Sort-Of Resolutions Mid-Year Update

I know that according to my (flexible) new blogging schedule I was supposed to be popping up a beauty blog today, but I wasn’t really inspired by any beauty-related ideas and didn’t have any photos ready anyway, so instead I thought I’d take another look at the “sort-of resolutions” I posted on New Year’s Eve.

This seems like a sensible time to check and update my resolutions, not only because it’s now June, but also because I’ve finished university and am preparing for the next stage in my life – and year.  So it’s time to rethink my goals ready for when I start Teach First and based on what I’ve been enjoying.

  1. Complete at least one reading challenge – most likely the Tea and Books Challenge.
    I’ll be honest, this isn’t going too well.  I haven’t made any progress towards the Tea and Books Challenge, but it’s definitely something I’d still really like to achieve.  Once I’m settled in Bristol I’ll be getting myself to a library to get my hands on the books I need.  And until then I can use my reading time to get back on track with my Goodreads challenge of reading 50 books in 2013 – apparently I’m six books behind schedule!

  2. Sort of following on from 1., set up a bedtime reading habit.  I know, either middle aged or hideously childish, I’m not sure which.  But I want to read more and I enjoy it.  So there!
    This one has been hit and miss – probably the reason I’m behind on my Goodreads challenge.  When I do make time and remember to read before bed I really enjoy it, but I’ve discovered so many great blogs and YouTubers this year that I’m constantly distracted by the internet at bedtime!  The solution to getting this back on track is simple: develop some degree of self-control.  Done.

  3. Sort of following on from 2., start getting up earlier.  I am horrendous at this.  If I get less than 9 hours sleep per night for multiple nights, I become mildly useless.  So it logically follows that in order to get up earlier I must go to sleep earlier (also terrible at this).  From now on, bedtime reading and sleep at a reasonable hour.  At least four nights out of seven.  At least.  We’ll see how that goes.
    As above.  Must develop self-control.  Simple as.  This one is only going to become more important as I start Teach First – no more student lifestyle and lie-ins!

  4. Keep up a sensible amount of uni work.  This semester is, I think, the first since I started high school that I have been happy with.  Of course, it’s not finished yet, I still have two essays and an exam to pass, but I feel like I’ve got enough work done and have been happily (relatively) destressed.  If i can manage another semester of this I might actually stand a chance of getting through Teach First without too many tears!
    This one I actually have managed!  I’m genuinely happy with the amount of work I’ve put in this year, regardless of the result (though obviously I would be a bit gutted if my mark dropped to a 2:2), and I’ve been enjoying my course.  I still feel like I should be more productive and plan my time better to fit in everything I want to do, especially once I start working full time, but at least I have a good base for improvement.

Although it doesn’t seem like I’ve had much overall success, I’m actually pretty happy with how things have been going.  The most important thing for me is always to enjoy what I’m doing, and I’ve definitely managed that.  And there’s still room for improvement for the rest of the year!

Look out for more posts to come on things I want to get involved in or improve on for the rest of the year.  For now though, I’m just going to enjoy my happiness for a while.  How about you?  have you had any luck with your New Year’s Resolutions, or have they changed completely?  Let me know, as always, in the comments.

Friday’s Letters

I first spotted a Friday’s Letters post over at Bev’s Confuzzledom blog, but the original idea came from The Sweet Season Blog. I thought it was such a lovely idea that I wanted to get involved to reflect on my week and look forward to the days to come.

Dear Summer Ball.  I am SO EXCITED for you tomorrow night.  Apart from being a good chance to wear a pretty dress (always appreciated), this is my last proper uni event before graduation.  I’m sure I’ll be sad to say goodbye to everyone, but I’m looking forward to the night out just the same.

Dear rain.  Pretty please stay away tomorrow night.  Feel free to come again on Sunday, but please don’t ruin my last Summer Ball!

Dear library.  Telling me I can’t take any more books out and that you’re taking away my email address is making me emotional!  I guess my time at University of Bath really is coming to an end…

Dear Isle of Wight festival.  Less than two weeks to go now until you, the last hurrah of my student life.  I am super excited to go to my first festival with people I love.  Now to track down some cheap wellies – any tips on what to pack would be greatly appreciated!

Dear baking ingredients.  You’ve been sitting patiently in my kitchen cupboard since before show/exam madness took over.  I think this week might be your week.  I see brownies in my near future.

Lots of love,

From Sarah x

What are you looking forward to this week?

Book Love: Frankenstein Review – A Lack of Love

Hello lovely people!

Although this blog is generally a place for things I love, every so often something will come up that didn’t impress me.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was one of those somethings.

I read this as part of my challenge for the Classics Club – Frankenstein was one of the classics that I wanted to read.  To be honest though, I don’t really understand how it ever gained ‘Classic’ status in the first place.  I can only assume that it has to do with the era in which it was first written and read.  It was most likely a new idea at that point, and I do understand how the idea of creating a new life form in a lab can capture the imagination.  What the book lacked was a story to build around the idea – even though the full book is only around 150 pages, very little seemed to happen and I felt like the story could have been made even shorter.  Those 150 pages took me a looong time to get through!

I’m sure everyone knows the basic story of Dr Frankenstein, who creates a ‘monster’ in his lab but then becomes terrified of it.  The parts of the book I did quite enjoy were the creature’s narratives.  I thought he was a good character and I might have quite enjoyed a book about his journey and thoughts, as they were unique and realistic (or as realistic as a fictional man-made life form can be!).  Sadly there was just too much space devoted to Frankenstein and his repetitive and pathetic ramblings.  He was a total wet fish, which I don’t generally enjoy in books unless there is a very good reason for them being there (I hated Othello at A-level for this exact reason), and was absolutely horrible to his own creation.  I wasn’t keen on him.

I don’t want to dwell too long on things I didn’t like, so this has been a bit of a speed review, but suffice it to say that I found this book boring, really struggled to finish it and definitely wouldn’t recommend!  Sorry Mary Shelley.

Please let me know in the comments if I was missing something with Frankenstein!  Is it your favourite book and I’m just under-appreciating it?  I’d love to hear why.

New Blogging Schedule!

Hello lovely people!

If nothing else, I have learnt something about myself since starting this blog: I am rubbish at just sitting down and writing blog posts.  I have a fair few ideas, and really enjoy writing posts once I get started, but for some reason I just can’t get myself motivated enough to post on a regular basis.

Otter failure

Because of this utter personal failure, I’ve decided to set myself a blogging schedule. I know this has worked for other bloggers and think it’ll be just the thing to get me on track and posting regularly, so I can get my ideas published before they lose steam.  I’m nowhere near ambitious enough (or have enough free time!) to post every day, so I’m going to aim for three posts a week, possibly with a bonus post if I’m feeling particularly chatty.

Since my post ideas usually relate either to books or things generally found on a beauty blog, I’m planning to put up at least one post on each of these topics per week.  Obviously this is totally flexible and I’m not going to berate myself if I don’t manage this, but I do like a good plan.

So, every Sunday I want to pop a beauty/fashion/haul/related post up, giving me the weekend to attempt to take pictures.  Every Wednesday I’m going for a book post – hopefully this will help keep me on track with my reading too, so I have something to write about every week.  Last but not least, I want to get back to writing Friday’s Letters posts at the end of the week (previous examples here and here) because they’re quick and easy posts that I really enjoy writing and that get me to reflect a bit every week – even if that reflection’s only about cake and books!

That’s the plan anyway.  You might get the odd Music Monday, general update or recipe post thrown in as well for good measure, but I’ll see how I go.  For now, look out for a book review scheduled for bright and early tomorrow morning!

PS You may well have noticed that I’ve changed my blog theme.  Again.  I think I’m finally happy with it this time – yay!

Do you have a blogging schedule?  Any tips for any other posts you’d like to see?  Let me know in the comments!

Book Love: Top 5 Children’s/Young Adult Series

I just finished re-reading Checkmate by Malorie Blackman (from the Noughts and Crosses series) and it reminded me just how much I still love series from my younger years – they just give me all the feelings!  Obviously these books are particularly special for me because I feel like I’ve known the characters for years, but even so I think they’re brilliant.  In a fit of nostalgia, I thought I’d list my favourite book series from my childhood/teenage years, so I hope you enjoy.

5) The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Surely everyone knows these by now?  They made a film out of the series with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews and, as ever, got a lot of things wrong.  The books are much better than the films, honest.  The quality does start to tail off a bit towards the end of the series, so I’m not sure I ever read the very latest ones, but the first in particular were funny and relatable, and had a good love story going on that was a bit different from the usual – I still love a good romance, but it’s always best when it’s not the main focus.

4) Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

Otherwise known as the ‘Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging’ books (and no I do not accept the adapted title given to the film).  I laughed myself silly at these books when I was a teenager, and probably still would now to be honest.  They were my embarrassing, snorting with uncontrollable laughter on the bus books.  I would need a re-read to do a proper review (not a bad idea actually!), but, in short, these are the diary of teenage Georgia Nicolson, telling us about her bonkers family, friends and school in a hilarious manner.  The comings and goings of her life are occasionally slightly ridiculous, and yet perfectly relatable for a British teenage girl.  From what I remember, they weren’t particularly rude or grownup, just very, very funny.

3) Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Before Hogwarts, every girl wanted to go to Malory Towers.  These were just lovely boarding-school books that take you back a few decades to years of jolly hockey sticks and french irregular verbs.  In true Enid Blyton style, they’re full of moral lessons, but not so much that you feel lectured and certain characters can do no wrong.  This is a lovely, innocent kids series that I still like to have a quick read of when I’m feeling nostalgic.  Timeless.

2) Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Blimey, this is a good story. I wrote a bit of an ode to the first book in the series here when I started my re-read, and I just finished the third one, which still manages to be equally as good.  Have a look at my first review to find out what it’s all about, but I think my favourite thing about this series is the fact that it progresses.  Characters really do grow up and develop, instead of keeping the same traits they have aged 12 at the start of the first book.  I find that the character voice, especially for the teenagers, can be a little off at times, but the story and the character development are absolutely good enough for that not to matter.  I feel like I know these characters inside out and these (along with my number 1) are the books that get me jumping for joy and reaching for the tissues.  Highly recommended for everyone, teenage and up.

1) Harry Potter by JK Rowling

A predictably dull choice, maybe, but I absolutely flipping love Harry Potter.  And I’m not ashamed to say it!  I started reading these books aged 7 and was part of the generation that grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione.  I’m not sure I can say much that hasn’t already been said – I know some people aren’t keen and think they’re overhyped, but you get that with any bestseller.  I still think JK Rowling is a brilliant writer and is especially brilliant at building up a world for her stories to take place in (this is what I loved about The Causal Vacancy too – mini review here).  I can (and do) read these books over and over again.

So that’s it for my favourites – I’d love to hear yours in the comments!  What series did you love when you were younger?  We can have a reminisce together.  Or if you have kids and know of any great newer series, I’d love to know and I can pass them along to my little brother and sister.  Leave your tips below!

The Favourites #1

Hello lovely people!

I’m back with a bit of a roundup post.  I know that monthly favourites post are super popular in the beauty blogging world, but since my blogging is sporadic at best I thought it was best not to attempt to commit to a monthly post…  Instead, here’s the first instalment of my new ‘The Favourites’ series, where I’ll round up all the things I’ve been a bit obsessed with recently.  I’ll try and do them fairly regularly, but we’ll see how we go!

Favourites 1

You’ll probably recognise most of these favourites from the haul posts I did a while ago – there were some hits and misses, so let me know if you’d like reviews of the stuff I didn’t love.

I’ll start with the beauty bits, from left to right of the photo:

  • Soap and Glory Heel Genius Amazing Foot CreamLike most of the rest of the blogging world, I love most things Soap and Glory.  I pull this pepperminty, bright blue, utterly marvellous foot cream out whenever my feet are getting a bit too hard and gross – it’s been doing it’s duty recently so that my feet can be flip-flop ready at a moment’s notice whenever the sun decides to show itself.  Slather a good amount on before bed, stick some socks on and feet are silky smooth by the morning.  Miracle worker, and it’s only a fiver.
  • L’Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil.  This stuff makes my hair gorgeous and soft.  It’s stopped me being tempted to shell out 30 quid on some Moroccan Oil.  And it seems like it’ll last me forever.  Enough said.
  • Barry M Gelly Polish in Prickly Pear.  Every blogger and their mother have been going on about these nail polishes lately and I’ve been loving this one.  I have to say, I’m not sure they quite live up to the hype (I have the orangey-coral Papaya shade as well, and just can’t get it to last more than a day without chipping or just peeling off!), but this is my perfect spring colour.  I’ve never really been a fan of blue nails, so this is a great shade for me to branch out from my usual pinks and corals to try a lovely lilac pastel shade.  I like.
  • L’Oreal Skin Perfection Micellar Solution.  Apparently this is the high street’s best answer to Bioderma.  I’ve never tried Bioderma, but I do like this a lot – it gets off all my makeup really easily, without leaving any horrible residue.  It seems to work on eye makeup almost as well as my Clinique eye makeup remover, which I find pretty damn impressive.  This has been an absolute saviour for me over the last couple of months as I’ve been doing a couple of shows, so I’ve been using this to get my stage makeup off backstage – much better than face wipes!  From the looks of things, this and other L’Oreal skincare is currently on 2 for £6 at Boots and Superdrug, so get in there quick for a bargain.
  • MUA Undressed Eyeshadow Palette.  I’ve been pretty shimmery with the eye makeup recently, so this has replaced my lovely Urban Decay Naked Basics matte palette for everyday and nighttime wear.  I didn’t want to pay out for the original Urban Decay Naked Palette as I didn’t think I’d get enough wear out of it, and I think I was right as this seems to be suiting me fine.  I generally only wear the lighter shades, so I’m glad I didn’t go for the expensive option, but I find them nice and easy to wear, and I like having the darker options for eyeliner.  It’s also turned me into a big fan of the gold sparkly eye for nights out – I never thought I’d be that brave!
  • Lush Popcorn Lip Scrub and Blistex MedPlus Lip Balm.  My lip-saving duo.  I have pretty dry lips – not so much that they hurt or cause me problems, but I do need to take care of them. The Lush Lip Scrub tastes amazing (it’s made with salt as well as sugar) and I’m pretty sure it’s making a difference.  I know a lot of people think these are overpriced, but I’ve been using this every day and it still seems brand new.  I can’t see myself needing to buy a new one for at least a year, and I’m positive I couldn’t make a scrub that tastes this good in my kitchen.  The Blistex is a heavy duty lip balm that’s a bit tingly, but is completely wearable.  I’m not a fan of Vaseline or Carmex as I feel like they make my lips drier overall, so I’m thanking my lucky stars that I’ve finally found something that works!

You can all see something else in the photo – my book of the last few months has been the bestseller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Blimey, that’s a good book.  I obviously don’t really want to give anything away about it, but I will say that everyone should PERSEVERE.  I was not into this book at all, then halfway through it clicks.  Trust me.  I promise.  I keep seeing people giving up before the halfway point and I just want to beg them to keep going!  If you’re one of these people, then consider this my plea to you.  I recommend this, and I’m really not a thriller girl in books or films.  Amazing characters, amazing twists, and brilliantly thought through – it kept me up reading until the small hours of the morning.

In the TV category, Mad Men is back!  This has excited me massively.  I love this show, it’s one of the few I watch.  I’m obsessed with the imperfect storylines, the unpredictable plots and, of course, how completely gorgeous the whole thing looks. This show is my weekly escape and I love that the creators have managed to keep the things we love about the show while still letting it move on – too many TV dramas end up going round in circles with the same love triangles and breakdowns.  SPOILER ALERT: If you’re watching, is anyone else a bit overexcited about Peggy being reunited with everyone?  God, I love this show…

I’ll leave you with some lovely music.  I went to see Matchbox Twenty in concert in Manchester the other week and it’s rekindled my obsessive love for them (Rob Thomas especially).  If you don’t know who they are, Matchbox Twenty are a rocky-pop band that have been massive over in the States for years.  They’re one of my mum’s favourite bands, so I’ve grown up listening to their music since I was about 3 years old.   The lyrics are ingrained on my brain!  I’ve had the latest album on repeat in my car lately, so here are a couple of my favourites from that, but you can expect some classics to pop up on this blog at some point.

Radio is a great upbeat song, guaranteed to cheer me up:

And Overjoyed is utterly lovely and chilled out.  And I’m kinda in love with the video…

If you want any more in depth reviews on anything I’ve mentioned in here, just let me know in the comments.  And of course I’d love to hear your recommendations – what have you been loving recently?

(Belated) Friday’s Letters

I first spotted a Friday’s Letters post over at Bev’s Confuzzledom blog, but the original idea came from The Sweet Season Blog. Sorry it’s a bit late this week, but I was feeling particularly lazy yesterday!  I still have plenty of letters to write though.

Dear Manchester.  For possibly the first time, I’m actually quite sad to be leaving you on Sunday to go back to Bath.  I’ve had a lovely Easter break at home spending time with the family and I’m going to miss them all A LOT this term.

Dear Bath.  Much as I will miss Manchester, there are far worse places I could live.  I’m glad to be coming home to you, but need to get seriously started soon on my bucket list of things to do before I leave Bath in June.  I feel a blog post coming on…

Dear salted caramel chocolate brownies.  I’ve made you before and you were wonderful.  Why oh why did you go so horribly wrong yesterday, just when I needed to convince my mum of your wonderfulness?  We need to get our relationship back on the right track because you were SO damn good the first time.  (Recipe’s here if you’re interested – I’m thinking of posting a UK-adapted version, so let me know if you’d be interested in that)

Dear beauty blogs.  You are still my weakness.  Please stop being so awesome so that I can reclaim some of my life that I spend reading you!  (Don’t really, I love all you beauty bloggers)

Dear Easter eggs.  I’m so proud of myself for not totally gorging on you already – making the love last longer!

Dear peroneal tendon.  According to the physio, you are the cause of my recent foot pain.  Pretty please heal soon, you’re stopping me dancing (and walking any kind of distance, but that’s obviously less important…)!  Discovery of the week: I do not cope well at all with injury.

Dear little brother and sister.  To end the post on a happy (if soppy) note, you have provided me with constant entertainment and love for the last couple of weeks.  I love your cuddle and kisses and jokes and games and YOU!

Lots of love,

From Sarah x