Time for us....

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I've had so many unplanned blogging breaks of late, but it's just because life is just too busy at times. Even my downtime seems to be busy, or even when its not, sometimes I just need to completely chill out and relax, and although blogging is a hobby I enjoy, at times it can get a little stressy.

I haven't been abroad since we went to Cuba three years ago. I know for some people this isn't a big deal, but as someone who usually goes away once per year, this is a long time for me! My husband has still managed to top up his tan in between with various 'lads' short breaks, but when you work in quite a stressful job, the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing is something I really look forward to!

We've had a couple of UK mini breaks over the last couple of years but with saving for our wedding and having Toby and Star,  abroad holidays are going to be something of a rarity. I always thought I would never be a lazying at the beach kind of person, and as much as I enjoy our adventuring, sometimes a girl just needs to kick back and enjoy a bit of downtime in pure luxury.

This year Scott and I are going to Sensatori Egypt for our honeymoon, albeit a little late! We were so lucky that so many of our guests contributed towards our honeymoon fund, and it meant we could go for that little extra, by having a swim up room in the adults only section. As a couple with no children at this time in our lives, that bit of peace and quiet and privacy is exactly what we both need. The warm weather we've had recently in England has only wetted my appetite further to feel the warm hot sun on my face!

I am literally on countdown to our holiday now, so these pictures are probably as much for my benefit as yours! I've never been to Egypt, or a Sensatori hotel before, but the reviews suggest I won't be disappointed! I also turn 30 whilst we are away so I will certainly be making use of the resort spa in an effort to turn back the clock so to speak!

Have you been to Sensatori Egypt? Do you have any tips?

BBB Book Review - Mr Churchill's Secretary

Monday, 6 April 2015

Mr Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Now and again I like to ignore the age old adage of "don't judge a book by it's cover." Occasionally I like to pop into The Works as they often have 3 books for £5, which are usually quite unusual or unknown. I spotted the cover of this book due to the leading lady's striking red hair and the bomber planes in the background. When the corner title implied it was a mystery novel, for the price, I had to give it (and the next two novels in the series) a try.

"London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself."

My keen eye for an attractive cover served me well on this occasion, and I was hooked throughout! I've always been a bit of a lover of WW2 Home Front fiction and mystery novels are usually my genre of choice.  As the novel is set against the backdrop of real events and feature real people you have to expect some level of artistic licence with some things. The book is a work of fiction and doesn't pretend to be entirely accurately historical. That being said it seems well researched and references the era well.  To some extent I could have happily just read about Maggie's strife's of living in war torn London, but add in codebreaking, Bletchley and MI5 and I was a happy little bookworm. At first you wouldn't necessarily know it is a mystery novel as the sections featuring Maggie are generally about her day to day life, but every now and again there are little snippets of other people that hint that Maggie's life may be about to get a bit more complex.

I found Maggie a likeable character and although other reviews I have read have commented that she is not entirely believable, I feel that her level of intellect is clearly backed up by her character biography. Without spoiling the plot line I liked the way the story twists and turns and it's been a while since I've sped through a book so quickly. I've already started the next book in the series!

Can you recommend any other books like Maggie Hope that I might enjoy reading? 

Britain Does Vintage Kelham Hall

Saturday, 4 April 2015

I've been meaning to post this for a while, however, as well as some technical problems with my computer, I've had an issue with a trapped nerve in my right arm, which has affected me being able to use the computer much. But rather than continue with my unintended blogging hiatus, I thought the bank holiday was a perfect time to jump back in!

On the Saturday before Mother's Day I decided to treat my Mum to a vintage day out. Someone had shared a post on Facebook regarding a Vintage Fair at Kelham Hall, Newark, being held by Britain Does Vintage. Kelham Hall is in easy travelling distance from where I live, and the entrance free was a snip at just £5 in advance.

Every room was crammed with gorgeous vintage items, from dresses to kitchenalia. Any vintage lover would have been happy to spend hours browsing and rummaging through the wares on offer. I spotted this gorgeous box set of Lotus pearls to replace my own which have recently broken, and managed to barter them to £12.50.

I loved that so many people got into the spirit of the day, with both men and women wearing their best vintage ensemble. There were also various bands and singers at various times which added to the general atmosphere - and quite a few people decided to have a dance!

My friend had joined us for the day and had found her attempt at victory rolls had gone rather flat, so we went along to one of the hair workshops that was on during the day to learn how to perfect the victory roll for the perfect vintage look!

After a hard morning of vintage shopping, there's only really one way to finish the day and that's with a spot of afternoon tea! The tea room within Kelham Hall was understandably rather busy, so we  backtracked our way to The Hay Barn Cafe at Kneesall, for homemade quiche, salad and cakes, and the most enormous pot of tea three people have ever seen!

It's been a while since I've shared any of my adventures on the blog, so I'm pleased to be able to start doing again!

Have you been to any of the Britain Does Vintage Fairs? There are many other fairs up and down the country, so if you haven't been before, I would definitely recommend it!

Brooch and Fabric Flower Bouquet

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Around this time last year I took on what was probably, on reflection, one of the most insane decisions I have ever made. As my entire wedding was done on a budget, and I was looking to cut costs in every way I could, I found the concept of spending hundreds of pounds on flowers (which would ultimately die within days) slightly ludicrous! As a result of my Pinterest addiction I'd set my heart on a brooch bouquet, but then having priced them up on Etsy, I knew they were way out of my price range, so, being the slightly mental person I clearly I am, I decided this was something I was going to have to DIY.

An entire brooch bouquet, even a DIY one, was also likely to be costly as a result of its current trendiness and the overall cost of buying supplies. It also made it difficult to decide which way to go with button holes and bridesmaids bouquets.

I stumbled across fabric flower bouquets and through a combination of various YouTube videos and a bit of guess work I was able to produce my own bouquet, two matching bridemaids bouquets, two flowergirl wands and eight buttonholes for around £40 in total! I was lucky to pick the fabric up cheap and the rest of the supplies came from eBay. Brooches were produced through a combination of family donations, eBay and charity shops.

For my bouquet I used a couple of different fabric flower types but in the main (and all the flowers in the bridesmaids bouquets) were peony style. The best (and easiest to follow tutorial) is this one from The Polka Dot Closet. I added a couple of rolled ribbon rosettes and various other styles in my bouquet as I wanted it to be quite mis-matched and you can find plenty of these tutorials all over the internet. I used a combination of colours within my bouquet, starting with a cream and a beige/gold fabric as my base colour, to match the ivory shades in my wedding dress and then the navy and pink picked out the colours in the bridesmaid dresses.

For the brooches within my bouquet, some of the smaller ones became the centres for my flowers. The larger heavier ones, I wired individually. I also used pearl beads and buttons for flower centres - some I hot glued in, some I stitched on. (This generally depended on how tired I was at the time!) I then glued a piece of matching ribbon to the bottom of each flower, glued the wire in the middle, before twisting it, and then folded the ribbon over the top. (This attached the wire to the bottom of the flower.) After  twisting, I wrapped floral tape over the top of the wire - this gives extra padding and stops the wires poking through later.

One of the tutorials I struggled to find on the Internet was actually how to form the bouquet. I didn't take photographs of the stages so I'll just try to explain. This is just the way I found easiest for me - there are other ways that you can trying, including using floral oasis.

Each individual flower or brooch was separately wired, so by the end I had a big bunch of them that was all wired up, which I then cut so they were more or less the same length. I began with the largest brooch as my starting point, and wrapped the wire around a piece of wooden dowling that I had cut to length. (I would suggest leaving this slightly longer than you think you need, as you can cut shorter at the end.) I also wrapped two or three flowers together in a bunch, before wrapping them around the dowling post also. I didn't glue anything at this point, and by just wrapping the wire it meant I could undo anything and change it. The wire also meant I could bend the flowers out to fill out my bouquet as I built it up.

Once I was happy with everything, and after cutting everything down to the length I needed, I wrapped wadding around what had now become my handle, to make it a bit softer, and then wrapped ribbon over the top, hot gluing as I went. The end is a little fiddly, but you can melt the end off with a flame and seal it up neat and tidy. I finished it off by hot gluing a lace collar underneath the flowers (it generally clings to the exposed wires you haven't covered with the ribbon) to tidy it off. I also tided on a ribbon to pretty up and embellish.

I used exactly the same method it make my button holes - just on a smaller scale and you don't need the wooden centre.

These types of bouquets really are a labour of love, but they are something that will last forever. I was able to include family mementos in my bouquet which made it extra special. You need to put aside plenty of time as the first couple seem fun but it quickly becomes very tedious - this is not something to do two weeks before you get married! I suggest getting a few girls over to help out - unless you want it to be a big surprise. I tended to do one or two flowers a night whilst watching TV, which took the chore out of it somewhat and then sat and formed it all on a weekend.

The brooch bouquet is quite heavy and doesn't have the same level of flexibility as the fabric bouquets do. They are also limited in terms of how big you can actually make them using this method - these are not going to be big bouquets.Also laying them down can make them go flat, so make sure you keep it stood up as much in advance as you can and ensure your bridesmaids don't just lay it down when they take it off you in church!

Are you are a fan of these types of bouquets? Do you think you might consider doing something like this?

90s Fashion and Beauty mistakes……..

Sunday, 8 February 2015

I love reading all those little Buzzfeed lists that get shared all over the internet, where you sit along nodding, thinking ‘yep that was me’. I saw one recently about things 90s girls did which inspired me to do one about the fashion and beauty blunders I made in my youth.

If your Mum was pretty cool you may have been allowed to get a perm. If she wasn’t you probably used crimpers. I generally spent most of my youth with the ‘sliding doors’ crop (which never looked right as I didn’t have naturally straight hair and although we seemed to have worked out how to add more kinks we couldn’t work out how to make it straight!) so crimpers were very early on in the 90s for me, but it endured the era!
Butterfly Clips
One of the trends I could rock was the little twists pinned with butterfly clips. Long or short every 90s chick worth their salt had these in their hair!

Hair Gel
Excess hair gel crossed both genders. Whether it was to spike up your crop, comb down your curtains or perfect your ‘flick’ the more gel the better. The majority of my friends generally sported the ‘face-lift’ pony tail with the two of the tiniest bits of hair to ‘frame their face’ hanging down the front, gelled within an inch of their life.

Tattoo Necklace
It never looked anything like a tattoo and even if I had a tattoo I was probably never going to have one like this round my neck.

Adidas Poppers
The epitome of cool – every non uniform day these bad boys would come out, because really you wanted the boys to pull them open to show your legs off! (The fact you could have just worn a skirt was never considered!) If you could get away with these for PE you were totally bad ass! I thought I was the schizz because mine were a lilac pair, teamed with my… 

Kappa Trainers 
Adidas and Nike were far too main stream, Kappa was practically designer! Also it had two nudey ladies as their symbol. Totally cool. The fact that this brand is now cheaper than Primark says something really.
Lip Liner 
Ahhhh the clear sign of any nighties girl was when her lip liner was ten shades darker than her Collection 2000 frosted coffee lipstick. It wasn’t a good look then. It’s even worse now. 

Blue Eyeshadow 
Of course, what went fantastically with your mismatched lips, was bright blue eyeshadow – to bring out the colour in your eyes obviously. If you had your hands on Barry M glitter powder too, well you may as well have quit school and become a make-up artist! 

Sun In 
It never worked, no matter what colour your hair was. If you were already blonde, it had a tendency to turn your hair green. If you were a red head like me it wasn’t even going to show up. 

Blonde Streaks 
What was it about the 90s that made us have an obsession about going blonde? Male or female, you were either blonde, or had streaks put in. Usually of the really yellow variety. I now realise that I was never going to achieve this look with a semi-permanent dye from my local Superdrug and it was going to take a lot of bleach to achieve anything like blonde. Now I realise I should have just embraced my natural colour all along! 

Mood Rings 
They changed colour depending on how warm you were and they made your finger green. Never a good look, But they made you look all boho. 

Jeans and Checked shirts. 
Now don’t get me wrong I rock a pair of skinnies and a fitted plaid on a regular basis but in the nineties it involved baggy ‘mom’ jeans and a large man’s lumberjack tied around your waist. I thought I looked like Claire Danes, in My So Called Life, all full of teen angst – in reality I looked like the 12 year old tomboy I was!

Luckily my lack of hair prevented me ever falling into this hair fashion trap – they were usually sported with a ridiculously high side pony.
Big Hats 
I did however partake in the trend for massive floppy Paddington bear hats – ala Blossom. (Was I the only one who tried to do the split jump thing at the start when the credits were on?) 

Blathering yourself in Impulse (or Charlie red) in lieu of having an actual shower after PE was never a great idea in terms of 90s teen personal hygiene. Added to the fact Impulse was not actually an antiperspirant you were never going to smell great! 

Can you remember any of these 90s fashion and beauty mistakes? Can you think of any others?

MAC Pro Longwear LipColour Review

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

When choosing my make up for my wedding, I knew I wanted a professional make up artist. I'm generally a bit rubbish at doing my make up (as you can see!) and I wanted something that would last all day and look good on camera. When I went for my make up trial I asked them to tell me the lipgloss they used, so I could purchase in order to top up through the day. In the end I didn't have to top up much (and generally I didn't have time!), but I have used the lipgloss regularly since.

I own MAC lipsticks but I had never bought anything from their Pro range before. This LipColour is designed to be long lasting and has two elements to it; the long lasting colour and a clear lipgloss to go over the top. This colour is called Unchanging, which is a pinky/purpley colour. Its a colour that can be worn everyday but also gives enough colour that its noticeable and not a completely nude colour.

The colour goes on well with the little sponge applicator. You have to wait for it to fully dry before applying the gloss. I have found it is quite important to ensure that your lips are soft and flake free as the main downside to this gloss is that when as it dries it can dry out your lips quite a bit, and start to go flakey. I have a tendency to rub my lips together a lot, and the more you do this, the more the colour starts to flake off your lips. If you frequently re-apply the gloss that does combat it. The clear lipgloss is starting to discolour a bit due to the transfer of colour, so I think after a while it might start to look at bit manky. The colour does last well and there is little or no transfer and its easy ot use  without the need for lipliner.

Overall I like this colour and gloss combo and I do still use it fairly often.. At £18 it's not overly cheap but I have been considering purchasing the more red shade in the range.

Have you used any of the MAC Pro range?

Black Is My New Navy

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Everyone always talks about the 'little black dress' and 'black being the new black' but I've generally always chosen navy over black. I find it a less harsher colour and more flattering to my skin tone. However, lately I've been buying a fair amount of black (and grey and white as it happens) and I thought I would share some recent additions to my wardrobe (even though one of them is tan!!)

I was looking for a new bag for work. Although I love my Zara bag, I found I wasn't carrying around quite so much paperwork, so wasn't in need of the different compartments so much, but needed something wide enough to carry my Filofax. My husband bought me this bag from New Look for Christmas. So far its perfect, and even gets in an A4 notebook which surprised me. The only downside is that the carry handles are a little too short to put over my shoulder so I use the carry strap as well.

Additionally it goes perfectly well with my new faux leather jacket and scarf!. I wasn't truly in the market for a new jacket but I'd been thinking about it as I wanted something a bit more fitted. By chance, just before Christmas I spotted this one in Hollister which was half price. I like the casual-look added by the jersey hood, but it can then be zipped off when needed. It is slightly odd in that some of the seams have this odd wiring in them which means you can bend the collar to how you want it - this sounds good in principle but actually its somewhat damned annoying. I first saw this scarf in Kate's post and decided that I needed to add this to my ever growing collection of blanket scarves.

I also made a couple of sale purchases in New Look, as well as buying two pairs of flat ankle boots. I've been contemplating buying these for a while. I tend to wear heels and worry I look a bit odd in flat boots, but both these black and tan ones look great with a pair of jeans. I even wore the black pair with a dress to work during the snow the other day which meant I still looked smart but didn't run the risk of slipping over.

What do you think to my current faves?

Sundays are for......

Sunday, 25 January 2015

//All bedding from Dunelm Mill//

1. Snuggling (with my fur babies and my husband!)
2. Staying in bed late
3. Long  muddy dog walks
4. Lazy breakfasts in bed
6. Cosy comfy clothes
7. No make up
8. Lots of cups of tea
9. Bacon sandwiches
10. Having a hair-product free day
11. Catching up on blogs
12. Snacking on toasted tea cakes 
13. Binge watching TV
14. Roast dinners
15. Quiet contemplation time
16. Long naps
17. Hot baths
18. Taking it slow
19. Fuzzy Pyjamas
20. Early nights!

How do you spend your Sunday?

When did an opinion have to be everyone elses too?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Last night I was having a chat with some of the FBL girls when a twitter-storm went off. I didn't really want to jump on a bandwagon and seriously considered whether to post this or not, however I felt quite passionately about the fall out over what had occurred.

The ins and outs of the situation, and the who said whats, are neither here nor there really, as that wasn't my concern. What concerned me was that one person voiced their view on something and were instantly faced with a torrent of abuse from various individuals via Twitter. The comment wasn't overly negative, it was just someone's point of view, but the effect was pretty massive.

But this isn't the first time this type of thing has happened. There have been various occurences of One Direction fans, for example, trolling people who have had the gall to voice their opinion on social media; and remember all that stuff over Zoella's ghostwriter a few months back?

If someone is just being unnecessarily nasty, then fair play for them to be called out - but what if you were just saying you didn't like something 90% of the population liked? If all you're friends were a huge fan of Dairy Milk, and you preferred Galaxy, would you expect them to threaten to hunt down your family if you said "nah I'm not all that fussed thanks"? Hopefully not! I might be over simplifying things but essentially this is the reality. So what if you don't like a particular band, or Youtuber, or book or whatever? So what if they have a gazillion followers who think they are amazing? It should be ok for you to say, without the fear that you are going to receive hate mail and of shit through your door, that actually you're not that big a fan - shouldn't it?

Recently the world mourned for those at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine who dared to print what it wanted within the confines of the law. Yet someone took a dislike to this and responded in the most horrific and disgusting way imaginable. We are extremely lucky to live in a country that promotes, the  freedom of speech, "the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas using one's body to anyone who is willing to receive them." Why then, should that freedom of speech, only be acceptable if it conforms to the opinions of the masses? Yes, there are limitations of this within the law, in essence, anything that can be deemed offensive, but surely in the grand scheme of things, a handful of people saying they don't like something isn't really going to affect much? But why is it that some people do find this, in effect, offensive? I know there are many examples where the voice of one or two becomes the voice of millions, but in relation to a multi-worldwide selling star, I'm sure they aren't that bothered if I say " Hey, you're music isn't my bag and I'm gonna go listen something else." So why should their fans be? Why then, when someone says the same about a blogger or Youtuber, do they get a million and one tweets from a bunch of (usually) young teens hurling abuse for making their opinion public that they just aren't a fan, either of them or something they promote? I seriously worry about the 'pack mentality' behind some of this, and also wonder why their parents aren't monitoring their internet use, when in effect they are becoming cyber bullies.

Cyber bulling and trolling are massive deals. I know some would arguing they are "defending" others. but actually do they need defending? If you walked past someone you didn't actually know, but knew of, and heard someone say "I don't like you," would you stop, and hurl abuse at that person? No you would walk right on by. Despite Youtubers and Bloggers sharing so many elements of their life, we don't really know them. We know the parts of them they want to share, but that's all. Yes completely, if someone if just being plain nasty, then that's different, but just to say, "I'm not you're biggest fan" that's ok. And I have the freedom of speech to be able to say that.

Do you think blogging has lost some of its freedom of speech for far of repercussions?

BBB Book Review - The Silkworm

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I took the pictures for this book review what seems like months  ago! I had intended to post it before Christmas, however life got in the way. So even if you've had books for Christmas, who says you can't put those Christmas pennies towards another right?

Most people by now are well aware that Robert Galbraith is the detective-novel pseudonym of J K Rowling. The Silkworm is the follow up to the first Cormoran Strike novel, The Cuckoo's Calling.

"When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives - so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.
And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . ."

I really enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling and was therefore excited for the next installment. I wasn't dissapointed, athough I would say I didn't enjoy it as much as a the previous one. It follows a similar format to the previous book and overall is a really good yarn. I enjoyed how the charcters were developed further. It was good to learn more about Comoran's background, and the development of his and Robin's relationship. 

The difficulty I had was the amount of characters with slightly odd names. I found it hard to keep track of who everyone was and what they had said at certain points - I found myself having to flick back to remind myself of what had happened to understand what was happening. It detract from the enjoyment somewhat, and at times I don't think every character was entirely necessary to progress the story.
The Silkworm is the perfect book for snuggling up on the sofa on a cold miserable day with a hot chocolate.

Have you read The Silkworm?
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