Friday, 31 July 2020

Best Tomato Recipes*

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

1. Tomato Salad

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

2. Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes

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

3. Beef Tomato Stir Fry

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

4. Tomato Toast

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

5. Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup Shots

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

6. Tomato Corn Bread

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

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

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Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Taking Care Of Your Skin This Summer*

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

Drink Lots of Water

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

Palmolive Naturals Coconut Shower Cream*

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

The Body Shop Body Yoghurts

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

Sanctuary Spa De-Stress Warming Body Gel

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

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Monday, 27 July 2020

My Mint Aero Brownies Recipe

Just two weeks on since I shared my recipe for Kinder Bueno Brownies (which are amazing if I do say so myself) today I'm sharing how to make delicious Mint Aero brownies. I am a huge lover of all things mint chocolate, I basically live off After Eights at Christmas (I do have a recipe for After Eight Brownies actually too!) and I think Aero's are such underrated chocolate bars. This is mainly the same recipe to all of my other brownie recipes but with a few added ingredients to give that peppermint flavour and of course and it's filled and topped with all things Aero. Enjoy!
stack of Mint Aero brownies on wooden chopping board
Ingredients:
100g butter
200g golden caster sugar
200g dark chocolate
2 tsp peppermint extract
2 eggs
100g plain flour
100g bar of broken up Mint Aero
219g bag of Aero Bubbles

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and grease and line a large square baking tin
2. Put your butter and sugar into a large saucepan and warm over a medium heat. You want the butter to melt completely and the sugar to have started to dissolve
3. Take the saucepan off the heat and add in your 200g of dark chocolate, stirring until it's completely melted
4. Add in your peppermint extract and give it another stir
5. Add in your 2 eggs then if possible, using an electric whisk, whisk until you have a thick glossy mixture
6. Next, sift in your flour then fold in gently until everything is fully combined
7. Add in your broken up bar of Mint Aero along with half the bag of Aero Bubbles
8. Mix well then pour the batter into your prepared tin
8. Top with the remaining Aero Bubbles, pushing them into the batter slightly. Sprinkle over any crumbs from the Aero bar for extra colour
9. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes
10. After the required amount of time, your brownies are done and ready to come out! Leave them to cool in the tin before removing and cutting into squares.

 This recipe will make 16 small squares or you could cut into 12 instead if you want them to be a little larger. They will also last 3-4 days.
brownie mix in cake tin topped with mint aero bubbles and crumbs from mint aero bar
closeup of a slice of Mint Aero brownie
As you can see, the chocolate on top does slightly lose it's bright green colour so if you're all about the presentation then you could always add the topping once the brownies are baked instead. The flavour of them is gorgeous though and I guarantee you will love them if you love mint chocolate. Using peppermint essence instead of vanilla just adds a subtle mint flavour meaning you're not just waiting for a chunk of Aero for that minty hit! 

Let me know if you give these a try or any of my other recipes. I'm really loving baking lots of different varieties of brownies at the moment so I'm sure they'll be lots more recipes to come soon.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2020

A Little Update On Bear At Almost 18 Months Old & A Review Of Personalised Gifts Market Dog Tag*

AD - This post contains gifted items but all opinions are my own
It's been quite a while since I last shared an update on our puppy Bear (though he's probably not officially a puppy anymore, I think I'll always call him that!) so as he's almost 18 months old now and he's been in our lives for over a year, I thought it was about time I shared how he's getting on. It seems crazy that there was ever a life before him, it feels like he's been with us forever!
Bear on the beach at Bridlington

Almost 18 Months Old

As I've just said, Bear's almost a year and a half years old already! Whilst I can't imagine life without him now, it does seem insane how long ago it was when George and I first met him. I remember it like it was yesterday. He was the tiniest little thing and could fit in our hands and now he seems so grown up. He's still a pretty small dog and we think he's probably as big as he's going to get now. Though he's small, he's fast, very, very fast and has endless amounts of energy. For some reason after he's had a haircut he's always 10x springier too! I mean, he loves his sleep too and is a big fan of a lie in but he's always up for scrap, he often has these mad runs around the flat where he just doesn't stop and he's forever pulling every single toy out of his toy basket. Some days it's like he never stops. He's so much fun though and the most affectionate little pup.
Bear on the settee
Bear asleep on settee

Over A Year At Home

He's been home with us for over a year now and it's been a real rollercoaster of emotions at times. Not everyday has been easy and I think it's important to be honest as if you're thinking of getting a puppy, it really is hard work. I found the beginning quite overwhelming but we soon settled into a routine and now generally he's quite well behaved and has just slotted into our lives perfectly. He has his moments where he's super testing, he seems to be in constant bork mode at the minute which can be draining but generally he does listen, he's great at training and he loves to snuggle up and just cuddle. For any low moments where it all feels really intense, there are a million more moments where I just feel full of love and happiness. He's the best thing to ever happen to us even if he has got us wrapped around his little paw and is definitely a little spoilt!
Bear playing on settee

Doggy Day Care

One of Bear's favourite things is doggy day care. I did mention it in the last update I shared but I wanted to talk about it again as it has does wonders for him. He's always been great with other dogs anyway, I was always so proud of him at puppy class when he first got to interact with other pups but I think daycare has only increased his confidence. He interacts with such a variety of different dogs, I genuinely think he thinks of himself as a bulldog, and he leaves every week with the biggest smile on his face. He goes one afternoon a week and it's perfect for all of us as it means I get a little break too and he gets to go off and have fun with loads of other dogs and we know he's in safe hands. I could rave about it all day long, it's just been brilliant for him.
Bear with a husky at Dogs Inc
Bear on a swing at Dogs Inc

Personalised Gifts Market Wooden Pet Tag*

One thing I wanted to talk about in this update is the cutest wooden pet tag for Bear's collar from Personalised Gifts Market. We just got Bear a standard tag before he came home which he's had attached to his collar ever since but I have been wanting to get him one that looks a bit nicer than that for a while. Personalised Gifts Market have a wide range of wooden pet tags to choose from in a variety of shapes and designs. I struggled to choose at first as they were all so cute but I settled on the one below which has his name and two little paw prints etched in. I love the rustic look of it and it feels really great quality which is so important as Bear loves to try and grab his tag and chew it. We wanted something that was small enough to be out of reach on his collar and not easy to damage so this is perfect. This particular tag was £9.99, as are the other tags available and you can personalise them however you wish! This could be a great little gift for anyone you know who has a dog themselves or has just got a new puppy. Personalised Gifts Market has so many other things to choose from too though including travel gifts to clothing, crafts to homeware and lots more.
Holding personalised wooden tag above flatlay
Collage - Bear with his tag on, closeup of tag
So I think that's about it for this update. I'm always looking for an excuse to talk about Bear so I'm sure they'll be another one of these up later in the year! He might drive me crazy some days but he's the best thing in my life and I would be totally lost without him.

Have you got a dog too?

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Monday, 20 July 2020

Creamy Chicken Stroganoff Recipe

It's been a little while since my last recipe which was a creamy chorizo pasta but today I'm sharing how to make this delicious creamy chicken stroganoff! I've been in a real slump with meal planning & cooking over the last few weeks meaning one too many McDonald's and many recipes being repeated which is fine but I get bored easily so I like to try and keep creating new meals where I can. This is really different to lots of other meals I make but I can easily see it becoming a regular addition to our meal plan from now on. 
bed of rice on white plate with creamy chicken stroganoff on top. Silver cutlery to the right hand side
Ingredients: for 2 people
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 onion, finely diced
2 crushed garlic cloves
200ml chicken stock
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper
Sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley

Method:
1. Start by cutting your chicken breasts into chunks and frying in fry light or a little bit of oil
2. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add in your diced onion and crushed garlic and fry until the onion has softened
3. Next pour in your chicken stock then add 2 tbsp of creme fraiche. Give everything a good mix and leave on a medium heat
4. Add your mustard, paprika and salt & pepper then stir well and leave to simmer for around 15 minutes
5. If serving with rice, start this boiling now whilst the sauce is simmering and thickening up
6. Chop up a small bunch of parsley and add to the sauce before plating everything up!

This was way quicker than I expected it to be, I think in all it took me around 25 minutes which is great for a midweek meal. I always find it gets to about Wednesday and I've had enough of cooking already so that's when I'm after the meals I can make in under 30 minutes but without compromising on anything. 
closeup of chicken stroganoff on a bed of rice
This is a really creamy dish but the mustard and paprika add so much to it so it's full of flavour. We served ours with rice but I think it would go so well with mashed potato or some roasted herby new potatoes. You could also switch out the chicken for steak or use Quorn instead or even just pack it full of veggies. If we'd had some in, I would have served with green beans too as I think they'd go really well with this sauce!

If you're after some other recipes to try, I recommend this sticky soy chicken with egg fried rice which is a fab fakeaway or this parma ham mac & cheese is a great one for a Saturday night!

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Monday, 13 July 2020

My Kinder Bueno Brownies Recipe

It's surprisingly been a little while since I last shared a brownie recipe! Over the last year or so I've gone a bit brownie mad and baked a real variety, anything from Bourbon Biscuits to After Eights, Lotus Biscoff to Zesty Jaffa Cakes and a few more but over lockdown I've had a bit of a break from them. I did a LOT of baking when lockdown began but then really slowed down on it after about a month, there's only so much you can make for just two people but I'm slowly getting back to it again now. One of my fave chocolate bars (if not all time fave) is a Kinder Bueno so it was about time I incorporated them into one of my bakes and it kind of had to be brownies first up didn't it?!
Kinder Buenos brownies on coffee table with Kinder bars next to it
Ingredients:
100g butter
200g golden caster sugar
200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g plain flour
250g of Kinder bars (about 11 bars)
250g of Kinder Buenos (about 7 & 1/2 packets)
50g milk chocolate

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and line a large square baking tin
2. Break up your Kinder bars and Kinder Buenos and set aside (as it's so warm at the moment, maybe place them in the fridge whilst you make the brownie batter)
3. Weigh out your butter and caster sugar in a large saucepan and warm over a medium heat until the sugar has started to dissolve and the butter has completely melted
4. Take the saucepan off the heat and add in your broken up chocolate, stirring until it's completely melted
5. Next, pour in your vanilla extract and mix again
6. Add your eggs one at a time then using an electric whisk if possible, whisk the batter until you have a thick, glossy mixture
7. Sift in your flour then fold until everything is combined
8. Add 3/4 of your broken up Kinder bars and 3/4 of your broken up Kinder Buenos and mix gently, trying not to break up the Buenos too much
9. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and spread as evenly as possible then bake in the oven for 20 minutes
10. After 20 minutes, remove the brownie from the oven and scatter the remaining Kinder bars & Buenos on top, pushing in slightly. Pop back into the oven for another 25 minutes
11. After the 25 minutes, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin
12. When cool, remove from the tin. This is when you can drizzle a little melted milk chocolate on top. Afterwards, cut into squares and enjoy!
Kinder Bueno brownies in tin halfway through cooking
Closeup of Kinder Bueno brownies after one slice is removed
Slice of Kinder Bueno brownie held up over other brownies on coffee table
I couldn't be happier with how these turned out even if they were ridiculously messy to cut! Just bare that in mind if you make these, it requires some patience. The taste of these though is out of this world. The filling from the Buenos mixes into the actual brownie mix so well meaning you have a real hazelnut flavour brownie then you get the crunch from the wafers and the melted chocolate on top, all of it just goes together like a dream.

I got 16 smallish squares out of this but you could definitely cut them bigger and make 12 instead. You could also play around with the amount of Kinder you add too. 250g of each type of Kinder is a LOT so it's really upto you if you put that full amount in or if you reduce it a little or even just add the chocolate on top at the end, it's completely your choice. These will last 3-4 days if you can resist them that long.

If you do make these, please let me know, I'd love to see them!

Have you baked anything recently?

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Thursday, 9 July 2020

A Summer Beauty & Skincare Haul

This post contains affiliate links*
It's been quite a while since I last shared a beauty haul and beauty has definitely taken a back seat on my blog this year. I've been sharing lots of recipes, many book reviews and a few travel posts over the last few months which I've really enjoyed writing so there's still been plenty of content but I thought now it was about time I talk about some of my current beauty buys. I did share a few of these in my recent skincare routine but as I've been picking bits up here and there for weeks now, there's a few extra bits I wanted to chat about too. So here's a little Summer beauty and skincare haul to see me through the next few months!
flatlay - pink background, pomegranate candle to the left. Sanctuary Spa Warming Gel, Vitamin E Facial Wash in the centre. Pink & red nail polishes around it with the L'oreal bronzer and blush

L'oreal True Match Foundation

The first thing I picked up recently as I was running low is the L'oreal True Match Foundation. I don't think they're particularly the best brand to be buying from at the moment so I'm definitely going to shop around next time and see what else is out there but for now it'll do. I just find this works with my skin really well and when I find a foundation I like, I never want to deviate from it. I've always loved how easy this is to blend in and it's got such a lightweight formula so never feels heavy on my skin which is just the worst, especially in Summer.
L'oreal True Match Foundation on wooden chopping board, closeup

Rimmel 60 Second Super Shine Nail Polishes

I have a huge Soap & Glory toiletry bag that I use for my nail polishes but I noticed recently that so many of them are past their best. They've either pretty much ran out, dried out or just aren't shades I'd go for anymore so a massive sort out is needed. When browsing Superdrug for some essentials, I spotted some new additions to the Rimmel 60 Second Super Shine range so I grabbed some that I thought would be ideal for Summer. I've been wearing the pastel pink shade 'Sweet Retreat' so much over the last few months and I've been so impressed with how well it lasts. The shade 'Gimme Some Of That' is a fuschia pink, another colour that I go for a lot during this time of year and finally the shade 'Double Decker Red' is as you can tell, a deep red. I love a red nail polish all year round so I can see myself wearing this a lot!
3 Rimmel nail polishes on wooden chopping board. Pastel Pink, Fuschia Pink & Deep Red shades

L'oreal Back To Bronze Bronzer

I'm a big fan of the 'Life's A Peach' blush, I mean it smells like actual peaches! It's such a gorgeous shade and I can't get enough of it so when I saw I was coming to the end of my current contour kit, I thought I'd try the 'Back To Bronze' Bronzer from the same brand. I've not used this much so far but I love that it gives a really natural look as that's definitely what I go for.
L'oreal Back To Bronze Bronzer held up, L'oreal Life's A Peach Blush next to it

Sanctuary Spa De-Stress Warming Body Balm

I ordered the Warming Body Balm on a whim after seeing a fellow blogger share it on Instagram and I just thought it would be heaven for days where I'm aching or feeling tense. I found it on LookFantastic for £10 but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere else from what I've seen so I'm not sure if it's an older product & being discontinued or really new and it's just not had that much promotion yet? Either way, I've tried it several times now and I absolutely love it. It has a thick serum like texture and is perfect for applying to any sore areas. I've found it so relaxing on aching legs! As it's self-heating, as soon as you apply to an area of skin, your skin warms up and it's like you can feel it working immediately. It takes some getting used to but it makes such a difference. It utilises the benefits of Ginger and Rosemary too which are known for their tension-easing abilities and it smells beautiful.
Sanctuary Spa De-Stress Warming Body Balm on desk in front of musical programs

The Body Shop Vitamin E Range

As mentioned in my recent skincare routine post, I finally tried the Vitamin E range from The Body Shop and I am SO impressed. It's a range that has been recommended to me time after time so when my skin seemed to have a bit of a breakdown when we first went into lockdown, I thought there was no better time than to finally switch up some of the products I was using. I already use the Camomile Cleansing Butter from The Body Shop to remove my makeup so I got the Vitamin E Facial Wash and the Toner. I've been using the facial wash after I've removed my makeup and then the toner after that to ensure I've got rid of everything before applying my moisturiser. Every time I do a full skincare routine, my skin feels rejuvenated and I'm always left with that silky smooth feeling. I'm really tempted to get some more bits from the range now including the night cream and the face mist.
The Body Shop Vitamin E Toner & Facial Wash on desk in front of musical programs
I've tried not to buy too many unnecessary items during lockdown and I think I don't think I did too bad for the majority of it but when things run out they need replacing and there's no harm in treating yourself too! I'd love to know if you've tried any of the products I've shared? What's your current fave skincare product?

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Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Lockdown Tag

I know we're kind of on our way out of lockdown now but things aren't exactly back to normal yet and I think a lot of us are feeling a little bit anxious at the prospect of getting back out there again. As much as I want life to be 'normal' again and I'm ready to say goodbye to these last few months, I shared 5 positives recently that have come from lockdown and it was nice to look back on some of the things that I've actually enjoying during this time. One of my fave bloggers, Hannah has come up with her own tag too, the lockdown tag, so I really wanted to take part in that. It's going to be nice to look back on these posts one day when we're hopefully out of the woods and doing everything we missed but strange aswell I'm sure!
Bakewell Lovelock Bridge, Derbyshire

1. Come on, own up... Did you stockpile anything?

No! I was so stressed those first few weeks where everyone went mad for toilet roll, pasta and flour. What was so specific about those three things?! When I could get hold of bits in the food shop I'd maybe get a couple more of some things like extra tins but definitely not to the extent of stockpiling.

2. Have you discovered a new hobby?

Does making TikToks count? 😂 I did not get the hype with TikTok at all until lockdown but now I do and I often find myself stuck on there for hours. I've been making a few videos with Bear which he is thrilled about I'm sure and also a few baking recipes too. It's just something to fill the time.

3. Where is the first place you will go once restrictions are lifted?

We actually went to the seaside yesterday which was lovely. As we couldn't go away like planned for our anniversary and now most restrictions have eased, we thought a trip to the beach would be nice and it was perfect. I can't wait to go for a proper meal out though. No idea where, I just want a night off cooking with something nice to drink.

4. Loungewear or normal clothes for a day of isolating?

Loungewear all day. I've basically lived in pyjamas and comfy dresses.

5. Have you been wearing makeup whilst staying at home?

No, I've only worn makeup when I've actually gone out, either when we've been for a longish walk with Bear or when I've gone food shopping. I hoped not wearing makeup for so long would really help my skin but it hasn't which is disappointing!

6. How many Zoom quizzes have you done? And importantly, did you enjoy them?

I think we've done about 5. We definitely didn't do loads but I enjoyed the ones we did.

7. Did you give into the hype and bake your own banana bread?

I very nearly did but in the end never got round to it. Instead I made a cheesecake, school sponge cake and also a lemon and blueberry cake. I didn't do nearly as much baking as I thought I would.

8. Were you still ordering takeaways? If you did, what was the first one?

We didn't for quite a while which to be honest was a welcome break and I was cooking loads and trying lots of different meals. I think when we did have one it was an Indian though!

9. Has your blog/Instagram content had to change since lockdown?

Lockdown has definitely impacted my Instagram. I've not posted anywhere near as much as usual and now I'd say I post maybe twice a week if I'm lucky. It's just been a weird few months and at times it really didn't feel appropriate to be carrying on as normal, I just didn't have anything to say! I've also been posting more of what I want rather than what I think will do well which is why there's been loads more book content and baking photos too. Same goes for my blog aswell. My content is quite book heavy at the moment but it's the thing that I've really enjoyed writing about during lockdown.

10. Are you waiting until the hairdressers re-open or have you cut/dyed your own hair?

My hair's actually at a really manageable length at the moment so it's been quite easy to maintain during lockdown.

11. Who have you missed seeing the most?

Obviously family. I felt like I'd got to a really good place with my anxiety before lockdown and we were doing so much and planning lots of different things with people so it's been really strange to have to put all that on pause and spend time cooped up just with one another but hopefully it won't be too long now til we're out the other side of this and seeing the ones we love.

Thanks to Hannah for putting this tag together! I loved taking part and if you want to aswell, feel free to copy the questions, I'd love to see your answers. Be sure to check out Hannah's post too!

How are you feeling now lockdown is easing?

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Thursday, 2 July 2020

The Never Have I Ever Club By Mary Jayne Baker Book Review*

I received a copy to review but all opinions are my own*
I'm really glad I still seem to be on a roll with book reviews! After quite a few weeks of reading nothing and spending far too much time endlessly scrolling on social media, I seem to finally be back in the swing of things with reading and I'm loving sharing some of my current favourite books. Just last week I shared my review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and before that I posted my review of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams so make sure you give those a read if you're in need of something new but today I'm talking about The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker!
The Never Have I Ever Club By Mary Jayne Baker Book cover
'Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life - until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world. Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on - but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun. From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn't take long for Robyn to realise what - or who - her heart truly desires: Will. There's just one problem: he's Ash's twin brother. Make that two problems: Ash is moving home...and he wants Robyn back.'

My Review

After reading quite a variety of books recently, I'd been looking forward to getting lost in a romance again. For me, that genre will always be the best and I'm always looking for characters that I can really root for so The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker came along at the right time.

One of the main things that hooked me in with this book is the seize the day aspect that comes when Robyn sets up The Never Have I Ever Club. A club which encourages its members to try all of the things they've always wanted to but never got round to for whatever reason, whether that be life drawing, dancing or skinny dipping, just to name a few. I think because of lockdown a lot of us have realised just how much we were taking for granted beforehand and I know I certainly have so much more I want to achieve and get ticked off my bucket list because of this. Whilst obviously different circumstances, I could really relate to Robyn's realisation that there's more to life than you're sometimes led to believe and that want and need to get out there and see the world.

The club really gives her something to focus on after her breakup with Ash and it was easy to be charmed by every person that was part of it, especially people like her Aunty who really stood out to me as the kind of person you would want in your life. I loved her relationship with Robyn.

I was obviously rooting for Robyn and Will, right from the very beginning where there's a bit of an embarrassing situation in a doctors surgery, you could tell there was a spark there and it was lovely reading their interactions and seeing how close they were after knowing each other for such a long time. Of course, the main issue is Ash. Ash returns after fleeing to Australia and wants Robyn back, but was he ever really the right brother for Robyn? It was really interesting to see the dynamic between the three of them and you could tell why there were parts of both of the men that Robyn was drawn to but ultimately I wanted her to choose her own happiness for once and to me, that wasn't going to be with Ash. I won't spoil the path the book ends up going down but I thought the ending was lovely and it definitely left me with a smile.

If you like a will they/won't they romance, The Never Have I Ever Club is definitely that. I wouldn't say there's huge amounts of tension and I thought it was quite obvious where it was going to go eventually but sometimes you just need a book that's a really easy read, where there doesn't need to be loads happening all the time. I thought the characters were really well written and I loved that we got both Robyn and Will's perspective throughout. I often find in romance novels I'm dying to know what's going on inside the man's head too and we don't always get that so it was an added bonus knowing how he was really feeling, especially when he wasn't necessarily saying it to Robyn.

Overall I really enjoyed this and I'm looking forward to reading more from Mary Jayne Baker in the future. I'd definitely recommend if you want a lighthearted read for the Summer!

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