Making a statement

Confession time. I’m an addict. I can’t ignore the sparkles and shininess. I’m unable to walk past any shop that has the bright coloured ones on display. Show me one that has big round beads and I’m a goner and if there’s one that’s neon it’s mine as soon as I spot it. Yes I admit I can’t say no to a statement necklace.

Being a supremely lazy dresser it’s obvious I’d fall for the statement necklace. What easier way is there to get compliments on your outfit? Simply bung the nearest beaded necklace on top of a plain Gap t-shirt and jeans or the nearest bright confection on with your beloved stripy dress and you’re set. However the last two weeks have been ridiculous in their statement necklace purchasing even for me. In the space of three days I’d bought three, one from accessorize that I’ve been pining over for AGES and could justify in a pre flight airport purchase and two from a Portuguese shop which was selling amazing necklaces for £10. Yes TEN ACTUAL POUNDS. I know! Thankfully Laura was as trigger happy with the spending as me and she also bought three necklaces. Basically we’re set for a few months with awesome necklaces!

And here they are all their glory… Tell us which is your favourite? It’s one of mine right?!

[All necklaces are from Stradivarius or Accessorize]

As I’m a fan of dreaming up outfits, below is a selection of what I’m going to be wearing these necklaces with – all totally swoon worthy aren’t they?

statement necklace outfits

Tell me, have you ever gone overboard on one item of clothing or accessories, it can’t just be me – please tell me it’s not just me…

Fi xx

Books, Books, Books

Hello and welcome to a post about all the books. It was only when I sat down to write this post that I realised that we haven’t talked books since this Desert Island Books post way back when in August. How exactly did that happen? And what an absolute travesty! Don’t worry though, this error is about to be rectified with an epic post all about books.

First let’s start with a Good Reads Challenge; back in January I set myself a challenge over on GoodReads to read 50 books in 2014. It’s something that I planned to do last year, but failed. I don’t know why, because I am always reading, but I got out of the habit of reading on my commute and I think that’s when things went wrong. Anyway, in January this year I set myself the same challenge and told myself that I had to complete it. It’s less than one book a week, which for a self confessed bookworm is definitely doable. And do you know what lovely readers? I’ve only gone and completed it three months early! Yes, by the end of September I had read a total of 50 books.

The full list of 50 is below. As you’ll see I’ve added a few notes and short reviews to some of the books on this list. Just to give you a bit of insight into what I thought each book. Reviews of books 1-37 can be found over on my old blog if anyone is interested in reading my thoughts on any of them.

 

1. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Roald Dahl

2. The Killing Floor, Lee Child

3. Pietr the Latvian, George Simenon

4. The Secretkeeper, Jodi Picoult – Another perfect Picoult book. Couldn’t put it down.

5. Scarlet, Marissa Meyer

6. Endless Night, Agatha Christie The first Agatha Christie book I’ve read. Not completely sold, but will try another one again soon.

7. Wonder, R. J. Palacio – This is a book that I think should be compulsory reading for everyone, and if that’s not possible then at least in schools. The character of Auggie is remarkable and lovely and the way the story is told through different people’s viewpoints is really well done. I’ve been recommending this to anyone and everyone since I read it.

8. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling

9. Star Cursed, Jessica Spotswood

10. The BFG, Roald Dahl

11. Allegiant, Veronica Roth – A great ending to the Divergent series. Without giving any spoilers the ending was unexpected, but actually pretty perfect, or at least that’s my opinion anyway. It’s not often I finish a trilogy and really like all three of the books and the final ending, do you know what I mean?

12. No Second Chance, Harlan Coben

13. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

14. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness – A beautiful story about life and death and family and childhood. It’s another one of those books that I think should be compulsory reading, just because it is so gorgeously written. There are some lovely quotes in this book; “You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.” and “Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”

15. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkein

16. Private LA, James Patterson

17. Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek

18. Running Like a Girl, Alexandra Heminsley

19. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck – still my favourite book ever.

20. Little Love Song, Michelle Magorian

21. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce – Wasn’t expecting much from this one and couldn’t get into it until suddenly I was gripped and engrossed.

22. Stay Close, Harlan Coben

23. Mistress, James Patterson & David Ellis

24. Six Years, Harlan Coben

25. The House at Paradise Street, Sofka Zinovieff

26. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

27. I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes

28. The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Melinda Salisbury – Loved this.

29. The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer – unimpressed. Sometimes I just don’t get things in the same way that everyone else does.

30. Beauty, Louise Mensch

31. Innocent, David Baldacci

32. Where There’s Smoke, Jodi Picoult

33. Sidney Sheldon’s The Tides of Memory, Tilly Bagshawe

34. Landline, Rainbow Rowell

35. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn

36.  The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness – Gripped pretty much straight away. Must read the other two books.

37. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith – Still adore J.K and will devour anything she writes.

38. Half Bad, Sally Green

39. Ghostman, Roger Hobbs – This book was the winner of the CMA thriller of the year award, so I was 99.9% sure that I would like it. And I did! The book follows 48 hours in the day of a ghostman who is tasked with clearing up after a bank robbery goes wrong. We also delve into the past to learn how our Ghostman met his current employer and just why he is helping out now. This chops and changes quite a lot, and it took me quite a while to get used to it, but it was necessary and everything made sense in the end.

40. The Rise of Nine, Pittacus Lore

41. Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

42. Rubbernecker, Belinda Bauer – I was completely gripped by this thriller and read it in under 48 hours. So many twists and turns and a brilliant ending.

43. We Were Lies, E. Lockhart – So many good things heard about this, but I guessed the ending which was a bit dissapointing.

44. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell – I think this is my favourite Rowell book.

45. Daughter, Jane Shemilt

46. Before I go to Sleep, S. J. Watson

47. Second Honeymoon, James Patterson & Howard Roughan

48. Confessions of a Murder Suspect, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

49. Eeny Meeny, M. J. Aldridge – very disturbing, but I also couldn’t put it down!

50. Paper Towns, John Green

Looking at this list it’s really hard to pick a favourite of the year, I just read too many good books. The highlights I think were Little Lies, Eleanor and Park, I am Pilgrim, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, A Monster Calls and Wonder.

The only question now is how many more will I read before the end of the year?

What do you think of these books? Have you read any of them? What would you recommend I read next.

To be honest with you I’m very tempted to treat myself for completing this challenge. I’ve been wanting the eBook versions of The Harry Potter series forever and ever. Should I do it??

Laura xx

Road Trip Essentials

This coming weekend we’re off to the Peak District for 21st birthday celebrations (alas not mine) and I cannot wait! It’s going to be an awesome weekend. One of the great things about having weekends away like this is that they start and end with a road trip – one of my favourite things. There’s something about being under your own steam and able to stop off wherever you want en route that I love. I think it stems from that freedom you feel when you finally learn how to drive – it’s as if the world is your oyster and you’re not reliant on the parentals anymore! However, a road trip can go wrong quickly if you’re not properly prepared. So here’s my list of toad trip essentials…

Good friends or family as driving companions – invaluable as you don’t want to be stuck with someone you don’t like for four hours. Plus they have to enjoy a sing-a-long – Disney themed are the best kinds!

Good coffee – this goes without saying. Not only for keeping you alert and awake but because a takeaway coffee in the cup holder just means holiday. Being a Londoner means that I only ever have coffee in the car when I’m road tripping and headed somewhere I want to be – not to work, not for errands and not for anything boring!

Good music – for the aforementioned sing-a-long. No matter the length of the journey good music is an essential element. Whether it’s a Spotify playlist (my current fave album is Ed Sheeran – love!), Disney Sing Alongs or Legends this needs a lot of thought ahead of your trip to take into account who is on the trip, where you’re going and how long the journey will last! Just don’t forget the adapter to link your car to your phone – nightmare!

Good snacks – peanut m&m’s basically. They don’t melt, they taste delicious and they are super easy to eat one-handed!

Good navigation device – Not relying on the car sat nav is imperative, especially if yours is temperamental and has a tendency to turn itself when you’re out of signal, oh like in the middle of the bloody Peak District. Not. Helpful. So an old school map or your trusty iPhone is ideal

Image source via Unsplash – Sylwa Bartyzel

So what about you, what’s on your road trip essentials list? Do share below.

– Fi x

Travel Tuesday

Smiley Happy Things #2

So another month is almost over, which is insane and crazy all at once. But September was a month of brilliantness so I’m not complaining that it sped by, if it had been slower it probably would have been less fun and exciting! So what have I been up to I hear you cry and what things have made me happy? Well the first two weeks of this month were ridiculous busy work wise, which I relished as well as not enjoying! I loved being busy and prepping stuff, getting organised and hatching plans for the coming months, but I could have done without the late nights and panics! However it showed me just how awesome my work colleagues are with lots of offers of help, coffee breaks and breakfast treats when it all got to much. How awesome is that?!

As well as being grateful for awesome work colleagues this month I’m very pleased to have brilliant friends who enjoy food, long walks and theatre trips. This month I caught up with lovely friends for a delicious Sunday lunch of Beef Bourginon as a reward for a mammoth walk in Richmond Park (my new favourite park fyi) as well as enjoying a brilliant piece of theatre with them too. Shakespeare in Love is astonishingly good and laugh-out-loud funny on numerous occasions. You really really must see it!

We’ve been stretching ourselves in the kitchen recently too, which I’ve really enjoyed! We’ve made homemade chocolate nak’d bars and risottos galore, not to mention I’ve been trying out my new cookbook. I was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous new Mary Berry cookbook, that’s been SIGNED! Talk about a prized possession! Thanks Lau. (and don’t worry there’s a new recipe coming from that VERY soon!).

Another happy thing in September involved hatching plans for upcoming birthday celebrations (sadly not mine!). With my little sis and both my parents’ birthday’s coming up it’s been a busy month of present buying and plans. I can’t wait to see there faces when plans are revealed and to spend lots of lovely family time with them over the coming weeks to celebrate with them. Talking of family time, Bex stayed with us for the first week of September, which was such fun! It was the perfect excuse for dinner out, baking and bananagram marathons. I love spending time with my amazing sisters, and I’m super lucky to have them nearby so often.

Buying myself little treats never fails to make me smile – shallow I know – and this month I’ve spoiled myself a little bit. There have been purchases of stripey tops (yes plural – more to come on that soon!) and lovely statement necklaces plus some holiday reading and magazines for a Sunday morning coffee shop trip. Bliss.

Last week I was super happy as I was on holiday and away from work for nine whole days. The weather in Portugal was sublime and there were barely any clouds in the sky. I made the most of having nothing to do other than relaxing. There were an awful lot of long walks, long lunches and lazy days on the terrace and in the hot tub. Just what I needed ahead of what looks set to be a busy few weeks!

What about you, what has made you happy this month, please do share! And don’t forget to link up with Belinda and the other Life is Good bloggers too.

– Fi x

Found Love. Now What?

Celebrating Love

For someone who has only been to a handful of weddings I seem to have been buying an awful lot of wedding and anniversary presents recently. I guess that when you’ve been going to one or two weddings a year for the past 8 years they soon add up. So actually maybe it’s not that ridiculous. For me July, August and September are full of either weddings or anniversaries and I love nothing more than shopping for the perfect gift for each pair. Now obviously when buying presents it’s about buying something that you know that person will love. But I also like to get a gift that I like too – I’m like that with all presents. Call me selfish, but I refuse to buy something that I don’t like – that’s why Becca never got the playsuit she wanted for her 19th birthday and why I refused to buy Fi that hideous bag she wanted. Side note: sometimes I wonder how I can be related to those two and their questionable tastes.

Let me also say that I don’t like wedding lists – I refuse to buy newlyweds a toaster or a cutlery set – boring, boring, boring. Plus most people I know have been living together for years and therefore don’t actually need these things as wedding gifts. Also if you invite me to your wedding please be warned that I am not going to give you money. I want to bring with me a physical present that I can place on the wedding gifts table. So yes, there’s my rant, basically if it’s a wedding or anniversary then I want to find the perfect gift for the couple, and it has to be something that I like too.

Anyway, with all the present buying over the last few months I had a sudden desire to write a blog post all about it. Because, well that’s the whole point of having a blog – to be able to write whatever kind of posts I want, when I want and how I want. And anyway I’m sure other people have been, and will be hunting around for wedding and anniversary presents too, so this post can only be useful.

 

Wedding/Anniversary Gifts

champagne glasses / Lumineers print / striped paper straws / pillowcases / Le Creuset mugs / bottle stopper / picnic hamper

Above are a few bits and bobs that I’ve had my eye on for various people over the last few months.

So far I have bought these glasses for two sets of people as they’re a favourite of mine and I really really want the tumbler versions for myself. They also do a wine glass in the same copper finish.

How cute is the picnic hamper? I think it’s the perfect wedding gift as it’s not too pricey, especially if you club together with others, it’s something that the newlyweds won’t buy themselves, but it can be easily enjoyed throughout the summer months.

The mug set are from the cotton espresso range, so it’s a cute play on words for the traditional second anniversary gift.

What gifts do you give and/or receive for weddings and anniversaries?

Laura xxx

Who lives in a house like this?

I have no idea who lives here, but I know I wish it was me! Every time I go for a wander or run around the streets near where I live I get serious house envy if I pause too long to take in the properties I’m passing. They all seem to be absolutely stunning, lovely big house, with big windows, columns and coloured doors. Alas I don’t live in a house like this, far from it. My flat in no way resembles this place, not even if I squint and look at it with my head at 90 degrees. The only thing they both have in common is windows and a door. So a house like this is a way of unless it’s my turn on the lottery this week – hey a girl can dream about lottery wins and buying gorgeous houses…and I do!

house 1

 source 

house 2

source

house 3source

house 4

source 

Right, back I go to dreaming of stunning houses to own, sometimes those daydreams are the best, well apart from the ones where Richard Armitage sweeps me off my feet!

– Fi xx

Portugal by Numbers

 

 

We’re now five days into our nine day trip and so far our holiday in the Algarve looks a little bit like this…

1 pancake brunch

3 long walks along the beach

1 lazy lunch at our favourite haunt

1 impressive shopping trip; 4 statement necklaces, 3 striped tops and 1 blanket/scarf

1 candlelit hot tub experience

too many to count day time hot tub soaks

4 mosquito bites (on one knee)

1 pudding platter, shared

9 mini magnums consumed

4 sunsets enjoyed

2 unexpected wave soakings whilst enjoying a pleasant paddle

1 head cold to contend with

3 books read

0 runs started or completed

Here’s hoping the rest of the trip continues in the same way.

Laura & Fi xx

Travel Tuesday

Race Bucket List – Runners Tell All

It’s the 21st September today which means it’s time for the monthly Runners Tell All link up. This is perfectly timed as we are currently in Portugal and hopefully totally chilled out and relaxed in the sunshine. Who knows we might even be running as you read this! The fact that we can schedule this post in ahead of times means that you get to still here from us. Yay for that!

Today’s topic is Running Bucket List. What a great topic. I love it. I have so many races that I want to run one day so to be able to create a list and to one day be able to tick them off? Awesome!

Laura’s Running Bucket List:

Royal Parks Half – this is a half marathon through the Royal Parks of London. London is my city, so of course I want to do a half marathon here. Plus there are so many parks in London that I still haven’t run in. Whilst training for my first half last year I ran through Battersea Park, Hyde Park and of course Clapham Common, but there’s so many more. The Royal Parks Half happens in October and takes runners through Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and St James’s Park. Along with all the London sites too.
Run Disney – I love Disney and I love running so to run in the Disney Parks would be amazing. Unfortunately this isn’t available at Disneyland Paris, so I’d have to head to America for this one, but one day I will get there. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon is calling to me!
Full Marathon – I’d love to do a full marathon, one day. In the far off future. I really don’t know which Marathon I’d like to do, maybe London or New York, maybe Boston or Amsterdam, I don’t know. But it will happen. One day.

Fi’s Running Bucket List

I differ from Laura in that I’m not so sure I’d want to run a marathon, I don’t think I could handle it. So for now I’m going to stick to the half marathon distance. So on my bucket list for a half marathon I’ve got the following:

The Amsterdam Half Marathon – I fell in love with this city back in May so I think to experience it as a runner would be brilliant. Just imagine how fast the race would go if you were cooing over the beauty of the city.
The Royal Parks Half – Just like Lau I’d be up for this race too, to run through the park in the lovely autumn weather would be great. There’d be that brilliant sound of the leaves crunching under your feet as you explored another fabulous city, which would be a great experience!

So what’s on your running bucket list?

Making my own nak’d bites

Greetings blog friends, how are you this wondrous day? I’m (hopefully) currently sunning myself in Portugal so I thought I’d leave you with a brilliant recipe. After all who doesn’t love chocolate gooey morsels of joy? No one worth knowing, that’s who.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to leave bad habits behind and be healthier. You know, eat less crap and exercise more, all the obvious things – oh how I wish it was as easy as it sounds! My main problem, apart from laziness and lack of willpower, is that I have the sweetest of sweet tooths around. I usually start the day with a syrup-filled coffee and overnight oats and by 11 I’m craving the sweet stuff again. Plus after every meal I feel the need for something sweet, chocolate namely, as otherwise it doesn’t feel like I’ve eaten enough. Ridiculous I know.

During my most recent attempts to be healthy I’ve been a bit addicted to nak’d bars. These bars of gooey goodness are made with all natural ingredients with nothing bad in them. And they perfectly satisfy my sweet tooth. The only problem is they range from 85p – £1.40 for one small bar depending on where you grab them. I’m not made of money so I can’t be buying them all the time can I?!

I figured I could make my own but I thought it wold be quite tricky. After all how do you make them all smooshy and perfect and don’t they require odd and obscure ingredients? Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs I discovered a recipe which proved that these bars are seriously easy to make – thanks Hungry Healthy Happy. Hooray for that!

The recipe could not be simpler. Just bung 100g ground almonds, 20 chopped dates and 50g each of cacoa powder and cocoa powder into a bowl and blend them with a food processor. Then add 1 tbsp honey and 6 tbsp water and mix together to form a big ball of chocolatey stuff. I pressed the mixture into a lined brownie tin and popped them in the fridge. After 3 hours in the fridge I cut them into small bars and then returned them to the fridge overnight. In the morning they were fully set and ready to be enjoyed. I made about 30 small bars, each worth about 40 calories each. I’d say two of those is the perfect snack size – having done a lot of research over the last couple of weeks (this first batch went in three days…oops!

As the mint chocolate nak’d bars are my favourites I think I’ll add a bit of peppermint flavouring the next time I make them. Hopefully that will be enough to satisfy my mint chocolate craving!

Have you ever attempted to make a healthy snack to satisfy those sugar cravings? Any suggestions for the next recipe I should make?

– Fi xxx

Happy Birthday Old Man!

James Marsden, Greta Garbo, Sol Campbell and Ronaldo were all born on this day, September 18th. They are lucky to be in such esteemed company as someone else who celebrates his birthday today: our Dad. Today is his 60th Birthday. How amazing is that? We are in total agreement when it comes to this man. He is the best Dad, in fact the best man, that we know.

He’s generous.

And kind.

One of the biggest supporters in everything we do.

A brilliant chef.

Totally and completely competitive – we’ve all got that in spades too.

He’s Stubborn.

And he passed his sarcasm on to all of us. What more could you want?

So today is for him, Happy Birthday Old Man. Here’s to so many more years, to London runs, games nights, football matches, long country walks, Mario Kart competitions, Dad’s and Daughters dinners, theatre trips and roast dinners.

Lau & Fi xx