Monday, 30 September 2019

5 TV Shows I've Binge-Watched Recently

I absolutely love getting stuck into a good boxset. Whether it's a cheesy comedy or a gritty drama, give me them all. I tend to put something on in the afternoon whilst I try and power through with some blog posts and George and I also love to get cosy in the evening, light some candles and binge-watch something so it's safe to say I've managed to get through a ridiculous amount of TV programmes recently. Because of that I wanted to share my thoughts on some of them, and give some recommendations, because I personally love reading posts like this from others!
collage, tv posters - big little lies, keeping faith, sharp objects, thirteen, trollied

Big Little Lies

Okay let's start with probably one of the biggest shows around at the moment, Big Little Lies. I was really late to the party with this one, I'd obviously heard of it (where have you been, if not!) but it wasn't until recently I thought to give it a go and boy am I glad I did! I got through the first series while the second series was airing so I managed to get them all watched pretty quickly which is just how I like it, who can really be bothered with waiting a week for a new episode? Big Little Lies is based on the novel by Liane Moriarty (I reviewed one of her other books The Husbands Secret a while ago if you want to give that a read) and it's about three women - Madeline, Celeste and Jane, who on the outside look to have pretty perfect lives but the reality couldn't be further from the truth. One minor incident involving the three of them ends in murder, and omg it's tense! I totally see why it's had so much praise and it's gained a new fan in me. It's got a stellar cast including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley so if the story alone wasn't enough to intrigue you, these women are insanely good in this. I really hope there's another series at some point.
big little lies gif

Sharp Objects

This is definitely not the happiest of TV shows and could probably be a trigger point for many, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Like with Big Little Lies, I'd heard of Sharp Objects and it was one I'd thought about watching a few times but there was always something holding me back and then just after I finished Big Little Lies, I thought why not give it a go and if I don't like it, there's no need to finish it. I can't quite explain how brilliant it is though. It completely took me by surprise. Amy Adams is on another level in this, and I've never particularly been a huge fan of her in the past. Sharp Objects is another show based on a novel, this time written by Gillian Flynn who you may know as the author of Gone Girl (review here) and it's about reporter Camille Preaker who returns to her small hometown to investigate mysterious, unsolved crimes. Whilst searching for two missing girls, Camille reunites with her estranged family including her overbearing Mother, which brings back traumatic childhood memories. Like I said, it's not exactly happy, in fact at times it's pretty depressing and a hard watch but it also seems quite realistic. It's not often you see characters that are seriously struggling with depression, self-harm, and a whole load of other psychological issues, and I think they did it really well. I'm still yet to read the book, though it's waiting on the bookshelf for me, and I'm excited to see how it compares and if there is more to be uncovered that I didn't see in the show.
sharp objects gif

Keeping Faith

Now for something a little on the lighter side. I say a little because it's not a comedy, it's a typical BBC drama but Eve Myles just manages to bring humour to every show she's in. I am a HUGE fan of her, have been since Frankie which came out years ago but unfortunately only got one series, and she's obviously known for Torchwood and Broadchurch. She's the main character in this, in which she plays Faith Howells, a lawyer, wife and mother, living in Wales, who is drawn into a world of mystery when her husband (played by her real life husband Bradley Freegard) vanishes. With no clue where he is or why he's left, she starts to uncover secrets about his life and has to question if she ever really knew the man she'd married. I've watched both series now and both are just as good as the other, in fact I'd love more in future, it deserves it. Fun fact for you too - when they've filmed a scene in English, they do it all again in Welsh so you have two versions of the series to choose from, which I think is just incredible! The amount of time that must take.
keeping faith gif

Thirteen

Anyone else just LOVE Jodie Comer since Killing Eve? I mean, she's been brilliant in shows like My Mad Fat Diary and Doctor Foster too but it's her as villanelle which has made me become such a fan. One show of hers I never got to see when it first aired though was Thirteen and as there are only 5 episodes, I got through it quite fast a few weeks ago. It's quite an intense drama as Jodie plays Ivy Moxam, a 26 year old woman who has just escaped from a cellar that she has been imprisoned in for 13 years. It's full of mystery as 1. at times it makes you doubt if Ivy is who she says she is or an imposter and 2. Will they catch who did this to her if she is telling the truth? It's probably not my favourite show on this list but it's definitely worth a watch!
thirteen gif

Trollied

Ahh finally something lighthearted! And you can't get something much lighter than Trollied - a comedy set in a supermarket, and you all know how much I love a supermarket! There are 7 series in total so it took us a while to get through but it follows the workers at Valco, a supermarket in Warrington. There's deputy manager Julie (Jane Horrocks) who has a serious crush on fellow manager Gavin (Jason Watkins). There's butcher Andy (Mark Addy) and his apprentice Kieran, who both think there must be more to life than their current job. And Margaret (Rita May), the oldest member of the team who at first struggles to get to grips with it all. It's just a bit silly, doesn't take itself too seriously and each episode never fails to make you giggle.
trollied gif
We've currently just finished Downton Abbey too, perfect timing to go and see the film, which was stunning in every way, but I'm not sure what's next so if you have any boxset recommendations, let me know! I'd love to know if you've watched any of the shows on this list too.

Similar - Current Netflix Picks #11 including Call The Midwife, In The Dark & more

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Procoal Premium Peel Away Foot Mask Review*

Now it's no secret that I love a face mask. I've reviewed many on my blog before including the Garnier moisture bomb mask, Soap and Glory What A Peeling & even a sheet mask subscription box but that's not to say those are the only masks I like to use. I am also a HUGE fan of a foot mask. I know it might sound a little strange but when your feet suffer like mine do, anything that can soothe them and make them feel fresh and ready to go again, is always appreciated. I've tried a few different foot masks out in the past but most recently, I gave the new Premium Peel Away Foot Mask from Procoal a go so let's see what I thought!
procoal premium foot mask held up above autumnal flatlay
First of all, let's talk a little more about Procoal and what they are all about. Procoal are a cruelty-free brand who started in 2016 'A wife, a husband, a desk and a will. And from day one, the will's been the biggest thing'. They believe in producing the highest quality beauty products, using ethically sourced ingredients which encourage users to look after themselves and others. They have such a range of products to choose from including - teeth whitening kits, charcoal face masks and scrubs, shampoo bars, activated charcoal deodorant and more, all at affordable prices too.

As I've already mentioned though, the product I was kindly sent is the Premium Peel Away Foot Mask. This has been designed to help remove dead skin in 3-7 days after use, leaving you with silky soft feet. The foot mask contains one pair of foot socks which contains an exfoliating serum which has been packed with botanical extract and the idea of it is that it provides a pain-free way of removing hard skin. Whilst it might not sound like the most luxurious beauty product ever, it can actually be a really important one for a lot of people and for someone like me for suffers with their feet occasionally, it's a welcome relief.
photo of the foot socks and the back of the packaging
I have to admit I did find the application of the socks a little tricky compared to other foot masks I've used in the past, I definitely did better with the second one but the first was a bit of a mess! They just didn't feel uber secure and there was quite a lot of the solution in them so it could have been easy to end up with a bit of spillage. Luckily there is a solution to that, just pop a pair of socks on over them. This holds them in place and as long as you're not planning on walking around in them, which isn't recommended, you'll be fine. After putting the socks on, I really picked up on the scent and it was so refreshing! These socks contain chamomile, lemon extract and papaya extract so they smell really fresh and fruity which is a nice bonus.

It's recommended you wear these for around 60-90 minutes so it's important you wear them when you can really sit and chill out for a while, but it didn't take long for me to feel like they were working. Obviously you don't get results straight away but my feet just felt like they were being cleansed if that makes sense, and as soon as I removed them and rinsed my feet, they just felt cool for ages afterwards. They did feel far softer than usual afterwards too and the areas where I tend to get dry and rough skin already felt rejuvenated and this was before I'd even given it the recommended 3-7 days to see an improvement.

Overall, I'm impressed with the Premium Peel Away Foot Mask! It might have taken a little getting used to at first but it really did make my feet feel so refreshed afterwards and I have noticed a difference in the hard skin on my feet. Putting on one of these after a long day is a dream so if you're someone who is on their feet a lot or like me, just enjoys a pamper every so often, I'd recommend grabbing one. They're available on the Procoal website for £8.99 if you want to try.
procoal foot mask held up in front of desk
I'd love to know if you've tried anything like this foot mask before? Are you a fan of products like this for a pamper evening?

*PR Sample

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How To Feed Your Book Obsession On A Budget*

As any book lover knows, growing your library can be very expensive, especially if paying for full-price new releases is out of your budget. But there are plenty of ways for you to still keep growing your collection without spending a fortune. We've put together a list of great ideas to teach you how to feed your book obsession on a budget.
Photo by Alexandra Kirr

Visit The Library

The easiest and most obvious way to feed your habit is to make use of your local library. They may not get the latest releases immediately, but they will arrive over time, and it's an amazing resource for discovering new and exciting authors - all without having to spend any money at all.

Buy and Exchange

Ideally, you want to keep growing your collection. But in reality, you're unlikely to read most of the books once you've finished them. You can recycle old books by selling them online on place like WeBuyBooks or Ebay, and any money you make back can be put straight back into buying new ones.

Increase Your Budget

If money is tight there are other ways you can increase your budget to enjoy some new books. If you can afford to take out a short-term loan, you may want to consider it as an option. If successful, you get fast access to the funds and it doesn't have to be paid back in one go. Before agreeing to any loan, make sure you can afford the full repayments and that the company is FCA registered.

Buy Second Hand

There are more places than ever to buy second hand books for only a few pounds (including postage). Whether there's a local second hand store or charity shop nearby, or you prefer the convenience of shopping online, there's no shortage of places to get hold of books. Buying second hand is cheaper, so it saves money, while also giving you plenty to read.

Use eBooks

If you are a traditionalist, this may not be for you, but going digital can save you a lot of money. Kindle editions of books tend to be cheaper than printed books, so you can get the very latest releases without having to pay the same prices. It also means you can save room at home, which is extremely useful when you start struggling for space to keep your books stored in.

Audio Books

Audio versions of books have become hugely popular over the past 3-4 years. Audible or Google's audiobooks are a cheaper option, plus you can still enjoy a good book while having your hands free to do other things. There are also a lot of audiobooks that are read by celebrities - giving the experience a whole new and fun dimension.

Give It Some Time

When a book is first released as a hardcover, you have to pay premium to get your hands on it straight away. However, give it some time and a paperback will usually follow that will be less expensive. It's always worth popping into a local bookstore too as there are usually a lot of deals and discounts throughout the year that will enable you to pick up some great bargains along the way.

Do you have any other tips for finding book deals?

*This is a collaborative post

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Monday, 23 September 2019

My Zesty Jaffa Cake Brownies Recipe

Yep, I'm back again with another brownie recipe. I've been loving making lots of different bakes over the last few months starting with bourbon biscuit brownies then Lotus Biscoff brownies, and I've even tried indulgent triple chocolate cookies and the classic Tiffin, but today it's all about these squares of orange, gooey goodness. I'm a huge Jaffa Cake fan so I thought why not incorporate them into the brownie mix and see what happens?
Jaffa cake brownie held up in front of others on chopping board
Ingredients:
100g butter
200g golden caster sugar
200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g plain flour
Zest of 1 orange
4 tsp of marmalade
10 jaffa cakes, halved

Method:
1. Grease and line a large baking tin and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (160 fan)
2. Put the butter and sugar into a large saucepan and melt over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved
3. Take the pan off the heat and add in your broken chocolate, keep stirring until it is fully melted and then add in your vanilla extract
4. Add in your 2 eggs and using an electric whisk if possible, whisk until the mixture is thick and velvety
5. Tip in your orange zest and flour, and mix well until everything is combined
6. Pour into your prepared tin then dot 4 teaspoons of marmalade across the top. I found warming this up over a pan of simmering water helped loosen the marmalade. Then swirl the marmalade with either a skewer or sharp knife
7. Top with your jaffa cake halves, pushing into the mixture slightly. I also broke some into quarters to fill some of the bigger gaps
8. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes then leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares. This mixture should make at least 9 large squares but you could easily cut them smaller if you wish
jaffa cake brownies about to go into the oven
closeup of jaffa cake brownies on chopping board. Orange sliced open and jaffa cakes next to it on the right
For my first attempt, I'm pretty happy with how these turned out! They're definitely on the gooey side and I tend to prefer my brownies a bit more cake-like but they still taste divine. So chocolatey with hints of orange and a crunch from the Jaffa Cakes. When I had my first bite of one of these, it instantly made me think of Christmas, chocolate orange always does. I think these would be a great one to try in a few months but maybe topped with chocolate orange segments in place of Jaffa Cakes for that extra festive feel!

Have you baked much recently? What's your favourite kind of brownie?


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Thursday, 19 September 2019

5 Things I Find Problematic About Glee Second Time Round

This blog post might seem about 5 years out of date but I recently re-watched Glee and like when I finished Pretty Little Liars, I had so many thoughts about it throughout, I just had to get them all written down! For the most part, I loved Glee when I was a teenager and even now it was nice to watch each day - it's pretty lighthearted and I love anything with music involved but I couldn't help but pick up on a few things that maybe now wouldn't be okay. I've seen quite a lot online and read many Twitter threads highlighting the same sorts of issues so I thought I'd share some of the areas I found problematic this time round, and I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've been a fan of Glee too.
glee poster

Where was the continuity?

The main thing that comes to mind with Glee that I had to mention is that there seemed to be absolutely no continuity. The amount of times they seemed to start a storyline to then move on in the next episode and it to never be brought up again. 1. Where did all the backup dancers come from during the big numbers? 2. Marley's eating disorder came and went, and Kitty didn't suffer the consequences of leading someone down that path intentionally. 3. Quinn and Puck seemed to forget their big quest to get their daughter back in the later series' and she's never mentioned again. 4. One minute Rachel was given up for adoption, the next we find out she was a surrogate baby? 5. What happened to Sue's baby? 6. Ryder's sexual abuse claims are mocked and then forgotten about? There are a few other things I could mention but those are the the ones that stick in my head. I just think certain topics should have either been explored more and focused on or not brought into it at all.
glee gif, santana confused

Why did Will have no friends his own age?

Not that I'm exactly the poster girl for friendships and have loads of girlfriends myself, but why did Will have no one else his age?! Even at his and Emma's wedding, the main guests were the Glee club! So many teenagers that he seemed to rely on just as much as they did him, and I can't help but think it's just a bit weird. Not wrong, but unhealthy. We just didn't see much of his life outside of the club and I think that would have probably helped me warm to his character.

Coach Beiste

I think Coach Beiste played by Dot-Marie Jones was such an interesting character and I think they had so much room to really do something with her but I can't help but feel a little disappointed in how things ended for her. Not that I don't think a transgender storyline isn't important, of course it is, but why was it not done from the start? It literally came out of nowhere and didn't create the discussion it should have. When we first meet Coach Beiste, she's obviously portrayed as quite a tomboy and one of her main issues was that men never found her as attractive as other women and then all of a sudden in one episode she says she's going to transition and everything else is forgotten about. Whilst I'm sure this was a storyline written with the best intentions, I just don't think it was executed well at all.

Rachel GAVE UP BROADWAY!

Well I suppose technically she didn't...she did go back to it eventually and she even won a Tony award in the final episode so it's not like it was all for nothing but SO much of the show was focused on her becoming a star of Broadway and once she got there, she kinda wasn't interested. She soon got bored of doing show after show and was on the lookout for the next thing, that being a TV show that failed after the pilot and then she had to pretty much start again in the hope of someone giving her another chance. Whilst Broadway might not be all glitz and glamour, I just think it was so out of character to give it all up for little reason, so quickly. It was then just annoying to watch her whine episode after episode because of something that was her own doing. Can you tell I take the show seriously? 😂
Glee, gif, rachel on broadway

Series 6 - why?

I actually started to really enjoy Glee from series 4 when the majority of the Glee club left and we got to see them start this whole new chapter of their lives. I thought the episodes with Rachel in New York along with Santana, Kurt & Blaine were some of the best and I just think it added a whole new dynamic to a show that had mostly just been set in a school for years. From the start of series 6 though, it all seemed to go downhill. I think it could and should have been wrapped up nicely at the end of series 5. Having that one extra series meant that Blaine and Kurt could split up again, Rachel could have another crisis over Broadway and Sue could yet again try and destroy the Glee club. So many characters from previous series were also cast aside with no explanation or goodbye, and it just all seemed a bit silly.

So that's a few things I found problematic with Glee, a nice cheery post today! In all seriousness, it's not like it's a bad show, I actually enjoyed it the majority of the time but it's hard not to pick up on a few things now that I'm a little older and I like to think, much more mature. If you were ever a #gleek or have watched the series recently, I'd love to know your thoughts too!

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Monday, 16 September 2019

Recent Favourites - Autumnal Candles, Deep Water & Insane Brownies

It's been a longggg time since I last wrote up a favourites post. I think after posting monthly favourites for such a long time, I kind of got tired of writing the same sort of thing each month and to be honest I really don't have a load of new stuff to share every few weeks. As it's been a few months since my last one though, I've accumulated a few bits worthy of a post and I've been keeping note of some of my fave tv shows, new beauty products, bakes and more.
collage - deep water poster, palmolive shower gel, wetbrush detangler, glee poster, ben platt album cover, dw home woodfire apple candle, bourbon brick brownies, bridget jones's baby

Wetbrush Detangler

Okay, to get started I have to talk about the Wetbrush Original Detangler. WHY DID I NOT GET ONE SOONER? I've always had quite temperamental hair, it gets quite luggy and just stepping outside for a second, completely ruins it no matter what I've done to it so I'm always after products that can tame it a little. I've used tangle teezers in the past, which don't get me wrong I'm still a fan of but I'd heard such good things about the Wetbrush so when I spotted one for £6 in Homesense last month, I grabbed it. It has thin yet strong and flexible bristles which comb through your hair beautifully and I've found it to be so much easier at detangling knots than any other brush. It feels gentle on my scalp and I genuinely like using this each day. Honestly can't see myself using any other brush in the future.
Wetbrush Original Detangler blue - held up in front of background of punk fluffy pillow, books and ornaments

Bourbon Brick Brownies

I'm a little obsessed with making brownies at the moment. After finally finding the perfect recipe, I've been adapting it to suit all different things and first up I tried adding bourbon biscuits to create Bourbon Brick Brownies. It makes them look so cool and each 'brick' of brownie is just pure heaven. There's a soft crunch from the biscuit but the brownie is just so gooey. I've also made Lotus Biscoff brownies recently too and yesterday I attempted Jaffa Cake brownies which they'll be a recipe up for soon! I'm loving baking more than ever at the moment and I really feel like I've reached a point where I keep improving each time and that just makes me so happy.
stack of bourbon brick brownies on chopping board

Bridget Jones's Baby

I adore the Bridget Jones films. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen them, I never get bored of them and I find them funny each and every time. Colin Firth and Hugh Grant never get old do they? Both the first and second film make me feel all festive so I've already watched them a few times, don't hate me, it's September, Christmas is coming, but it had been a long time since I'd sat down and watched the third film - Bridget Jones's Baby. We went to see this in the cinema in 2016 I think but hadn't watched it since so it was lovely after a day in York, to come home, light some candles and put this on. I don't think I even have a favourite out of the 3, I just enjoy them all so much.
Bridget Jones's Baby DVD held up in front of bookshelf

Glee

This is just pure cheese and I'm not gonna act like series 6 isn't just pure trash but I still can't help but love it. I first watched Glee when it came out years ago but I never stuck with it all the way through so recently I started again and after many, many episodes, I finally got to the end this time. I do think watching it now in my twenties, it's easy to notice a few problematic areas and there were definitely moments that made me cringe but overall, it's a good laugh. I think some of the songs they covered are brilliant and I'm not ashamed to say I've had a few on repeat over the last few weeks.
Glee series 4 poster
Source

Palmolive So Luminous Shower Gel

I really like Palmolive for shower gel. They're a brand I sometimes overlook but I'd been wanting to try one of their new shower gels for a while so I picked up the So Luminous one for less than £1 when doing the food shop recently. The smell reminds me of being abroad and since it's been a long time since I was, whenever I use this, it just takes me back. The So Luminous shower gel contains luxurious Macadamia Oil and Peony Extract so it smells sweet and fresh, and it leaves my skin feeling velvety soft.
Palmolive shower gel on small wooden chopping board. Orange glass pumpkin to right side with ghost perfume, silver hairclips and star candle holder to left

DW Home Woodfire Apple Candle

Just give me all the autumnal candles please. I can't resist Homesense at this time of year so when I spotted one in York a few weeks ago, I made the most of it. I bought glass pumpkins, an array of candles and lots more, but the one thing that stands out to me is this from DW Home. The scent is Woodfire Apple and omg, it is gorgeous! Golden apple, sweet pear and ambered greens with soft spice, just autumn in a candle for me. It looks stunning too, I can't get enough of it.
DW Home candle stood up in front of pink fluffy pillow, pumpkin ornament

Ben Platt - Sing To Me Instead

I've been a fan of Ben Platt since I started listening to the Dear Evan Hansen cast recording a while ago. He's who I know as Evan Hansen aswell as Benji in Pitch Perfect and a few other things too but finally he has released his own album, and I am a little obsessed. I don't know what I expected but it's even better than I could have predicted. It's so unique to anything out at the moment, there are some really beautiful ballads which make me want to sob but also some really fun, upbeat songs too. My absolute fave thing to listen to at the moment.
Ben Platt sing to me instead album cover
Source

Deep Water

OMG if there is one show you need to binge-watch, it is this! I saw the trailer for this on ITV a while ago and thought it looked okay but I wasn't like counting down the days or anything. When I was stuck for something to watch last week though, I gave it a go and after the first episode I was hooked. There are 6 episodes and all are available to download now so I got through them all in a few days and I'm just SO glad I gave it a chance. It's got a stellar cast including Anna Friel, Sinead Keenan and Rosalind Eleazar, and I kind of see it as the British version of Big Little Lies. All three women are struggling with different aspects of their lives and it's about the mistakes they all end up making that there might be no coming back from. I think it was wrapped up pretty well but selfishly I'd love another series next year!
Deep Water ITV poster
Source
So, that's a few things I've been loving over the last month or so. I'd love to know if you've tried/watched any of the things I've mentioned!

*Affiliate links used in this post

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Friday, 13 September 2019

My Autumnal Chicken Pie Recipe

Now there actually seems to be a chill in the air (FINALLY) I'm making some of my old favourites again like shepherd's pie, chicken casserole and of course pies. I've shared a recipe for my meat and potato pie before but I only attempted a chicken pie earlier this week. Luckily it went better than I could have predicted and it's one of the best meals I've made in a long time. A creamy sauce, crisp pastry and mash on the side, it was divine.
flatlay - chicken pie, mash, broccoli, autumnal bowl to the side with pot pourri and leaf shaped candle
Ingredients: for 2 (could easily be adapted for more people)
2 chicken breasts
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp of tarragon 
1 garlic clove crushed, or a sprinkle of garlic granules
15g butter
15g plain flour
300ml chicken stock
100ml of single cream
1 sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (180 fan)
2. Cut your chicken breast into chunks and fry until cooked through, once cooked add in your diced onion and fry until soft. Add in your garlic too
3. While your onion is softening, in a separate saucepan, melt 15g of butter. When melted, add in your flour and stir until it forms a dough
4. Gradually add your stock to the dough and whisk until you have a smooth sauce
5. Pour this into your chicken and onion mix, along with your tarragon
6. Pour in the cream, add salt and pepper and leave to simmer for around 15 minutes
7. Spoon your mixture into a dish and top with your ready rolled pastry. I trimmed around the edges and used leftovers to decorate
8. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes and then serve! We had ours with mash and broccoli so I just got started on these once the pie had gone into the oven
pie plated up with mash and broccoli
same flatlay as above but closeup
This was the perfect meal for this time of year, when it's just starting to get a little cooler. It really feels like Autumn is almost here now and I am just so excited. Meals like this are always my fave in the colder months, so if they are for you too, I hope you give this a go!

Recipes - Chicken Biryani // Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry // Diet Coke Chicken

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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The Rumour By Lesley Kara Book Review

Following on from last week's book review which was The Sun Is Also A Star if you haven't seen yet, this week I have something that couldn't be more different. The Rumour by Lesley Kara, a book that I had been desperate to read for so long.
The Rumour by Lesley Kara book on yellow flower bedding
'When single mum Joanna shares a rumour at the school gates - desperate to ingratiate herself with the clique of mothers at the her son's new school - there is no going back... Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea. Sally McGowan was just ten when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death over 47 years ago - no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman. So who is the supposedly remformed killer who now lives amongst them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she's unleashed?'

My review

So, I have a ridiculously long list of books I want to get through but The Rumour had been at the top for months. As soon as I read the premise ages ago, I knew it would be my kind of thriller.

After finally picking it up, I soon got stuck in and pretty much straight away I doubted every character. I always do this, I just can't help but be suspicious from the outset. We get introduced to people quite quickly aswell so it really did feel like I was getting thrown in straight away. We find out about Joanna and her family, and we then start to meet mums at her son's school and neighbours, all of who play big parts throughout. At times I did find the number of characters a little overwhelming. Like I just mentioned, they're all quite pivotal to the story so none are really just lurking in the background, I had to keep up with everyone and at times when there are so many women, it's hard to keep track of who is who. I eventually got used to it but at the start it was a little too much.

Aside from that, I really liked Lesley Kara's writing style. It was easy to read, the chapters weren't so long that they dragged but gave plenty of detail, and from the beginning, it was full of suspense. I could tell a lot of thought had gone into each and every character and over time it did start to make sense why there were so many characters that Joanna had to deal with. It was easy to see how one small rumour, that gets passed onto another can end up the talk of the town if not careful.

I liked Joanna and whilst not a mum myself, I could understand her struggles with trying to fit in and doing what she could to try and make friends. I'm sure they'll be many people who would relate to her. She was flawed and she is one of the people to spread the rumour that there's a former killer in the town, but I believed everything she did was with the best intentions, and that's what I want from the main character.

I don't want to spoil anything in case you haven't read the book, but I did find the reveal to be a little predictable. It made sense and it was someone I had started to suspect pretty early on but I liked the backstory and that actually the truth coming out, ended up only being the start for some people. SO much more unravels afterwards, and even on the final page there is something that makes you question everything! It made me re-think all of the feelings I'd had previously and I love it when a book stays with me and makes me think after I turn the final page.

Overall, despite a few critiques I thoroughly enjoyed The Rumour and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes to read a thriller. I can totally see why it's had so much praise and it definitely lived up to the hype for me. I can't wait to read more from Lesley Kara in future.

Have you read The Rumour? Are there any other thrillers you recommend?


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Monday, 9 September 2019

The BEST Triple Chocolate Cookies Recipe

It's been a few months since my last recipe which was my Lotus Biscoff Brownies, and sticking with the chocolate theme, today I wanted to share some of the best cookies I have ever made. Cookies are something I struggle to get right sometimes but this recipe is perfect. 3 types of chocolate, a gooey centre and crisp edges, who could ask for more?
triple chocolate cookies on chopping board
Ingredients:
200g butter
300g caster sugar
1 egg
275g self-raising flour
75g cocoa powder
1 tbsp milk
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (180 fan) and grease and line 2 large baking trays
2. Add your butter and sugar to a bowl and cream together until smooth
3. Crack in your 1 egg and mix until combined
4. Sift in your self-raising flour and cocoa powder and stir in. This mixture will become quite sticky so you can add 1 tbsp of milk to loosen it up a little
5. Add in your chosen chocolate (broken into chunks) and mix well
6. Form at least 10 large balls of cookie dough and place onto your baking trays. I managed to get 13 out of this mix so you can spread it out a little further if you wish
7. Pop them in the oven for 11 minutes, and then leave to cool on the baking trays
triple chocolate cookies about to go in the oven
one cookie held up in front of others on chopping board
THEY WON'T LOOK DONE WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OUT OF THE OVEN. But that's what you want! When they cool, they firm up, and it leaves you with a soft, gooey centre but crisp edges which to me, is the perfect cookie.

If you like a good cookie, I really hope you give these a try. They were perfect to indulge in for Biscuit Week on Bake Off last week, and now I'm just trying to decide what to make for tomorrow's episode!


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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon Book Review

Though I feel like I speak about books ALL the time on my blog, it's actually been a little while since my last proper review, or at least that's how it feels, so I couldn't think of a better book than The Sun Is Also A Star to come back with!
Book held up in front of bookshelf
'Natasha: I'm a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I'm definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won't be my story. 

Daniel: I've always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents' high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget all about that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store - for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?'

My review

So first of all, I think we need to talk about the cover of this book. ISN'T IT STUNNING?! I am absolutely obsessed with it. Though The Sun Is Also A Star and Everything, Everything, both by Nicola Yoon are Young Adult books, I think they appeal to all ages. I can totally see why this would stand out to teenagers but it's also one I think anyone my age could pick up and enjoy.

I'd seen the film adaptation of this a few weeks ago, as I mentioned in my latest mini film reviews post and I adored it. Instantly I wanted to read the book and compare the two. Straight away, as I'd seen the film, I could picture each scene so clearly but I think I would have been able to regardless. I adore Nicola's writing style, it's effortless, creates tension and is never over complicated, which I think could be easy to do when you're talking about science a good chunk of the time, and that is certainly not one of my strong points. I just find it so easy to get lost in her stories and it never takes me long to feel like I'm part of it.

Sticking with Nicola's writing style, this has a multiple person narrative which sometimes I find can be a bit tricky to get right, but she has nailed it. We hear from Natasha and Daniel the majority of the time, and I love that we get his side too as like I've said in a few book reviews before, we often don't get the man's side of the story but a lot of the time they can be just as soppy and romantic and THAT'S WHAT I WANNA SEE. We do also hear from several other minor characters too which I wasn't expecting but it added a whole new perspective to the story. There's Natasha's attorney Jeremy Fitzgerald who on the same day Natasha and Daniel meet, decides to finally confess his love to his PA Hannah. We get a few chapters from Hannah too and hear her side of this love story. And we even get chapters from Natasha's dad, who is the one that has caused the family's possible deportation in the first place. I looked forward to all of these little chapters as it was like multiple stories in one, but it never distracted from the main plot. I've never read a book that's done this before, but it worked.

There was so much about this book that stood out to me for all of the right reasons. It feels very current with Natasha's struggle to stay in America, I learnt a lot about Korean culture aswell as Jamaican history, and it really made me question fate and whether it does exist. There's a lot of discussion around Destiny and Multiverses too and if Natasha and Daniel were truly meant to meet on that one day, and I just love how Nicola has taken a simple boy meets girl story and turned it into something so incredibly unique. It never seemed like a story I could be sure would have a happy ending (though I'm a hopeless romantic, it's what I always hope for) so there was definitely unpredictability about it and it did seem like maybe this was going to be a love story about two people who may never end up together, and actually that's okay.

I don't really have any criticism about this book. I fell in love with the characters, it's so different to other books I've read so far this year and I 100% can't wait to read more from Nicola Yoon in the future. Now I've read both the book and seen the film, I can definitely tell they had to cut quite a few parts out for the movie and there were definite changes but I think it's made the translation to screen pretty well. I'll definitely be picking it up in future to watch again and I'm sure I'll be reading this again one day, just so I can get lost in Natasha and Daniel's story all over again.

Have you read The Sun Is Also A Star or anything else by Nicola Yoon?


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Things To Consider When Starting A Business*

There are lots of things to think about when you're starting your own business, some more obvious than others. Of course, there's the company name, the target audience, a place where yourself and your staff can work, and so many other things. The type of business plays a huge role in determining some of these factors; for example, are you selling products that require storage or is your company an online service that can run from your home office? Will you need to employ a digital agency to build you a website or have a bespoke business sign installed above your store?
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
All of the things you need to consider can become quite overwhelming, especially when it comes to financial matters that are really important to get right. You'll need to set up a business bank account and potentially employ an accountant. Nothing's to say you can't deal with your finances on your own but an accountant will help ensure all of your tax returns are done correctly and legally, taking some of the pressure off.

Make sure you do plenty of market research before launching your business and advertise in the right way. You can't expect potential customers to find you if you don't promote your products or services. There are lots of options to promote your business, from digital marketing to branded merchandise. Often when it comes to marketing, you have to go through several trial and error processes before you find something that truly works, so try and be patient and positive.

If you're likely to be printing documents, you might want to look into specific printers for business so that you don't waste money on paper, ink and other resources. Reckless printing is bad for the environment, as well as leaving devices in standby mode when not in use, so be sure to think about how you can become more environmentally friendly as a business.

Be sure to do your research and understand all aspects of your new business before you start. Size up the competition and focus on your USPs. The more time and effort you put in at the start, the better your company will perform going forward. Don't be afraid to get professional support if you think it will help, and be sure to talk to other people who have been in your position to get their advice.

This is a collaborative post

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