Monday, 30 September 2013

BBB Book Review - The Cuckoo's Calling

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What's this? Two posts from me in one day? It's like buses, these blog posts - none for days then two come at once! Actually, it's just that I always try to do a Mostly.... and a book review every month, and as the last day of the month has crept up very quickly upon me, that's the reason for two posts this afternoon.
 
"When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.
Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's complex world, the darker things get - and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . ."
 
 
By now you've probably heard something about The Cuckoo's Calling, amongst all the hype of it being revealed that Robert Galbraith is actually a pseudonym for JK Rowling. I hadn't heard anything about this book myself until then either, and all of a sudden it was everywhere. I curiously read the blurb and was surprised to find it was a detective novel. A few reviews later, and it was added to my Amazon basket.
 
I did not expect this book to be as good as it is. And it is honestly, very very good. Being a bit of a mystery addict, I've read many variations of the genre, and watched a number of TV versions too, so for me to recommended this so highly, really is praise. It is a good old fashioned, gumshoe detective novel. Strike has to use all of his contacts, nerve, charm (or lack of) and brains to get to the ultimate conclusion. JK Rowling has always been good at factoring in a good twist and this was no exception.

The only criticism I had is that after reading such a long book, the conclusion suddenly came upon you, very quickly out of no where, and I wasn't anticipating it. It also took me a while to figure out the meaning behind the title, but a few hours after finishing it, it became clear. I won't explain it here, as it would give away far too much, but it will make sense.
 
Overall this was a brilliant read, and I've now starting passing my copy around to friends and family.
 
Have you read The Cuckoo's Calling?

Monthly Mostly......September 2013

Get Well Flowers from the other half
As usual, the end of the month has come round to bite me on the bottom, before I've even realised it's arrived. I've been dreading the end of the month so much, that I think that's why it arrived so quickly.

Here's what's been going on in my world in brief.


Worrying......

I've spent a rather large chunk of the month worrying about an upcoming dentist appointment - the afore mentioned reason for dreading the end of the month so much. I am a complete needle-phobe, although I have no idea why, as I had four teeth taken out in my teens in order to fit braces, but ever since one of my school injections made me vomit, I've had a mortal fear of them. Even thinking about it makes my stomach turn! Anyway, I needed to have two wisdom teeth removed, one of which was broken. Due to my obvious panics, it was decided I would need to be sedated in order for the procedure to go ahead. Obviously, this involved a needle in my arm. Hence, more panic. I eventually got around to my appointment. After having a mini fit prior to it taking place, and eventually allowing them to go ahead with the IV sedation it was fantastic! I don't remember a single thing about the procedure at all. Apparently I was shouting at one point, as I scared a few children in reception, but I honestly didn't have a clue. I have very vague memories of the rest of the afternoon also. I'm in some pain now, as it's all quite sore and swollen, and I'm struggling to eat much, but it's all been much more straightforward than I anticipated. 
Grieving
This month has been a rather sad one in our household, in that we lost two family members, one in my boyfriend's family, and one in mine. We both had different relationships with each of these people, and for me, the funeral I attended did very strange things to my emotions. Having never been to one before I wasn't sure how I was going to manage it. I think what affected me the most was not the funeral itself, as I hadn't been overly close to them like I used to be, but seeing certain family members. I felt very odd afterwards, not upset, just odd, and found myself thinking very odd and strange thoughts that I didn't anticipate.
Reading
I've just finished The Cuckoo's Calling which was brilliant! I had read all of the Harry Potter novels, and then heard this was actually JK Rowling writing under a pseudonym. I hadn't been that bothered about The Casual Vacancy, even though I know she had written that, but this had such rave reviews as a detective story in its own right, it was just the identity of the author that actually drew it to my attention. I will review this in a separate post.  
Moving Forward
You may (or may not remember) I mentioned applying for a promotion in a previous post. I think I said I'd got the job as well, but up until this point I had no clue of when I was due to start. It's now been confirmed that I will start in December, so I'm really looking forward to moving on in my career.
Changing Over
The changing of the seasons marks a changing over in my home and wardrobe. The weekend before my extraction, I spent some time changing my home over in  preparation for being cosy of the colder months, and whilst I was feeling sorry for myself. Naturally once this job was done, the weather decided to have it's little "Indian Summer", but I'm still happy to have my snuggly blankets, cushions and chunky knits back out!
What have you been Mostly......?


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A Very British Institution

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 Flicking through the channels on a Sunday afternoon, I came across Victoria Wood's Nice Cup of Tea. Probably not the most exciting of programme titles, but being a tea lover it was the sort of background noise, to an afternoon of report writing, I was looking for.
 
I'd planned to post some of my autumn outfits of late, and how I've changed my home over for the colder months, however it has got rather warm of late, so it seemed a bit silly. So instead, I decided to talk about tea. Yep, my love of tea.
 
If you've followed my blog for, well less than a day really, I'm sure you will have picked up I love tea. What you might not realise is that I used to hate tea. Seriously! When I was really young my mum reliably informs me I would drink it quite happily, but as I hit around 12-13 years old, I remember I didn't like tea. I drank coffee quite happily but just couldn't get on with tea. This may have been because coffee was generally seen a much cooler. Understandably, I wasn't really allowed coffee very often, but by the time I was 16, I lived on the stuff. It wasn't even good coffee - it was instant stuff, milk two, sugars please.
 
I can't fully remember my conversion to tea. I do know it came about when I decided I needed to detox from coffee, and it was that I either learnt to like tea, or I drank hot chocolate all the time (not good for my waistline.) To be honest, it literally took one or two cups before I realised that this tea stuff was actually ok! I now realise tea still has caffeine in, like coffee, but I never feel quite as rubbish if I don't drink tea for a day as I did when I stopped drinking coffee.
 
Now, I love it. I love to try different blends (my favourite happens to be Chatsworth Houses own blend, but they don't sell it in the shop, only the restaurant, with is rather annoying) and I love an Assam, an Earl Grey and a Breakfast. If there was a way to drink loose leaf tea, on a quick daily basis, I would. Sadly there's not, and I resort to a tea bag, but that's ok. It means that when I get the chance to brew up a proper pot and pour it through a strainer it's all the more special. Finished off with a few crust-less sandwiches and a clotted cream scone there really is nothing better. Yes it's a bit indulgent, yes it's a bit fattening, but who cares when it's a treat.
 
Afternoon tea is in my jeans. My ancestors worked in some of the 'big houses' of the local gentry and that ethos has traversed down through the years. My Great Grandma always made my Mum afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches and tea in pot, all passed down from her family. One of our family recipes is a wartime sandwich filler, colloquially known as 'mock crab' which has never seen a crab and taste as much like fish as an egg (which is actually one of the main ingredients.) A mock crab sandwich and a pot of tea, now stir up so may nostalgic memories for, so deep down I guess I always did like tea, I just dabbled with coffee for a while.
 
I think the recent resurgence for a trend in afternoon tea can only be a good thing. Tea for me is warm, its comforting, its restorative, and the rumour is, it won us the war. I'm not sure how true that is, but the fact that it, along with food and fuel was rationed, says how special it was. Tea brings people together, it makes us feel warm inside and cheers us up. Got something to tell a friend - invite 'em round for a cuppa. Had a nasty shock - make 'em a cup of sweet tea. Feeling upset - 'I'll make you a nice cup of tea'. It has so many qualities you never really think of. Its friendly, it's social and its ours. (well via China, and British Empire India, but we don' talk about that, because that just wouldn't be British would it!)


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Comfort Food




Another week goes by, and yet again, no post from me. How has a week already gone!? Maybe my plan of not blogging at weekends isn't really going to work. I'm spending so much time in the week catching up on work, that really I only have the weekends to do any blogging.
 
Last week, following my post on Autumn, I got the urge to start busting out some good old fashioned comfort food meals.
 
I feel as though Jamie Oliver has had a bit of bad press recently. His latest book is all aimed at cooking better for less, which certainly got my interest piqued, considering our biggest outgoing is our supermarket shopping bill. Granted, some of his comments have been rather misplaced, but I think this has somewhat overshadowed the principles behind his latest book, and accompanying TV series.
 
Save with Jamie is full of tips on how to save money buying food, how to stretch things further, and make more out of your leftovers, than just a the bog-standard stir fry.
 
I haven't made a fish pie in years, and after seeing a ready meal version in my local supermarket, I decided that rather than a Sunday Roast, it would be Sunday (fish) pie instead. This recipe seemed really straightforward, and I liked how much veg was crammed in, both in the filling, and by folding frozen peas, whipped up in a processor, through the mash.
 
This cost me about £10 to buy all the fish for this, which was mostly frozen, so there plenty left to make this again, and it fed me and Scott for two meals, so would easily feed a family of four. Jamie Oliver suggests serving it with baked beans (I know, bit random) but this would mean it went even further. It was really deliciously filling, and really proper comfort food, which prompted an abundance of comments from people intending to make fish pie this weekend.
 
If you fancy trying this out for yourself, the recipe can be found online here.
 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

15 Reasons Why I love Autumn

I haven't written a blog post in almost a week! I'm sure this has probably gone completely unnoticed by everyone else, but I was getting into a good little routine of blogging 2 or 3 times per week. I've made a decision not to pressure myself to blog at the weekends, and instead enjoy time with my family and friends, and actually being part of the 'bloggable' experiences, rather than worrying too much about actually blogging them, so to speak.
 
I've seen a few autumn tags floating around recently, and I haven't done a tag post in a while. A lot of them tend to be about make-up trends, but other than busting out the burgundy nail polish and a berry lip, my routine doesn't change that much, so I've decided to do it this way instead.
 
I loved the way Christina put her autumn loves in picture form, so I've followed her example, and will hopefully convert those of you who aren't autumn lovers, into thinking about the fun things to come now that summer is over! After all, you can't cosy up with a hot chocolate in 25 degree heat!






 





 



 



 All images are from (you guessed it) weheartit and edited by me.
 
So these are some of the things I'm looking forward to. I'm excited to do some autumnal posts, as I much prefer autumn outfits to summery ones, and my perfect night in, and how I change my home with the changing of the seasons.
 
Are you looking forward to autumn? What are your favourite autumnal things?

Friday, 6 September 2013

What would I do if..........?

My obsession with images from weheartit continues
The other day at work, a few of us began talking about what we would do, if we didn't do our current job. My blog says I'm a childcare worker as I'm not fully prepared to disclose exactly what it is I do, but some of you who know me a little more will know anyway. Suffice it to say, it's a pretty stressful job which involves doing a lot of hours above and beyond those I'm paid for.
 
This particular day everyone was feeling under pressure. We started thinking about what we would do instead if we could do any other job in the world. A couple half jokingly (half seriously) suggested they would work in a supermarket, as it would be nice to go to work, do something reasonably mundane, and once your shift had finished, you were done, no more bringing work home.
 
Someone else suggested that they would have a fashion boutique. I quite liked the sound of this idea, and suggested that if they ever did jack it all in, to let me know!
 
There were also a few suggestions of 'wine taster' and  'mattress tester!'
 
Eventually it came around to me. Now, it isn't that I don't love my job, just that sometimes it can get me down. I'm at a stage in my career where to leave would essentially mean starting at the bottom of the ladder again, and well, I've become a bit accustomed to my lifestyle. Like I said, deep down I do love my job, but every now and again I have to really think about why I do!
 
Mine was an easy choice. If you remember my trip to Alnwick you'll recall my adoration for Barter Books. That would be my choice. I would want a bookshop. With a tea rooms in it obviously. Something really cosy, with books piled high, and a big square counter in the middle. Lots of overstuffed settees and chairs, in snuggly corners and a big warm roaring fire somewhere. (Maybe not too close to the books though!) I'd be able to indulge my love of baking, without having to eat it all myself, and properly prepared tea.
 
Maybe this all sounds overly romantic, and I'm sure it would actually be pretty hard work, but I guess I can dream - maybe if I win the lottery one day? But for now, I am in the job I actually always wanted.
 
Do you do your dream job? What would you do if you could do anything else in the world? Chocolate and wine taster? Blogger?
 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Budget Bennett's

 
Jacket - Primark via charity shop

Wedges - Barretts*

Dress - Vila via Charity Shop




When Kate Middleton stepped out of the hospital carrying her newborn son, wearing her famous LK Bennet wedges, I realised I had run out of excuses for not wearing heels on a  more regular basis than the usual girls night out. I'm generally wedded to my ballet flats, as running from appointments to meetings and playing with children don't always go well with heels, and by the end of the day my feet are killing!
 
When Barretts contacted me asking if I would like to try a pair of their shoes, I knew exactly what I was looking for - a sensible daytime wedge that would go with anything. I found this gorgeous pair, which I think are a blumming good dupe for Kate's (much more expensive LK Bennetts). Clearly I felt it was only proper to show them in true Kate-inspired style (yes I know I look nothing like her - it's inspired not a replica!) There is also a patent pair on the website, but I figured these would be more likely to rub, so I went with the fabric ones.
 
They arrived in super quick time, and feet perfectly. They took a little bit of bedding in, but they are super comfy and are always my go to shoe right now when a pair of heels is required - which I am wearing a little more often! They always get plenty of compliments when I wear them too.
 
The black pair are currently £30, but the cobalt blue and pale grey colour are £20 in the sale. Seriously tempted to pick up both!
 
Do these remind you of Kate Middleton's infamous shoes? Do you have any Kate inspired posts? Please link below if you!







*These were sent to me to review.

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