Monday 22 February 2021

My Post Lockdown 2021 Staycation Wishlist

 It wasn't too long ago I shared my general wishlist for city breaks in the UK so I apologise if this sounds really familiar. I'm finding this lockdown tough and one thing that does make me feel a bit brighter is planning for the future and that for me includes going on alllll the holidays post Covid/lockdown or just when we have some normality again. It's hard to put any proper plans in place cos you know everything's changing from one minute to the next and maybe this post is optimistic but I am hopeful that we might at least get from Summer onwards to enjoy this year (though let's hope it's far sooner, I am praying Spring brings better days) so there are so many places I'd love to visit. I can't see us heading abroad any time soon even once we officially can, the thought of it just makes me feel a bit anxious now but what this past year has shown me is how many beautiful places there are in the UK that I'd not appreciated enough before and some even right on our doorstep. collage with yellow background. Oxford Radcliffe Camera, The Shard London, Edinburgh Victoria Street, Whitby Abbey

I know I seem to bang on about Oxford all the time at the minute but that's because I just absolutely adored it when we visited last year. It feels like forever ago now and I can't quite believe how 'normal' life seemed back then compared to now even though at the time there was still so much we couldn't do. What I'd give to be at that point again though! I shared a travel guide for Oxford recently so I won't go on too much but I do think this will be the first place we book a city break to once we can. It just felt like such a chilled city and we could really take our time exploring with no need to rush or pack everything in. I'd love to climb to the top of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin next time for views of the city, I want to devour everything at Mowgli again and I just want to have that walking into a hotel feeling again. It's going to feel SO good.

I am desperate to get back to London as soon as we can. George and I have visited loads over the past few years and now our main reason for going is to see musicals which is something I'm missing more than ever right now. I often think back to when we saw Les Mis last January for my birthday and I can't believe how long ago that feels. It's crazy how much changed in the space of a few months. We had several shows cancelled last year that I am praying we get to see this year. The Arts has been hit massively by covid and I want to support allllll the shows when they re-open. London is my happy place and it's somewhere that I found a real comfort a few years ago when my anxiety was at its worst and even though now I feel in a much better place, for me there's nowhere like it and the way I feel when I'm there. I think whenever we get to go back and whenever we get to walk back into a theatre again, is going to be very emotional! 

The one place I want to head to this Summer is Whitby. We took Bear there for his first holiday in 2019 and we always planned to take him again this year so I really hope that can happen. He LOVES the seaside and it just makes my heart happy when I think of that holiday. I'd wanted a dog for so long and it was the first big trip we did with Bear and everything about it was perfect. You can't beat a few days away in a caravan sometimes can you? We had such a chilled few days walking around Whitby, eating much fish & chips and ice cream and Bear just had the time of his life. Let's just forget about when we let him off the lead on the beach in Scarborough and he bolted and we genuinely nearly lost him 😂

One thing I look forward to every single year is the Christmas markets and 2020 definitely didn't feel the same without them. Christmas is the best time of the year but understandably there was so much we couldn't do last year which really left me feeling flat and not quite as festive as usual. Who knows where we'll all be by the end of 2021 but it's surely gotta be better than last year hasn't it? If life is back to normal then or as normal as can be then I want to get to as many Christmas markets as possible! Give me all the overpriced food and hot chocolate. We were supposed to go to Edinburgh last December & I'm just hoping we can re-book it at some point for this year. It's looks so incredibly festive and there's so much I want to see. Fingers crossed.

To be honest after the last year there are a ridiculous amount of cities I'd love to visit. Bath has been on my list for ages and it just looks gorgeous so that would be another place to consider. York is also a favourite of ours and not too far away either so it would be nice to at least get a day there at some point. Honestly, I'd be happy with anything more than a walk around the same few places. It's hard to feel positive at the moment and if you're struggling too, know you're not alone. Whilst I have to remind myself of this quite often, we are on our way out of this now and things will get better. How good is it going to feel when all of this is just a distant memory? I can't wait and I know I'll never take anything for granted again.

Where's the first place you'd like to visit this year?

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Tuesday 9 February 2021

What's New In My Etsy Shop - Bear's Brownies and More!

 Last October I launched my own business, Bear's Brownies and More. I don't know about anyone else but lockdown and 2020 in general made me re-assess everything and I knew that going forward I needed a change. I've always loved baking and over the last few years in particular it's become a real saviour of mine and brownies were the thing I found myself making over and over. After lots of research, practise and trial runs, I decided to start selling my own homemade brownies and it's gone better than I could have ever predicted. collage - creme egg brownies, caramel egg brownies, malteser bunny brownies, mini egg browniesWhilst I'm still such a new business with a lot to learn, I'm beyond proud of myself and everything I've achieved so far and it's not often I feel like that. I've finally found something that works for me and I can't see myself doing anything else now! As I mentioned in my goals for 2021 post last month, I'm aiming for 150 sales this year but I'm already at 95 which is just mental so who knows we might even get more than that? Each week I doubt myself and worry that the sales will stop but so far so good! I don't want to just talk about this all the time on my blog as I know not everyone will be interested but yesterday we launched our new brownies for Easter so I thought now was a good time to share them with you just in case you don't follow me anywhere else and also because I'm really proud of them!

Creme Egg Brownies
First up we had to have Creme Egg brownies in the shop didn't we? I love a Creme Egg & always find myself with a little stash long after Easter as I don't want them to end! These are our classic chocolate brownies with an oozy Creme Egg in the centre. Available in boxes of 4 or 8. We also have a mixed Easter Egg assortment box which includes 4 Creme Egg brownies & 4 Caramel Egg Brownies.Creme Egg brownies

Caramel Egg Brownies
So as I've just said, Caramel Egg Brownies! God, I think I love these as much as Creme Eggs. If you like our salted caramel brownies, these are for you! These are also our classic chocolate brownie with a Caramel Egg centre. Absolute heaven. Available in boxes of 4 or 8 or as I've just mentioned, we have an Easter Egg assortment box which is a fun way to try out both of them!Caramel Egg brownies

Mini Egg Brownies
Who doesn't love Mini Eggs?! Our fudgy chocolate brownies filled with chunks of the brand new Cadbury Mini Eggs bar & topped with Mini Eggs. These just somehow take on the flavour of the mini eggs and the brownie itself has become even more delicious! Available in boxes of 4 or 8. Also available as part of our 2 flavour mixed box.Mini Egg brownies

Malteser Bunny Brownies
Finally, our Malteser brownies are back! These were really popular at Christmas so as soon as I spotted the mini Malteser Bunnies I knew we had to bring them back this Easter. These are fudgy chocolate brownies swirled with Malteser Spread, drizzled with white chocolate and topped with a mini Malteser Bunny. Available in boxes of 4 or 8 or as part of our 2 flavour mixed box.Malteser Bunny browniesAll of our Easter brownies and our Easter Egg assortment box will be available until April so are only here for a limited amount of time. Whilst I'm so excited about all of these, we do still have all of our original flavours too. There's Salted Caramel, After Eight, Bourbon Biscuit, Biscoff, Mint Aero & Milkybar. We have a 2 flavour assortment box which allows you to choose 2 of any of the flavours & you'll receive 4 of each. We even have a biscuit box assortment too which includes our Biscoff Brownies & our Bourbon brownies. 

All of our brownies last at least a week (though usually far longer) and are individually wrapped for freshness. Each flavour is delicious as it is or you could warm them up in the oven or microwave too. 

Thank you SO much to anyone who has ordered or supported us in anyway since we opened last year. It's the best thing I've ever done and I can't wait keep launching more flavours.

What's your favourite Easter chocolate?

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Monday 1 February 2021

What I Read In January

Books marked * were either sent via Netgalley to review or as a PR sample but all views are my own

 If you've been following my blog for the last few years you'll have seen that each year I like to set myself a reading goal. Usually throughout the year I'll do a few mini updates, usually every few months and I share my thoughts on the books I've been reading. This year I'm aiming for 80 books. I've managed to read over 100 books the last two years but I found towards the end of last year I was getting really picky and I found myself getting disappointed quite a lot, probably just because I was reading so much in one go. I also know when I'm busy I can go ages without picking up a book and I'd love a busy year with Bear's Brownies & More so if that becomes a reality, I just don't think I'd be able to reach 100 again. I know 80 isn't loads less but I still think it could be do-able. Anyway, long story short, I'm changing things up and I'm going to share a 'what I read this month' each month instead. I just think this will mean they'll be less books for you to read about in one go and I can go into a bit more detail about the ones I've really loved. So, here's what I read in January.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The last book I read in 2020 was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and I gave it 5 stars so it was a great one to end the year on. I started Chamber of Secrets as soon as the New Year hit and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not quite sure why it's not five stars like the first book but I can just tell when one is. I'm pretty sure I read the first few Harry Potter books when I was younger but I can't remember reading the last couple so this year, even though I'm sure I'll space them out, I want to get through them all. I adore the films and at the time of reading this, we were re-watching them all again for the millionth time but I'm loving getting a bit more detail from the books.

Haven't They Grown by Sophie Hannah - ⭐⭐
'Twelve years have passed, the children don't look a day older. Why?' That alone on the cover had me desperate to read the book every time I spotted it in a shop so when I saw it was 99p on Kindle, I bought it and got stuck in straight away. Unfortunately there was so much about it I didn't like. The characters were so unlikeable, it all felt so far fetched and some of the dialogue was just a bit strange, everything was so matter of fact at times. This has such a fantastic premise and could have been amazing but I ended up feeling really let down by it.

Never Greener by Ruth Jones - ⭐⭐⭐
I love Ruth Jones. I was so keen to finally read one of her books and actually really intrigued as she's clearly a great writer going on the success of Gavin and Stacey (which is a masterpiece let's be honest). I ended up feeling quite conflicted about this though. Never Greener is about Kate who at 22 had an affair with married man Callum. Years later when they've both moved on and had children, they meet again and find the feelings are just as intense and hard to ignore as before. They're faced with a choice - walk away or find out what might have been. From the beginning I didn't like Kate so it was hard to feel much sympathy for her and all the way through I just wanted Callum to realise what he was risking as I LOVED his wife Belinda. I think it's a brilliantly written book with lots of humour throughout but I'm not sure it's one I'd be recommending to everyone.

The Duke & I by Julia Quinn - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Did anyone else absolutely love Bridgerton which was released recently on Netflix? We flew through it in a matter of days and I grabbed the book soon afterwards as I loved it so much. Even though I didn't race through this, I found it such an easy read. I just took my time with it and really enjoyed reading a few chapters each evening. Daphne and Simon were just perfection.

Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I absolutely loved Rachel's first book, Saturdays at Noon so I was so excited to read her latest book. Until Next Weekend follows Noah, a 'weekend dad' on a mission to win back his ex-wife Kate. He misses the life they used to have together, he misses spending everyday with his boys and he's decided enough is enough, he's going to change. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about Noah, it seemed like Kate had been well within her rights to make the decision she did but as the book went on, I really grew to like him and every character actually. The story felt very believable and after we find out what Noah went through growing up, it was very easy to feel sympathy for him and hope he would get the ending he wanted. There's no denying Rachel is a fantastic writer, this had some really emotional moments throughout which I didn't expect but there was humour thrown in too and it was the perfect balance. I can't wait to read more from Rachel in future.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman - ⭐⭐⭐
I'm not gonna lie, I didn't love this as much as I hoped I would. Maybe I went into it with too high expectations, I don't know, but it's one of those books that seems to be endlessly spoken about at the minute but I just didn't feel what it seems everyone else is. It took a long time for me to really feel interested in the story unfortunately and the writing wasn't quite flowing for me. Not every book is for you and that's okay so I'm still glad I read it but I'm not sure I'll be reading the sequel.

So that's everything I read in January! I had about 2 weeks where I didn't really pick a book up so I'm glad I still managed to get through 6 before the end of the month.

What did you read in January? Have you read any of these books?

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