Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 In Books | My Favourite Books This Year

Hi, Another year almost over and another 35 books read. I completed my Goodreads challenge today with a mad reading session to get the final book finished (I always forget how much time Christmas takes up). I've added my overall stars out of five on the books I've read this past year so you can see what I've enjoyed the most.


2016 Pledged Books
1. Infinite Sky - C.J. Flood
2. Divergent - Veronica Roth
3. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
4. It’s Not Me, It’s You - Mhairi McFarlane
5. Panic - Lauren Oliver
6. Allegiant - Veronica Roth
7. The Fire Sermon - Francesca Haig
8. The Year of the Rat - Clare Furniss
9. Room - Emma Donoghue
10. All the Rage - Courtney Summers
11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
12. The Martian - Andy Weir
13. The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey
14. The Glittering Art of Falling Apart - Ilana Fox
15. Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy - Lucy-Anne Holmes
16. The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker
17. What Milo Saw - Virginia Macgregor
18. The Crooked House - Christobel Kent
19. Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
20. Linger - Maggie Stiefvater
21. Forever - Maggie Stiefvater
22. Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel - Jane Costello
23. The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton
24. Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater
25. Soulmates - Holly Bourne
26. A Step Towards Falling - Cammie McGovern
27. What's a Girl Gotta Do? - Holly Bourne
28. Four: A Divergent Story Collection - Veronica Roth
29. This Last Kiss - Madeleine Reiss
30. Armada - Ernest Cline
31. Asking for it - Louise O’neill
32. I’ll give you the sun - Jandy Nelson
33. The Big Lie - Julie Mayhew
34. Lament - Maggie Stiefvate
35. The Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

Some of my favourite books from this year where the most unexpected. The books that I gave five stars too where The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, The Glittering Art of Falling Apart by Ilana Fox, The first two books in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss and lastly The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew.

Books that I didn't rate as high but I'd recommend everyone reads include The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, All the Rage by Courtney Summers, What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne, Asking for it by Louise O’neill and I’ll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson.

I'm already planning my TBR for 2017 and I'm so looking forward to getting ahead on next years reading challenge. I'm thinking about sharing my TBR, would this be something you're interested in seeing?
Sam 

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Night Before Christmas | #BLOGMAS Day 24

Hi, Merry Christmas for tomorrow! I made it! 24 days of blog posts. I'm going to take a small blogging break while I celebrate with family and friends. My plan now is to relax and plan ahead both with my blog and my home renovation. I've still got to finish my final book of the year for my Goodreads challenge (I've chosen the Hogfather). I'm sure I'll be back before the new year at least with a post on book reviews.



Here's a round up of all my posts from the past 23 days

Doing Advent Differently #ReverseAdvent | #Blogmas Day 1
20 Festive Themed Goals | #Blogmas Day 2
Small Business Saturday | #Blogmas Day 3
Christmas Shopping Survival Guide | #Blogmas Day 4
Lush Review - Shoot For The Stars Bath Bomb | #Blogmas Day 5
7 Gift Ideas That Give Back | #Blogmas Day 6
50 Blogmas Post Ideas | #Blogmas Day 7
5 Ways To Stay Organised | #Blogmas Day 8
My Favourite Things About Christmas | #Blogmas Day 9 
Lush Review - Mistletoe Bath Bomb | #Blogmas Day 10
Who I'm Watching This Vlogmas | #Blogmas Day 11
One Year On | #Blogmas Day 12
Christmas Baking - Easy Mince Pies With A Twist | #Blogmas Day 13
My Christmas Wish List | #Blogmas Day 14
Christmas Book Suggestions | #Blogmas Day 15
The A-Z Of Christmas Tag | #Blogmas Day 16
Lush Review - Luxury Lush Pud | #Blogmas Day 17
The Five Senses of Christmas | #Blogmas Day 18
Why Staying In Is Better Than Going Out | #Blogmas Day 19
5 Ideas For Winter Days Out | #Blogmas Day 20
Christmas Decoration Sale Picks | #Blogmas Day 21
My Favourite Christmas Posts I've Read | #Blogmas Day 22
My Christmas Plans | #Blogmas Day 23

I hope you've enjoyed reading this past month! Have a great day tomorrow.
Sam

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Friday, December 23, 2016

My Christmas Plans | #BLOGMAS Day 23

Hi, How is it Christmas eve tomorrow? This month has flown and I think doing Blogmas has only made it go quicker. I'm super excited for the big day and today is my last day of work for a whole week! We're off out to celebrate with bowling and burgers, which should be a good laugh. Here are my plans for the Christmas period and things I'd like to do with my time off.

My Christmas Plans


Christmas Eve
  • Donate my #ReverseAdvent box, I know I said I'd take it well in advance but times just run away with me. I'll definitely be doing this again next year.
  • Do some last minuet shopping because I need more stocking fillers. I've bought the main gifts but I want something to bulk them up. I'll end up bulk buying Cadbury's selection boxes.
  • Finally get round to doing my wrapping. Yes that's right I haven't even started to wrap my gifts yet and I'm so going to run out of paper or gift tags because I've left it to the last minuet.
  • Visit grandparents to deliver gifts. Once I've actually bought and wrapped my gifts I need to deliver them, most people I'm seeing over the Christmas day/Boxing day time period.
  • Meet up with friends for gift swaps and a catch up.

Christmas Day
  • Have a lay in. While most people are jumping out of bed I'm going to be enjoying the fact I don't have to get up.
  • Open presents, obviously! As a couple we haven't bought any presents which may seem weird but there's nothing we really wanted and we're saving for the house renovation.
  • Go for a curry. Weird right? but that's what we're doing, I'm not even sure I'm going to be getting a proper Christmas dinner this year.
  • Relax, the plan is to stick on a film and chill for the evening, hopefully with a good supply of mulled wine.

Boxing Day
  • See my parents, for my second Christmas day. We plan to have party food and play games, doing the more traditional Christmas activities.
  • Doing some sale shopping, Lush sale anyone? I'd like to see if there are any bargains to be had but I'm not set on spending money unless I find something really good.
  • Catch up on the Christmas Day specials. As we are out Christmas day we'll miss them but this means I can watch them on my schedule. I'm looking forward to the Doctor Who episode.

The Rest Of December
  • Go see all the films on my to watch list. I've got three films I really want to go see which are Moana, Passengers and Fantastic Beasts.
  • Have a day out with my Sister, I have no idea what I wanna do put it will end up being shopping finished with a trip to the pub.
  • Plan for the year ahead. I'd love to get ahead with blogging this year and after Blogmas I know I can do more if I just set my mind too it.

Do you have any shopping left to do?
Sam

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Favourite Christmas Posts I've Read | #BLOGMAS Day 22

Hi, I'm officially running out of Blogmas ideas (I've probably said this already). I'm sat at my desk worrying that I've still got three posts to write and I feel like I'm cheating with today's post but I decided to compile a selection of posts that I've enjoyed reading so far this Blogmas so you can enjoy them too.


What Lauren Did Today
Vegan Gingerbread Biscuits & Egg-Free Royal Icing
Self-Care at Christmas & How I Cope
Christmas Gift Guide | £1 Stocking Fillers 

Hello, Steph
My Christmas Gratitude Jar 
Blogmas Post Ideas #2
25 Fun Things To Do This Christmas!

The Quiet People
Blogmas #17: A Last Minute Book Gift Guide
Blogmas #15: Nutella Hot Chocolate 
Blogmas #6: A Christmas Self Care Kit

Chapters of Kat
The A-Z of Christmas
The Most Festive Bailey's Cupcakes

The July Journal
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
The Ultimate Cruelty Free Christmas Gift Guide
Shoot For The Stars Bath Bomb Review

Burkatro

Please share your posts below, I'd love to catch up on more posts!
Sam

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Decoration Sale Picks | #BLOGMAS Day 21

Hi, I finally put up my Christmas tree this past weekend and while this post should probably be a what's on my tree post there just isn't that much to show you. This has inspired me to get window shopping for more Christmas decorations that I can hopefully pick up in the sales. I can't help but return to Wilkos for decorations and I'm really regretting not paying more attention to their decoration range this year. I've now seen some really lovely pieces that are all store only and my local store is so tiny I'll never find them, bonus the sales already on.


My Tree decorations are mainly blue and a petrol purple at the moment and I haven't been able to find any decorations that would fit this colour scheme to add to my collection. Now that the tree is decorated I've decided that I actually want lots of white and silver decorations and guess what was very on trend this year! I like the silver as it reflects the lights on the tree making it even brighter and the white baubles I already have (the pearl ones above) pop against the green.

I've decided that I want to add a bit more texture to my tree by adding more shapes and textures and with a 7ft tree I've got lots of space to play with. The tree was also from Wilkos and I love it. It's super bushy and I got it at half price at £40 from £80. I still need to get a tree topper because I'm yet to find a nice one but I'm really liking the painted white ones. I've only really seen the totally covered glitter ones in the past and I wanted something a bit more grown up and this is my solution.

 What colour theme do you have on your Christmas tree?
Sam

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

5 Ideas For Winter Days Out | #BLOGMAS Day 20

Hi, Today I'm sharing my ideas for fun days out during the winter time. Winter might not seem like the most day out compatible time of year but there are some really great places that are enhanced by the winter. Getting out in nature or just out from the warmth of the house is great (I'm so sick of being indoors at the moment). I wanted to have a bit of a plan of action to make the most of my time off from work by having at least one day out.


Ideas For Winter Days Out


The Coast
For me I love to visit the East Coast and particularly Filey bay in the winter. It's so quiet because it's out of season and the views are stunning. There's something nice about the winter chill when it's mixed with the freshness of the sea air. I think the sea is the most impressive in the winter months when you'll find the biggest waves crashing into the coastal defenses.

A Historic City
I think historic building all dressed up for the festive season are lovely and something that bit difference. I love to look at how creative independent stores are with their window displays and maybe even treat myself to a little something. York is a great example and there's always a coffee shop to warm up in.

A Christmas Market
Hopefully by now you've done all your Christmas shopping (unless you're like me and have no idea what to buy this year). Why not head out and enjoy the seasonal fun of a Christmas market before they all pack up for another year.

Woodland Walking
I haven't properly been for a long winter walk in years and it's something I really miss. It's all the more magical if you get some snow fall but it's just as pretty if you head out while everything is still frost covered and crisp. There's something fun about wrapping up in the full hat, gloves and scarf.

Find Some Culture
Sometimes the idea of being outdoors for a long time in the winter can be over whelming so why not head out with a museum or art gallery as your destination. You might find a new favourite painting, discover a new style of art or learn a new fact.

 What's your favourite Winter day out? Have you got any ideas to share?
Sam

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Why Staying In Is Better Than Going Out | #BLOGMAS Day 19

Hi, With the holiday season comes parties and to be honest I'm so past all that. Socially celebrating is fun but I much prefer the comforts of home and with this being the first Christmas in my new home I want to stay home even more.


Why Staying In Is Better Than Going Out


Comfy Clothing
It's a great feeling looking stunning in your sparkly dress but nothing beats a comfy set of loose clothing. You could chill in your pajamas but I've got a set of comfy lounge wear, an over sized hoodie and fluffy socks.

Dedicated Reading Time
I love reading so staying in with a book is a winner for me. I'll either get comfy in bed and inevitably end up having an early night (which is no bad thing) or chill out in the bath with something pretty from Lush. 

Time for Self Care
Leading on from my last point staying in gives you time to make sure you're practicing self care. I love to take baths but sometimes it's hard to find the time. With this time comes some general pampering with a face mask and a much needed nail cut.

Saving Money
It's much cheaper to stay home, even if you indulge in a takeaway chances are you'll save money versus the bar funds and taxi fee. At this time of year I'll get some mulled wine from the super market for a quick and easy festive indulgence. I love Christmas markets but you pay as much for one small cup as you do for a big bottle from the supermarket.

Slow Cooked Food
One thing I love about my slow cooker is that it does all the work for you and you've got a lovely homemade meal ready to serve after a few hours. Nothing better on a lazy evening, I love making curries and sticking some rice in the microwave when I'm ready to serve. Not only is it easy and effort free but super healthy because it's made from scratch.

You're Already Home
The worst part of a night out for me is getting home, I'm not a fan of taxis after dark and luckily in the past I've always traveled home with a friend. This means waiting around for people to also want to go home which isn't always fun when they want to grab a kebab.

Getting comfortable
All the above for me create the most comfortable setting but lighting some festive scented candles and sitting next to the fairy lights flickering on your Christmas tree is the coziest thing at this time of year. Sticking on a Christmas film and relaxing under a blanket are reason enough to stay in on a night for me.

Which do you prefer a night in or a night out?
Sam

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Five Senses of Christmas | #BLOGMAS Day 18

Hi, Today's post is a bit random but it's an idea I haven't seen done so I wanted to write it anyway. Christmas is a very sensory time so I decided to sum up the festive period with my five senses. If I had the time I could probably have written more as there's so much going on, but I found a few cross overs and decided to keep it simple.


The Five Senses of Christmas


Taste
  • Spices making everything more wintry
  • Yorkshire puddings swimming in gravy
  • The sweetness of indulgent treats
  • Bubbles in the Christmas fizz

Smell
  • Winter scented candles
  • Mulled wine in the slow cooker infusing with the spices
  • Fresh pine smell from the tree
  • The smell of baked goods as they cool

Sight
  • Fairy lights flashing and twinkling
  • Prettily wrapped presents
  • People wearing festive jumper or a Christmas hat
  • Smiling and a shared feeling of jolliness

Touch
  • Woolly hats and scarfs
  • Fur trimmed Santa hats
  • The spiky pines on the tree
  • The cold biting at your fingers

Sound
  • Carolers singing festive hymns
  • Shops with Christmas songs on repeat
  • Kerrang radio playing punk rock Christmas songs
  • Brass bands playing we wish you a merry Christmas

 What do you think your favourite sense of the season is?
Sam

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Lush Review - Luxury Lush Pud | #BLOGMAS Day 17

Hi, I'm back with my last Christmas Lush review for the Luxury Lush Pud. It's one of the first ever Lush products I tried, I received it in a gift box one Christmas many years ago. It's a bomb I normally overlook for the new releases but this year I decided I wanted to use a classic.



Luxury Lush Pud Bath Bomb – A Recipe For Unwinding

It is a mainly pink bath bomb with a white frosting inspired top decorated with holly, the rest is decorated with brightly coloured dots which give this bath bomb a very fun look. The four main ingredient in the bath bomb are Lavender oil, Benzoin Resinoid, Tonka Absolute and Ylang Ylang Oil. It is designed to smell irresistibly tasty just like the real thing and works to create a calming sensation to help you drift off to sleep, a perfect choice for Christmas Eve.





This bath bomb in the water is a kaleidoscope of colour. The main part of the bath bomb fizzes away turning the water a subtle shade of pink, while the dots drift off to create patterns of colour. I believe there was the slightest touch of luster in this bath bomb as my water was sparkling. The scent of this product didn't stand up to being diluted in the water which was a shame. Overall I think this is a fun bath bomb and a pretty one to watch but it's not one of my favourites.

Have you tried the Luxury Lush Pud bath bomb?
Sam

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Friday, December 16, 2016

The A-Z Of Christmas Tag | #BLOGMAS Day 16

Hi, I've been running low on ideas for Blogmas (16 days of none stop posts is hard work) and I came across this post idea by Kathryn at Chapters of Kat for the A-Z Of Christmas Tag and decided I'd give it ago.
 

The A-Z Of Christmas Tag


A is for... Annual because Christmas comes but once a year every year.
 
B is for... Brass Bands that make Christmas for me as I used to play the Trumpet. Carols played by brass make me feel so festive.
 
C is for... Crackers, what Christmas dinner is complete without some crackers no matter how rubbish they are the fun's in the snap. My favourite cracker prize is the fortune telling fish.
 
D is for... Decorations everywhere, the more the better.
 
E is for... Edible goods, what the festive season is all about, so much food is turned into the shape of Christmas trees or stars and everything gets that added wow factor, glitter is more than okay.
 
F is for... Family which is really important at this time of year, Christmas is the perfect reason to go see family and make the time to travel.
 
G is for... Giving Gifts, as much fun as it is to receive gifts I much prefer to spoil my loved ones and see their reaction to the gifts I've bought.
 
H is for... Harry Potter whether you indulge in one of the books or watch one of the films there's something about Harry Potter at Christmas time.
 
I is for... Inspiration, this year I'm totally lacking any ideas for Christmas gifts. I've got the majority now but I just feel a little sad that it wasn't more fun picking things out this year.
 
J is for... Jolly, the mood of the season. No matter how much of a bar humbug you are there's got to be something that brings out your festive cheer.
 
K is for... kindness which I don't think should be exclusive to Christmas. It would be nice if we took a little more time to look after those around us.
 
L is for... Lights everywhere which is one of my favourite parts of the festive season. They bring so much light into the darker nights of the British winter at this time of year.
 
M is for... Music, What would Christmas be without a festive playlist. One of my all time favourites is last Christmas by Wham.
 
N is for... Night time when all I wanna do is get cozy with a book. The darker nights have done wonders for my reading.
 
O is for... Ornaments from my childhood, my parents have a Santa T-light holder they bought the year I was born for my first Christmas and it's still going strong.
 
P is for... Pajamas, with Christmas comes a fresh new pair of pajamas to snuggle up in. It's become some what of a Christmas tradition but I don't think I'm alone with this one.
 
Q is for... Queues, in Lush especially but to be honest that's the only place this year I've experienced any (online shopping yeh?).
 
R is for... Robin as I couldn't think of anything else but it's so special to spot a robin checking out your bird feeder at this time of year.
 
S is for... Shopping, which is what all the companies want you to think Christmas is about but you can't not go shopping can you. There's always the option of homemade gifts if you want to take a step back from the high street.
 
T is for... Tree's indoors as decoration. I really want to research into when we decided to do this and why. I love the idea of bringing the outdoors in at this time of year as we lack nature and it's beauty.
 
U is for... Unity as humanity to be more charitable and think about more than ourselves.
 
V is for... Vacation and time to unwind. I can not wait for some time away from work to relax with the intention of going back fresh and ready to face the year ahead.
 
W is for... Winter Walks because the scenery in winter can be some of the nicest especially if you're lucky enough to be going on a snowy walk.
 
X is for... Xmas, the big day. In recent years Christmas day hasn't really been that eventful unlike the week around the date, with all the parties and visiting.
 
Y is for... Yummy scents, hot drinks and Christmas cake. I've bought a big Stilton cheese wheel that I can not wait to start eating. I had my first Christmas cake of the year last night.
 
Z is for... Zero degrees which it's not at the moment because it's been unseasonably warm but I'm hoping for a white Christmas this year.
 
This was rather hard as you can imagine some letters just don't have that many Christmas themed words associated with them (I copied a few I was that stuck). I enjoyed writing this post so much and I'm looking forward to the weekend and my blogmas post prep for the week to come.
 
 Let me know if you do the tag, I'm interested to see what you pick.
Sam

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