Friday, 7 August 2020

Dear Emmie Blue By Lia Louis Book Review*

I received a copy to review but all opinions are my own*
I've said before that I love nothing more than a book all about romance. I love to get lost in a love story, as you might be able to tell from my many reviews of books like One Day In December, One Perfect Summer and Five Years From Now. They don't seem as easy to come by nowadays or at least that's what I've found so I was thrilled when I received a copy of Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis to read recently.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis book. Pink background, flower dish to the right with perfume on top
'Emmie Blue has a secret... A long time ago, Emmie Blue released a red balloon with a secret message hidden inside - and against all odds, across hundreds of miles of ocean, it was found on a beach in France by a boy called Lucas. Fourteen years later, on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Emmie hopes that Lucas is finally about to kiss her. She never expected him to announce that he was marrying someone else! Suddenly Emmie's dreams are shattered and the one person in her life she can rely on is slipping through her fingers. But what if Lucas isn't her forever? What if her love story is only just beginning...'

My Review

Straight away I loved the concept of this story, a young Emmie releasing a balloon into the sky one day for it to be found by Lucas who has just moved to France. What are the chances of someone actually finding it in the first place? But then for them to end up being your best friend? It's the stuff of dreams. As they grow closer, Emmie realises she's in love with Lucas but when she decides its time to reveal her feelings, he announces he's getting married to someone else. This leaves her in a dilemma - should she still tell him how she feels in the hope he feels the same? or should she accept it and move on?

I'm sure we can all relate in some way to unrequited love or wanting someone you can't have so I felt for Emmie when she's battling with her feelings. She also had her own challenges to deal with because of her childhood - not knowing who her father is, a tricky relationship with her mother and the trauma of something that happened to her when she was a teenager. All of these things made me genuinely care for the character though and I thought these all added some real depth to the story. It definitely wasn't just focused on romance which I liked and I enjoyed the interactions with her hilarious friends just as much as I did with Lucas and other potential love interests.

The story is told from Emmie's perspective and we occasionally get flashbacks to give us some background into her current challenges with various things and of course her relationship with Lucas. I did find the first quarter of the book a little slow and it took me a while to really get stuck into it but once it picked up and a certain character was introduced that I didn't expect, I could not put it down.

If you enjoy anything with romance then I think you'll love Dear Emmie Blue. It's a really sweet story about first loves and friendships with a whole lot of heart and some really touching moments. I already have a feeling I'll be picking it up again in future to re-read!

Are you a fan of romance books?

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Monday, 3 August 2020

3 Photos I Loved In July

So in 2018 I first wrote a post like this, sharing some of my favourite photos from the past month and since then I think I've done two. I really intended to do them every so often but then gradually just forgot about it and ended up posting many book reviews, recipes and other things instead but now lockdown is easing and life is getting back to some sort of normality, I wanted to document some of the things we've been getting upto over the last few weeks. There's no denying a big part of 2020 has been tough but July felt like the start of us all getting our lives back a little and we actually had some plans for the first time in a while! Here's 3 photos from July that I really loved.
collage - pink background, text with title, selfie at the beach, meal at miller and carter, bear at daycare

A Day At The Seaside

The first photo I wanted to share is from a recent trip to the seaside. We originally had plans to go abroad for our anniversary in July but of course Covid came along and ruined it. Whilst of course we were disappointed for a while, we knew we could still do something just as fun closer to home. There's nothing I love more than a day at the beach with my two favourite people, eating fish & chips, ice cream and doughnuts and paddling in the sea, and that's exactly what we did. The weather was perfect and it felt so good to just get out somewhere normal again! When we got home we watched Hamilton on Disney+ which was all I hoped it would be and more and on the whole, it was just a really lovely day. 
Selfie at the seaside in Bridlingont

Our First Post Lockdown Meal

George and I had our first post lockdown meal just over a week ago and it was just insanely good. We headed to one of our faves, Miller and Carter, everything felt really safe and clean and the service was pretty perfect. To start we had the best nachos with allll the toppings and halloumi fries. Who knew pomegranate seeds went so well with halloumi? Little bursts of heaven. Definitely need to re-create that at home. And the steak was out of this world and totally worth the wait. I love a date night but we don't get them very often anymore, though this was technically more of a date day but still, it felt good to be doing things like again.
Steak, chips, salad at Miller & Carter

Bear Loving Life

The last photo I wanted to share was this adorable photo of Bear at daycare. I mean, I take about a million photos of him a day so there's plenty of him I could share but I feel like this one just sums him up. Always happy, always smiling, always wanting to play. He'd only been groomed the day before so was looking particularly handsome though he's always a cutie and it seemed like he did nothing but run around and play all day with his pals. He makes my heart melt.
Bear at daycare
I'd really like to get back to writing posts like this more regularly as it's such a nice way to look back on the previous month and see some of the highlights. Whilst we're not out of the woods yet, after months of lockdown, July has felt like a really positive step in the right direction and I just hope it continues.

Are you starting to venture out more now lockdown is easing?

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Friday, 31 July 2020

Best Tomato Recipes*

AD - This post is a collaborative post
Are tomatoes fruit or vegetables? If you love tomatoes, I bet this question has crossed your mind at some point. Their appearance justifies their classification as fruits. However, their nutritional value puts them in the category of vegetables. In other words, tomatoes are both fruits and vegetables. You can eat them when they're ripe, as well as use them to cook food. Of course, so many other fruits get cooked as well, but not as much as tomatoes. So what are the best tomato recipes? This can be hard to decide considering these vegetables are used in almost every dish. As a student, you should cultivate the healthy habit of cooking for yourself. This way, you can dictate what you eat. As you know, you are what you eat. Since tomatoes have so many heath benefits, never shy away from eating as many tomatoes as possible. I need to someone to write my paper is a common phrase students use because they're almost always running short of time. Thankfully, college students can always access online academic writing services. Let's look at the best tomato recipes that are out there. 
Photo of a pile of tomatoes on a plate
Image source

1. Tomato Salad

Have you ever eaten a salad that didn't have tomatoes? There is a flavour that tomatoes add to salads that no other ingredients can achieve. To enjoy your raw salad, make sure you cut big chunks of tomatoes so that you can feel the flavour fill your mouth. Most people make raw salads using tomatoes, onions, lettuce and salt for seasoning. You can even add black pepper if you like your food spicy. Tomato salads are best eaten fresh and chilled. If you have a fridge, you can let the salad sit for 30 minutes then you can eat it. The good thing about salads is that you can eat them at any time of the day. If you're watching your weight, this is definitely something you should add to your menu. Make sure you purchase the oval-shaped tomatoes from the grocery stores. They're usually sweeter compared to the round ones.

2. Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes

The secret to delicious spaghetti is fresh tomatoes. If you're not a fan of dry food, tomatoes are your friend. Spaghetti is a staple food for most college students because it's quite easy to make. All you have to do is boil a considerable amount in salted water. Once your spaghetti is soft, you can make a paste with browned onions and fresh tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook until they're soft enough to crush into a paste. Add your cooked spaghetti and let them cook in the stew for about three minutes. Aside from salt, you can add as many spices as you'd like. 

3. Beef Tomato Stir Fry

Stir-fried beef is so delicious, especially if you cook it with enough tomatoes. This can be eaten with rice or even pasta. You'll need to boil your meat first until its soft enough to chew. Next, you'll need to stir fry the beef with onions until the onions get browned. Add tomatoes and let the beef absorb the flavour of the fresh tomatoes. Don't forget to add salt and other spices you use to cook.

4. Tomato Toast

If you're craving tomatoes in the morning, you can quickly whip up tomato toast before heading to class. You can include an omelet, onions and lettuce to spice up the toast. If you prefer the tomatoes uncooked, slice them into thin circles and layer them on the other ingredients you're using.

5. Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup Shots

Who said alcohol is the only thing you can drink in shots? You can have shots of tomato soup too. Are you a soup lover? Do you enjoy your food spicy? If so, then this one is for you. All you'll need to do is blend fresh tomatoes with salt and pepper. You can also add raw peppers if you want the soup to be super hot. For garnishing, you can use coriander.

6. Tomato Corn Bread

Have you ever baked cornbread? Everyone is baking banana bread, but what about tomato cornbread? This is a perfect balance of starch and all the nutrients you get from tomatoes. You'll need cheddar cheese to ensure your bread does not crumble. Mix up slices of tomatoes with cornflour and the cheddar cheese. Once everything is ready, you can let your oven do the magic.

If you love the smell of fresh, ripe tomatoes, then you'll love what they do to your taste buds. Make sure you have easy to follow tomato recipes so you can benefit from this fruit's nutritional value. The beauty of tomatoes is that you can eat them at different times of the day. We hope these recipes are valuable additions to your kitchen.

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Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Taking Care Of Your Skin This Summer*

AD - Product gifted by Palmolive but all views are my own
There's no denying that the different weather conditions we have in the UK can really play havoc with our skin. Whether it's Winter causing dry and frizzy hair and dry skin or Summer making our skin feel oily, it's important to look after ourselves as best as we can the whole year round. Today I'm sharing a few tips on how to really take care of your skin this Summer & the beauty products that I think are a must for feeling your best throughout the warmer months of the year.
Palmolive Coconut Shower Cream surrounded by various other beauty products, books and candle

Drink Lots of Water

Before I get started on skincare products I recommend, my number one tip for taking care of yourself and your skin regardless of the season would be to drink lots of water! It doesn't have to be boring, you can always drink flavoured water instead, add squash or even add things like Waterdrops. The daily recommend intake is 6-8 glasses which sounds like a lot but when it's warm outside, it's probably not enough. Not only will water hydrate you and cool you down, it also has massive benefits for your skin. I've mentioned before how much water impacts the amount of breakouts I have. I notice a massive difference in weeks where I've eaten healthy and drank loads of water compared to weeks where I've had hardly any and eaten allll the wrong things. Drink drink drink.

Palmolive Naturals Coconut Shower Cream*

Now, we all like a nice shower gel I'm sure. I'm forever buying more and it's far too easy to pop one in the trolley whenever I'm doing the food shop! The latest addition to my shower routine is the Palmolive Naturals Coconut Shower Gel. Palmolive is such an affordable brand so you can grab this for just 90p in Asda, though it's currently on offer for 80p along with other scents too. Shower milks and creams tend to be a little more hydrating for our skin so are ideal for the Summer months when our skin can dry out a little and be in need of some serious moisture. This lathers up really well with a little water and gently soothes and cleanses your skin. The coconut scent just smells like being on holiday which is an added bonus!
Palmolive Coconut Shower Cream surrounded by candle, book and other beauty products

The Body Shop Body Yoghurts

The next product I could rave about all day, everyday is the Body Yoghurts from The Body Shop. I've always leaned more towards body butters but this is a game changer. The body yoghurts are a really lightweight formula so don't feel greasy at all and they soak into your skin beautifully. This is an after shower product so I apply when my skin is still a little damp and it's just super moisturising. There's a huge range of scents to choose from but my current go-to is the Pear which I picked up at Christmas. They last absolutely ages!
The Body Shop Pear Body Yoghurt on flower trinket dish

Sanctuary Spa De-Stress Warming Body Gel

The final product I highly recommend you try is the De-Stress Warming Body Gel by Sanctuary Spa. This brand are known for luxurious skincare and bath products so the body gel is no exception to this. Now you might think a warming body product isn't a typical choice for Summer but the difference it makes to aching and sore muscles is incredible. If you've taken up exercise during lockdown or have been heading out for long walks, both of which might have caused tired and achy muscles, then this is ideal! It's a soothing gel which utilises the benefits of ginger and rosemary which are known for their tension-easing abilities and as it's self-heating, you can feel it working straight away! I know I'll be using this for many months to come but this has been a bit of a life saver recently.
Sanctuary Spa De-Stress Warming Gel held up in front of prints on desk
That wraps up my Summer staple skincare products! I hope these tips for taking care of your skin in Summer have been useful and please let me know if you have any others you want to share or any products you recommend! 

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