Can you believe we're at the midway point of the year already?  I've seen posts floating around on Facebook saying we're 6 months from Christmas, and seeing the week number written down here makes it even more real!

So this week saw us dealing with a heatwave.  Nick and I went to see Jimmy Carr live (which was excellent, although very hot!) and I took Thursday and Friday off work so had a lovely four day weekend.  This photo of Coco pretty much sums up the mood of the week, though....duvet chucked on the floor, chilling out and far too hot to move.

Speaking of my time off, I took myself to the library and came home with this stash of books.  I'd forgotten the excitement of browsing the shelves and finding something I'd been meaning to read, then coming home with arms laden with books.  In all the excitement I forgot to take a proper pic, so here's one from my Instagram Stories.  I've been making much more of an effort to update regularly, so be sure to follow if you want to see more of what I'm up to.

By complete contrast, these are the books I bought from The Works on Saturday.  I quite often find hidden gems in there and this book on simple living was too appealing to pass up.  My non-book-reading sister also had a couple catch here eye whilst we were there and ended up leaving with more than me!

And the week rounded off with a trip to the garden centre.  It's somewhat of a weekend routine for Nick and I (marine fish tanks need a lot of upkeep) and I've been thinking about buying a few more cacti for a while now.  Somehow I've managed to kill the majority of those we have already, so I've been weighing up whether I'll actually be able to keep any new additions alive!

Week 25 In Moments

26.6.17

Can you believe we're at the midway point of the year already?  I've seen posts floating around on Facebook saying we're 6 months from Christmas, and seeing the week number written down here makes it even more real!

So this week saw us dealing with a heatwave.  Nick and I went to see Jimmy Carr live (which was excellent, although very hot!) and I took Thursday and Friday off work so had a lovely four day weekend.  This photo of Coco pretty much sums up the mood of the week, though....duvet chucked on the floor, chilling out and far too hot to move.

Speaking of my time off, I took myself to the library and came home with this stash of books.  I'd forgotten the excitement of browsing the shelves and finding something I'd been meaning to read, then coming home with arms laden with books.  In all the excitement I forgot to take a proper pic, so here's one from my Instagram Stories.  I've been making much more of an effort to update regularly, so be sure to follow if you want to see more of what I'm up to.

By complete contrast, these are the books I bought from The Works on Saturday.  I quite often find hidden gems in there and this book on simple living was too appealing to pass up.  My non-book-reading sister also had a couple catch here eye whilst we were there and ended up leaving with more than me!

And the week rounded off with a trip to the garden centre.  It's somewhat of a weekend routine for Nick and I (marine fish tanks need a lot of upkeep) and I've been thinking about buying a few more cacti for a while now.  Somehow I've managed to kill the majority of those we have already, so I've been weighing up whether I'll actually be able to keep any new additions alive!
I'm in two minds about how I feel for missing last week.  There's a big need for consistency within me and I really wanted to make it through the whole year not missing a weekly photo update.  Plus week 23 was my birthday week, meaning there were plenty of activities and chances to capture memories.  But then there's the thing; I was so busy making memories that I just wanted to bask in that enjoyment for a little while longer rather than rushing to turn it into "content".

I almost decided to miss out week 23 entirely, but then the perfectionist won out so here I am with a bumper Week(s) In Moments....

So as I've already mentioned, the main event was hitting the big 3-0 which, incidentally, feels ancient in the blogging world.  Real life though, it's a good feeling.  I'm the youngest of our friendship group and had been told that turning 30 was great....honestly, I was dubious, but so far so good!  Oh, and I guess I should mention my new hair here too.  Truthfully this one snuck in at the end of week 22 and it's taken me a while to adjust to being a bottle blonde again.  I think I just went for too many things at once....bleach, fringe trim and all over re-style....but I think I've found my groove and am loving the fact that I (maybe accidentally) have had a style shake up.

My birthday fell on a Thursday but it was a weekend of celebration which started off with taking Ella and Dylan for a picnic at Virginia Waters.  We got there early enough to enjoy the surroundings without the usual crowds of people, and the weather was ideal for ice creams in the sunshine without getting too hot.

Onto the evening celebrations....I managed to get an awesome deal on a karaoke booth, giving us an hour of singing our hearts out plied with booze.  It was such fun, went by in a flash, and I'd definitely recommend.  Make sure you look on groupon for deals if this is something you fancy, as it only ended up costing us £6 a head!  We moved on to a cocktail bar afterwards and had the best time; can I celebrate turning 30 every Saturday night please?!

We had a (slightly hungover) festival-inspired family barbecue the next day complete with glitter, balloons, garden games, floral crowns and my favourite tunes from each decade of my life.  Shout out to my wonderful family for organising the perfect end to the perfect weekend!  Here I am with the main party planner, my younger sister, and I couldn't be more thankful.  Weekends like this make me realise just how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

Speaking of wonderful people....these little guys!  Ella and Dylan make every family event that little bit more joyful and it's hard to remember a time without their laughter and playfulness in the air.  They both loved this piñata, then finished off the afternoon with a water fight and snuggles on the sofa after changing into dry clothes.

But what do I love almost as much as my niece and nephew?  That's right.  Cake.  We had a build your own burger bar (with so. much. cheese. choice) then Mum topped it all off with this ah-may-zing salted caramel cheesecake.  There are no words to describe how incredible this tasted.

And now onto Week 24.  I had the foresight to book the Monday off work, which made it feel like a really short week that went by in a flash.  After a particularly hot and sticky weekend, we finished things off with a pub lunch in the sunshine on Sunday.  Glorious.  On reflection these past two weeks have been filled in the best way possible; with family and friends.  And long may it continue!

Weeks 23 & 24 In Moments

19.6.17

I'm in two minds about how I feel for missing last week.  There's a big need for consistency within me and I really wanted to make it through the whole year not missing a weekly photo update.  Plus week 23 was my birthday week, meaning there were plenty of activities and chances to capture memories.  But then there's the thing; I was so busy making memories that I just wanted to bask in that enjoyment for a little while longer rather than rushing to turn it into "content".

I almost decided to miss out week 23 entirely, but then the perfectionist won out so here I am with a bumper Week(s) In Moments....

So as I've already mentioned, the main event was hitting the big 3-0 which, incidentally, feels ancient in the blogging world.  Real life though, it's a good feeling.  I'm the youngest of our friendship group and had been told that turning 30 was great....honestly, I was dubious, but so far so good!  Oh, and I guess I should mention my new hair here too.  Truthfully this one snuck in at the end of week 22 and it's taken me a while to adjust to being a bottle blonde again.  I think I just went for too many things at once....bleach, fringe trim and all over re-style....but I think I've found my groove and am loving the fact that I (maybe accidentally) have had a style shake up.

My birthday fell on a Thursday but it was a weekend of celebration which started off with taking Ella and Dylan for a picnic at Virginia Waters.  We got there early enough to enjoy the surroundings without the usual crowds of people, and the weather was ideal for ice creams in the sunshine without getting too hot.

Onto the evening celebrations....I managed to get an awesome deal on a karaoke booth, giving us an hour of singing our hearts out plied with booze.  It was such fun, went by in a flash, and I'd definitely recommend.  Make sure you look on groupon for deals if this is something you fancy, as it only ended up costing us £6 a head!  We moved on to a cocktail bar afterwards and had the best time; can I celebrate turning 30 every Saturday night please?!

We had a (slightly hungover) festival-inspired family barbecue the next day complete with glitter, balloons, garden games, floral crowns and my favourite tunes from each decade of my life.  Shout out to my wonderful family for organising the perfect end to the perfect weekend!  Here I am with the main party planner, my younger sister, and I couldn't be more thankful.  Weekends like this make me realise just how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

Speaking of wonderful people....these little guys!  Ella and Dylan make every family event that little bit more joyful and it's hard to remember a time without their laughter and playfulness in the air.  They both loved this piñata, then finished off the afternoon with a water fight and snuggles on the sofa after changing into dry clothes.

But what do I love almost as much as my niece and nephew?  That's right.  Cake.  We had a build your own burger bar (with so. much. cheese. choice) then Mum topped it all off with this ah-may-zing salted caramel cheesecake.  There are no words to describe how incredible this tasted.

And now onto Week 24.  I had the foresight to book the Monday off work, which made it feel like a really short week that went by in a flash.  After a particularly hot and sticky weekend, we finished things off with a pub lunch in the sunshine on Sunday.  Glorious.  On reflection these past two weeks have been filled in the best way possible; with family and friends.  And long may it continue!
Week 22....wow.  Even scarier is that we're now over halfway through the final seven days of my twenties.  Yup, I'm hitting the big 3-0 this Thursday and can vouch that it's definitely true that life doesn't quite turn out how you imagined it.

But that's a chat for another day....on to the antics of the past week!

I'm sneaking this pic in as, although I made these banana muffins the Sunday before last, we've been making our way through them all week.  They've got a Nutella-stuffed centre and the banana has stopped them from drying out - delicious!

One of my good friends from secondary school came back from America for a flying visit this month.  It's her first birthday in the UK since we were 14 so we hit the town, starting with cocktails.  It turned out to be a mini reunion of sorts and was great to see some familiar faces to catch up.  And it got me excited for my birthday celebrations next weekend, despite opting for virgin cocktails.  That definitely won't be the case next week...

This was my wake up call the following morning, along with the awful news about the attacks in London.  My blog's never been a place where I share my political views or wade in on current affairs, but it didn't feel right to not even mention the atrocities that have been taking place in the UK recently.  Such sad news and my thoughts are with all affected.

Cooking a roast dinner has been on my to do list since Nick and I moved in together years ago.  Like most abstract goals I've never got round to it so was determined to do so before turning 30.  My expectations weren't high but I impressed myself.  Check out those homemade Yorkshire Puddings....and the cauliflower cheese was pretty damn good too!

Three full days until my birthday; is there anything else I need to tick off my bucket list?!

Week 22 In Moments

5.6.17

Week 22....wow.  Even scarier is that we're now over halfway through the final seven days of my twenties.  Yup, I'm hitting the big 3-0 this Thursday and can vouch that it's definitely true that life doesn't quite turn out how you imagined it.

But that's a chat for another day....on to the antics of the past week!

I'm sneaking this pic in as, although I made these banana muffins the Sunday before last, we've been making our way through them all week.  They've got a Nutella-stuffed centre and the banana has stopped them from drying out - delicious!

One of my good friends from secondary school came back from America for a flying visit this month.  It's her first birthday in the UK since we were 14 so we hit the town, starting with cocktails.  It turned out to be a mini reunion of sorts and was great to see some familiar faces to catch up.  And it got me excited for my birthday celebrations next weekend, despite opting for virgin cocktails.  That definitely won't be the case next week...

This was my wake up call the following morning, along with the awful news about the attacks in London.  My blog's never been a place where I share my political views or wade in on current affairs, but it didn't feel right to not even mention the atrocities that have been taking place in the UK recently.  Such sad news and my thoughts are with all affected.

Cooking a roast dinner has been on my to do list since Nick and I moved in together years ago.  Like most abstract goals I've never got round to it so was determined to do so before turning 30.  My expectations weren't high but I impressed myself.  Check out those homemade Yorkshire Puddings....and the cauliflower cheese was pretty damn good too!

Three full days until my birthday; is there anything else I need to tick off my bucket list?!
#28 - FRANKENSTEIN // Mary Shelley
"Obsessed by creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life by electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. This chilling gothic tale, begun when Mary Shelley was just nineteen years old, would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity."
-
Starting off with our book club pick, I didn't love the story itself but really enjoyed the discussion it created.  For once I'd looked up some reading group questions and it was nice to have some focus to our monthly meet up.  I think perhaps the reason I didn't enjoy the story too much is that Frankenstein is so familiar in everyday culture that it just didn't shock me.  The characters were interesting though (I didn't expect to *like* the creature) and it wasn't as difficult a read as I'd anticipated.
Rating: ★★★
Good if: you like gothic classics or fancy something thought-provoking

#29 - IT'S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT'S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE // Paul Arden
"It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be is a handbook of how to succeed in the world: a pocket bible for the talented and timid alike to help make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible. The world's top advertising guru, Paul Arden, offers up his wisdom on issues as diverse as problem solving, responding to a brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes, and creativity - all endeavours that can be applied to aspects of modern life. This uplifting and humorous little book provides a unique insight into the world of advertising and is a quirky compilation of quotes, facts, pictures, wit and wisdom - all packed into easy-to-digest, bite-sized spreads. If you want to succeed in life or business, this book is a must."
-
Well, this book was one big failure for me.  For now I'm quite happy career-wise so I wasn't seeking out revolutionary ideas that would help me fight my way to the top, but I was hoping for some take home advice on dealing with people and presenting myself in the best possible light.  A little motivation, perhaps.  No.  This book was so advertising focused that I really struggle to see how it'd be of any value to anybody not in that industry.  Plus points are that it's really accessible, exploring one chunk of advice per page and a few of these were applicable to life outside of the advertising world.  It's also a lovely little book to look at and quick to flick through.  Positives end there for me though, I'm afraid.
Rating: ★★
Good if: you work in advertising

#30 - THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY: UNCOVERING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD'S HAPPIEST COUNTRY // Helen Russell
"When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn't Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries. What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. 
 From childcare, education, food and interior design (not to mention 'hygge') to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves."
-
I'd heard really good things about this book and for the most part think it's well-deserved.  With the recent movement towards hygge, this is very current and topical and feels well-researched throughout.  Helen contacts experts in each field and I thought the statistics were a brilliant feature.  Overall I enjoyed the writing style (both the author's voice and the way it's split into sections whereby each month she explores another aspect of Danish culture) and found it easy to get through, but I do have a few downers.  Any conversation between Helen and "Lego Man" didn't feel real and at times I felt she repeated herself in order to really hammer home her quest for happiness.  And whilst I'm not doubting the authenticity for a moment, the end of this wrapped up a little too nicely for me.
Rating: ★★★
Good if: you like travel or learning about other cultures

#31 - THE MUSEUM OF YOU // Carys Bray
"Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she's not sure. She'd like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else's story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.
Darren has done his best. He's studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want - everything he can think of, at least - to be happy.
What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother's belongings. Volume isn't important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.
But what you find depends on what you're searching for. "
-
 I'm fast becoming a big Carys Bray fan and this book didn't disappoint.  This is a lovely family-focused story with believable, dimensional and varied characters.  Their relationships are complex and secrets are slowly revealed through the course of the book.  Carys writes families so well, and although there's humour in this it didn't feel gimmicky which other, similarly family-driven books I've read in the past have.  Favourite of the month!
Rating: ★★★
Good if: you like beautifully written, family-based books

Read in 2017: May

1.6.17

#28 - FRANKENSTEIN // Mary Shelley
"Obsessed by creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life by electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. This chilling gothic tale, begun when Mary Shelley was just nineteen years old, would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity."
-
Starting off with our book club pick, I didn't love the story itself but really enjoyed the discussion it created.  For once I'd looked up some reading group questions and it was nice to have some focus to our monthly meet up.  I think perhaps the reason I didn't enjoy the story too much is that Frankenstein is so familiar in everyday culture that it just didn't shock me.  The characters were interesting though (I didn't expect to *like* the creature) and it wasn't as difficult a read as I'd anticipated.
Rating: ★★★
Good if: you like gothic classics or fancy something thought-provoking

#29 - IT'S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT'S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE // Paul Arden
"It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be is a handbook of how to succeed in the world: a pocket bible for the talented and timid alike to help make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible. The world's top advertising guru, Paul Arden, offers up his wisdom on issues as diverse as problem solving, responding to a brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes, and creativity - all endeavours that can be applied to aspects of modern life. This uplifting and humorous little book provides a unique insight into the world of advertising and is a quirky compilation of quotes, facts, pictures, wit and wisdom - all packed into easy-to-digest, bite-sized spreads. If you want to succeed in life or business, this book is a must."
-
Well, this book was one big failure for me.  For now I'm quite happy career-wise so I wasn't seeking out revolutionary ideas that would help me fight my way to the top, but I was hoping for some take home advice on dealing with people and presenting myself in the best possible light.  A little motivation, perhaps.  No.  This book was so advertising focused that I really struggle to see how it'd be of any value to anybody not in that industry.  Plus points are that it's really accessible, exploring one chunk of advice per page and a few of these were applicable to life outside of the advertising world.  It's also a lovely little book to look at and quick to flick through.  Positives end there for me though, I'm afraid.
Rating: ★★
Good if: you work in advertising

#30 - THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY: UNCOVERING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD'S HAPPIEST COUNTRY // Helen Russell
"When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn't Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries. What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. 
 From childcare, education, food and interior design (not to mention 'hygge') to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves."
-
I'd heard really good things about this book and for the most part think it's well-deserved.  With the recent movement towards hygge, this is very current and topical and feels well-researched throughout.  Helen contacts experts in each field and I thought the statistics were a brilliant feature.  Overall I enjoyed the writing style (both the author's voice and the way it's split into sections whereby each month she explores another aspect of Danish culture) and found it easy to get through, but I do have a few downers.  Any conversation between Helen and "Lego Man" didn't feel real and at times I felt she repeated herself in order to really hammer home her quest for happiness.  And whilst I'm not doubting the authenticity for a moment, the end of this wrapped up a little too nicely for me.
Rating: ★★★
Good if: you like travel or learning about other cultures

#31 - THE MUSEUM OF YOU // Carys Bray
"Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she's not sure. She'd like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else's story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.
Darren has done his best. He's studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want - everything he can think of, at least - to be happy.
What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother's belongings. Volume isn't important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.
But what you find depends on what you're searching for. "
-
 I'm fast becoming a big Carys Bray fan and this book didn't disappoint.  This is a lovely family-focused story with believable, dimensional and varied characters.  Their relationships are complex and secrets are slowly revealed through the course of the book.  Carys writes families so well, and although there's humour in this it didn't feel gimmicky which other, similarly family-driven books I've read in the past have.  Favourite of the month!
Rating: ★★★
Good if: you like beautifully written, family-based books

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