Mostly - Looking Back

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A lot of bloggers have done a round up of 2013. For me, 2013, has been a long difficult year, which for the last 4 or 5 months appears to have been tainted with sadness and difficulties. That's not to say the whole of 2013 has been terrible, far from it in fact. It's just that sometimes the bad seems to outweigh the good. As a family we did have some sad times at the beginning of the year, although I didn't necessarily blog about those.

January to April

January saw the start of my Mostly.... post and my first post focused on the heavy snowfall. I loved seeing Toby hunting for snowballs that he failed to catch, and us all coming home cold and wet to snuggle up in the warmth together. Sometimes the best things in life are very much free!

February seems to have been the month of staying in and watching various TV programmes, DVD box sets, reading plenty of books and doing a wee bit of shopping. 

March was a lovely month, as I took the opportunity to take some well needed time off from work, and completely revamped my spare room cum office. I've prettied up my desk even further since then and it genuinely makes me happy to sit there and work or blog. I also has a lovely day out thrifting in Lincoln with my best friend and chief bridesmaid, and we indulged in plenty of cake and vintage shops. I also celebrated my blog's first birthday (I can't believe I'm almost coming up to 2 years in a couple of months!) and I really enjoyed researching various tips tricks and posts to put together my series of posts about blogging. 
I went to see my favourite band, Stereophonics, for the 7th/8th time? I can't remember to be honest, I've seen them so many times now, but I could literally go to one of their gigs every week!
I also got to meet some lovely bloggers including Alex, Char, Rosie and, Sophie when they kindly allowed me to gatecrash their blogger weekend for lunch one afternoon.

In April I finally got to meet my blog-girl Sarah! Sarah was one of the first bloggers I really interacted with, but since the middle of the year she has disappeared from the blogging world, for various reasons. She has recently come back with a bang and a shiny new blog so please go give her lots of love. We met up with the beautiful Rachel for a fab day of shopping in London, and are hoping for a repeat of this in the near future - maybe involving a few cheeky vinos this time Sarah?
Me and my bestie also took my Mum and her bestie to see Meatloaf in concert which was fab!

May to August

In May we decided to take a leap and actually book our wedding. May was a flurry of wedding activity of booking the church, reception venue, DJ and photographer. Strangely enough after that, it went very quiet on the wedding front - it does seem to come and go in spurts really.
May was another a month for blogger activities in the form of the #SheffieldMeetUp. I got to meet up with lovely Abby and we've stayed in touch since - although despite many discussions regarding the issue, we are yet to meet up again! 
I had a fab weekend away with my girls in Newcastle, which mostly involved lots of giggles, glam dresses and alcohol. Geordie Shore we were not but hey, we had an amazing time! The only fly in ointment of the whole weekend, was that my cat went missing for over five days whilst I was away. I was absolutely devastated, and as she is a house cat and we live so close to a main road, I obviously feared the worse. I was so relieved when she came back and we haven't stopped spoiling her since!

June was my birthday month, but it was a reasonably quiet affair after our raucous behaviour in Newcastle. My favourite part of June, and probably the whole year really, was spending a few days in Northumberland with my two boys, in the middle of no where, for days filled with dog walks, evenings in the hot tub, and books by the fire.

July saw a bit of a heatwave in the UK and it was nice to spend so much time outside, barbecuing, wearing lovely summer outfits and generally enjoying the gorgeous weather we were blessed with. This also resulted in a frantic week spent at the vets when Toby became really unwell.
I also found out I was successful in gaining a promotion position at work.

August saw another flurry of wedding planning and organising and thinking about some of the finer details. August was a really stressful time work wise, and I struggled to keep it in check at times. I did a post about my simple pleasures in August, which did help refocus my mind about what was important in life and what made me genuinely happy.

September to December

September pretty much saw the decline in positivity and spirits in our family. There were two bereavements on separate sides of our family in September, Scott's granddad and my grandma. I'm fortunate to say I reached the age of 28 without having ever gone to a funeral, and in one year I ended up going to three! Towards the end of the month I had a week off work following having two wisdom teeth removed. I read plenty of books though!

I spent a lot of October visiting my grandfather in hospital as he became ill quite suddenly in some respects. I did manage to fit in a bit of a shopping binge, but between the hospital and working like a mad thing in order to start my new job, October flew by without doing very much at all.

I began my new position at the start of November, which I hoped would be a turning point, sadly it was not meant to be, and on Armistice Day, my grandad sadly passed away. It was also his birthday. The last time I'd visited him, I'd just bought a new car, as the gearbox on my beloved Mini began to fail, but the fact that the money had to come out of the wedding fund took the shine off it somehow. My Mum and my auntie asked me to do the reading at my Granddad's funeral, and as we decided to cater the wake ourselves, I baked cakes which I knew he would have loved.

Unbelievably December featured a funeral as well, as my Grandmother's sister died. This had been anticipated for sometime but attending the day before Christmas Eve was not what I had anticipated. The other downside to the losing of relatives (aside from the obvious!) is the inevitable family fall out that comes with it all. One of the nice parts though is the discoveries that are made, and my great great grandparents love letters were one of these.
By the time Christmas rolled around, I would have almost not minded if it had never arrived. My Mum had to work on Christmas Day, so I didn't see my family properly over Christmas, but we spent the day with Scott's family and Boxing Day was the first day we had spent at home in over two weeks. Needless to say it was therefore a day of Pj's onesies and chocolate for breakfast! I'm having my parents over for dinner tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to but all in all, '13 was an unlucky year for me, and I'm very much ready for 2014. We are still deciding what to do this evening, as a number of our friends and family are away, but as we got enaged at midnight on New Years Eve two years ago, we would like to celebrate in some respects.

 Don't forget to enter my book giveaway!

BBB Book Review & Giveaway - The Taming of the Tights

Monday, 30 December 2013

I'm doing things a bit topsy, turvy this month by posting my book review before my monthly mostly post. Both posts are late, and last month neither post made it to being published! Those of you that read this post will fully understand why though.

Anyway, I finished work for Christmas on 13th December, and I've been very lucky to have a whole three weeks off! During that time I've been catching up on some well required R&R, which for me always involves a good book.

"The tights run wild and free in the hilarious new novel from the Queen of Comedy! 

Tallulah Casey is putting all thoughts of wild boy Cain behind her. He is literally an animal in trousers...oo-er. Not like nice boy Charlie (who she's totally not thinking about either). The Tree Sisters are chasing those golden slippers of applause at performing arts college but Dr Lightowler seems hell-bent on spoiling everything for Tallulah. And with all her mates loved up, can Tallulah resist the call of her wild boy?"

Having previously read all of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson novels, I was keen to read her new series, featuring Tallulah Casey, so when I was asked if I would like to review Tallulah's latest outing, I jumped at the chance.*

Tallulah and her thespian friends attend Dother Hall (or Dither Hall as its known to the locals) a theatre school in North Yorkshire, and the books are her diaries chronicling her (mis) adventures and pursuit of the local lads and Woolfe Academy boys. If you're a teenager, have ever been a teenager or remember being one, you will find this very very funny.

I would say that if you haven't read the previous books, you will struggle with this one, as you're not likely to have a clue who anyone is, what's going on, or what random phrases such as "the golden slippers of applause" and "corker-holder" (although I'm sure you can guess!) are all about. If you have read the others then you'll really enjoy this particular episode, as out of all three books, this is the one that made me laugh most often. Louise Rennison's books are always laugh out loud funny, and reading this one late at night, whilst my other half was asleep, was probably not the best idea!

I didn't expect to enjoy this, as I was worried it might be too similar to the Georgia Nicholson books, but I actually identified with Tallulah's character much more than Georgia, particular that feeling of not always quite fitting in and being a little on the outside. All three books end similarly, with performance for the locals, and I wonder how Rennison can keep this theme going, or actually whether she should deviate from this in her next book.

I really enjoyed this, and look forward to the next outing of Tallulah and the Tree-Sisters!

Now is your chance to win your own marvy copy of The Taming of The Tights! I've considered how best to run this, and rather than the usual Rafflecopter you-must-follow-me, tweet a gazillion times, and jump-through-flaming-bring-hoops malarkey, I thought I'd keep this one simple.

In order to be entered to win a copy of The Taming of The Tights, please leave a comment below telling me:

"What's your favourite laugh-out-loud, comedy book?"

Please also leave your email address in your comment so I can contact the winner easily.  I will then put all the valid entries into a hat and draw out a winner. I will run this for one week and any entries after the 6th Jan 2014, will not be counted. Only one entry per person.

Please do feel free to tweet about/share the giveaway if you wish, but this isn't part of the entering process.

Good Luck!

*This book was sent to me to review

Tartan Trend

Monday, 16 December 2013

Tartan, check, plaid, we all might call it different things, but this season, this print is practically everywhere! It's made its way into our wardrobes and into our home wear.
Ever since I was a kid I've loved tartan. I remember my Dad buying me a tartan dress to wear one Christmas (did anyone else get a new dress and new pjs to wear on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day) which I loved. I recall I had tartan ribbons in my (then) long ginger hair. It was very similar to the current one that's in Primark right now. It was probably a bit geeky back then, but now I'd be the height of cool, right down to my knee high cable knit socks!
Tartan, in particular, Black Watch, will be playing a large part in my wedding plans, the theme of which we have dubbed 'Highland Vintage" (watch this space!!) and that, and its associated heritage, mean a lot to my family.
Its hardly surprising then, that I've fully embraced the tartan trend, and looking to add more to my wardrobe. Since buying this Glamorous dress a few weeks ago, I've been on the look out for other ways to add this gorgeous print to my wardrobe.
I'm no stranger to a good checked shirt, but every wardrobe could handle another, and I love the combination of brown and pink in the check of this one by Equestrian Clearance.
This Zara scarf is all over Pinterest, but seems to have sold out everywhere! (Photo source) I've also come across the one in the black watch tartan on Ebay that I am determined to get my hands on, but I may just have to have both! Well, the blue and navy won't go with every outfit, will it??
This brown oversized jacket by Boohoo, is a great way to try out the tartan trend if your a little nervous of the more obvious tartan prints. I'm not a big fan of the red myself, although I've been a little more drawn to it now the festive season is here, but I'm not sure it will have the longevity of some of the other colours.
Finally, the tartan I've been banging on about throughout this post. This little skater skirt in Black Watch by Daisy Street is as cute as a button. All that's missing is some super cosy tights and a big old chunky knit on top! Can you guess my wedding colours yet??
Are you embracing the tartan/check/plaid trend? What do you refer to it as?

*PR Collaboration

Christmas Wishlist

Friday, 13 December 2013

Untitled #8

I'm so behind with posts and haven't even started on Christmas yet!

When it comes to wishlists and choosing gifts for myself, I think I'm a pretty straightforward person t buy Christmas presents for. I'm one of those people that ask for all the 'boring' things. You know those lists where they list the most unimaginative gifts you could buy for people? Yeah well buy them all for me!
I'm happy with pyjamas; socks, slippers and smellies. Top me off with a book token, and a scented candle and that's my perfect night in right there under the tree!
Although I'm a serial spender, certain things I don't tend to  spend my own money on. Everything in my wishlist (aside from maybe books) are all those things. I love to get luxury bath products for Christmas, as often friends and relatives buy me products I never would have even thought of selecting for myself. Is tore them all up in my bathroom cabinet to use at my leisure through the year then.
Cosy slippers and snuggly pj's are a must for Christmas. Coupled with socks (chunky fluffy cosy ones of course) they are a January staple, as lets face it, I'm not going to be going out anywhere! So I intend to spend the majority of month (when I'm not at work, in my Christmas-bought lounge wear). I've also got a not so secret craving for a onsie (sorry not sorry)
On my wishlist this year I have added two books I'm desperate to read. I've been so tempted to buy them on my kindle, but I'm made myself wait in the hope that some nice person buys them for Christmas (Scott I'm looking at you here!) I'm not back at work unti; 6th Jan, and wth my new job, I seem to have a lot less work to do, which means I have more time for reading and blogging when I'm at home! Yey!
Finally on y wishlist is a new purse. I've had my current one a couple of years now, and although it's still pretty intact, some of the edging has started to wear off and its generally looking abit tired. I'm qite fussy about my purses, and choices are therefore limit. My specifications are a slot of notes so I don't have to fold them up, plenty of card slots, and a zip or clasped coin purse. This one from Nica fits the bill.
So when you're considering buying gifts for someone, don't necessarily strike off the obvious, as they might have a wishlist just like mine!
What 'unimaginative' items are on your wishlist this year?

100 year old love letters.........

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

One of the many downsides of losing a relative is the sad and often laborious process of going through a person's belongings. The memories and belongings of the now deceased. The hidden secrets that when they were alive, there would have be no question of even looking at some of these things, but now it seems acceptable to look at rifle through and read anything that the hand touches.
During one of the many hours spent in this task - deciding what is no longer of use, what is to be saved, sold or given away, I came across a navy blue suitcase. Among the many other boxes cases and crates, this was in pretty good order, and the perfect colour for my upcoming nuptials.
Inside was a vintage treasure trove of letters, photographs and postcards.
I soon realised these were the letters sent to my Great Great Grandmother from her husband (a photograph can be seen in this post) both prior to their marriage, and during his time in the Boer War and World War 1.
Prior to the marriage, both my Great Great Grandparents were 'in service'. I'm not entirely sure of his role, but I believe she was the cook. The family certainly took her with them whenever they travelled to any of their other residences.
The letters discusses their day to day lives, carrying out their duties, general gossip, and often, how much he misses her.
June 1902
"Well Dear I expect there is no hopes of you coming down this week. I wish they would come if only for a day it seems such a long time wince you were here Love. But the time is passing on now we shall soon have June over then there will only be July and the London season will be over Love."
July 1902
"I got weighted to day. I have lost 10 pounds in this last fortnight so I think I shall get down to riding weight"
It appears Great Great Grandfather Fred, let a rather large cat out of the bag on one occasions - although Rosa obviously forgave him, as they married in Nov 1902.
Aug 1902
"Love I did not think there was anyone knew anything about it but ourselves Love. I remember Ernest asking me when we came back from Nottingham if you like your place Love and if I thought you would stay in it and I told him you did not like it and you were not staying in it and then I told him I knew you would not take another Love as you was going to give up service."
It all sounds rather Downton Abbey!
The letters stop for a number of years, until he goes away to war.
May 1916, Cyprus
"Well Love things are just about the same here. I got 241 more in on Friday they keep coming and going but the funny part about it we never get any of our boys they are all strangers to me. "
"Well Love how is Mary and Willie going on. I expect Mary is getting a big girl now. I often try to imagine standing against the school wall that last time I left home Love." 
Occasionally he discusses the horrors of war. I one poignant letter, which I could barely read for the tears flooding down my face, he describes his first death, of one of the men in the hospital in which he worked, and how he arranged the best burial he could with what he had available. When I've read of such things, the idea of a burial has not even occurred to me in the past. I suppose their was no prospect of the dead being returned home for burial back then.
approx. Sept 1917 Egypt
"Just a line to let you know I have arrived at my new station and taken over my duties......I think I shall like the job alright and they seem a good lot of chaps what I can see of them. I shall be able to fill you in more on my next letter."
All are signed either "with fondest love" or "your loving husband" and numerous kisses for her and the children.
In the pictures you can see a number of my ancestors. The embroidered postcard was one that Rosa sent to Fred, to send him her love and well wishes. There are no letters from her, only cards and postcards. In the postcard album are a number of photographic postcards, which Fred has sent home. Pictures of animals such as camels, which he sent home to his children. There is also his field diary where he recorded when they landed and disembarked at certain locations. The men they left with, and how many returned.
There was also a small "Birthday Book", which upon sight my Mum scurried away. In it are the births deaths and marriages of every single family member. It was started by Rosa, and my Grandad updated it as recently as 2008. My Mum has decided to continue to tradition, and it was a real comfort to see his words in his handwriting, knowing the pride he took in his family and his loved ones. Knowing that I am part of that, and part of a much bigger family then I often realise.
I have archived all of these letters in plastic wallets with their corresponding tiny envelopes. It seems such a sad thing to do, as I loved taking each one out and carefully unfolding it, but as so many are written in pencil, the words are slowly being rubbed away.
I have Mary to thank for saving these wonderful things. It seems strange to think she was being referred to in letters over 100 years ago, yet I met her, and have rather strong memories of her. I believe I was also one of her "favourites" from the stories I am told.
My grandfather made it back from the war safe and well, and lived well into his 80s. He and his wife (I am told) remained very much in love throughout their lives, and their is a rather beautiful quote on her gravestone that he chose for her.
I intend to use the suitcase to hold my cards at my wedding. Considering it has held the letters of a loving couple for so many years, it seems rather fitting it should hold the love and wishes for our future too, don't you think?

Bookworm Tag

Sunday, 8 December 2013


I wanted to start off by saying thank you those of you who took the time to comment on my last post, or send me tweets or emails. They all meant a lot and I needed very word.

I thought I would get back into blogging by starting off with a tag post. As this time of year makes me want to hibernate in a snuggly jumper with a good book, I thought I'd do a book tag. Jennie is one of my recent blog loves, and like me, is a real bookworm. She did a couple of tag posts on her blog, which I've combined into one here.

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
I can't exactly remember how, but I remember why. It was most definitely through my mother. A fellow bookworm with her own library it was certainly a love she nurtured in me. I recall reading every single Secret Seven and Famous Five, before moving on to The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High. I regret getting rid of a lot of these now!
Where do you usually read?
Usually in bed. I always like to wind down, even if its for 10 minutes, by reading before I turn off the light and sleep. If I'm reading during the day, I like to be snuggles up on the sofa, amongst the blankets and cushions, with Toby and Star snuggled up with me. Accompanied by a cup of tea of course!
Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
One at a time. I can't understand how people can read more than one book at a time - that seems like watching half a film, switching it off then starting another before getting to the end. I'd lose the thread of the story and the characters.

What is your favourite genre?
Mystery stories are my favourite, again I think this comes from my mum, as this is pretty much the only genre she reads. Despite this, we do tend to prefer different authors and styles of writing to one another, although there are certain authors we both love.

Is there a genre you will not read?
I wouldn't say I would never read any genre, although I tend to avoid anything within the true-life abuse types stories, such as A Child Called It. You know the ones I mean - they are usually in abundance in the local supermarket. I have read A Child Called It, but for me, it's like going to work, and I like books to be a bit more escapist.

Do you have a favourite book?
Surely this is akin to asking a mother to chose a favourite child! It is impossible to pick just one. It's all dependant on my mood. I think I will play safe and go with the Harry Potter series (yes I know that isn't just one book), but it's series I hold very dear to my heart, for so many reasons, a series a grew up with, and still love no matter how many times I read it even now as an adult.

What is your least favourite book?
I don't tend to read books that I think I might not like, or if I do, I stop reading them halfway through, so I can't really think of any I didn't like.

What is the longest book you have ever read?
I genuinely had to look this up, as I couldn't think of anything longer than Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix. Turns out, this is the longest book I've read! I don't tend to select books by length, but I must go for shorter ones!

What was the last book you bought?
I bought a few books all in one go recently - Jamie's Ministry of Food, Save with Jamie, A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb, The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith, (which I reviewed here) and Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs.
 Do you prefer library books or buying books?
In my early teens I practically lived in my local library. I often volunteered and helped out too, and I would easily take home my full 16 book quota for the month and read them all. Now I tend to buy my books, as my local library is rather small and the opening hours are rather limited, so I was often getting fines. By buying books it does mean I tend to stick to known authors or genre's. I will occasionally try a book out if I've seen a cheap one in the charity shop.

What are you currently reading?
A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb.
Where do you buy your books?
Lots of places. I tend to go to Amazon first and trawl through the new and used if I'm looking for a particular book. I'll pick up books I've got on my 'to buy' list, or that just catch my fancy if I'm in the charity shop. Whenever I go in the supermarket I am inexplicably drawn to the book aisle, to see what has recently been released and what is on offer at that time, as they are often just as cheap as Amazon. I don't tend to shop in places like Waterstones, but I love a good secondhand bookshop!

Do you ever pre-order books?
I don't think I've ever pre-ordered a book, even though I've known ones coming up that I want to read. I tend to wait until other people have read them and then buy their used copies if I can.

How many books do you buy a month?
I haven't bought any books since the ones listed above which I bought in October. I probably won't buy any this month either as I'm hoping to get some for Christmas! Books as gifts always make me happy! (Assuming I haven't read them!) On average I'd say 2 per month.

Do you use your local library?
I've sort of answered this question further up. Now that I have a bit more time to read with my new job I might venture back down there. Even though I don't use them very often due to my working patterns, it would be a real shame for them to go, as a child I loved them, and they are a great way to encourage kids to read.

What do you think of library books?
I think they are a great way of trying out books you may enjoy without spending a penny. I like to collect certain books I enjoy so if I read something in the library, I'm just as likely to go and buy it anyway!

How do you feel about second hand charity shop books?
I love them. I have absolutely no issue with buying secondhand books. Sometimes I love books when they are a bit battered and worn in than when they are brand new, as they seem so much more loved. You never know what you might fall upon in the charity shop, and I always gravitate towards the back of the shop to the bookshelves.

Do you keep your rad and to-be-read books together?
Yes, as I group my books together by 'sets' on my bookshelves, so they all get mixed in.

Do you plan to read all the books you own?
Absolutely. I only keep books I enjoy and that are usually part of a series, so most of them are already read, but I will read all the others too.

What do you do with books you own that you know won't be re-read?
Some I keep, particularly if it's part of a series I enjoy, as I may re-read it in the future, or lend it out to people (like my own library!) otherwise I give it away or donate it to the charity shop.

Have you ever donated books?
Yep all the time. Aside from textbooks I've never sold books, I always donate them or give them away if I'm not keeping them

Have you ever been on a book buying ban?
I try to go on spending bans and include books within that, but no not really. I don't necessarily see books as a commodity, and I certainly think they should be much cheaper to encourage people to read.

Do you think you own too many books?
No way! If I've got the space I'm happy to fill it with books. My Mum owns hundreds more than me and she's still collecting them! When I run out of room, I might have to be more ruthless with that I keep, but for now I can't see it being possible to own too many books.

Well doing this post has inspired me to go off and read a book, so I tag you all to do this post too. If you do, please let me know in the comments below!
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