Beauty · LUSH

My LUSH essentials;

It’s no secret that I’m bit of a LUSH addict. I have boxes upon boxes and shelves upon shelves of products that I’ve loved and curated over the years. In fact, there was probably a period where I spent more time in my local store than I did my own house.

After so many years of watching products come and go, I’ve found myself gravitating towards a few of the same products in particular. They are my core five products that I base many other of my LUSH purchases around and I’m not sure I could live without them any more.

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1. American Cream conditioner.
I have VERY thick, curly hair to the point where brushes and combs will break in it, hairbands that get tangled in it will need to be cut out, and I look like Crystal Tipps more often than not. It tends to get oily on the roots and dry on the ends – it was a constant battle to get my hair feeling healthy and soft from root to tip. After trying LUSH’s heaviest conditioner, Retread, and found that it did nothing for me, I thought that nothing would help to tame my mane. After some gentle persuasion, I gave American Cream a go and was totally astounded by the results. My hair was soft, far more manageable, and was sweet-smelling for days. After using it for a few weeks, I also noticed that my hair felt much stronger too! This product was a God send for my locks and I can’t imagine using anything else now. For extra nourishment on my scalp, I like to team this conditioner with Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar, and, once every couple of months, with Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Ease treatment.

2. Angels on Bare Skin/Herbalism.
Okay, okay, technically this is two products…BUT, I’m never without one of them. As soon as I run out of one, I buy the other and I alternate between the two. Angels is brilliant for toning and balancing the redness of my cheeks and forehead and providing a gentle exfoliant that doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. Herbalism does wonders at reducing oiliness and keeps my cystic acne at bay. Alternating between the two cleansers is perfect for my skin type and it tackles many problem areas for me. When my skin needs a little more love and attention, I pair these products with either Catastrophe Cosmetic or FOMO face masks, depending on what my skin needs at the time.

3. Buffy body butter.
I adore body scrubs, but I hate how so many include micro-beads. When I went to LUSH looking for a micro-bead free alternative, I found the most popular were Ocean Salt and Rub, Rub, Rub. Now, this was no good to me because I’m allergic to sea salt. I tried both products in a sample and ended up coming out in huge rashes after using them. But then, Buffy came into my life. Buffy is a scrub made from ground rice, almonds, and aduki beans and contains huge helpings of shea and cocoa butter. This scrub is gentle enough not to aggravate my sensitive skin and eczema and it moisturises any dry patches which means I’m not spending lots of money on moisturisers and body creams! This product is truly a wonder.

4. Sex Bomb bath bomb.
I love jasmine. I’m a jasmine fiend. Now, I’m a die-hard lover of Flying Fox shower gel and Lust perfume which are through and through jasmine delights – you tend to either love them or hate them. However, Sex Bomb is much more agreeable to the noses of those who err on the side of jasmine haters. It’s sweeter and milder than the previously mentioned products, but it still has that seductive jasmine scent at its heart that keeps jasmine lovers like me happy. I find it to be a relaxing scent and something I use as a form of aromatherapy when I’m not feeling my best. The scent of this bath bomb calms my soul whilst the soya milk and clary sage soften and soothe my skin. It’s the perfect antidote to life’s trivial troubles.

5. Rose Jam bubbleroon.
How many rose products have you found that smell like Grandma’s washing powder? I can promise you won’t get that scent with this bubble bar. Rose Jam is deliciously pink and smells like roses dipped in sugar. It will brighten any bath tub and leave you feeling decadent. I love floral products, and this is by far my favourite one that LUSH has ever come up with. The lemon oil mingling with the double hit of rose oil and absolute lifts it into a more sophisticated and youthful fragrance. The inclusion of cocoa butter, shea butter, and cornflour is a treat for my skin and, once again, calms any areas of sensitivity. I feel soft and pampered, bright and bubbly whenever I use this bar. It appeals to my hedonistic side and calls to me whenever I need an indulgent treat. However, sometimes I find this bar can be slightly too sweet when I want something earthier from a floral product, so I like to add a chunk of Grass bubble bar to balance out the sugary scent.

What are your top 5 products and are you a jasmine lover or hater? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading!

Bethany xo

Lifestyle · Monthly Favourites · Things to make you smile

January Favourites;

Hello all!

January is coming to an end, payday is imminent, and the sun is coming out (or at least, it is here!) So, it feels like an appropriate time to share a bit of positivity and talk about my favourite things this month.

  1. FRIENDS – I don’t mean the people I call my friends, though they are very dear to me, I mean the TV show. After Netflix added all ten seasons on New Year’s Day, I binge watched it almost every day for about two or three weeks. It’s such easy watching over the festive period and still funny. I’m also still of the same opinion as all those years ago when I first watched this show – I hate Ross and Rachel shouldn’t have gotten off the plane. tumblr_own1q6o4bE1raamyno2_400
  2. This jumper from Yours Clothing – Okay, I didn’t buy this green jumper in January, but it has remained my favourite winter warmer. It’s thick, soft and comfortable. I love it so much that I also bought the same jumper in blue.
  3. Candles – For Christmas, I bought myself a Yankee Candle gift box and one of my family friends bought me another Yankee Candle. Then in the January sales, I bought myself some more! My favourites from my little collection are Macaron Treats, Berry Trifle, and Spiced White Cocoa.
  4. And speaking of cocoa, I’m also loving hot chocolate this month. Usually, I hate hot chocolate because it’s far too sickly and sweet for my liking. But Hotel Chocolat’s classic hot chocolate is made of 70% smooth, rich, dark chocolate. It’s perfect for cosying up in bed with, ready for an early night and a movie marathon.
  5. White roses – I love flowers and especially roses. I try to have fresh plants and flowers in my bedroom as much as I can. This month though, I have been particularly drawn to white roses. I’ve bought real ones, fake ones, I’m pressing some in books, I’ve got white rose fairy lights adorning my shelves…I’m a little bit obsessed right now but I don’t care because they’re so pretty!
  6. These Deichmann shoes – They look like your nan’s curtains but that’s just part of their charm! These shoes have velvet laces and feel like your nan’s curtains too. They’re an unusual yet comfortable pair shoes that have gained me plenty of compliments whilst I’ve been wearing them.
  7. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig – I adored this book – it was sweet, funny, sad, and poignant. I devoured this book in two sittings and I regret having read it so fast! I had the Chris Riddell illustrated version of this book and I highly recommend it. tumblr_p3df1cVAE91raamyno1_540Haig and Riddell make a damn good story-telling team. I’ll write a more in-depth review of this book over the coming weeks because I loved it too much to leave it at only a few sentences.
  8. Cardamom Coffee perfume – This perfume is my favourite from LUSH’s new fragrance collection. It’s one of their strongest and warmest scents with top notes of cardamom. Once it’s been on the skin for a few hours, the cocoa absolute and rose oil leave a mild, sweet and rich base note. This perfume feels like a winter hug in a bottle.
  9. My pink and blue scarf – I bought a scarf from the Little Barbican Boutique, a shop owned by a good friend of mine. It’s long, soft, and made in my favourite colours – I have worn it every time I’ve gone out this month and I’m not looking forward to when it’s too warm to wear it. I wish winter scarves were fashionable and convenient all year round.
  10. Takeaways – When I come home from work at half seven, tired and achy from standing up all day in a kitchen, the last thing I want to do is stand up in a kitchen and cook dinner. I’ve gotten into the habit of ordering food from Just Eat or Deliveroo on the bus home, so I can spend as much time relaxing as possible. I’ve discovered some great food by ordering in so much this month, but it has taken its toll on my bank account. So, as much as I love it and enjoy the convenience, I’m going to try and curb this habit in February.

What have you guys been loving this month? I’d love to hear about some of things that have made you smile over January so do leave a comment and I’ll see you again soon!

Bethany xo

Beauty · LUSH

LUSH Valentine’s Day Showcase 2018;

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When you’re as perpetually singe as I am, Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a drag sometimes. I mean, there’s only so many years in a row where the only flowers you get are from your Dad, and the only chocolate you get are the discounted ones on the 15th before you start to feel like an old maid.

It’s not all bad though because LUSH always comes out in force at Valentine’s to pamper everyone regardless of relationship status.

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Rose Bombshell and Unicorn Horn

Recently I was invited to my local store for the Valentine’s Day Showcase to indulge in the love of the new range. Admittedly, most of the Valentine’s range is a love affair for the tub but as always, there is something for everyone.

My favourites;

My all time favourite bath bomb, Rose Bombshell is back and this year it’s joined by the GIANT version too! Rose Bombshell shares its scent with Rose Jam and contains fine sea salt to boost circulation and brighten the skin. Combined with the softening rose petals, rose absolute and rose oil, this bath bomb is a real sweet treat for your skin.

I could practically rejoice with this next bath bomb. Tisty Tosty, a poor discontinued favourite of mine, is back with a make-over! This time, Tisty is sporting a bright pink colour but still has the same musky rose scent.

Whole Lotta Love bubbleroon is a new addition to this year’s collection. This bubble bar shares its scent with the appropriately named Love scent, also known as the Fizzbanger scent. To me, this bar smells like apple pie and contains a healthy helping of shea butter and murumuru butter so you’ll be good enough to eat after using this bar!

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Making bubbles with Whole Lotta Love

Cherryish body scrub is a cute little heart shaped bar made from sea salt, ground cherry stones and four types of butters to keep your skin buffed and smooth. It has an intoxicatingly yummy smell of chocolate and cherry that I could just indulge in forever!

As LUSH continues to promote their naked shower products, Kiss Me Quick wash card fits in neatly a small token of love and appreciation. This wash card is shaped like a pair of cherry red lips and has a mild Christmassy scent with apple and cloves as two main ingredients. If you’re not quite ready to part with Christmas as we move into February, then this product is for you. Plus, this product is the perfect size to slip into a Valentine’s card for a romantic surprise.

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Kiss Me Quick!
Tender is the Night naked shower cream is a floral fantasy of jasmine, ylang ylang and vanilla. Not only does this smell heavenly but it’s heavenly for the environment and your wallet too. There’s no plastic waste with this delight and it’s double the concentrate of ordinary liquid gels, so it lasts much longer for the price! It’s a win/win!

 

Lots of Love gift box is something I might have to gift to myself this year. This pretty box contains 9 delectable products, 8 of which are from the Valentine’s range. The products come in a beautiful rose and gold box that can be reused to keep your keepsakes or other LUSH products in. Plus, it’s technically already wrapped so that’s one less thing on your to-do list!

After getting to know the products, we had time for cake and chocolate courtesy of V is for Veggies, we made Big Blue bath bombs, and had free skin care and hair care consultations, and hand and arm massages! LUSH really do know how to spoil their customers and that’s why they will always be my Valentine!

You can find the rest of the Valentine’s Day range here and do let me know what your favourite products are from this year’s VD range!

Bethany xo

 

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bullet journal · Lifestyle · Updates

2018 Resolutions;

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is victory.”

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We’re officially into our second week of 2018 and I hope the year is treating you right so far!

Today I want to talk about New Year’s resolutions. If you made any, how are you getting on with yours? If you didn’t, how come? I’m interested to know!

It’s been a long time since I set up any proper resolutions for myself. The last one I made was years ago and it was, predictably, to lose weight. Obviously, that didn’t happen and I’m awfully glad it didn’t! I’m incredibly happy with who I am now and what I look like. Not only that, but it’s helped me to find a new way to create realistic ambitions for myself every year. Picking one “Word of the Year” is so much more freeing and versatile.

Last year, I lived by the word “Courage.” It led me to book a tattoo appointment (Okay, yes, I didn’t go through with it and I lost my deposit…but at least I booked it and tried!) I also got the courage to face failure at university and subsequently won that battle, I attended my first protest, I grew 10x in self-confidence, and got back into the dating game.

2018 is the first year where I have no idea what’s in store for me. I’ve left full-time educated, I’ve graduated university, I’m tragically single, I have a part-time job, and plenty of free time during weekdays. I have so many options open to me and it’s kind of terrifying to think about.

After spending December thinking about how I want my 2018 to be, I came up with the word “Satisfaction.”

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I don’t know what this year holds for me, but I thought that I should be satisfied with whatever I do. I want to fulfil and achieve my wishes and wants as much as I can and see what comes of it.

My first foray into creating a satisfying year for myself was taking another step towards becoming a teacher. I applied for a diploma course in Early Years teaching. I’m not confident I’ll get in because I don’t have the GCSE Science grade they want, but at least I’ve tried to achieve a dream.

I also have in mind to work further on my novel, connect more with the people I love, take more time to blog, revel in the things that make me happy and appreciate what I have and what I can do.

Thanks for reading today and I hope you’re all having a satisfying year so far too!

Bethany xo

Christmas · Food · Recipes

RECIPE: Mocha Cream cocktail;

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a brilliant holiday season!

Today I thought I would share with you a recipe for a cocktail I made today when trying to combine my love of coffee, alcohol, and chocolate. This Mocha Cream cocktail is smooth and velvety with an alcoholic punch, and the right amount of bitterness to prevent it being too sickly. I love it and I’m slightly addicted, but beware because this cocktail is not for the health conscious.

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Ingredients;
2 parts cooled espresso/coffee of your choice
1 part vodka
1/2 part coffee liqueur
1 part Irish cream
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
5 parts milk (or to taste)
a splash of double cream

Method;
1. Pour the espresso over ice in a cocktail shaker, followed by the vodka, coffee liqueur, and Irish cream.
2. Add the sugar and cocoa powder.
3. Shake until the sugar and cocoa is well mixed
4. Add the milk and cream
5. Shake again until smooth and frothy
6. Serve in a glass of your choice and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. (I used chocolate orange for that extra festive twist!)

Let me know if you try this recipe yourselves and if you have any cocktail recipes you love! Have a wonderful holiday season and I’ll see you again soon.

Bethany xo

Christmas · Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

Christmas Traditions;

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I’m writing this post from my bed, nursing a chest infection, snuggled up in blankets, and wearing a Christmas jumper. It’s beginning to get dark outside, the lights are dimmed, two sets of fairy lights are on, I’m drinking hot chocolate and I’m burning a candle called “Christmas Magic”. There are Christmas songs playing softly in the background; Michael Buble’s tender caramel voice is bringing an indulgent calm to my afternoon.

It’s cosy, warm and tranquil atmospheres like this that I create for myself every Christmas that got me thinking about the Christmas traditions my family and I still have, and those that we’ve let go of.

  1. The Christmas Table. Now, this tradition has been in my family since before I can remember. We have a little cabinet in our dining room where we keep our “posh” cutlery and crockery. Every year this cabinet ends up with the name “The Christmas Table.” My Dad, from September/October, begins slowly piling up food and alcohol on this table until it’s dangerously mountainous by Christmas Day. There’s crisps, nuts, cakes, eggnog and more chocolate than any one family could possibly eat by themselves. No one is allowed to take food or drink from this table until Christmas Day, but after that, this table ends up being a decadent buffet table until New Year.
  2. Trifle. I don’t know about you but I’m not a major fan of the traditional Christmas cake and pudding. It just isn’t my cup of tea and my parents aren’t really fans either. Instead of traditional pudding, after Christmas dinner we eat homemade trifle that’s lovingly layered with vanilla sponge, raspberry jelly, fruit cocktail, custard and cream. I then top it off with a crumbled Flake bar from my selection box. I love the Christmas trifle and I was pretty upset when my parents decided that we should have a different dessert last year. In the end, we all missed the trifle and I’m happy to say it’s back with a vengeance this year!
  3. Advent Calendars. You’re never too old for an advent calendar. They’re a Christmas staple since early childhood but controversially, we’ve faded them out from our tradition list. Last year I often forgot that I had the calendar to open – it just didn’t seem to appeal to me anymore. This year the calendar has disappeared completely, and I must admit that I don’t miss it at all!
  4. The December De-clutter. Some people think I’m a little weird for this, but I will embrace that gladly! I adore tidying and de-cluttering. It’s stress relieving, it eases my anxiety and I feel accomplished at the end of it – particularly at Christmas. Every December I like to do a deep clean and de-clutter of my bedroom; nothing is safe. My windows and windowsills are cleaned, all furniture is moved and deep cleaned, and bags upon bags of stuff ends up going to various charity shops. Once everything is tidy and minimalist again, I can relax in bed with a candle on or some incense burning away at my desk and my fairy lights on. In a way, I’m “purifying” and preparing my personal space for the new year. I don’t feel comfortable and like Christmas has started until I do the clean.
  5. Ferrero Rocher. Every year my parents give me a box of Ferrero Rocher for Christmas and because of this, I associate them only with Christmas even though they’re available all year round. Eating them out of the Christmas season just feels wrong!
  6. Bedroom Presents. When my brother and I were children, we would get up on Christmas Day at some ungodly hour and annoy our parents to death with our excited chattering. We were too young to appreciate a lie-in and we got bored in our rooms way too easily. All the presents and food were downstairs, and we couldn’t play with or eat any of it yet! To combat our restless Christmas cheer, my parents used to put presents and food in our bedrooms when we were asleep on Christmas Eve. This usually consisted of one book, one DVD, some chocolate, cereal bars and an orange. This year, the tradition seems to be one we’re getting rid of because my parents have decided they’re too old to stay awake long enough to do it! (I have a feeling I’ll be somewhat disappointed at the absence of room presents on Christmas Day this year…)
  7. NORAD. A Christmas Eve tradition that I’ve grown to love is having the NORAD tracks Santa website open on a laptop as my family gathers together to eat and celebrate as the night draws in. There’s a little whoop of excitement from everyone as we watch Santa travel from country to country whilst eating questionable party food and playing board games. (And if we’re really really quiet, we can totally hear the sleigh bells as he flies over!)
  8. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This is my favourite Christmas film of all time and I have to watch it every Christmas Eve without fail. If I don’t watch it, then not to be dramatic about it, Christmas is ruined. There is no Christmas without this film for me.
  9. Sickness. Someone is always sick on Christmas Day whether it’s a cold, the flu, alcohol related incidents, or overindulgence. Someone is always ill. One year I had a migraine and basically spent the whole of Christmas dinner crying in pain. Sickness is my least favourite tradition and I would really prefer it not to be one, but let’s be honest, someone is always under the weather for you on Christmas Day too, right?
  10. Chocolate Biscuits. Some of my favourite Christmas memories from when I was younger was when my brother and I would bundle into my parents’ bedroom, eagerly talking about our bedroom presents. The four of us would sit on the bed or we’d go to the living room and show off our new gifts and eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast. If Mum and Dad started eating the biscuits without my brother and I then we were devastated. Naturally there would be some squabbling over who got the last biscuit, but I enjoyed that as much as I did the simple family time in the morning before Christmas Day got truly under way. We don’t tend to have biscuits for breakfast any more; we all do our own thing, but I have to say that I miss the chocolate biscuit bed pile up.

It’s probably not wrong for me to say that most people have their traditions that make the winter season unique, comforting and nostalgic. What are your favourite Christmas traditions old and new?

Bethany xo

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Books

My 2017 Bookshelf – part two;

Hello all!

Welcome back to the second part of my bookshelf – if you haven’t read part one then you can do so right here!

Let’s jump straight back into the books I’ve read so far this year and those that are still sat on my shelf just waiting to be read.

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21. The Little Breton Bistro – Nina George (3/5)
Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world. As the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it’s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

22. Confessions of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella (3/5)
Meet Rebecca Bloomwood. She has a great flat, a fabulous wardrobe full of the season’s must-haves, and a job telling other people how to manage their money. She spends her leisure time … shopping. Retail therapy is the answer to all her problems. She knows she should stop, but she can’t. The letters from the bank are getting harder to ignore. Can Becky ever escape from this dreamworld, find true love, and regain the use of her credit card?

23. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (5/5)
At a glittering society party in St Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants to soldiers and Napoleon himself.

24. The Cake Shop in the Garden – Carole Matthews (3/5)
Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn’t do all this, who will? Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she’s ever made. When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay’s entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn’t know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life-changing decision – even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most?

25. The Secret History – Donna Tartt (4/5)
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

26. The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan (3/5)
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.

27. The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton (4/5)
In 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of merchant trader Johannes Brandt. Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways. Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. As she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation or the architect of their destruction?

28. The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel (3/5)
The girls of the Roanoke family – beautiful, rich, mysterious – seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken. Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back. She is a Roanoke girl. Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

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29. The Art of Baking Blind – Sarah Vaughn (3/5)
In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookery writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs Eaden. There’s Jenny, facing an empty nest now her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife’s death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it’s like to have nothing and is determined her façade shouldn’t slip. As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest choux bun seems the least of the contestants’ problems. For they will learn – as Mrs Eaden did before them – that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it’s very much harder in life.

30. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (4/5)
 Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

31. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Paul Torday (4/5)
What does it take to make us believe in the impossible?
For Dr. Alfred Jones, life is a quiet mixture of civil service at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence and marriage to Mary—an ambitious, no-nonsense financier. But a strange turn of fate from an unexpected direction forces Jones to upend his existence and spend all of his time in pursuit of another man’s ludicrous dream. Can there be salmon in the Yemen? Science says no. But if resources are limitless and the visionary is inspired, maybe salmon fishing in the Yemen isn’t impossible. Then again, maybe nothing is.

32. The Island at the End of Everything – Kiran Millwood Hargrave (To Be Read)
Amihan lives on Culion Island, where some of the inhabitants – including her mother – have leprosy. The arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: islanders untouched by sickness are forced to leave. Banished across the sea, Ami is desperate to return, and finds a strange and fragile hope in a colony of butterflies. Can they lead her home before it’s too late?

33. Black Water Lilies – Michael Bussi (TBR)
Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens at Giverny, where Monet did his famous paintings. In Jérôme’s pocket is a postcard of Monet’s Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday. Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval’s corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious Black Water Lilies, a rumoured masterpiece by Monet that has never been found?

34. My Sweet Revenge – Jane Fallon (TBR)
Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors and Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair. She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing and then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever. Revenge is sweet, isn’t it?

35. Love Potions – Christina Jones (TBR)
When aromatherapist Sukie Ambrose starts using her cottage garden as inspiration – and raw ingredients – for her products, she thinks she’s just hit on a good way of saving money while offering her clients a way of de-stressing and relaxation. However, Sukie lives in a village where strange things have been known to happen. She discovers that her new improved lotions and potions are making her massages distinctly magical – and producing more star-crossed lovers than Shakespeare could ever dream of.

36. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (TBR)
In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together.

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And that marks the end of my 2017 bookshelf! What have you guys read this year? Have you got any recommendations for my 2018 shelf?

Thanks for reading and I hope you found a book you’d like to read soon too!

Bethany xo

Books

My 2017 Bookshelf;

Hello everyone!

This year one of my goals was to start reading again. Studying literature and creative writing sucked the joy of reading from me – I wasn’t reading what I wanted and I was picking apart books to their bare bones. It wasn’t fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my literature and writing courses but I was so relieved when I finished, just because I could read for fun again. As soon as university was over, I got back on GoodReads and collected new books pretty much every time I went out.

So, what have I read this year? How many stars did I give them? And what’s still on my To Be Read list? I’ll share with you all of these over the course of two blog posts this weekend – sit back, browse, and find your new favourite book!

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1. The Killing Woods – Lucy Christopher (3/5 stars)
Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

2. Victoria – Daisy Goodwin (5/5)
In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone.

3. The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George (5/5)
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story.

4. Strictly My Husband – Tracy Bloom (2/5)
Laura loves it when Tom takes her for a late night tango around the kitchen after their friends have gone home and they’re avoiding the washing up. That changes when Tom arrives on the doorstep with Carly, a professional dancer, and announces he’s offered her the spare room while she performs in a show that Tom is directing. An outraged Laura doesn’t feel like dancing with Tom anymore but Carly does. It only takes two to tango, and given Tom’s history who knows where it could end? Will Laura be left watching from the sidelines whilst Carly waltzes off with her husband’s heart?

5. Shtum – Jem Lester (3/5)
Ben Jewell’s ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope. When Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal – Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men – one who can’t talk; two who won’t – are thrown together.

6. The Sisters – Claire Douglas (5/5)
Haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets twins Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle. As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention? When the truth outs, will either sister survive?

7. The Paris Secret – Karen Swan (4/5)
Along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden for decades. High-flying fine art agent Flora from London is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long. Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren’t all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock.

8. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty (3/5)
Alice Love is 29, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she wakes up on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time.

9. The French Lesson – Hallie Rubenhold (3/5)
Henrietta Lightfoot trips on her silk gown as she runs for her life along the bloodstained streets of revolutionary Paris. She finds refuge in the lavish home of Grace Dalyrmple Elliott, one of the old regime’s most powerful courtesans. But heads are beginning to roll. Outside, the guillotine mercilessly claims its victims, while inside society’s gilded salons, Henrietta becomes a pawn in a vicious power game. How will she survive in a world where no one can be trusted?

10. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard (4/5)
Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

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11. That Girl from Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson (2/5)
Clemency was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic change and move to Brighton, where she was born. While there, she meets someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents. As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay.

12. The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry (4/5)
On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world. But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision. One thing’s for sure: she’s about to find out…

13. The Flower Arrangement – Ella Griffin (4/5)
Every bouquet tells a story and every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Florist Lara works her magic, translating feelings into flower arrangements, changing hearts and lives. Whether it’s bridal posies, anniversary bouquets or surprise deliveries from secret admirers, Lara arranges flowers for all manner of life-changing moments. No stranger to heartbreak herself, Lara knows flowers say more than words ever can. But can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on her?

14. The Mother – Yvette Edwards (3/5)
The unimaginable has happened to Marcia Williams. Her bright and beautiful sixteen-year-old son Ryan has been brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she must bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court for the trial of the killer—another teenage boy—accused of taking her son’s life. As the trial proceeds, Marcia finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about Ryan’s death.

15. How to Find Love in a Bookshop – Veronica Henry (3/5)
Emilia has returned to her Cotswold home to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren’t just within the pages of the books she sells – Emilia’s customers have their own tales to tell. There’s the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn’t quite what he seems; and the shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush. And as for Emilia’s story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books?

16. The Reader on the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent (3/5)
Working at a job he hates, Guylain Vignolles has but one pleasure in life. Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain reads aloud. It’s this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life. For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie, who feels as lost in the world as he does.

17. The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barberry (2/5)
Renée is the concierge of a Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society’s expectations of what a concierge should be. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renée lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.

18. The Red Notebook – Antoine Laurain (3/5)
Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street, and feels impelled to return it to its owner. The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

19. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (4/5)
Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…

20. That Certain Something – Clare Ashton (3/5)
Pia Benitez-Smith has her head in the clouds. She’s a photojournalist out to prove herself with her compassionate eye, and although not accident prone, most days trouble seems to find her. On one such day, she literally falls into the arms of the beautiful Cate. Elegant, intriguing and classy, Cate is Pia’s polar opposite. When the two dispute the importance of love versus money, Cate is adamant that her perfect night will always be an expensive one. Working class Pia can’t resist the challenge and with the assistance of a beguiling summer night in London, she begins to enchant her new friend.

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Have you read any of these books, or would you like to after reading this post? Do you agree or disagree with my ratings? Let me know and I hope you’ll join me for part two of my bookshelf tomorrow!

Bethany xo

 

Lifestyle

My November Goals;

November is a strange month. It’s not quite Christmas yet and Halloween and Bonfire night are over and done with. It’s cold and wet outside and you’re frugal with your paycheck so you can splash out over Christmas. November is quite a plain and uninspiring month.

To make the month feel a little more worthwhile, I’ve set myself a few little goals to pass the time.

  1. Write more often. For someone with a creative writing degree who describes themselves as a writer, I actually write very little. I have unfinished projects in numerous folders on my laptop, a novel I’ve slowly been working on for almost a year, and tonnes of ideas rattling around my brain. In November I plan on getting a huge chunk of my novel written and at least one smaller writing project finished. tumblr_oz22xdvkbZ1raamyno1_540
  2. Get some practice with my new camera! Last month I bought myself a Sony Cybershot W810 to get myself into photography as a new hobby. As of yet I haven’t had a chance to get snappy with my camera, but I’m coming for you November!
  3. Finish reading The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughn. I’ve been trying to read this book for a month now and I’m still less than 150 pages in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this book but life keeps getting in the way!
  4. Get a head start on my Christmas shopping. Even if I don’t buy many of my Christmas presents this month, I’d like to have a list done so December isn’t stressful. I often end up rushing around, full of anxiety about my Christmas shopping – this year, I’d like to be able to chill out and experience December more casually. DSC00020
  5. Do more baking. My parents bought me a kitchen mixer for my birthday and I’ve only used it a handful of times since! The last time I used it, I made a pumpkin and salted caramel cake and you can find that recipe right here! I adore baking and autumn/winter seems like the perfect time to carry out that particular hobby.
  6. Declutter. Some find it strange but I love tidying and cleaning. There is nothing more satisfying than spending a day decluttering, scrubbing, hoovering, and polishing and seeing the results of your efforts emerge. Every year before Christmas, I like to do a huge deep clean and declutter to “make room” for the coming year. That probably makes no sense but it’s a tradition and my anxiety goes haywire if I don’t “make room.”
  7. Keep working on my blog make-over. I have only had this blog for a mere two months or so but I get bored SO FAST. My bedroom gets re-arranged and re-decorated all the time, I want to re-invent my image constantly, my hair never knows what’s coming next. All of this translate into my blog too! So far I’ve changed my domain and my header but more changes will be on the way!

Do you guys have any goals this months? I’d love to hear them!

Bethany xo

Writing

NaNoWriMo survival tips!

It’s November 1st which means for many of us the NaNoWriMo challenge is underway and sleep is already evading participants.

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s a project where writers from all over the world try to write a 50,000 word novel within the month of November. You can read all about the project here and on the NaNo website. It’s also not too late to join us for the challenge this year!

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I first started participating in NaNo in 2012 and I’ve had varying results every year since! It’s been great for me to learn how I work with deadlines, how to manage my priorities, and how to cope with my mental health when I’m so busy. The first time I failed to reach the 50,000 word goal in 2014, I admit I was devastated and I felt like a failure. But I had also just started studying creative writing at university. I was writing but I wasn’t writing my NaNo project and somehow, my priorities got mixed. In 2014, NaNo was more important than university.

Every year since then, when I failed to reach the word goal, I didn’t mind. I was proud of myself for trying. I put in the effort I could and did my best and that’s the important part. I’ve learned a lot since 2012 so here are my NaNoWriMo Survival tips!

  1. Write something you’re interested in reading. If you don’t, you won’t be interested in writing it.
  2. Sleep is your friend, not the enemy! It’s no good trying to write when you’re tired and unable to concentrate. Sleep, take a nap, go to bed and writing will feel easier.
  3. Caffeine does actually help.
  4. Don’t forget to eat! NaNo is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you set yourself up with a good breakfast and lunch. tumblr_oyqlr4l3VH1raamyno2_400
  5. Take regular breaks. When you feel like your concentration waning, stop. Make another cup of tea, grab a snack, check your social media, read a page of a book, do something else! Come back after half an hour with a fresh mind.
  6. Reward yourself every time you hit a word goal. It’s so much easier to write when you have an incentive!
  7. Set yourself time to catch up if you fall behind. Life happens, especially with Bonfire night and Christmas coming up. Figure out how long it takes you to write 1,666 words and plan extra time to catch up if you need it.
  8. Don’t bother editing. Through the whole of November, do NOT go back, re-read and edit what you’ve written. You’re wasting time and NaNo has their “What Now?” months for all the editing.
  9. Remember to go out and spend time with friends. Human contact is important! It might be tempting to shut yourself away and focus on writing, but don’t. Going outside, meeting people and speaking to friends can hugely help with making your characters more realistic.
  10. Have fun! If NaNo stresses you out then perhaps it’s not the right time for you to participate, perhaps you have too much going on, perhaps your story isn’t ready to be written. It’s nice to finish the 50,000 word count but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get there. The experience and the attempt can be just as satisfying as finishing. Make sure you can describe your time participating in NaNoWriMo as enjoyable!

I hope these tips help, especially if you’re a first time participant! Let me know if you’re participating and link me to your username on the website so we can all encourage each other.

You can check out my story for this year and my progress here.

Good luck!

Bethany xo