Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Year That Was 2015

I wasn't really planning on writing a review of the past year, but I wrote one about 2014 and thought it would be rude not to do the same again! So without further ado, let's check out how 2015 turned out for me! 
One year, one slightly different hair style!
With some of my first uni deadlines looming, in January I spent the majority of my time perfecting my Food Writing and Editing final project, a book proposal called A Taste of Wonderland. I felt so incredibly proud of this and ended up getting my highest ever mark! 

Another uni-work orientated month, not a vast amount happened in February! I did surprise Joe with some Stewart Lee tickets for valentine's day, and I apparently got addicted to the Disney Tsum Tsum app. Safe to say I had to delete it to ensure I didn't fail my degree! I also shared my Jar of Sunshine, which heavily included my good pal Leona! 

In March I saw Wicked perform a Bristol Hippodrome, and what an experience it was! I went with some of my work pals, and despite having to run in the rain to make sure I got there in time, I ended up having a fabulous night! I also went to Salisbury Cathedral to climb up the spire and ordered some new glasses. Aaaaaand, I saw Morrissey! A pretty good month! 

I apparently had an 'informal chat with a potential employer' this month, but I can't for the life of me work out who it was! Buuuut, I also went to see McBusted with megababe Leona and I apparently didn't blog about it but Leona did so have a read!

I handed in all of my final uni work! It was stressful, and tiring! But yeah, not a lot really happened other than that. I pondered what would happen next and I was mostly right! Also, I cried over the election and joined the Labour Party. 

I landed my very first internship for the NHS! I really loved my internship, and living a life of comms. Other June news included joining Slimming World and saw Manic Street Preachers perform at Cardiff Castle

At the end of June, my Nana sadly passed away so I didn't really blog at all in July, understandably. I went home to be with my dad, and the whole family got together to remember my wonderful Nana. My dad then came down to Bath for my graduation which was of course a happy, but sad time as well. 

Joe and I celebrated three years of marriage and I whisked him away to see The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Nighttime at Bristol Hippodrome after a lovely meal at Wahaca! It was a seriously great day, and I'm very happy that Joe puts up with me. I also read All The Bright Places and cried a lot.       

I started a new job a week after my internship finished and hoped it would be a sign of great things to come. Dylan had a superhero fancy dress birthday party and I posted a birthday wishlist to help my loved ones on their quest to buy me things! (Side note: most things on here still haven't been purchased, if any loved ones are stilling thinking about treating me!)

My birthday! I went to the zoo and saw some Red Pandas! I also posted a 25 before 25 post which I had pretty much forgotten about until just now... 

I quit my job! With all the rubbish family stuff going on in the background, I decided I needed to make a decision between working a great job in publishing and being with my family. Family won. I also shared some pictures of Monty and Joe's brother got married!  

Well, this month has been pretty busy - what with Christmas coming up and all that jazz - and I mostly just bought presents for other people and books for myself. I also looked back on my 10 things for 2015 goals, which was, erm, a good try... 

And there we have it! A whole year in review! If you'd wrote a similar post - or would like to share your year - please comment and leave links below :) 

Chelsea xo

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Books I've Been Buying

In true Chelsea fashion, I decided that December would be the month when I go book-buying crazy. After being quite conservative with my buying habits, I somehow managed to buy myself six books within the first half of this month. You know, the month of Christmas and presents and stuff. I was also sent some books as part of a #bookbloggers swap, so I have included those below.

I adored the film of A Little Princess when I was a nipper, but I don't recall ever reading the story. When I noticed this super gorgeous Puffin in Bloom cover designed by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co, I couldn't help but pick it up. I'm hoping that Dylan will let me read it to him, but he tends to prefer picture books mostly. 

My lovely pal Dannie recommended this one to me, and she's my go-to for YA fiction. The storyline has a focus on Alzheimer's, so it may not be suitable for everyone, but I really enjoyed (that feels like the wrong word) Elizabeth Is Missing which has a similar focus. 

Yep, straight outta my wish list, Kaling's second book somehow found it's way into my hands. I'm pretty much obsessed with The Mindy Project, so I'm hoping this has lots of behind the scenes gossip about the show.

What? Another book from my wish list? I know, I'm too naughty at times. I really need to keep books off my wish list if I'm just going to by myself them. 

Did I buy this because of the title? Did I buy it because the author's name sounds like criss cross? So many questions, so little time. In actual fact, I Love Dick has been on my radar for some time because I follow the publisher on instagram. 

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know my true passion lies with children's publishing. The Fox and The Star was chosen by Waterstones as their book of the year, and within seconds you can see why. Beautifully designed, the cover and illustrations are something that need to be seen to take in their true glory. The story is a sweet little tale that I'm sure will become an instant classic.

The Bees by Laline Paull - sent by my secret Santa
When Margaret Atwood calls a book 'gripping', you know it's going to be good. I've heard nothing but seriously positive reviews about this, so I can't wait to start it. 

I've been trying to expand my horizons by reading more translated texts, so I was really delighted when my secret Santa had picked this one for me. It sounds completely bonkers but that can only be a good thing, right? 

Since I first saw this book way back in 2013, I've always wanted to read it. The story sounds really captivating and refreshing compared to other 'book club' story lines I've heard about. Plus, the cover is really gorgeous - which I have to say often sways me when adding books to my 'must have' mental wish list. 

I've actually bought more books than this since I started writing this post, but I felt like nine books might be enough for one post! If you made it to the end of this list, then please go ahead and treat yourself to a new book. You deserve it! ;) 

Chelsea xo
twitter - bloglovin' - instagram

Affiliate links have been used in this post. 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Post-Christmas Catch Up

Here's a not very festive picture of me, donning my lovely new necklace!
Hello everyone, just a quick post today! Sorry for the accidental silence over here, but in the run up to Christmas I managed to run out of spare time to blog. Well, actually, I have been writing posts, I just kept missing the elusive daylight hours needed to get some blog-worthy snaps. Anyhoo, if it ever stops raining, hopefully the posts start up again soon. 

How was Christmas for you? 

Chelsea xo

Monday, 21 December 2015

Ten Things To Do in 2015 - How Did I Do?

I was sitting down and thinking about what my hopes and goals for 2016 would be, when I suddenly remembered I had wrote a similar post for 2015. So, dashing through the archives, I had a look to see if I could find it and write about everything I had ticked off. Then I remembered I had posted a mid-point review (erm, in August?) and realised that not a great deal had changed. Whoops, my bad! Still, let's have a look at what I managed to do this year!

Renew my passport 
Finish my degree with a 2:1 or higher 
See some Red Pandas 
Do a 'Photo an Hour' post properly 
Reach 250 on my blog 

So, 5 outta 5 isn't so bad, right? The things I didn't achieve - make a patchwork blanket, pass my driving test etc - all pretty much relied on me having oodles of spare time. Which I don't. At least I know what to put on my 2016 list, amiright? 

Did you have a 'to do' list for 2015? What have you achieved this year?

Chelsea xo

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Photo Gifts Perfect for Christmas

Christmas for me is all about the memories. Sure, when I was younger it was mostly about the presents - but these days I'm happiest when surrounded by food the ones I love. As well as a time for making memories, Christmas is also a great time to gift memories to others, in the form of a photo gift! Whether it's a personalised mug or something in a new frame with a gorgeous family print already inside, giving photo gifts is great at this time of year!

When Snapfish got in touch with me for the chance to create some gorgeous photo gifts, I couldn't say yes fast enough. I had already bought the frame for a wedding gift to the newly weds in the family, so it couldn't have come at a better time. At first, I was sure I would create a heat-changing photo mug, but after seeing you could make your own jigsaw... Well, I couldn't not make one! 

As the wedding-related gifts are for Joe's side of the family, I wanted to make sure my side had some photo treats too! I created two photo panels using photos from my graduation to gift to my parents! I'm half tempted to order some more photo panels, as I love that photo of me with my dad! You can tell who I get my handsome manly looks from, right? I love the idea of everyone receiving some personalised Christmas gifts, and the quality of these Snapfish ones are incredible! 

Do you like photo gifts? Ever received a jigsaw with your face on it? 

Chelsea xo

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Book Club #23 - Holy Cow by David Duchovny

My apologies for the radio silence here. I've been pretty busy in December and thought I had given myself enough time for writing blog posts but it would seem I didn't. I mean, I found time to watch three seasons of The Mindy Project, but that's beside the point, right? I'm back with a book review now, and it's Holy Cow by David Duchovny*. 

You've got to be in a certain kind of mood to want to read a book by a talking cow - as told to David Duchovny, of course - but luckily I recently found myself in that type of mood. As soon as I first heard about Holy Cow, I knew it would be a book I wanted to read. Mostly because I like tongue-in-cheek books, and also because I like books with strong leading animal characters... I jest. 

Holy Cow follows Elsie Bovary, a newly converted Jewish pig named Shalom and an iPhone obsessed turkey called Tom as they embark on a quest to find a better world - or at least somewhere where they won't become dinner. I enjoyed Elsie, the bovine narrator, and her endearing way of telling her story - full of Ferris Bueller-style breaking the fourth wall commentary and occasional casting hints for future directors. The pace is quite speedy, and it doesn't take long before 'just one chapter before bed..' becomes five or six chapters. Of course, when a novel's main theme is that eating animals is bad, it can get a tad preachy at times, but I felt like it was justified due to the fact is was 'told' by a cow. I think I'd be pretty pissed off to be a cow if I knew people wanted to eat me. Boy, that's a sentence I never thought I'd put on the ol' blog.  

Have you read Holy Cow? What do you think of talking animals in books?

Chelsea xo

*This book was sent to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own. An affiliate link has been used in this post. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Am I The Only Blogger That...

Although we try our best to hide it, most of us are committing blogging clichés. There's nothing wrong with a blogging clichés, of course, but when you're in a room full of bloggers and realise you all have the same watch/camera/cold plate of food waiting to be instagrammed - then you know it might have gone too far! Always one to buck a trend, I thought I'd share some blogging clichés I seem to have missed out on.

Am I the only blogger that...

- doesn't like Pumpkin Spice Lattes?
- doesn't use a marble tray/white fur blanket for blog photos?
- isn't part of a #girlgang?
- doesn't have an instagram 'theme'?
- hasn't been to Ladurée for macarons? (or other baked goods, for that matter!)
- doesn't like peonies? Tulips are where it's at, bro.
- doesn't put avocado on everything
- isn't worried about 'finding my niche'?
- doesn't own succulents?

There's no shame in it, it's the blogger clichés that bring us all together. If your 'real life' friends think it's weird to take photos of food before eating it, at least your blogger friends understand! I've got to say - I have fallen for the rose gold trend which is currently anywhere and everywhere at the moment, it's just so pretty! C'mon, own up, what blogger clichés do you partake in? 

Chelsea xo

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

TMTW #5 - November Rain

Best bit? Attending a family wedding! Joe's brother got married and I just loved the whole day. They're such a great couple and the day really reflected how perfect they are for each other. 

My favourite things: Dylan being really good during the wedding, being able to spend more time with my family and finally getting Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer!

Any regrets? Wearing new shoes for a rare night out in the middle of the month. I bought them to wear during my graduation and couldn't remember why I had never worn them again. Turns out they kill the balls of my feet. My poor feet are still hurting!

What's in store for next month? I start my new job, which I am pretty excited about - I can't wait to get stuck in. Oh, and Christmas! Joe gets two weeks off over Christmas and New Year so he'll actually be able to spend the entire day with us! He's even insisted that he cooks - not that I'm complaining!

November - the month that was either weirdly mild, bucketing down with rain or giving us a blast with storm Barney. Luckily for me, I spent the majority of the month working from home so I didn't get subjected to much weather damage. 

How did November shape up for you?

Chelsea xo
twitter - bloglovin' - instagram

Monday, 30 November 2015

Dylan's Christmas Wishlist

Now, Dylan is only four so thankfully he hasn't started circling every toy in the Argos catalogue yet but I thought it would be nice to show things that I've either bought him already or will be asking other family members Santa to get for him. As you might already know, Dylan is completely obsessed with superheroes - his favourite being Batman - so it's safe to say they feature heavily in this post! 

So, let's start with the Marvel toys. This is one of the things that I've already picked up for Dylan as it seems quite cool. I bought this Super Hero Mashers set with Captain America as it also comes with various bits of other Marvel superheroes such as Hulk, Thor and Iron man. You can also buy individual Super Hero Mashers, so I grabbed a Spiderman and Wolverine to add to the mix up. I didn't see this Super Hero Adventures with Tony Stark set in my local store, but I'm definitely going to order this for Dylan! Luckily, I have a few things I need to send back, so hopefully I can put that money towards this one! 

I'm not entirely sure if Dylan is a big Clangers fan, but I know they've brought them back on cbeebies, and I've been known to pop it on if I ever need ten minutes to concentrate on something, ha! I think they're cute though, and Dylan loves playing with little figures so I'm sure these will be a hit. Something I'll be reluctantly getting him is this little Pepper Pig set. Out of nowhere, Dylan has become possessed by that snotty little pig and he's always trying to switch Netflix on to watch it. In a bit to curb the remote-hogging (geddit?) I'll get him the little figures instead. 

Two more already-bought things now. I actually bought this 8 Family Favourites DVDs bundle from HMV but their website is weird so I've had to use an Amazon link. I actually couldn't believe how good value this is, as I'm pretty sure Dylan has never seen any of these movies - what, we're a Disney household! - so I think this will go down well. Lastly, it's Nintendogs as Dylan just loves puppies. I'll let you in on a little secret - sometimes if Dylan won't go to bed, we look at pictures of puppies on my phone. Suuuure the blue light from my phone is probably counter-productive, but it's SO CUTE when he asks and I just love looking at puppies, okay?! 

So there we have it! Dylan's pretty much sorted for this year! 

Chelsea xo

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Christmas Book Wish List 2015

As long as I blog, I will post a Christmas book wish list on here, so I thought I'd be to the point with my title. Now, it could be argued that I don't actually need any more books because I have too many unread books on my shelves, I'm running out of space to put them and because I could just hop down to my local library - but where's the fun in that, I ask? Another reason to post about a book wish list is that I will always want more books. Be it Christmas, birthdays or a 'just because' kind of present, books are the way to go. I'm managed to narrow it down to seven great books I need in my life, so let's have a look!

Isn't that a great bunch of covers? I can't even decide on a favourite! First off, I've got Louise O'Neill's Asking For It that I had to put on my list after reading the incredible Only Ever Yours. O'Neill's writing definitely strikes a chord with me, and I think everyone should be reading her novels. Next, it's The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey. I'd heard about this and been intrigued by the storyline, but it wasn't until I saw one of those 'people who bought this also bought this...' things that made me think it might actually be something I would enjoy. It's been described as tense and unputdownable and I've definitely been enjoying books like that recently!

I think you would call The First Bad Man by Miranda July a feminist romance (if that is even a genre?) but this has been near the top of every 'best of..' list for this year. For that alone, I need it in my life. July's writing has been called unpredictable and exciting, which is always great if you ask me! Then we have Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. I pretty much love everything Kaling has put her name to, from The Office to The Mindy Show to voicing a basic white girl in Wreck It Ralph, but I've never read her books! I'm not entirely sure if this is following on from her first book, but if so - I wouldn't mind that one too...

I actually first became aware of Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf on twitter, when the lovely Sarah recommended it to Bee. They're both excellent booky sorts, so I quit my stalking and added it to my wish list. Of course, I then went back to stalking them on social media, but we're not here to talk about that. Our Souls at Night sounds positively dreamy, and I think will be similar to Etta & Otto & Russell & James by Emma Hooper. 

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer is something I noticed right back at the start of the year, in some sort of 'ones to watch' list that brought me Hausfrau. I ruddy loved Hausfrau, and I'm hoping that The Girl in the Red Coat will be just as gripping. It's also been said in reviews that this book has a great ending - something I've been longing for! Lastly, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is on my list. I think this is meant to be one of Rowell's 'adult' books, although as a fan of her YA novels I'm sure I'll enjoy this. The storyline sounds really sweet, and I'm sure to get swept in by the first page! Sadly, I can never seem to find Attachments whenever I go to my local bookshop, but if you're in the mood to treat me, you might have better luck ;) 

So there we have it, one more book wish list for this year! It's now one month until Christmas, which seems totally crazy to me! If you haven't already bought presents for your nearest and dearest, then I hope this helps a little.

Do any of these make your list? What do you think I should add to my ever-growing wish list?

Chelsea xo

Monday, 23 November 2015

White Wedding

On Friday I was thrilled to attend a family wedding as Joe's oldest brother got married! His lovely bride is such a sweetheart, and we've already become great friends. The ceremony was held in Bristol, with a gorgeous view of Brunel's Clifton suspension bridge and the horrid rain even cleared off so we could enjoy some blue skies!  

I wanted to share the above photo as it's quite a rarity to get the whole family together - and I wanted to show off my pretty dress. If we're pals on twitter you may have seen my call for help when I needed to pick between dresses, and this stunning red dress was a clear winner. 

Anyways, just a short post today! Doesn't the bride look lovely?

Chelsea xo

Friday, 20 November 2015

My Top 5 Ways to Feel Better

Well hello! Today I thought I'd talk about some of my top five ways for feeling a bit better. Whether you're under the weather, drowning in work or just feeling a bit down - these are the things that work for me. Hopefully, one or two things could work for you as well. Here's hoping! 

Make something
Could be your favourite meal, a fancy hot chocolate or even whipping out the sewing machine - but I always find getting busy and making something always makes me feel a bit better. I live with a chef, so most of my favourite meals tend to be too tricky for me to replicate but I can make a banging hot chocolate or fabric iPad cover if you need one! My last make was some pretty bunting as a wedding present which is super easy to do but looks great. 

look at all that raw emotion!
Have a good ol' sing song
Most people would probably put Disney songs here, as they're generally all upbeat and lovely, but when I'm feeling really down I love to get the emotions going. If you see on my Spotify that I'm listening to Nothing Compares 2 U then you know I'm having a moment. I guess this is my version of 'watching a film to make yourself cry' tip, but I'm one of those people who really ties a song to a moment, so it really helps me to unleash my emotions by singing along. One of my other faves to sing along with is Everything Everything's latest album, as it's really atmospheric and all angsty about the rise of UKIP and other such larks. 

Look at pictures of Dylan/puppies
You should probably replace 'Dylan' with whatever cute thing you have in your life or I'll have you arrested but I always find looking at something cute or pretty really eases my mind. I mean, it's not exactly helpful if the reason I'm annoyed is Dylan (because who said grinding play-dough into the carpet isn't fun?) but for most occasions I can look at his cute baby photos and just feel really happy inside. 

Read a book
It's another really obvious one, but what better way to escape reality than to jump into somebody else? The options are pretty endless with this one as you could pick out a childhood classic or your favourite ever novel, or even something that you've been meaning to read for ages! That's a double whammy, the last one, as you get rid of some of that #bookshelfguilt that I always seem to suffer from. I'm sorry old, unread books! 

Treat Yo'Self
It's the best day of the year! Okay, okay, I'm not saying you should go all cray and indulge in too much retail therapy, but if there's one thing that you've been eyeing up for a while and you think it will improve your life - go for it! Whether it's a book, new stationery or even just getting your nails done, I think the little things can really help lift your mood! Just make sure it's not a regular occurrence, y'hear! 

Do any of these work for you? What do you do to feel better?

Chelsea xo

Marvellous Mondays badge by Hello Archie

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

M is for...


I really don't talk about Monty enough on this here blog. My little fluff ball has been in my life for around five years now, and I can't remember life without him! Having grown up with pets, I always knew I wanted a dog, but I would have never imagined myself with a miniature Dachshund, let alone a long haired beauty like Monty! We always had massive dogs, and even had a Great Dane called Arnie at one point, so I really never pictured myself with anything below knee height. 

You might not know that Monty is a rescue dog. He's a pedigree, but sadly fell victim to doggy cancer in his boy bits, and after he had his bits removed his owners - who had clearly wanted him to breed - deemed him worthless and wanted rid of him. He was such a scaredy cat when I adopted him, and would cower away and hide if you did so much as clap your hands, and any other loud noises made him hide under anything he could find. These days, he's such a boisterous chap - always barking at the post man - it makes me both happy and sad to think about how much he's changed! 

Monty's getting on a bit now, he turned nine this year, but he's still got loads of life left in him - especially at meal times! Over the past year or two, he's started bossing us about and even attempts to climb the stairs if we don't come down early enough to give him breakfast - cheeky lad!

Do you have any pets? Show me, show me!

Chelsea xo

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Classic Book Tag

I love a good tag, I do! I'm quite nosy, so I love learning odds and ends about people - even better if it's all on one handy topic, like books! I found this little tag over on Megan's blog, and I've kept it at the top of my 'to blog' pile for quite some time. While you're at it, if blogs about books are your thang, make sure you check Megan out - after reading the tag, of course.

1. Name a hyped classic that you really didn't enjoy.
I'm not sure if it's hyped as such, but I had to read Persuasion by Jane Austen and hated it. I didn't manage to finish it, which is something I always try to do. 

2. Favourite time period to read about?
I quite like reading more in modern - or close to modern - times. I know most classics would be classed as earlier than that, but if it's more than a few centuries old then I tend to lose interest.

3. Favourite fairytale?
I loved the Little Match Girl when I was younger, but I think now I would say The Frog Prince.

4. What classic are you embarrassed to admit you haven't read?
I haven't read a lot of classics, so quite a few! I haven't read the works of Shakespeare, which is probably something to be embarrassed about, but that's because I think reading a play is a silly. You should watch a play, obvs.

5. Top five classics you want to read next?
Top five? Yikes. I really want to read The Great Gatsby, as I haven't done so, and maybe something like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I've also got Orange Is Not The Only Fruit on my TBR list. Two more, let me think... Lord of the Flies and To The Lighthouse. I should probably have put these as all answers to question 4 as well. 

6. Favourite modern book/series based on a classic?
I loved Hausfrau, which I believe is meant to be a take on Anna Karenina, but I haven't read that either. Crikey, the list just grows, doesn't it?

7. Favourite movie adaptation/tv series based on a classic?
Can I say Clueless? It was based on a Jane Austen novel, so... It's probably the only way to enjoy Austen, if you ask me! 

8. Worst classic to screen adaptation?
I'm not sure if you consider The 39 Steps to be a classic, but it's the worst book to screen adaptation of all time. No, I'm not talking about the Alfred Hitchcock film, but the app. I studied it during my Literature in the Digital Age module last year, and oh my god, it is so slow. For a fast-paced, full-of-action novel it seems so dull. 

9. Favourite editions you'd like to collect more classics from?
I desperately want the sewn covers by Penguin as they're beautiful. I wish they'd do a Wuthering Heights one as that would be a great cover to add to my ever growing collection. 

10. An under-hyped classic you'd recommend to everyone?  
Can you have an under-hyped classic? I'd recommend The Elegance of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, as it's a lovely story, and made me feel rather sophisticated to be reading a French novel. Translated, of course, but still. 

Fancy doing the Classic Book tag? I'd love to know your answers!

Chelsea xo

Friday, 13 November 2015

TBR: Winter Edition

My apologies for the terrible post name, I couldn't think of anything more creative! My last TBR list  was way back in September but I managed to read all the books I mentioned so I thought I would post another one. I've called this one the winter edition as they're books I plan to read in the next two months, not that they're in any way wintery. Although they might be, I just don't know that yet. Anyhoo, enough of this, let's see what I plan to read!

I've got library books on there, Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. Acceptance is the third book in the Southern Reach Trilogy, and I've been dying to review the first two on here, but I thought it would be better to review the whole collection. So naturally, I'm reading that one right now. I picked up Oranges... as I feel like it's a book I should have read. 

Next up, we have Holy Cow by David Duchovny. I've never known how to pronounce his last name, but it has never stopped me trying. Holy Cow has been described as a 'funny book with a message' and although I can guess at what the message might be, the sign of a good book will be whether it's preachy or not. Now, on the opposite end of the book scale (and cover design) there's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. I've wanted to read this since Hayley named it one of her tops reads of 2014. I saw that this has been made into a film recently, but I'm one of those awful people that has to read the book first, so that is what I intend to do. 

Last, but by no means least, we have I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I tend to stick to fiction when picking books to read, but I really think Malala's story is one that needs to be shared. I've followed her story since the very beginning, and I can't wait to read her personal account of it all. 

What books do you plan on reading? Have you read any of these?

Chelsea xo

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Living Room Wish List

When you rent a house, there never seems to be anything you can do to really make it feel homely. In our place, we're not allowed to paint, hang things up or anything remotely exciting, which means it can be hard to personalise our space. Sure, Dylan's junk tends to fill it up and you can definitely tell he lives here, but I don't think people visit me and think "yes, this is Chelsea's house". Although I endeavour to not rely on 'stuff' to make my mark, sometimes it can be just the thing to some personality to an otherwise boring room! 

Although I call this little space a 'book and lifestyle' blog, I tend to spend most of my evenings watching TV. I know that this is basically a life sin, but now that the weather has turned, going outside seems like the least attractive thing to do! So instead, I stay in, all warm and toasty, and catch up with a Netflix marathon or two. That's why I think we should get a new TV to watch in style. Joe's a big fan of Which? magazine and after they ran an article on 4K sets, he's been obsessed with them. I'm always half surprised when I come home and he hasn't replaced our current TV already! The Panasonic Viera range looks really sleek, and they scored well in Which? so I imagine we'd go for one of those! Next, it's two boxsets to watch. Annoyingly, Netflix stops at season 3 for Suits, so I'm hoping to get my hands on 4 and 5 to keep my fix alive. Another annoyingly, is that we're SO BEHIND on Mad Men, due to not having Sky. Stupid Sky exclusive shows. 

Back to the book side of the blog, and I just love this grey bookcase from IKEA. I desperately need a new bookcase, as the one we have is already stuffed with books - and other bits and bobs - and my book collection shows no sign of shrinking. I'm pretty sure I have some sort of book buying addiction! I'd put my nicest books on this bookcase, like my Letters Of Note books and a few special editions we have. I'd also put this lovely vase on there - as I imagine there would be a little bit of room on the shelf. 

Lastly, there's nothing cute and cosy like new cushions! I love the look of these three together, we already have some cushions with a similar shade pattern, so with any luck these will match rather than clash! Although, clashing is in now, so I could try and make that work. The dark grey cushion helps to tone down the orange and yellow, just a little bit, and would be an easier colour to buy matching accessorise in. Always thinking, me! 

What do you think of my living room update? Have I missed anything off? 

Chelsea xo

*collaboration with Share It Quick, but all words and living room planning my own* 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Should You Give Up On Your Dream?

There are times in life when you need to reassess you life. If you're not happy with something, you should strive to change it, right? I can't even remember the amount of articles I've read recently about mindfulness, or lowing stress levels, or changing your life around to ensure maximum happiness. But is it always that easy?

I completed my degree, walked straight into a three month internship, and then a week after that finished I bagged myself a one year internship working for a children's book publisher and toy company. It was the dream job, but the truth is that I was exhausted. I was working over 40 hours a week, commuting over 12 hours and spent hardly any quality time with Joe or Dylan, as I would be too tired after work or on my days off.

As you know, I've had a really tough time this year with family related issues, and in October I was given some more bad news. It felt like the bad news was never going to end and it made me step back and reassess my life. I like to think of myself as a dedicated, hard working person, but if I had to pick between work and my family, then my family wins hands down. It wasn't even a choice. So I quit. 

Of course, I had a back up plan in place. It would have been ridiculous and irresponsible of me to just quit and have nothing to fall back on. Although I'll be leaving the publishing world behind for now, I'm hoping that my new career path will allow me to go back to it in a few years time - and perhaps do a master's degree, too. But we'll see, right now all I care is that it's giving me something far more valuable - time with my family.

Any big life changes going on for you? 

Chelsea xo

Monday, 2 November 2015

101 in 1001 #10

Wow, lots of ones and zeros in that title! Sorry if it reads a bit like beginner's binary. I didn't really think I had achieved much since my last update, but I decided to type out my tenth(!) update on my 101 in 1001 list after reading through it with my work pal. I kept coming across things and saying, "oh, I've done that" so thought it was time to get them crossed off the list! 

See some Red Pandas!
I finally did it! After a whole lifetime of thinking Red Pandas are the best animal ever, I actually got to see them at Bristol Zoo. Joe kindly bought us tickets to the zoo for an early birthday present and I was ridiculously excited. We went on a Saturday, as Joe managed to have the day off, and we had a jolly good time! 

Do something special on our anniversaries
Three outta three on this one, yay to me and Joe! We went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and it was really good! Another great surprised organised by me, so Joe'll have to get his thinking cap on for our next anniversary.

Work on lowering my student overdraft
Okay, this one is deeeeefinitely still a work in progress but I've started sending myself a (small) lump sum every month into my account and I'm just not touching it. Once I've managed to save/not touch it for so long, I'll lower the overdraft. I'm trying to be sensible and lower it slowly, as knowing my luck if I pay it all off, I'll end up in some sort of money crisis and have nothing to fall back on. 

Bake something more impressive than cupcakes
I've decided to make a stand and cross this one off. I've baked a treacle tart, red velvet brownies, birthday cakes, Turkish delight and countless other things, but felt that they weren't 'impressive' enough. No more, my friends! A treacle tart and the like is bloody impressive, so off it goes!

Buy an American style fridge freezer (living the dream!)
This is the update you've all been waiting for, amiright? Joe bought us a new fridge as I began to slowly despise the other one, and it had certainly overstayed it's welcome. The door handle had snapped off, the freezer drawers were broken, it wobbled about and wouldn't open for 10 minutes if you'd closed it. Our new fridge isn't quite the american dream, but it has a water cooler thing, and that's good enough for me.

Go to a literature festival 
Despite going to university in Bath, I always seemed to miss out on the Literature festivals the city puts on. This year, I decided I wouldn't miss out, and promptly bought tickets to see Patrick Ness as soon as they were available. I bought tickets for Joe's little sisters as well, as they're big fans and we had a great time. I even asked Patrick (we're pals now) a question, and he thought it was an ace question. I presume. This leads nicely to my next item...

Go to a book signing
Yep, we waited and Patrick Ness signed our books! I was quite cheeky and asked him to sign my ticket as well, but he was more than happy to do so. What a great guy!

Organise a fancy dress party
Dylan turned four and as he spends the majority of his waking hours asking to wear a superhero costume, we decided to throw him a fancy dress birthday bash! He was proud as punch to be Batman, and attendees included two Spider-Men, Iron Man, a Transformer (the yellow one, I'm sure this helps!) and a superhero fairy! He had a great day, and Hulk-smashed an appropriate amount. 

That's a pretty good round up, if you ask me! Hopefully in my next update I might have actually lowered my student overdraft, ha!

Do you have a bucket list like this? Crossed off any goals recently?

Chelsea xo

Saturday, 31 October 2015

TMTW #4 - Not The Hunt For Red October

Best bit? Can I say my birthday? It was either my birthday or seeing Hot Chip (for my birthday) and having the best time ever. Man, they are SO good live. 

My favourite things: everything mentioned above, having mate dates with my pals from uni, getting Grayson Perry's Books Are My Bag bag to add to my ever-growing collection, making important life decisions even if it was terrifying at the time and finally, Joe tidying the house.

Any regrets? Well, I wanted to visit Cardiff and spend time with my bestie, but maybe next month! I kind of want to say 'not getting a hair cut' is a regret for this month, as my fringe is currently taking over half of my face, but I'm trying to grow it out so... #logic

What's in store for next month? I'm finally going home! I cannot wait to see my family, it's ridiculous! We also have a family wedding come up so I'm pretty excited about that. November looks like it will be a good month, to be honest. The only bad thing with November (if you ask me) is Bonfire night, but that's purely because I hate fireworks and the smell of firewood burning. I know I'm in a minority there, but I just can't stand it! 

I said that September had been a surprising month, but October has been another odd one. I had plenty of nice things to celebrate, such as my birthday and Hot Chip, but also some more bad news which kind of changed everything as I know it. I can't really delve into it right now - gotta love being cryptic - but that's life, right? 

How did October treat you? 

Chelsea xo

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Witness the Fitness - My #LumiaFitnessInspiration

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll be aware that I've been trying to become fitter/healthier in the past six months or so. After an initial impressive weight loss from trying Slimming World, I have slowly but surely fallen off the bandwagon and I'm now at my heaviest weight. Sad times! I've decided once and for all that I need to stick to this, and after I was asked by Microsoft to post my fitness inspiration I couldn't help but think it was fate - and we all know that once you post something on your blog, it becomes fact! 

It goes without saying that as a parent, pretty much everything in my life revolves around Dylan. Of course I want to be fit and active so I can chase Dylan and play all the weird Superhero games he wants to play but my biggest inspiration for becoming fit is due to my family history with diabetes. Essentially everyone on my mother's side of the family tree has diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) and I have even had a family member pass away due to poor management of their health. This utterly terrifies me as my biggest love in life is delicious yet horribly unhealthy food. Plus, I'm married to a chef so it's safe to say I know my way around a chocolate fondant or two. 

However, my biggest inspiration to get fitter is due to surrounding myself around amazing, determined fit friends. I don't think it's coincidence that as well as being intelligent, kind and thoughtful that all of my friends are also drop dead, jaw droppingly beautiful. And do you know what? It kind of sucks. I love these girls to pieces, but my goodness, I don't half get jealous of them some times. Some are blessed with naturally small frames, whereas others work hard to have a body they're proud of - that works for them. That's the key part. Sure, I'd love to be smokin' hot, but I also want to be healthy, and love my body. My body has done amazing things for me - it created a beautiful, healthy child - but I constantly beat it up. 

I look at the picture above and instead of seeing a group of friends having fun, I just see a little whale in the middle. That's really, really sad. I'm working hard on training myself to love the body I have, but I know I can definitely do with a little push. Hey Chelsea, you're not so bad! The cheesy little quote above might sound silly, but I want to work hard on becoming the healthiest, strongest version of myself - not constantly fighting daily battles against my reflection.

Do you need inspiration to become fitter? What works for you?

Chelsea xo

This post is my entry to Microsoft's #LumiaFitnessInspiration competition

Monday, 26 October 2015

Recently Read #1

I gave y'all a call for action on my birthday and asked if you wouldn't mind some extra book posts on this here blog. My girl Michelle immediately demanded more book posts, and so here I am, typing this out. I've decided to lovingly rip off the format Daniella uses, as it's great and I love her. Without further ado, let's talk about books! 

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
"I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. I will try to remember to come back." If that isn't the greatest start to a blurb, then I don't know what is. Etta takes off one day, determined to fulfil her greatest wish - to see the sea. Despite being 82 with some previous incidents of memory loss, she packs a bag and starts the 2,000 mile trek to the water. 

I found Hooper's writing style to be very endearing, and it really made EaOaRaJ (that's what the cool kids are calling it) an extremely enjoyable read. Some people find the jumping from past, present, different characters thing a bit of a gimmick, but it felt like every jump was necessary to help the story along. I think if you enjoyed The 100 Year Old Man... and other books along that vein, then you would enjoy this one.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler - or Lesley Knope, to some - doesn't call this an autobiography as such, but more of a 'book full of words to live by', which sounds more impressive, if you ask me. With personal stories, real life advice and charming tales of love, friendship and parenthood then it's clear that Poehler is onto a winner. 

Closely compared to Tiny Fey's Bossypants, Yes Please is a not-autobiography book about a funny person's life. I would go as far as saying if you're not interested in Amy Poehler, then you probably shouldn't read this book. Although it is full of advice and really funny moments, if you're not a fan to start off with, you probably won't get a lot of the references. 

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive has been talked about by practically everyone in the entire universe, and for that reason alone I decided to put myself on the library waiting list to see what the fuss was all about. Detailing Haig's experience with depression and anxiety, I found the book to be more like a series of essays rather than a book due to it's 'pick up at any page and read' vibe. Which isn't a bad thing, of course, as this isn't a novel as such, or a self help guide as such, so it makes sense that the reader can dip in and out when needed.

Of course, although numbers of people suffering from depression and anxiety are increasing, there still isn't one true definition of either mental health issue. One person's symptoms are completely different to the next person, and so on, so although it is great having a list of things that help Haig, I don't think it would help everyone. I would certainly suggest reading it if you suffer from depression or anxiety, or even more so if you know someone who does and aren't quite sure what to do, but I would be wary that this isn't the be all and end all on the subject.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Often cited as Ness' best book, I really wanted to read it before seeing him speak at the Bath Children's Literature Festival. I reserved the illustrated version from my local library and I made sure I didn't have a sneaky flick through the pages, in fear of spoiling it for myself. The story follows Conor, a young boy who lies awake waiting for a nightmare to haunt him - until one day, a different kind of nightmare comes. 

My goodness, I devoured A Monster Calls. The writing, the illustrations - everything about this was completely mesmerising and I couldn't put it down. Despite being a YA novel, I think A Monster Calls deals with issues that affect people at any age in life. Sure, you might not be a teenage boy (thank the lord for that!) but I challenge you to pick up this book and not feel like Conor. If you're going to pick up one book from this list, then I suggest it's this one! 

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these? 

Chelsea xo

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

25 Before 25

Despite the fact that my birthday was last week, sometimes I seriously forget that I'm only in my early twenties. Having achieved so much in so little time - marriage, motherhood and a degree, don't you know? - I often feel like I should be closer to retirement age than I am. On my next birthday I shall turn 25, which is often thought to be a milestone age, so I thought another 'goals' list would ensure I make the most of the coming year! As I already have a 101 in 1001 Days list going on, I'm going to allow myself five things from that list. Sneaky, right? 

- Volunteer to help my political party of choice
- Move back North
- Complete the Couch to 5K app thing
- Read 10 books from 1991
- Grow tulips
- Dye my hair grey
- Really use my days off work to do fun things (or sleep) 
- Close one of my bank accounts

I didn't know what to call this section, but 'life' is fitting, I guess. I basically want to get my shit together this year and just learn to enjoy life more. I think surrounding myself with things I love (the North, tulips) and doing things I've wanted to do for a long time (grey hair, politics, get fit) then I should be on course for a good time.

- Go abroad (leaving this open to anywhere, in the hope to increase my chances)
- Visit Disneyland Paris
- Visit Glasgow and Edinburgh
- Visit York
- Visit Manchester 
- Go to Whitby and get a lemon top
- Visit Oxford
- See a musical in London
- Go to Beamish again 

Travel doesn't need an explanation, does it? A few places I've listed are places I visited with Joe really early on in our relationship, so I'd love to go again and make more memories.

- Reach 500 followers
- Start book vlogging
- Get blog cards

The usual. 500 followers is highly unlikely - as is vlogging - but a girl can dream!

- Pass my driving test
- Make a patchwork blanket
- See a Smiths tribute band
- See a Shakespeare play
- Eat in a Michelin starred restaurant 

My top five from t'other list. I'm hoping that I'll be more likely to achieve these if they're in two lists, so fingers crossed! I swear, if I don't pass my stupid driving test before my 25th birthday then it's never going to happen, sorry Dad! I'm feeling hopeful that we might eat in a Michelin starred restaurant, seeing as I'm married to a chef and Joe's whole world is fine dining. Maybe I'll put the pressure on to do this for my actual 25th birthday?

What do you think of my selection? Do you have any goal lists?

Chelsea xo

Friday, 16 October 2015

Go Shorty, It's Ma Birthday

I don't think I've ever felt so white typing out those lyrics as a post title. Let's not dwell on that, as (if you hadn't guessed) today is my birthday! I'm turning a good ol' age of 24 which is my final year of being in the 'early twenties' category for life. Also, it's my last year of ticking the 16-24 box on forms! The excitement, it thrills me. Other than that, life is continuing on at normal. I'm working, wifeying, mothering, blogging and countless other -ings just like I did at 23. 

It was *so difficult* narrowing down my best selfies...
I've got a post coming up soon about things I'd like to achieve by 25, but blogwise I do have one goal in mind, and that's to be more bookish. I managed to get two books reviews out a month and extra book related posts in the pot as well, but sadly this has fallen out of place. I've still been reading loads - and in fact completed my Goodreads challenge - but I'm finding it hard to review them all! I'm considering doing some catch-up 'three books, one post' kind of things, but we'll see. 

Other than that, I'm just seeing how being 24 goes. If you're celebrating your birthday today, happy birthday! 

Chelsea xo

Thursday, 15 October 2015

A Day at Bristol Zoo

Ever since I were a wee nipper, I've always been slightly obsessed with going to the zoo. Which is odd, considering I'd only ever been to the zoo once - and I was 17 when that happened. My zoo obsession has actually subsided a bit since then, but my love for Red Pandas has always been strong, so when Joe told me we were going to Bristol Zoo as an early birthday present, I was over the moon! Not only does Bristol Zoo have Red Pandas, but the lady Red Panda had recently had babies! Needless to say, I was pretty much frothing with excitement. 

I know some people hate zoos, but Bristol Zoo is great in that a lot of the money they make goes back towards helping endangered species and protecting the animals from poachers. I know, of course, that a natural habitat is what would be best for all of the animals in a zoo, but sadly we live in a time were having a fancy tortoiseshell necklace or stuffed gorilla is more exhilarating to some people.

We took Dylan with us and he really enjoyed himself, which is always great. He enjoyed seeing the animals and pretending to be a meercat/lion/parrot throughout the course of the day. If you've got kids - or are a big kid yourself - then I would definitely recommend Bristol Zoo!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Book Club #22 Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill

Louise O'Neill is a name I am always hearing, be it on twitter, blogs or just people in the street - they can't get enough of her. After feeling out of the loop for too long, I decided to head to my nearest library and grab a copy of Only Ever Yours. Now, let's hear from the blurb...

frieda and isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions - wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative - life as a concubine - is too horrible to contemplate. 
But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. 
frieda must fight for her future - even if it means betraying her only friend, the only love, she has ever known...
Doesn't that sound great? Right from the beginning, you're thinking, "why aren't their names in capital letters? Why are they expected to be companions? Beauty is their only asset?!" and immediately need to read and find out what messed up world is this? The entire female population has died out in some freak bizarro world accident, and are now being genetically engineered to become perfect wives - or worse, concubines, also known as 'ladies of the night' if you will. The girls are judged purely on their looks and are shamed if they dare to put on even an ounce of fat with lessons at the school including publicly telling a girl what 'areas of improvements' she could work on and desensitising lessons, to ensure they remain calm and emotion-free to ensure happy husbands.

Of course, if you step back, you realise that actually this isn't an alien concept, and that is what makes O'Neill's writing so great. Women and girls are already doubting their existence, striving to be beautiful and sexy - this book only takes it juuuust a bit further. I wouldn't go as far as saying that Only Ever Yours is a feminist novel, but it definitely engages the feminist in me, if that makes sense. Feminist issues are clearly running throughout the novel, but to me it's a dystopian novel due to the 'oh yeah all the original women are gone' kind of vibes. And I love that, so that's great.  

I really enjoyed reading Only Ever Yours, and it seriously took me through the motions! I was angry, sad, angry again and then BAM - that ending! If you've read a book review by me before, you'll know I've been plagued by bad endings but this one did not disappoint! For that reason alone, I would recommend Only Ever Yours. Luckily, the entire novel is gripping, and had me hooked!

Have you read Only Ever Yours? 

Chelsea xo

© Love in Modern Life. Design by Fearne.