Life lately...2015 reflections

2015. What. A Year.

But really, 2015 has been insane and amazing in ways I never thought possible. I won't be doing New Years resolutions as such as they always strike me as really negative - as though you weren't good enough in the preceding year, so instead I will reflect on the stuff that kicked ass in 2015. This is as follows:

Got engaged to James. Yep, I'm getting married! So, that's a pretty big one that I wasn't expecting this time last year. I can't believe I've met someone who is so utterly perfect - they say when you know you know, and trust me, you really do!

Got put on the client I wanted at work, and didn't screw up - this is a big one for me, as I was quite ambitious with my client portfolio, and asking doesn't seem to be the done thing...but I did it anyway and got pretty good feedback from them - this has led to me being put on other similar clients at work and the such. Basically, the moral of this story is, if you ask for what you want, and then work hard, you'll probably be alright. 

Started reading again! I know this seems like a small one, but I don't think I had read a book the entire time I was at uni, so the fact I've knocked off quite a few is making me quite happy - plus, I even have a book pile now! I said I'd read more as part of my 25 in 25, and I'm surprised how many I've managed.

Picked jewellery making back up, and opened an Etsy, which is something I've wanted to do for ages. This will have more love poured into it when I'm not so busy at work, but baby steps!

Passed the middle set of ACA exams, so I'm officially part qualified - I also managed to do them all in the first sittings, half of which I had a broken finger for!

Got a personal trainer and made a conscious effort wth my diet. I've in no way seen my body change, but it's early days & I'm healthier and stronger than I was before - my main goal is improving my posture, which is something that has plagued me for ages, so anything I can do towards that will make me feel better!

I broke my finger, fainted during the x ray, and woke up in resuscitation. This may seem like a silly one to put as an achievement, but I wasn't scared when I woke up, and I wasn't convinced I was going to die, unlike other times blacking out has affected me. A consultant came to see me, and basically told me what was up with me - turns out it's actually fairly common and I'm not a freak of nature - this really put me at ease and I've sort of made peace with it now

As you may be able to tell, I took blogging back up! I'll be doing it with a vengeance in the new year, but these past few months I've created some content I'm really proud of. Even better for me, some of these have been collab posts with brands & I actually think some of them are my best work to date! I'm happy my blog is gaining traction and I'd never collaborate with a brand on something that was true to my interest, so I'm really happy that I've had these opportunities.

Travel wise, me and James went to Iceland and saw the Northern Lights, which is something I've wanted to do since as long as I can remember, so I was deliriously happy the entire week. I am now one of those people that has travel photos everywhere you look. 

We also went to the Eden Project for my birthday and it was as beautiful as I remembered.

A small one, but after suffering with awful stress migraines for as long as I can remember, I went to the doctors and committed to daily tablets, which has previously terrified me but it got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. Since then *touch wood*, I haven't had a migraine and I cannot tell you how vastly improved I am. See, sometimes you have to do stuff that terrifies you to see the benefit!

In short, I've had more adventures and have been happier than I've ever remembered being, which is saying a lot, because I do quite a lot and am a pretty happy person anyway...

In 2016, I'm going to try and be healthier and maintain my adventure level, as well as carry on with everything that currently makes me happy - I'm not making resolutions as such as I never stick to them!

What have you achieved in 2015?
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Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Here I am, edging closer to my 25 in 25 target of 50 books, this time with Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
This is quite a thick book for me, and when I first picked it up off my book pile, I didn't think I'd finish it. Oh how wrong I was. I started it on a Sunday afternoon, and ended up doing a stint in Starbucks each morning before work so I could get some reading time in.
I also got it in the Amazon 3 for £10 deal when I was on a bit of a crime book binge. Thus, I didn't actually read any reviews or descriptions and assumed it was about someone's secret life before they met their other half. It is not a crime book at all. I couldn't be more wrong.
This is another gooey mushy book, which almost (but not quite!) had me in tears.
This is the description per Amazon, which I should have read:
'Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.'
 In short, Will is a devastatingly attractive man, who also happens to be a quadriplegic. Lou is an attractive girl who becomes his carer and doesn't love her boyfriend. Will is miserable and wants to go to Dignitas. Lou wants to stop him. Obviously she falls in love with him, but I won't spoil what happens next.  
I think this is being made into a film with Sam Clafin - I'm not sure if I'll go & see it - I really love the book, but this may be one of those things that is better in my head.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Tweet me!

Christmas baking

Gingerbread Village

Just a quick post today as I'm busy recovering from Christmas, and sales shopping! (more on than later)

For some reason I decided this year I would make Christmas cakes for mine and James' family, as well as a gingerbread village - a guy at work does one with his family each year and it looks amazing, so I wanted to get in on one (ours turned out to be nowhere as good, but better than I expected!).

I have never baked gingerbread before, and I have never made a Christmas cake, so I wasn't quite sure what would happen.

making a gingerbread village

The gingerbread village turned out far far better than expected - I'm really happy with it! I can't take credit though as James did most of the shaping - I just helped with making the dough and construction. It took us two days in total and we decorated it at my parent's house. We used the BBC Good Food Gingerbread house recipe and it worked well - I would advise sticking the dough in a fridge for an hour before you roll it however - we didn't the first time and it didn't roll properly - I stropped off and had a nap for a couple of hours, only to emerge and see James cutting out the pieces in the kitchen <3.

christmas cakes

For the Christmas cakes, I again used a BBC Good Food recipe. Oh. my. gosh. Christmas cakes are so so expensive to make! We put a LOT of whisky in them, which bumped up the price massively - I see why people buy them now!

We fed them with alcohol every two weeks in the run up to Christmas and decorated them on Christmas eve. My parents got the robin and James' got the polar bears. (Definitely not Westie dogs.)

Did you do any baking this Christmas? I'd love to see! Tweet me yours!

Sales shopping hitlist

Everyone loves Christmas. Everyone likes bargains. Thus, everyone must like the post Christmas sales right? In my experience, no, some people tend to hate them, but each to their own! As you can tell from this post, the boxing day sales get me pretty excited!
I ususally go online, buy everything I see, and then go instore everything I see. It gets to the end of January and I realise I may have 50 odd new things, but no idea when I'll actually use/wear them.
This year is different, this year I will be prepared. This year, I have a list that I will not stray from (much...).
So what am I eyeing up?
Well, first, I need a lot for work - work clothes, shoes and a bag for my laptop. I'm eyeing up some Cath Kidston bags - I just need to decide which one! I've also gone on a bit of a floral top kick for work, so they're on the list too, as well as staple black dresses, and comfy loafers.
Topshop always have the nicest underwear sets, but they're so expensive! I've told myself I'm allowed to get some in the sales.
I've also wanted the Accessorize ring set for forever, but it is £25 - hopefully it will go in the sale and I can update my gemstone ring collection.
What are you eyeing up this year? Let me know on Twitter! xoxo

How I Lost You - Jenny Blackhurst

After reading Us, I went for a crimey-thriller type book to distract myself. I've actually come a lot further to hitting my 25 in 25 target than I thought I would have at this stage. Go me. So, next up was How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst, purely because the cover looks quite good, and it was in the Amazon 3 for £10 deal which shall be the death of my bank account.
I read this book in a day. One. Day. Not even a whole day, more of an afternoon. This is for three reasons - it's very well written and punchy, the font is a bit bigger than normal, and there's not that many pages.
The description on Amazon is this:
'A disturbing psychological crime novel. A woman is convicted and sent to a psychiatric hospital for killing her baby son, but on her release she is sent a photo of a young boy. Could this be her son or is she deluding herself into thinking he might still be alive? '
Obviously with these sorts of books, your first instinct is 'well yeah, he's obviously still alive', but what you won't guess is everything else that happens - it gets very very dark - there are lots of pretty disturbing issues in this book, including murder, rape, postnatal depression and weird cults.
Now recommending you read it makes me sound a bit wrong doesn't it? All I can say it that it is actually quite a good read! It won't go down in history with the Dickens of the world, but it's pretty good for curling up in bed on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea.
Have you read it? What books would you recommend? Tweet me your ideas!

Us - David Nicholls

As part of my 25 in 25 challenge to read more books, I picked up Us by David Nicholls as I had seen it everywhere, and hadn't seen a single less than favourable review.
Oh man, this book made me cry. Proper, ugly tears. James walked in and had no idea what was going on. The last couple of chapters had me literally weeping my eyes out. I don't really know what to say without ruining it. I spent the entire book with my own idea about how it would end, and I never thought anything else was possible. The ending was a shock to say the least.
I have a positive view of the world, and generally think everything will work out okay. I also happen to be madly in love and getting married soon. Thus, books about love are nice and easy to read, and make me feel all fuzzy inside. The back page of this book is now a bit blurry from my tears. Take from that what you will.
I honestly recommend you read this book - it is so so good and you don't want to stop reading. You will however, need lots of a sweet tea and tissues to get through it.
(I over exaggerate. The book does actually have a kind of happy ending, just not one that I would want for myself if I were in the book.)
Have you read Us? What did you think? Tweet me!

Banana Spiced Christmas Breakfast Muffins

As you all know, I absolutely love baking, so when Banana Moon challenged me to come up with something banana based and Christmassy for their Banana Bake Book, I couldn't resist!
I decided to do a Christmas twist on the banana muffin, and make them more practical. For me, Christmas is always super busy, and the main focus is obviously the lunch time food, so it can be easy to skip breakfast altogether - I decided to amp up the traditional banana muffin and make them into a more wholesome and filling breakfast treat, with a dash of festive spice - perfect for grabbing and eating quickly whilst you're trying to cram the turkey into the oven.

You will need:
150g of unsalted butter (softened)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
200g of oats
250g of self raising flour 
1 teaspoon of nutmeg*
1 teaspoon of cinnamon*
2 tablespoons of maple syrup*
50g of flaked almonds*
50gs of crushed walnuts*
150g of caster sugar
2 bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
150ml of milk
*These can be switched for other items as you desire. I also included a tablespoon of flaxseed in mine - you can add whatever you like to yours!

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Mash the bananas well (I used a potato masher, but you can use a food processor, or whatever you can find!) Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and spice into a large bowl, add the sugar, nuts and oats, and mix.

In another bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla extract, melted butter mashed banana and milk.


Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the liquid stirring roughly with a fork until it is a lumpy paste.


Spoon into paper cases (best to use a muffin tin, unlike me!) and put into the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are solid to the touch. Leave to cool and then grab one on the go!

I'd love to hear what you would put in to these! Tweet me your ideas!

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The Lie - C.L. Taylor

This is now the 10th book I’ve read on my quest to read 50 new books before I turn 25, which means I’m on track, yay! (see more of my goals here!).
I’ll admit with this one I was swayed by the cover...’Oooh this looks dark! Oooh the girl on the front has the same hair as me!’ Done and delivered by Amazon before you can say superficial. (On a side note, their 3 for £10 deal on paperbacks in dangerous…) (Very dangerous. I paused writing this blog post for about a minute and now have three more books winging their way to me…oops)
This book is one of those that alternates timelines quite quickly – one chapter you’re in the present day watching as Jane’s carefully spun life unravels, and the next you’re 5 years ago watching as it all goes wrong for Emma and her ‘friends’.
I did enjoy reading this book and finished it off rather quickly – the font is quite large and the chapters are quite short. The only thing I would say is that it didn’t feel like the ‘twist’ was actually a twist, and the climax lasted for all of 5 pages. The padding out of the story was enjoyable but because you find out one of the characters died quite early on, the suspense is lost somewhat.
The plot of the ‘past’ focuses on four friends’ trip to Nepal and explores the layers of their friendships and highlights their flaws quite brilliantly – I very much resonated with one of them and identified people I know in the other three (I won’t say which though!). This all comes to a head towards the end of the book and you can play connect the dots as the story forms throughout. The book alternates the timelines giving you a tiny bit of the story as you progress and leaves you guessing what will happen – like I said, I feel like the climax was a bit rushed, but overall I do like the book. It won’t make it onto my bookshelf to keep forever but it will be recommended to those who want a quick thriller to read!)
Have you read The Lie? Do you have any books to recommend? Tweet me them!