...THERE'S A LOT OF IT!

I tend to go through stages when it comes to buy clothes and make up, flitting between obsessively buying one or the other from month to month.  Looking at the collection I've managed to accrue (I've pretty much got a whole new face of make up here!) over the last few weeks, it's safe to say I'm definitely in my "Buy All Of The Make Up" setting.

YSL TOUCHE ECLAT LE TEINT FOUNDATION
It all started with that YSL foundation.  After hosting a beauty masterclass with House Of Fraser together, Leanne and I spent a fair bit of time (and money!) up in their beauty hall.  The MUA had demonstrated this foundation on Leanne and it looked flawless, so with my L'Oreal foundation on its last legs I took the plunge and bought my first 'proper' high end foundation.  I'm in love with it.  It's delicately scented with watermelon which is really refreshing in the morning, applies so easily (a little goes a long way) and comes in a nice, weighty glass bottle.

BARE MINERALS PERFECTING FACE BRUSH
YSL have a released a tailor-made brush alongside the reformulated Touche Eclat foundation, which comes complete with a dip in the bristles to hold and disperse the foundation seamlessly.  I was seriously tempted to purchase, but the sting in the tail?  The price.  Their brush comes in at £32.50, whereas Bare Mineral's pretty much identical (and first to be released!) version is only £24.  And as soon as I saw this limited edition gold version, I had no choice but to buy.  After regular use, I don't find the reservoir cut into the bristles to be necessary - I always use more foundation that way, whereas one pump on the back of my hand and then dotted onto my face is more than enough - but am enjoying how smoothly it buffs the product into my skin.

YSL FULL METAL SHADOW IN 'ONDE SABLE'
The final purchase made after our masterclass was of a metallic liquid shadow in the shade 'Onde Sable'.  This is a beautiful peachy golden shade which can be packed on or patted in to more of a wet-look sheen.  It's not my usual style of eye shadow, but I've found that blended gently with my finger once my mascara has dried gives me my perfect, subtle daytime look.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY LIP CHEAT IN 'ICONIC NUDE'
Charlotte Tilbury's lip cheats are well known on the internet, but this shade tends to be overshadowed by 'Pillow Talk'.  Whereas Pillow Talk leans more pink, this is a brown-toned nude which fits nicely into my collection.  My only issue is sharpening them....I always find that they get stuck in my sharpener and end up looking a little messy.

MAC 'SPIRIT'
Another product which doesn't get enough hype is this lipstick.  It sits, understated, on MAC counters and finding it again jogged my memory that I'd meant to buy it months earlier.  Even better is that it's the perfect tone for pairing with Iconic Nude....new dream team, right there!

SLEEK SOLSTICE HIGHLIGHTING PALETTE 
This is a palette I'd seen do the rounds on YouTube (both Sam and Nic used it in recent tutorials) so, intrigued, I duly went out and bought it.  It's every bit as good as it looks.  Three powder products alongside one cream shade....it's a bargain at only £10.  The purple tone really packs an iridescent punch and the pinky peach shade warms up the complexion beautifully.  The cream product is a gorgeous champagne colour which really adds a sheen (rather than shimmer) when patted in to the inner corner of the eyes or along the brow bone.  The only 'dud' shade is the yellow....not because it's not every bit as pigmented and finely milled as the others, but because I just don't tend to reach for it.

ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS DIPBROW POMADE IN 'MEDIUM BROWN'
My love for ABH dipbrow pomades is well documented, and with shades Soft Brown and Taupe in my collection (alongside with my subtly-changing hair colour!) I fancied a change.  I was finding the light, grey tones of Taupe a little hard to work with and found myself layering Soft Brown on top.  A bit of a faff in the mornings!  Medium Brown is a cooler-toned, slightly darker offering than Soft Brown and although it can look a little harsh on immediate application, it's easy to brush through and soften.

STILA ALL OVER SHIMMER POWDER IN 'KITTEN'
For my first step into the Stila brand, I knew I couldn't go wrong by opting for something in the cult 'Kitten' shade.  This little duo is a multipurpose product which can be used as eye shadow, cheek colour or highlighter (my personal preference).  The lighter shade is your classic champagne highlighter, but the darker one is something special.  There's shimmer there, but warm-toned, and I think it'll look great with a tan.

STILA EYE SHADOW IN 'EDEN'
I always gravitate towards taupe eye shadows, but with the purple undertones around my eyes I often end up looking dull and tired.  I think I've found the perfect balance with Eden - it's a definite taupe, but with a warmer, duskier pink hue.  It's matte, highly pigmented (without being chalky) and is the perfect nude with an added edge. 


Now tell me....is there anything missing from my new collection?!

New In Beauty

21.4.16

...THERE'S A LOT OF IT!

I tend to go through stages when it comes to buy clothes and make up, flitting between obsessively buying one or the other from month to month.  Looking at the collection I've managed to accrue (I've pretty much got a whole new face of make up here!) over the last few weeks, it's safe to say I'm definitely in my "Buy All Of The Make Up" setting.

YSL TOUCHE ECLAT LE TEINT FOUNDATION
It all started with that YSL foundation.  After hosting a beauty masterclass with House Of Fraser together, Leanne and I spent a fair bit of time (and money!) up in their beauty hall.  The MUA had demonstrated this foundation on Leanne and it looked flawless, so with my L'Oreal foundation on its last legs I took the plunge and bought my first 'proper' high end foundation.  I'm in love with it.  It's delicately scented with watermelon which is really refreshing in the morning, applies so easily (a little goes a long way) and comes in a nice, weighty glass bottle.

BARE MINERALS PERFECTING FACE BRUSH
YSL have a released a tailor-made brush alongside the reformulated Touche Eclat foundation, which comes complete with a dip in the bristles to hold and disperse the foundation seamlessly.  I was seriously tempted to purchase, but the sting in the tail?  The price.  Their brush comes in at £32.50, whereas Bare Mineral's pretty much identical (and first to be released!) version is only £24.  And as soon as I saw this limited edition gold version, I had no choice but to buy.  After regular use, I don't find the reservoir cut into the bristles to be necessary - I always use more foundation that way, whereas one pump on the back of my hand and then dotted onto my face is more than enough - but am enjoying how smoothly it buffs the product into my skin.

YSL FULL METAL SHADOW IN 'ONDE SABLE'
The final purchase made after our masterclass was of a metallic liquid shadow in the shade 'Onde Sable'.  This is a beautiful peachy golden shade which can be packed on or patted in to more of a wet-look sheen.  It's not my usual style of eye shadow, but I've found that blended gently with my finger once my mascara has dried gives me my perfect, subtle daytime look.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY LIP CHEAT IN 'ICONIC NUDE'
Charlotte Tilbury's lip cheats are well known on the internet, but this shade tends to be overshadowed by 'Pillow Talk'.  Whereas Pillow Talk leans more pink, this is a brown-toned nude which fits nicely into my collection.  My only issue is sharpening them....I always find that they get stuck in my sharpener and end up looking a little messy.

MAC 'SPIRIT'
Another product which doesn't get enough hype is this lipstick.  It sits, understated, on MAC counters and finding it again jogged my memory that I'd meant to buy it months earlier.  Even better is that it's the perfect tone for pairing with Iconic Nude....new dream team, right there!

SLEEK SOLSTICE HIGHLIGHTING PALETTE 
This is a palette I'd seen do the rounds on YouTube (both Sam and Nic used it in recent tutorials) so, intrigued, I duly went out and bought it.  It's every bit as good as it looks.  Three powder products alongside one cream shade....it's a bargain at only £10.  The purple tone really packs an iridescent punch and the pinky peach shade warms up the complexion beautifully.  The cream product is a gorgeous champagne colour which really adds a sheen (rather than shimmer) when patted in to the inner corner of the eyes or along the brow bone.  The only 'dud' shade is the yellow....not because it's not every bit as pigmented and finely milled as the others, but because I just don't tend to reach for it.

ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS DIPBROW POMADE IN 'MEDIUM BROWN'
My love for ABH dipbrow pomades is well documented, and with shades Soft Brown and Taupe in my collection (alongside with my subtly-changing hair colour!) I fancied a change.  I was finding the light, grey tones of Taupe a little hard to work with and found myself layering Soft Brown on top.  A bit of a faff in the mornings!  Medium Brown is a cooler-toned, slightly darker offering than Soft Brown and although it can look a little harsh on immediate application, it's easy to brush through and soften.

STILA ALL OVER SHIMMER POWDER IN 'KITTEN'
For my first step into the Stila brand, I knew I couldn't go wrong by opting for something in the cult 'Kitten' shade.  This little duo is a multipurpose product which can be used as eye shadow, cheek colour or highlighter (my personal preference).  The lighter shade is your classic champagne highlighter, but the darker one is something special.  There's shimmer there, but warm-toned, and I think it'll look great with a tan.

STILA EYE SHADOW IN 'EDEN'
I always gravitate towards taupe eye shadows, but with the purple undertones around my eyes I often end up looking dull and tired.  I think I've found the perfect balance with Eden - it's a definite taupe, but with a warmer, duskier pink hue.  It's matte, highly pigmented (without being chalky) and is the perfect nude with an added edge. 


Now tell me....is there anything missing from my new collection?!

 

 "IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN" | George Eliot 



PERSONAL:
// I know I'm incredibly lucky having so much time off throughout the year, but heading back to work after the Easter break is always tricky.  Rather than feeling rested I'm more tired than ever, my reading habits have slipped and I'm facing a 7-8 week term with SATs looming.  I'm living for the May Day Bank Holiday right now!

I've got my eye on:
// this eye brightener - have any of you tried it?
// these shoes
// Zoeva brushes - are they as good as everyone says?

// Splurging on beauty products seems to be my thing lately and I've given my make up routine a bit of a shake up.  It's taken me out of my comfort zone and I'm really enjoying playing around with eye shadow combinations again but keeping each look wearable.  More to come on my recent purchases later this week!

// I'll admit that cooking has never been my forte, but Nick and I have been experimenting more in the kitchen.  Our goals are very different, but ultimately the desire to eat cleaner is the same.  I've gotten into a bit of a funk with evening meals (I can't stand the thought of anymore eggs!) so am on the look out for some low carb options or tweaks to existing recipes - any recommendations?


ONLINE:
// After losing the plate to mount my camera to the tripod, I embarked on an unexpected hiatus from YouTube.  Good news is, I've found it again!  Expect a new video within a couple of weeks....is there anything you'd like to see from me?  Leave suggestions down below!

Some people to check out:

// Georgia
// Abby
// Paula
// Elle

// Do I need Snapchat?  The impression I get is that it's a lot like the 'purer' instagram of old days - a way to document comings and goings without stylised, slick photography.  Is this the case?

// I mentioned that reading has fallen by the wayside slightly after returning to work, and part of my evening routine is now watching Netflix in bed.  So far I'm watching an episode of Love every night or so, but would love (<< see what I did there?) suggestions for any other good series.  I tried Bates Motel the other night, but it gave me very a restless sleep and disturbed dreams!

Life Admin #1

19.4.16

 

 "IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN" | George Eliot 



PERSONAL:
// I know I'm incredibly lucky having so much time off throughout the year, but heading back to work after the Easter break is always tricky.  Rather than feeling rested I'm more tired than ever, my reading habits have slipped and I'm facing a 7-8 week term with SATs looming.  I'm living for the May Day Bank Holiday right now!

I've got my eye on:
// this eye brightener - have any of you tried it?
// these shoes
// Zoeva brushes - are they as good as everyone says?

// Splurging on beauty products seems to be my thing lately and I've given my make up routine a bit of a shake up.  It's taken me out of my comfort zone and I'm really enjoying playing around with eye shadow combinations again but keeping each look wearable.  More to come on my recent purchases later this week!

// I'll admit that cooking has never been my forte, but Nick and I have been experimenting more in the kitchen.  Our goals are very different, but ultimately the desire to eat cleaner is the same.  I've gotten into a bit of a funk with evening meals (I can't stand the thought of anymore eggs!) so am on the look out for some low carb options or tweaks to existing recipes - any recommendations?


ONLINE:
// After losing the plate to mount my camera to the tripod, I embarked on an unexpected hiatus from YouTube.  Good news is, I've found it again!  Expect a new video within a couple of weeks....is there anything you'd like to see from me?  Leave suggestions down below!

Some people to check out:

// Georgia
// Abby
// Paula
// Elle

// Do I need Snapchat?  The impression I get is that it's a lot like the 'purer' instagram of old days - a way to document comings and goings without stylised, slick photography.  Is this the case?

// I mentioned that reading has fallen by the wayside slightly after returning to work, and part of my evening routine is now watching Netflix in bed.  So far I'm watching an episode of Love every night or so, but would love (<< see what I did there?) suggestions for any other good series.  I tried Bates Motel the other night, but it gave me very a restless sleep and disturbed dreams!
BECAUSE PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

Filters, hashtags, themes....it's big business.  And the photography itself can amount to a lot of work if you let it.  Recently there's been an influx of "How I Edit My Photos For Instagram" videos and blog posts in my feed and it's easy to get sucked in and start thinking you need X, Y and Z apps to get the most out of your camera.  After experimenting with lots of different editing apps I think I've got a combination sorted.  Keep reading for the best of the best.



Instagram | Because how are you going to improve your Instagram feed without the app itself?  For me, it's the last step in my editing process which I use as a last minute attempt to lighten/brighten/sharpen/whatever.  As a trend, Instagram is no longer enough....but I disagree!  The filters available are getting better and better and the option to tweak the photo settings is the best thing Instagram ever implemented.  It doesn't stop me experimenting with additional editing programmes though....

VCSO Cam | Ah, the blogger's favourite.  VCSO has a tonne of filters available - some free, some to buy - so you can really go to town on experimenting until you get the look you want.  You can copy and paste edits as well, to give all of your photos a similar feel, and I know lots of people use their VSCO library as a way to see if their photos fit together nicely and create a cohesive theme when displayed as a grid.  The general settings are great too - you can straighten, adjust horizontal and vertical perspectives, crop, change saturation levels and loads more.

Photoshop Express | Wait, wait....I know what you're thinking, but no!  I don't use Photoshop to, well, photoshop my pictures.  Not only does it offer a range of free filters and an anti-red eye setting, there's also the option to upgrade which unlocks of extra features including (my favourite) 'reduce noise'.  This is the main only reason I use PS; it gets rid of any grain (great for when you've used the front facing camera) and coupled with the 'defog' option which removes any cloudy appearance your photos may have, it forms the foundations for a really clear shot.

Filterra | Filterra was an unexpected find which admittedly I'm yet to explore fully.  For the moment, I love using it to adjust the curves of a photo as you can in Photoshop or PicMonkey Pro, to add light and make everything look brighter.

InstaVogue | A month or so back lots of people were singing Facetune's praises for the whitening app which allowed you to make white backgrounds look extra white.  I'm always reluctant to shell out for apps that I'll only be using one feature of, so I did a little research and stumbled upon InstaVogue.  It's free and has the same tooth whitening detail which lets you scrub your finger over any aspects of your photo which aren't white enough, brightening things up a treat.


I'll admit I enjoy layering up effects to try and get the best possibly picture, but it's also key to remember to take a step back every now and then see just how 'real' your photo still looks.  Sometimes I'll filter the shizz out of a shot only to realise it's virtually unrecognisable from the original.  This is all well and good depending on the look you're going for, but I think it's important to inject a bit of reality into your Instagram feed every now and then!

Are there any editing apps you use which I've missed?

The 5 Photography Apps You Do Actually Need

14.4.16

BECAUSE PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

Filters, hashtags, themes....it's big business.  And the photography itself can amount to a lot of work if you let it.  Recently there's been an influx of "How I Edit My Photos For Instagram" videos and blog posts in my feed and it's easy to get sucked in and start thinking you need X, Y and Z apps to get the most out of your camera.  After experimenting with lots of different editing apps I think I've got a combination sorted.  Keep reading for the best of the best.



Instagram | Because how are you going to improve your Instagram feed without the app itself?  For me, it's the last step in my editing process which I use as a last minute attempt to lighten/brighten/sharpen/whatever.  As a trend, Instagram is no longer enough....but I disagree!  The filters available are getting better and better and the option to tweak the photo settings is the best thing Instagram ever implemented.  It doesn't stop me experimenting with additional editing programmes though....

VCSO Cam | Ah, the blogger's favourite.  VCSO has a tonne of filters available - some free, some to buy - so you can really go to town on experimenting until you get the look you want.  You can copy and paste edits as well, to give all of your photos a similar feel, and I know lots of people use their VSCO library as a way to see if their photos fit together nicely and create a cohesive theme when displayed as a grid.  The general settings are great too - you can straighten, adjust horizontal and vertical perspectives, crop, change saturation levels and loads more.

Photoshop Express | Wait, wait....I know what you're thinking, but no!  I don't use Photoshop to, well, photoshop my pictures.  Not only does it offer a range of free filters and an anti-red eye setting, there's also the option to upgrade which unlocks of extra features including (my favourite) 'reduce noise'.  This is the main only reason I use PS; it gets rid of any grain (great for when you've used the front facing camera) and coupled with the 'defog' option which removes any cloudy appearance your photos may have, it forms the foundations for a really clear shot.

Filterra | Filterra was an unexpected find which admittedly I'm yet to explore fully.  For the moment, I love using it to adjust the curves of a photo as you can in Photoshop or PicMonkey Pro, to add light and make everything look brighter.

InstaVogue | A month or so back lots of people were singing Facetune's praises for the whitening app which allowed you to make white backgrounds look extra white.  I'm always reluctant to shell out for apps that I'll only be using one feature of, so I did a little research and stumbled upon InstaVogue.  It's free and has the same tooth whitening detail which lets you scrub your finger over any aspects of your photo which aren't white enough, brightening things up a treat.


I'll admit I enjoy layering up effects to try and get the best possibly picture, but it's also key to remember to take a step back every now and then see just how 'real' your photo still looks.  Sometimes I'll filter the shizz out of a shot only to realise it's virtually unrecognisable from the original.  This is all well and good depending on the look you're going for, but I think it's important to inject a bit of reality into your Instagram feed every now and then!

Are there any editing apps you use which I've missed?

 ...WITH THE HELP OF BOOST JUICE BARS.

After my previous posts about weight loss and weight gain, I thought I'd venture into documenting my journey a little more with regards to food.  I've hit my goal weight and for the most part I can say that my eating habits are completely different to back in October when I first started.  Even Nick commented on the fact that I don't stash treats away anymore!  It no longer actually feels like I'm on a diet...of course there are the odd days when I crave takeaway or chocolate....but I've gotten pretty good at substituting foods or working out a way to make treats or heavy meals a little less naughty.

That said, I'm prepared for the point to come when I'm bored of eating the way I am so I'm keen to try new foods which will help me stay on track but still shake things up a bit.   First thing I'm trying?  Smoothies and juices!



I was recently invited by The Oracle shopping centre to come and spend an evening with Boost learning a little more the brand and their products.  And I have to admit, I'm impressed.  Originating from Australia, Boost focuses on 100% natural, healthy juices and smoothies with no artificial sweeteners.  The menu is extensive; there's something for everyone - low fat, protein, energising, immune boosting - and includes low fat smoothies, fruit crushes, protein smoothies, juices and even protein balls.



For someone looking at lowering their carbs like I am, the thought of a fruit smoothie was a little daunting as I know how much sugar there is in fruit.  And natural or not, the carbs and sugar are still there!  I had a chat with our host for the evening, Eyo, and he suggested I substitute the bananas in any recipe for something different and lower in carbs.  The flexibility of Boost (and juices and smoothies in general) is what really appeals to me.  The ability to switch out foods that I don't like or which won't work well with my diet, and add in alternatives to suit my tastes and needs is something that really excites me and makes me more willing to try things outside of my comfort zone.  They also have various 'boosters' which are flavour-less powders that can be added in, whether you're looking to add extra protein, curb your appetite or gain the benefits of an extra fibre kick.

We all got the chance to get hands on and make our smoothies, so we could see the production from start to finish.  It's all fresh ingredients and seeing the different possible flavour combinations was a bit of an eye-opener for me....I want to try them all!



The result?  Smoothies aren't going to work long-term on the specific (admittedly made up by myself!) plan that I'm on.  But it's an undeniably cleaner way to eat than living off squashes, caffeine or fizzy drinks and I love the fact that Boost Juice Bars make it so easy (and fun!) to satisfy a sweet tooth on the go.  I'd definitely opt for one of these as a treat once in a while when I'm out and about.

Eating Cleaner

13.4.16

 ...WITH THE HELP OF BOOST JUICE BARS.

After my previous posts about weight loss and weight gain, I thought I'd venture into documenting my journey a little more with regards to food.  I've hit my goal weight and for the most part I can say that my eating habits are completely different to back in October when I first started.  Even Nick commented on the fact that I don't stash treats away anymore!  It no longer actually feels like I'm on a diet...of course there are the odd days when I crave takeaway or chocolate....but I've gotten pretty good at substituting foods or working out a way to make treats or heavy meals a little less naughty.

That said, I'm prepared for the point to come when I'm bored of eating the way I am so I'm keen to try new foods which will help me stay on track but still shake things up a bit.   First thing I'm trying?  Smoothies and juices!



I was recently invited by The Oracle shopping centre to come and spend an evening with Boost learning a little more the brand and their products.  And I have to admit, I'm impressed.  Originating from Australia, Boost focuses on 100% natural, healthy juices and smoothies with no artificial sweeteners.  The menu is extensive; there's something for everyone - low fat, protein, energising, immune boosting - and includes low fat smoothies, fruit crushes, protein smoothies, juices and even protein balls.



For someone looking at lowering their carbs like I am, the thought of a fruit smoothie was a little daunting as I know how much sugar there is in fruit.  And natural or not, the carbs and sugar are still there!  I had a chat with our host for the evening, Eyo, and he suggested I substitute the bananas in any recipe for something different and lower in carbs.  The flexibility of Boost (and juices and smoothies in general) is what really appeals to me.  The ability to switch out foods that I don't like or which won't work well with my diet, and add in alternatives to suit my tastes and needs is something that really excites me and makes me more willing to try things outside of my comfort zone.  They also have various 'boosters' which are flavour-less powders that can be added in, whether you're looking to add extra protein, curb your appetite or gain the benefits of an extra fibre kick.

We all got the chance to get hands on and make our smoothies, so we could see the production from start to finish.  It's all fresh ingredients and seeing the different possible flavour combinations was a bit of an eye-opener for me....I want to try them all!



The result?  Smoothies aren't going to work long-term on the specific (admittedly made up by myself!) plan that I'm on.  But it's an undeniably cleaner way to eat than living off squashes, caffeine or fizzy drinks and I love the fact that Boost Juice Bars make it so easy (and fun!) to satisfy a sweet tooth on the go.  I'd definitely opt for one of these as a treat once in a while when I'm out and about.


#1 - MOTHER'S DAY
Like most mums, mine does so much for me so it was nice to treat her for the day.  Zara and I took her out for breakfast then on for a make over with Clinique and a morning of shopping.  Then it was back home where we surprised her with homemade cake, flowers and presents.  I actually spend a lot of time with Mum, so minus the presents and make over it wasn't too different to the normal stuff we get up to, but it was nice to make Mum feel special and have the focus on her for the day.

#2 - SHOPPING WITH LEANNE
It seemed like forever since Leanne and I had met up, so we booked in a day of shopping and blog chatter.  As usual we were out for hours...setting the world to right and buying all of the make up.  Blogging's a funny passion which isn't shared by any of my *real* friends, so it's always nice to spend time with someone who understands the community, the need to buy things "to blog about" and just generally bounce ideas around with. 

#3 - AN UNEXPECTED TRIP
Nick had an out of hours job in Kew one Saturday this month so I tagged along and went for a wander.  I ended up in the cutest independent bookshop and fell in love with how picturesque Kew is.  After exploring for a bit on one of the first sunny days of the year (and taking the photo above!), we headed home and had a good catch up in the car.  Despite living together, we're often on such different schedules that it can be hard to have real quality time and conversations together.  Driving down the M4 was the ideal opportunity and feeling the warmth of the springtime sun on our skin just made it all the more enjoyable.

#4 - REACHING MY TARGET WEIGHT
After a fortnight with no movement with my weight loss, I suddenly dropped the last 2.5lbs which brings me to a total loss of 2st.   Just in time for Easter; I'm proud to stay I've stayed strong and eaten no eggs this year.  None!  I haven't been at this weight for at least 4 years so I'm having fun digging out old clothes and finding that they fit me again, seeing how loose more recent clothes are now and (of course) shopping for a new wardrobe.

#5 - BANK HOLIDAYS
Easter's 4 day weekend is the perfect length to really spend quality time with loved ones.  Nick and I kicked things off with lunch out and shopping on the Friday, followed by creme egg cheesecake making with Ella on the Saturday, our annual family lamb lunch on the Sunday and a quiet day at home on Monday.  Can we have one of these every month, please?

5 Happy Things in March

7.4.16


#1 - MOTHER'S DAY
Like most mums, mine does so much for me so it was nice to treat her for the day.  Zara and I took her out for breakfast then on for a make over with Clinique and a morning of shopping.  Then it was back home where we surprised her with homemade cake, flowers and presents.  I actually spend a lot of time with Mum, so minus the presents and make over it wasn't too different to the normal stuff we get up to, but it was nice to make Mum feel special and have the focus on her for the day.

#2 - SHOPPING WITH LEANNE
It seemed like forever since Leanne and I had met up, so we booked in a day of shopping and blog chatter.  As usual we were out for hours...setting the world to right and buying all of the make up.  Blogging's a funny passion which isn't shared by any of my *real* friends, so it's always nice to spend time with someone who understands the community, the need to buy things "to blog about" and just generally bounce ideas around with. 

#3 - AN UNEXPECTED TRIP
Nick had an out of hours job in Kew one Saturday this month so I tagged along and went for a wander.  I ended up in the cutest independent bookshop and fell in love with how picturesque Kew is.  After exploring for a bit on one of the first sunny days of the year (and taking the photo above!), we headed home and had a good catch up in the car.  Despite living together, we're often on such different schedules that it can be hard to have real quality time and conversations together.  Driving down the M4 was the ideal opportunity and feeling the warmth of the springtime sun on our skin just made it all the more enjoyable.

#4 - REACHING MY TARGET WEIGHT
After a fortnight with no movement with my weight loss, I suddenly dropped the last 2.5lbs which brings me to a total loss of 2st.   Just in time for Easter; I'm proud to stay I've stayed strong and eaten no eggs this year.  None!  I haven't been at this weight for at least 4 years so I'm having fun digging out old clothes and finding that they fit me again, seeing how loose more recent clothes are now and (of course) shopping for a new wardrobe.

#5 - BANK HOLIDAYS
Easter's 4 day weekend is the perfect length to really spend quality time with loved ones.  Nick and I kicked things off with lunch out and shopping on the Friday, followed by creme egg cheesecake making with Ella on the Saturday, our annual family lamb lunch on the Sunday and a quiet day at home on Monday.  Can we have one of these every month, please?

#12 - THE MEMORY BOX // Eva Lesko Natiello

My book club choice for the month, The Memory Box turned out to be a dud for me.  Caroline Thompson googles herself only to unearth family secrets she knows nothing about.  Featuring the trope of memory loss, this book was reminiscent of Before I Go To Sleep or What Alice Forgot....only far less accomplished.  The writing style was clumsy, adding in unnecessary extra details which jolted me out of the story, and felt unsophisticated.  Caroline is an extremely unreliable narrator who eventually becomes an overexaggerated caricature of herself.  The plot was predictable, forgettable and, in all honesty, a little ridiculous.
Rating: 2/5

#13 - A CLOCKWORK ORANGE // Anthony Burgess

I approached my first 'Friend Recommends' book of the year with more than a little trepidation.  I'd heard lots about A Clockwork Orange but was caught off guard with the fictional dialect used within.  It was hard to adjust to, but once I realised that each of the imagined words could be translated to English (rather than just being nonsense), I was surprised with how quickly I fell into a rhythm with this and managed to read it over a weekend.  If you're unfamiliar with the story, it's set in a dystopian society and tells the story of teenager Alex's (horrifying) criminal activity, subsequent punishment and eventual "treatment". It was disturbing yet captivating, posing interesting questions about morality and choice.  I didn't expect to enjoy this one, but I really did!
Rating: 4/5

#14 - THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE // Menna van Praag

More chick-lit than my usual choices, this was a quick read to ease me out of A Clockwork Orange.  As the title suggests, it's set in Cambridge and tells of the interwoven lives of 6 witches living within the community.  Without being *too* magical realism-y, each has a different power, different heartache and different story to tell.  It didn't take itself overly seriously, but I found myself skimming some sections as I found myself more interested in certain characters than others.  This is the ideal book to take on holiday if you're after something light, but I would have liked to see the plot developed further.
Rating: 3/5

#15 - THE CHIMES // Anna Smaill

The Chimes was longlisted for the Man Booker prize last year and of all those put forward was the one I was most excited by.  Set in a dystopian London it's a wonderful plot featuring a mysterious organisation, the chimes which wipe the memories of all society every evening and the plight of those looking to rebel against it.  I really struggled with this one. Originally drafted as a young adult book, I didn't think it had lost this and managed to successfully transition into adult fiction - by having teenage protagonists it definitely still felt YA, and more so than something like The Hunger Games in my opinion.  The prose was beautifully lyrical, but the references to music which were seamlessly woven in went over my head and distracted from the story.  In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this book in its entirety but still couldn't fully explain what the outcome of it all was.  After feeling so excited to start reading The Chimes I'm disappointed it didn't live up to my expectations.
Rating: 1/5

#16 - LOST IN TRANSLATION  // Ella Frances Sanders

After the let down of The Chimes I moved on to this beautiful book which I knew was guaranteed to be a success.  It's an illustrated collection of untranslatable words from various languages and was truly a joy to read.  With words such as  'pisanzapra' (the time it takes to eat a banana) and 'feuillemort' (the faded colour of autumnal leaves), this quirky book is perfect for word lovers.  My only gripe would be that the typeface was hard to read at points.  Well worth it, though!
Rating: 4/5

#17 - THE ANNIVERSARY // various

Another of Galaxy's Quick Reads series, this was a series of 10 short stories written by well-known authors such as Rowan Coleman, Philippa Gregory and Matt Haig.  As expected, it was a quick read with each story only lasting 10 or so pages.  They were nice....but forgettable.
Rating: 2/5

#18 - THE GIRL WITH GLASS FEET // Ali Shaw

Telling the story of Ida, whose feet are turning to glass, and her hopes of tracking down the one man she believes will be able to help her find a cure, this book was an unexpected dose of magical realism.  With bodies turning to glass I was prepared for an escape from reality, but there were other elements within which really added to the mystical aspect of this book.  The writing was beautiful and Ali Shaw wasn't afraid to write about flawed characters.  No one in this book is perfect and it really juxtaposed the whimsical nature and added an element of realness back into the story.  I do struggle with characters falling in love seemingly overnight and I'm afraid to say it did seem like this happened here (I accidentally skipped 20-30 pages though, so perhaps I missed something earth-shattering!)....however by the end the feelings felt so raw and honest I found myself whole heartedly believing their romance.  A really imaginative book which I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did.
Rating:  3/5

Read in 2016: March

5.4.16


#12 - THE MEMORY BOX // Eva Lesko Natiello

My book club choice for the month, The Memory Box turned out to be a dud for me.  Caroline Thompson googles herself only to unearth family secrets she knows nothing about.  Featuring the trope of memory loss, this book was reminiscent of Before I Go To Sleep or What Alice Forgot....only far less accomplished.  The writing style was clumsy, adding in unnecessary extra details which jolted me out of the story, and felt unsophisticated.  Caroline is an extremely unreliable narrator who eventually becomes an overexaggerated caricature of herself.  The plot was predictable, forgettable and, in all honesty, a little ridiculous.
Rating: 2/5

#13 - A CLOCKWORK ORANGE // Anthony Burgess

I approached my first 'Friend Recommends' book of the year with more than a little trepidation.  I'd heard lots about A Clockwork Orange but was caught off guard with the fictional dialect used within.  It was hard to adjust to, but once I realised that each of the imagined words could be translated to English (rather than just being nonsense), I was surprised with how quickly I fell into a rhythm with this and managed to read it over a weekend.  If you're unfamiliar with the story, it's set in a dystopian society and tells the story of teenager Alex's (horrifying) criminal activity, subsequent punishment and eventual "treatment". It was disturbing yet captivating, posing interesting questions about morality and choice.  I didn't expect to enjoy this one, but I really did!
Rating: 4/5

#14 - THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE // Menna van Praag

More chick-lit than my usual choices, this was a quick read to ease me out of A Clockwork Orange.  As the title suggests, it's set in Cambridge and tells of the interwoven lives of 6 witches living within the community.  Without being *too* magical realism-y, each has a different power, different heartache and different story to tell.  It didn't take itself overly seriously, but I found myself skimming some sections as I found myself more interested in certain characters than others.  This is the ideal book to take on holiday if you're after something light, but I would have liked to see the plot developed further.
Rating: 3/5

#15 - THE CHIMES // Anna Smaill

The Chimes was longlisted for the Man Booker prize last year and of all those put forward was the one I was most excited by.  Set in a dystopian London it's a wonderful plot featuring a mysterious organisation, the chimes which wipe the memories of all society every evening and the plight of those looking to rebel against it.  I really struggled with this one. Originally drafted as a young adult book, I didn't think it had lost this and managed to successfully transition into adult fiction - by having teenage protagonists it definitely still felt YA, and more so than something like The Hunger Games in my opinion.  The prose was beautifully lyrical, but the references to music which were seamlessly woven in went over my head and distracted from the story.  In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this book in its entirety but still couldn't fully explain what the outcome of it all was.  After feeling so excited to start reading The Chimes I'm disappointed it didn't live up to my expectations.
Rating: 1/5

#16 - LOST IN TRANSLATION  // Ella Frances Sanders

After the let down of The Chimes I moved on to this beautiful book which I knew was guaranteed to be a success.  It's an illustrated collection of untranslatable words from various languages and was truly a joy to read.  With words such as  'pisanzapra' (the time it takes to eat a banana) and 'feuillemort' (the faded colour of autumnal leaves), this quirky book is perfect for word lovers.  My only gripe would be that the typeface was hard to read at points.  Well worth it, though!
Rating: 4/5

#17 - THE ANNIVERSARY // various

Another of Galaxy's Quick Reads series, this was a series of 10 short stories written by well-known authors such as Rowan Coleman, Philippa Gregory and Matt Haig.  As expected, it was a quick read with each story only lasting 10 or so pages.  They were nice....but forgettable.
Rating: 2/5

#18 - THE GIRL WITH GLASS FEET // Ali Shaw

Telling the story of Ida, whose feet are turning to glass, and her hopes of tracking down the one man she believes will be able to help her find a cure, this book was an unexpected dose of magical realism.  With bodies turning to glass I was prepared for an escape from reality, but there were other elements within which really added to the mystical aspect of this book.  The writing was beautiful and Ali Shaw wasn't afraid to write about flawed characters.  No one in this book is perfect and it really juxtaposed the whimsical nature and added an element of realness back into the story.  I do struggle with characters falling in love seemingly overnight and I'm afraid to say it did seem like this happened here (I accidentally skipped 20-30 pages though, so perhaps I missed something earth-shattering!)....however by the end the feelings felt so raw and honest I found myself whole heartedly believing their romance.  A really imaginative book which I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did.
Rating:  3/5

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