Monday, 28 September 2015

bookclub #5


Another day, another book review. This is a part of the bloggers book club series with some other like-minded literary bloggers, be sure to check out their page links at the bottom of this post. 

#5: The Good Girl by Fiona Neill

I feel like I was miss-sold this book! The blurb talks about a family moving to a new town and having a big dark secret looming over them. And yes, the book was about this big dark secret (in fact, there were lots) but the other plot line was so much more significant I don't really get why the blurb was chosen. Odd. 

Anyway, The Good Girl is about a (good) girl called Romy who has made a big old mistake. We learn about this in the first chapter, and then the book goes back to the beginning - telling us how this mistake came to be and the events leading up to it. Finally, a book that doesn't jump between time frames chapter to chapter! Hurrah. This did jump between characters, though, which helped tell the story from different perspectives. 

The blurb talks about a big secret. I counted at least four or five big secrets that we find out throughout this book, however! It's quite a long read, too long in my opinion. I did enjoy this book, but felt like an awful lot was packed in. There were enough secrets and lies to fill at least three books! So I felt it was a bit drawn out in places and could have done with more focus. I thought the theme surrounding the main secret was an interesting and topical one, but could have been made more of. The blurb just doesn't even cover this, which I feel was a mistake. 

Have you seen the TV series The Affair? Well, for some reason I pictured Harry (the husband) as Dominic West's character in The Affair (Noah) and Ailsa as his wife Helen. I think this had an impact on the way I viewed their characters as I found Noah and Helen both quite irritating in The Affair. It's funny how our brain makes links, hey?

Overall, I did enjoy this book and found it to be a page turner that I wanted to tuck into on a Saturday afternoon. I just feel like the blurb was for a different book!

See what Lorna said here, Leanne here and Charli here
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

fall out


Autumn, come at me. 

I've said it many times before; I love summer for the obvious reasons. Sunny, warm and bright days are the stuff of dreams for me. That said, I find summer fashion pretty uninspiring. I loved my denim dungarees this summer, with Birkenstocks and a striped tee they were the perfect casual combo. I will admit to wearing this more than any other outfit - I definitely lacked creativity! But dressing smartly in the warmer weather? Not as easy. Ergo, I love Autumn for the ability to mix textures, prints and layers. Being able to be super snug as well as on trend is something I appreciate!

So as I sit here on my sick bed the sofa with a case of start of term flu cold, I am loving browsing the internet for fall fashion. Roll neck jumpers (hurrah!), thick knit cardigans, and my all time #1 obsession - boots

You can see the links for all the items above on my Lyst - a great place to collate looks and bookmark your favourite items from all over the highstreet (and more). The grey cardigan is my current 'must buy' item... willing it to come back in stock online! I also have my eye on some long black denim dungarees, I think they'd look great with a chunky knitted cardigan and trainers, or ankle boots and a blouse. 

Do you have any go-to pieces for Autumn?

*this post contains a sponsored link


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Monday, 21 September 2015

bookworm #39



The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I'm not usually one for historical novels, but after seeing so many blimmin' Philippa Gregory books in every single charity shop I figured I should at least give the genre a go. Broaden my horizons and all that. Lorna recommended the Cousin's War series to me, starting with The White Queen. I then found it on my Mum's bookshelf, and if that isn't mere coincidence fate/a sign then I don't know what is. 

The White Queen is the first part in a series about the Wars of the Roses - the conflict within House of Plantagenet, between the Lancastrians and Yorkists. The White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, marries king Edward IV of rival house York and this begins the story of love and conflict between and within families. 

I have to admit I can't go into much more detail about the different houses and conflicts as although I enjoyed this read, I just sort of... went with it. Having gone back to work and being tired in the evenings once again, I struggled to keep up with who was who and the nitty gritty of betrayals, conflict and war. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, I did, but I think if I had read this on holiday where I could really get into the details I would have left feeling more knowledgeable than I do now! I've made it sound like I had no idea what was going on, which isn't true... promise. I found the book to be pacey, scandalous without being too smutty (as I've heard Gregory's books are often known to be) and essentially a good story of Kings and Queens and that. 

As I said, this is part of a series - next is The Red Queen which I have already bought. I won't read it straight away but most definitely plan to by the end of the year. This book follows the story of Margaret Beaufort, which I know will be an interesting read given what we know already. 

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Friday, 11 September 2015

a hearty brunch


After a pretty hectic week of work with a new tutor group to be responsible for and meeting approx. 150 new faces (and subsequently forgetting their names) in the space of five days, I'm ready to chill. After the much-needed lie in my first thought is coffee! brunch. And yes, it is invariably classified as brunch as it rarely comes before 11am. 

Last weekend I saw one of my twitter favourites Delicious Magazine tweet the perfect brunch recipe. Colcannon cakes with pancetta. Rustic, hearty and full of flavour - perfect.

You can see their recipe here.

I made a few small tweaks; I didn't add stilton as I'm not a great fan of blue cheese and I'm trying to watch the lbs. I also left out the double cream, and cooked in Fry Light rather than butter. They definitely took me a little longer than 4 minutes on each side to crisp up, so don't worry about leaving on for longer. I also used a mixture of streaky and back bacon rather than pancetta as that's what we had in the fridge. Rich also had a fried egg on his which was a delish addition. 

A squirt of red and brown sauce and you're good to go!

Slimming World - syn values
Completely free as long as no double cream or stilton is used, along with back bacon (rather than streaky) with all visible fat removed rather than streaky.
Stilton, 25g - 5 syns
Double cream, 1 tbsp - 3.5 syns
Pancetta, 1 slice - 1 syn
Streaky bacon, 1 rasher - 1.5 syns

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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

mocha coconut


Mocha Coconut - in my opinion Starbucks' best frappuccino to date. I was made aware of this beauty by Kat last summer, just as I was starting to enjoy coffee more - needless to say I was hooked pretty quickly! I was gutted when it didn't make an appearance again this summer so quickly got to work in recreating my own at-home version. 

You will need (for two)
400ml Alpro Coconut 
2 tbsp Coconut Sweet Freedom Choc Shot
Yeh, that's right - they now do a coconut version! Currently stocked in Holland and Barrett.  
Handful of ice cubes
1 tbsp good quality instant coffee topped with a little cold water 

The how to is easy, but you'll need a smoothie maker type thing - I use this one. Bung all the ingredients into the jug and blend until completely smooth. Tip - give it a really good blend, for about 90 seconds, so you aren't left with chunks of ice. 

Want to be naughty? Top with squirty cream a la Starbucks, or simply drizzle with a little more chocolate and a pinch of dessicated coconut. 

Slimming World - syn values
The great news is that you can have a huge 600ml of Alpro Coconut as your Healthy Extra A, otherwise it's 1 syn per 100ml. 
Choc Shot - 2 syns per tbsp. 

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Monday, 7 September 2015

turning twentyeight





Today I turn twenty-eight. Yeh, 28. T-w-e-n-t-y-e-i-g-h-t. How did that happen? Blimey. 

Unfortunately, as life doesn't stop for birthdays (how rude) I'm working today and it will no doubt be a hectic day with the arrival of new students. To compensate I made sure I had lots of fun things planned over the weekend - and it totally lived up to expectations! Saturday evening was spent eating pizza (at my new favourite place, The Stable in Winchester) and drinking prosecco... closely followed by cider, espresso martinis, jagerbombs et al. Ouch. A great evening with some of my closest pals, it was lovely. 

Despite feeling pretty groggy on Sunday morning, Rich and I dusted ourselves off and hopped on down to The Pig in Brockenhurst for a special birthday lunch. As expected, it was totally delicious. We started with various 'piggy bits' - sausage rolls, crackling, pork shoulder and cured ham with melted cheese. Agh, just remembering it and I'm drooling! We both then went for the steaks, naturally. Thrice cooked chips yes please. The Pig was hosting their final Smoked and Uncut festival of the summer, so after our meal we were able to enjoy a drink in the sunshine listening to live music. Perfection!

As I'm writing this I'm snuggled on the sofa watching telly and eating birthday cake - the perfect way to end the weekend. These pictures are a little catalogue of my weekend, if you follow me on instagram you'll have seen some of these already. My outfit is nothing special; a Zara playsuit I bought of eBay for a tenner (#winning), with an H&M navy trench and Missguided suede peeptoe boots. The shorts I'm wearing at The Pig are from New Look, such a bargain and so versatile. 


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Friday, 4 September 2015

blossoming


Who doesn’t like receiving fresh flowers?
It’s one of those things I just couldn’t get my head round as a teenager. Why people fussed around with flowers, or were bought them on special occasions. As I grew older, I started to like the idea of being bought flowers… but more to show off my ‘maturity’ than because I actually found them appealing. I guess with age - like olives, red wine and radio 4 (yeh, I’m that kinda girl) - flowers have become something I not only love to receive but will buy each week with my milk and vegetables. A cheap bunch from Lidl, nothing special.
But not only do I now appreciate a nice bunch (cough), receiving an attractive, well arranged bouquet is something really special. Getting it posted to you. Flower delivery. In a fancy box. The postie making a vaguely humorous comment about ‘him having really messed up’. Perhaps not the latter so much, but it is the stuff of dreams! Flowers By Post my friends, dreamy.  
 I was thrilled to be sent this gorgeous ‘Summer Meadow’ bouquet from Blossoming Gifts a few weeks ago - blue veronica, delicate lilac eustoma with avalanche roses and daisy like tanacetum if you were interested! I was so impressed with the sheer quantity of flowers and the size of the bouquet, I had to trim back some of the greenery and leaves just to be able to fit it into an appropriate vase. Five creamy avalanche roses really amped up the beauty and lasted at their best for a good week.
Fancy some cheap flowers of your own? Blossoming Gifts have been kind enough to offer all my readers, you guys, a 33% discount on a bouquet of your choice. Just use the code BGIFTS33 to redeem your 33% discount.


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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

the me date


Do you ever take yourself out for a me-date?

It may sound strange, particularly in a world which is so fast-paced where we often have so very little time for ourselves. But in recent years I've come to realise that I really enjoy - hell, I think need is more appropriate - my own space and time to myself. In my time off I enjoy nothing more than taking myself off for the afternoon for some peace, quiet and time alone.

I know some people would hate this idea - being alone with no-one to talk to or enjoy it with. For me I need this space and love being able to do exactly what I want without having to fill gaps with chatter and be selfish. Time for me, to do what I want, without having to worry about the needs of others.

So what do I do? It's nothing revolutionary - walking into town for a coffee with my book and spend a good couple of hours reading. Taking myself out for lunch at a local cafe. I love having the time to read on my own without interruption or the worry of having to get stuff done. Going into Guildford for a mooch round the shops, a walk round the park, sitting in the sunshine. It needn't cost a lot of money, but taking the time out is totally worth it.

original image credit
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