SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME.
I am a huge book hoarder.  A quick calculation based on the amount of books I read last year tells me that with the amount sat unread on my shelves, I don't need to buy another book until 2017.  Does that stop me, though? Never.

I invest a lot in my collection but at the same time try to keep a balance between the 'experience' of buying a book (more on that in a bit, but let's face it....it's a big part!) and getting my money's worth.  So where do I get my books from? 

The library | Let's start with the most thrifty way of accessing books - through your local library.  They're free to join and many offer a transfer service from other libraries in the borough if a book you want isn't available at your local one.  I love that you can walk into a library anywhere and enter a safe haven of books; there's a real sense of community, peace and sanctity inside a library, and before I started regularly buying books I would visit the library once a month on 'Library Tuesday' when they were open late and come home with a random selection of books.  That's the other beauty of a library - when you're not committing your cold hard cash to something it's far easier to be experimental with your reading tastes and try out new authors and genres.

Bookshops | One of my favourite places to be and the one where you get the aforementioned 'experience' of buying books...if you get a good one!  I recently visited Kew and found myself in the loveliest independent bookshop where it felt like every book was really thought about and carefully chosen.  On a bigger scale, Waterstones tend to crop up everywhere and I regularly find myself wandering aimlessly amongst the shelves for a good while before getting sucked in to their "buy one get one half price" offers.  Buying books from bookshops can be expensive, so I'm always looking out for ways to show support yet save a bit of money.  Waterstones offer a points reward system, as well as a stamp card where you earn a stamp for every £10 spent (easily done!) and once you've reached 10 stamps you get £10 to spend.  It's scary how quickly I rack up those stamps!  Another way to save a bit is to check Waterstones' prices online - if a book's cheaper on the website you can choose to click and collect it in store where you'll still pay the online price.  Usually they'll have the book reserved for you within an hour or so, so it's worth doing!  I've saved quite a bit doing my book shopping this way, although it doesn't seem to be the case that online prices are any lower at the moment.

Online | As with most things, you can get a much lower price for books online.  Websites like Wordery or The Book Depository are my favourite for finding a bargain and if you keep your eyes peeled for discount codes you'll save a little bit more.  Both offer free delivery on millions of books including new releases.

Supermarkets | You won't get the enjoyment of exploring the books, but you'll definitely save some money if you buy them during the weekly shop.  For starters, I always feel like it's guilt-free if you pick up a book whilst doing the food shopping!  Paperbacks tend to be around £4 for a current release and there are always offers on to help you get more for your money.  Hardbacks are much cheaper too, and older releases often have an even lower price.

Charity shops | Charity shop hauling is one of mine and Lizzie's favourite things to do.  Armed with a list of books to look out for, we love heading to local towns and villages to trawl through the charity shops and find some bargains....have a look at this video to see what I bought last time!  Prices can vary, so if you're somewhere with lots of charity shops be sure to check them all out to find the best price.  In many cases the same titles crop up over and over, so you're bound to find it in multiple shops.  The quality of the books can also differ, but if you're willing to overlook bent corners or broken spines you might get yourself a new book to read for next to nothing.

Amazon | Amazon is kind of my last resort when it comes to buying books.  I've got a kindle, so if it's a book that I'm not sure about or just fancy on a whim I'll quite often check the kindle price to see if it'd be more sensible to buy through there.  If there's only a couple of £££ difference I'll always buy it as a paperback, but it's worth doing if you're really trying to be careful with your money.  One thing that's great about the kindle (beside being able to read it in the dark!) is the option to download a free sample to see how you get on with the first chapter or so.  I would have saved myself a lot of money had I done this for all of the books I've bought but never gotten into!

Have I missed anything?  Let me know where you get your books from!

Where To Get Books

29.3.16

SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME.
I am a huge book hoarder.  A quick calculation based on the amount of books I read last year tells me that with the amount sat unread on my shelves, I don't need to buy another book until 2017.  Does that stop me, though? Never.

I invest a lot in my collection but at the same time try to keep a balance between the 'experience' of buying a book (more on that in a bit, but let's face it....it's a big part!) and getting my money's worth.  So where do I get my books from? 

The library | Let's start with the most thrifty way of accessing books - through your local library.  They're free to join and many offer a transfer service from other libraries in the borough if a book you want isn't available at your local one.  I love that you can walk into a library anywhere and enter a safe haven of books; there's a real sense of community, peace and sanctity inside a library, and before I started regularly buying books I would visit the library once a month on 'Library Tuesday' when they were open late and come home with a random selection of books.  That's the other beauty of a library - when you're not committing your cold hard cash to something it's far easier to be experimental with your reading tastes and try out new authors and genres.

Bookshops | One of my favourite places to be and the one where you get the aforementioned 'experience' of buying books...if you get a good one!  I recently visited Kew and found myself in the loveliest independent bookshop where it felt like every book was really thought about and carefully chosen.  On a bigger scale, Waterstones tend to crop up everywhere and I regularly find myself wandering aimlessly amongst the shelves for a good while before getting sucked in to their "buy one get one half price" offers.  Buying books from bookshops can be expensive, so I'm always looking out for ways to show support yet save a bit of money.  Waterstones offer a points reward system, as well as a stamp card where you earn a stamp for every £10 spent (easily done!) and once you've reached 10 stamps you get £10 to spend.  It's scary how quickly I rack up those stamps!  Another way to save a bit is to check Waterstones' prices online - if a book's cheaper on the website you can choose to click and collect it in store where you'll still pay the online price.  Usually they'll have the book reserved for you within an hour or so, so it's worth doing!  I've saved quite a bit doing my book shopping this way, although it doesn't seem to be the case that online prices are any lower at the moment.

Online | As with most things, you can get a much lower price for books online.  Websites like Wordery or The Book Depository are my favourite for finding a bargain and if you keep your eyes peeled for discount codes you'll save a little bit more.  Both offer free delivery on millions of books including new releases.

Supermarkets | You won't get the enjoyment of exploring the books, but you'll definitely save some money if you buy them during the weekly shop.  For starters, I always feel like it's guilt-free if you pick up a book whilst doing the food shopping!  Paperbacks tend to be around £4 for a current release and there are always offers on to help you get more for your money.  Hardbacks are much cheaper too, and older releases often have an even lower price.

Charity shops | Charity shop hauling is one of mine and Lizzie's favourite things to do.  Armed with a list of books to look out for, we love heading to local towns and villages to trawl through the charity shops and find some bargains....have a look at this video to see what I bought last time!  Prices can vary, so if you're somewhere with lots of charity shops be sure to check them all out to find the best price.  In many cases the same titles crop up over and over, so you're bound to find it in multiple shops.  The quality of the books can also differ, but if you're willing to overlook bent corners or broken spines you might get yourself a new book to read for next to nothing.

Amazon | Amazon is kind of my last resort when it comes to buying books.  I've got a kindle, so if it's a book that I'm not sure about or just fancy on a whim I'll quite often check the kindle price to see if it'd be more sensible to buy through there.  If there's only a couple of £££ difference I'll always buy it as a paperback, but it's worth doing if you're really trying to be careful with your money.  One thing that's great about the kindle (beside being able to read it in the dark!) is the option to download a free sample to see how you get on with the first chapter or so.  I would have saved myself a lot of money had I done this for all of the books I've bought but never gotten into!

Have I missed anything?  Let me know where you get your books from!
...AND WHY YOU SHOULD, TOO.



WHO: Countryside-dweller Helen, self-proclaimed writer, blogger and photographer-in-training.
WHAT: Cake!  Helen has a passion for food in fiction, so expect to find recipes inspired by books she's read.  As well as baking, you can tell Helen revels in her surroundings so there are lots of photos of the neighbouring countryside as she documents the changes that the seasons bring.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: A Bookish Baker appears to be a relatively unknown blog, but I love the unique twist Helen's put on the things she loves and takes inspiration from.  It's an accomplished blog which deserves more followers.


WHO: Carrie, food and lifestyle blogger from Brighton.
WHAT: Snapshots of cafes and days out, recipes, the odd bit of beauty and a fair few shots of Carrie's dog!
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Carrie's tagline promises 'adventures in positivity', and that's the underlying theme of her blog.  It's an honest, introspective, calming space which really gives a sense of taking stock and appreciating the little things in life.  Her photography style is cohesive throughout, whether it's her general musings on life or a day out somewhere....it's all recognisably 'Carrie'.
START WITH: The Un-Slump List


Snug

WHO: Abigail, another relatively under-hyped blogger living with her boyfriend (and cat) in South West London.
WHAT: Describing Snug as a collection of her "diary, memory box or scrapbook", Abigail's created a place to record her thoughts and inspirations.  As you'd imagine, there's all sorts here - from travel guides to books, musings on life and some delicious recipes.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Abigail's managed to make her blog as cosy as the name would suggest.  It's another peaceful place which I like to visit for a break from the whirlwind of fashion and beauty blogging.


ALICELLE

WHO: Student and shopaholic, Alice Elle.
WHAT: The classic mix of fashion, beauty and lifestyle, Alice also features blogging and photography tips.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Aesthetically, Alicelle is everything I like in a blog.  Bright, airy flat lay photos, styled to perfection - there's your relatively standard topics covered but with a new voice.  Alice only started her blog this year but is already building up a loyal following, fast.


Vix Meldrew

WHO: 20-something teacher Vicky from London.
WHAT: Honesty, delivered by an unapologetically sharp tongue.  Vix shares her thought on issues pertinent to  my generation, minus any sugar-coating or soft focus, and it's refreshing to read.  Expect to find musings on dating, blogging and life in general as a 20-something woman.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Vix has a voice which shouts to be heard.  Her writing is compelling, raw and invariably right on the mark.  It's one of the more 'real' blogs that I read, and definitely one you should all check out.

5 Blogs I've Followed Recently

24.3.16

...AND WHY YOU SHOULD, TOO.



WHO: Countryside-dweller Helen, self-proclaimed writer, blogger and photographer-in-training.
WHAT: Cake!  Helen has a passion for food in fiction, so expect to find recipes inspired by books she's read.  As well as baking, you can tell Helen revels in her surroundings so there are lots of photos of the neighbouring countryside as she documents the changes that the seasons bring.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: A Bookish Baker appears to be a relatively unknown blog, but I love the unique twist Helen's put on the things she loves and takes inspiration from.  It's an accomplished blog which deserves more followers.


WHO: Carrie, food and lifestyle blogger from Brighton.
WHAT: Snapshots of cafes and days out, recipes, the odd bit of beauty and a fair few shots of Carrie's dog!
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Carrie's tagline promises 'adventures in positivity', and that's the underlying theme of her blog.  It's an honest, introspective, calming space which really gives a sense of taking stock and appreciating the little things in life.  Her photography style is cohesive throughout, whether it's her general musings on life or a day out somewhere....it's all recognisably 'Carrie'.
START WITH: The Un-Slump List


Snug

WHO: Abigail, another relatively under-hyped blogger living with her boyfriend (and cat) in South West London.
WHAT: Describing Snug as a collection of her "diary, memory box or scrapbook", Abigail's created a place to record her thoughts and inspirations.  As you'd imagine, there's all sorts here - from travel guides to books, musings on life and some delicious recipes.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Abigail's managed to make her blog as cosy as the name would suggest.  It's another peaceful place which I like to visit for a break from the whirlwind of fashion and beauty blogging.


ALICELLE

WHO: Student and shopaholic, Alice Elle.
WHAT: The classic mix of fashion, beauty and lifestyle, Alice also features blogging and photography tips.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Aesthetically, Alicelle is everything I like in a blog.  Bright, airy flat lay photos, styled to perfection - there's your relatively standard topics covered but with a new voice.  Alice only started her blog this year but is already building up a loyal following, fast.


Vix Meldrew

WHO: 20-something teacher Vicky from London.
WHAT: Honesty, delivered by an unapologetically sharp tongue.  Vix shares her thought on issues pertinent to  my generation, minus any sugar-coating or soft focus, and it's refreshing to read.  Expect to find musings on dating, blogging and life in general as a 20-something woman.
WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW: Vix has a voice which shouts to be heard.  Her writing is compelling, raw and invariably right on the mark.  It's one of the more 'real' blogs that I read, and definitely one you should all check out.
...BECAUSE IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME TO BREAK THE DIET, IT'S NOW.

Bank holidays are made for baking.  So with Easter is creeping up on us and the thought of a 4-day weekend getting me all excited to spend some time in the kitchen (and devote 4 days to eating my way through the aftermath), I figured today I'd share some of the best seasonal recipes with you all.

I promise I'm not sponsored by Cadbury's!
BROWNIES
Let's start with the obvious.  100% brownies are one of the things that'll get me to eat them in a moment of weakness and I'm seriously considering whipping up a batch for the bank holiday weekend.  Of course I had to include that blogger favourite Creme Egg brownies, but the Mini Egg versions are another good alternative if Creme Eggs are a little too rich for you.

COOKIES AND COOKIE BARS 
Just like brownies, a gooey cookie (of any variation!) is another thing I just can't say no to.  Cookie bars are more of a tray bake version and are a fail safe way to make sure they stay squidgy, whereas the Mini Egg cookie cups are bite-sized mouthfuls of sugary goodness.  I shared my (very old!) recipe for Mini Egg cookies here, but think that this year I'll be giving the Creme Egg bars a try.

NO BAKES
Rocky Road-type fridge cakes are the ultimate lazy girl baking, and with the addition of chocolate eggs you've got the perfect Easter treat.   These Creme Egg ones take 15 minutes to prepare (plus setting time) and use only 4 ingredients, whilst the Mini Egg versions are ready and prepared in just 5 minutes.  No excuses not to whip up a batch!

QUICK AND EASY
The mug cake is a genius invention, ideal to make if you need something to satisfy your sweet tooth fast.  Check out the white chocolate and sprinkles recipe (you'll have to scroll down a bit to find it) or go for my preference, the deliciously decadent-looking Creme Egg mug cake.  Fighting the urge to make one right. now.

CAKES 
Edging towards the traditional, these cakes all have a seasonal twist guaranteed to give them the wow factor.  Check out the ombre pinata cake if you don't believe me!  The nest cake looks seriously impressive (although I'm wondering if there's an easier way to get a similar effect?) and the Creme Egg cheesecake looks pretty straightforward for such a mouth-watering result.

FRUITY
So who am I kidding?  There is zero chance of either of these making their way to my table, especially with an abundance of chocolate and Easter eggs about.  But there's also no denying that now things are getting brighter and warmer with the arrival of spring, now's the perfect time to start using fruit in your baking.  The strawberry cheesecake requires no baking and could have snuck its way into the No Bake category....the Eton Mess cake on the other hand is going to require some serious practice and dedication.  Worth it though.

Will you be giving any Easter baking a go?

13 Easter Bakes

22.3.16

...BECAUSE IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME TO BREAK THE DIET, IT'S NOW.

Bank holidays are made for baking.  So with Easter is creeping up on us and the thought of a 4-day weekend getting me all excited to spend some time in the kitchen (and devote 4 days to eating my way through the aftermath), I figured today I'd share some of the best seasonal recipes with you all.

I promise I'm not sponsored by Cadbury's!
BROWNIES
Let's start with the obvious.  100% brownies are one of the things that'll get me to eat them in a moment of weakness and I'm seriously considering whipping up a batch for the bank holiday weekend.  Of course I had to include that blogger favourite Creme Egg brownies, but the Mini Egg versions are another good alternative if Creme Eggs are a little too rich for you.

COOKIES AND COOKIE BARS 
Just like brownies, a gooey cookie (of any variation!) is another thing I just can't say no to.  Cookie bars are more of a tray bake version and are a fail safe way to make sure they stay squidgy, whereas the Mini Egg cookie cups are bite-sized mouthfuls of sugary goodness.  I shared my (very old!) recipe for Mini Egg cookies here, but think that this year I'll be giving the Creme Egg bars a try.

NO BAKES
Rocky Road-type fridge cakes are the ultimate lazy girl baking, and with the addition of chocolate eggs you've got the perfect Easter treat.   These Creme Egg ones take 15 minutes to prepare (plus setting time) and use only 4 ingredients, whilst the Mini Egg versions are ready and prepared in just 5 minutes.  No excuses not to whip up a batch!

QUICK AND EASY
The mug cake is a genius invention, ideal to make if you need something to satisfy your sweet tooth fast.  Check out the white chocolate and sprinkles recipe (you'll have to scroll down a bit to find it) or go for my preference, the deliciously decadent-looking Creme Egg mug cake.  Fighting the urge to make one right. now.

CAKES 
Edging towards the traditional, these cakes all have a seasonal twist guaranteed to give them the wow factor.  Check out the ombre pinata cake if you don't believe me!  The nest cake looks seriously impressive (although I'm wondering if there's an easier way to get a similar effect?) and the Creme Egg cheesecake looks pretty straightforward for such a mouth-watering result.

FRUITY
So who am I kidding?  There is zero chance of either of these making their way to my table, especially with an abundance of chocolate and Easter eggs about.  But there's also no denying that now things are getting brighter and warmer with the arrival of spring, now's the perfect time to start using fruit in your baking.  The strawberry cheesecake requires no baking and could have snuck its way into the No Bake category....the Eton Mess cake on the other hand is going to require some serious practice and dedication.  Worth it though.

Will you be giving any Easter baking a go?
SPRING EDITION


1 // 2 // 3
4 // 5 // 6
7 // 8 // 9
10 // 11 // 12 
My last collection of phone wallpapers seemed to be a hit, so with a new season underway I've searched the internet to bring you another supply to choose from.  The days in the UK are getting lighter and brighter so I've tried to reflect that with these offerings.

Which one is your favourite?

12 More Awesome Downloadable Wallpapers

17.3.16

SPRING EDITION


1 // 2 // 3
4 // 5 // 6
7 // 8 // 9
10 // 11 // 12 
My last collection of phone wallpapers seemed to be a hit, so with a new season underway I've searched the internet to bring you another supply to choose from.  The days in the UK are getting lighter and brighter so I've tried to reflect that with these offerings.

Which one is your favourite?
INSPIRATION FOR THE MONTH
Image credits: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4
So like last month I'm still favouring a pink-based colour palette- I'm under the Balmain X Yeezy influence right now!  I doubt I'll be stepping out in a nude bodysuit any time soon, but I can definitely get my fix playing around with beiges, creams and pinks with textures such as ribbed knits and furs thrown in.  
Check out these links to find out where everything's from:

// Cami
// Jumper
// Belt
// Jacket
Put together like this, I'm worried this looks like a sugared almond, pastel kind of affair -  in my head it isn't.  I'm thinking key structured pieces using the pink shades alongside darker, grungier items.  The ribbed dress would be in my wardrobe already if I had the body for it!  In the meantime I'm toughening things up with my trusty leather jacket and skinny black jeans.

And speaking of things making their way into my wardrobe.....the faux fur coat was a fabulous purchase last month which I'm completely in love with!

Towards the end of February we also bleached out the remaining grey tones in my hair, toned it to a cleaner blonde and cut off the ends into a sharper, blunter shape.  It's now shorter than I've had for quite a while and I didn't realise how much I prefer my hair at this shoulder-grazing length.  It's a sharper look which is quicker to dry and easier to style.  Whereas before I'd be accidentally turning it into a more contrived curled style thanks to the longer lengths, I've now got my ideal blunt, waved bob.  I'm so happy and can't stop pinning similar styles!

Mood Board: March

15.3.16

INSPIRATION FOR THE MONTH
Image credits: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4
So like last month I'm still favouring a pink-based colour palette- I'm under the Balmain X Yeezy influence right now!  I doubt I'll be stepping out in a nude bodysuit any time soon, but I can definitely get my fix playing around with beiges, creams and pinks with textures such as ribbed knits and furs thrown in.  
Check out these links to find out where everything's from:

// Cami
// Jumper
// Belt
// Jacket
Put together like this, I'm worried this looks like a sugared almond, pastel kind of affair -  in my head it isn't.  I'm thinking key structured pieces using the pink shades alongside darker, grungier items.  The ribbed dress would be in my wardrobe already if I had the body for it!  In the meantime I'm toughening things up with my trusty leather jacket and skinny black jeans.

And speaking of things making their way into my wardrobe.....the faux fur coat was a fabulous purchase last month which I'm completely in love with!

Towards the end of February we also bleached out the remaining grey tones in my hair, toned it to a cleaner blonde and cut off the ends into a sharper, blunter shape.  It's now shorter than I've had for quite a while and I didn't realise how much I prefer my hair at this shoulder-grazing length.  It's a sharper look which is quicker to dry and easier to style.  Whereas before I'd be accidentally turning it into a more contrived curled style thanks to the longer lengths, I've now got my ideal blunt, waved bob.  I'm so happy and can't stop pinning similar styles!

Image found via pinterest
 
#1 - 7 YEARS
Nick and I celebrated being together for 7 years on Valentine's Day.  Our anniversary falling on 'the most romantic day of the year', sadly, always pushes us to avoid making a big deal out of it.  We don't buy each other extravagant presents, and you'll never see us joining other couples for a Valentine's meal.  Instead, we tend to go for a trip somewhere and spend quality time doing an activity we'll both enjoy.  Last year we went to a safari park and this time we had plans to visit Bath.  Until it rained, that is.  Heavily.  We got to the car and swiftly changed our minds, opting for a day of shopping.  And do you know what?  It was perfect.  We very rarely shop together (if at all!) so a day in each others company pottering around the shops was a welcome change and truly enjoyable.

#2 - A NEW CHAIR
You know you're getting old when purchasing a new chair is a highlight of your month.  Either way, I'm *so* glad to finally have the perfect reading area sorted.  We've said for a while that we need a nice armchair in the library/office room, but haven't been able to find one for a reasonable price.  You can just see it in the background of this post; it's a patterned grey snuggle seat that Mum and I found whilst wandering around our local Next outlet store.  I haven't seen such a good quality chair at such a good price (£132!) in all of my online searchings, and having to rearrange the room to fit in our new piece of furniture has led to a bit of a change around with my desk area.  And you know what they say about a clear desk....I'm feeling much more productive.

#3 - USING MY DSLR AGAIN
After months of relying on my Sony hybrid camera, I decided to dust off my DSLR and play around with lenses again.  I'm not sure if it's down to the aforementioned re-organisation of the office meaning more light hits my desk, but my photos seem to be coming out much brighter and airier.  The blogger's dream!  It feels good to be getting use out of it again - it feels more like 'proper' photography using the bigger camera - and makes me wonder why I stayed away for so long.

#4 - HALF TERM
As ever, half term is the perfect time to regroup, relax and refresh.  I spent lots of time catching up on reading (in full swing of a re-read month!), had a few shopping days as well as generally just pottering around.  Highlights included a last minute trip to Ikea leading to a day in Southampton, my big sister's birthday meal and catching up with an old friend whilst taking a shopping tour of Guildford.  Why can't we have a week of every month?

#5 - BULLET JOURNALLING
Yep, I've jumped on the bandwagon with gusto.  At first I wrote bullet journalling off as quite a serious, business-focused task manager - until I found Kara's videos (this one in particular) and realised that, actually, bullet journalling can be a very fluid and personal system!  I've gone for the classic dotted page Leuchtturm in grey but am using it as more of a scrapbook/planner to house all sorts of collections, including purchase logs, book reviews, weekend to do lists, monthly trackers and blog ideas.  I'm reluctant to feature my journal in any real depth on my blog, as there's a wealth of informative posts out there, but if you'd like to see how I've customised mine to be more of a reflective planner then let me know below.

5 Happy Things In February

10.3.16


Image found via pinterest
 
#1 - 7 YEARS
Nick and I celebrated being together for 7 years on Valentine's Day.  Our anniversary falling on 'the most romantic day of the year', sadly, always pushes us to avoid making a big deal out of it.  We don't buy each other extravagant presents, and you'll never see us joining other couples for a Valentine's meal.  Instead, we tend to go for a trip somewhere and spend quality time doing an activity we'll both enjoy.  Last year we went to a safari park and this time we had plans to visit Bath.  Until it rained, that is.  Heavily.  We got to the car and swiftly changed our minds, opting for a day of shopping.  And do you know what?  It was perfect.  We very rarely shop together (if at all!) so a day in each others company pottering around the shops was a welcome change and truly enjoyable.

#2 - A NEW CHAIR
You know you're getting old when purchasing a new chair is a highlight of your month.  Either way, I'm *so* glad to finally have the perfect reading area sorted.  We've said for a while that we need a nice armchair in the library/office room, but haven't been able to find one for a reasonable price.  You can just see it in the background of this post; it's a patterned grey snuggle seat that Mum and I found whilst wandering around our local Next outlet store.  I haven't seen such a good quality chair at such a good price (£132!) in all of my online searchings, and having to rearrange the room to fit in our new piece of furniture has led to a bit of a change around with my desk area.  And you know what they say about a clear desk....I'm feeling much more productive.

#3 - USING MY DSLR AGAIN
After months of relying on my Sony hybrid camera, I decided to dust off my DSLR and play around with lenses again.  I'm not sure if it's down to the aforementioned re-organisation of the office meaning more light hits my desk, but my photos seem to be coming out much brighter and airier.  The blogger's dream!  It feels good to be getting use out of it again - it feels more like 'proper' photography using the bigger camera - and makes me wonder why I stayed away for so long.

#4 - HALF TERM
As ever, half term is the perfect time to regroup, relax and refresh.  I spent lots of time catching up on reading (in full swing of a re-read month!), had a few shopping days as well as generally just pottering around.  Highlights included a last minute trip to Ikea leading to a day in Southampton, my big sister's birthday meal and catching up with an old friend whilst taking a shopping tour of Guildford.  Why can't we have a week of every month?

#5 - BULLET JOURNALLING
Yep, I've jumped on the bandwagon with gusto.  At first I wrote bullet journalling off as quite a serious, business-focused task manager - until I found Kara's videos (this one in particular) and realised that, actually, bullet journalling can be a very fluid and personal system!  I've gone for the classic dotted page Leuchtturm in grey but am using it as more of a scrapbook/planner to house all sorts of collections, including purchase logs, book reviews, weekend to do lists, monthly trackers and blog ideas.  I'm reluctant to feature my journal in any real depth on my blog, as there's a wealth of informative posts out there, but if you'd like to see how I've customised mine to be more of a reflective planner then let me know below.
WHAT I LOVED LAST MONTH
Traditional favourites don't tend to be my thing, but I would like to start taking stock more and realising which of my belongings 'spark joy', as Marie Kondo would say (FYI, I'm by no means a minimalist when it comes to my stuff - just head over to this post if you want to see my thoughts on the capsule wardrobe!)  Throughout February I've aimed to be a bit more aware of what I'm enjoying using or wearing, and it just so happens that 'wearing' is the relevant verb here.  Without trying to, I've just solely fashion favourites this month.  I doubt it'll happen often but if you'd like to know what made the list, read on....



SKAGEN ROSE GOLD MOONPHASE WATCH

Named after a seaside village in Denmark, Skagen are a seriously underhyped Danish-inspired brand.  They design all sorts, from bags to jewellery, sunglasses to stationery, but it's their watches which really catch my eye.  I mentioned mixed metal Skagen watch in this post and for Christmas Mum bought me a new addition to my collection in the form of this beautiful rose gold number.  I really love all things astronomy (and astrology, for that matter!) so the moving star mechanism on the face is just perfect for me - it's fun and quirky yet still remains stylish.  Stars can be tricky to get right, but Skagen have hit the nail on the head.  I haven't quite managed to work out the routine behind the movement of the stars themselves, but it's really nice to have a little extra detail adorning the simple design.   Click here to see it on!





ZARA BLAZER

Another Christmas present came in the form of this jacket from Nick.  I'd call it a jacket, Zara call it a blazer....perhaps why I've never managed to track it down online.  Go figure.  Either way it ticks all the boxes for me, with its tailored cut and Balmain (or is it Balenciaga?) vibe with those military-style gold buttons.  It was one of those wonderful Zara moments when you find something you love, check the price tag with trepidation and then double check when you see how reasonably priced it is.  Seriously.  £49.99, people.  I couldn't be happier.  In fact, I've invested in a total of 3 new coats this season and love the way each one can easily rotate into my wardrobe and bring a different element to an outfit.  This one's perfect for smartening things up a touch!




TOPSHOP TRAINERS

I'd had my eye on Gazelles for the longest time and was beginning to worry that my current penchant for trainers was going to bankrupt me.  Until I saw these Adidas-inspired offerings in Topshop.  Which is when I realised that I don't have to have the real deals for each and every one of my trainers, especially when my dalliance with them could be a fleeting one.  For the moment these surprisingly comfy, real leather versions (for £26 I'll add!) are filling the Gazelle-shaped gap in my life.  My only complaint?  The holes for the laces are ever so slightly different on each shoe with the overall effect being a noticeable difference in the appearance of the lacing, despite them being done in the same way.  It's a tiny flaw which I'm sure goes unnoticed once they're on my feet....but annoying nonetheless!





TOPSHOP JUMPER 

Aaaaand we're staying in Topshop for my final favourite of the month.  Have I told you that I can't get enough of all things pink?  I think I may have mentioned it, and whilst this jumper is very much not my usual style, somehow it's seamlessly worked its way into my wardrobe.  Bought on a slight whim, it's perfect for days when minimal thought is put into dressing.  The pink is the perfect baby-yet-not-sugary-sweet pink and the brushed texture (kind of like a school jumper turned inside out) just adds a little something extra.  Nothing in my wardrobe says cosy like this does.  I'm so enamoured, I've even got plans to add more pink sweatshirts to my wardrobe once payday hits.

4 Favourites: February

3.3.16

WHAT I LOVED LAST MONTH
Traditional favourites don't tend to be my thing, but I would like to start taking stock more and realising which of my belongings 'spark joy', as Marie Kondo would say (FYI, I'm by no means a minimalist when it comes to my stuff - just head over to this post if you want to see my thoughts on the capsule wardrobe!)  Throughout February I've aimed to be a bit more aware of what I'm enjoying using or wearing, and it just so happens that 'wearing' is the relevant verb here.  Without trying to, I've just solely fashion favourites this month.  I doubt it'll happen often but if you'd like to know what made the list, read on....



SKAGEN ROSE GOLD MOONPHASE WATCH

Named after a seaside village in Denmark, Skagen are a seriously underhyped Danish-inspired brand.  They design all sorts, from bags to jewellery, sunglasses to stationery, but it's their watches which really catch my eye.  I mentioned mixed metal Skagen watch in this post and for Christmas Mum bought me a new addition to my collection in the form of this beautiful rose gold number.  I really love all things astronomy (and astrology, for that matter!) so the moving star mechanism on the face is just perfect for me - it's fun and quirky yet still remains stylish.  Stars can be tricky to get right, but Skagen have hit the nail on the head.  I haven't quite managed to work out the routine behind the movement of the stars themselves, but it's really nice to have a little extra detail adorning the simple design.   Click here to see it on!





ZARA BLAZER

Another Christmas present came in the form of this jacket from Nick.  I'd call it a jacket, Zara call it a blazer....perhaps why I've never managed to track it down online.  Go figure.  Either way it ticks all the boxes for me, with its tailored cut and Balmain (or is it Balenciaga?) vibe with those military-style gold buttons.  It was one of those wonderful Zara moments when you find something you love, check the price tag with trepidation and then double check when you see how reasonably priced it is.  Seriously.  £49.99, people.  I couldn't be happier.  In fact, I've invested in a total of 3 new coats this season and love the way each one can easily rotate into my wardrobe and bring a different element to an outfit.  This one's perfect for smartening things up a touch!




TOPSHOP TRAINERS

I'd had my eye on Gazelles for the longest time and was beginning to worry that my current penchant for trainers was going to bankrupt me.  Until I saw these Adidas-inspired offerings in Topshop.  Which is when I realised that I don't have to have the real deals for each and every one of my trainers, especially when my dalliance with them could be a fleeting one.  For the moment these surprisingly comfy, real leather versions (for £26 I'll add!) are filling the Gazelle-shaped gap in my life.  My only complaint?  The holes for the laces are ever so slightly different on each shoe with the overall effect being a noticeable difference in the appearance of the lacing, despite them being done in the same way.  It's a tiny flaw which I'm sure goes unnoticed once they're on my feet....but annoying nonetheless!





TOPSHOP JUMPER 

Aaaaand we're staying in Topshop for my final favourite of the month.  Have I told you that I can't get enough of all things pink?  I think I may have mentioned it, and whilst this jumper is very much not my usual style, somehow it's seamlessly worked its way into my wardrobe.  Bought on a slight whim, it's perfect for days when minimal thought is put into dressing.  The pink is the perfect baby-yet-not-sugary-sweet pink and the brushed texture (kind of like a school jumper turned inside out) just adds a little something extra.  Nothing in my wardrobe says cosy like this does.  I'm so enamoured, I've even got plans to add more pink sweatshirts to my wardrobe once payday hits.

#6 - OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS // Claire Fuller

 This was my real life book club book and the only one of the month which wasn't a re-read.  I'd heard great things and the premise - a little girl, Peggy, gets taken to a cabin in the woods by her father and told the world has ended - sounded promising.  It flashes between her time in the woods and 'present day' (1985) when she's back home with her mother.  In my head I thought the book would begin with the two of them in the cabin, so I was surprised and a little disappointed with the amount of build up to this there was included.  A large portion of the middle of the story is their actual journey to the woods and, although beautifully written, I think this is what let it down.  There were at least 50 pages which could have been left out as the story seemed to dwindle and lose momentum.  That said, once I'd got past this I managed to finish the book in an evening and by the end of it really enjoyed it.  There are some lovely fairy tale references within and definite talking points.  Some of the main revelations at the end feel open to interpretation, which led to mystery and much discussion between our book club.
Rating: 4/5

 

#7  - PRINCE CASPIAN // C.S. Lewis

 So my first re-read of the month was the fourth in The Chronicles of Narnia.  Having decided to skip The Horse and His Boy (from experience I remember not enjoying it), I was looking forward to heading back into Narnia with the Pevensie children.  Prince Caspian felt like a really short book with not much to it.  The children are called back to help him reclaim the throne of Narnia from his usurping uncle and much of this book centres on Caspian's story whilst they've been away and their journey through unfamiliar Narnia to meet and help him.  If I'm honest, this feels like an introduction to the next installment and although it sets the scene it could have been much shorter.
Rating: 2/5

 

#8 -  THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER // C.S. Lewis

 On the other hand, this book is a whirlwind of adventure!  So much happens within that I can see why it couldn't be paired up with Prince Caspian.  The two younger Pevensies (Edmund and Lucy) find themselves back in Narnia alongside their badly behaved cousin, Eustace.  Much like Edmund in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Eustace is a brat who eventually changes his ways and becomes a much nicer person.  And despite the main plot of this book being their journey, alongside Prince Caspian, to the end of the world, I feel like Eustace's change of heart is the real learning curve and message in the book.  With dragons, invisible people, storms, sea-serpents and more, I really enjoyed this installment.  If you like short stories, this works almost as a collection of them.
Rating: 4/5

 

#9 - THE SILVER CHAIR // C.S. Lewis

 Unlike the others, I couldn't really remember much about this one.  Eustace is back, alongside schoolmate Jill, and on a quest to find (now) King Caspian's long lost son, Prince Rilian.  It's another huge adventure, with giants, gnomes, a witch and the underworld, which again I really enjoyed.  Rilian's captivity is a great storyline, although I found the ensuing escape quite hard to visualise and ended up skim-reading some parts.  I didn't feel like I was in Narnia as much as I have with the other books, perhaps because none of the original human characters feature, and I do think it was marginally less enjoyable for it.  But a wonderful adventure story nonetheless.
Rating: 5/5

 

#10 - THE LAST BATTLE // C.S. Lewis

The final book in the series, I couldn't remember anything to do with this.  It's much darker than the others, and I had a real feeling of despair as I read about the end of Narnia.  There's people trying to take over, a vulture-headed god, fights aplenty and a good old fashioned dose of borderline racism.  It's just quite a doom-filled book, but I found that it rushed through quite quickly in order to begin the end and have a big revelation about 50 pages from the end.  It's difficult to say without ruining it for you!  Now that I've finished the series, I feel it relevant to mention the Christian themes running throughout.  When I'd previously read the collection, the references seemed so subtle that I barely noticed.  This time around I'm surprised I ever missed them.  There are so clearly themes of 'being good' - the dangers of pride, gluttony, greed, - having faith, and with Aslan himself acting as a Christ-like figure, I can see how it may be too full-on for some people although I was happy enough to take it all with a pinch of salt.  I don't want to say too much here (there's a lot which could be discussed!), but I do now want to read The Narnia Code to find out more.
Rating: 3/5


 #11 - WEDLOCK // Wendy Moore

Again, I hadn't read this book for years and always remembered it for being an unexpected gem.  It's a biography of sorts, telling the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes - one of the wealthiest heiresses in the country at that time, and (ultimately) great-great-great grandmother to The Queen Mother - who was duped into marriage and ended up a penniless, battered wife.  Her life is incredible.  Her husband repulsive, deceitful, greedy and abhorrent.  Reading as a work of fiction, the events that take place are all the more hard-hitting for being factually true and accurately documented at the time.  Involving duels, abortion, domestic violence, adultery and kidnap (at the very least), I urge anybody to read this.  Re-reading it has cemented Wedlock as one of  my favourite books of all time.  I didn't realise that Wendy Moore has also written biographies of other Georgian characters, so will be tracking her other books down soon.
Rating: 5/5

Read in 2016: February

1.3.16


#6 - OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS // Claire Fuller

 This was my real life book club book and the only one of the month which wasn't a re-read.  I'd heard great things and the premise - a little girl, Peggy, gets taken to a cabin in the woods by her father and told the world has ended - sounded promising.  It flashes between her time in the woods and 'present day' (1985) when she's back home with her mother.  In my head I thought the book would begin with the two of them in the cabin, so I was surprised and a little disappointed with the amount of build up to this there was included.  A large portion of the middle of the story is their actual journey to the woods and, although beautifully written, I think this is what let it down.  There were at least 50 pages which could have been left out as the story seemed to dwindle and lose momentum.  That said, once I'd got past this I managed to finish the book in an evening and by the end of it really enjoyed it.  There are some lovely fairy tale references within and definite talking points.  Some of the main revelations at the end feel open to interpretation, which led to mystery and much discussion between our book club.
Rating: 4/5

 

#7  - PRINCE CASPIAN // C.S. Lewis

 So my first re-read of the month was the fourth in The Chronicles of Narnia.  Having decided to skip The Horse and His Boy (from experience I remember not enjoying it), I was looking forward to heading back into Narnia with the Pevensie children.  Prince Caspian felt like a really short book with not much to it.  The children are called back to help him reclaim the throne of Narnia from his usurping uncle and much of this book centres on Caspian's story whilst they've been away and their journey through unfamiliar Narnia to meet and help him.  If I'm honest, this feels like an introduction to the next installment and although it sets the scene it could have been much shorter.
Rating: 2/5

 

#8 -  THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER // C.S. Lewis

 On the other hand, this book is a whirlwind of adventure!  So much happens within that I can see why it couldn't be paired up with Prince Caspian.  The two younger Pevensies (Edmund and Lucy) find themselves back in Narnia alongside their badly behaved cousin, Eustace.  Much like Edmund in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Eustace is a brat who eventually changes his ways and becomes a much nicer person.  And despite the main plot of this book being their journey, alongside Prince Caspian, to the end of the world, I feel like Eustace's change of heart is the real learning curve and message in the book.  With dragons, invisible people, storms, sea-serpents and more, I really enjoyed this installment.  If you like short stories, this works almost as a collection of them.
Rating: 4/5

 

#9 - THE SILVER CHAIR // C.S. Lewis

 Unlike the others, I couldn't really remember much about this one.  Eustace is back, alongside schoolmate Jill, and on a quest to find (now) King Caspian's long lost son, Prince Rilian.  It's another huge adventure, with giants, gnomes, a witch and the underworld, which again I really enjoyed.  Rilian's captivity is a great storyline, although I found the ensuing escape quite hard to visualise and ended up skim-reading some parts.  I didn't feel like I was in Narnia as much as I have with the other books, perhaps because none of the original human characters feature, and I do think it was marginally less enjoyable for it.  But a wonderful adventure story nonetheless.
Rating: 5/5

 

#10 - THE LAST BATTLE // C.S. Lewis

The final book in the series, I couldn't remember anything to do with this.  It's much darker than the others, and I had a real feeling of despair as I read about the end of Narnia.  There's people trying to take over, a vulture-headed god, fights aplenty and a good old fashioned dose of borderline racism.  It's just quite a doom-filled book, but I found that it rushed through quite quickly in order to begin the end and have a big revelation about 50 pages from the end.  It's difficult to say without ruining it for you!  Now that I've finished the series, I feel it relevant to mention the Christian themes running throughout.  When I'd previously read the collection, the references seemed so subtle that I barely noticed.  This time around I'm surprised I ever missed them.  There are so clearly themes of 'being good' - the dangers of pride, gluttony, greed, - having faith, and with Aslan himself acting as a Christ-like figure, I can see how it may be too full-on for some people although I was happy enough to take it all with a pinch of salt.  I don't want to say too much here (there's a lot which could be discussed!), but I do now want to read The Narnia Code to find out more.
Rating: 3/5


 #11 - WEDLOCK // Wendy Moore

Again, I hadn't read this book for years and always remembered it for being an unexpected gem.  It's a biography of sorts, telling the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes - one of the wealthiest heiresses in the country at that time, and (ultimately) great-great-great grandmother to The Queen Mother - who was duped into marriage and ended up a penniless, battered wife.  Her life is incredible.  Her husband repulsive, deceitful, greedy and abhorrent.  Reading as a work of fiction, the events that take place are all the more hard-hitting for being factually true and accurately documented at the time.  Involving duels, abortion, domestic violence, adultery and kidnap (at the very least), I urge anybody to read this.  Re-reading it has cemented Wedlock as one of  my favourite books of all time.  I didn't realise that Wendy Moore has also written biographies of other Georgian characters, so will be tracking her other books down soon.
Rating: 5/5

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