Life Rambles: 2017 Gratitude List

For some inexplicable reason we’ve made it to the final day of 2017. Where on earth did that year go to? I swear I blinked and twelve months just happened! Anyway, as it’s the end of the year, I thought it was worthwhile pausing to take stock on the good things in 2017. Let’s be honest 2017 was a bitch of a year for many, many reasons but it’s never a good idea to focus on the bad. So here’s a list of the 52 things that made my 2017 incredible. I give you my 2017 gratitude list!

My 2017 gratitude list

1. My family

2. Our gorgeous puppy Luna, who gives the best hugs

3. My lovely friends

4. The Christmas markets in Hamburg

5. Nailing the bullet journaling

6. Cocktails with friends

7. Finally removing that fireplace

8. All the board game nights with friends

9. Listening to my god-daughter critiquing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as she read it for the first time

10. McDonald’s deliveries via UberEats

11. Exploring the UK with family and friends, including Haworth, Oxford, Manchester, Ryde, Dorset, London and more

12. A lovely new bed and snugly new mattress

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

13. Twinkly fairy lights

14. Meeting new babies, celebrating anniversaries and weddings

15. A family trip to Salzburg

16. A brilliant new job

17. Banana pancakes

18. Stripey t-shirts

19. Discovering new authors and devouring new books

20. Coffee

21. Beautiful London buildings

22. M&S’ Gluten Free tomato pasta

23. Completing the Royal Parks Half Marathon

24. Devouring Gilmore Girls

25. Gin

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

26. Touristing at Windsor Castle and Bletchley Park

27. Disney films after a long, tiring day

28. A very relaxing week in Portugal

29. Baking, cooking and eating

30. Afternoons spent reading in bed

31. Dishoom brunches

32. Our built-in teal bookshelves

33. Sharing snapshots of my life on Instagram and Insta stories

34. Hysterical laughter in the shadow of a twinkling Eiffel Tower

35. Sweet potato fries

36. Dog walks

How a Puppy Changed Me - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

37. Hot coffee in pjs on the sofa

38. Marathons of many Netflix shows

39. Slow cooker recipes

40. Duvet Days

41. Early morning swims

42. Blasting out the Hamilton soundtrack

43. Making the most of our Picturehouse Central membership

44. Listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast

45. Finally trying Duck and Waffle

46. Lazy mornings snuggled in bed and ignoring the outside

47. Theater trips

48. My purple Saltwaters

49. Sand between my toes

50. My current obsession with sultana and cinnamon overnight oats

51. Sunny afternoons in the garden

52. Afternoon tea and long overdue catch ups

So there we go, the 52 things that have my 2017 gratitude list. I’d say looking at this it’s been a pretty awesome year. What about you, how’s yours been and what were your highlights?

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Recent Reads 2017, Part 6

It December! Which means that it’s time for my last recent reads post of 2017. I mean really, how did that happen? How are we at the end of the year, where did the time go? This year has seen me read a total of 61 books. Which means I’ve finished, and surpassed, my GoodReads challenge of reading 50 books this year. Hooray for that!

 

Recent-Reads-6

 

Over the last couple of months I’ve read eight books. Which feels like a few less than normal. That does make sense when I remember that I’ve been to Paris, Manchester and Hamburg over the last eight weeks. So no quiet weekends to while away a few hours reading. And also my evenings have been busier with all the festivities too. So let’s take a look at my final set of recent reads for 2017.

 

A post shared by Laura Evans (@lau_evs) on

 

Recent Reads #54 – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This book follows two half sisters Effia and Esi who’s lives take different routes. One is sold into slavery and the other marries a slaver. The book opens with a chapter on each sister and then continues to alternate as we move through the generations of each family. We follow the two strands of the family through 250 years and journey across Africa to America. I have to admit that I felt a lot of rage while reading this book, the history of the slave trade and how people have been treated is atrocious. And I can only imagine that this book shows only a small part of that, which also makes me incredibly sad. This book is so wonderfully written and I was utterly gripped by each story. I think it might be one of my favourite books of 2017.

Recent Reads #55 – The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

I was slightly disappointed by The Pale Horse, as it took me so long to get into it. I think my problem was that normally I am fully invested when I read an Agatha Christie novel, but that wasn’t the case this time. Don’t get me wrong, once I was into the book (at about 150 pages in) I was utterly gripped, but getting there was an effort. It is a suitable spooky read though, with psychics and witches and death, so it was a pretty perfect read for Halloween time.

Recent Reads #56 – The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood & Co is an agency that investigates hauntings in London. We meet Anthony Lockwood and his associate George Cubbins when Lucy Carlyle joins the team. The Lockwood investigators are all young, as in this world it’s only young people who have the abilities needed to find, and fight ghosts and spectres. I’m not normally one for ghost stories, but I utterly loved this book. It’s spooky and intense and utterly intriguing at the same time. We follow along as Lockwood & Co. investigate the mystery of the screaming staircase at the grand Combe Carey Hall. This is a wonderful first book, I can’t wait to read the rest in the series.

Recent Reads #57 – Can You Keep a Secret by Karen Perry

I was a big fan of the last Karen Perry book that I read, so when this one was going free at work I nabbed a copy and started reading it straight away. We follow Lindsey as she meets up with friends from her past and revisits the site of a murder that took place twenty years ago. I’m not completely sure what to say about this. It’s full of suspense and mystery and it has the standard flashbacks to years past. But there’s something about it that I didn’t quite get. I think the characters could have been explored more as I had so many questions about them. Plus the ending seems incredibly rushed and that really irritates me. There’s nothing worse than a book that doesn’t end well.

 

A post shared by Laura Evans (@lau_evs) on

 

Recent Reads #58 – Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

Book three in Matt Haig’s festive series is lovely. We follow Amelia as she learns to live in Elfhelm with Father Christmas and Mary. It’s a story of not fitting in and of finding your place in a new world. Of course there’s a marvellous mystery to solve and evil plans to thwart.  As with the other two books Father Christmas and me is packed full of glorious illustrations from Chris Mould, which manage to add an extra layer of magic to the story.

Recent Reads #59 – Murder on Christmas Eve

This is a collection of 10 crime mysteries, from various authors, set at Christmas time. There are some really interesting short stories in this book. My favourites were The Trinity Cat, The Santa Claus Club and A Wife in a Million. As with other collections this one ended up being a really quick read. As each story is between 10 and 20 pages, so it’s easy to read one on the morning commute. Which I like. There’s something poetic about starting and completing a story during the same train journey.

 

Recent Reads #60 – Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery by Gladys Mitchell

Oh look, Christmas read number three. It’s that time of year, what can I say! This one was a freebie from work, which I picked up and started reading on the same day. Reading this made me want to spend some time in the Cotswolds. Preferably for Christmas and while it snowed too! Mrs Bradley is a fascinating character and it feels like she’s up there with Poirot and Marple in terms of storybook detectives. Overall this was a good read, and I’m hoping I can find some more stories from Gladys Mitchell that have Mrs Bradley solving the crime.

Recent Reads #61 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

I’m slowly but surely rereading the Harry Potter series. It’s no secret that this is my favourite book series ever and I am really enjoying rereading the books. With Order of the Phoenix I’ve rediscovered so many moments that I’d forgotten. Also there is just so much going on in Order of the Phoenix, it’s very heavy in terms of plot. I loved reliving the Professor Umbridge moments all over again, and rediscovering Grawp and the Thestrals and Harry’s angry emotions throughout the book. The battle at the Ministry of Magic is still absolutely enthralling and utterly heartbreaking at the same time. {Full disclosure – I’m still reading this one, but I do plan to have it finished by the first of January so I’ve added it to this post}.

So there we have it, post number six in my 2017 recent reads series. This year I did think about doing a round up type of post on what I’ve read, and sharing my favourite reads or my most surprising reads or something along those lines. However, I decided against that in the end as I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to write that post. Clearly logistics are really not my strong suit! If I do figure it out then I may just post it. And if not you can always check out the rest of my 2017 recent reads posts at the following links (recent reads one, two, three, four and five).

What have been your favourite reads of the year? Any must reads from the year?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #100

Happy almost Christmas team! I hope you’re ready and excited for the holidays? I’m so looking forward to all the rest, all the family time and all the general joy. It really is my favourite time of the year. So let’s make the impending holidays the first thing on my Friday favourites list, shall we?! They’ll properly kick off tonight with the first of two Christmas parties this weekend, followed by driving home to the parents for Christmas tomorrow morning wherein operation Christmas will properly commence. I can’t wait.

Next on the Friday favourites list is festive London! This city really does look its best when covered in sparkly lights, festive cheer and all the glitter. Don’t believe me? Check out how lovely Selfridges looks, even though it was a dismal grey day. Just gorgeous.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Also making me happy this week, the fact that I’ve finished all my Christmas shopping. Hooray! I’m very pleased that I don’t have to do any mad, panicked shopping this weekend. Plus it’s meant this morning has involved Christmas films and wrapping paper. One of my absolute favourite festive things.

Talking of festive things, I was home at the weekend putting up the parents’ Christmas decorations. Which was obviously lovely. But also exciting, the fact that I got to have snuggles with the Bean, one of my all-time favourite things. Just look at her, how cute is she?!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

I’ve been rattling through the books this December and have read some excellent festive reads, including a retelling of A Christmas Carol by Michael Rosen and Tony Ross and an anthology of ten short stories. I’m so pleased I decided to concentrate on festive reads for December – it’s really helped to get me more into the festive mood. Reviews coming soon I promise!

At the weekend I headed to London’s County Hall to watch a production of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution. And spoiler, it was amazing. I loved every second of it. It definitely helped that I couldn’t remember the story, despite watching the TV version about a year ago. Oops! Plus it was made better by the play being performed in an actual court room. So cool!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Rounding off my Friday Favourites list this week we have more of lovely London. One of the great things about my new job is exploring a new area at various times of the day. Like seeing St Paul’s in the early evening winter light. Doesn’t it look absolutely stunning? Also, could this shot be anymore perfectly London.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

So there we go, the final Friday favourites post of 2017, done and dusted! All that’s left to say is, have an absolutely brilliant Christmas with your family and friends. See you on the other side!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Last-Minute Gift Ideas

So there’s just a week until Christmas and I’m still panicking about the bits and bobs I haven’t yet bought. There’s always someone who is super-tricky to buy for. Someone you end up leaving until the last-minute to sort out present wise, isn’t there? Inevitably I then get panicked and just buy whatever I can find, which is never a good idea for anyone! So on that note, I thought I’d try to share some of last-minute gift ideas. These should all work for most people and that will still arrive in time for the big day – either because they’re local or because they don’t involve posting. Hopefully you’ll find it super helpful!

Last-Minute Gift Ideas - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Make Them Something!

Granted making them a gift does mean you need a bit of time, but if you’re not seeing them until Christmas Day you can make the most of the weekend and knock something up then. I’m thinking super-yummy fudge, which requires just three ingredients or chocolate orange cookies or even a jar full of all the dry ingredients needed for cupcakes or biscuits. Whack the homemade treats in a jar, add some ribbon and hey presto you’re done. Super easy, and so thoughtful too!

Talking of making those last-minute gifts, what about creating a gorgeous hamper of treats? I love nothing more than getting food at Christmas, especially when it’s those bits and pieces I’d never treat myself to usually. If such delights came my way on Christmas day in a cute box or basket I’d be super happy. I bet you know someone who would be too.

Bookish Gifts

My best last-minute gift suggestion has to be to head to your local independent bookshop, or Waterstones and gift them a book. I guarantee you’ll find something, even if it’s just one book, no matter what they like or if they’re not a big reader. I’m a big fan of the Penguin Classics for everyone or beautiful picture books for little ones. And if they’re not big readers humour books are always a good idea – like the grown up editions of the Famous Five, Mr Men or the Ladybird Books for example. If you’re still struggling just pop in and ask the booksellers, they’ll know exactly what to suggest. Or check out Waterstones’ Christmas gift guide – there are loads of suggestions there.

Be Charitable

If you know they’re a bookish person but think they have enough books, why not consider gifting a book in their name? There are two brilliant ways you can do this. Firstly by donating books to children in care via Booktrust. Booktrust is the UK’s biggest reading charity and they are aiming to give a book to all 9,000 children in care this Christmas. By donating £10 to Booktrust you’ll be ensuring a child gets a book this Christmas. How awesome is that?

Talking of gifting books, the other people doing that this year are Knights of. They are a publisher focused on publishing more diverse books and ensuring they get into the hands of people who might not always see themselves in books. They’re doing this in many ways, but one is their Books Made Better Book Club. The aim of the club is to choose an inclusive book every two months and asks people to donate to get these books into the hands of schools, communities and individuals across the UK. The current read is A Change is Gonna Come an anthology from Black, Asian and Minority Ethic writers. A truly special book. And an important one too. So why not support the Knights of team?

Talking of lovely bookish, charitable things, what about donating to any charity in lieu of a present? I really like this idea and I’m actually considering it for a couple of people on my to buy for list. There are tons of options – like buying a bed for someone through Crisis at Christmas, or to donating to any charity on their behalf.

Downloadable Gifts

I’m always so impressed at the super creative people on Etsy who can create beautiful printable things. And what better way to show your support than buying something from them. Plus they’re great last-minute gift ideas thanks to the fact you don’t have to wrap anything! It’s even better if you have a decent printer to print your item on, but if you don’t have one just gifting it to someone else still works. I’m really hoping I get this gorgeous 2018 printable calendar this Christmas. Are you listening Santa?

My final suggestion for a last-minute gift idea? A magazine subscription. Again it is downloadable so you can shop from the comfort of your own home. Plus with nothing to wrap, you can buy and print it off just five minutes before you see the person you’re buying for. What’s not to love about that? Plus there’s a magazine for everyone out there – I’m a particular fan of Simple Things, The Week and delicious.

So there we go, my last-minute gift suggestions. I hope you find them helpful! Happy shopping!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #99

Merry Friday everyone! How are we all this week? I for one am totally ready for the weekend to begin. I’ve had a lovely week, but because it’s been my last full week in the office, and other people’s last week, it’s been super busy. I feel like I haven’t stopped at all. But it’s also been sprinkled with all the fun things too. So without further ado, let’s move onto my favourite things this week.

This past weekend was a really relaxed one and it was just what I needed. After trips to Paris, Manchester and Hamburg over the last few weeks it was lovely to have a free weekend, with no plans. It really is one of my favourite things.

favourite-things-decorations

I made the most of my quiet weekend by decorating my house for Christmas. And man, on man, does it look and feel so festive now. We’ve got all the lights and so many colourful decorations and I am totally on board with this. Can we keep them up forever please? I mean apart from the fact that my trees (yes, I have two) are real and will therefore wither and die eventually.

Also it snowed on Sunday! Hooray. Yes it means I missed my Sunday run, which I was actually looking forward to, but I’m not silly and I wasn’t going to run while it was SNOWING! Unfortunately the snow didn’t settle, but it was still lovely to see the flakes falling from the sky.

A post shared by Fi Evans (@fievans) on

On Wednesday night I caught up with some lovely publishing buddies over cocktails at The Booking Office at St Pancras station. It’s a fabulous bar and restaurant situated in the old ticket hall of the station, with leather chairs and bar stools and delicious cocktails. At the moment they’ve got Harry Potter inspired cocktails which are a little quirky and fun.

Next up on the favourite things lists is a quiet evening in. With a couple of busy nights this week it was really lovely to have a night in earlier in the week to get things done. Plus it was an opportunity to eat pizza! I made, and froze, some pizza bases at the weekend so we topped them with all the leftovers in the fridge (bacon, mozzarella and veg) and took the opportunity to catch up on some TV. I’m obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy at the moment, is anyone else a fan?

I’m currently rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I seem to be constantly surprised by what I’m reading. It’s been awhile since I read book five of Potter and it would appear that I’d forgotten some excellent scenes in the book. This morning on my commute I was reading about Ron turning the staircase to the girl’s dormitory into a stone slide and I may have giggled!

favourite-things-lights

Also this week I finally feel like I’ve gotten further ahead on my Christmas shopping. Okay, it was a manic Thursday lunchtime that brought this on, but actually once I stopped and thought about what I needed to get it was actually very productive and I’m feeling a little more relaxed. Phew. I even bought something for the Lunabean that I know she’ll love. Yes the dog gets presents, and no that doesn’t make me crazy!

The final point in this favourite things post is of course festive themed! Over the weekend I finally watched my favourite Christmas film – Arthur Christmas. I love it so much! It was the perfect film to watch on Sunday when the snow was falling outside.

What has made your favourite things list this week? And are you all prepared for Christmas?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Favourite Online Reads

Greetings team! How are you all today? I’m feeling optimistic and hopeful of getting all the things done today ahead of a long overdue Christmas catch-up over cocktails. Yeah for festive fun! Today I thought I’d share some of my favourite recent online reads – from other blogs, via twitter and various websites as I always find those posts so useful from other people. So I hope you find something interesting in this post for you!

Life Rambles - Favourite Online Reads - This and That Blog

Favourite Online Reads: The Articles

I stumbled across a post about how to have a productive brainstorming session the other day and I found the article so useful. Mainly for my day job, rather than general life, so if you’re in marketing definitely give this a quick read. I like the idea of breaking and building ideas, which is a similar idea to something else I heard recently of reframing an idea and considering it from another angle. Definitely a useful skill for brainstorming.

Less of an article and more of an image, but the image titled ‘optimism’ on Cup of Jo right now speaks to me on a deep level. I love it. I think it’s the recipe and new planner points that are talking to me the most right now!

Is anyone else incredibly pleased at TIME Magazine’s choice for person of the year? I think the silence breakers was the best choice, and sends a much-needed message to many of the idiots out there that just don’t get it. Well done TIME.

Favourite Online Reads: The Blogs

Rosie’s recent post, Reading, Listening, watching – November, has given me some really good ideas of what to get obsessed with next on Netflix. It’s also reminded me that I really need to check out Audible. I’m sure I’ll be obsessed if I give it a try.

Rebecca’s latest post has reminded me of the wonderful gifts you can find on Etsy, which is just perfect as I’ve still got a fair few presents to purchase. Head on over to her Christmas // Finding Unique Gifts post to see some lovely things you’ll want to buy. I am seriously considering putting the wall calendar on my own list. It’s so cute.

I agreed so much with Jasmin’s latest post about the best ways to grow your twitter following, not only do she have good tips but she’s also talking such sense. I realised, while reading, that I’m a culprit when it comes to some of the ‘don’t do’ things on her list. For example I definitely must do better in engaging rather than just broadcasting. A very valid point!

Along a similar vein is Jaye’s post about re-sparking creativity when you’re feeling flat, which I think could work across a lot of different areas of life – be it blogging, work, life admin. So why not give one or two ago?

And finally, ending on a festive note, I’ve taken note of the five things on Katie’s festive London list and will be trying to fit as many in before heading home to the parents’ for Christmas. Who doesn’t want to experience all the delights of London at Christmas – like rooftop bars and twinkly lights aplenty?

Favourite Online Reads: From the Twittersphere, Instagram and YouTube

The below tweet from @martischodt made my day the other week – it’s basically my thought process when it comes to dresses. So funny!

What do we want?

DRESSES WITH POCKETS!

How do we want them?

FILLED WITH SNACKS!

What kind of snacks?

PREFERABLY A REFRESHING MIX OF SALTY AND SWEET BUT WE’RE NOT TOO PICKY FOCUS ON THE POCKETS

Something else I saw on twitter last week, which I think is worth remembering was a note about drinking at Christmas. About how you shouldn’t pressure someone who doesn’t drink to join in when you are. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I’m not a big drinker and will probably only have one or two drinks over the entire two-week Christmas period, including my work Christmas parties. It’s just not something that’s a big part of my christmas as I don’t like a lot of alcohols and I really shouldn’t have to justify thins multiple times at each event/meal/party. It’s just so annoying and unnecessary and that’s as someone who doesn’t like it, imagine how much harder you’d find it if was for other more complex reasons?

And finally, rounding out the favourite online reads list is Kelly Clarkson’s Carpool Karaoke, which is currently up on YouTube. I think she’s such a brilliant artist and a great role model. And this video really reminds me how astonishingly good her voice is, and also how funny she it. I love her.

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Stress Free December

Stress-Free-December

It’s a well known fact around here that I like to take a weekend each month to do nothing. I’ve found that taking those two days and allowing myself moments to do nothing really help. It means an opportunity for a lie-in or time for a run and then there’s the option to be spontaneous. But in December that thinking seems to disappear out the window. I always seem to be so busy in December, why is that? It is filled will all the events; Christmas parties, work Christmas lunches, meet ups with friends, Christmas drinks and then the main event itself. Never mind New Year plans, present buying, the wrapping and the organising that comes hand-in-hand with the festivities. Talk about stressful! Anyway, I know that I want a stress free December so I’ve made a plan of how to stay clam and relaxed and enjoy the festive period that we are about to embark on.

Baking Festive Treats

Baking is like therapy for me. All of the mixing and kneading and taking random ingredients and turning them into a tasty treat is, for me, a calming experience. For Christmas I’m planning to bake mince pies, gingerbread, some melted snowman biscuits and perhaps some chocolate bark. I’m also contemplating some edible presents – although I better make a definite decision on that soon….

Say No

One thing that I know will allow me to have a stress free December is saying no to people. I’m going to say no to some events because If I’m going to see people at another time then I don’t NEED to see them the other two times as well. I’m learning that I can’t do everything, and that is totally okay.

Organise a Film Night

Is there anything more relaxing that a film night? I think not. A night of Netflix or Christmas films with a backdrop of twinkly fairy lights and Christmas themed snacks is guaranteed to create a stress free December. In fact on Sunday, with the snow falling, it was the perfect opportunity to make the most of doing nothing. So I snuggled under a blanket and watched my favourite Christmas film; Arthur Christmas. I honestly think I reached peak relaxation!

Christmas Reading

I’m a bookworm so of course I would need to add reading onto the ‘how to have a stress free December’ list. But at this time of year why not make it a festive book? From Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas series or a festive crime tale from Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot’s Christmas or even a classic like The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. Whatever you choose I can guarantee that a couple of hours with a good book and a mug of something warm will chase away any stress that this year could bring. 

Have a Games Night

Dig out Trivial Pursuit, Bananagrams, The Logo Game, Articulate or just a pack of playing cards and have a games night. As an Evans, a games night is always on the agenda. A couple of hours of competitive fun and endless bouts of laughter is exactly what is needed. Especially when it includes a handful of your favourite people, a vat of mulled wine and a box of mince pies.

Winter Walks

When I’m at home with my parents we go on at least one walk a day. Even before the dog we did this, I think it was a way to balance out all the festive food! Anyway there’s something about a long meandering walk through nature that really blows the cobwebs away and clears your head. Also it’s impossible to be stressed when you’re surrounded by trees and followed by a bounding puppy!

So there we have it the little ways that I am going to have a stress free December. Honestly it’s already working. I’ve had the most relaxing weekend and I feel suitably refreshed ready for the busy week ahead! What gets you through this festive time of year?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #98

First off, sorry that this Friday favourites post is a day late. Oops! In my defense I’ve had to fit five days of work into four and, of course, I’ve been ill. So yeah life’s been fairly full on recently. But anyway, there’s certainly been good stuff sprinkled in there too so let us focus on that.

And with that let’s start with number one of today’s Friday favourites post, a festive trip to Hamburg. Yep that has to be top of the list as, quite frankly, I had the most incredible weekend. Visiting a German Christmas market has been on my bucket list for the longest time and it was everything I’d expected. The markets were the most incredible ever – with amazing stalls, delicious food and the most incredible Christmas decorations on sale.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

On the subject of food, let’s make this number two on the list, it was all delicious. We ate an amazing amount, basically stopping everything five minutes for some new snack! As a result I think I managed to tick everything off my ‘must-eat’ list. Like hot chocolate, mini pancakes smothered in Nutella obvs, fries, all the Bratwurst and crepes. Basically all the festive food.  Yummy

Also making it on to the Friday favourites list is visiting Hamburg’s most famous tourist attraction – the Miniatur Wunderland. An incredibly detailed mini world spread over three floors of an old warehouse, which includes a replica of Hamburg airport, Las Vegas and great swathes of Europe. It sounds really odd and weird, but in fact it’s incredible. The attention to detail is astonishing with planes taking off, working ferris wheels and trains winding through all the different countries and towns. It’s amazing. Definitely worth a visit.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Also cheering me up this week? All the festive things. Today we put up our Christmas decorations and things are looking beautiful in the house. We’ve gone slightly wild with two trees and lots of fairy lights but it’s the best time of year so it’s certainly worth it! Next on the festive list is finishing all my present shopping – I’ve still got a way to go sadly. Someone send me some motivation to finish it, pretty please!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

I treated myself to Leon’s Festive Wrap and can I just say, it’s the best thing EVER. If you’ve not had it yet you really must try it. It’s stuffing, cranberry and turkey wrapped up in the yummiest wrap and it’s possibly better than an M&S Festive sandwich. Yes, really!

In other festive news it was my work Christmas party, which was held at The Apartment at The Hoxton Hotel. And the venue was just perfect with a room for karaoke and beer pong, plus space for dancing, standing around chatting, comfy sofas and delicious food. Definitely worth a visit if you can make it!

While I’ve been feeling really rubbish this week, it has meant that I’ve allowed myself to snuggle up on the sofa and have a quiet night once or twice this week. It’s been just what I needed. Sometimes I forget how necessary doing nothing really is. Especially when it’s all so busy on the lead up to Christmas. It’s almost essential if you ask me.

Talking of essential things, getting to spend a whole weekend with my faves – the sisterlings. There really is no one better than these two for nattering, exploring and eating all the food you can find. They’re just the best company around.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Finally, rounding off the Friday favourites list this week is the fact that there’s a new little baby in the family as of this week. Yippee! One of my cousins in Australia celebrated the arrival of their second little boy this week and he’s super-cute. I can’t wait to meet him, hopefully next year. Aren’t new babies just the cutest?

So, how’s your week been? What’s at the top of your favourites list?

-Fi

The Book Corner: November Reading Update

Greetings team, and how are you this lovely Wednesday morning? Sorry we’ve been a bit AWOL over the last few days, life’s just been busy and our planning has not been quite up to scratch. Clearly I should have followed my own advice and been a bit more productive. Obviously I’m a work in progress! Anyway, let’s get right onto today’s post – a bookish update for you all. Read on to for my November reading update, which is chock full of brilliant books.

November Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Amazingly I’ve never read this book, crazy right! But with the most recent film adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh I decided it was time to give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s Christie at her best, as she weaves an intriguing tale of murder, suspicion, secrets and danger. I love the character of Poirot and find the way he solves a crime fascinating. Needless to say I never manage to keep up with him. I much preferred the book to the film as the film had unnecessary changes, like a chase through the snow. *eye roll* How ridiculous!

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

This is a tale of a young girl, and her family, dealing with their grief at the loss of her older sister. It uses the idea of cuddly toys that live in another world, with the child that’s no longer here, to explore grief. And while it’s a lovely book with beautiful moments I found it a bit lacking in editing. It just felt like it was 200 pages too long and there was lots of information and sections that either didn’t add anything or make sense to the rest of the story. So yeah, not a huge fan of this book if I’m honest. Which is sad as I normally love Kate Saunders’ writing and I liked the idea of the book on paper. Just not in reality.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I’m about two years late to read The Lie Tree, one of only two (I think) children’s books to win the overall Costa Prize. So you could say I expected a lot with this book. Thankfully it did not disappoint. It was excellent and is beautifully written. The story of a young girl trying to please her mother and make her father notice her in a world which prides itself on dutiful daughters. Rather than a girl who loves science, exploring and doing her own thing. The main character, Faith, is wonderfully written and you feel like you know her inside out by the end of the book. Story wise this is a brilliant read – I was hooked from page one. Basically you need to read it!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I had no idea what this book was about, only that everyone I knew who’d read it, adored it. And they were so right, it’s a great book. It follows Eleanor who sticks to the exact same routine week after week; with no deviation from it and no interaction with people other than with her work colleagues when she absolutely has to, or with the man who runs her local shop. Eleanor’s completely fine with this and sees no need to change. And then she helps a stranger who has a fall in front of her and slowly she beings to change how she lives her life – with a little persuading by Ralph, a new work colleague.

As Eleanor makes small changes to her way of life she starts to question events from her childhood that she’s tried to ignore and never properly considered or remembered. Can she survive what’s revealed? Basically Eleanor is the most wonderfully realised character I’ve read in a long time. She’s fully formed on the page and you can’t help but root for her as everything starts to happen in her life. It’s in parts a devastating book to read, but overall you finish it feeling warmed to the soul and hopeful about what the future means for Eleanor. I could not recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine enough.

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

When I opened a surprise parcel from an ex work colleague and discovered a signed copy of book three in the incredible Rebel of the Sands trilogy I may have squealed with delight. That’s how much I needed to read Hero at the Fall. I finished book two back in the summer (you can read my thoughts on that one in my September book update) and since then have been really curious to see what’s going to happen at the end. I was not disappointed. While I felt it was a little long in sections and could have been edited a little more it was still an engrossing read and full of all the things I expect in this series – surprise deaths, unsung heroes, heroic acts, friendship, love and epic battle scenes. Definitely a good ending to an epic series.

Bring Me Back by B A Paris

This is the third of B A Paris’ twisty thrillers and all three books have had me hooked from chapter one. This one was perhaps my least favourite of the three. However I’d still recommend it if you love page-turning reads that keep you guessing page after page. The premise is that Finn’s girlfriend went missing 12 years ago and has never been found. He’s moved on with his life and is all set to marry her sister. But then mysterious things start to happen which make Finn question whether she’s really gone or not… So yes, Bring Me Back is another gripping read from B A Paris but not as good as her other books!

So there we go, those are the six brilliant books that made up my November reading. Have you read any of these books, what did you think of them?

– Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #97

It’s a Friday and therefore time for me to share my highlights from the past seven days. I feel like the last one of these I wrote was ages ago and so much has happened in that time. But then I guess two weeks is 14 days and a girl can do a lot of stuff in 14 days! I’ve also just realised that today is the first of December – WHAT! I mean how did we get here? But also hooray for all the festive things that are almost upon us. Also judging by the speed that 2017 is flying by the 25th is going to be here in no time at all! But before we all panic about just how much needs to be done before that date let’s focus on my past week and the little things that made my week.

<>  First up on the list has to be Manchester. I had a wonderful time exploring the city and catching up with my fabulous friends. Someone said to me earlier this week that good friend were hard to find. And that’s absolutely true. Well I’ve found mine and I’m not letting them go.

<> Also on the same Manchester note I had a great time exploring the Northern Quarter. It’s not somewhere I’ve really been before, even though Fi was at uni in the city and I visited quite a lot. Well now I’m a big fan, and am already itching to get back there and explore it further.

Highlights-Manchester

<> Next on the highlights list is all the food! I made a truly scrummy and super easy pasta dish on Monday night. Pasta, salmon, courgette, spinach and tomatoes smothered in pesto. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before, but it’s definitely going to become a staple. Another dinner highlight was a bit of a using up all the food situation with a big pan of potatoes, ham, all the veg and eggs to make a breakfast scramble type thing which is definitely an old favourite.

<> What else is there to talk about this week? I must have more highlights!! Oh yes I must include last night’s trip back to Horsley for some arts and crafting fun. My Mum organised a trip to her local ceramics cafe which included champagne and pizza and painting and it was a great night. Going somewhere like this always reminds me how much I enjoy getting creative. I really should do it more often. Maybe that’s a resolution for the new year…

<> Oh yes, because of the trip out to the countryside I had puppy cuddles last night/this morning. Gosh I’ve missed that crazy bean. Also today marks the two year anniversary of the parental units rescuing that teeny tiny puppy and giving her a home. I know having a puppy in our lives has been the best thing ever – but I hope it’s been good for her too. From the looks of the below and her Instagram hashtag #lunaevanspup I think it just might be. The image on the left is her on day one and image on the right is her a couple of weeks ago. Doesn’t she look far less worried and much happier, or am I imagining it?

Highlights-Luna-pup

<> I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for approximately the 576th time and it’s still wonderful. If a little long.

<> My heating is now on for an hour in the morning, as well as the three hours at night. It feels quite decadent to wake up warm and toasty, although it takes getting out of bed incredibly hard!

<> This week I’ve discovered The Guilty Feminist podcast and I’m obsessed! I mean I knew this existed before now but for one reason or another I hadn’t actually listened to an episode. But before my Manchester weekend I had a brief moment of prepping for the train journey and downloaded three episodes, and now I’m hooked. I found myself nodding along with so many of the points, and it’s also absolutely hysterical. It reminds me a little of The Last Leg, except, in podcast form and with women included! 

So there we have them my weekly highlights. It’s been a rather good one I would say. How has your last week of November been? And more importantly do you have your Christmas tree up yet? I’m trying to figure out when mine should go up…

Laura xx