99p books to read during lockdown

Day 32 of lockdown. How’s it going folks? I’ve been enjoying relaxing with my Kindle in the garden on the warm sunny days we’ve had recently but at the speed I read I’m getting through books way too quickly! Fortunately Amazon have some good kindle offers on so here are a selection of 99p books to read during lockdown.

1. This Could Change Everything – Jill Mansell

This is one of those books that’s easy and enjoyable to read, but difficult to summarise without spoilers so I’ll give it my best shot!

It begins with Essie, a young lady who makes a silly mistake and manages to lose her boyfriend, home and job all in one go (she lives in her boyfriend’s house and is employed by his mother, hence the triple whammy). It’s not long before she’s back on her feet with a new job and a new place to live. It is here that she meets Connor, Zillah and a cast of other colourful characters. Zillah is a fabulously stylish 83 year old woman who grants last wishes to dying people, along with her sidekick Connor, a young photographer looking for love.

I personally found this book fairly unpredictable (until the end), although others may disagree. I think because there are so many characters whose stories intertwine, I wasn’t sure which way the author was going to take the main story.

My favourite quote:

“Every day we do things that are capable of changing everything, and that’s what makes life exciting”.

Recommend: if you’re looking for something uplifting, heart warming and a little different to the norm.

2. It’s Now Or Never – Carole Matthews

The story centres around twin sisters, Annie and Lauren, who upon looking at their perfect older sister Chelsea’s fabulous life decide that they want to make a change and turn their lives around before their 40th birthdays. Annie has 2 grown up children and lives in a dull marriage with her husband who is well and truly in his comfort zone and just likes to go fishing all the time. Lauren on the other hand is having a five year long affair with her married boss and wastes her life waiting for him to become available.

“See? Why don’t I think of things like that? I’ve become so narrow in my life that I can’t even begin to think out of the box”

Recommend: if you’re the wrong side of 35 and looking for a captivating read.

3. How To Be Champion – Sarah Millican

You know Sarah Millican? Comedian from South Shields, wears glasses, likes to talk about cake and things being ‘claggy’? Well, How to be Champion is her autobiography and personal guide for how to be, well, champion. Kind of part autobiography, part self help book. She talks about everything from her childhood and being bullied at school, to relationships (with yourself as well as others) and divorce. And of course she talks about how she became a comedian. I’ve never seen Sarah live but I’ve watched some of her stand-up on tv and I couldn’t help hearing her distinct voice in my head the whole time I was reading this book! She’s a bit naughty but she’s unapologetically herself, which is refreshing in the world of celebrity.

“Life is too short not to enjoy yourself when the opportunity arises” 

Recommend: if you’re a fan of Sarah Millican. Obviously.

4. Playing Away – Adele Parks

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one as it’s quite different to what I would usually read. The story centres around Connie and her fancy London friends. Connie has been married to her husband Luke for one year but embarks on an affair with an arrogant but irresistible guy from her office named John. What appealed to me about this book was rather than being a ‘searching for Mr Right’ type of book which is quite typical of the chick lit stories I’ve read in the past, it’s actually more about already having Mr Right but giving in to the temptation of Mr Wrong. Although I couldn’t relate much with the characters, there was one quote that stood out to me when Connie was at a child’s birthday party surrounded by nosey 30-something year old mothers:

“I am bored. I am scared. I don’t want this. I don’t want to be in a job I hate, waiting to have children, who will undoubtedly hate me, just so I can live out my failed ambitions through them”.

I think it speaks to the 30-something female who is still looking for something – not a man or a baby or a job – but something more.

Recommend: if you’re looking for something a bit spicier than your usual chick lit.

5. The Hotel Where We Met – Belinda Jones

Belinda Jones is one of my favourite authors. Her stories usually involve her heroine travelling to some exciting and/or exotic far off land and eventually falling in love with some heartthrob at the end of the book. Predictable but enjoyable.

The Hotel Where We Met kind of has the key ingredients, however with a time-travel twist. Chloe, our heroine, travels to Coronado, a resort island off the coast of San Diego. She receives a mysterious message on the plane that suggests that the reason she hasn’t yet met her perfect man is because he doesn’t exist…. yet. Chloe then must travel back in time to match-make couples to ensure that her future beau is born.

I lifted this quote from the book…

“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. 
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
And be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny”.

Recommend: if you’re a fan of holiday escapism.

Chances are there will be another post like this before we all get back to normality, so why not escape reality for a little while with a good book!

Would love to hear your reading recommendations too.

Stay safe x

 

Strange times… things to do in isolation

What strange times we are living in right now. The last time I dusted off my laptop and wrote anything on this blog, life was normal and now, now we’re living in what feels like a movie and all anyone can talk about is the virus.

Currently the UK is on lockdown. No one is allowed to leave their houses apart from getting necessities (food and medicine), getting necessities for a vulnerable person, going to work (if absolutely essential) and we’re permitted one walk a day for exercise. It’s like some sort of dystopian future where people are dying in their thousands while everyone else is fighting over toilet roll and hand sanitiser, except it’s not the future. This is now.

It’s my birthday next week. We had planned a getaway to Amsterdam but now it looks like I’ll be settling for a takeaway indoors (if restaurants are still allowed to offer takeaway services by then! Things are changing so fast!). I’m sure it will be memorable, if not a little boring considering what we had planned, but then things could be a whole lot worse, so right now I am grateful for what I do have.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I myself have been on lockdown since Wednesday. I work with animals now (I had a whole big career change last summer) so obviously someone had to go in and take care of the animals, but now I’ve been told to stay away until further notice. Don’t worry though, my colleagues that are still working will take good care of the animals.

My husband is a Graphic Designer so at the moment (and for the last 2 weeks) he has been working from home, which means I’m pretty much left to my own devices during the day.

So here I’ve compiled a list of things to do in isolation.

1. Take an online course

I happened upon Centre of Excellence who are offering all courses for £29 each until the end of March using the code LEARNATHOME. I’ve chosen to do a course in Feline Behaviour and Psychology as it will be something I can add to my CV and will help me at work when I eventually go back. I am quite intrigued by a couple of other courses so I may purchase more.

2. Get creative

My weapon of choice is my ipad pro. I used to be a very creative child but lost that spark as I got older, however I’ve just got back into doodling again and have set up a new instagram account if you fancy a follow.

I use the Procreate ipad app to create my drawings and they’ve just launched a little treat – the Procreate Care Pack – which includes some limited edition brushes, a 2 month free trial of skillshare and a list of artwork prompts to create a bit of an online community in these stressful times.

3. Play games

My husband downloaded The Sims 4 for me onto his Playstation. I haven’t played that game since I had The Sims 2 on PC! I know I’m probably far too old to be playing that but it’s a nice little bit of escapism. And let’s be honest, they’re the only ones allowed out right now haha.

4. “Marie Kondo” my house

I am in the process of buying a house. I won’t bore you with the whole saga of it but now is the perfect opportunity for me to have a good clear out ready for when we do eventually start packing and moving. I spent a couple of hours sorting out just ONE DRAWER the other day but the way I see it is, that will save me time in the future when I will hopefully have better things to be doing.

5. Watch tv

I’m trying to avoid the news for good reason but lately I’ve been enjoying Neighbours (Neighbours End Game was fantastic!). I’ve also found a new guilty pleasure in The Best House in Town on BBC2 – a bit of interior design inspiration! Netflix has also been a saviour with season 12 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race having begun, plus we watched Harlan Coben’s The Stranger and Safe. We’ve also started rewatching Come Fly with Me because it’s funny and silly escapism. Oh and Friday Night Dinner starts again on C4 tonight! yay!

6. Talk to people

Check in on people. We live in an age where there’s no excuse not to pick up the phone. I rang my Nan the other day as she’s isolating on her own and doesn’t have the internet. There’s Whatsapp and Facetime etc etc. Stay connected.

7. Use social media wisely

I’ve had to distance myself from Twitter a little but at the moment I am enjoying creating Pinterest boards full of interior design inspiration. Moving house and decorating will be a fun, albeit stressful, thing to look forward to once things return to a relative normality so excuse me while I get excited about wallpapers and lampshades!

Well I think I’ve rambled enough now. Stay safe, stay sane and stay at home!

Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash

Fashion blogging for Femme Luxe

Hiya! Me again! Yeah I’ve been pretty hopeless with the blogging and stuff, believe me I’ve had ALOT going on in my personal life. But while I’m not travelling for one reason or another I am dipping my shiny pink toes into a little fashion blogging.

Those lovely ladies over at Femme Luxe Finery have sent me some more threads so I’m here to do another fashion haul type post with some more interesting photos that aren’t just me posing awkwardly in my back garden!

Red One Shoulder Slinky Midi Dress – Dylan

Red one shoulder slinky midi dress

Ok so now I’m beginning to realise that after my previous two collaborations with Femme Luxe that I may have a thing for red dresses. This one I wore to a masquerade party because it compliments the mask I already owned perfectly! This dress is a similar fit and material to the black one I received in my first haul. If there’s one thing Femme Luxe do well it’s dresses and I’ve already got my eye on a sparkly silver number!

Light Wash Denim Button Down Dress – Perry

Light wash button down denim dress

Another dress. This denim dress offers more of a casual day time look than the slinky number above. Who doesn’t love a bit of denim?! It goes with everything! I found this dress to be a little on the short side for my liking so I teamed it up with a black leggings as well as a black long sleeve top and some boots.

Nothing To Wear Slogan Top

Nothing to wear slogan top

Nothing to wear. Funny slogan to sport when Femme Luxe are sending me stuff to wear! But you know how it is girls, you can have a bursting wardrobe but still have nothing suitable that you want to wear! I love to wear tops with something a little quirky about them. This particular top is available in black and white. Normally I’d go for black because white is bound to see me throw spaghetti bolognese down it or something but I thought I’d be brave and change it up for this little white number.

What’s your favourite piece? Do you like a bold colour? A classic wardrobe staple? Or are you a fan of monochrome? Leave me some love below x

Alphabet Dating - U is for USA themed restaurant

Alphabet Dating – U is for USA themed restaurant

Alphabet Dating – U

…I wasn’t prepared to go Up anywhere. And I wasn’t prepared to go Underwater. The budget unfortunately didn’t stretch to a holiday in the USA so we had to make do with a dinner date at a USA themed restaurant.

We decided to pay a visit to Friendly Phil’s – an American inspired diner. Sadly not one like where Monica from Friends worked (with the rollerskates and singing) but a really nice place nonetheless!

Friendly Phil's diner

Friendly Phil’s serves all the typical American favourites – burgers, hotdogs, mac n cheese, wings…

We found a good Groupon deal that gave us a burger of choice each, a side of choice (fries obviously!) and a milkshake. Sounds like your typical fast food kind of fare but it was alot tastier and much better quality.

What made the date a little more USA A-OK was that our waitress was actually American! We didn’t ask her about it but we have since been back and have been served by English people, so we know it wasn’t just a gimmick.

milkshake

Burgers and fries

I will definitely be returning to Friendly Phil’s (infact I already have several times) but its given us a hankering for a USA road trip… so you never know, if we do alphabet dating again we could be in the USA for real next time ‘U’ rolls around!


To read some more of my alphabet dating adventures, check out my series.

Femme Luxe Finery Haul

As I had such a fabulous time before, Femme Luxe asked me if I fancied collaborating again. And did I? You bet I did! They’ve added a whole host of new outfits to their website so I picked a few little numbers to try on.

Click each image for a direct link to the product.

Navy Rolled Sleeves Shirt Dress – Noa

Navy Rolled Sleeves Shirt Dress - Noa Navy Rolled Sleeves Shirt Dress - Noa

By far my favourite piece of clothing was this Navy rolled sleeves shirt dress which is so versatile! I’ve worn it to work, a meeting and for a nice meal out but there are plenty of other occasions where this outfit would suit. Sleeves can be worn rolled up or down and it comes with a little sash so you can cinch in the waist. I’ve chosen to team mine with a pair of leggings and some simple black shoes. I feel so chic in this shirt dress… and chic is not normally a word I would use to describe myself. Plus navy is not normally my colour but I think I’m now a convert!

Black Slinky Long Sleeve Off the Shoulder Belted Jumpsuit – Nina

Black Slinky Long Sleeve Off the Shoulder Belted Jumpsuit - Nina

Having never worn a jumpsuit before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one, however I was pleasantly surprised! I love that this one has a little off the shoulder sass to it so I feel more like Sandy from Grease and less like a contestant off the Crystal Maze. This would probably look hot with any colour heel but I went for a pop of blue so tell me about it stud!

Dusky Pink With White Stripe Lounge Wear Set – Lexi

Loungewear set

I adore the other loungewear set I got from Femme Luxe Finery so I thought I’d try another. I must admit to being a little disappointed with the colour. On the website it looks dusky pink and even in my photo its pink however in real life its much more a darker orangey-pink tone than a pretty dusky pink. However the fit is fine and comes with a little hoody. Sadly I don’t have the abs that I used to but as its loungewear I think I can get away with it!

Red One Shoulder Midi Dress

Red One Shoulder Midi Dress

Move over the LBD because there’s just something about a little red dress isn’t there? Such a sexy colour, not that I look particularly sexy posing awkwardly in my garden but there you go. Femme Luxe are known for their vast array of dresses but I chose this one because 1. It’s red and 2. I love a little one shoulder number. Team it with some red lippy and you’re good to go!

Disclaimer: This post was a collaborative post with Femme Luxe Finery but all opinions are my own.