Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

50 things to do on rainy days;

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Me and two friends enjoying the rain two years ago.

Hi everyone!

Today I’m back to talk about rain (yes, my life really is that exciting!)

It’s nearing summer here in the UK – evenings are light and bright, humidity is up, and it’s raining constantly. Half-term is upon us and the whole thing is going to be a huge wash-out. If you’re managing to escape the thunderstorms then you’re still experiencing rain, dark clouds days, and fog.

Whilst I can’t stand thunderstorms, I love rain, especially heavy rain. For me, it’s incredibly calming and cleansing for the soul, so I embrace this time of year and our above average monthly rainfall. It’s a time for me to reconnect and reflect upon myself. But for others, this is the worst type of weather, especially if you’ve got kids.

So, here’s a list of things to do when it’s raining to suit every person regardless of age or personality:

  1. Go for a walk and indulge in splashing in puddles.
  2. Dance in the rain. (Cheesy but fun!)
  3. Gather all your blankets and cushions and have a movie marathon or binge something new on Netflix.
  4. Build a pillow fort.
  5. Find some objects outside and take them to a large puddle to see what floats or sinks.
  6. Spend a day doing some colouring in.
  7. Spend a day doing arts and crafts.
  8. Make rain art.
  9. Try out some new hobbies.
  10. Learn a new skill.
  11. Read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf since forever.
  12. Spend the day baking.
  13. Play board/card/video games with your family/friends.
  14. Make a time capsule or a memory box.
  15. Have a home spa day.
  16. Go to an actual spa for a spa day.
  17. Have a home clear-out and tidy up.
  18. Organise clothes/books/ornaments you no longer want to take to a charity shop.
  19. Catch up on any work you have to do.
  20. Listen to new music.
  21. Enroll on a free online course (I love FutureLearn for this!)
  22. Go and see a show at your local theatre.
  23. Go to your local library.
  24. Go to an art gallery or museum.
  25. Put together a photo album.
  26. Try out a new hairstyle, or if you have kids, play hairdressers.
  27.  Go to the cinema.
  28. Go bowling or to an arcade.
  29. Make a playlist for someone you love.
  30. Make a playlist of all your favourite songs.
  31. Learn how to cook something new.
  32. Make paper boats and race them in large puddles or ponds.
  33. Play hide-and-seek.
  34. Go to your nearest aquarium.
  35. Make pasta pictures.
  36. Have a fashion show with the clothes in your wardrobe.
  37. Research your family tree.
  38. Phone a friend you haven’t seen/spoken to in a while.
  39. Write letters to international friends.
  40. Have a tea party. Real or imaginary, that’s up to you!
  41. Make a list of things you want to do before you die, or if you fancy something less morbid, a list of things you want to do before your next birthday.
  42. Play around with your home decor or redecorate a room completely.
  43. Start a diary or journal.
  44. Make a really decadent hot chocolate with loads of cream, chocolate, marshmallows, sweets, or anything else you have in your cupboards that would go in!
  45. Try a new restaurant.
  46. Find a muddy spot in the garden or a park and make some mud pies.
  47. Upcycle some boring furniture.
  48. Do some karaoke at home or at a karaoke bar.
  49. Write a story or a poem.
  50. Sleep. If you have nothing to do, you don’t want to deal with the world whilst it’s so miserable, and you have the option, take a nap and have a duvet day!

What are some of your favourite things to do when it’s raining and how has the weather been where you are?

Bethany xo

Books · Reviews

Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton;

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once.

Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify her killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath.

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When I went to my local Waterstones last week to take advantage of their offers, I wasn’t expecting to be slowly lead into a time-bending, mind-warping murder mystery.

On my way to the counter with an armful of books I was approached by an enthusiastic staff member. We got talking and she eventually mentioned a new release that she had recently read and loved. At the time I didn’t quite catch the title because it was long, and I was tired, but I was enthralled by her description of an Agatha Christie style novel against a Groundhog Day backdrop.

“I loved it,” she told me. “There were so many twists and turns and I didn’t know where it was going to go next. There was a point where it all clicked into place, but I could not have guessed the ending.”

She put my books through the till, printed my receipt and wrote “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” along the top and handed it to me. For the next two days I was unable to get the concept of this novel out of my head. I hadn’t even bought the book yet and Stuart Turton had already gripped me with his uncommon and captivating plot.

I personally think you know you’re in for a real treat when you open a book to find maps, character lists, or family trees. So, I was practically tingling with excitement when I opened the cover to find a map of Blackheath House and its grounds and the invitation to the party with a full list of guests and household staff. I kept eagerly flipping to the map and invitation as I read, searching for clues and doing my best to play detective.

This book has a whole cast of theatrical characters to love, hate, feel pity for and root for. But, for the most part, I felt unable to trust anyone. Every character’s actions and words seemed like a trick. I admire Turton’s ability to handle such a rich array of well thought out characters. He managed to avoid the trap of half-formed or forgotten characters that often comes when you have a large cast involved in your plot. Every character in Seven Deaths was individual, recognisable and realistic.

The premise was unlike anything I had seen or read before and I was eager to understand what was happening to Aiden and the motive behind Evelyn’s murder. I devoured the whole of this novel in two days and still wanted more. Turton has left me greedy for his dark Wonderland world and for that, I’m slightly disappointed that Aiden’s story at Blackheath is over. I wish I hadn’t read it so quickly and had savoured every page and revelation that came my way instead.

Turton kept me guessing, twisting his plot one way and then another with careful precision. I was never able to pin-down the answers to the questions I had or work out the conclusion until the novel’s crescendo. With crime and thriller/mystery novels now the UK’s most popular genre of fiction, this topsy-turvy murder mystery stands out amongst the crowd as something pleasantly different.

Seven Deaths is marvellously written with excellent craftsmanship and intricate details that adds a realistic element to an otherwise beautifully absurdist plot.

His story-telling sucks you in and in such a way that I often found myself forgetting that I was reading a novel. I could see Turton’s words and characters alive in my mind and performing their macabre deeds in front of me. I think the main reason for this is that Turton has used first-person narrative, thrusting the readers into the mind of Aiden and the bodies of his hosts. The reader becomes as intimately and uncomfortably close to the characters as Aiden does. It is strongly immersive prose that puts us closer to the action than if we were a fly on the wall of Blackheath.

This book is dark and strange, full of high-stakes, gruesome murder, beset with tragedy, corruption, and cat-and-mouse chases. Through all this sparkles the glamour of the 1920s, its high society, and the secrets they keep and the lengths they go to in order to maintain their carefully constructed images. It’s wonderfully paced and completely addictive.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a stunning debut novel. Stuart Turton hopes “it keeps you awake until 2am and when you finish it there’s a huge smile on your face” and yes, Stuart, it definitely does that!

 

Mental Health · Updates

Summertime Sadness;

Hello again!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I hope today I can shed some light on what’s been happening for me and why I’ve been so absent on my blog and on most social media platforms.

Spring is here, and summer is lurking right around the corner. The sun is shining on most days, the air is becoming warmer, and excitement around the rumoured on-coming heatwave is bubbling away. Winter blues have been stripped away and the promise of summer sun seems to have risen the spirits of everyone.

Well…almost everyone.

I hate summer and I always have.

Every year I dread it and silently mourn the passing of autumn and winter. Over the years I’ve given myself reasons as to why I hate summer so much:

  1. I’m pale and ginger and therefore burn easily, even with factor 50 or above sun cream.
  2.  I always found making and keeping friends difficult, so when summer came and the few friends I had were off on holiday or spending time with their family and other friends, I found myself feeling consistently and increasingly lonely.
  3. I thrive on routine and schedule, so when school or university was out for the summer I was bound to feel listless and at a loss with what to do with myself.
  4. I’ve always been overweight, so wearing summer clothes that would help me feel cool just made me feel self-conscious. Instead, I chose to let myself boil half to death in my winter clothes and save my shrinking self-confidence.

Of course, these things didn’t help how I was feeling, but they weren’t the reason why I hated summer so much. As it turns out, I have SO SAD. Summer on-set seasonal affective disorder. Winter SAD’s lesser known and less understood sibling. The third Hemsworth brother of seasonal affective disorder.

It was my Dad that first pointed out to me that I might have the condition last year, and I thought about it for a long time. It certainly made sense, so I decided to look it up. Aside from discovering that there was very little known about it compared to winter SAD, I discovered that 10% of people with SAD are suffering from the summer variation and that the symptoms of SO SAD are of the reverse of winter SAD.

For example, winter SAD sufferers may find themselves sleeping more, but SO SAD sufferers find themselves with insomnia. Winter SAD sufferers can find themselves eating more and gaining weight whilst people with SO SAD lose their appetites and lose weight. But the depression and low energy is consistent between both disorders.

Every summer I get insomnia, every summer I eat less, every summer I find my standard depression becoming worse than usual. I had been feeling rough lately; lacklustre, full of anxiety, listening to the intrusive and depressing thoughts in my head, and was disinterested in blogging, journaling, writing, and reading. But I put those things down to being busy, tired and somewhat burnt out.

About a week ago, a few days after breaking down in tears at work for no apparent reason, a colleague told me that I had lost weight and suddenly it all clicked into place. The SO SAD had settled in for the summer without me even noticing. It had crept in slowly since March and silently set up camp in my brain. SAD is so present in my life that I no longer realise when it happens and that it isn’t normal to feel this way.

I quickly retreated into myself and only forced a smile when I was serving customers at work. I passively consumed media on Netflix and online to pass the time until bedtime, but even then, I was struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep. I didn’t dress or shower if I didn’t have to, didn’t cook or eat unless I was at work or my parents had ordered in. I spent as much time in bed as possible, ignored social media, and muted every conversation with friends I could. I just didn’t have the energy to be me.

This sort of thing happens for me over spring and summer in waves. I’m feeling better after this first bout of depression for the season, but I know it will happen again. Learning how to better control it and how to make myself feel well over the summer is going to take a lot of time and effort but I know it’s going to be worth it in the end.

But for now, I’m taking joy in the small things I do like about summer: the flowers that pepper the earth in a beautiful, vibrant array of colours, the lighter evenings and mornings, the earthy smell of freshly cut grass, the ripe and sweet fruits on the independent stall next to the Tesco in town. The way the sun dances on the ocean’s ripples, making it look as though it is made of diamonds, and my Dad’s self-satisfied grin when he makes that first pitcher of Pimm’s for the season.

SAD sucks no matter which kind you have, but I’m determined not to let it stop me from producing content, doing the things I love, and joining in with life. I might need some time to be miserable for a while, but I can guarantee it won’t be the only thing I am this summer.

I hope you’re all well and I can’t wait to post again soon!

Bethany xo

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