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Monday, 17 December 2018

The Christmas Tag #2

I do love taking part in tag blog posts and Christmas ones are always my favourite! I did take part in one last year which you can find here if you want to read through that too, but I spotted a different version on Polly's blog recently and I loved the questions. If you want to have a go yourself, feel free to copy the questions, I'd love to know your answers too!
Christmas tree lit up with TV next to it, fire crackling on screen
What is your favourite Christmas movie?
There are so many to choose from! Elf is always up there on the list but I don't think you can beat Love Actually. It's not Christmas without it.

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
At home! I absolutely love how George and I spend our Christmas each year and the little traditions we have now.

What would be your dream place to visit for Christmas?
It's got to be New York. I want nothing more than to visit one Winter when it's covered in snow.

Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning but we do open one each on Christmas Eve which is always exciting.

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
Something that stands out to me each year is the Christmas plays we used to do at School. I've no idea why as I never wanted a speaking role but I just loved the run up to it each year as it meant weeks of getting out of normal lessons and just singing!

Do you prefer receiving gifts or giving gifts?
Of course it's nice to receive gifts but I honestly love buying presents for other people more. I get so much joy out of it.

Favourite festive food?
Roast potatoes. I am obsessed with them. I could eat a plate of them alone. Though pigs in blankets are always a must too and you can't beat a really good Yorkshire pudding. I just love all Christmas food okay.

Favourite Christmas scent?
I love peppermint. I'm all about the fresh minty candles over the festive period.

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
For a few years now, George and I have been going to the cinema on Christmas Eve which is always so nice. I love going out to watch a good film then getting home to make a snacky tea (Camembert yes please), putting on a festive film and getting cosy. We also each open a present too.

What tops your tree?
We actually have a little pair of angel wings at the top of our tree. It's a bauble but it's too heavy to hang anywhere else so one year I just popped it near the top and it's been like that every year ever since. It's a special decoration and I think it makes a nice change.

Have you ever have had a White Christmas?
I can't remember the last time it snowed over Christmas but I'm pretty sure it has at some point. It tends to be after Christmas if we're going to get any snow.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
One I never tire of is Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Michael Buble. His whole Christmas album gets played on repeat in December.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Fake. I don't think I could deal with having to hoover up after a real one all the time.

Are you a professional present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
Well I love wrapping presents SO much but I don't necessarily think I'm good at it. It all depends what the gift is!

What makes the holidays special for you?
I think just spending time with people. It's a time where George and I can really just relax and spend time together without work or anything else getting in the way. Our wedding anniversary is just a few days before Christmas too so that just makes this time of year even more important now.

I can't believe Christmas is so close now! I don't want it to be over already. Have you got much planned for the next few weeks?

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7 Tips For A Great Night Out With Friends*

Everyone loves a good night out but more often than not, they never go as planned. Whether you end up having too much to drink, you struggle to get a taxi or people don't show up - nights out are sometimes more trouble than they're worth. If like me, you love to get together with your friends but don't want all the hassle, then you'll need these top tips for a great night out with friends or family.
Group of friends with wine
Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

1. Get Together A Good Group Of Friends

When planning a night out inviting the right people is key. It may seem obvious, but the company you keep reflects on how much of a good time you have. Whether you prefer smaller groups or want to get the whole gang together - figuring out what kind of get together it's going to be is the first step to an incredible night. Don't forget to invite everyone well in advance, as chances are you'll all have incredibly busy schedules.

2. Go To Places You Love

Again, this may seem obvious but if you have a couple of favourite bars that you know you love, heading their first is always a good idea. You know you won't be disappointed by drink prices or a terrible DJ, so already you'll be ready for a good time. If towards the end of the night you fancy trying something new then there will be absolutely nothing lost.

3. Don't Do Rounds

Although it seems like an easier way to get the drinks in, getting rounds often puts pressure on people who may not be able to afford the same as everyone else. Having everyone else get their own drinks is a great way to ensure people don't end up spending too much and nobody misses their round or goes over their limit. If you want to know even more benefits of not doing rounds, you can visit this blog post here.

4. Know Your Limits

If there is one way to ruin a good night out with friends it's to have more than you can handle. Knowing your limits and sticking well within them means you can still have a good night without drinking more than you can handle. If you're lucky it may even prevent your hangover in the morning!

5. Ride In Style

Whilst getting a taxi is usually more affordable, riding in style is a great way to celebrate a special occasion for you and your friends. Whether you hire a seamless chauffeur or book yourselves a limo - it will certainly start your night off with a bang.

6. Have Fun

The most important thing to remember for a great night is to have fun! It's not often you get to go out with everyone, make the most out of it and make it a night you'll all remember.

Do you love a night out? What are your top tips for having a great time? Let me know in the comment section below!

*This is a collaborative post

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Friday, 14 December 2018

Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell Book Review

I've posted quite a few book reviews recently, the latest being The Wife Between Us and One Day In December, but it's time for another already! I just can't stop reading at the moment! I'm getting through so many books, it's actually becoming problem as I think we're going to run out of space soon πŸ™Š
Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell
She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet. But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year old daughter. Because his daughter is the image of Ellie. Now all of those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

My review

This had been on my list for a while so I was thrilled to find it when we were in Manchester recently. It was a book I'd heard great things about so once we were back, I ran myself a hot bubble bath and got stuck in. The first thing I really liked about this book is how we were thrown straight in and within a few chapters Ellie goes missing. Because of that it might seem like we don't get much backstory but as the story unfolds, we do actually start to find out more and more about Ellie and what might have happened and this happens by Lisa taking us back in time. There are flashbacks to when Ellie was at school, planning for her GCSE's, taking on a tutor, living her normal life and that's when we get little drips here and there that really start to grow and plant this story in your mind of what might have happened. It's a really good mix of past and present throughout.

Whilst we do get flashbacks throughout the whole book, at no point did I find it confusing. Lisa has written it so well that it all just flows, and each chapter goes seamlessly into the next one regardless of if we're now being thrown back to the present day or switching to a different character, which did happen more towards the end of the book. A lot of the story is from Laurel's perspective (Ellie's mum) and we find her while she's trying to rebuild her life after Ellie's disappearance. She meets a new man Floyd and she tries to repair her relationship with her other children but as her new life begins, a few strange things happen that make her re-think Ellie's disappearance and how the person responsible might have been closer to home than anyone originally realised. 

Whilst this wasn't a book that makes it obvious who the culprit is going to be, I did have my suspicions once I got a couple of chapters in. That being said, I still had no idea where it was going to go and I ended up being seriously surprised at the end when we get the big reveal. It's such an intricate story and each character has so many different sides to them so each time you think you have something figured out, it soon changes again. From the very start I was hooked and whilst there's been a lot of books like that for me recently, there was something different about this. I just felt compelled to keep reading every time I opened it up and I was willing for Laurel to finally figure everything out and get justice for her daughter. The ending I actually found really emotional and it was hard not to be affected by the story and the characters because sadly things like this do happen and people do just go missing so it felt very real.

This is the first book I've read from Lisa Jewell but it definitely won't be the last. I can totally see why people love her books so much as this one had me right from the start and continued to impress right to the very end.

Have you read any books from Lisa Jewell?


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Thursday, 13 December 2018

The Christmas Films I Never Get Bored Of

Whilst I'm not taking part in Blogmas this year, I did want to plan a few more Christmassy posts as this really is the best time of year and I absolutely adore writing about it. Over the last few weeks I've shared gift guides, festive activities I'm looking forward to, and also my Christmas wishlist, but today I'm talking all about films. There are an abundance of classic festive films, we're spoilt for choice especially with the likes of Netflix and Christmas24 (one of the best TV channels ever) so here are a few I always look forward to settling down to watch each year.
stack of Christmas DVDs

Arthur Christmas

This is still a relatively new addition to our Christmas collection compared to most of the others on this list but I'm so glad we have it to watch every year now. I first watched this a few years ago after seeing so many people rave about it and now I'm such a big fan of it too. The film is about Santa missing out one child at Christmas and so his son Arthur takes it upon himself to deliver the presents causing lots of chaos along the way. It's so heartwarming and just gives you all the feels! A great one to watch no matter what your age is.
Arthur Christmas

Bridget Jones's Diary

So this might not be technically a Christmas film but it's one that always epitomises this time of year for me. For as long as I can remember it's been on TV in December and so each year I love to sit down with a blanket and a cup of tea and just enjoy. Bridget Jones is one of those classic films I could never get bored of. Every time I watch it, I feel the same emotions as the time before and even though I know the ending, I'm always waiting for Bridget and Mark Darcy to end up together. All three films are brilliant.
Bridget Jones Diary

Elf

It's not Christmas without Elf is it? I can't imagine a year where we don't watch this, it really is one of the best ever Christmas films, I don't think anything like it will come along again. Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf is just brilliant, I laugh at the same bits every single year and it's just a great one to sit and enjoy with family. I also love all the clips of New York at Christmas time too, each time it makes me want to visit!
Elf

Nativity

Oh the Nativity films just make me so happy! They're probably aimed more towards kids but I really do think they're perfect for the whole family. The first one starring Martin Freeman never gets old and the second with David Tennant was such a good sequel. I love the new story they come up with each time and Mr Poppy is as hilarious as always. I know if I'm feeling down over the Christmas period and just want to watch something that will make me feel good, these films are the one to do just that.
Nativity

Frozen

I'm sure a lot of people would argue that this isn't technically a Christmas film but I don't care, I love it. We watch it every year, usually on Christmas day when we're both extremely full after Christmas dinner and in need of a nap! I love the story and how it focuses on the two sisters Elsa and Anna rather than it being some sort of love story again, and also Olaf is just one of the best characters in such a long time. I absolutely love him. The songs too are brilliant, another classic from Disney.
Frozen

The Holiday

Jude Law. Do I need to say anything else? A film that never fails to put me in the mood for Christmas. This is one I love to watch on a Saturday night wrapped up in a blanket, with a box of Christmas chocolates after a festive day out. I can't imagine a year going by where we don't find time for this film. The cast is amazing - Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and of course Jude Law and also Eli Wallach as Arthur who is one of the loveliest characters. The cottage in the film always gives me the cosy feels too.
The Holiday

White Christmas

Ordinarily this wouldn't usually be my sort of film. I'm weird, I don't like 'old' films but there's something special about this one. It's one George has always loved and over time I've grown to love it too so it would be strange to not watch it at Christmas now I think. I love our tradition of watching it on Christmas morning whilst opening presents and drinking Bucks Fizz! I love some of the music in the film too.
White Christmas

Love Actually

Probably my all time favourite Christmas film. I just adore it and never tire of it no matter how many times I've watched it over the years! I love each of the individual stories we get and how some of them are tied together and the ending just makes me so happy. Such an incredible cast too! Another film I don't think we'll get anything even close too anytime soon, years on it's still so special. It's one of those films that never fails to make me smile, laugh and cry, it gives you everything you could possibly want in a Christmas film. I never get over the scene with Emma Thompson and the necklace though, it breaks me every time πŸ˜­
Love Actually
There were so many festive films I could have included but these are the ones at the top of my list to watch each year. A mix of romance, Disney and some older classics. I'd love to know what your favourite Christmas film is? Do you love any of these too?

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

My Favourite Books Of 2018

2018 has been the year I've gotten back into reading and I'm so, so happy about that. After going such a long time without even thinking about picking up a book, I decided that this was going to be the year I went back to something I used to absolutely adore. I've got through far more books than I imagined I would so I thought it was about time I picked some of my favourites. This was a very tough choice, I've read such a variety this year from classic love stories to terrifying thrillers but I've chosen 6 (random number I know but there was a few that I just couldn't leave!) that have stuck with me ever since I finished the last page.
stack of books

1. Five Years From Now by Paige Toon

There was no way this was going to be anywhere other than at the top of the list. I'd not read any of Paige's books before but I spotted this in a supermarket one day, read the synopsis and then was annoyed at myself for weeks for not just picking it up at the time! When I eventually got round to reading it, it exceeded all expectations. I went into it obviously expecting a love story but it was so much more than that. The story of Nell and Van was so intense and their love for one another so strong, it just breaks my heart to even think about it still. Something about this just got me and each book I've read since has had a lot to live up to. The way Paige writes makes you feel as if you're in the story with each of the characters and going through what they are which is so clever. Every five years when it seemed there may be a chance for Nell and Van, I was desperate for things to work out. Whilst this may have not had the exact ending I wanted, it's a beautiful love story and I don't think it will be too long before I'm re-reading it.
Five Years From Now book

2. One Day In December by Josie Silver

It was so close between this and Five Years From Now for the number 1 spot. It's another book that once I read the synopsis, I knew I would have to buy it. Whilst I expected to enjoy it, because it's the sort of book I'd usually go for, I never thought I'd read it all in three hours because I couldn't stop. It's like my hands were glued to it, each chapter I just had to keep going. It's about Jack and Laurie whose eyes meet through a bus window and they instantly fall in love. Despite her searching, Laurie can't find him anywhere after her bus drives off, that is until her best friend Sarah brings home her new boyfriend. Yep, it's Jack. What follows is a brilliant story of friendship, true love and how if you're meant to be with someone, you'll always find your way back to one another. I was rooting for Laurie and Jack right from the beginning and I felt every single thing they did. I was an emotional mess at times but then beaming from ear to ear in other chapters. It just had everything you want in a love story. It's got a very Love Actually feel to it and with it being set around Christmas and New Year, it would make a wonderful gift. A really beautiful book in every way.

3. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Different to the other books so far but one that shocked me more than any other book ever has. I've really been into thriller type books this year and this was one that really intrigued me. You assume it's about an angry ex-wife, jealous of her 'replacement' but wow there is so much to it than that. Every assumption you make throughout will be wrong, trust me. Every single time I thought I had worked out who the 'bad guy' was, the story flipped on its head and I was right back at the start trying to figure it out. It was complex but not confusing if that makes sense. It does require some real thinking every few chapters but it's written so well, at no point did I think 'this is too much'. I've just never known a book have so many twists and turns, and the one that is revealed at the end of part one blew my mind. The same thing happened again with the epilogue. I could never guess where it was going and I loved it for that. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
The Wife Between Us book

4. The Sisters by Claire Douglas

Another thriller that really did impress me. I've always stuck to romance type books until this year but The Sisters was the first of another genre that stood out to me. It follows Abi who moves to Bath for a fresh start after her sister's death. She quickly becomes friends with siblings Bea and Ben, who she soon discovers have some unsettling secrets of their own. From the start, I really didn't know where this was going to go. Weird things start happening once Abi is settled and whilst the obvious culprit is Bea who has been a little weird from the start, it's really not as simple as that and we uncover quite a deep backstory. Given everything Abi has been through, at times it even comes across like she's doing a serious of crazy things just for attention so it really does change throughout and I could never quite work out where it was going to go next. It has a brilliant twist at the end which I couldn't stop thinking about for days and now if somebody is asking for book recommendations, this is always my go to. It always tend to be priced around £2 on Amazon so if you haven't read this already, give it a go.

5. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This is one of the latest books I've read and it was definitely more of a mystery novel than anything else. Different to everything else I'd already read before it but incredibly gripping. This is about Laurel who is trying to rebuild her life after her daughter Ellie's disappearance. Just as she's getting back on track, she meets Floyd, he seems like the perfect man. Then she meets his daughter who looks identical to Ellie. Instantly it makes you think of so many different scenarios about what could have happened to Ellie and if Floyd can really be trusted. It throws you straight in but we get flashbacks so we can really build up the story ourselves. I loved Lisa's writing, you really do feel for so many of the characters and it was never just a straightforward path to the culprit. The ending was actually really emotional too which I wasn't expecting. I've got a full review of this going up in a few days in case you want to know more!

6. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This is the book that made me include 6 on this list because I just couldn't leave it. It was the first book this year that made me want to carry on reading and it really made me fall back in love with it again. It was the book everyone was talking about so I was a little worried it wouldn't live up to the hype but I had no reason to feel like that. I absolutely loved the character of Eleanor, I thought she was very relatable in that she didn't have this perfect life and was actually quite down and miserable a lot of the time. She clearly had her struggles growing up and I liked how her story unfolded, leading us a massive twist at the end that I really don't you think get any inkling about. To say it was Gail Honeyman's debut, I thought it was brilliant and I'm excited to read more from her in future.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine book
It was incredibly difficult to whittle down all of the books I've read this year into this small list as hardly any disappointed me but these all stood out to me when thinking back over the year. Now I really do love nothing more than getting stuck into a good book, it takes me away from all things social media for a while and opens up this whole new world. I can't wait to discover even more brilliant books in 2019.

Which books stand out for you from 2018? Have you read any of these too?

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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Birthday Wishlist 2019

Though it was only a few weeks ago I published my Christmas wishlist, it's already time for my birthday wishlist, something I like to do every year. I have no idea how my birthday comes around so fast, it's only a few weeks away now and I'm definitely not ready for it!
collage - books, recipe books, soap and glory fizz set, yankee candle, imperial leather, chicago dvd
Chicago DVD - I know most people probably aren't that fussed about DVD's anymore because with the likes of Netflix now, there isn't that much need is there? but I do always like to pick up a few each year each that I've really enjoyed. Being such a huge fan of musical theatre, earlier this year we watched Chicago for the first time and I became utterly addicted to it. The soundtrack gets played all the time now and I just want the film so I can re-watch it. It was surprisingly hard to find anywhere online! I'm not sure what it was in particular I enjoyed so much about it but the cast and the music are brilliant.

Yankee Candle Elevation Candles - I'm in love with the new Elevation range from Yankee Candle. They're the go to candle brand aren't they? With an abundance of beautiful scents, I'm always finding new ones I want to try but as soon as I spotted the new range in Clintons a few months ago, I've been desperate to get my hands on one since. Whilst I do love the original Yankee Candles, I think the packaging of these is so pretty and they're not quite as clunky. I can imagine one looking so nice on our bookshelf when I've finally got through some of the others we already have. I can't remember which scents I preferred but I love the look of the Evening Star candle and also the Holiday Pomegranate. They're currently on offer in Boots so are much more affordable than usual.

Soap and Glory Let's Get Fizz-A-Ball Gift Set - I'm pretty sure this gift set is part of Soap and Glory's Christmas range but the good thing with my birthday being just after Christmas is that I get to still include any festive gifts I've seen and sometimes even better they go into the sale afterwards πŸ˜‰. I love bath bombs but they can be so expensive sometimes. I've been wanting to try the Soap and Glory ones for a while and I think £10 for 3 is actually quite good value given you can be paying up to £5 or more in places like Lush now for one. I think they look so pretty and I'd imagine they all smell gorgeous. I love having a pamper evening so any bath products are always a fab present! I also really want to try the new No Drama Llama Foamburst from Imperial Leather, I keep hearing such good things about it.

Essie Surrounded By Studs Nail Polish - I have a huge nail polish collection so it's not that I really need anymore but I absolutely love the look of the Surrounded By Studs Essie shade. Their gel nail polishes are brilliant so I'd love to try more of them and I've been after a nice navy colour for a while. This is about £9.99 which is pricey for one product but the quality of this particular range is second to none.
Soap and Glory fizz set, Essie Surrounded By Studs Nail Polish, LLama foamburst, Yankee Candle Elevation range, Chicago dvd
Chris Bavin Good Food Sorted Recipe Book - I'm actually not 100% sure this is out yet but I thought I'd include it just in case. I'm a big fan of the TV show Eat Well For Less, I genuinely look forward to it every week when a new series is out and Chris Bavin has become a favourite of mine since then. He even replied to a tweet of mine once so you know we're basically best mates. I've seen some of the recipes included in this and I'd absolutely love to try them so I'm definitely hoping to get this at some point.

Anna & Theo by Amanda Prowse - I can't get enough of buying books at the moment. Two at the top of my list at the moment are Anna by Amanda Prowse and Theo by Amanda Prowse. Both of these tell the love story of Anna and Theo (obviously) but it's been split into two books. I love that this tells the story from both points of view and I'm intrigued to see how it works and why they've been written that way.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton - Another book but one that has been on my Amazon list for ages now. I've heard so many people talk about this and I'm just at the point now where I need to read it, I've left it long enough and there's clearly a reason everyone raves about it. 'It's a book about bad dates, good friends and - above all else - about recognising that you and you alone are enough.'

Baylis & Harding Naturals Festive Feet Gift Set - My feet suffer all the time, no matter what shoes I'm wearing or how far I may be going, they just always end up sore and achy so as soon as I spotted the Baylis and Harding festive feet gift set, I had to add it to this list. It contains foot soak crystals which just sound heavenly, a foot lotion and a cosy pair of socks which you can never have enough of in Winter.

Cath Kidston Phone Case - I'm due a new phone soon so I was thrilled to spot these two gorgeous cases on offer on the Cath Kidston website. I mean, they're still expensive for what they are but so pretty. The London phone case is obviously up there as a favourite, it's just like one of the gorgeous Cath Kidston mugs we have but I also adore the Sketchbook Dogs one. It has a cavalier on it and they are my favourite dogs so I'd like it just for that reason alone.
Baylis and Harding foot set, Everything I know about love book, Anna and Theo books by Amanda Prowse, Cath Kidston phone cases, Chris Bavin recipe book
As with any birthday or Christmas wishlist, I'm never actually expecting anything, I just like to put these together. I do think George finds them pretty helpful though when it comes to shopping for meπŸ˜‚. The day itself is never the easiest for me for a number of reasons so I'm more about spending the day doing something fun and eating a load of chocolate cake!

Have you tried the Yankee Candle Elevation range? or let me know if you have any other book recommendations!

*Affiliate links used in this post

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Monday, 10 December 2018

Current Netflix Top Picks #5

There is no better time for Netflix than Christmas. I am loving the range of films and programs on there at the moment and as we've been watching so many festive things, I thought it was about time for another post in my Netflix series.
Netflix logo, jack whitehall travels with my father, the princess switch, christmas with the coopers, the sinner, nativity

Jack Whitehall Travels With My Father

I loved the first series of Travels With My Father so I was so excited when the second series finally arrived. This follows Jack Whitehall and his dad as they go on unusual and amusing trips to foreign lands in an attempt to strengthen their bond. The second series sees them take a road trip across Europe to places like Germany, Hungary, Romania and more, all certainly making for an adventure and great TV. It's just so funny to watch their relationship, his dad is hilarious and I just wish they did more TV together. I don't think the second series was quite as good as the first but I still hope they do more in future.

The Princess Switch

Okay, I totally expected this to just be over the top cringe, but it was actually quite a good Christmas film! Far better than I was expecting and one I'd be quite happy to watch again. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, this film shows what happens when a down to earth Chicago baker and a soon to be princess, who discover they actually like like identical twins, hatch a Christmastime plan to trade places. Of course, it sounds like pure cheese and it definitely wasn't one of the best films I've ever watched but sometimes you just need a film like that. It was a nice, chilled out movie to put on at the weekend, a great way to start the festive season.

Christmas With The Coopers

I love that Netflix have a whole section dedicated to the Christmassy films now. There are some great ones on there and one that we watched recently was Christmas With The Coopers. It actually wasn't the happiest Christmas film ever, quite sad at times but I really enjoyed it. It's got a brilliant cast including John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Ed Helms and Amanda Seyfried. It's about Sam (Goodman) and Charlotte's (Keaton) annual Christmas Eve celebration where four generations of extended family get together. What the children and grandchildren don't know though is that Sam and Charlotte are planning on getting a divorce and this is their last Christmas as the family know it. Unbeknown to Sam and Charlotte though, each person attending has a whole host of their own problems going on and none of them quite want to open to each other about it causing lots of drama on the day for everyone. I love that this shows that life isn't perfect and just because Christmas is portrayed as this happy time for everyone, it doesn't mean that's actually the case. It highlighted lots of different issues but in the end showed the importance of family and being there for one another which was so heartwarming to see. Oh, and the dog totally steals each scene he's in.

The Sinner

OMG, why did it take me so long to watch this? When the first series starring Jessica Biel came out, everyone went mad for it and when a show is hyped up so much, it puts me off watching it. We were at a bit of a loss with what to start next though recently so we finally watched this and now, I just wish we'd given in sooner. It's absolutely brilliant! The first series follows detective Harry Ambrose delving into the past of a troubled mother, Cora, in order to determine why she fatally stabbed a man during a trip to the beach with her family, as she has no idea herself why. I loved that in the first episode they throw you straight in and we see the attack and that it's different to other shows in that then the following episodes are all about uncovering the reasons why and going back in time to see what Cora had blocked out for years. I think it's such a clever show and once we started watching, we couldn't stop. We've just finished the second series too which sees Harry Ambrose return to his hometown after a 13 year old boy confesses to poisoning a couple. Again he has to figure out why this has happened and he learns secrets that the town's inhabitants have been trying to keep buried for years.

Nativity

The Nativity films have been a favourite of mine for years and each Christmas I look forward to getting cosy and sitting down to watch them all again. There are 4 so far (the latest is currently in cinemas) but I think the original with Martin Freeman is probably my favourite. In the first film Martin plays a failed actor, now a primary school teacher and he's given the task of directing the school's Nativity play. He and Mr Poppy, the hilarious classroom assistant, tell everyone a Hollywood producer will be coming over to film the play which isn't quite true. Lots of chaos ensues but it's just so funny and heartwarming and it makes me smile each time. The second with David Tennant is equally as good too! Just the perfect films to get you in the festive mood.

What have you been watching on Netflix recently?

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Friday, 7 December 2018

Popcorn Shed Review*

We're massive fans of a movie night in our home. Whether it's a trip the cinema or an evening on the sofa, we're film fanatics and tend to get through several a week, so of course snacks are a big part of that. We love a good bag of popcorn so I was thrilled to receive a selection from the lovely people at Popcorn Shed. George and I have been trying it all out over the last few weeks so if you're a snack addict like me, you might want to keep reading!
flatlay of Popcorn Shed flavours
Popcorn Shed is the UK's first premium gourmet popcorn brand, incorporating texture into each packet through the form of nuts, chocolate and even dried fruit. This enhances the taste of each flavour and I was so excited by the selection I was sent to try. I'd heard of Popcorn Shed before and their unique flavours but I'd just never got round to actually picking any up! Something else that's a little different about Popcorn Shed compared to other brands, is their funky packaging which is made to be like 'shed' cartons. Each have their own personality and theme so definitely stand out wherever you may find them!

I was lucky enough to receive two 80g packets, those being the flavours Pecan Pie and Say Cheese! I also got a little selection of some of their smaller packets in the flavours Berry-licious, Butterly Nuts, Pop 'n' Choc, Sweet Cheesus and Salted Caramel, so plenty to get stuck into and enjoy!

Pecan Pie £3.50

I'll start with Pecan Pie as that's the flavour I tucked into first. I was super excited to unwrap this, it's not a flavour I'd usually pick up if I saw it in a shop but wow, it was absolutely delicious! The pecan pie flavour is a nutty, buttery smooth caramel popcorn with golden roasted pecans which add texture and crunch. If you like toffee popcorn, I'm sure this would be a hit with you. The main flavour I picked up on each time I took another handful was the caramel which was delicious but the addition of pecans really is heavenly and it just makes it a little different to your basic sweet popcorn. I found this flavour to be extremely moreish which means it's easy to get through the whole lot in one sitting so I'll definitely be picking more up in the future. I also really love the colour of this particular carton, inspired by autumn, it's just perfect for this time of year!
Popcorn Shed Pecan Pie carton

Say Cheese £3.50

The next 80g carton I tried was the Say Cheese flavour which is inspired by a quaint farmhouse chateau shed nestled in an idyllic French ville. I'm not going to lie, I was sceptical about this! I love salted popcorn and I'm usually all for savoury snacks over sweet but cheese flavoured popcorn? I had no idea what to expect. I did end up being pleasantly surprised though! This sharp mature cheddar cheese popcorn is perfect for when you just need something savoury, does anyone else have times like that? I often find in the afternoons, I'm desperate for a snack like this. What I liked about this was that you get a subtle salty hit so the tangy cheese isn't too overpowering. I'm not sure this is a flavour I would necessarily rush to buy in future but I'm glad I tried it and if you're a big cheese fan, I'm sure this would be perfect for you! Maybe a quirky accompaniment to a cheeseboard this Christmas?!
Popcorn Shed Say Cheese Carton
Onto some of the smaller packets I've been trying out. I loved that the selection was a mix of savoury and sweet. It meant I could try out the Pecan Pie and Say Cheese flavours first before opening the bigger packets and also the wide variety in flavours meant there was something ready to enjoy, no matter what I fancied that day. The first flavour out of all of these we chose to indulge in was the Salted Caramel which is a mix of buttery caramel and creamy Belgian milk chocolate - it was divine! I've spotted this in Superdrug on offer for £2 so I'll definitely be stocking up for us to enjoy over the festive period. Another flavour that we liked was the Butterly Nuts. As soon as I saw this packet, I couldn't wait to dive in! Combining rich creamy peanut butter caramel with real peanut halves, it's the perfect mix of sweet and salty.
Popcorn Shed small packets, butterly nuts, pecan pie, berry-licious, chocolate
I've absolutely loved trying out all of these flavours from Popcorn Shed and I can't wait to pick up more! I tend to stick to the same brands when picking up popcorn for a movie night but I think Popcorn Shed have become a new favourite. I love how unique each flavour is, when you open a packet it's impossible to stop, they are all incredibly moreish and make the perfect snack for a cosy evening in. I think my favourite definitely has to be the Salted Caramel or the Pecan Pie, both I never wanted to end. One thing I do really like about Popcorn Shed too is that each of their flavours have a story. The packaging and colours have all been inspired something which I think is lovely, it shows that so much effort has gone into each and every product they sell. If you want to try out any of these flavours yourself, the 80g cartons are £3.50 on their website and you can even bulk buy the smaller packets too if you'd like!
Popcorn Shed Pecan Pie Carton, Say Cheese Carton, mini packet of chocolate
Have you tried any flavours from Popcorn Shed?

*Products provided for the purpose of this post

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Thursday, 6 December 2018

One Day In December By Josie Silver Book Review

I'm sure you know by now, I'm a big fan of a soppy love story. I've read some absolutely gorgeous books this year like Pictures Of Lily and Some Kind Of Wonderful but one that caught my eye many months ago was One Day In December by Josie Silver. I ended up pre-ordering it because once I saw the synopsis, I was desperate to read the whole book and I didn't want to end up missing out. Well, I read this last month and it didn't disappoint. It's one of those books that will stay with me for quite a while I think.
One day in december book, christmas props
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. After all, life isn't a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away. Laurie thinks she'll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new life of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus. Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

My review

Okay, isn't the cover of this book absolutely beautiful? It's so simple yet so festive, making it a perfect read this Christmas. I think the reason I was so drawn to this book is because it seemed very similar to one of the best books I've ever read, Five Years From Now, with the story been very much about two people who are clearly meant to be but have an endless amount of obstacles in their way. Luckily I was pleased to find out it has a very different ending but let's go back to the start.

I've mentioned before I sometimes struggle with a two person narrative, if it's not written well it can be so confusing but this was really cleverly done, and it was told by both Laurie and Jack. In the books I've read before with more than one person narrating it's always been women so I absolutely loved that we got to hear Jack's point of view too. From the minute Jack and Laurie lock eyes, we know she's head over heels in love but often in books like this, you never really know properly how the man is feeling. It was so nice to find out Jack's feelings too and know actually he was just as mad about her as she was him, and what he was really thinking despite not letting it show to Laurie because of Sarah.

The love story of Laurie and Jack was never going to be plain-sailing but right from the start I was willing for it to work out. You really feel Laurie's anguish though as what can you possibly do in that situation? Risk her friendship with Sarah for this boy she actually didn't even know anything about for a long time, or chance it and possibly lose everything? She's in this massive dilemma so you really did never how it was going to end. It's made harder to know what to think as Laurie and Sarah's friendship is so lovely. I loved that this book was just as much about those two aswell as about Jack and it wasn't just a typical love story. It really does focus on everyone in Laurie's life.

Josie has written this in a way that you really do get invested in each person and you just want the best for them no matter what. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I genuinely picked it up at about 1pm on a Sunday afternoon and I read and read until I'd finished at about 4pm. It was that good. I was gripped all the way through. At the end I felt like I needed to just have a massive sob as I'd felt so tense throughout, desperate for everyone to be happy, by the end I just felt relief. It made me emotional several times throughout, there is a beautiful moment between Laurie and Jack about half way through where they realise it may never actually be possible for them to be together and I still keep thinking about it. Every single time you think it's heading in the right direction, something comes along to stop it, again very much like Five Years From Now so the ending isn't predictable at all. It's just heartbreaking at times but also uplifting and heart-warming too. It just has everything you could possibly want in a love story and it's definitely a contender as my favourite book of the year. 

If you want a festive read this December, please please please, give this a go. It reminds me a lot of Love Actually so if you're a fan of that film (who isn't?!) I think you'll love this.


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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Blogging Mistakes I've Made

I can't quite believe that I've been blogging for almost 5 years. Some days it feels like two minutes ago that I started all of this and published my very first post, and other times I can't imagine my life before it. As I've been been a blogger for quite a while now, I've made many mistakes. Some of the things I had no clue about 5 years ago, the list is honestly endless. As I had no idea what I was doing when I first started, I got a lot of things wrong so I thought I'd share some of those mistakes with you. Maybe it might stop you from making some of them in the future too!
flatlay - book, milkshake, biscuits

Saying Yes To Every Opportunity

Whilst it can be so exciting to get emails from brands asking if you want to collaborate, it doesn't mean you have to take every single one. On a quiet month blog wise, any email coming through sparks a little bit of excitement in me but there are times when despite how low I might be on sponsored work or brand collaborations that it just isn't worth taking. It's only over the last few years I've really started making sure I'm only accepting campaigns that truly fit my blog and are fair because for a long time brands have been taking advantage of bloggers. A few years ago I didn't really know what I was doing so I was working for free sometimes, accepting insultingly low payments other times and bending over backwards for a small beauty product because I felt like that was the right thing to do and like I wasn't worthy of anything more. It was just amazing at the time that anyone wanted to work with me but now I can see it works both ways. Some brands always like to try and make you feel as if they're doing you a massive favour but they're not. Now I know what my niche is, I know what I'm worth and I'm not going to say yes to a brand who want everything for nothing. 

Undercharging & Underselling Myself

Following on from that point, I've been underselling myself and my blog for a long time. Despite bloggers and vloggers - all kinds of social media 'influencers' only growing in popularity, it can still a lot of the time feel like we'll just never be taken seriously. For a long time I've struggled when it comes to knowing what to charge when it comes to sponsored content because again, brands make you feel like them paying you anything is a good thing. But is £25 going to pay my rent? I don't think so. It can be difficult and uncomfortable at times to say actually, no that isn't enough, I charge x amount for x amount of work but we are well within our rights to do so. You charge what you feel you deserve, no one can criticise you for knowing your own worth. To be honest I still think I don't charge quite enough for the amount of time and effort I put into brand collaborations but I have definitely got better over the last year with really making sure things are on a more even playing field. Please, if you're new to this, or even if you're not, don't let people take advantage. If you don't know where to start with charging for content, a tip I picked up from other bloggers is to charge 4 x your DA, so if your DA is 25, charge £100. That's just a basic rough guide if you're unsure.

Following The Crowd

I actually don't think this is a major mistake I've made as for a long time, I've just done as I please with my blog but at the start, it was impossible not to try and follow the crowd. When I started my blog, I literally had no idea what I was doing. I was bored, had a lot going on and just needed to occupy myself. So, that's when Food and Other Loves started but I had no idea what I was going to talk about! It was only when I started talking to and following other bloggers on social media that I noticed the sorts of things that were popular. There were various tags I felt I had to take part in or be nominated in to get anyone to notice my blog, there were certain beauty products that everyone seemed to love and I didn't want to be left out. It's easy at the start to just follow everyone else and take inspiration from them because surely if they're doing well due to those things, you will too? but it doesn't work like that. Being different is a good thing! All of our blogs are unique, it would be boring if we all spoke about the same things, reviewed the same mascara etc. Now I genuinely talk and write about what I want despite what other bloggers are doing and it makes me happy. Don't be afraid to stand out.

Not Promoting My Blog

For some reason I thought people would just automatically find my blog without me really having to do anything. Thinking about it now, that's obviously ridiculous but it took a while for me to figure out that it takes a lot of work for your posts to be seen. Now I'm always scheduling tweets, it's the bane of my life but it works and on days I don't have any tweets going out, I really notice a dip in my views. Pinterest has also become a big thing for me over the last year, it's a brilliant way to generate blog views. I try not to be spammy when it comes to promoting my posts but I think I've found the right balance now, it just took me a while to figure out what was too much and what wasn't enough.

Putting Myself Under Too Much Pressure

There have been times in my past few years where I've been really hard on myself when it comes to blogging and sticking to a schedule. Whilst having a routine and posting on set days is useful for me for several reasons, I do think I've been a bit too obsessive about it before and I've put myself under far too much pressure. This year I've taken a real step back with it, allowed myself breaks if I'm away or ill, which I know sounds totally normal but before if I'd had a post planned, I'd be desperate to make sure I got it up regardless whereas now I just think, what's really going to happen if I don't? Absolutely nothing. Whilst I love posting so frequently because I have so many things I want to share, at times it can get a bit too much so I think it's really important sometimes to just take a step back and have a break. I find small breaks really help me re-focus too and I tend to come back to my blog with fresh ideas and more motivated than ever.

Have you made any of these blogging mistakes too?


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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

November Favourites - Bohemian Rhapsody, Christmas Markets & Baking!

I really can't believe it's my penultimate monthly favourites of the year! I've loved sharing some of my favourite products and places each month but hasn't this year gone so fast? I'm incredibly happy it's December now and we're getting closer and closer to Christmas day but I'm also a little sad that it will be over before we know it!
Bohemian Rhapsody, Informer BBC, Twist and Spritz Holder, Christmas Baking Kit, Manchester Christmas Market, Butter London
Manchester Christmas Markets - The first thing I had to mention is our lovely day in Manchester. It's a place we always love to go back to but even more so at Christmas time. They just do Christmas markets so well and I always leave feeling incredibly festive. In fact, within days of us getting back home this time, the tree went up and our flat is currently in full on Christmas mode. The main market at Albert Square is always so cosy and the stalls they have get better each year. We had some amazing food there this year and I kind of want to go back again before it's all over again.
Manchester Christmas market
Twist and Spritz Perfume Holder* - I love love love my perfume. I've got several bottles at the moment I can't stop using but the issue I have with that, is that I often can't take them away with me. Most perfume bottles tend to be quite big and bulky and it's just not possible to have them on the go with you so you can forever be smelling gorgeous. For that reason I've been loving Twist and Spritz. This enables you to enjoy your favourite fragrance wherever you are as it can easily fit into your handbag or coat pocket. It's easy to fill and allows for approximately 100 sprays, it's also available in loads of colours but I love the rose gold in particular. It's £10 at The Fragrance Shop at the moment so might be a nice extra Christmas present!
Twist and Spritz perfume holder
Twist and Spritz perfume holder
Christmas Baking - As we've been feeling very festive over the last few weeks, I couldn't resist one of the new baking kits when I was ordering a food shop. I definitely don't bake as much as I used to and George and I very, very rarely bake together so this little kit made such a nice change. It was such a nice way to spend some time together and whilst our biscuits didn't turn out amazingly well, it was so much fun and now I'm keen to get some of the other ones they have out at the moment so we can do some more baking together over Christmas.
Asda Christmas baking kit
Bohemian Rhapsody - This film. There is a reason it's all anyone has been able to talk about recently. Whilst I did like Queen's music before this film, I wouldn't have said I was a huge fan but as soon as I saw the trailer for this, I knew it was one to watch. Based on Freddie Mercury and Queen's rise to fame, it was so interesting to watch and to find out more about them all. Of course the music was brilliant and I loved how certain songs fitted into the story and the live aid recreation was insane. It feels like you're actually there when you watch it. All the actors that were chosen were spot on, incredible. Definitely up there as one of my favourite films of the year.
Informer - I'm not going to lie, when I first saw this advertised on TV a few months ago, I didn't think it would be my sort of program or one that I'd get stuck into but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Whilst I didn't have high hopes, I did want to give it a chance as the queen herself Rachel Tucker had quite a big role as Sharon and I was excited to see her in something other than a musical. Well, I thought the whole series was outstanding. It's about Raza who finds himself in a tricky situation with the police in the first episode and how he ends up being coerced into informing for the counter-terrorism unit. It does start off a little slow as we're introduced to the characters and as Raza adjusts to this new life but it soon gets going and within a few episodes, we were desperate to see how it was going to end. We ended up watching it all within a few days and now I'm ready for series 2 already.
Informer BBC
Source
Butter London Eyeliner* - I've always thought of nail polish when it comes to Butter London so I was surprised to find out they actually do several different beauty products such as bronzer palettes, mascara, lip gloss, and more. I've been trying out their Glazen Lustrous Liner over the last month and I've been really impressed. I always wear pencil eyeliner, it's such a staple in my makeup bag but it had been a long time since I'd used a liquid eyeliner so I was curious to see what this would be like. One of the things I love about it is how easy it is to use. It's a weightless liner with a fine tip so it makes for an effortless and precise line and I just love the finished look after using this. I've not been applying loads of this but I've found just a little really makes your eyes stand out. It's currently £10 at Feel Unique if you want to try too.
Butter London Eyeliner
What have you been loving throughout November? Are you ready for Christmas now?

*Products marked with a * are PR samples

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Monday, 3 December 2018

The Wife Between Us By Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen Review

Wow, the last few books I've read have been absolutely mindblowing. I mean, I've read some absolutely brilliant books this year so it takes a lot to impress me but the latest ones I've picked have just been outstanding. The first of those books is The Wife Between Us by by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I love a thriller or mystery type book and this was both rolled into one. The second book that I loved for different reasons is One Day In December so look out for my review of that in the next few days.
The wife between us book, christmas props
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. It's about a jealous wife, obsessed with her replacement. It's about a younger woman set to marry the man she loves. The first wife seems like a disaster, her replacement is the perfect woman. You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships. You will be wrong.

My review

I was genuinely speechless when I finished this book. Compared to the ones I'd read before it, it took me far longer to get through but that's just because it's so complex, it requires some real thinking every few chapters! The first thing I wanted to mention about this book is that I found it really interesting that it's written by two authors. I've never read a book like that before and I've always wondered how it actually works and who writes what but whatever it was they did, it was a success. Together they have come up with an excellent story that grips you right from the very start and doesn't let you go even when you think it's all wrapped up.

The book mainly focuses on Vanessa, Richard's ex-wife, a very complex woman who is determined to get between him and his new fiance. We are only told in drips what had happened between her and Richard for them to end up divorced, you really do have to try and piece the puzzle together as you go along but as you can tell from the synopsis, your initial thought is supposed to be that Vanessa is this crazy woman who can't let go and her replacement is this perfect woman. It was never going to be that simple though that was it? I knew it wouldn't be as straightforward as Richard being this perfect man and all of the women around him from his past and current life all to be crazy but I never predicted it would get to the level it did for each of the characters.

I've read some great books this year that have had a few wow moments but this had about 5. Several times I had to put the book down and try and process what had just been revealed, and that's never happened with any other book before. There is a twist at the end of part 1 (the book is split into 3 parts and an epilogue) that I couldn't get over for a few days. I just couldn't work out how they had been so clever with it and it meant I really had to go back to the beginning in my head and try and see the story in a new way. It's one of those books that whenever you think you have it figured out, it completely turns on its head and you're left questioning everything again. When I finally reached the end and it seemed everything had been tied up, the same thing happened again as we then get to the epilogue. I'm not going to spoil it in case you haven't read it before but it's just fantastic. That short chapter takes you literally right back to the start and you start to see everything from a different light yet again. I've never known a twist like it and I genuinely couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards. I felt like I needed to lay down in a dark room and try and process it all!

So, basically it's an incredible book. I know I post a lot of positive book reviews, I've been quite lucky I've not read that many this year that have been a disappointment but this one really does top them all. It's a thriller that you just can't get out of your head afterwards. I hope Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen collaborate on more books together in the future because this really did blow me away.

Have you read The Wife Between Us? What have you been reading recently?


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