Life

One of those days

February 27, 2015

Think happy thoughts

Just thinking about yesterday is stressing me out again. 

Yesterday was one of those days. You know, where you just want to curl up in a ball and hide under your duvet. 

It all started on Wednesday night when my window wiper suddenly broke when I was on the way back from dropping my sister home. I don’t know what happened but I think the above photo shows that it was pretty bust. 

When I awoke on Thursday morning it was pouring with rain. “Of course it is,” I groaned, wondering how I would manage to get my window wiper fixed. 

While hurrying around, I threw my car keys on the top of the bookshelf in the hall a little too hard, causing them to slide down the back. 

I turned on the flashlight on my phone and tried to peer behind the bookcase to see if I could reach them but during the scurry I dropped my phone, screen side down, on to the tiled floor. The only bit of tiled floor in the hall as the rest is covered by a rug…

Gingerly, I picked my phone up and turned it over, confirming my fear that the screen was cracked. Not just a little bit cracked, completely cracked. There were only millimetres between each crack. I had done a good job. 

In that moment, I wanted to run upstairs and hide under the duvet for the rest of the day. 

Thankfully my day got better as Halfords fixed my window wiper for free (my saviours <3) and my screen was fixed in a couple of hours by a local company. 

Tell me about the last time you had ‘one of those days’

50 shades of grey, book ramble, books, discussion

Can we bash a book we haven’t read? / Should I read 50 Shades of Grey?

February 25, 2015

Can we bash books we haven't read? / Should I read 50 Shades of Grey?

With the release of the 50 Shades of Grey movie I’ve found myself commenting on it quite a lot recently, which feels a little fraudulent as I’ve not actually read the book. My opinions are based on what other people have told me and is it right for me to share an opinion when I haven’t even read a book? 

Due to the sheer popularity of the book I’ve seen a lot of reviews (both positive and negative) and I’ve got a fairly good idea about what happens and from those reviews I’ve summised that it probably isn’t my cup of tea. Did you notice the ‘probably’ there? How can I be sure? 

Like Twilight, which inspired it, 50 Shades of Grey is a widely bashed book and people almost feel it’s their right to hate it without experiencing it. It’s basically the literary version of Nickelback; despite the hate it gets from so many people, it’s making a heck of a lot of money. 

The more I find myself being questioned about it, the more I feel like I should either shut up about it or read it myself to see what the fuss is all about.

For years I bashed Twilight after reading the first couple of chapters and hating it. A couple of years ago, I revisited it and I ended up enjoying the series, so there’s every chance I’m wrong about it. 

I think it’s the sheer hype and controversy around it which is drawing me into forming an opinion. It’s racy, it’s wildly popular and I’ve seen a lot of blog posts for and against the relationship in 50 Shades being considered abusive and I’ve told people that it’s considered abusive going off what I’ve read by others, but again; how do I know that’s true if I haven’t read it to make my own opinion?

Anything that is as popular as 50 Shades, whether it’s a book, film, album or whatever, will generate opinions from people who haven’t experienced it because of the amount of knowledge the general public have about it. The hype around it means that more and more people are talking about it so people who haven’t read it get drawn in and want to be part of the conversation. 

I am a person of science and facts; in other areas of my life I don’t speak negatively or positively about something unless I have experienced it or understand it. I would also be annoyed if someone formed negative opinions on something I liked if they hadn’t even read it themselves.

What do you think; can we bash books we haven’t read and should I read 50 Shades of Grey? 

Life

Duolingo 31-day challenge: let’s learn a language together

February 24, 2015

Duolingo 31-day challenge

Bonjour mes amis. Hands up if, like me, you wish you could learn another language? It just seems like it’s so time-consuming though, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. 

One language I have always loved, but have always struggled with, is French. I love the way it sounds – it’s one of those languages where I listen to people speaking it in awe, wondering how it actually makes any sense to them. 

I did French at school for eight years but I found it tough. It was the genders that caught me out. How do you know what gender a chair is for example? Do I just have to memorise it? Or what? 

Tom and I recently changed our Christmas travel plans and we’re going to Paris instead. (DISNEYLAND!) I know that the majority of people I will speak to in France will speak English but I like being able to say basic things in the language of the place I’m going.

I’d like to point out that this isn’t a sponsored post or anything like that, it’s a challenge I want to set myself and I know lots of people would like to learn a language so I thought it would be a fun thing to do together because we can all spur each other on and the app I’m about to talk about is fun. 

You may have heard of a language learning app called Duolingo. It’s a free mobile app and you can also use it in your browser. At the moment, the following languages are available for English speakers; Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish and Swedish.  

Like most language learning software, Duolingo uses a mixture of learning techniques including listening, filling in the gaps, speaking (though you can turn this off if you are unable to speak at the time), writing and flashcards. 

I’ve used Duolingo before and I enjoyed it and could feel my basic skills improving but I didn’t really make a conscious effort to use it every day for a decent period of time, so I can’t help but wonder how much skills might improve if I use it regularly for a few weeks, and longer hopefully. 

The challenge I’m setting myself, and anyone who wants to join me, is to use the Duolingo app at least once a day and meet my points target during the 31 days of March to improve my French skills.

Talking of points; Duolingo uses gamification to keep you coming back for more by awarding you points when you complete sections. You choose your daily points target and reminders pop up on your phone telling you to practice and reach your target. 

It’s not time consuming and you probably only need to spend 5 – 10 minutes per day to reach and exceed your points target.

There are plenty of times during the day when we might be just waiting and have nothing to do so let’s turn them into opportunities to improve our language skills: 

  • Waiting for the kettle to boil
  • Waiting for toast to toast, cooking breakfast or any cooking that doesn’t require much attention
  • Waiting for the washing machine to do the final minute that actually takes five minutes 
  • On public transport 
  • Waiting for someone 
  • During TV ad breaks 

We can all spare 10 minutes throughout the day. No excuses, download the app or open up your browser and let’s do it!

I know it’s not quite March yet but I’ve already started – there’s no time like the presence. 

 Are you going to join me? If so, which language are you going to begin learning?

books

Book cover lust list #1

February 23, 2015

Book Cover Lust List

Not all book covers are designed equally; some are more equal than others. Some are terrible, some are alright, some are pretty good and some are so mesmirising you wan’t to make it yours right away and build a shrine to it. 

Yes, yes, you should never judge a book but it’s cover and in my defense, that’s not what I’m about to do; these are books I already want to read, they just happen to have stunning covers. 

 

The Archived by Victoria Schwab – Goodreads

This cover is beautifully simple and yet it manages to look so mysterious at the same time. It also looks like it would feel really soft. So soft you could rub it on your face.

 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien – Goodreads

I read The Hobbit when I was about 10 years old and truth be told I can’t really remember what happens.

There are so many different versions of this book available, most of which are very pretty, but it’s this miniature version with a beautiful landscape that I like most. I almost feel like I could walk into the cover and right into the book.

 

Looking For Alaska 10th anniversary edition (Goodreads) & The Fault In Our Stars (Penguin – the only place I could find a decent cover image) – John Green

I own a copy of Looking For Alaska and I love it but how gorgeous is the shiny, gold 10th anniversary edition? I’m also including The Fault In Our Stars on this list just because of how beautiful the blue foil cover is.

I am a magpie; if it’s shiny, I will like it and shiny is part of the reason I love Dolly Parton and 80’s hair metal so much.

 

The Heir by Kiera Cass – Goodreads

This cover is so beautiful and I’m so excited to see where the series goes next. The large, cynical part of me said ‘that’s a cash cow right there’ when I heard there were more Selection books coming out, but the book lover in me said ‘oh shut up, IT WILL BE GLORIOUS! And if it’s not, it will still look good on your shelf.’ That settled that internal conversation.

 

Cress – Marissa Meyer – Goodreads

This is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series and it looks so pretty and Princess-y. 

 

Unravel Me – Tahereh Mafi – Goodreads

I’m so glad the changed the covers of this series, the cover for the first book (Shatter Me) put me off reading it for so long because it looked kinda naff. The new covers are really pretty though and Unravel Me is my favourite with the snowflake like eyelashes. 

 

The Hunger Games Australian & New Zealand editions – Goodreads

Gah! These covers are so beautiful and I’m so jealous that they’re only available in Australia and NZ. Sure, I could probably order them in but it would end up pricey I’m sure. 

Not only is the white cover pretty and clean, they have metallic page edges. *Swoons* I think this is my favourite cover on the list. 

 

There are a few books that I own that have beautiful covers which deserve a mention:

  • Harry Potter Box Set by J. K. Rowling with cover art by John Duddle 
  • Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins 
  • Divergent collectors’ edition - Veronica Roth 
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent 

Which books do you want to read that just so happen to have a stunning cover? 

things that made me happy this week

8 things that made me happy this week (#8)

February 21, 2015

Things that made me happy this week (8)

The decorating is over – This week my Mum has been off for half term and she redecorated the living room. It looks so much bigger, fresher and brighter now. She did a fantastic job. 

Pizza! - Tom and I didn’t plan on going out for Valentine’s Day but the mess from decorating was driving us crazy so we had to get out and ended up going out for pizza. It was delicious. 

Morning showers - I like waking up early, though it rarely happens. When I got in on Thursday it was too late to wash my hair, otherwise I’d have gone to sleep with wet hair, so I got up early on Friday and washed my fur. It was nice and made me feel more awake and alert. 

COOKIES! - Last weekend I veganised Cat from Oddly Lovely’s delicious cookie recipe. It worked quite well and I will post the recipe soon, I need to try it a couple more times to be sure on the quantities as I had to add bits and bobs. 

SimCity Build-It - I am a huge fan of anything to do with The Sims. I discovered that SimCity is free for mobile and I’ve been hooked on it all week. 

Sponsoring Lemon Freckles – I’ve taken the plunge into blog sponsorship and until the middle of March I will be appearing in the sidebar on Lemon Freckles. I’m far too giddy about seeing my blog there. 

Discovering new blogs – I love finding blogs that I love. This week I’ve discovered two that I’m really enjoying; Whisky and Pancakes and Dear Ms. Leigh

Gym time with Tom – On Friday Tom joined the gym I go to and we went together in the evening. It was quite quiet in there so he taught me how to use some of the weight machines that are normally always in use when I go. My arms ache today. 

What made you happy this week?

Life

On friendship as you grow up

February 20, 2015

On friendship as you get older

 When I first started school I thought my best friend and I would be best friends forever but that changed when we went our seperate ways at high school.

I was at the supermarket the other day when I saw a girl who might have been her or someone who looked like her and I turned away. Afterwards I mentally told myself off – if she was my best friend of about 8 years, why did I want to ignore her? 

The answer was simple; it feels awkward. We grew apart and adopted different interests and music tastes and we didn’t really have a reason to talk to each other so what would I even say to a former best friend who I haven’t really spoken with in over 10 years? It would be like trying to speak to an ex-partner – you have no reason to speak. 

It’s sad to think that all those years, the fun, the sleepovers and secrets went down the drain but sometimes that’s just the way it is.  

In my teens I met a few people and quickly became best friends with them. They just got me. They felt the same as me, they had similar music tastes and we all had a vicious sense of humour. I thought these people would be my best friends forever but they weren’t. 

We all went our different ways, even people who I met over the internet. 

You don’t realise until you experience it yourself but life does get in the way. Juggling work, a job, maybe education and a family too, and life in general is hard and it’s easy to take friendships for granted. 

I have no hard feelings towards the people I drifted away from because I know that we didn’t drift because we fell out, we drifted because our priorities changed and unless you see someone every day, it’s hard to keep a friendship alive, like any relationship.

When I talk about that, I’m reminded of a post by Cat at Oddly Lovely where she spoke about relationships. She said perfect relationships don’t need to last forever to be worthwhile (it’s worth a read) and said that we should invest ourselves in relationships, regardless of the length, if they’re good for us and it makes us happy. 

All of the above aside, I am still best friends with some people I went to high school with – the two trouble makers in the photo above. I don’t exactly know why because my love for those people is the same as my love for all my former best friends, we get each other, have a similar sense of humour and we’d do anything for each other. 

I can’t pinpoint why these specific friendships are going the distance but I sure am happy about it. 

We might not see each other as often as we should but when we get together it’s like no time has passed at all. 

When I was a kid, I remember my Dad telling me that those were the best kind of friendships. He told me about his best friend and how they could go years without seeing each other but it would be just like old times when they did get together. 

I truly hope that these friendships are kept alive for many years to come and I don’t want to end up passing my best friend at the supermarket in 10 years time and trying to avoid eye contact and an awkward conversation. 

What I want is to see us all grow up, get married, have houses, pets, families, and most importantly, be happy. We can then be ‘boring old people’ who playfully argue with kids about how music was ‘better in our day.’ 

I would also like to keep a long-running argument with my best friend going about who was the best looking member of My Chemical Romance; Frank or Gerard. It started when we were about 14 and the argument has actually outlasted the band, she is also still wrong to this day. 

What have you discovered about friendship as you’ve grown up? 

beauty, My Mum & I review...

My Mum & I review LUSH’s Stepping Stone

February 19, 2015

LUSH's Stepping Stone

I don’t know about you but I don’t like getting my feet out. I hate walking about barefooted (I’ve seen Monsters Inside Me) and I injure myself in flip flops.

On top of that, there’s a lot of rough skin going on. 

A few weeks ago I had to put in a LUSH order (yes, had to) and decided to find out if LUSH’s stepping stone could revive my feet.

My Mum is a bit of a foot product expert, she’s tried all kinds of food scrubs, lotions and potions so I thought it would be fun if I roped her in to get the opinion of someone who knows what she wants from a foot product. 

What LUSH say: A foot-shaped scrub to pumice away dead skin, while softening and deodorising. Break off a little and take this into the shower. As soon as it gets wet, the fizzing action and pumice means you can kiss goodbye to hard skin. You can also kiss goodbye to smelly feet as the antibacterial and uplifting lime, lemon and lemongrass oils take effect, which combat the microbes that cause foot odour. The addition of cocoa butter and organic jojoba oil stop feet from drying out and keep the skin supple.

My Mum’s thoughts: This foot scrub comes in cute little footprint shape and smells really fresh and lemony. The directions say to take it in the shower, but as scrubbing the bottom of my foot while standing one legged in the shower would be virtually impossible for more than a couple of seconds at a time, I use it while soaking my feet in a foot spa.

Break a small piece off and rub it in to wet feet for a minute or two. It does crumble and break up quite quickly so it’s best to just use a little at a time with feet over the spa so that the bits fall into the water. You can then soak your feet in the lovely fresh scented water afterwards. 

Most foot products that I’ve tried before either remove hard skin or moisturise, but this does both. The grittiness is just enough to remove hard skin and the jojoba oil leaves feet feeling soft as well as fresh and clean.

It wouldn’t be any good if you want a bar that you can rub really hard as it’s too crumbly but it does work brilliantly as a scrub and soak. 

My thoughts: I went into this with an open mind, not really sure what to expect as I’ve not tried a product like this before.

My Mum and I decided to split Stepping Stone in half and use it over a foot bath rather than in the shower because we thought most of it would end up running down the drain and it’s kinda difficult to rub your feet in the shower. 

Stepping Stone was gentle on my skin, it wasn’t harsh in the slightest, but it obviously did something because my feet felt noticeably soft afterwards. It didn’t banish all of the hard skin on my feet, and I didn’t expect that at all, but I felt like it made a pretty good dent in it and they looked and felt so much better straight away. 

I used up about half of my half (or a quarter of the entire thing) and that was going over my feet a few times, so I think you could easily get three or four uses out of the whole thing. At £3.10 it might initially seem a bit pricey but if you can get a few uses out of it, it becomes much more budget-friendly. 

The fresh scent was really nice and I couldn’t stop sniffing it when I first received it. I would love to find a candle that smells like it, it just felt so fresh and awakening. 

 

In conclusion: We both enjoyed this product and it worked for both of us, so it definitely gets our stamp of approval. 

Price: £3.10 (as of 18/02/15)

Is it cruelty free / vegan? LUSH are a cruelty free company and Stepping Stone is a vegan product. 

What are your favourite foot products? Also, would you like to see more My Mum & I review…posts?