Friday, 12 January 2018

Hello 2018!



Happy New Year everyone! As always I'm fashionably late with this post but better late than never eh? I completely skipped blogging for several months last year & only started back up again in May. Even then I only posted sporadically but I finally got back into the groove towards the end of the year. 2017 was yet another crappy year in my life. I knew it was gonna be a bad year when the dishwasher started causing power cuts a couple of days into 2017. The boiler was also making horrendous drilling noises & after years of complaining we finally got a new boiler fitted. Then things got a little more promising. Andy earned tons of commission working at Mercedes so we decided to splash the cash & book our first family holiday in February. I started hitting the gym hard as I was determined to look good in a bikini & it definitely paid off. I felt more confident & comfortable in my own skin than I had done in years.

Then a week before we were due to fly to Spain at the end of July, Chloe caught chickenpox from another child in her class. We had to cancel the holiday which was completely devastating. I haven't been on holiday since 2008 & I'd spent the whole first half of the year looking forward to this week away. Claiming the money back using our travel insurance was incredibly stressful & we had to pay £300 excess. We had also spent loads of money on new clothes, new suitcases & getting Euros for our trip. Basically we ended up losing a lot of money & could no longer afford to book another trip as it took so long for the insurance company to pay out.

This holiday was the only thing that I had to look forward to & when it got taken away from me I sunk into a deep depression. I stopped caring about my appearance entirely. I couldn't be bothered to look after my skin, put on makeup, get my roots bleached, eat healthily or go to the gym. I sometimes struggled to even do basic things like getting dressed or having a shower. It was such a difficult time & no one we knew really gave a shit. I've had to cut a lot of toxic people out of my life because it's quite clear that they only care about themselves. After that disastrous start to the Summer surely things couldn't get any worse right? Wrong.

I never expect to do anything particularly exciting for my birthday. I normally just spend it with Andy & Chloe so we tend to do fun things as a family such as going to York Maze. This year I wanted to go to Little Owl Farm in Oldham because I love owls & wanted to feed some baby animals haha! Andy went out that morning & when he came back he was completely stressed out as one of his cars had been clamped. Once he'd sorted out all that palaver it was too late to go anywhere so I just accepted it & figured we could go later that week. Andy then informed me that we should pack a suitcase because he'd booked a hotel in Liverpool & we were going to spend the weekend there. We didn't quite make it to Liverpool. About five minutes away from our house Andy got into a collision with a guy on a moped. It was one of the worst days of my life.

It's taken quite a while for me to get over the events of last Summer. I'm thankful for the new year as this time I really do see it as a new start. I saw some tweets saying that it doesn't matter if you didn't achieve anything in 2017, it's okay if all you did was survive. I can definitely relate to that as I've felt a bit down about my achievements. It's important to remember that your value is not measured by your productivity & comparing yourself to others is a fruitless exercise. I've not set any resolutions or specific goals this year. I mainly want to get my life back on track. I've started going to the gym again & I had forgotten how exhilarating a good Body Pump session could be. I've spent most of this week struggling with DOMS but I can't wait to do it all again next week! I've sacked off Slimming World because I wasn't getting anywhere with it. I've joined Team RH Fitness & I'm loving being able to eat what I want as long as it fits my macros. I also can't wait to get my hair done, six months of regrowth is not a pretty sight!

One of the main things I want to do this year is become a full time blogger. I started this blog back in February 2010, whilst heavily pregnant with Chloe! A lot of things have changed since then but despite the occasional lack of posts, my love of blogging is still going strong. I've always been too scared to take this step but I really want to make a go of it. If so many other people can do it, why can't I? I'm turning 30 this year & it's about damn time I took control of my life. So here's to 2018! Let's hope this year treats all of us well!


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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Things I Loved In 2017



Song
Katy Perry - Swish Swish

Katy Perry is undoubtedly one of the best pop stars that we have today but I know a lot of people weren't really feeling her latest album, Witness. A lot of the reviews were very negative & slammed Katy for trying to stay relevant by making 'purposeful pop' & being 'woke'. I for one absolutely love this album & every single she has put out. Chained To The Rhythm & Bon Appétit were both fab but I became truly obsessed with Swish Swish. The combination of the club beat & scathing lyrics is perfection. It's so much fun to sing along to & makes me feel like a sassy queen haha! Nicki Minaj's rap just makes it even better, she's the best part of the music video too. Apart from Nicki's appearance I'm not a huge fan of the video, the performance she did on SNL is so much better especially as it features Vivacious from Drag Race & Backpack Kid! One of my goals for 2018 is to learn how to do his dance...

Other Faves: Big Shaq - Mans Not Hot / Pharrell Williams & Trey Parker - Hug Me
Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do / Little Mix - Power



Album
Steven Universe - Soundtrack: Volume 1

Steven Universe is one of my favourite cartoons. I wish people wouldn't dismiss cartoons as something that's only for kids because if anime has taught us anything, cartoons can be very adult. There are many things I love about the show, from the animation style to the way it tackles adult themes in a way that's suitable for children. But the music is what first got me hooked. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, has such a wonderful way with lyrics & has composed some incredible tunes to go along with the show. Aivi & Surasshu came up with the rest of the music and helped to develop Rebecca's ukelele demos into grand productions filled with emotion. This is definitely the album that I've listened to most this year. I love so many songs on this soundtrack but my favourites are Do It For Her, Stronger Than You, What Can I Do For You & It's Over Isn't It.

Other Faves: Billy Corgan - Ogilala / Katy Perry - Witness
Taylor Swift - Reputation / Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life



Book
Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

Even though Sharp Objects came out in 2006, I only just got round to reading it this year. Gillian Flynn is such a brilliant writer, Gone Girl & Dark Places were so damn good. Sharp Objects was her debut novel but I read this one last & it's actually my favourite out of the three. It's about a newspaper reporter called Camille who goes back to her home town in Missouri to cover the murder of a young girl. Camille was hospitalised for self-harm & obviously has a lot of demons but when she reconnects with her family it's easy to see why. Like Gillian Flynn's other novels, it's full of twists & turns. She's a master when it comes to writing thrillers & I honestly couldn't put it down. HBO are currently turning this book into a TV show starring Amy Adams as Camille & I cannot wait to watch it!

Other Faves: Behind Closed Doors - B A Paris / Hunger - Roxane Gay
Body Positive Power - Megan Jayne Crabbe / Final Girls - Riley Sager



Film
Mother!

Darren Aronofsky is well known for his psychologically disturbing films & Mother! is no exception. This film is seriously fucked up but I think that's probably why I enjoyed it so much. The film starts with a happy couple who are doing up their house in the countryside. The house is in quite a remote location so things start to get a bit strange when a random man turns up one night & asks to stay. More people start turning up at the house & everything basically goes to shit. It soon becomes clear that this film isn't your standard home invasion movie but is actually a biblical & environmental allegory. It really makes you think about the way we treat the Earth & the impact of organised religion on society as well. I wouldn't recommend seeing it if you are religious or easily offended as there are some truly horrible scenes that even I found hard to stomach. This is one of those movies that will stay with me for a long time & it was definitely the most interesting cinematic experience I've had this year.

Other Faves: IT / Star Wars: The Last Jedi / Despicable Me 3 / Beauty & The Beast



TV Show
Mr Robot

Mr Robot is the best show on TV right now by far & it saddens me that more people don't know about it. I think it's mainly down to the fact that it's on Amazon Prime rather than Netflix but if you're looking for something new to binge watch, look no further. Mr Robot is about a guy called Elliot who works in cyber security. He also happens to be a hacker who hates society & often acts as a cyber-vigilante. Elliot suffers from anxiety, depression & has an addiction to morphine. One day when he's riding the Subway he meets an anarchist called Mr Robot who founded fsociety. They are a group of hackers wanting to get rid of all debt records by destroying the financial data of a company called E Corp or 'Evil Corp' in Elliot's mind. Of course erasing all financial debt has a lot of societal consequences that Elliot, Mr Robot & the rest of fsociety couldn't have predicted, especially when a group of Chinese hackers called the Dark Army get involved. The hacking is well researched & seems realistic which is refreshing to see & helps the authenticity of the show. There are so many compelling characters in Mr Robot & there are a lot of twists as to the real identities of certain people. The plot runs much deeper than you would expect & every episode is a wild ride. I love the cinematography & all of the actors on the show are brilliant. I've always been a Christian Slater fangirl & he is exceptional as the titular chatacter. Sam Esmail has created a masterpiece & I fully expect Mr Robot to become one of those shows that everyone loves as it draws to it's final conclusion, much like Breaking Bad.

Other Faves: American Horror Story: Cult / Vice Principals / Game Of Thrones / Better Call Saul / RuPaul's Drag Race



Animation
Attack On Titan

The first season of Attack On Titan came out in 2013 & it took them four whole years to bring us season 2. There was no way I could've waited that long without finding what happened to the Survey Corps so I've kept up to date with the manga ever since. Some crazy shit has happened in that time, this month's chapter alone was extremely wild so I'd definitely recommend reading the manga if you like the show. As a result of reading the manga I knew everything that was going to happen in season 2 of the anime but that didn't stop me from being incredibly hyped up about it. I took great delight in singing 'Sasageyo! Sasageyo! Shinzou wo sasageyo!' along with the theme tune every week & it was so thrilling to finally see many of the scenes animated. They even dropped in some more recent manga scenes featuring Ymir so that was super cool & unexpected. Yūki Kaji's performance as Eren was astonishing & even though I don't understand much Japanese you can really feel the emotion he puts into his voice. The only bad thing about season 2 is that they only made 12 episodes instead of 25. Season 3 is supposed to be two cour again so I'm really looking forward to it & now there's only six more months to wait!

Other Faves: Yuri!!! On Ice / Steven Universe / Kakegurui / Teen Titans Go!



Game
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

I have spent an inordinate amount of time playing video games this year. I bought a Nintendo Switch as soon as it launched because I needed to play Breath Of The Wild right away. The Legend Of Zelda is one of my favourite game series of all time. I've played nearly every Zelda game so of course I had to get this one. Despite maintaining many of the things you would expect from a Zelda game, Breath Of The Wild is completely different to anything else. The freedom you get to explore & do things as you wish is remarkable. You can go straight to Hyrule Castle & kill Calamity Ganon if you want. You can spend hours doing little side quests for people or collecting all 900 Korok Seeds. Climbing up mountains & flying about on your paraglider is great fun on it's own. I loved killing the mini bosses dotted around the world & battling against the Divine Beasts. The Champions were all such interesting characters & I enjoyed regaining Link's memories of them. Finding & completing the puzzles in all 120 shrines was really challenging. The only thing I missed from the old Zelda games were the traditional dungeons but storming Hyrule Castle at the end was beyond awesome. I love this game so much, Nintendo did such an amazing job & it was well worth waiting for. The Switch is easily the best purchase I've made this year. Since beating Zelda I've played Fire Emblem Warriors, Stardew Valley, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe & Super Mario Odyssey for hours on end. My TV is too old to support the Switch so I can only play it as a handheld but the graphics still look breathtaking on the small screen. I can't wait to see what games Nintendo come out with next year. There's rumours of Pokemon coming to Switch but I'm hoping for a new Fire Emblem game & Project Octopath Traveller looks like it will be another fantastic RPG.

Other Faves: Fire Emblem Warriors / Stardew Valley / Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia
Super Mario Odyssey / Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp


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Saturday, 30 December 2017

Christmas Presents



Peppermint Treats
Whilst chatting to my mum on the phone I briefly mentioned that I was planning on making some peppermint bark for Christmas. I was just gonna look for recipes on Pinterest but she got me this awesome cookbook filled with all sorts of recipes for making bark & ways to use it in other desserts. The peppermint bark brownies are currently top of my to-do list! She also got me some gourmet treats from Williams Sonoma. The hot chocolate is utterly divine and the pretzels are that perfect combination of salty & sweet, yum!



Tom Ford Black Orchid
I've been wanting a Tom Ford perfume for ages but they're just so expensive! I could never decide whether I preferred Black Orchid or Velvet Orchid either. Luckily my mum made that decision for me & I was delighted to receive this bottle of Black Orchid for Christmas. Black Orchid smells unlike anything else in my collection. I normally go for girly floral fragrances but this is more of a spicy oriental scent. It's luxurious, sophisticated, sensual & I love it! I think I'll probably save this one for special occasions as it's just too good for everyday wear.



Real Techniques Filtered Face Set
You can never have too many makeup brushes & this set from Real Techniques has it all. You get loads of brushes, three sponges & a cute pot to store them all in. When this set went down to £35 in Boots I decided to treat myself & wrapped it up as a present from Chloe haha. Real Techniques brushes are some of my favourites so I think it's always good to have a few backups. I've never tried the pink & purple sponges so I'm looking forward to giving those a go.



Elemis Pro-Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Masks
My sister got me these eye masks. I love sheet masks & the hydrogel ones are often the most effective. These ones are just for the eye area & sound really good. My eyes often look puffy & tired so I'm sure they'll be of use to me. I love Elemis products & have heard such great things about their Pro-Collagen range so hopefully they'll work well!



Makeup Geek In The Nude Eyeshadow Palette
She also got me this Makeup Geek eyeshadow palette that I've lusting after for quite a while. Makeup Geek do such brilliant eyeshadows but no one really talks about them anymore. I have a custom palette that I made using their single shadows that I absolutely love & use all the time. The In The Nude palette features a gorgeous array of neutral colours. MUG's matte formula blends like a dream & their foiled shadows are simply stunning. It took me longer than most people to get into the warm brown trend but now I'm fully on board & I can already tell that this is gonna become my new everyday go-to eyeshadow palette.



Kylo Ren Funko Pop
I've had a huge crush on Adam Driver ever since the very first episode of Girls so I was super excited when he joined the cast of the new Star Wars films. Kylo Ren's relationship with Rey was my favourite part of The Last Jedi & I'm a shameless Reylo shipper. The store that Andy manages sells Funko Pops so he got me a little Kylo Ren! I love it so much & he has already earned a permanent place on my desk.



Topshop Goodies
Andy also bought me loads of things from Topshop. I was really surprised because I wasn't expecting him to spoil me at all & I love everything he bought! The only thing I asked for was some gold jewellery & he got me three long layered necklaces. The one with the stars & moons is my fave. He also got me this lovely pink scarf & polka dot wrap dress. I hate to be one of those people but the boy did good!



Rifle Paper Co. Stationery
I always treat myself to a new diary & some stationery at the end of the year. For 2018 I decided not to go with my usual Frankie Diary & ordered some items from Rifle Paper Co. instead. I'm a huge fan of Anna Bond's design style & having pretty stationery to use always makes me feel more productive. I never normally spend so much on calendars but this one is beautiful, absolutely massive & features some great inspirational quotes.



Modalu Pippa Bag
My mum is one of those weird old people who are obsessed with the Royal Family. Even though Pippa Middleton isn't technically a Royal my mum still likes to follow her fashion trends. This bag from Modalu was designed & named in honour of Pippa so my mum went out & bought one for all of us. Personally I couldn't care less about Pippa but I do really like this bag. Anything black patent & gold is right up my street. I like that it has both a shoulder strap & a grab handle. There's tons of space inside but it isn't too big & heavy to carry about every day.



Canon 70D
I've been using my Canon 650D quite happily for the last five years but I'm finally upgrading to something more professional! My mum actually bought this camera for herself as she wanted to get into photography but she was completely overwhelmed by all the controls & couldn't figure out how to use it. She knows that I love photography so she asked me if I wanted to trade my 650D for her 70D & of course I said yes! There isn't a huge difference between the two cameras but it's still an upgrade & a chance to further improve my photographic skills. It's been sitting here for the past month all wrapped up for Christmas & now I'm beyond excited to start using it!

Despite not feeling too festive this year, I actually had a really lovely Christmas. Normally I end up feeling a bit deflated by the end of it but for the first time in a little while I just felt perfectly content all day. I'm sure that has absolutely nothing to do with all the Snowballs I drank! I got such a wonderful collection of presents & I'm so grateful for everything I received. I'm especially fond of my little Kylo Ren! We watched loads of films on Christmas Day & played with some of Chloe's new toys. We always get a couple of new board games and this year we chose Monopoly Gamer & Cluedo. I put together a cracking Christmas dinner as usual but I'm definitely ready to get back to eating healthily now. I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas & got everything you wished for!


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