Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions 2015

Where has 2014 gone? I still feel as though we ought to be on about 2012 rather than 2015. Here are my resolutions for this year. Some of them are repeats; I really did not keep to my resolutions for last year. I think posting them on here does help me stay motivated as I can check back and remember what my goals were, and it is always interesting to check back at the end of next year to see how many were successful.

I had no idea what photo to use for this post, so here's one from my recent walk in the snow, and most likely my last walk of 2014!

2014 has been a good year for me. I completed university and graduated with a first, I started my MA course at a new university (which I thoroughly enjoy) and we adopted Bree. Next year I will hopefully graduate from my masters course, I may leave university and I will most likely be venturing into permanent work (if I am lucky enough to find work). It's going to be an interesting year, and I hope that it is as enjoyable as 2014 has been. Here are my resolutions:

1. Organise my time so I have at least two hours a week free to write. I am referring only to creative writing. I spend at least half of my time writing for university, and when I have finished my university work for the day I tend to fall into a book, or watch a film. I need to get back into creative writing, as I really do miss it and I always feel a lot more relaxed after writing.

2. Make more of an effort with my appearance (again). I have this resolution every single year. I just never seem to be able to persevere with this one. I've always had issues with my appearance, and I think that's why I'm not able to make sure that I look remotely presentable every day. I do not think that I will ever be happy with my appearance, but I think I should at least attempt to not hate it.

3. Make detailed plans for my future. I finish my MA in 2015, which is a frightening thought! I'm planning on applying for several internships, but I also need to research graduate schemes, and decide whether or not I want to apply for funding for a PHD. I'm aware that I need to get this finished in the next week or so.

4. Exercise more. I've really been neglecting my exercise routine. I usually swim at least once a week, but swimming has become quite unappealing with the cold weather, and my local leisure centre is usually full at this time of the year, which is problem when you are only able to swim next to the wall or in the shallow end of the pool. I am walking more now that we have Bree, however.

5. Go out and visit interesting places. I adore going out and visiting places that I have never been to before, or places that I have visited but never fully explored. I would love to visit London in summer and see The Globe for example. I would also like to visit Hardwick Hall again.

6. Try to eat more regular meals. I am always forgetting to have dinner, or breakfast. Sometimes both. Whenever I'm working on my projects for university, or reading, I tend to forget about meals. I also tend to snack instead, which is a problem. I would also like to start drinking more water.

7. Learn how to cook. I am not a terrible cook, and I love baking, but I hardly ever cook at home. My sister adores cooking, and since we eat together, she always seems to be the one who cooks, and I end up cleaning instead. I've always preferred baking to cooking. I also think that cooking would also increase my motivation to actually eat meals.

8. Stop spending entire days working on university projects. I always end up feeling tired and anxious whenever I do this, but I continue to do it anyway. I am going to try to get out of the house at least once a day, even if it is just to take Bree for a brisk walk.

9.  Start saving. I would really like to travel in the future, so I think it would be nice to start saving for it. I should also stop buying so many books, but that will never happen, so I will endeavour instead to stop buying items that I have a near duplicate of (cosmetics for example), and also to sell or donate some of my possessions that I no longer use, or want.

10. Do something fun every month. Sometimes it feels as though my entire life consists of attending lectures, working on essays, and reading. I would like to do something interesting every month just to break up my routine and add interest to my life, even if it is just visiting a museum, going somewhere new for coffee, or spending more time with Figgy in the garden.

I would like to know what your resolutions are if you have any! I hope you all have a wonderful start to the New Year, and I wish you all the best for 2015.


Sunday, 28 December 2014

One Ring To Rule Them All

Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Holiday! It has been quite some time since I posted any jewellery reviews, and I thought that I would get back into reviewing my recent purchases by posting a review of one of the most spectacular pieces I own. As some of you who follow me on Instagram may know, I ordered Blood Milk's 'Belonging To The Darkness' ring after lusting after it for at least a year. I ordered it during their Halloween sale, and it arrived a few weeks ago. I purchased the sterling silver and black CZ ring.


I had heard several reports from others about how truly captivating this piece is, but, as always, I was a little sceptical. I had also been hesitant to purchase the ring for numerous reasons. Firstly, because I have such tiny fingers, and most rings look rather peculiar on my little hands, and secondly, because I had never ordered anything from the United States before, and I was concerned about postage, customs charges and the possibility of the package being lost. Of course, there was also the risk of the ring not suiting me, or that it would not fit. In the end, after seeing yet another beautiful image of the ring on Instagram, I finally relented and ordered one as a late graduation gift to myself. After all, graduating from university with a first class degree was the proudest accomplishment of my life, and I wanted to own something special to remind myself that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for (I am my own worst critic), and as proof that whilst hard work seldom appears to be worthwhile at the time, if you have a little faith, patience and determination you will almost always achieve the results you desire, even if it takes a little longer than you had expected.

I ordered a US size 4, as I am an I in UK sizes. The ring sits comfortably on my finger, although there is a tiny bit of room (not enough to fall off my finger or to be uncomfortable). I'm actually glad that there is a tiny bit of room as should my fingers become swollen the ring does not become painful, and I can remove the ring easily.


The sheer level of detail in this ring is astounding. I still find myself completely captivated by it even after owning it for over a month; I cannot help but stop and admire it whenever it catches the light. It isn't light, but it isn't too heavy for my little fingers either, and I adore the way it looks completely different from each angle. I do not think the beauty of this ring can be described in words alone; you really do have to see this ring to comprehend how truly lovely it is. I had originally intended to only wear this ring on special occasions, but I have found that I have instead taken to wearing it every day. It feels quite natural on my finger now, and I do not think it will ever be resigned to my jewellery box for occasional wear. It is, of course, expensive, but it is a piece that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I am beyond happy that I chose this particular piece as a symbol for completing my degree. I am now tempted to purchase one of the planchette or talon moon necklaces. I may invest in another piece should I graduate from my MA course with an acceptable grade next year!

You can purchase this ring from the Blood Milk website.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Christmas Tag

I hope you are all having a wonderful (and hopefully not too stressful) week! I thought it would be particularly apt for my final post before Christmas to be the Christmas tag, which I've seen on several blogs recently. I'm getting up early tomorrow to travel to Hertfordshire to stay with my Aunt for Christmas. It's our first Christmas (and first long car journey) with Bree, so it's going to be interesting!



1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?

My favourite Christmas film is The Polar Express. We watch it every year on Christmas Eve. I do love Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Miracle on 34th Street though!

2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Christmas morning! We do a family secret santa on Christmas Eve so we all open one present. It's usually something funny and has to be under £5.

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?

I don't think I've ever had a bad Christmas, so I treasure all of my Christmas memories. I used to love waking up at my Aunt's house and racing down the stairs with my cousins and my sister and peeking in the dining room (where the tree is) to see the presents. We don't open gifts until after breakfast, so as children we had to really be patient! We also have a rule in our family where you can't collect your own presents from under the tree, you have to find a gift for someone else and take it to them. You can only open your gifts when somebody fetches one for you.

4. Favourite festive food?

I love chocolate oranges, which we eat every year. I also love pigs in blankets.

5. Favourite Christmas gift?

My camera is probably my favourite Christmas gift. I've certainly had a lot of use out of it!

6. Favourite Christmas scent?

I adore the Christmas Cookie scent from Yankee Candle. I can't really think of any other Christmas scents!

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

Yes! My Aunt makes our Christmas cake very year, and we add the icing and decorate it on Christmas Eve. We also exchange secret santa gifts, watch Christmas films, and finally curl up to watch The Polar Express just before bed. I think we'll have a slightly different tradition this year which will include taking Bree out for a Christmas Eve walk.

8. What tops your tree?

A very wonky star. We used to have an angel, but she has somehow vanished over the years. The star is pretty, but it never sits straight so it always makes our tree look wonky! I'm always a bit concerned that it's going to fall on me whenever I walk past.

9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

As far as I can remember, I never asked for anything extravagant. Except perhaps a kitten, which was when we still had Thomasina (who would have mostly definitely been opposed to another cat in the house, so it's a good thing my parents did not listen to me).

10. What's the best part about Christmas for you? 

Spending time with my family. I don't get to see my Dad's side of the family very much as they live a lot further south than we do, so it's always lovely spending Christmas with them. On Christmas Eve we decorate the Christmas cake, exchange secret santa gifts, and snuggle down in the evening to watch The Polar Express. It's my Dad's birthday on Christmas Day too so it's a particularly nice day for us! I also love buying presents for people. I would much rather give gifts than receive them, which some find strange!

 I don't usually tag people on these, but my sister has informed me that I need to tag her, so I tag October 10th.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/Holiday!


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Feeling Festive!

I hope you are all having a lovely holiday season so far! We finally put up all of our Christmas decorations last weekend, and yesterday my sister and I had a rather festive day out in London. I hadn't visited London in more than year, so I thought I was overdue a visit. The train is extremely expensive, so we opted for the coach instead, which was more than a quarter of the price. It took just over three hours to get there, which was quite uncomfortable on a coach! When we arrived we decided to take a trip to King's Cross, as we had been meaning to visit for quite some time even though it was quite out of our way to visit. Our reason for visiting was Platform 9 and 3/4. We had the obligatory photo on the platform, and then visited the shop. I bought a cute little Hedwig keyring and a print. It was quite expensive. If you are travelling to the Studio Tour from King's Cross, I'd recommend you wait for the tour shop as the quality of the merchandise and the pricing is a lot more reasonable at the tour.



After finding something to eat at King's Cross we decided to head to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. A few friends of mine had already visited and recommended it, so we thought it was worth a visit. It certainly was. It was incredibly festive, and had a wonderful atmosphere. The stalls were incredibly expensive, so I didn't buy anything except a cup of hot chocolate, but the food stalls in particular looked lovely. It was a lot bigger than I was expecting! The highlight was definitely the Christmas tree. It was spectacular!


We didn't have time to go on any of the rides, but we did buy tickets for the Magical Ice Kingdom. We were warned on entry that it would be very, very cold. I had gloves in my bag, but no hat and presumed that I would be fine as I was wearing my winter coat. It was freezing. It was worth the wait and the cold, however. I have mentioned my love for Narnia numerous times on this blog, and I felt like I had been transported to Narnia during the wintery rule of Jadis. The Ice Kingdom also features an ice slide and ice thrones where you can have your photo taken. It was incredibly impressive. I apologise for the sheer number of photos; I couldn't quite decide which ones to share!



After leaving the Ice Kingdom we went straight to the hot chocolate stall to warm up, and jumped back on the tube to Oxford Circus. This was not the best idea, as Oxford Street is usually very busy, but towards Christmas it is unbearable. The Christmas lights were very impressive, however. We ended up giving up trying to look around and headed back to Victoria to find something to eat before we had to board the coach back home.


It was a very enjoyable day. I absolutely recommend visiting the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, and definitely make time for the Ice Kingdom if you are visiting!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Hidden Gems

It has been a while since I posted anything substantial hasn't it? I've been incredibly busy recently, with university, projects and taking care of the puppy. Bree still has two weeks before her next set of injections, and after she has had those she is finally allowed to leave the house. I am very much looking forward to being able to take her to different places (and being able to leave the house for a long period of time).

I have always dreamed of having my own personal library with a spiral staircase, with shelves so high that you can only access the books near the top by climbing a ladder. As a child, I was completely infatuated with the library in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. When I reached the age of six and discovered C.S Lewis, I decided I would also like a library that you could only enter by walking through a wardrobe. At the age of twenty one, I would still very much like to have both of these things.

Bromley House Library is situated in the centre of Nottingham, nestled amongst the tall, imposing buildings of the city. It truly is a sanctuary in such an urban environment. It was founded in 1816, and is home to over forty thousand books. It also features a relaxing little walled garden. I had been planning on visiting for quite some time, and went along to an open day a few months ago. Most of these photographs are in black and white as my camera was being temperamental, and turning everything yellow (I adjusted the white balance and it made almost no difference). However, I think adding a black and white filter only enhances the beauty of the library. I couldn't quite capture how beautiful and serene the library is, but I did my best.



The range of older texts was astounding. I felt very privileged to be allowed to view them. My particular favourite was the photo shown above, a truly spectacular edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It took quite a long time for me to pull myself away and let other people take a look!

I am actually posting this in reverse; we walked through the walled garden on entry as rain was forecast and we wanted to make the most of the sunshine. However, I couldn't resist posting the photographs of the library and of the books first.



If I had been blindfolded and taken into the garden, I would have rejected all claims of being in the city centre. It is delightfully tranquil. I was unfortunately unable to take many photographs in the garden as there were too many people walking around. It is the perfect place to curl up with a book in the sunshine.

I absolutely recommend attending an open day and visiting the library for yourself, as it is difficult to capture on camera. I would love to be able to afford to join (it costs £90 per year). I also firmly believe that more libraries should have spiral staircases!

Have you been anywhere interesting lately?

Monday, 3 November 2014

Bree.

Firstly, I would like to apologise lack of posts on here lately. I have been busy settling into my new university, working on my various assignments (my first deadline is next week), and learning to drive. I seem to go through phases of having very little to do, and then having times when I have almost no spare time at all. I really ought to learn to plan my time so this doesn't happen, but I seem to be completely incapable of being remotely organised. Luckily my next deadlines after my first one aren't until January so hopefully I can stop neglecting this blog so much!



Anyway, as some of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram may already know, I recently acquired a puppy. This is a bit of a long story. My family have always liked dogs (my Dad grew up in a house with four dogs, and usually lots of puppies), but we never adopted one because I've always been terrified of them. I managed to decrease my phobia when I was nine after spending Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle, who at the time had two rather large dogs. After this, I took my friend's new puppy out on the park with my sister. The puppy jumped in some water, and got over excited. She started frantically jumping and biting and chasing me on the park, and I since can't physically run away, I ended up with a phobia that was even worse than it was originally. I've had to conjure up excuses for various social events because the person whose home I had been invited to had a dog. I was also unable to go walking alone, just in case there happened to be a dog without a lead. 

As a family we now spend quite a lot of time out walking, and due to our different timetables, there is always somebody in the house. We decided this would be a good environment for a dog. It would also encourage us to exercise in winter, and it would finally help me get over my phobia.

It took us forever to find the perfect dog. We went to several rescue centres  (I prefer having rescue pets), but it was difficult to find a small breed with a good temperament that liked cats. I did fall in love with one rescue dog. However, the shelter was really quite revolting. The conditions were really not pleasant, and I hated having to leave the dog I liked there. I was awake all night worrying about the dogs there. They wanted a lot for her. We sent them a email asking if they would accept less for her, which they ignored entirely. We also spoke to the RSPCA and my vet about the shelter in question and they both advised that we did not adopt from there. After researching them online I heard so many terrible stories about the shelter and it broke my heart. The RSPCA are aware of the problem, and I'm hoping that they will go in and seize the dogs soon.

After a lot of online searching, we found a litter of puppies nearby. The owner  of the mother had been moving in with her partner (the owner of the father), and they ended up with puppies. We went to visit, and chose the smallest, quietest puppy of the litter. We have named her Bree.

Of course, Bree lost both of these qualities before we went to fetch her. She is very bouncy and playful. She's a cross between a patterdale and a cocker spaniel. She is very cute (almost too cute). We're trying to get her trained and organised before we go away at Christmas so she can come with us. She adores toys, and is forever running around with things in her mouth. She also loves to be cuddled, and is crying for fuss all the time. She's also surprisingly clever, she has already improved since we bought her home. I was nervous around her at first but I am not at all uncomfortable in her presence now, mainly because she is so tiny! Figgy looks absolutely huge in comparison!

My main concern when we brought her home was Figgy. Fig has been fantastic with her so far. They aren't exactly friends yet, but I think they will be in time. Bree is always trying her best to get to Figgy because she wants to play with her, and Figgy is not overly impressed. Bree jumped at Figgy the other day and ended up being hissed at, but aside from that they both sit with me in the lounge peacefully. Figgy goes over and sniffs her whenever she is asleep nearby. They keep trying to eat each other's food though, which is a problem. Bree figured out the cat flap on her first day (the cat flap which took Figgy about five months to figure out). Luckily we have a magnet controlled cat flap so she can't get outside!

I realise that this has been quite a long post! Let me know if you like these posts and I'll post little updates like I did when we first adopted Figgy.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

YSL The Mats Lipstick in 205

It has been quite a long time since I reviewed any lipsticks hasn't it? I keep meaning to get my beauty reviews completed and published, but I never seem to get around to it. This post has been in my draft post folder for so long that I almost forgot it was there until I stumbled across the lipstick this morning and remembered that I had promised to blog about it!

This is another lipstick that I purchased with my Boots points. You may remember that I reviewed one of the Rouge Volupte lipsticks in Exquisite Plum by YSL last year, and since then, I'd been considering purchasing another one. However, the price tag is much too high for my budget, and so I instead saved up my Boots points. I chose number 205.



The lipstick comes in exquisite gold casing. It's very sophisticated and feels extremely expensive. It's quite weighty. As with Exquisite Plum, you wouldn't feel embarrassed to take this out of your handbag. I prefer the Rouge Volupte packaging aesthetically, but it's still very beautiful and feels very luxurious.


I wasn't overly sure what to expect with this lipstick in terms of colour. It's a little lighter than I was expecting, but it's a lovely dark berry shade. It has a matte finish, but I don't find it to be overly drying. It does grow a little uncomfortable on me after wearing it for a few hours, but it is nowhere near as uncomfortable as other matte lipsticks I've used. Likewise, it does show up the dry areas on my lips, so I would recommend using a balm and/or lip scrub beforehand. It lasts around five hours on me before it begins to fade, including with eating and drinking. After fading it leaves a dark pink stain on me.



Overall, I love this lipstick. It's a beautiful colour and I'm going to get a lot of use of it. I still wouldn't pay the full price for this lipstick, but I am pleased that I bought it nevertheless.

This lipstick costs £25.00 and can be purchased from Boots and Debenhams.

Disclosure: I bought this lipstick myself, with my Boots points.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Little Adventures

The end of summer means that I am finally reaching the end of my long break before heading back to university. As such, I recently decided that I ought to be making the most of my free time before I return to being busy. Hardwick Hall has been on my list of places to visit for about two years. It may look familiar to some of you as it was used as Malfoy Manor in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I had been hesitant to visit before as I wasn't quite sure how to get there and how far it was. Fortunately, I discovered that the journey only took forty minutes rather than the two hours that Google predicted.

We paid to go around the gardens and the new hall. I was not aware that you could pay a joint price to go around the gardens and the new and old halls, and so I think I will be going back for another visit to go around the old hall ruins. We headed to the gardens first in an attempt to make the most of the weather as rain was predicted for the afternoon. The gardens are magnificent, and very well maintained. Despite visiting during the school holidays, they had a very tranquil atmosphere. I can only imagine how peaceful they must be during the quieter months. I was incredibly impressed with the attention to detail in the gardens. The little fairy houses that we found tucked away in the gardens, complete with furniture were a lovely surprise. I would have loved them when I was a little girl!


After an extensive stroll around the herb garden and grounds, we decided that it was time to look around the hall. We declined the offer of a guided tour, as I prefer to look around at my own pace and sometimes find tours a little overcrowded. The hall was built in the late sixteenth century for Bess of Hardwick, and was designed by the architect Robert Smythson, who also designed Wollaton Hall.


As with the gardens, the house has been wonderfully maintained and worth a visit. We also walked through the lower park which I don't recommend if you have difficulties with mobility. It is a pretty walk, but I personally found it to be a very difficult walk as it was so steep, and my leg was very stiff and sore afterwards. Just a warning!

I absolutely recommend visiting Hardwick Hall if you are ever nearby. Both the hall and house are extraordinarily beautiful. I am already itching to go back to go around the old hall!

Have you had an enjoyable summer?
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