to the rain batter against the windows outside, whilst I'm tucked up surrounded by snuggly cushions and blankets, enjoying a hot chocolate with a good book.
 
I don't like to keep all my cushions and blankets out all year round, and I change them over as the nights draw in and the days get cooler. I also change from voile net curtains over my patio doors to thicker, heavier lined red curtains. This also helps with keeping the, ever so expensive, heating bill down, by avoiding having it on for just that little bit longer. We never really have the fire on through the summer, so it's nice to turn on the dancing light in the evenings - it makes me feel warm just looking at it.
 
The checked blanket, owl cushion and New York cushion are all recent purchases from Primark.
 
My footstool often hides at the end of the sofa in the summer, but it gets much more use in the autumn and winter, as we spend more time at home, and usually have more visitors, as we all seem to go out less. It sits at the side of the fire in the winter, so it can be easily brought out. The wicker baskets go down the end of the sofa instead - at least until the Christmas tree goes up!
 
I also change things round in my bedroom. In the summer I like to use crisp white bedding. Come autumn I switch over to darker shades, with more cushions and I like to pile up the bed with lots of throws and blankets for chilly nights. The darker bedding also means that when a slightly soggy Labrador happens to jump on the bed, I don't have paw marks over my lovely white sheets! Its also a perfect time to have a few candles and fairy lights around the house.
 
In both rooms I like to add a nice furry rug, to make the floors warmer in the living room, and I love burying my toes in my sheep skin rug in the bedroom in the morning.
 
I also like to change my scents over too. In the summer I use fresher scents, whereas at this time of year, I like to use more autumnal, heavier scents. I may even use something slightly cinnamon, which gets me starting to feel slightly festive! I also like to have a lot more scented candles around than I do in the summer too.
 
Do you make any changes to your home as the seasons change? Do you enjoy posts like this?


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