Most Popular Posts of 2015...

Thursday 31 December 2015

I've seen a couple of bloggers share these kinds of posts over the last few days and it was more for my own curiosity than anything else that I decided to check out my most popular posts from 2015...

This was by far my most popular post of 2015, and needless to say this was one of the biggest give-aways that I had done on my blog ever. I was actually quite shocked by how popular it was. If you missed out on it you don't have to worry as I am already planning the giveaway for my 3 year Blogiversary!

I am unsurprised that this was one of my most popular posts of 2015 as it was one of the most exciting things that I did this year. For those of you that don't know I did a 1 month Film, TV and Theatre Makeup course and I decided to do a write up of my experience on the blog. You can check out week 2, week 3 and week 4, by simply clicking on them.

Ahhh my first week of the Bloggers Bake Along, probably my biggest achievement of the year was taking part in every single week of the bake along. I never made it easy on myself and the first week was no exception when I made this monstrosity of a cake for Tim's Birthday. The chocolate work was so fun, and it was the first time I made something so extravagant...

This was one of my favourite new products of 2015 so I am glad that this was one of my most popular posts. It's more a Youtube video than a post, where I give a look at four of the eye jewels in the Lush makeup range from the Oxford Street store. I am so in love with these...

The tennis cake, something that when I watched the GBBO episode, I thought looked so simple and beautiful... Then I made it, and OMG was this an effort and a half to make. I had to prepare a tonne of fruit, bake the cake, cover it in marzipan, colour some fondant, make royal icing in three different colours, AND try to make an upright tennis net... I was so please with the final result, even though it was without the tennis net...

There are my top 5 posts of 2015, are there any that I missed that were your favourite from my blog this year? Let me know in the comments below!
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Blogger Book Club: The Book of You by Claire Kendal

Monday 28 December 2015

Buy this book: Amazon

Here I am sitting down to write this on the day the post is due to go live, having only just finished the book a mere five minutes ago. Part of the reason for my finishing the book so late was due to the Holiday Season getting in the way, and the fact that the book only arrived at my doorstep a week before Christmas. Knowing that the review was due to go live today I picked up the book in the hopes to at least start it, 5 hours later and the book was finished, and it wasn't too great an effort to get through. I mean that in a good way of course. Before I get too much into the book here is the description from Amazon:

'Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.

Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.'

First Impressions: I'm always intrigued by book covers that are mainly black and white with a small splash of colour, and this cover definitely caught my eye, it kind of reminded me of the cover of 'Before I Go to Sleep' by S J Watson. Before I even read the blurb I knew it would be some sort of crime/thriller, one of my favourite genres I would like to add.

During Reading: I'm a big fan of books that are written in a diary style, some of my favourite books when I was a child were the Little Wolf books, due to the way that the entire story is written in letters to little wolf's parents. I always find there I connect much more when a book is written in this way, I just feel like it's so much more personal. The entire book moves between this style and third person, so that you don't feel trapped in the mind of the main character Clarissa. I don't want to give too much of the story away because you really should read it for yourself, but in this story Clarissa is fending off unwanted attentions from a creepy work colleague. The passages where she is being harassed by him are all written in diary style, which certainly made me feel like I was experiencing the harassment right alongside Clarissa, and really added to the tension. Having read the entire thing cover to cover in 5 hours you could definitely say that this book had me hooked. I will admit though that I was disappointed with the ending, it all seemed very unsatisfactory for me, as I did have higher hopes for Clarissa, I can't give much more away than that, but the whole thing felt very rushed...

Final Verdict: Overall a very gripping thriller, a book you will find difficult to put down. If you are a lover of crime/thriller novels then I suggest you get your hands on this one ASAP. The ending is the only thing that lets this book down, but even that isn't enough to stop me from saying that I would happily read this again.

Rating: 4/5 Creepy Stalkers

To find out what the other bloggers thought about the book check out their links below:

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Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2015

Sunday 20 December 2015

I think I first heard about Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park was when I was in sixth-form, a few of my friends went and said it was amazing, but I didn't know what the fuss was about. Then I never gave it a second thought. Tim and I got together in October, and our first proper weekend away was to Bristol in November, and at the time they had a Christmas Market. It was then that we decided that we would make our Christmas Market visits a yearly event. Last year we went back to Bristol, however this year we forgot about it, right up until a few weeks ago. My mind was turned back to Winter Wonderland when I realised that they had Christmas Markets there, I knew we had to visit. When I actually got around to looking into it, I realised how much they had to do there and knew that we had to go. We decided to pre-book tickets for three events, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Ice Bar, and also Zippo's Christmas Circus. Originally I had wanted to go ice skating however Tim wasn't too keen on that.

So on Friday we got up earlier than we would have liked, after having a terrible nights sleep, and got ourselves onto a train up to London. Arriving at Green park we made what we thought would be a short walk, but was actually a fair trek, and finally arrived! Our first order of business was to find the lay of the land so we knew where we needed to be for our events, for which we were given specific time slots. This proved to be trickier than you would think, considering all of the maps they had around, only one had a 'you are here' mark on it, and the maps had a ridiculous scale that made no sense. Eventually we found the place for our first event, The Magical Ice Kingdom.

Before entering the staff were encouraging us to wrap up warm before entering, I thought it couldn't possibly be that cold, however as soon as I walked through the door I was hit by the cold. It was so cold in there that I could see my breath in front of my face. Which is obvious when you think about it, because these beautiful sculptures need to be cold enough to not melt. These sculptures were so beautiful, I had never seen an ice sculpture up close before and was amazed with the amount of detail that is in them. The lighting made them glisten beautifully and it made everything so wintry and cold, it was just perfect. I could have stayed in there all day, well if it wasn't for the cold... After that we had a short time to warm up before heading into another chilly area, Bar ice.

Our tickets for Bar ice allowed us one drink and there were a selection of Christmas themed cocktails that you could have served either with or without alcohol. I obviously chose the non-alcoholic version of my cocktail which was red berry flavoured, and very sweet. As Tim wasn't driving he went for an alcoholic cocktail which had Bailey's in it, he very much enjoyed it. In the bar we got to sit on benches made of ice, which were freezing cold and made my jeans soaking wet! Unfortunately due to this we only stayed a short while, but it was still enjoyable and an experience I will definitely remember.

After the Ice bar we had a couple of hours before the circus, so we went and had some lunch and had a look around the Christmas markets. There were so many interesting stalls, from cute Christmas ornaments, and candles to all kinds of hand made jewellery. Tim and I knew that we still needed to buy a gift for his nan, and we settled on some beautifully crafted candles that were brightly coloured and interesting shapes. It was honestly so hard not to buy all of the things that I wanted, especially as I hadn't seen a lot of them before, but I was very restrained. I wasn't restrained however with what I ate, there were too many good choices and Tim and I ended up sampling pancakes and churros. Trust me I would have eaten more, but we ran out of cash and the food vendors didn't take card, much to my despair.

Finally we visited the circus, something which I haven't done since I was a child. Zippo's Christmas Circus was placed right in the heart of Winter Wonderland. The circus is always silly, and it definitely put me in touch with my childhood, the clowns were down right ridiculous, and the jokes were criminal. The stunts however were really good, there was one in particular where the acrobat almost tripped and fell from a great height, and it definitely wasn't faked, it was really scary! Overall though it was a fun show, not something I would go to again if I didn't have children to take with me.

I would urge any of you that haven't yet visited Winter Wonderland to consider going, it made for a very good day out, and it definitely got me into the Christmas spirit. I was distinctly lacking in the spirit department, but since Friday I have already planned plenty of Christmas activities to get me more in the mood!

Have you ever visited a Winter Wonderland, if so what did you get up to?
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Blogger Book Club: Secret Santa

Wednesday 16 December 2015

As of last month I joined a bloggers book club, something that I myself have been trying to organise for a long time. Then I stumbled across an already existing blogger book club and knew that I just had to join it. I have always needed a little push to ensure that I continued reading, as sometimes I just forget how much I enjoy it. I know that sounds so silly, but it's just the case, I get distracted with TV, video games, literally anything and I forget how much I love to have my nose in a good book.

Anyway shortly after posting about the first book that I read, one of the lovely ladies from the book club, Lorna, emailed me about getting involved with a secret Santa for the group. All it involved was buying a book for under £10 that our random recipient would enjoy, based on some of their favourites. I wasn't going to tell you who I got to buy for, but having received my package today, it seems that we both got each other. My recipient was Chloe of #BooksAremyBag, and I won't tell you what I got her just in case she hasn't received it yet, so you'll just have to check out her blog to find out whether she liked what I got her.

So what did I receive?

It turns out that both Chloe and I like Crime novels, so I wasn't surprised to see a crime novel inside the package. I was however surprised that this is a murder mystery novel that is set at Christmas time. Here is what Amazon says about the book:

'Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered - by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus - with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos. Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond's death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive. Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the identity of the murderer, and the Chief Constable of Haulmshire, who begins his investigations by saying that he knows the family too well and that is his difficulty, wishes before long that he understood them better. In the midst of mistrust, suspicion and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus, but two.'

I have to confess that whilst I love a good crime novel, I have never specifically read a murder mystery, so I am actually really excited to get my claws into this one. That is once I have finished December's book club read! Thank you so much Chloe for such a thoughtful Secret Santa gift, and I really hope that you enjoy the book that I picked for you.

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The Oracle Christmas Event

Friday 4 December 2015

A few weeks ago an email landed in my inbox that made me very excited. I was invited to a special Christmas event at the Oracle in Reading exclusively for bloggers. As soon as I saw what was in store for us, I knew that I had to go, so on a very rainy Tuesday I trekked into Reading to meet up with some fellow bloggers.

First stop for us was Browns Bar and Brasserie, which I had honestly never heard of before this event. Nestled on the Riverside in the Oracle this bar is very stylish, I walked in an immediately felt like I was in a Bar in New York. The other girls arrived, including our guide for the evening, Hayley. Bubbly was provided, which I unfortunately no longer drink, so I myself had an orange juice. Shortly after everyone arrive some canap├ęs were provided, which were amazing! We had chicken and bacon croquettes, crackers and cheese, and my absolute favourite of the evening, home made pork scratchings that were very crunchy and unbelievably moreish. After getting to know each other a little bit and demolishing the nibbles we moved onto the next stop... Topshop.

When we arrived at Topshop we were shown their Christmas Party wear at the front of the store on the mannequins, and talked through the major trends for the season. Then we were shown into an exclusive area in the changing rooms and shown some pieces that they had pulled for us to have a look at. There was a great range of styles for us to look at, from interesting furs, to metallic knitwear, and even beautiful jewel tones. The lovely staff member from Topshop told us that one of the biggest trends this season is a mix and match of embellishments, such as buckles and sequins. I personally don't normally buy from Topshop, because I am always worried that they won't have anything that will fit me. However I did absolutely fall in love with one of their textiles which was a metallic gold knit, that honestly felt like it was a fine chain-mail... that's the only way I can think of to describe it. I just wish Topshop had clothing in my size because I would buy something made of that in a heartbeat. Once we were done in the fitting rooms we got too have a wander around the store and I did find a few more pieces that I was dying to add to my wardrobe, but again was disappointed to find that my size was not catered for. 

The final stop was at Kiko, a makeup brand that I know very little about, but after my experience with the girls in store, desperately want to get to know more. I had actually made a visit to the Kiko store before, back in February when I was looking for makeup for my finals with DFMA, and I purchased some eye-shadows but didn't venture too much further into the store. However when we walked in we were greeted by the sight of their beautiful Christmas range that the girls talked us through. I was honestly so impressed and I don't think I have ever seen such a large Christmas range from one brand. They had everything from fragrances, to lipsticks and nail polishes. All in lovely gift sets, just the right size to give to someone special for the holiday season. My personal favourite from the collection was the lipstick and lip-liner set priced at £10.90, perfect for someone who loves lipstick, or even someone who wants to start wearing more lipstick. Once the lovely staff had finished showing us the range they asked if any of us wanted to see any of the products more close up and in depth, and some of the girls leaped at the chance and got to have their makeup done. I couldn't resist getting some snaps of this, and I also couldn't resist swatching lipsticks on the back of my hand! I didn't end up buying a lipstick though and instead bought a lovely pink highlighter stick from the Christmas range for £6.90, as soon as I swatched it, I fell in love and just had to have it. Having had a proper look in Kiko now I know that as soon as I get some Christmas money I am on my way into reading to have a bit of a splurge!

All in all it was so lovely to meet some old and new faces and spend an evening in one of my favourite towns. Thanks to Frank PR for inviting me along, and Browns, Topshop and Kiko for deciding to host us. I already can't wait for my next trip into Reading.

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