Sunday, 30 March 2014

Monthly Mostly......March 2104

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Forgetting my blog birthday.......
Its hardly surprising when you consider how full my brain is with 'stuff' right now, that I've come to the end of the month before realising that my blog grew one year older at the start of it. Two years on I'm still here, contributing to the world wide web with my little slice of life. I feel that my blog has changed in a number of ways since I started, and not only just in design! I feel its changed in terms of content and quality, and I'm truly happy with what I do post on here, as I have come to realise its almost better to post nothing than something for the sake of it. That feels much truer to me and my general ethos in life.

So unlike last year, there will be no birthday 'extravaganza' so to speak. Just a subtle nod, to say, yep here's to another year.

Discovering
In my current quest for the perfect dress (skater, cap sleeves, knee length - everything seems so short these days) I stalked the archives of Sarah's blog, and discovered the gorgeous dresses online at Boden. I may have made a sneaky purchase, but as I was distracted by Rosie's polka dot trousers and Breton top, needless to say, said dress fell by the wayside. Maybe the next order?

Buying
Books. Because clearly what I need in my life is more books. My TBR pile is ever increasing! I've also finally joined the cool kids in purchasing a pair of white converse. Now I've realised I'm an actual grown up, and perfectly capable of keeping a pair of white pumps clean, and with the recent spells of spring-like weather it seemed the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon.

Cleaning
Due to afore mentioned weather and changing of clocks today, I decided that maybe it was becoming the right time for all fluffy cushions, blankets and other elements of cosiness to be swapped for nice light linen-y airy things. What tends to happen when I do this is that the weather will suddenly turn to the opposite of what it should, therefore cosiness will again be required. Just warning you. It was also time to get a good deep clean, doors and windows open and a good airing out. I feel so much more productive in a clean and tidy environment.

Not much to say this month, as I'm sure you know by now what most of my time is mostly taken up with, but I am consciously trying to mention it a little less!

Now I'm off for a (very) small slice of cake and a pot of tea, in belated celebration of my bloggy birthday, and in celebration of all the wonderful Mum's out there.

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, 24 March 2014

BBB Book Review - Tape by Steven Camden


I'm certainly not one to judge a book by its cover, but the cover of Tape by Steven Camden* certainly had me intrigued. Growing up in the 90s, I remember many a happy Sunday afternoon taping songs off the radio, trying desperately to press the stop button prior to the DJ starting to talk. I remember reading Just 17 at the time, and they would regularly 'give away' tape covers for your own mix tapes. Music was certainly an element of the book I think could have been explored, perhaps similarly to Nicky Hornby's High Fidelity.

Record a voice and it lasts forever…
In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.
In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.
Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.
This is their story.

Reading this book certainly made me feel nostalgic (if not a little bit old), but I wonder how teens reading the book today (the age group it is aimed at) will respond to these references.  I have found writing this review, quite difficult, as I'm not entirely sure whether I liked this book or not. I found the first few chapters hard to get through, but then the story started to open up a bit more and I enjoyed it, but I was never really sure what the point of the story was. I guessed how Ryan and Ameliah were linked reasonably early on, so after that I was sort of thinking, well where is it going? The slight supernatural element of the two 'speaking to one another' through the tape, was never really fully explained, and this is another area that could have been made more prominent within the book.

I liked the way the book was laid out, with the pause symbols between the sections for each characters, and that the dust jacket was made to look like a tape cover. I found the font used for Ryan quite hard on the eyes after a while, and I had some little niggles with the overall writing. One being that, despite being set in England, the author used the term "Mom" rather than "Mum", even though the author is English. Also there are no speak marks at all throughout the novel, which makes it very hard to distinguish between thoughts and conversations. I have absolutely no idea why the author/publishers chose to present it like this as it serves no real purpose, and wouldn't have done the presentation of the book any harm to use traditional formatting. 

Just to demonstrate what I mean

Ryan jumped
-Got you! Big L strikes again
- I told you not to do that.
- I know but its too easy, man.

I know its not difficult to follow it's just slightly irritating.

The reason I can kinda say I liked this book, is that I liked the sentiment. It was about young love, family love, the love of friends, and learning about who is there for you when facing hardship. I didn't struggle to get through it, like I do sometimes with a book I really don't enjoy, which makes me think I did enjoy it. I guess if I was going to going it a star rating I'd probably give it a 3 and a half. I certainly would recommend it, but I wouldn't rave about it perhaps. 

Have you read Tape?




*Tape was sent to me to review

Monday, 17 March 2014

My Take on 'Wedding Etiquette'.


A slightly different one for you all today. During my time spent doing research for my wedding I have come across so many "dos don'ts and must never dos", it eventually starts to make your head turn and essentially question everything you have done or planned to do. The difficulty is is that there is so much conflicting advice, it's hard to know exactly what to listen to, so I thought I'd throw my twopenneth in the pot, about some of the things I have come across and my views on this.

Asking for money as a gift
Woah yes I went there! It seems that for our American cousins this is the ultimate in poor etiquette. Asking for cold hard cash is a big fat no no. Yet for us Brit's asking for money towards a honeymoon or towards home DIY seems to be becoming more and more common and, I think, socially accepted. I can't recall going to a wedding as an adult and not being asked for money or vouchers in some way shape or form, usually through the medium of some well sourced, slightly adapted poem, to suit the couples needs. In modern day society when so many couples live together before getting married, I almost question the purpose of the old 'gift list'. Americans see asking for money as extremely rude, yet the way I look at it, asking for a £60 toaster from John Lewis, which looks exactly like the one I already have in my kitchen and which still works, seems well just a bit cheeky really. It seems like asking for something for asking's sake. Some people suggest that if you don't want anything, then don't ask, but from the minute we started planning our wedding, people were already asking and thinking of what to give us as gifts. If everyone on my guest list finds a gift they want to give us, great, but if they are struggling, and really want to get us something, a fiver in a card towards our honeymoon will suit us absolutely perfectly thank you very much.On a side note, it is also frowned upon to even include the afore mentioned gift list within the actual invitation. So am I expected to post all these separately?? 
(And yes, for the record, I did put a honeymoon money poem in my invites.)

Inviting people to the reception only
Again, the American law of wedding etiquette states specifically that it is just not proper to invite anyone to the reception who hasn't been invited to the ceremony. No wonder American weddings are always portrayed as big lavish affairs, as you have to invite everyone to all of it! There doesn't seem to be the concept of an 'evening do' like there is in the UK, as the reception is the meal immediately followed by drinking and dancing, without the slight lull in between that you tend to get a British weddings. We have so many friends between us that we want to involve in our special day, it would financially ruin us to include everyone at the wedding breakfast. We are getting married in Church, and if people want to come and see the ceremony, well they are of course more than welcome, but we have limited our wedding breakfast to around 70 guests. (70!! Sounds huge, I wanted 40 originally!) When you consider that our evening list, combined with our day guests, reaches almost 250 people, you can kinda see how this would have been just impossible.

Hen Do/Stag Do.
Ahhh the ritual humiliation associated with marriage. In  the US, if you believe Pinterest, bachelorette parties, are to be beautifully styled, sedate affairs, where everyone has just the acceptable amount of wine and cake, brings the bride gorgeous presents, and everyone has gone home by the evening. In comparison, the British version involves an inordinate amount of pink, plastic willies, L plates, and the expected stripper. Rest assured, my hen do will be neither of these, but a 'perfectly' orchestrated version of the two. I'm certainly not a plastic penis person, but I also anticipate getting properly sozzled with my best girls during a night on the town, and going home before nightfall is just not allowed!

DIY
So many websites will tell you not to DIY things like your cake or your bouquet, as they are just "too precious" or "too important". Really? This is what is important? No it's not, the person your marrying is what's important. If you want to DIY some, all, or none of your wedding, let that be your decision. This seems to be a marketing ploy to worry you and therefore pay other people to do things you felt perfectly capable of doing yourself. 

Food
When we first considered having a buffet for our main wedding breakfast my future mother in law looked at me in horror. We had been going over and over menu choices for weeks, but were struggling to come up with something that we suit most people, and the high number of children we have attending our wedding. (Yes we are having kids, kids make a wedding as they are quite frankly bloody hilarious by the end of the night - who else would get Granny on the dance floor?) There was one hairy moment when tomato soup followed by chicken dinner was suggested - I was honestly expecting a Black Forest Gateaux for pudding! It seemed logical to us, that a hot buffet seemed the easiest compromise, and offered a wider selection for our large guest list. We agreed that the top table would be served their meal, and all other tables, after being served a choice of starter, would be invited up to make their selection from a hot servery counter. Our venue was really happy with this, as it mean they needed less staff, less food, and  they passed the savings on to us!  I struggle to see the difficulty with this one.

Save the Dates 
Yes the little magnets are cute, but its just something else to make/pay someone else to make. Just send out your invites extra early and be done with it.

Rehearsal Dinner
Nice idea, absolute disaster the night before the wedding, involving a large amount of Scottish people and alcohol. There would probably be no actual wedding

Bridesmaids
Going first or last down the aisle. Honestly,this is apparently a big deal in wedding etiquette circles. In the US, the bridesmaids go first, so the bride is the last person they see, in the UK the bride goes first with her bridesmaids behind. I've seen comments about this such as "well they will get their turn when they get married." Seriously? Does it matter? I'm tempted to go in the middle of my bridal party, you know, just to mix it up a bit. Although one idea I would have liked to adopt is the concept of the bridesmaid paying for their own attire. Just saying.

Cash Bar
As in a bar that you pay cash at. As in a bar that you expect your guests to pay cash at. Yes in  the US this is strictly not acceptable, and you must provide all the booze free of charge. What is this lunacy?? I cannot think of a single wedding where it has been a free bar, and the OH was best man at a multi-millionaires wedding! (I thought that was a bit tight though if I'm honest!) Honestly, its a wonder anyone ever gets married in America!!

Finally I will leave you with my favourite quote regarding US vs UK wedding etiquette from A Practical Wedding
 
"What the hell is a Mason jar and why did everyone lose their shit over them?
I HAVE NO IDEA. Just use a jam jar. Done"

Monday, 10 March 2014

Beauty Edit: Body Shop Shimmer Waves & Lip Balm Review


I've always been a big fan of The Body Shop and their general ethics. I was asked to try out a couple of products and there was no way I could say no!*

This Born Lippy Lip Balm is the first lip balm I've actually tried from The Body Shop, although I'm aware that it was initially sold in little lip tins, it has only recently been released in a stick form.  This one is in 'Plum' , and is a deep purple colour and has a really sweet fruity smell. Despite the deep colour it didn't colour my lips as much as I expected it to, and just gave them a slight shimmer. I did try swatching it, however it was so light it wasn't even noticeable on the back of my hand! It has quite a greasy rather than sticky formula. I've found I need to re-apply it often, but then I generally do with most lipbalms!

I've tried out The Body Shop Shimmer Waves  before, and I still love them after many years, and often re-purchase them. This is Shade 1 in bronze.The Shimmer Waves are designed to be used on face and cheeks, and I generally swirl them together with a big bronzing brush and use all over. Its suggested you can use each shade separately too, which I think is a bit hard to do as a blusher or bronzer, however I have been known to use the individual waves as a eyeshadow in a pinch! This is a great way to save room when you are packing too, as it saves on packing extra eyeshadow. The colour pigmentation is quite light due to the shimmer in the shades, so again is quite light and cannot be seen particularly well in a swatch. Despite that, it gives a lovely lightly sunkissed look which is perfect for this time of year between Winter and Spring.

I've added both  of these products into my daily rotation, and the lipbalm has promptly gone straight into my handbag.

Have you tried either of these products?



*These items were sent to me to review

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

NITW - Oasis Textured Drape Coat





Coat Oasis similar// Jumper H&M// Jeans Dorothy Perkins// 
Shoes Gap similar//Necklace Tiffany's

I'm never very good at finding things in sales. Usually I see things on other people and when I ask where it's from it's always something they've "just picked up in the sale".For once I get to be that person. I've had so many nice compliments on this coat, that I'm starting to just accept them and forget the 'sale' comment.

I'm not sure if this is actually a coat or cardigan or more accurately a coatigan. I wouldn't exactly sit around in the house in it, which removes the cardigan element, however the style, fabric and thickness don't really make it a coat for me either. Either way, I'm loving the smart look, and I think it's something that in seasons to come it will still look just as classic. Every now and again the process of buckling and unbuckling the belt irritates me, but I do really like the look of a belt coat - I'm considering putting belts over all my coats!

Interestingly I almost picked up the similar version in Oasis just recently, which was still full price, it was a slightly darker colour but £98 is a lot of money on what was essentially a bit of a whim. Half price is much more attractive, and I love wearing it all the more as a result! 

I have had the occasional regret about  undoing the pockets. I hate when pockets on jackets and coats come stitched up, but I get why that is, as by putting things in my pockets as obviously made them go slightly misshapen, but every now and again you just need a pocket!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Monthly Mostly & Mini Book Review - February 2014

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Well, after missing last month's post - and only posting one post in February, I am yet again late with February's post. 

Crafting
I am slowly turning into one of those people who talk about nothing but weddings. I begin to cringe when I hear myself talking, but i genuinely can't help it. It's not as if I try to shoehorn it into every conversation, but invariably someone ask me how plans are going, or what I've been doing lately, and this is pretty much the gist of any of my spare time.
I have just finished making all of my daytime invites, and have almost finished my evening ones. I have collected my supplies together for my place settings and a few other things I need to cut, glue and stick. After two or three, its therapeutic, after 7 or 8 it becomes tedious!
Wedding-wise itself, I've managed to sort a  number of big things out for the day itself which I was getting quiet anxious about.

Working
Some of you may remember that late last year I finally started my new job. Settling in to my position as been quite odd, as the pace is so different to what I'm used to. I'm still just as busy just in a very different way, and much more office based (which isn't helpful in terms of any form of diet or healthy eating!)

Studying
Additionally over the last month I have been studying at university. I occasionally do modules that will eventually become part of a post graduate qualification. Its weird to get back into the habit of studying. I have enjoyed it, but it's been an added pressure during my free time to get it done.

Reading
I have managed to do a little bit of reading this month, mostly as part of my contribution towards Alex's a blogging good read. I have also read D S Nelson's Hats off to Murder, the first in the Blake Hetherington Mysteries, which I was sent to review. I didn't take me as long as I expected, as it was much shorter than I had anticipated.  It was 35 pages long and was reasonably OK, but I'll be honest it didn't bowl me over. It was a quick and easy mystery read, but the ending came much too soon.I think there was much more story to be made out of it and it could have been longer, without feeling drawn out, the ending just came very quickly. I struggled with the constant reference to hats - every person mentioned was referred to in terms of the hat they wore - honestly not that many people wear hats! It read as though it was a historically set piece, which I think would have worked better with all the hats references, but it was clear that it was much more modern. I felt it was reasonably well written and a good story, but something I would have expected in an anthology, rather than as a stand alone piece. I'll be interested to see D S Nelson's future stories. 


So not much of interest over the last couple of months, but a little update none the less.
What have you been "Mostly?"

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