Friday, 28 November 2014

November in Pins

  1. I really love this vintage looking Disney poster
  2. I've been looking out for my picture's for my 1960s board
  3. Gingerbread and caramel cookies, double the yumminess
  4. The most stunning photo of the stars
  5. I wish I could master the art of making messy hair look good
  6. Gingerbread hot chocolate. Amazing!
  7. Fireplace, preferably gorgeous wood burning stove ones like these
 You can keep up to date with what I'm pinning by following my Pinterest boards here.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014: Why We Love Christmas

I could probably sit and write a whole essay about why I love Christmas, there's just nothing else like it but don't worry I'll try and keep things short and sweet. Josh and I love Christmas so with a little less than a month to go until Christmas Day, we thought we'd share a little bit with you about why we love the festive season:

Lauren: I'm not sure I can even properly put into words why I love Christmas but I'll give it a go.
I've always loved Christmas and I'm glad that as an adult my enjoyment of the festive season hasn't dwindled. It's the warm, homely happy feeling I get inside that makes me look forwards to Christmas from around 1st September! Putting up the decorations and watching Christmas films in the twinkling fairy lights, buying presents that I know will put a smile on peoples faces and spending time with people I love makes December the best month ever. I can't ever see my love of Christmas disappearing.

Josh: My favorite thing about Christmas isn't just one thing. It is a combination of everything. The music, the atmosphere, the food, the prezzy's...the whole Christmas experience. I've always thought that Christmas is the best, and no matter how old you are or how grown up you have to be for the other 11 months of the year, Christmas always brings back that magical, fuzzy, warm quality that has always been there, hiding deep within you since childhood, just waiting for the opportune moment to pop out and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year! And that is why I love Christmas!


Monday, 24 November 2014

Would You Rather: Book Edition

I saw this little tag over on Jennie's book blog and really liked it so I thought I'd give it a go.

  1. Would you rather read only trilogies or only stand alone novels?
    Stand alone novels. I don't mind a series of books but I prefer to just read one book and have everything tied up.
  2. Would you rather read only male or female authors?
    I really don't have a preference so I can't pick.
  3. Would you rather shop at Barnes & Noble or Amazon?
    Oh this is tricky, I do like bookshops and buying from one does feel much more satisfying and if I had much more money I'd buy all my books from bookshops but Amazon is just much more suited to my budget.
  4. Would rather books became films or TV shows?
    Films definitely. TV series would drag things out too much.
  5. Would you rather read 5 pages a day or 5 books a week?
    I'm a slow reader but I like to make sure I take everything in too, there's no point in rushing a good book. For me it's not about how quickly you can read a book so I'd have to say 5 pages a day.
  6. Would you rather be a professional reviewer or an author?
    An author. I'd actually love to write a book. I'm just not sure I could ever do it.
  7. Would you rather read your favourite 20 books over & over or only read books you've never read before?
    I do like to return to my favourite books now and again but if I had to choose then I'd go with only ever read book I've never read before as I love finding new books that I really enjoy.
  8. Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?
    A bookseller. I'd love a cute and quirky bookshop.
  9. Would you rather only read your favourite genre or every genre except your favourite?
    I can't say as I really have a favourite genre as I enjoy most genre's of fiction so I can't really answer.
  10. Would you rather read only physical books or ebooks?
    I love physical books and I always will but ebooks are very convenient. If I had to choose I'd say physical books though.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014: A Lush Wishlist

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Lush is great any time of the year in my opinion, but Lush at Christmas is just amazing. Fact. I always like to treat myself to a few festive bath time goodies but I usually pick out the same things year after year (melting snowman, cinders bath bomb...) so this year I thought I'd try a few new things. After a look around the Lush site I settled on these 6 brightly coloured treats and I'm sure on my next trip to Lush I'll be adding a few of these to my basket to perk up my winter baths.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Book Review: Girl A

This is the shocking true story of how a young girl from Rochdale came to be Girl A - the key witness in the trial of Britain's most notorious child sex ring.

Girl A was just fourteen when she was groomed by a group of Asian men. After being lured into their circle with gifts, she was plied with alcohol and systematically abused. She was just one of up to fifty girls to be 'passed around' by the gang. The girls were all under sixteen and forced to have sex with as many as twenty men in one night.

When details emerged a nation was outraged and asked how these sickening events came to pass. And now the girl at the very centre of the storm reveals the heartbreaking truth. 

This book was given to me after a couple of people in my family had read it. It's not the sort of thing I'd normally pick up but I've been slowly making my way through it as my book of choice for bath times (I'm also re-reading Harry Potter and the books are too big to read in the bath!). You sometimes see stories like the one of Girl A's in the news and as awful as they are I often wonder how teenagers find themselves in such situations. In a society that is more aware than ever of such things how can families, the police and other establishments like social services not pick up on things like this. Some of my questions were answered by this book but some were not. 

I am not denying that what Girl A went through is truly awful and how men could do such things to young girls is beyond me, it is not an easy read by far and I should warn you it is a little graphic in places. However I am still left wondering how the parents of this girl did not realise something was really wrong with their child, I cannot ever imagine my parents being so blind and ignorant to such situations or treating me like Girl A's parents initially treated her. The attitudes of the police in places was really shocking too, I mean are we really living in a society where it's acceptable for a police officer to ask a teenager who has just reported multiple rapes if she's just having sex with men for money? 

It certainly threw up a lot of questions about the failings of family, the police, social services etc. The mixture of emotions though has left me confused. I felt sickened by what the men did to Girl A and other girls as young as 12, I felt angered that the police ignored multiple complaints from several girls about the gang and I felt baffled and angered by Girl A's parents and their attitudes.

Rating: ★★

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Loving Lately List #7

Credit (unknown)
I love the colours of autumn leaves. It doesn't get much prettier than this.

Brownie cupcakes AND cookie dough frosting?! Yes please! Thanks to Helen I may have to whip up a bath of these in the future.

I love Katy's blog and her down to earth, tell it like it is blog posts. This one was a particularly good one recently.

When Alice tweeted she had an amazing curry recipe to share I waited eagerly for the blog post. It didn't disappoint. It looks so good! I'm definitely going to be making this.

Kate's blog is pretty much my skincare bible at the moment. She's done some amazing posts on natural skincare and skincare for blemish prone skin recently. I will certainly be purchasing some of her recommendations.

Hannah's Youtube channel. Her Sunday videos make me feel all warm and happy.

Calico Skies' Facebook page. I've recently got into using my blogs Facebook page a lot. I post pictures or articles etc on nearly everyday so it'd be really great if you could give it a like.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014: My Christmas List

Yes the Christmas posts have begun! Fear not I won't be bombarding you with gift guides and such (though I do have one gift set post planned) put from now until Christmas I'll be sprinkling a few Christmas posts on the blog to get everyone in the festive spirit. What better place to start than sharing with you what I would like for Christmas this year.

As I've got older it's so difficult to think of things I want or actually need now and I do in all honesty just prefer to receive money. My Dad however still likes to buy presents so I've thrown a few ideas his way and today I'm sharing with you what's on my Christmas list. Please share your own lists in the comments below!

So I've opted for quite a few beauty pieces, I've been wanting to try Soap and Glory makeup for the longest time so I opted for these three products as I do actually need new ones of all of these. I love Lush so again I thought I'd put down some products that I've been dying to use for the longest time. Josh and I love a good Disney Pixar film and these two are missing from our collection. As for the organiser I've used Filofax diaries for around 5 or 6 years now so I wanted to try out a Paperchase one, in all honesty I was after something a little prettier and this one that's full of woodland animals fits the bill perfectly. Finally I wanted a large Yankee Candle, my favourite scents are spicy cinnamon based ones but I'll always associate them with Christmas so for the horrible winter months after Christmas I thought I'd opt for something clean and comforting which is where soft blanket come in.

Don't forgot to let me know what's on your Christmas list this year.


Friday, 7 November 2014

FILMS: What We Watched #3

Our weekend routine usually consists of watching a couple of films. There's nothing we like more on a Friday and Saturday evening then getting in our pj's, grabbing some snacks and a drink (or maybe just a hot chocolate!) and watching a film. We have quite a Blu Ray collection these days but the same thing happens every weekend in that we can never decide what to watch. 
We thought we'd share with you what films we watch each month and our thoughts on each film.
K-19 The Widowmaker 
2002 | 138 min | Thriller
J: I enjoyed this film. Who doesn't love a good true story war kind of action movie?! The accents are a little off but story wise it's really good and an interesting part of the Cold War that wasn't too widely heard about until this was released. However knowing that Lauren's not a fan of Harrison 'Han Solo' Ford, I knew it might not be her cup of tea. Pretty sure I was right.
L: I'd never even heard of this film when Josh randomly bought it. It's the true story of the Soviet nuclear submarine and the disasters which surrounded it. I normally don't mind things like this but I can't say as I was a fan of K-19. It just didn't really grip me even when it was meant to be tense and full of action I felt bored and was counting down the minutes until the end. I wouldn't watch this again. Lets not even talk about the dodgy Russian accents of Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.

Carry On at Your Convenience
1971 | 90 min | Comedy
J: Cheeky, bawdy, funny, childish...Carry On films are great comedies, and Carry On At Your Convenience is one of the best! Its a quick, easy watch and if you don't find yourself chuckling along at the double entendres and slapstick humor then clearly you don't have a soul. Fact.

L: When we were are uni we won't through a period of watching a lot of old films and TV series for some reason, Carry On films being one of them. We found this on TV and decided to watch it because we love a bit of old fashioned comedy. We like this sort of thing for easy Saturday afternoon viewing and Carry On at Your Convenience is one of our favourite classic comedies.

A Bugs Life 
1998 | 96 min | Comedy / Adventure / Animation
J: Who doesn't love a good Disney Pixar film?! A Bug's Life is one of their very first offerings and it's great! The animation and story are top notch and there's also a lot of comedy moments in there too. A classic film that takes me back to when I was a kid! Also, I'm not going to lie, the Playstation game was amazing. Except the bit where you were in the cracked lakebed searching for other bugs. That level sucked.
L: This film really takes me back to my childhood! There's nothing like a Disney Pixar film on a weekend though. Even as an adult I laugh out loud at this film and genuinely enjoy the storyline and characters. I have to say for an animation there are actually some really good characters in this film, you kind of forget that it's animated bugs you're watching because it's been done so well.

The Incredibles 
2004 | 115 min | Comedy / Adventure / Animation
J: I've never really given The Incredibles much time before but it's a pretty great film. Don't get me wrong, it's no Toy Story or Ratatouille or Up, but the story is fun and has puts a nice unique spin on the superhero genre. And I'll give The Incredibles 2 a whirl when it eventually comes out. I wish I had superpowers.
L: Not my favourite Disney film but not a bad film at all. It's easy viewing with some laughs and a decent storyline about super heroes who have had to resume their normal identities and live normal lives. It's well worth a watch if like us you enjoy Disney Pixar films.

2008 | 98 min | Science Fiction | Romantic Comedy | Animation
J: This is one of Pixar's best films. Wall-e is cool, curious, cute and all alone! Like a little robot ET! (He even looks like ET actually!) Save for the occasional "Wall-e" "Eve" and "directive", there's pretty much no dialogue from the two main characters...however this is a pretty heartwarming film! Good old Wall-e, you always find yourself rooting for him in his quest for robo-love!

L: Where do I even begin with how much I love this film, it's right up there alongside Up! as being my favourite Disney film. The lack of dialogue from the two main characters is a little odd the first time you watch it but you quickly release that it doesn't need a fancy script. It's heartwarming and feel good all through the actions of both Wall-E and Eve. I'm a sucker for a love story even if it's taking place between two robots!

The Quiet Ones
2014 | 98 min | Horror
J: This film was alright. Nothing special, but it wasn't awful. The story was quite good and the two female leads were pretty pretty (always a winner) but there was nothing truly gripping here. Gotta say I did like the combination of standard filming method and the found footage as filmed by the cameraman. I'd watch it again. Next year. Maybe.

L: As this was from the makers of The Woman in Black I had high expectations for this film as I love The Woman in Black, The Quiet Ones has an interesting storyline where a professor sets out to prove people can't be possessed instead they simply 'create' negative mental energy which can be removed. But really this film does not come anywhere near to been as good as The Woman in Black. It's not the worst horror film we've watched, because we really have watched some trash but I feel that more could have been done with the interesting premise to make this into a good film.

1978 | 87 min | Slasher / Horror
J: Now then, I get that this is considered a classic scary film, and I get that this was once the height of scary, however when you watch it through modern eyes Halloween turns out to be more of a chuckleworthy comedy than a terrifying scary film. The most annoyingly irritating part was the lead male and/or female played by Jamie Lee Curtis...the manly face and deep voice just confused me. And as for Musical Mike and his annoying synths...he didn't scare me!

L: A horror classic that we thought we'd watch guessed it, Halloween night. I don't really know what to say about this, as I imagine that back in the '70s when this was made it would have been scary but I guess we're just too used to modern horror films and in all honesty I didn't find this scary or jumpy at all, in fact I wanted to laugh at parts of it. Such a huge emphasis is put on the fact that Michael Myers is that awful, dangerous 'thing' that's highly disturbed and yeah ok he goes around stabbing people but his character is not explored at all which left me feeling a little annoyed. 

If you only watch one of these films it should be...

J: One of Disney's greatest films: A Bug's Life! 

L: It has to be Wall-E without a doubt.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

An Autumn Walk

On Halloween Josh and I went out for a walk around a country park not too far from where Josh lives. It's very pretty around there and we spent ages walking around and snapping loads of photo's which is why there's a fair few in this post because they're just too pretty not to share them.

After a very long walk around we'd got pretty hungry so we headed to the pub that's conveniently next to the country park and we filled our bellies with a huge carvery. We actually go to that pub for a meal quite a lot when we're off work together because the food is just soooo good. 

We take the prettiest pictures! We usually take some bread for the ducks when we visit here but we completely forgot this time which meant lots of them swam up to us looking very hopeful that we had something to feed them and then quickly turned around seeming very disappointed. We also saw quite a few squirrels this time though they were usually high in the trees out of the way of all the dog walkers!

After we were full up on food we spent a long time chatting and having a little drink. Even though we've both just had a week off work so we've seen each other a lot, sometimes it's nice to just sit down and catch up with each other. We then decided we should probably work off some of that carvery so headed back for another lap around the country park.

By that time the sun had begun to set, it'd got a little cooler and it was much quieter than our first walk around. It was nice to just listen to the birds and the trees rustling in the breeze or the odd squirrel foraging for food. After that we headed home feeling happy and full and just a little bit tired.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Happy List #108 The October 2014 Edition

This stuff smells amazing / A huge chai latte / One very content cat / Pumpkin carving / The result (I'm no artist) / A beautiful autumn walk / We found halloween masks / The Boots Christmas magazine always makes me happy

So that's one of my favourite months that has been and gone and now it's onto my next favourite! October was definitely a month for making plans which always excites me.

Things that have made me happy in October...
  1. Chai Latte - I have a seriously strong Chai Latte obsession going on at the moment. Just the other week I ordered that largest one I could an sat sipping what was essentially a bucket of the stuff, I couldn't have been happier.
  2. Friday afternoon me time - at the moment I'm on a long term placement with supply work at a school that finishes at 2.15 on a Friday not only does this make me happy but it means that I get a couple of hours to myself while I wait for Josh to finish work and then head to his. My usual Friday afternoon consists of heading to Costa and quietly watching the world go by.
  3. Making plans - Josh and I talked about going away for a night or two just before Christmas quite a while ago but nothing ever came of the discussions until a couple of weeks ago when Josh surprised me by asking if I fancied booking to go to Coventry over night and heading to Birmingham's Christmas market the next day. I'm ridiculously excited to be heading back to our university city and for Christmas market times. Roll on December! We've also decided to go to the Harry Potter studio tour next year so we've been talking about plans for that. And finally in our plan making, we're actually getting to spend Christmas Day together this year, our first one ever so I'm pretty excited for that!
  4. Wearing my tartan scarf - although I haven't whipped out the winter coat just yet there's being a few mornings where the chill in the air has meant wrapping up in my tartan scarf was necessary. It was easily the best purchase I made last year and it's definitely going to be getting a lot of use this year too.
  5. My niece - whenever I see her she always makes me happy but this time round she actually recognises Josh and I as uncle and aunty. It's so cute when she asks for one of us!
  6. Our date day on Halloween - we went for a long walk around a country park near us then tucked into a huge carvery. At night we were accompanied by scary films and snacks.
In October I...
Listened to: 80's tunes. I don't know what it is about cheesy 80's pop but it makes my early mornings brighter!
Read: I am doing so bad with reading at the moment, I finally finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix though and have moved onto The Half-Blood Prince. I'm also reading Girl A in the bath because Harry Potter is too big.
Watched: Boardwalk Empire seasons 3,4 and 5.
Ate: Homemade vegetable pasta bake (recipe here)

Things to look forwards to in November: bonfire night and booking everything for our Harry Potter studio tour trip.