1.  The shearling aviator.  I've seen it on bloggers galore and think it's a must have autumn purchase!
2.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about these boots after an Ella-enabled trying on session.  They were definite payday purchases!
3.  Sometimes the ideas discussed go above my head, but I've really been enjoying Under The Skin as a break from the usual light relief I opt for in podcasts and YouTube videos.
4.  Sade's instagram is a new find but I'm hooked already.  Love the aesthetic, love the communication alongside her posts and love following her stories.
5.  I'm loving Steph's designs in general, but this print is definitely on my wishlist.
6.  At the time this goes live I'll be en route to New York, but in the run up I've been checking out Sephora regularly for shopping inspiration.
7.  Slightly less "deep" than Under The Skin but pertinent and thought-provoking nonetheless, Keeping It Candid is an excellent dose of social commentary.
8.  Karen's fashion advice is always spot on in her videos and her enthusiasm is infectious!
9.  Speaking of fashion tips, Ashley's post has got me thinking about how to rework my wardrobe for autumn without dropping a bomb.
10.  I've shouted out to her podcast before, but I recently found Alex Elle's instagram account..a wonderful source of inspiration.

The Month In 10 Links: September

28.9.17


1.  The shearling aviator.  I've seen it on bloggers galore and think it's a must have autumn purchase!
2.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about these boots after an Ella-enabled trying on session.  They were definite payday purchases!
3.  Sometimes the ideas discussed go above my head, but I've really been enjoying Under The Skin as a break from the usual light relief I opt for in podcasts and YouTube videos.
4.  Sade's instagram is a new find but I'm hooked already.  Love the aesthetic, love the communication alongside her posts and love following her stories.
5.  I'm loving Steph's designs in general, but this print is definitely on my wishlist.
6.  At the time this goes live I'll be en route to New York, but in the run up I've been checking out Sephora regularly for shopping inspiration.
7.  Slightly less "deep" than Under The Skin but pertinent and thought-provoking nonetheless, Keeping It Candid is an excellent dose of social commentary.
8.  Karen's fashion advice is always spot on in her videos and her enthusiasm is infectious!
9.  Speaking of fashion tips, Ashley's post has got me thinking about how to rework my wardrobe for autumn without dropping a bomb.
10.  I've shouted out to her podcast before, but I recently found Alex Elle's instagram account..a wonderful source of inspiration.
I feel like a broken record but...last week went by in a flash!  I can't quite believe that this coming week I'll be off to New York.  It's been on my wishlist of places to visit for as long as I can remember and I know that bloggers going to New York is a bit cliche...but I'm so blimmin' excited!

Speaking of excited, Mum and I took Ella for her first cinema trip this weekend.  We went to see The Emoji Movie (which turned out to be a pretty good social commentary on our smartphone/social media usage with a little feminism thrown in!) and I *think* she enjoyed it.  To be honest I think the experience was a little overwhelming and she's not really a film girl but it's safe to say the pick n mix went down a treat!

Then, after the copious amount of fizzy milkshake bottles I'd consumed, I headed for an impromptu gym session.  I've been feeling a little sluggish, both with my diet and exercise, so enforced a little reboot this week.  I attempted to go for a jog after work one night....turns out I'm not an outdoor runner, so I've been sticking to sprint training on the treadmill as well as my usual spin session.  I never thought I'd enjoy running but aiming to better my speed each time has really been keeping me motivated.

Rounding off the week nicely, Nick and I headed out on a little roadtrip before stopping off for lunch and finding this guy.  Our ideas of a perfect Sunday are polar opposites so it was nice to have a little compromise and spent some time pottering around together.  And yes, I did just say the word "pottering" and yes I'm ashamed of how old that makes me sound!

Week 38 In Moments

25.9.17

I feel like a broken record but...last week went by in a flash!  I can't quite believe that this coming week I'll be off to New York.  It's been on my wishlist of places to visit for as long as I can remember and I know that bloggers going to New York is a bit cliche...but I'm so blimmin' excited!

Speaking of excited, Mum and I took Ella for her first cinema trip this weekend.  We went to see The Emoji Movie (which turned out to be a pretty good social commentary on our smartphone/social media usage with a little feminism thrown in!) and I *think* she enjoyed it.  To be honest I think the experience was a little overwhelming and she's not really a film girl but it's safe to say the pick n mix went down a treat!

Then, after the copious amount of fizzy milkshake bottles I'd consumed, I headed for an impromptu gym session.  I've been feeling a little sluggish, both with my diet and exercise, so enforced a little reboot this week.  I attempted to go for a jog after work one night....turns out I'm not an outdoor runner, so I've been sticking to sprint training on the treadmill as well as my usual spin session.  I never thought I'd enjoy running but aiming to better my speed each time has really been keeping me motivated.

Rounding off the week nicely, Nick and I headed out on a little roadtrip before stopping off for lunch and finding this guy.  Our ideas of a perfect Sunday are polar opposites so it was nice to have a little compromise and spent some time pottering around together.  And yes, I did just say the word "pottering" and yes I'm ashamed of how old that makes me sound!

Recently I heard a piece of advice which has shifted the way I view my finances.  And it's so simple.



I honestly feel a little stupid that I've never considered it this way before.

My first step on the road to money management was to sit down and work out my income vs outgoings for the month.  And I was surprised by how little I was left with by the time I'd deducted "non-negotiables" (rent, car payments etc) and any debts, plus factored in the purchasing of general household purchases and putting petrol in my car.

It was an eye opening experience and it's no wonder I'd been running out of money with my previous mindset of "buy now, worry later".

I decided to use the piggy banking method as a way to keep funds separate and manage my money better.  This is where you have several bank accounts and transfer money into each to cover a specific expense.  For the time being I'm keeping mine simple and have just three accounts: a main one with my bills and direct debits, a savings account and a newly-opened current account into which I've been transferring a certain amount each month for those general household spends plus any regularly occurring social events.  I'm finding my feet with this one at the moment, so for the time being have transferred just under 20% of my monthly income and will adjust this in future if necessary.

Truthfully the idea of a zero sum budget scares me so I'm easing myself in gently.  I don't given every pound in my bank account a destination, but do budgeted for all foreseeable outgoings and am trying to steer clear of the excess in my main bills account as much as possible.

At the end of the month I've been transferring whatever's left the two accounts across to my savings account.  At the moment I have a specific savings goal in mind (a trip to New York) but once that's out of the way I want to leave any excess in my household account as a buffer for the following month, with a view to eventually transferring that as well if it reaches a substantial amount.

So, to summarise my tips if you're just starting out on a savings journey:

1.  Be realistic about the money you have available as disposable income each month.  Write it down.  Being unaware of what's happening in your bank account is a no no.

2.  Assign every pound a purpose.  Until now I'd half-heartedly committed to saving "something" each month, only to run out of money and be left with nothing to save.  Now, with everything divided up, I feel much more confident I'll be able to put savings aside.

3.  Find a system that works.  So far piggy banking is doing the trick and I can't believe I didn't try it sooner!

Conversations Around My Money: How I Tackled My Personal Finances

21.9.17


Recently I heard a piece of advice which has shifted the way I view my finances.  And it's so simple.



I honestly feel a little stupid that I've never considered it this way before.

My first step on the road to money management was to sit down and work out my income vs outgoings for the month.  And I was surprised by how little I was left with by the time I'd deducted "non-negotiables" (rent, car payments etc) and any debts, plus factored in the purchasing of general household purchases and putting petrol in my car.

It was an eye opening experience and it's no wonder I'd been running out of money with my previous mindset of "buy now, worry later".

I decided to use the piggy banking method as a way to keep funds separate and manage my money better.  This is where you have several bank accounts and transfer money into each to cover a specific expense.  For the time being I'm keeping mine simple and have just three accounts: a main one with my bills and direct debits, a savings account and a newly-opened current account into which I've been transferring a certain amount each month for those general household spends plus any regularly occurring social events.  I'm finding my feet with this one at the moment, so for the time being have transferred just under 20% of my monthly income and will adjust this in future if necessary.

Truthfully the idea of a zero sum budget scares me so I'm easing myself in gently.  I don't given every pound in my bank account a destination, but do budgeted for all foreseeable outgoings and am trying to steer clear of the excess in my main bills account as much as possible.

At the end of the month I've been transferring whatever's left the two accounts across to my savings account.  At the moment I have a specific savings goal in mind (a trip to New York) but once that's out of the way I want to leave any excess in my household account as a buffer for the following month, with a view to eventually transferring that as well if it reaches a substantial amount.

So, to summarise my tips if you're just starting out on a savings journey:

1.  Be realistic about the money you have available as disposable income each month.  Write it down.  Being unaware of what's happening in your bank account is a no no.

2.  Assign every pound a purpose.  Until now I'd half-heartedly committed to saving "something" each month, only to run out of money and be left with nothing to save.  Now, with everything divided up, I feel much more confident I'll be able to put savings aside.

3.  Find a system that works.  So far piggy banking is doing the trick and I can't believe I didn't try it sooner!
I don't know about you, but September seems to be nearly finished before it's even begun.  How is it over halfway through the month already?  Not that you'll hear me complaining now that we're on the countdown to payday (September was expensive) and New York (hurrah!).

So technically not last week, but the Sunday before I had my hair done and I'm so happy with the results!  We mixed toners to get a really creamy beige blonde without being too ashy.  My roots had grown tonnes since it was last done (back in June!) so I'm loving the refresh.  If it'd grow a little faster I'd be even happier!

I stopped off at the library on Saturday to return a couple of books and not take out anymore.  With the long plane journey to America in a week or so I only really want to take my kindle so definitely do not need to be gathering any more books - especially those with a deadline for reading them.  But, the inevitable happened and I ended up leaving with four new books.  I'm determined to get through them before their due back though and have already finished Tin Man.  I loved it.  If you've heard the buzz surrounding it and are thinking of reading it, you definitely should.

Two things. First, is there any way to take a photo of your plate and Nandos and get it to look good?  Second, this crammed plate was the waiter's sneaky way of not making two trips.  I didn't devour it alone!  Lizzie and I met up for a little wander, browse + lunch date and the bottomless drinks were calling my name in Nandos.  I picked up a few last minute bits for the plane ride (did I mention I'm off to New York?!) and it was the perfect slow round off to the week.

Week 37 In Moments

18.9.17

I don't know about you, but September seems to be nearly finished before it's even begun.  How is it over halfway through the month already?  Not that you'll hear me complaining now that we're on the countdown to payday (September was expensive) and New York (hurrah!).

So technically not last week, but the Sunday before I had my hair done and I'm so happy with the results!  We mixed toners to get a really creamy beige blonde without being too ashy.  My roots had grown tonnes since it was last done (back in June!) so I'm loving the refresh.  If it'd grow a little faster I'd be even happier!

I stopped off at the library on Saturday to return a couple of books and not take out anymore.  With the long plane journey to America in a week or so I only really want to take my kindle so definitely do not need to be gathering any more books - especially those with a deadline for reading them.  But, the inevitable happened and I ended up leaving with four new books.  I'm determined to get through them before their due back though and have already finished Tin Man.  I loved it.  If you've heard the buzz surrounding it and are thinking of reading it, you definitely should.

Two things. First, is there any way to take a photo of your plate and Nandos and get it to look good?  Second, this crammed plate was the waiter's sneaky way of not making two trips.  I didn't devour it alone!  Lizzie and I met up for a little wander, browse + lunch date and the bottomless drinks were calling my name in Nandos.  I picked up a few last minute bits for the plane ride (did I mention I'm off to New York?!) and it was the perfect slow round off to the week.
I'm not sure that I'm what you'd called a motivated person, hence why exploring slower aspects of living appeals so much.  Both Nick and I are pretty laid back in general and it's easy for weeks to roll into months and for plans to become pipe dreams.

In truth, I'd say my blog has suffered from my lack of drive over the last year or so.  I've said it before, but for a small blogger, watching others' careers take off - whether it's the end goal for my blog or not (spoiler: it's not) - can be disheartening and has often left me thinking "why bother?"

But there's nothing like this 'back to school' time of year to get me all fired up again.  I've been spending regular Saturday mornings in coffee shops furiously scribbling down notes and drafting posts; finding myself looking forward to that time away to focus on nothing but writing.

I started wondering what it was about that environment which worked for me.  A busy coffee shop is certainly not free of its distractions yet I found I had more focus and inspiration than ever.  I don't think it's the element of being away from home either - in fact I was keen to recreate a similar set up in our office to further cut down on time wasted through travel (and reluctantly changing out of my pjs!)

So the offer to work with Kit Out My Office and feature one of their office desks couldn't have come at a better time. For starters it's meant Nick and I had a reshuffle of the furniture and layout in that room and I'm now tucked in a cosy nook facing away from any distractions.  I've also gone through and sorted the stationery which was littering my old desk top, reminding myself in the process of how much more stimulating I find a clutter-free working environment.

It's filtered into other areas of the house too.  Following our big clean a month or so ago I've been finding myself slipping into old habits - overlooking things dumped on the stairs, not putting jewellery away at night and leaving the hoovering "for tomorrow".  Sunday afternoon was a flurry of activity getting back on track and I'm more determined than ever to keep things up this time.

Another thing which has been increasing my productivity with regards to focusing on writing for my blog is the use of background music.  I've never been able to write with anything playing in the background but lately I've found that putting on headphones and turning on some dedicated focus music has been helping tenfold.  So much so that I've just taken out a subscription with the app I was using....something else I've never done.  I *think* this one is in the process of getting scientific/neurological proof of its methods, but you definitely don't need to spend anything if this sounds like something which may be of benefit - just have a search on YouTube.



I also migrated into a new bullet journal this month and have started using it slightly differently.  My old journal has a pattern of a month or two of dedicated entries and snazzy layouts followed by radio silence as my motivation dwindled, so I'm cultivating a new routine.  Following the five minute journal system I grab a glass of water each day and sit down for my morning entries and then fill it in again right before I go to bed.  The set up is relatively simple, I use my desk at both occasions (no more mislaid bullet journals, hurrah!) and have found the morning sections keep me grounded and motivated throughout the day whilst the nighttime entries provide a chance for winding down and reflection.

And that's how I've found my focus again, through adapting my environment alongside some daily introspection.  What tips would you recommend?
- COLLABORATIVE POST WITH KIT OUT MY OFFICE -

Finding Focus

14.9.17

I'm not sure that I'm what you'd called a motivated person, hence why exploring slower aspects of living appeals so much.  Both Nick and I are pretty laid back in general and it's easy for weeks to roll into months and for plans to become pipe dreams.

In truth, I'd say my blog has suffered from my lack of drive over the last year or so.  I've said it before, but for a small blogger, watching others' careers take off - whether it's the end goal for my blog or not (spoiler: it's not) - can be disheartening and has often left me thinking "why bother?"

But there's nothing like this 'back to school' time of year to get me all fired up again.  I've been spending regular Saturday mornings in coffee shops furiously scribbling down notes and drafting posts; finding myself looking forward to that time away to focus on nothing but writing.

I started wondering what it was about that environment which worked for me.  A busy coffee shop is certainly not free of its distractions yet I found I had more focus and inspiration than ever.  I don't think it's the element of being away from home either - in fact I was keen to recreate a similar set up in our office to further cut down on time wasted through travel (and reluctantly changing out of my pjs!)

So the offer to work with Kit Out My Office and feature one of their office desks couldn't have come at a better time. For starters it's meant Nick and I had a reshuffle of the furniture and layout in that room and I'm now tucked in a cosy nook facing away from any distractions.  I've also gone through and sorted the stationery which was littering my old desk top, reminding myself in the process of how much more stimulating I find a clutter-free working environment.

It's filtered into other areas of the house too.  Following our big clean a month or so ago I've been finding myself slipping into old habits - overlooking things dumped on the stairs, not putting jewellery away at night and leaving the hoovering "for tomorrow".  Sunday afternoon was a flurry of activity getting back on track and I'm more determined than ever to keep things up this time.

Another thing which has been increasing my productivity with regards to focusing on writing for my blog is the use of background music.  I've never been able to write with anything playing in the background but lately I've found that putting on headphones and turning on some dedicated focus music has been helping tenfold.  So much so that I've just taken out a subscription with the app I was using....something else I've never done.  I *think* this one is in the process of getting scientific/neurological proof of its methods, but you definitely don't need to spend anything if this sounds like something which may be of benefit - just have a search on YouTube.



I also migrated into a new bullet journal this month and have started using it slightly differently.  My old journal has a pattern of a month or two of dedicated entries and snazzy layouts followed by radio silence as my motivation dwindled, so I'm cultivating a new routine.  Following the five minute journal system I grab a glass of water each day and sit down for my morning entries and then fill it in again right before I go to bed.  The set up is relatively simple, I use my desk at both occasions (no more mislaid bullet journals, hurrah!) and have found the morning sections keep me grounded and motivated throughout the day whilst the nighttime entries provide a chance for winding down and reflection.

And that's how I've found my focus again, through adapting my environment alongside some daily introspection.  What tips would you recommend?
- COLLABORATIVE POST WITH KIT OUT MY OFFICE -
Despite being on holiday the week before, the last seven days have felt like an uphill struggle battling with tiredness.  There is no reason for me to feel so knackered, so what's with the exhaustion?!

Tiredness aside, the week did actually go quite quickly.  We're quickly approaching my trip to New York (17 days!) so we had one last Skype chat to make final plans and get stuff booked....any recommendations for sights and experiences, please leave down below!

I think it's safe to say that autumn has descended in the UK. The sky is looking that little bit drearier and I've noticed the light fading quicker and quicker each day.  While I wouldn't object to an unexpected final fortnight of sun to say goodbye to summer, I am more than happy to be burning the pumpkin candles I've been stockpiling of late.

Speaking of which, last Saturday definitely felt like the beginning of those brisk autumn days where the sun shines but there's still a chill in the air.  I got dressed on autopilot to spend the day with Ella and Dylan...heading out of the house in a t-shirt before realising (too late) that the temperature was a little lower than I've been used to.  Thanks to a Dylan-induced accident (the less said about that the better!) I ended up having to get changed so nicked a jumper out of my sister's wardrobe.  A blessing in disguise perhaps?!

On Saturday night I was out to celebrate my bestie's birthday....hard to believe that this time last year we were celebrating in the caves on Menorca!  A more low-key affair this year (if you don't count the upcoming NY trip!) consisting of dinner and going to the cinema.  We ate in a bbq restaurant (I've tried a few and this was the best) and had our own "secret" room tucked away which was a nice way to spend time together away from the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant.

Throughout the week I've taken advantage of being able to download audiobooks for free through my local library.  I've never dabbled with audiobooks before but have been enjoying being able to switch on whenever I've had a few spare minutes throughout the day as an alternative to YouTube.  Admittedly it's taken a while to get used to tuning my brain in and making a conscious effort to actively listen, but I think I'll 'read' more books like this in the future.

Week 36 In Moments

11.9.17

Despite being on holiday the week before, the last seven days have felt like an uphill struggle battling with tiredness.  There is no reason for me to feel so knackered, so what's with the exhaustion?!

Tiredness aside, the week did actually go quite quickly.  We're quickly approaching my trip to New York (17 days!) so we had one last Skype chat to make final plans and get stuff booked....any recommendations for sights and experiences, please leave down below!

I think it's safe to say that autumn has descended in the UK. The sky is looking that little bit drearier and I've noticed the light fading quicker and quicker each day.  While I wouldn't object to an unexpected final fortnight of sun to say goodbye to summer, I am more than happy to be burning the pumpkin candles I've been stockpiling of late.

Speaking of which, last Saturday definitely felt like the beginning of those brisk autumn days where the sun shines but there's still a chill in the air.  I got dressed on autopilot to spend the day with Ella and Dylan...heading out of the house in a t-shirt before realising (too late) that the temperature was a little lower than I've been used to.  Thanks to a Dylan-induced accident (the less said about that the better!) I ended up having to get changed so nicked a jumper out of my sister's wardrobe.  A blessing in disguise perhaps?!

On Saturday night I was out to celebrate my bestie's birthday....hard to believe that this time last year we were celebrating in the caves on Menorca!  A more low-key affair this year (if you don't count the upcoming NY trip!) consisting of dinner and going to the cinema.  We ate in a bbq restaurant (I've tried a few and this was the best) and had our own "secret" room tucked away which was a nice way to spend time together away from the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant.

Throughout the week I've taken advantage of being able to download audiobooks for free through my local library.  I've never dabbled with audiobooks before but have been enjoying being able to switch on whenever I've had a few spare minutes throughout the day as an alternative to YouTube.  Admittedly it's taken a while to get used to tuning my brain in and making a conscious effort to actively listen, but I think I'll 'read' more books like this in the future.
#44 - A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS // George R.R. Martin
"Almost a century before A Game of Thrones, two unlikely heroes wandered Westeros. In an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and recollections of the last dragon have not yet passed from living memory, a naive but courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall, towers above his rivals - in stature if not experience.
Tagging along with him is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg, whose true identity must be kept hidden: for in reality he is Aegon Targaryen, and one day he will be king. Improbable heroes though they be, great destinies lie ahead for Dunk and Egg; as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits. " 
-
Despite being a fan of the tv show, I've never read (or been inclined to read) any of the Game of Thrones novels.  This is a bind up of three novellas and seemed far less intimidating than the other books. It was easy to read and provided lots of background knowledge in the history of Westeros and the characters which shaped and influenced the GoT world as we know today.  It didn't take long to get through and had what I imagine to be typical fantasy-esque illustrations throughout.  Although I enjoyed learning more about the history of everything, I felt like that was the agenda of this book and that the characters weren't fully fleshed out.  As in, they didn't feel like characters with storylines in their own right, more like devices to educate and inform the reader about Westeros.  It serves this purpose well though, just didn't feel like stories in their own right necessarily. 
Rating: ★
Good if:  you want to learn more about the history of the Game of Thrones world

 #45 - THE ETYMOLOGICON: A CIRCULAR STROLL THROUGH THE HIDDEN CONNECTIONS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE // Mark Forsyth
"What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces? 
 The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth's Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It's an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening." 
This book was one that I dipped in and out of - something I'd recommend if you decide to read it. Each chapter focuses on a word, exploring its origins and evolution, before moving on to a linked word in the next.  I liked how each chapter was linked and felt that this really improved the flow of the book, however it was difficult to take in more than a chapter or two at a time.  It's written in an almost colloquial style - another plus point which makes it feel more like chatting to a friend than consuming an information text.  Thoroughly enjoyable!
Rating: ★
Good if:  you love the English language and are interested in the history of words

 #46 - REBECCA // Daphne du Maurier
"'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'
Working as a lady's companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . . Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity."

With all the rave reviews surrounding Rebecca at the moment I think I expected a little more.  That's not to say it was awful, but I anticipated loving the book and wanting to read more of Daphne du Maurier's work.  I don't.  This was, however, our book club pick and I think it provided us the most discussion points out of anything we've read so far, which to me can only be a good thing.  There were lots of characters, actions and motives to pick apart which went some way in improving my enjoyment of the book.
Rating: ★
Good if:  you need something to read for a book club.

 #47 - BEAUTIFUL BODIES // Kimberley Rae Miller
"Like most people, Kimberly Rae Miller does not have the perfect body, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying. And trying. And trying some more. She’s been at it since she was four years old, when Sesame Street inspired her to go on her first diet. Postcollege, after a brief stint as a diet-pill model, she became a health-and-fitness writer and editor working on celebrities’ bestselling bios—sugarcoating the trials and tribulations celebs endure to stay thin. Needless to say, Kim has spent her life in pursuit of the ideal body.
But what is the ideal body? Knowing she’s far from alone in this struggle, Kim sets out to find the objective definition of this seemingly unattainable level of perfection. While on a fascinating and hilarious journey through time that takes her from obese Paleolithic cavewomen, to the bland menus that Drs. Graham and Kellogg prescribed to promote good morals in addition to good health, to the binge-drinking-prone regimen that caused William the Conqueror’s body to explode at his own funeral, Kim ends up discovering a lot about her relationship with her own body.
Warm, funny, and brutally honest, Beautiful Bodies is a blend of memoir and social history that will speak to anyone who’s ever been caught in a power struggle with his or her own body…in other words, just about everyone."
-
Like most, I have a complex relationship with my body and this book couldn't have come at a better time as I'm moving more towards acceptance of myself.  The exploration of various diets throughout history was really interesting, as was the reflection on Kimberley Rae Miller's personal sessions with a diet/health psychologist.  It's written in a style that's easy to read and engaging, however I did feel as though things wrapped up a bit too nicely.  That seems to be a recurring theme with books I read (I don't appear to like a happily ever after!) so take my opinion in this respect with a pinch of salt.
 Rating: ★
Good if:  you need some positivity when it comes to body image and acceptance


 #48 - PERFECT LITTLE WORLD // Kevin Wilson
"Aren't the best families the ones we make for ourselves? 
 Isabelle Pool is fresh out of high school, pregnant with her art teacher's baby, and totally on her own. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or family to fall back on, she's left searching. So when she's offered a space in The Infinite Family Project - a utopian ideal funded by an eccentric billionaire - she accepts.
Isabelle joins nine other couples, all with children the same age as her newborn son, to raise their children as one extended family in a spacious, secluded compound in Tennessee. But can this experiment really work - or is their 'perfect little world' destined to go horribly wrong."

It's been a while since I've read this sort of speculative/idealistic fiction and I really enjoyed this one.  I grabbed it from the library at a whim and it turned out to be really engaging and well-written...plus it starts off with a family tree illustration which always floats my boat!  One negative though would be that, despite this family tree, the characters and their relationships to one another could get a little confusing but I feel like that was to be expected with this extended "Infinite Family" dynamic.  I also felt myself losing interest (only slightly!) by the end and found that the ending was too obvious.  There was plenty to think about within this book though, so would recommend! 
Rating: ★
Good if:  you like speculative and utopian fiction

 #49 - WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS // Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"‘I would like to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: we must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently…’
What does “feminism” mean today?
In this personal, eloquently argued essay – adapted from her much-admired Tedx talk of the same name – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now – an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists."
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I'm sure everyone is familiar with this essay so I'm surprised it took me so long to finally read it.  I thoroughly enjoyed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's perspective and balanced argument; it provide lots to think about and plenty of discussion points I'd like to explore further.  Not much else to say here...five stars!
Rating: ★
Good if:  you're a human.  Everyone should read this!


 #50 - BODIES OF WATER // V.H. Leslie
"After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium.
Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river’s murky past and with those men of science and art who were obsessed with the drowned women who were washed up on its banks.
As Kirsten learns more about Wakewater’s secrets, she becomes haunted by a solitary figure in the river and increasingly desperate to understand what the water wants from her."
-
I'd heard lots about this book and it was one I really wanted to read.  It's fairly short, so I was loathe to buy it in paperback and ended up getting the kindle version on offer.  I am so glad I didn't buy it in physical form as it turned out to be such a let down.
We flick between present and Victorian London but I found the time spent in either setting to be too brief to fully connect with the characters or follow each storyline.  I was also expecting something a bit more literary, but honestly this felt no different from any other standard 'thriller'.  It wasn't thrilling either, although I didn't expect the ending on the Victorian side of things.  I read this whilst in Amsterdam, surrounded by canals and following a tour of the Red Light District so there was a nice symmetry with the setting of this book; I probably would have enjoyed it less without that added reading experience.
Rating: ★
Good if:  you need a quick read.

Read in 2017: August

7.9.17

#44 - A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS // George R.R. Martin
"Almost a century before A Game of Thrones, two unlikely heroes wandered Westeros. In an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and recollections of the last dragon have not yet passed from living memory, a naive but courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall, towers above his rivals - in stature if not experience.
Tagging along with him is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg, whose true identity must be kept hidden: for in reality he is Aegon Targaryen, and one day he will be king. Improbable heroes though they be, great destinies lie ahead for Dunk and Egg; as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits. " 
-
Despite being a fan of the tv show, I've never read (or been inclined to read) any of the Game of Thrones novels.  This is a bind up of three novellas and seemed far less intimidating than the other books. It was easy to read and provided lots of background knowledge in the history of Westeros and the characters which shaped and influenced the GoT world as we know today.  It didn't take long to get through and had what I imagine to be typical fantasy-esque illustrations throughout.  Although I enjoyed learning more about the history of everything, I felt like that was the agenda of this book and that the characters weren't fully fleshed out.  As in, they didn't feel like characters with storylines in their own right, more like devices to educate and inform the reader about Westeros.  It serves this purpose well though, just didn't feel like stories in their own right necessarily. 
Rating: ★
Good if:  you want to learn more about the history of the Game of Thrones world

 #45 - THE ETYMOLOGICON: A CIRCULAR STROLL THROUGH THE HIDDEN CONNECTIONS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE // Mark Forsyth
"What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces? 
 The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth's Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It's an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening." 
This book was one that I dipped in and out of - something I'd recommend if you decide to read it. Each chapter focuses on a word, exploring its origins and evolution, before moving on to a linked word in the next.  I liked how each chapter was linked and felt that this really improved the flow of the book, however it was difficult to take in more than a chapter or two at a time.  It's written in an almost colloquial style - another plus point which makes it feel more like chatting to a friend than consuming an information text.  Thoroughly enjoyable!
Rating: ★
Good if:  you love the English language and are interested in the history of words

 #46 - REBECCA // Daphne du Maurier
"'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'
Working as a lady's companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . . Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity."

With all the rave reviews surrounding Rebecca at the moment I think I expected a little more.  That's not to say it was awful, but I anticipated loving the book and wanting to read more of Daphne du Maurier's work.  I don't.  This was, however, our book club pick and I think it provided us the most discussion points out of anything we've read so far, which to me can only be a good thing.  There were lots of characters, actions and motives to pick apart which went some way in improving my enjoyment of the book.
Rating: ★
Good if:  you need something to read for a book club.

 #47 - BEAUTIFUL BODIES // Kimberley Rae Miller
"Like most people, Kimberly Rae Miller does not have the perfect body, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying. And trying. And trying some more. She’s been at it since she was four years old, when Sesame Street inspired her to go on her first diet. Postcollege, after a brief stint as a diet-pill model, she became a health-and-fitness writer and editor working on celebrities’ bestselling bios—sugarcoating the trials and tribulations celebs endure to stay thin. Needless to say, Kim has spent her life in pursuit of the ideal body.
But what is the ideal body? Knowing she’s far from alone in this struggle, Kim sets out to find the objective definition of this seemingly unattainable level of perfection. While on a fascinating and hilarious journey through time that takes her from obese Paleolithic cavewomen, to the bland menus that Drs. Graham and Kellogg prescribed to promote good morals in addition to good health, to the binge-drinking-prone regimen that caused William the Conqueror’s body to explode at his own funeral, Kim ends up discovering a lot about her relationship with her own body.
Warm, funny, and brutally honest, Beautiful Bodies is a blend of memoir and social history that will speak to anyone who’s ever been caught in a power struggle with his or her own body…in other words, just about everyone."
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Like most, I have a complex relationship with my body and this book couldn't have come at a better time as I'm moving more towards acceptance of myself.  The exploration of various diets throughout history was really interesting, as was the reflection on Kimberley Rae Miller's personal sessions with a diet/health psychologist.  It's written in a style that's easy to read and engaging, however I did feel as though things wrapped up a bit too nicely.  That seems to be a recurring theme with books I read (I don't appear to like a happily ever after!) so take my opinion in this respect with a pinch of salt.
 Rating: ★
Good if:  you need some positivity when it comes to body image and acceptance


 #48 - PERFECT LITTLE WORLD // Kevin Wilson
"Aren't the best families the ones we make for ourselves? 
 Isabelle Pool is fresh out of high school, pregnant with her art teacher's baby, and totally on her own. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or family to fall back on, she's left searching. So when she's offered a space in The Infinite Family Project - a utopian ideal funded by an eccentric billionaire - she accepts.
Isabelle joins nine other couples, all with children the same age as her newborn son, to raise their children as one extended family in a spacious, secluded compound in Tennessee. But can this experiment really work - or is their 'perfect little world' destined to go horribly wrong."

It's been a while since I've read this sort of speculative/idealistic fiction and I really enjoyed this one.  I grabbed it from the library at a whim and it turned out to be really engaging and well-written...plus it starts off with a family tree illustration which always floats my boat!  One negative though would be that, despite this family tree, the characters and their relationships to one another could get a little confusing but I feel like that was to be expected with this extended "Infinite Family" dynamic.  I also felt myself losing interest (only slightly!) by the end and found that the ending was too obvious.  There was plenty to think about within this book though, so would recommend! 
Rating: ★
Good if:  you like speculative and utopian fiction

 #49 - WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS // Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"‘I would like to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: we must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently…’
What does “feminism” mean today?
In this personal, eloquently argued essay – adapted from her much-admired Tedx talk of the same name – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now – an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists."
-
I'm sure everyone is familiar with this essay so I'm surprised it took me so long to finally read it.  I thoroughly enjoyed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's perspective and balanced argument; it provide lots to think about and plenty of discussion points I'd like to explore further.  Not much else to say here...five stars!
Rating: ★
Good if:  you're a human.  Everyone should read this!


 #50 - BODIES OF WATER // V.H. Leslie
"After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium.
Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river’s murky past and with those men of science and art who were obsessed with the drowned women who were washed up on its banks.
As Kirsten learns more about Wakewater’s secrets, she becomes haunted by a solitary figure in the river and increasingly desperate to understand what the water wants from her."
-
I'd heard lots about this book and it was one I really wanted to read.  It's fairly short, so I was loathe to buy it in paperback and ended up getting the kindle version on offer.  I am so glad I didn't buy it in physical form as it turned out to be such a let down.
We flick between present and Victorian London but I found the time spent in either setting to be too brief to fully connect with the characters or follow each storyline.  I was also expecting something a bit more literary, but honestly this felt no different from any other standard 'thriller'.  It wasn't thrilling either, although I didn't expect the ending on the Victorian side of things.  I read this whilst in Amsterdam, surrounded by canals and following a tour of the Red Light District so there was a nice symmetry with the setting of this book; I probably would have enjoyed it less without that added reading experience.
Rating: ★
Good if:  you need a quick read.

Brace yourselves for the most photo-heavy Week In Moments of the year!

Last week my sister, Zara, Mum and I headed to Amsterdam for a few days.  It was my first real city break and somewhere I'd never been before.  Being honest (and incredibly ignorant) I didn't really know where Amsterdam was exactly (as I said, ignorant!) and had no preconceptions about where we were going.

Well, I was just blown away with the place!

I had no idea just how easy the trip to Amsterdam would be (45 minutes on the plane!) so after a whirlwind tour of duty free we were among the clouds and on our way.

We stayed at the Amsterdam Marriott, which was a 30 minute shuttle trip from the airport and situated nicely at the end of the Leidsestraat.  It turned out to be the ideal location, with the shuttle drop off and pick up points right outside and everything we needed within walking distance.

Speaking of walking....we did lots.  I had no concept of how compact Amsterdam would be and we ended up heading everywhere on foot.  It was the perfect way to get our bearings with the city and provided plenty of opportunities to admire the beautiful architecture.

 On one of the nights we booked on to a Red Light District walking tour - again, something I was pretty uneducated in.  It didn't solely focus on the Red Light District (although yes, we did walk amongst the famous red windows!) and we also found out about Amsterdam's drugs culture.



I'd been told by lots of people that a canal tour was a must, so on Tuesday we spent an hour exploring Amsterdam's favourite canals.  I always find tours like this so interesting and it was great to get a different view of the city, as well as seeing some of the further away spots which we didn't visit by foot.

The food in Amsterdam was another highlight, as I made it my mission to sample as many pastries, cakes, crepes and pancakes as possible.  We managed to tick a fair few off the list!  We also had an evening at Amsterdam's Hard Rock Cafe, which was a lovely treat to end the trip.



We left it too late to book tickets for the Anne Frank House so unfortunately, besides wandering and seeing the exterior, didn't manage to make a trip.  We were also a little overwhelmed by the number of museums and failed to make a decision on which to visit...we did stop at the gift shop though (obviously!) and agreed we'd like to go back in the future.

Another thing I was surprised by was the shopping.  I'd expected quaint, independent shops (of which there were plenty throughout De Negen Straatjes) but I wasn't expecting the big shops (Topshop, Primark) which we're familiar with at home.  We took advantage of the fact that there were also stores which aren't so close to home (Stradivarius, Weekday) and spent a good few hours shopping and people watching around Dam Square.

This was definitely one of my favourite weeks of the year.  Amsterdam was absolutely beautiful and I don't think any words could do as much justice in conveying this, so I'll leave you with some more photos.  If you ever get the chance to visit this city, you must!  It's given me the bug to explore more of Europe's major cities and is certainly somewhere I'd like to travel to again.

Week 35 In Moments

4.9.17

Brace yourselves for the most photo-heavy Week In Moments of the year!

Last week my sister, Zara, Mum and I headed to Amsterdam for a few days.  It was my first real city break and somewhere I'd never been before.  Being honest (and incredibly ignorant) I didn't really know where Amsterdam was exactly (as I said, ignorant!) and had no preconceptions about where we were going.

Well, I was just blown away with the place!

I had no idea just how easy the trip to Amsterdam would be (45 minutes on the plane!) so after a whirlwind tour of duty free we were among the clouds and on our way.

We stayed at the Amsterdam Marriott, which was a 30 minute shuttle trip from the airport and situated nicely at the end of the Leidsestraat.  It turned out to be the ideal location, with the shuttle drop off and pick up points right outside and everything we needed within walking distance.

Speaking of walking....we did lots.  I had no concept of how compact Amsterdam would be and we ended up heading everywhere on foot.  It was the perfect way to get our bearings with the city and provided plenty of opportunities to admire the beautiful architecture.

 On one of the nights we booked on to a Red Light District walking tour - again, something I was pretty uneducated in.  It didn't solely focus on the Red Light District (although yes, we did walk amongst the famous red windows!) and we also found out about Amsterdam's drugs culture.



I'd been told by lots of people that a canal tour was a must, so on Tuesday we spent an hour exploring Amsterdam's favourite canals.  I always find tours like this so interesting and it was great to get a different view of the city, as well as seeing some of the further away spots which we didn't visit by foot.

The food in Amsterdam was another highlight, as I made it my mission to sample as many pastries, cakes, crepes and pancakes as possible.  We managed to tick a fair few off the list!  We also had an evening at Amsterdam's Hard Rock Cafe, which was a lovely treat to end the trip.



We left it too late to book tickets for the Anne Frank House so unfortunately, besides wandering and seeing the exterior, didn't manage to make a trip.  We were also a little overwhelmed by the number of museums and failed to make a decision on which to visit...we did stop at the gift shop though (obviously!) and agreed we'd like to go back in the future.

Another thing I was surprised by was the shopping.  I'd expected quaint, independent shops (of which there were plenty throughout De Negen Straatjes) but I wasn't expecting the big shops (Topshop, Primark) which we're familiar with at home.  We took advantage of the fact that there were also stores which aren't so close to home (Stradivarius, Weekday) and spent a good few hours shopping and people watching around Dam Square.

This was definitely one of my favourite weeks of the year.  Amsterdam was absolutely beautiful and I don't think any words could do as much justice in conveying this, so I'll leave you with some more photos.  If you ever get the chance to visit this city, you must!  It's given me the bug to explore more of Europe's major cities and is certainly somewhere I'd like to travel to again.

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