Sunday, December 27, 2015

Self Care Sunday December Edition

It’s been a while since I posted! I had finished Blog Every Day in November, full of gusto for the month of December and all the blogging ideas I had. And I fell sick. I caught a really bad cold the weekend I was home for Late Late Toy Show and it took over 2 weeks to shake it. And by then I got caught up in the panic of being behind making all my Christmas gifts (post on which to come soon) and blogging didn’t even get a look in. And now that Christmas Day has passed and it’s the lull before New Year’s, I decided to do another Self Care Sunday post.

self care sunday

December was NOT a self care month. I was physically sick, which brought my mental health down, though I did try and take care of myself. I did get so stressed out though before Christmas, trying to get my own gifts sorted and worried that they are inadequate, trying to shop with and for others, meeting people, organising surprises, trying to keep everyone but myself happy and of course failing to succeed on that. This Christmas is probably one of the first I have not enjoyed in a long time. Full of anxiety and stress, I’ve felt lonely despite having people nearby, had a constant hum of anxiety in my chest, which swells up when I least expect it.
One thing that has kept me afloat is Vlogmas. Not me doing it, I don’t know if I’d ever have the courage to start a YouTube account. But I really enjoyed watching some of my favourite YouTubers do Vlogmas, especially Rosianna’s. To watch someone be so frank at times about her feelings but also see her trying to care and look out for herself helped me big time. On Day 4, she describes waking up and feeling depressed and decides to be nice to herself. Rosianna goes on to describe 4 things she keeps on a post-it note to help with self care (1. Have a meal 2. Drink a glass of water 3. Have a shower 4. Go outside) and if she does these 4 things, it makes her feel like she has some control of her life and even thinking about the post-it note helps distract her from negative feelings and sets some easy tasks for her to accomplish. This has been on my mind since watching that video and I really like that idea, I’m going to have a think for a post-it note of my own, something that will help ground me when I feel like I’m spiralling out of control with anxiety.


During Blog Every Day in November, I made some self care pledges and this slipped away out of my mind. Being sick, I barely left the house, so I haven’t had a chance to be more active. I’ve barely seen friends either (partly from being sick, partly from being anxious and partly because plans just didn’t work out). I haven’t enjoyed crafting that much, mainly because I was trying to get things finished and stressing out over that. The only thing has been enjoying the small things. And not a conscious effort either, but just when they’ve cropped up. Enjoying time with the cats, planning on my reading year for next year, listening to rain. Again I want to spend time for the rest of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 making an effort on these pledges.

IMG_5502
Spending time with one of the cats back home!

Part of me feels ridiculous that I feel like this. That I have so much to be grateful for and I do know this, deep down I do. But this year has been such a rollercoaster, a shitty rollercoaster. I could name more bad than good I think, though I won’t. I want to concentrate on the good. My friends, who I know are frustrated by me but are still supportive. My boyfriend, who feels helpless when he sees me struggling but tries his best and has stuck by me for 10 whole years. My family, who have all helped in their own small ways, even if they don’t know how bad I feel (or maybe they do!). 2015 is almost over and I'm so glad. I have a lot to look forward to in 2016 and hopefully it was overshadow 2015. This hadn’t intended to be a post like this, of reflections and plans for the future but I suppose it does fit under self care!

In the vein of Rosianna’s video, I’d love for people to comment below with any self care tips they have. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays) and that you have a fantastic New Year as well. Here’s to taking care of ourselves!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November Reads

Finally back on track with Reading Reviews! Here’s what I read in November.

November Reads

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein

I started reading Frankenstein in October, thinking it would be a suitable read for over Halloween. I didn’t find it scary but it does make you think! You really feel for the monster, I felt really sorry for him. Shelley has a beautiful way with words and it’s well worth the read, it’s a classic for a reason. The only reason I didn’t love it was I felt it dragged in places and my mind started to wander.

 

 

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

lolita

Another classic, although a more modern one. Lolita is a story that we probably all know something about, bit it something small. It tells the story of pervert Humbert Humbert, who falls in love with 12 year old Lolita and sets forth to seduce her. The book is very uncomfortable in parts, but there’s no doubting that Nabokov is a fantastic writer, he has a wonderful turn of phrase and it’s easy to see why this is a masterpiece.

 

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and bone

This is the first book in the YA fantasy series. It follows Karou, a 17 year old girl who lives in Prague, goes to art school and spends her time drawing fantastical monsters. Except for the fact that these monsters are not part of her imagination, they are real and the only family Karou knows. She runs errands for Brimstone, collecting teeth from hunters around the world, not really knowing what Brimstone’s work is. Karou doesn’t much much of her life, but as the angels start to arrive, Brimstone and co.’s enemies, Karou is about to find out a lot more about her past. I really loved this book and the idea behind it. I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy series and I really loved the setting in Prague, probably because I’ve been there twice. The two worlds that Taylor has created are well thought out and interesting.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

the woman who walked in sunshine

This is book number 16 in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, about Precious Ramotswe and her agency in Botswana. Mma Ramotswe’s assistant, Grace, persuades Mma Ramotswe to go on holiday but of course she can’t just relax and get wraps up in a few different mysteries! These are feel good light mysteries, they’ve really made me want to visit Botswana!

 

 

 

The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh

The Pillowman

 The Pillowman is play about an author who writes some twisted, gruesome stories and finds himself and his brother under arrest when a number of recent child murders bare striking resemblances to the stories. This is probably the first time I’ve read a play outside of school, I’d love to see this on stage as it’s dark and twisted and there’s short stories within the story of the play which just adds these layers and really make you think. Added to this is the fact it’s set in an unnamed totalitarian state and the themes of censorship and interrogation that crop up make this play a fascinating read. McDonagh is the writer and director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths so if you like those films you’ll enjoy this play!

Persuasion by Jane Austen

persuasion

The only other Austen I’ve read is Pride and Prejudice, which I did like but I’ve never really felt compelled to read other Austen novels. But when the Reading Challenge called for a classic romance I decided to give Austen another go and settled for an audio book of Persuasion. Set in early 1800s, Anne Elliot was in love with Captain Wentworth but rejected his proposal due to family and friends persuading her to do so. Years later Wentworth crops up on the scene and Anne is still in love with him. But does he still feel the same way about her? I didn’t love the book, it was ok. It felt like there were too many characters than needed, which made it hard to remember who was who. I can see why people would love the book, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The Second Book of General Ignorance by John LLoyd and John Mitchinson

QI_Second_Book

I started this book in April 2012 and only finished it now. But don’t let that put you off! There wasn’t a real reason for doing so, except for the fact it’s the perfect book to dip in and out of, that there’s no need to hurry through it. If you’re a fan of QI and just a fan in general of fact books, then you’ll definitely get something out of this. Now to give it back to my aunt, who’s probably forgotten that she even owns this!

 

 

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight

Book two in the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series and seeing as it’s a book in a series then I won’t say much about it! It follows on from the first book (review up above), where by the end Karou has learnt a lot more about her past and she spends this book dealing with this knowledge and putting it to good use! We get to see more of the other world which is nice too as it helps build the entire setting of the book.

 

 

 

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

Bookshop book

Having read and loved Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series I decided to give this book a go. In it, Jen tells us about books all over the world, starting with the UK, then Europe, Africa the Americas, Australasia and finally Asia. All continents covered except Antarctica, which I’m sure would have been covered if there was a bookshop there! In between these descriptions are interviews with authors, where they state their earliest memories of bookstores, the bookshops they love now and what their dream bookshop would be if they ever ran one. I loved hearing about all these bookshops, some are so innovative and cool, others just sound cosy and small but are anchors to the communities they are in. I read it more or less in one go, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had just picked it up every now and again, just so I could savour it more!

Humbugs and Heartstrings by Catherine Ferguson

humbugs and heartstrings

Every Christmas I read one or two of these lighter, fluffier books and make no apologies for it! This book is a loose reworking of A Christmas Carol, where Bobbie works for the meanest, Scroogiest boss Carol, who is actually a old friend of Bobbie’s. They used to be very close but something happened to deteriorate their relationship. The only reason Bobbie stays working for her is because she’s saving for an operation for her brother Tim (see, very Christmas Carol!). When a cracked lady reads Bobbie’s tea leaves and sees not only a reconciliation with Carol but a new man in Bobbie’s life, things start getting a bit crazy. It’s a bit cheesy but I enjoyed it. It’s also currently only £0.99 on Kindle at the moment too.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

winnie the pooh

I thought I had read this before but turns out I haven’t. I’ve read other Pooh stories but not this one. This seems to be all the original stories and the original of Winnie the Pooh but please correct me if I’m wrong. I enjoyed this, Pooh bear is childhood staple and I definitely identify with Eeyore to a certain degree! No Tigger in this book though, he must come later on.

 

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry on

I love Rainbow’s YA novels Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, she writes contemporary young adult novels really well. So when I heard she was writing a fantasty novel when I went to her book signing last year, I was a bit surprised but also intrigued. Then I found out it’s based on the characters from Fangirl. No, not Cath and Levi, but the characters that Cath writes fanfiction about. Rainbow has made it clear that this book is not Cath’s intruptation of the characters nor the ‘original author’ of the books in the Fangirl book but Rainbow’s own take on the characters. Ok then, so does this make is fanfiction? Seeing as the original author in Fangirl is considered canon and this is Rainbow’s take on it? I still don’t know exactly how I feel about this book. There are elements I do like: the mix of contemporary world and the world of Mages, the characters of Baz and Penny. Things I hated like how the name of the bad guy in the book is the Humdrum and the fact the school is set in Watford (right where the studios for Harry Potter are) and things I’m unsure of (how the magic works, hated it at first but I’ve warmed to it). There are very clever Harry Potter vibes, including Harry and Draco fanfiction, which I don’t mind really. The book is slow to start, which I think didn’t help me at the beginning but once it gets going I did find it a bit of a page turner. If you liked the fanfic in Fangirl then you’ll probably like this. If you didn’t like the fanfic, then you won’t like this. But if you were unsure or could take or leave the fanfic then you might enjoy this. It does have classic elements of Rainbow’s writing and if there was a follow up book to this I might pick it up. Though considering the amount of people I’ve seen who LOVE this book, there’s probably going to be plenty of fanfic online about what happens after this book!

November Stats

Number of books read- 12
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:2
Male to Female authors- 5:7
Number of eBooks- 2 (Frankenstein and Humbugs and Heartstrings)
Number of books borrowed from library- 7 (Lolita, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, The Pillowman, Days of Blood and Starlight, The Bookshop Book and Carry On)
Number of Audio Books- 1 (Persuasion)

Reading Challenge Completed

A Classic Romance- Persuasion

A Book that Scares You- Lolita

A Play- The Pillow Man

A Book Based On or Turned Into a TV Show- The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

A Book You Started but Never Finished- The Second Book of General Ignorance

A Book Set at Christmas- Humbugs and Heartstrings

A Banned Book- Winnie the Pooh

Read a trilogy Book One: Daughter of Smoke and Bones

Read a trilogy Book Two: Days of Blood and Starlight

 

There we go! That was a big reading month and as you can probably tell, I’m trying to finish off all the Reading Challenge themes. I’m slowly getting there, only 7ish left to go!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Blog Every Day in November Wrap Up #BEDN

So today's the last day of Blog Every Day in November. I did it, I actually managed to post once every day! Now admittedly I don't think every blog post is perfect or up to scratch but I'm glad I did the challenge and managed to stick to it. It has helped me get back into blogging and get my creative juices flowing. I have a few ideas for December too, so hopefully I'll stay on track and get them done.

I've enjoyed doing this challenge a lot, I especially liked the Self Care Sunday post, which I will do every now and again to check in and see what I'm doing. I also loved the Nostalgic Beauty post, the Random Acts of Kindness post, and the Style post, it made realise that I do actually have some little bit of style! It was fun to do some of the themed posts, in fact the four listed above were themed posts and things I possibly wouldn't have tried if I didn't do the theme. And I'm delighted to be back on track with my Reading Reviews! I'll have my November one up in the next day or two.

Thanks to Elizabeth from Rosalilium for hosting this, thanks to everyone who was also doing the challenge and read and commented on my posts. I tried to read some others myself and comment too, but I'll admit I didn't do it as often as I should. Please leave a comment below if you did the challenge too and I'll be sure to check out your blog!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gifts for Bookworms #BEDN

No surprise here, I love books and I love bookish themed presents! I've slowly started to build up a collection of bookish accessories like bags, mugs and clothing and thought it would be fun to share some of the things I've seen online that have caught my eye.



During the week I shared by Books Are My Bag bag collection so here's some more totes! Clockwise from top left: The Great Gatsby from Out of Print Clothing, Go Away I'm Reading from Red Bubble, Books Are My Bag 2015 Grayson Perry Tote (from bookshops if they still have them!), Professional Bookworm from Society6




I could do a whole post about mugs alone! But I limited myself to these. Clockwise from top left: Cats in Literature Mug by The Literary Gift Company, Harry Potter iPhone cover by Primark, Penguin Classic Book Mug, Children Literature Map of Britain by The Literary Gift Company

This is just a taster of what's out there. The best two websites I've come across are The Literary Gift Company and Out of Print Clothing, I had to stop myself from going mad and posting all the things on those sites! Etsy is a great way to buy handmade if you like that idea. But nothing will beat local bookshops! They'll have beautiful editions of classic favourites, exciting new releases and related products like mugs, notebooks, bags and other quirky things. 

I hope you've found some inspiration for the bookworm in your life. Or as a reward to yourself for getting all Christmas shopping done!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

All Time Favourite Christmas Ads #BEDN

Even though tomorrow's Blog Every Day in November theme is Christmas, I don't want to wait until tomorrow to post this. The other week I did a spotlight on some of the new ads out this Christmas but sometimes you just can't beat a classic!


Classic Coca-Cola Holidays Are Comin' ad, need I say more?!


The young girl in the Cornflakes ad always reminds me of my sister at that age, even though she wasn't that blonde. In the ad we see her older brother and sister and we used to pretend it was me, my brother and sister in the ad!


Every Irish person will remember the Telecom Eireann ad where the little girl rings Santa, another classic.


I love everything about this ad, the music, the bookish reference, the beautiful snow scenes. And then there's the Irn Bru take on the Snowman which is hilarious.



Horsies! Just from hearing the music alone I can picture the horses going through the snow. Do they still show this ad?


I love the atmosphere in this ad, the stillness and eeriness, the snowy scenes over Dublin and the really clever 'Even at the home of the black stuff, they dream of a white one'. 


I loved the Monty the Penguin ad from John Lewis last year, it really melted my heart!



All beauty addicts probably remember this ad! I love all the women vying for space in front of mirrors or any shiny surface they can find. But the music makes this ad most memorable. 


Another Boots ad, this one doesn't have much to do with what Boots sells to be honest (though they did try and slot in a few shots) but I love the message of this, the idea of a family waiting to have Christmas with one another. 


There's a McDonald's ad too which I love, same eerieness stillness as the Guinness one where they show a McDonald's that is shut and then at the end they say something like 'the best place to be this Christmas...is at home. Merry Christmas'. Or something to that degree. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

October Reads #BEDN

The last of the catch up reading posts! And we'll be back on schedule for the year (not that there's a lot of the year left!). Let's jump right in.

October Reads

Darkmouth Worlds Explode by Shane Hegarty

 This is the second book in the Darkmouth series by Irish author Shane Hegarty. I read the first one back in May as part of the Children's Book of the Month and I loved it. Finn is a legend hunter (monster hunter to you and me), just like his father was and his father before him and so on. But Finn's a bit rubbish at training, he'd rather be a vet! This book picks up at the end of the last one, so I won't say much to spoil it, but Finn returns along with Emmie, his best friend, and they must save the day again. It's packed with those cool drawings too, just like the last book, and I loved the humour. It's a great series for 12 year old, boys and girls and I love supporting Irish authors. I'm looking forward to book three, I must find out when that is out!

More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

I also read the first book, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, in May. I really enjoyed both books, working in a bookshop has made so many of these ring true (questions like 'I'm looking for a book, it has a blue cover. Oh you know the one!' or 'The book had a girl who falls for this guy but it doesn't go that well but it does in the end. Does that sound familiar?') but I think all book lovers would enjoy these quotes and stories. The other week I was in a bookshop, just when The Girl in the Spider's Web came out, so the other books in the series were also on display. I heard a man turn to his friend and ask him 'Should I read that book? The Girl with the Magic Tattoo?'. Sounds like a delightful book to me!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This was the very first book I ever marked to read on Goodreads and when I saw the reading challenge that was to read the book that had been on your TBR pile the longest (or something to that degree) I decided I should really read this one. Luckily it popped up in my Audible Daily Deals and I got it for a steal. Most people would have heard of this book but it tells the story of Skeeter, a 22 year old from Jackson, Mississippi, who decides to write a book about 'the help', the women and maids who raise children in families just like the one she grew up in. She gets Aibileen (her friend Elizabeth's maid, who's raising her 17th white child) and Minny Jackson to help her. These three women take turns to narrate the story and we learn all sorts about these women, their friends, their relationships and especially the way black people were treated in the South in 1960s. I really enjoyed it, I cried in places too which isn't a surprise as I'm a big sap. If I had one really criticism I would have shortened it a tiny bit, it was just a touch too long. I know this book is not without it's faults as well but it is worth the read.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

This was my first Anne Tyler book, I'd requested it off NetGalley when I heard some people say good things about it in the run up to the Man Booker Prize. It's a family story that starts with this generation of siblings and tells of their life and family dynamics for over half the book. It then goes back to when the parents were young and then after that to when the grandparents first met. In the first half, the family joke that there's only 2 stories in the family, neither of them particularly interesting, and that they don't really know much family history. As we look back we see there are secrets, secrets that would make much better family stories but were hidden of the years. I did enjoy this book in one sense, I like family sagas, where nothing too exciting happens but this dragged at times and made me so reluctant to pick it up. It sped up a bit once we started going back in time but it took way too long in the book to do that. It wasn't until 60% through that we went to the second story of Red and Abby (the parents).

Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr

The Reading Challenge had a category that was to visit an old childhood favourite and so I picked this book. I had never read it before but as a child my aunt gave me Mog in the Dark, which I loved (and still have somewhere). So when my aunt's child turned one, I present I gave was this Mog book and a Mog plush teddy. I enjoy this book, I like Mog as a children's book character and of course, now with the Sainsburys Christmas ad featuring Mog, I'm sure she's going to be very popular this Christmas!


Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

This is the third Cormoran Strike book, by Robert Galbraith (aka. J.K. Rowling) and even though it wasn't announced to be coming out until the summer time, I still put it in my most anticipated books of 2015! The story kicks off when Cormoran's assistant, Robin, receives a package in the mail with a severed leg in it. Due to some of the clues left in the package, Cormoran narrows the list down to 3 people from his past. I really enjoyed this, I downloaded it on Audible so I could listen to it going to and from work. Cormoran and Robin investigate all 3 of these men, leading them to all sorts of stories and trouble, and it really had me guessing until right near the end, which I love in books. There is a lot more emphasis on Robin and Strike's relationship in this and I really hope they don't end up together as it's such a cliche. But I will continue reading this series, it really helped reignite my love of mysteries and thrillers that I've had since being a child. If you liked book one and two, go pick this up now!

October Stats

Number of books read- 6
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 5:1
Male to Female authors- 1:5
Number of eBooks- 2 (A Spool of Blue Thread and More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
Number of books borrowed from library- 1 (Darkmouth Worlds Explode)
Number of Audio Books- 2 (The Help and Career of Evil)

Reading Challenge Completed

A Book at the Bottom of Your To-Read List- The Help
A Book From Your Childhood- Mog the Forgetful Cat
A Book with a Colour in the Title- A Spool of Blue Thread

And that's it! October was quiet enough but November has made up for, which you'll see in my next reading post. And there's still a few days to add to it too!



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nostalgic Beauty Look #BEDN

Today's Blog Every Day in November theme is nostalgia. I've written quite a bit on here about nostalgia: Things Children These Days Won't Know, My Favourite Things About Being a Child, my NOW CDs posts with Sharon from Behind Green Eyes. But this particular post is inspired by Sharon's Get Ready With Me 90s Style post. Ah, the memories! So I wanted to do something similar myself!


                          Retro 90s Makeup


Above are some of the products I used back in the day. I used the L'Oreal Glam Shine polishes and while this one is from a recent enough Miss Candy collection, I added it because I used to have a two toned twisty lipstick from 17 once! Pinky on one half and whitey on the other. I loved the One by One mascara from Maybelline because the brush was tiny. And I completely forgot about the Maybelline Watershine Diamond lipsticks and glosses til I was researching this post! Lollipop was my fave, a pinky shade. Sticking with Maybelline I had the white Cool Effect and prob one or two of the Fruity Jellys. I had two shades of the Rimmel Metallic Cream Shadows: Notting Hill (lilac) and Kennington (silver). Finally Spectacular had such cool polishes, I don't think I really appreciated them! (not pictured above are any Constance Carroll products, probably my very first adventure into makeup, buying clear mascara and lipstick from them from the small tiny local pound shop!)



Now, for this look I tried to recreate what I prob looked like when I was first wearing makeup. I can't remember what base I went for so I used a BB Cream as I probably would have loved those growing up, I hardly even wore base and still don't wear it much today. Everything else I used was either exactly what I used to use or else as close as I could get these days!


After I applied based I did my eyes. Because I couldn't get my hands on any Rimmel or Maybelline products (though you can if you want to pay out), I eventually tracked down this Miss Sporty silver cream shadow. Seriously, cream shadows are NOT in these days! I really wanted to find a more lilacy one as I preferred that Rimmel eyeshadow (because purple brings out the green in your eyes!) but that shade is not in either, only darker purples, On my eyelashes I used Maybelline's Full N Soft. It's a travesty that you can no longer buy it over here, sort yourself out Maybelline! On my cheeks I used Natural Collections Peach Melba, I used to use Natural Collections blush all the time. On my lips was the closest I could find to the Fruity Gelly which was Maybelline's Coloursensational Gloss (thanks to Dealz!). Included above is a Barry M glitter eyeliner. Now, I never used Barry M growing up, it just wasn't local to me at all. I did however used to love glitter, so much so that I remember going to one of the Credit Union quizzes in 6th class and sticking my face into my glitter (which I probably got free from Bliss or Sugar). I remember one of the boys on my team just being bewildered by my face, you could have seen me from space with all the glitz I piled on! The Mini Milk above is also something I didn't use back in the day but I totally would have and now I want a Mini Milk, I haven't had one in years!

With the glitter liner added

Also above is some Body Shop Fuzzy Peach shower gel. I got it a few years ago when they brought out of a bunch of retro stuff, I snapped it up so fast! I used to always get Body Shop gifts from my nana and smelling Fuzzy Peach brings back lovely memories. I also recently purchased So...Kiss Me, I LOVED that one growing up, definitely my favourite. You can get them in Penneys very easily these days if you're looking for a trip down memory lane.



I didn't wear a lot of nail polish growing up but I do remember my first Rimmel polish. It was a hot pink 60 Seconds one my aunt bought me one year for my birthday. This one is quite similar, it's Fifty Shades of Pink, a limited edition one for 50 years of Superdrug.



Finally, because I know you want to know where I got my bitchin jewellery from, the necklace and jelly bracelets were both from eBay. However Penneys have been selling the tattoo necklaces and other 90stastic jewellery like mood rings so you might still pick something up. The only thing I'm really missing is some of those glittery butterfly clips! Maybe I'll try buy some of the above stuff I'm missing and put together another look some day. Thank you Sharon for the inspiration to do this, it was so much fun!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Travel Dreams #BEDN

Today's Blog Every Day in November theme is travel dreams! And it's something that's been on my mind a lot recently. It's been a while since I've had a proper holiday abroad. Last time actually was 2008! Well, technically I have been abroad since then. I've travelled to and from the UK and Ireland a lot over the years and that is abroad! But I don't think it really counts as Ireland is home and I did live in Manchester for a while.

I'd love to travel more but it's just something that hasn't happened for a number of reasons. There's so many places I'd like to go, I have a Pinterest board for that, but if I won the lotto tomorrow I'd go to America. On a big road trip!


I'd probably start with New York. It's iconic after all! And with Nurse Fancy Pants, Cherry Sue and LovelyGirlieBits all talking about the Big Apple recently, it's been on my mind a lot! I'd then head onto Chicago, Las Vegas, LA and Seattle. I have friends in LA and it's killed me that I haven't been able to go visit them yet. There are so many other places I'd like to go too though. Especially New England in the autumn, Chloe from Nurse Fancy Pants was there recently and her Instagram is just so pretty from her New England road trip!

Realistically though, the next time I go 'properly' abroad will probably be somewhere in Europe. I've already been to Spain, Italy, France and Czech Republic so I'd ideally like to go somewhere new to me. Scandinavia has always intrigued me, I did an unauthorized summer holidays project one year because I was fascinated (ya, I was one of those kids) and I do have a friend in Norway that I could go see! And I'd be able to see Northern Lights too which would be amazing! Germany, Austria and Netherlands are also high on my want to see list. If I was to go somewhere I'd already been before though it would be Prague. I've been twice and loved it! I love the vibe of the place, it's a beautiful city.

At John Lennon Wall in Prague 2008

There are so many other places I want to go and I doubt I'll ever see them all. Which is ok with me as I know I'll see enough to make me happy. And right now I'd be happy enough with a weekend away in Ireland!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Books Are My Bag Collection #BEDN

Today's Blog Every Day in November theme in Collections. The other day I showed you some of my flamingo collection. I'm pretty certain I've mentioned my nail polish on here before (last time I counted it was just over 450 but I have since bought polishes. I even bought some today!) and waaayyy back when I mentioned Beanie Babies in this post. But I wanted to show you something that has become a collection and I hope to add to it every year. It's my Books Are My Bags collection of tote bags!

This was the first BAMB bag I got, the classic orange design. I got it in 2013 from Lahinch Bookshop and I did a blog post about Books Are My Bag then too which you can find here. Last year I got given another one of these totes and a good thing I did and all, because the next day my original broke coming home from work!









The next BAMB book I got was last year's limited edition Tracey Emin bag. Even though I took photos of it in its current state (which you'll see in the group shot), I showed the original pictures here because I have used it so much it's no longer white! And there are some mysterious stains on it (though my friend thought they were part of the design). I used this almost every day, the quality of the bag is fantastic so it lasts a lot longer. I went all the way to the Urmston Bookshop to get this bag (which they kindly put aside for me) and you can see what else I bought then in this post from last year. I also won another one of these bags but gave it away to a book loving friend.



This year there's two designs to look forward to! The one of the right is a Lauren Childs' one that has Lola from Charlie and Lola with the quote 'I am going to the bookshop for one thing or maybe even perhaps a squillion' (I know that mindset!). The other one is this year's limited edition designer bag from Grayson Perry. I got both bags from O'Mahonys in Limerick but I actually won the Grayson Perry one with a colouring competition! Johanna Basford (she of the massive Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest colouring book fame) designed the competition sheets and I decided to stick with different shades of the classic BAMB orange. I love it so much that I might get it printed onto a tote bag for myself!


The one BAMB thing I'd LOVE is the mug! I love collecting mugs as much as these totes. You can order them but they're UK only, which I so would have ordered if I was still in Manchester! But while we're on the subject of orange, I was at my aunt's house a few weeks ago and took this picture of some of her classic orange Penguin books. I need to start my own collection I think!





Monday, November 23, 2015

Barry M Black Cherry #BEDN

I love when Barry M brings out new polishes, especially the Autumn one. Last year they had some limited edition Christmas ones but this year they didn't bring anything like that out. This year they had 4 'Midnight Gellies', all darkened near black versions of green, purple, blue and red. Black Cherry is the darkened red one.



I love the idea of this range. Autumn and winter is the perfect time for vampy shades and I especially love dark reds and burgundies. 

did bring out two limited edition exclusive to Superdrug Gellies this autumn, a purple and a red, both with glitter in them! I picked up the purple, I just can't seem to photograph it right though but it so pretty! Hopefully I'll get it right though so I can do a post on it. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

September Reads #BEDN

Next in the book reads catch up is what I read in September.

September Reads

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

Queen of Shadows is book 4 in the Throne of Glass series. I bought this the day it came out and started it but it took me 2 weeks to read. I don't know why, I loved it when reading it and couldn't wait to find out what happened. I think I just lost my reading mojo and was feeling down. The book is awesome though, my favourite in the series so far and I can't wait for the next one!





Popular: Vintage Wisdom for the Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

After finishing Queen of Shadows, I went to library and flew through the next few books. I've wanted to read this book for a while. Maya feels like she's at the bottom of the popularity ladder in school and decides to use this 1950s popularity book by Betty Cornell to see if it can change things for her. Each month she focused on a different chapter and doing things from that chapter (so one was to do with clothes, another was exercise etc). I LOVED this book! Maya's family were so supportive and it was nice to see their dynamic, they seem like such a lovely family. Maya learns so much in this book and she's such a clued-in, smart girl. A definite feel good read.

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee 

Set in Victorian London, 12 year old Mary Quinn is sentenced to hang for being a thief but is rescued from the gallows. She ends up in Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls and gets a good education. At ages 17, she finds out the academy is a cover for The Agency, an all female investigation unit. For her first case, she goes to the house of a rich merchant posed as his daughter's new companion. She's sent there to find out more information about cargo missing from the merchant's ships. I enjoyed this book, I love Victorian London and I enjoyed Mary as a main character. I already have the second book out of the library and will read it soon. It was a quick read and no I didn't guess who did it!

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Prior to this, the only John Green I'd read was The Fault in Our Stars. This is his first book and it's a coming of age story. Miles is a misfit and decides to leave his Florida home to go to boarding school in Alabama. Miles is given Chip as his roommate and becomes friends with him and his friends, including the wild and beautiful Alaska. The book was ok, I wasn't blown away by it. I can see why teenagers might enjoy it, Green writes convincing enough teenage characters. It hasn't put me off trying other Green books, but while I would possibly reread TFIOS, I wouldn't pick this one up again.

Broken Harbour by Tana French

It's no surprise that I love Tana French! This book follows Scorcher Kennedy, who is sent to the ghost estate in Broken Harbour with his rookie partner, Richie, to investigate the murder of 2 children and their father, with the mother in intensive care. The case seems pretty obvious, the father has snapped and killed his family due to losing his job in the recession. But there are other small details that throw this case off so Scorcher sets about trying to find out the truth. However Broken Harbour brings back lots of bad memories for him and this, along with his sister Dina going off the rails, means life is breaking down a bit of Scorcher. I love how French writes the characters and I never know exactly who's done what until close to the end. There's just one more French book to read and I've been holding off because I love reading them and don't want to have none to look forward to!

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

When I saw this on NetGalley I requested it straight away. Gillian certainly knows how to write an opening sentence that captures your attention! The narrator of the short story is faking being a psychic (with a 'handy' male only customer service role on the side) and does a good job at what she does, mainly because she is able to read people well and tell them what they want. Until Susan Burke arrives and tells her that she has problems with her house and her stepson. The narrator, seeing a side business of 'cleansing' houses offers to go to the house and help Susan. But when she arrives she feels as if the house is watching her, especially when she meets Susan's stepson Miles waiting too.

This is a quick read, I had it read in about half an hour but I really enjoyed it. It had me guessing, even at the end when all is revealed (or not revealed, depending on who you believe is being truthful!). I've seen other reviews of people saying they didn't particularly like any of the characters but I did like the narrator. Sure, she didn't hesitate to try scam people out of people but she was resourceful. 

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

I made a full review post here, but Furiously Happy is Jenny Lawson's account of dealing with depression, anxiety and other mental health worries. It's funny, it's sad and it's quirky! Furiously Happy is Lawson's mantra, that while there are times when she doesn't want to do anything because her mental health is bad, there are up times too, when she not only wants to be happy but she wants to be furiously so. To grab life by the balls and enjoy it for that it's worth. Because there will always be bad times around the corner but it doesn't mean that you can't full enjoy the good times when you feel good.



September Reads

Number of books read- 7
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 5:2
Male to Female authors- 6:1
Number of eBooks- 2 (The Grownup and Furiously Happy
Number of books borrowed from library- 4 (Popular, A Spy in the House, Looking for Alaska and Broken Harbour)

Reading Challenge Completed

A Book with More than 500 Pages- Queen of Shadows
A Popular's Author First Book- Looking for Alaska
A Book with Antonyms in the Title- Furiously Happy

And that's September! Slowly getting more through the reading challenge, I still have a good amount more before the year is out but I have most planned and I hope I can finish it!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gingerbread White Hot Chocolate #BEDN

After pinning for my Winter Wishlist, I just had this idea to make a gingerbread white hot chocolate. There are definitely some recipes out there but I winged this one and it turned out to be pretty tasty! And easy to make.



Gingerbread White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

Milk
Brown sugar
Cinnamon
Ginger
Nutmeg
White Chocolate
Whipped Cream
Marshmallows

Method

1. Using the cup you're going to drink from, measure out the milk to 2/3 full. You don't want it to be much more than that as when you add the white chocolate, the volume will increase and you also want room for whipped cream and/or marshmallows! Add to saucepan and heat (but don't bring to boil).

2. I added a teaspoon of light brown sugar. Now, a dark brown sugar or even molasses would probably be more suitable for a gingerbread flavour but I used what I had on hand. I had a sprinkle of cinnamon and ginger, I don't include measurements because for one cup, it's going to be too small to really measure. Just add to taste! You can add nutmeg too, I didn't because I didn't have it on hand. If you don't like any of these spices, leave them out! You could have it as a white hot chocolate or if you do add them in, you could also add in a spoon of coffee to make it more a gingerbread latte.

3. Break up white chocolate and add to hot milk. I got a small 100g bar from Tesco, I used it all because I like sweet things but you can use less. Or use a white hot chocolate powder if you want the taste but not the calories. Options do a white hot chocolate powder.

4. Whisk until chocolate is melted and then pour into mug. Add topping of choice (I add whipped cream) and dusted it with cinnamon and milk chocolate shavings.

5. Enjoy!


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Book Lover's Tag #BEDN

Paula over at Cornflakegirl's Musings wrote her Book Lover's Tag last month and tagged me in it. I read it at the time, made a note to do the tag and then promptly forgot for a number of reasons. I love tags, especially book ones so here we go!



Do You Have a Specific Place for Reading?

Nope! I'll pretty much read anywhere. In bed, on the couch, in the car, on buses, trains, and planes, in waiting rooms, in the bathroom! I prefer somewhere really comfortable like my couch or bed. I wish I had a cosy reading nook, I have a few pinned on Pinterest and I'm so jealous of them!


Bookmark or Random Piece of Paper?

Usually I'll save my progress on Goodreads. One as I like to see the percentage bar move along and two while I usually remember where I finished reading, if I forget then it's online and no risk of a bookmark falling out. I do have a nice bookmark my friend gave me though which I love as she thoughtfully sent it when I was feeling bad and it really cheered me up.

Can You Stop Anywhere in a Book or Do You Have to Finish a Chapter?

I can stop anywhere really. Sometimes I prefer to finish at the end of a chapter (more to stop myself from reading too long!) but sometimes the chapters are too long for that, so I'll try at least finish a paragraph. The only time I'll stop in the middle of a paragraph or even the middle of a sentence is if I can no longer physically keep my eyes open.

Music or TV While You Are Reading?

I most likely prefer to read in silence. I can read while someone else is watching TV and I have read lighter books that don't need that much attention with music in the background. Which can be fun actually as I'll associate certain songs with that book when I next hear the songs. But silence is my favourite.

Do You Eat or Drink While Reading?

Yes, at times. Usually just snacks and water but there have been times when I've been so engrossed in a book and needed to eat dinner that I've done both at the same time!

One Book or Several At a Time?

Several on the go at the one time! I'll usually have one I'm concentrating on the most, while reading another at the same time. When I finish the first book, the next book will be the main book I'll concentrate on while I start another. If I have physical book on the go, especially a large one I don't want to carry around, I'll have a Kindle one on the go too and sometimes an audio one as well.

Reading at Home or Elsewhere?

I pretty much covered this in the first question but I'll read mostly at home. Like Paula I'll read in the car and in long queues (yay for Kindle app!), I've brought books if I've stayed over at friends houses, just in case I wake up early or they get distracted doing something else. If I need to collect family members from something, I'll leave a bit early and sit in the car and read, this is so handy especially if they get delayed. But nothing beats my comfy bed and couch!

Reading Out Loud or Silently?

Silently, always. Unless I get muddled by a sentence and find reading it out to try make sense of it.

Do You Read Ahead or Skip Pages?

I'll never read ahead, nor would I purposely skip pages but I might skim something, if it was a long and boring paragraph or if characters are just mindlessly talking about something that's just being repeated from earlier.

Breaking the Spine or Keeping It Like New?

I'm not precious about books,  don't like it looking too tatty or other people staining it, tearing it or writing in it, but unless it was a special edition of something or has sentimental value, then it can be easily replaced.

Do You Write in Your Books?

No, very rarely. Not that I wouldn't but I haven't felt the need for a while. I do sometimes highlight on Kindle.

Yay! I tag Cuti-CLUE-les and Plastic Rosaries. I would usually tag Behind Green Eyes and Nurse Fancy Pants for a book themed post but Paula tagged them already. Yay books!
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