Thursday, 30 January 2014

Lauren's Lists: Your Favourite Albums

For this Lauren's Lists, Josh has got involved too. We're both music lovers but Josh come at it from a completely different angle to me given that he's a musician. Neither of us are into modern music too much, with my love of the Beatles being well documented! It's very rare that I like a whole album, as much as I love the Beatles some of their albums only contain a few tracks that I actually really like however my list of albums has been made up based on two things, I can listen to them over and over and they contain quite a lot of songs that I like.

Lauren's Favourite Albums:
  1. Mondo Magneto by Brian Ray - It reminds me of the first summer Josh and I spent together so it will always be a favourite for those memories
  2. Revolver by The Beatles - This album contains a lot of songs I really like unlike other Beatles albums so it's easy to listen to
  3. The State by Nickelback - I've been a Nickelback fan since I was 11 but it wasn't until I couple of years ago that I discovered The State, one of their very first albums and it's definitely my favourite of theirs
  4. (What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis - I could listen to Oasis over and over and this album contains one of my favourite songs, Champagne Supernova
  5. Definitely Maybe by Oasis - I couldn't choose between this and Morning Glory as both have some amazing songs on them so two Oasis albums had to feature
  6. Flaming Pie by Paul McCartney - Again much like the Beatles there's a lot of Paul McCartney songs I love but they're dotted around on various albums. Flaming Pie however for me is the best album he's done
Josh's Favourite Albums:
  1.  Driving Rain by Paul McCartney - It’s got some awesome little tunes on, and though it’s massively underrated this is the album that got me into the music of Paul McCartney and then The Beatles and then Wings. 
  2.  Back in the World by Paul McCartney - This is the live CD of the tour supporting the Driving Rain album. My mum bought it while we were in America and I listened to it loads. Paul and the band are on fire and the setlist is amazing!
  3.  Mondo Magneto by Brian Ray - Kind of stumbled upon this album in about 2006 but to say Brian Ray is a relatively unknown artist the songs are really good and varied and interesting!
  4.  Abbey Road by The Beatles - Although I prefer Wings to The Beatles I can’t find a single fault on their final album. From start to finish it is backed with some of the best songs in music. It is innovative and ahead of its time, culminating on the legendary ‘Abbey Road medley’.
  5.  Swing When You’re Winning by Robbie Williams - Gotta love a good ‘swing’ album, and Robbie puts on a good show rattling through some of the genre’s best songs.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book Review: One Day

Today I'll be reviewing One Day, this has been sat on my bookcase for quite a while. I bought it when the film came out (which I've never seen but I want to now!) and then kind of forgot about it. To be honest I didn't think it would be my kind of thing. I do like a good love story but not in the chick-lit sense. Anyway I figured I should give it a go as it had been sat there for so long and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book.

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. 
So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year the follows?

Each chapter of this book is set on the same day each year, working from 1988 to 2007, this feature actually work really well. Even though there's a year between each chapter all the gaps are filled in nicely so the reader doesn't feel like they've missed anything. Yes it's a little cheesy and unrealistic to have all this stuff happening on the same day every year but I liked it, it got across the movement of time really well so you're always aware of how long Emma and Dexter have known each other and then you can start screaming 'just get together already!' (or is this just me?!)

I really warmed to both characters instantly, although they have they're faults they're very likeable and I was willing them to get together from the start. As I didn't know anything about the book I was a little shocked at what did happen once Dexter and Emma did finally got together (I won't reveal anymore incase you haven't read it either!) my naivety allowed me to think they would get their happy ever after so I was actually close to tears near the end.

For me One Day was a very surprising book, I can't find fault with the characters or the writing. It was a difficult book to put down.

Rating: ★★★★★

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Pet Tag: Meet Lexi

Last week I introduced you to one of Josh's cats, Ziggy, you can read his post here. Today I'll be introducing you to the other cat of Josh's, the wonderfully naughty, incredibly greedy and spoilt Lexi! AKA the little princess. She literally gets away with just about anything and although I do love both cats I have a real soft spot for Lexi. She's my little furry friend! Josh says our relationship is unhealthy but I can't help it if my best friend happens to be a cat!

What is your pets name? Lexi, there were many options batted around before the name Lexi was finally settled on
Does you pet have any nicknames? I call her sooo many different things! Lexi-Lu, Lulubell, Lulibell, Trixi-Lu, Lexles, Peahead, Scrat, Luli, Captain Squidgy Face. The list could go on!
What kind of pet are they and what breed? She's a tortoise shell cat, or a naughty tortie!
How old is your pet and how long have you had your pet friend? She'll be 10 months old at the end of January and Josh's family have had her since she was around 8 weeks old
How did you get your pet? Josh's mum got her from one of her friends whose cat had kittens
What are some quirky things about your pets personality? She's the funniest cat ever! She oinks and grunts and gets for too hyper which results in her practising parkour then getting thrown outside as she's still not learnt that bouncing off the walls and climbing up the bansiters is not acceptable. She doesn't really visit Josh's room much until I'm there then she walks in casual as anything and sits straight on my knee, I take this as a sign of love! Josh says when I'm not there she comes into his room, looks around then leaves as though she's looking for me! She isn't a big fan of been outside at night and will often sit on Josh's windowsill crying to be let in, if you go to the bathroom during the night she also jumps up at the window and wants to be let in. She's a fan of joining me for a bath too and loves to poke her little peahead over the side of the tub.
What does your relationship with your pet mean to you? I know I may be straying into crazy cat lady territory here but I really do love her to bits. She cheers me up and makes me laugh. When I moved back home from uni and spent quite a few months unemployed I started to get quite down but Lexi always lifted my spirits.
What are some of your favourite past times with your pet and what are your favourite memories? Lexi and I love indepth conversations, I seriously talk to her like she's a child and when she's been naughty I hold her out in front of my so she has to look at me when I tell her off. She gets this little look on her face as though she's really taking it all in. Lexi also loves trying new food, she will literally eat anything. Josh and I joke now that she rates all the stuff so when she tries something new we'll go "5 stars" unless she turns her nose up then it's "no stars". Pretty sad really!

 So that was Lexi! She may not be the cutest or most ladylike but she's my little squidge and I love her!

If you missed it you can read the pet tag for Josh's other cat, Ziggy here.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tuesday Treats #35

Now I've started my job I'm trying my very best to not spend lots of money and save it all instead. This is becoming very difficult though as I have my eye on quite a few different things.
Surprisingly the main shop clothing wise that has been luring me in is New Look, I used to be a big fan of New Look then I just stopped shopping there, however there's definitely some really nice pieces in there at the moment which is why this whole wish list is from there!

  1. Daisy Top
  2. Coral Coat
  3. Mint Flats
  4. Stripe Top
  5. Tunic Dress
  6. A-line Skirt
There's a bit of a monochrome theme here with some splashes of colour and I'm really liking that at the moment. The coat and shoes are perfect and the tunic dress is such a bargain. Providing the v isn't too low I'm going to have a look for this for work! 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Pet Tag: Meet Ziggy

 Technically I don't have any pets however Josh has two cats who I've practically adopted and given that Josh has been pestering to do a post about them both for ages I figured the pet tag would be the perfect way to introduce you to my two little bundles of fur. That and I'm a total crazy cat lady and often hold conversations with these two so they kinda deserve a blog post! This week I'll be introducing you to the rough and ready man of the house Ziggy. He's a real man's man but he's a big softy at heart!

What is your pets name? Ziggy - after the Bowie song Ziggy Stardust
Does you pet have any nicknames? He does tend to get called quite a lot of different things, I personally him Mr Fluffers, Mr Flufferman, Big man, Fluffer, Zigzig, Ziggy-wiggy-woo.
What kind of pet are they and what breed? He's not a bog standard white cat with patches of black on him.
How old is your pet and how long have you had your pet friend? He's just over 3 years old and Josh's family have had him since he was a little kitten so around 3 years.
How did you get your pet? Josh has a rubbish memory but he thinks it was just from a private seller.
What are some quirky things about your pets personality? Well aside from the fact he is the roughest toughest cat I've ever come across, I mean he has an injury pretty much every week from fighting, though we've never seen his enemy so he probably looks even worse! He's been shot by someone and survived and he's currently sporting some puncture wounds on his head and a rather fetching bald patch on his back where the vet had to shave him as he got bit by another cat then scratched the wound until it was infected. He's a real lad of a cat but very loveable too. He also drools with happiness, if you're cuddling him and giving him lots of attention a little smile forms on his face and he starts to drool... a lot. This has to be a fairly unique thing! The computer chair has also been claimed by him, Josh's family after use a little stool now when they want to use the computer because the chair is his!

What does your relationship with your pet mean to you? Seen as I don't have any pets that live with me I like that I have two cats I get to see a lot at Josh's. He's such a big, fluffy, cute thing that I love. I also think he's Josh's favourite of the two cats!
What are some of your favourite past times with your pet and what are your favourite memories? When he was younger he used to love been craddled like a baby, unfortunately he's way too big for that now and doesn't really like been picked up. Aside from sleeping his favourite pastimes are probably gentle head strokes which he seems to really get into by closing his eyes and tilting his head up. He's also a big fan of catching mice then jumping up on the windowsill and slapping the dead mouse against the window so you have no choice but to look at what he's done. He also likes to shout at you if you tell him to get in his bed, this never ever fails to make me laugh. 

 See isn't he just a handsome chap?! Even if he is crazily fluffy and sheds insane amounts of hair all over you!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Lauren's Lists: Your Greatest Comforts

At this time of year we're all craving a little comfort, it's cold and dark and the fun part of winter seems like a distant memory. We've all settled back into work and life and despite our claims of loving winter back in December we're all wishing for a bit of warmth now! With this in mind I thought the perfect topic for this Lauren's Lists would be your greatest comforts.

 Credit unknown
  1. Coming home from work and changing into the comfiest pyjama's I can find
  2. Eating tomato soup with a cheese toastie
  3. Blogging in big, thick jumpers and toastie, fluffy socks
  4. Falling asleep next to Josh
  5. A hot bath full of bubbles and a good book to read in it
  6. Nights spent under the duvet doing TV series marathons with Josh
  7. Finding a book I can't put down, one that I can completely lose myself in
  8. Burning wax tarts 
  9. Eating beef stew with a giant yorkshire pudding
  10. Watching Friends
  11. Listening to Dear Prudence by The Beatles - instant happiness
  12. Planning days out and trips away. I like having things to look forwards to
  13. Cuddling with Josh's cats
  14. Walks in the lovely areas Josh and I are fortunate enough to live near
  15. Being in Liverpool
I actually found this list to be a very positive exercise, it felt like a really good thing to think about what makes me feel happy and comforted. I actually felt much happier by the end of it and I was quite happy when I started so something went good! 

 Don't forget I'd love it if you joined in with this feature so let me know what you look forwards to in December or leave me a link to your post. You can view previous Lauren's Lists here.


Monday, 13 January 2014

HOLIDAY: Center Parcs Part 2

On Saturday I did the first part of my Center Parcs post which you can read here. It has some photo's and a little summary of what Josh and I got up to on our holiday.

As a mentioned in the last post a lot of our time was spent in the swimming area either in the pool or sat by it. I managed to finish off my book which was a great bonus (I'll be reviewing it sometime soon!) and it was a great way to relax. I love water rides and being in the pool so I definitely took advantage of the raft ride and the rapids. I loved the rapids even if my legs look worse for wear now with bumps, bruises and scrapes. It's all part of the fun! I also mentioned we'd taken a trip to the Pancake House whilst on holiday, you'll get to see the mighty pancake stack in today's post, but if you're ever at Center Parcs I highly recommend a visit (all the UK Center Parcs have one). Infact I'd recommend the whole of Center Parcs, it's just the perfect place to unwind and relax in beautiful surroundings (I swear this isn't sponsored!)

Just incase anyone is wondering the final photo of the bunch is of some big lights that we're hanging in some of trees they looked so lovely on a night.


Saturday, 11 January 2014

HOLIDAY: Center Parcs Part 1

Yesterday I returned from a five day break at Center Parcs with Josh and his family. I had the most relaxing and lovely five days possible. Josh and I spent most of our time either sat by the pool or in the pool which was fine by us both! It was so nice to wake up surrounded by the forest and watch the squirrels running past or the ducks waddling by. Oh and feeding the squirrels Coco Pops outside our villa, they loved them! I could have stayed there forever! 

It was hard to narrow down the photo's I wanted to use so I've decided to do it across two posts, that way I won't have to collage the pictures. Even if they are all just of squirrels and trees!

As I said most of the day, everyday Josh and I spent time sat around the pool reading and listening to music and then enjoying the rapids and the jacuzzi! We're both real water babies so we loved spending our time this way! When we weren't in the pool we took some nice walks around and down to the nature centre to watch all the birds and squirrels feeding, we even spotted a little rabbit on one of the days too. Of course we couldn't really go to Center Parcs and not visit the Pancake House, hands down the best pancakes I've ever had. I opted for the chocoholic stack and couldn't manage it all, I give it my best try though. 

Part 2 of my Center Parcs holiday can be found here!


Friday, 10 January 2014

Book Review: The Night Watch

For 2014 these posts are going to be slightly different. I no longer have my blog that I used to post my book reviews on, I do write for Judging Covers and a lot of books I read end up on there however not all do as someone may have read and reviewed something before me so now there won't be any links to larger reviews. Instead I'm going to be doing a mix of mini reviews and longer reviews.

The Night Watch is the extraordinary story of four Londoners: Kay, who wanders the streets in mannish clothes, restless and searching... Helen who harbours a troubling secret... Viv, the glamour girl, recklessly loyal to her soldier lover... and Duncan, an apparent innocent, struggling with demons of his own.
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit liasons and sexual adventrue, to end with its beginning in 1941.

I actually finished this at the end of last year but I'm only just getting around to reviewing it. You can keep up with my reading challenge for 2014 on Goodreads though (check out the little Goodreads widget on the right hand side!)

Set throughout the 1940's, The Night Watch works backwards to tell the stories of four different characters whose lives have become entwined during WW2. Each character is easy to get to know and like, even when they make wrong decisions I more often than not found myself sympathising with them. One of the features I enjoyed is how the book starts with the ending and works back to the beginning to each characters story. The book deals with subjects that would have been taboo in the 40's such as homosexuality, abortion and lesbianism however Water's tackles the subjects with ease and allows the reader to easily understand how each character feels and deals with their struggles. With the excellent imagery you're instantly transported back to the 40's and through the Blitz and the aftermath of the war.

Despite the fact that I saw the BBC adaptation of this novel a couple of years ago the book itself still managed to keep me hooked which I think is a good sign of a well written book! It's intense and gripping but in a slow moving, quiet kind of way. There's no big cliff hangers or shock twists it's just a well written, lovely book that doesn't need anything out of this world to keep you hooked.

Rating: ★★★★★


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A few changes for Bits and Bobs in 2014

I thought I'd do a really quick post about some changes on Bits and Bobs in 2014. I already mentioned some things here but I thought I'd dedicate a full post to it.

Out of the three blogs I used to have I now only have this one which means there will be a lot more book things on here as one of my blogs was for book reviews. I already wrote mini book reviews on here but now there will be a mixture of mini reviews and slightly longer reviews. All things book related can be found under the reading material list on the right. I also now have a book index page at the top for all books that have been reviewed on here. You may have also noticed that I have a Goodreads reading challenge on the right to keep track of all the books in read in 2014, if you have a Goodreads account you can click my name on the widget and be taken to my Goodreads account.

I also plan on doing some '60s/Beatles related posts on here as the other blog I closed down was for that kind of stuff. Now I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea but I no longer wanted to keep it a separate thing from this blog as it's a biggish part of my life and I share everything else on here anyway!

In the year that loads of bloggers have said they want to get into YouTube, I've decided I'm going to walk away from it. It's just not for me, it's too time consuming and I am very rarely happy with the results. Writing is where my heart lies so I may occasionally write up some tags and hauls. I won't be deleting any of my videos but I have removed the social media icon for YouTube from here. Who knows there might be a day I return to YouTube but at the moment I just can't see it. 2014 is the year of writing not filming for me!

I recently updated my 'About' page to include a bit more about Josh. He features quite a lot on here but in 2014 I'd like to use Bits and Bobs more as a way to document our life together too so he's going to be sticking around here!

I think that has pretty much covered everything. I just thought I'd share these little changes on a separate post rather than sticking them on the end of another post.


Monday, 6 January 2014

BOOKS: Favourite Books of 2013

For the past few years I've done a post over on my other blog summarising my favourite books of that year. However seen as I have now decided to combine the other blogs I had floating around into this one blog (read this post for more info on that) my favourite books of 2013 post is now appearing on here! In 2013 I took part in the Goodreads reading challenge, which by the way if any of you have Goodreads you can find me here, where I set myself the challenge to read 25 books throughout the year. In hindsight it was a tad ambitious given that I'm not the world's fastest reader and a couple of times a week I stay at Josh's and don't take a book with me, which goes someway in explaining why I only managed to read 19 books! Although I didn't reach my goal I'm quite happy with the number I did manage to read and this year I've set myself the goal of reading 20 books along with the added goal of reducing the number of books on my bookshelf so I'll be definitely reading actual books instead of Kindle books for a while! 

My favourite books of 2013 were...

1. Tuesdays with Morrie - This is a book I've read before but it's just one of those books I know I'll always read again and again because it's just so heartwarming, uplifting, touching and sad all in one go. I haven't a bad word to say about it and I'd recommend it to everyone. There's a lot to be learnt from this book!

 2. Room - Although at times the story is a little far fetched there's no denying that Room is a very intense novel. Written from a child's perspective it very cleverly leads the reader into a world that is very difficult to imagine but this narrative seems to do it with ease. Although it has the odd fault on the whole it is a very well written book.

3. Wonder - This is actually a children's story that I read as part of my final project at university and I'm so glad that I did read it. I admit I expected the worst with this book, I expected to be thrown into a book with page after page spilling with self-righteousness. In reality you get a down to earth, honest account of life when you look different to other people. I'd recommend this for adults as well as children.

4. The Shadow of the Wind - This was the second novel I've read my Carlos Ruiz Zafon and I have to say he's quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. This novel has to be one of the most beautifully written novels I've come across, packed full of vivid descriptions and imagery. It's an intense and gripping novel that manages to add just the right amount of humour too.

5. The Night Watch - I actually watched the BBC adaptation of this book a few years ago and really enjoyed it so Josh bought me the book. I finally got around  to reading it in 2013 and it really didn't disappoint. Each character has their own story that's woven into a bigger story. It's easy to connect with all the characters and imagine their lives. The story works backwards which I though was an excellent feature of the novel. Starting with the end then working back to how everything ended up that way.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Happy List: The New Year Edition

Happy New Year everyone! The first Happy List of 2014 and I hope there's many more to follow. In 2013 the Happy List feature went a little quiet for long periods of time which was a little sad for me as they've always been my favourite posts to do and you guys seem to enjoy them too. Infact when I did my 2013 blog survey a few weeks ago one of the questions was 'what would you like to see from Bits and Bobs in 2014' and the most popular answer by far was more Happy Lists! Over the past few weeks I have done quite a few Happy Lists including some Christmas edition ones. Although I am starting a job soon I hope I can go back to the simple roots of the Happy List and create more for you to read! 

So this Happy Lists is a New Year Edition one, Josh and I always spend New Years Eve together as we don't see each other Christmas Day, this year we decided to spend New Years Eve and New Years Day together to make up for not spending Christmas Day together. It was nice to just chill out in pj's watching films on New Years Day as opposed to thinking about going home. Josh and I aren't big drinkers and quite frankly the chaos of New Years Eve in a pub annoys us both so the past few years we haven't been out. This year we decided to stay in again, choosing to just have a couple of drinks each. Josh's mum always does a good little buffet for New Years Eve too so we gladly tucked into that and settled down to start watching Breaking Bad again! During the day on New Years Eve we went to see the second Hobbit film which was so good!

The Hobbit / Drink / Snacks / Breaking Bad

The first chin tickle of 2014! / Had a game of Beatles Monopoly / Wreck-It Ralph

I thought this post would be the perfect place to note down any resolutions too so at the end of the year I can look back on it. I'm not big on making resolutions as I never stick to them, for years I had the same of one stop biting my nails and it never worked, I randomly stopped biting them around the start 2012! However there are a couple of things I would like to do this year. One is to save up a decent amount of money. 2014 could well be the year that Josh and I get our own place so obviously we'll need money for that so I've set some little personal saving goals that I would love to achieve. The second is to worry less, be more positive and have more fun. On the whole 2013 was a good year I don't really have anything to complain about but I spent a lot of the time during the latter half of the year feeling sad, worrying about things and feeling very negative. I'm a natural worrier and a pessimist and this year I'd like that to change!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

BEAUTY: Favourite Products of 2013

So another year has ended and we're now in 2014, I know everyone says that time goes fast but I honestly can't believe how quick 2013 went it's a bit scary really so if 2014 could just slow down a little that'd be great! For the past few years I've done a favourite products of the year video however this year I am doing it a blog post as the first video didn't turn out and by the time I could film it again I had cold so I just couldn't be bothered.
My favourite products of 2013 are...

Loreal Ever Riche Nourishing and Flowing shampoo and conditioner - The Ever Riche products were talked about a lot by bloggers in 2013 so naturally I gave them a go. Now my hair is longer it needs a bit of moisture however my hair gets greasy quick but I don't have any problems with these products. They smell amazing, the conditioner is thick which is something I love and they leave my hair so soft, shiny and healthy feeling.

No7 Melting Gel Cleanser - I use a hot cloth cleanser in a morning and I was after something a bit different on a night. I was keen to try out a gel/oil cleanser so picked this one up. It smells really nice and is so lovely to use. The gel melts into an oil then when it comes into contact with water it turns into a milky consistency. It leaves my skin really clean and soft.

Una Brennan Tea Flower Clay Mask - This has to be the best face mask I've ever used. I'm not overly keen on the smell but can easily look past that because of how well it works. My skin feels soft and smooth and like it's had a really deep clean when I use it. Also any spots I have seem to heal quicker and look less red when I've used this. This well be the only clay mask I use from now on!

Trilogy Rosehip Oil - I'd never used a face oil before and was a little dubious however positive reviews were springing up all over so I decided to give at a go. I'm not sure how my skin ever coped without this, especially in the colder months! It provides an amazing amount of hydration and although it hasn't dramatically faded any spot scars I have, I've found since using this spots don't scar as bad anymore. Hurray! One point I should mention though is that it claims to sink in like a serum, it doesn't, you can definitely tell you have oil on your face. I use it on a night though so this doesn't bother me!

Dove Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Spray - This can be used on wet hair as a leave in conditioner or on dry hair as a frizz smoother and to give some added shine to your hair. 90% of the time I use it on dry hair it smoothes any flyaways down, leaves my hair soft and smells pretty nice too. Oh and it 's pretty cheap!

Look Beauty Go and Glow Highlighter - This highlighter is a lovely pinky champagne colour. I like to use this around my cheek bones and temples, down my nose and on my chin. It isn't super highlighting however it does provide skin with a really radiant glow and I love that.

Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple - This is the perfect daytime red, it's so easy to apply and I think it really suits me. I've been wearing it constantly since I got it back at the end of summer and I still haven't fallen out of love with it.

MUA Power Pout in Justify - This was pretty much the only thing I wore on my lips in the daytime in summer. It's the easiest ever product to apply and is a really nice coral/red which looks lovely in the warmer months. It's like the chubby balm tints everyone released after Clinque's Chubby Sticks but it's also one of the cheapest out there.

Garnier BB Cream for Combination/Oily Skin - No your eyes do not deceive you, this product isn't in the photo. I forgot to include it. I couldn't not mention it though as I'm completely in love with this stuff. I don't wear makeup every day and for the occasions I do I wanted something lighter than a foundation. This BB cream makes my skin look radiant, smooth and perfected. It's everything I want and more from a base. The lightest shade is a pretty good match for my pale skin too!

What were you favourite products in 2013? Let me know in the comments!