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

Friday, 2 October 2015

Happy birthday Miffy!

Can you believe that Miffy is 60 this year? I adored the books when I was a nipper, and now Dylan does too! I always find that Miffy books are always great for kiddos, as the bright colours and simple illustrations are really striking, and they definitely grab the attention. Dylan's favourite thing to do at the moment is playing Spot The Difference, so when he noticed a little game in the Christmas with Miffy activity book, he was so excited! He may or may not have found all the differences before I did... 

Miffy is clearly a bunny with great ideas, as for her grand 60th birthday, she's launching a new TV show! It starts on Tiny Pop tonight, and will also be on over the weekend too! I know Dylan (and I) will be watching, as the show looks really cute! It's a CGI show - a first for Miffy! - and shows her exploring the world, having big and small adventures. How realistic of Miffy! If you've ever stumbled across Tiny Pop, Miffy will feature in the calming pre-bedtime Cuddle Time slot, which I think is perfect timing, as Miffy really is a family favourite, and one I'm sure no one in the family will want to miss! 

Are you a fan of Miffy?

Chelsea xo

*Miffy kindly sent us some books, but words and thoughts are my own!*

Thursday, 1 October 2015

TMTW #3 - Oh, What a Night - September

Best bit? Seeing Patrick Ness at Bath Children's Literature Festival and asking him a question! He answered it like a total pro (of course!) and even remembered me when it was my turn to have my book signed. We're basically best pals now.

My favourite things: spending time with Dylan in Bristol, going to BCLF with Joe's sisters, Dylan's fancy dress birthday party, seeing so much of my future sister-in-law now that I work in Bath. We've been spending our lunch breaks together every so often, and it's just lovely. 

Any regrets? Not asking questions earlier at work! I think I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to do well immediately, when no one was really expecting me to learn the ropes within a day. 

What's in store for next month? My birthday! If you feel like treating me, my wishlist is live (I jest!) I'm looking forward to seeing Hot Chip in London the week after, which is going to be amazing. What else? My bestie Zoe is leaving me to go and live in Cardiff, so I'm sure October will be filled with weekends visiting her and possibly the Lush there! 

September has been a really great month, which is somewhat surprising at times. I've missed my dad a lot this month, as we had some more bad family news, but it made me book some time off work and I'm going up to see him in November, which will be great. It also means I might be able to nip along and see some of my favourite northern bloggers too! Joe and I both started our new jobs this month, so we've been settling in and hopefully the months ahead will just be plain sailing now. Gotta love settling into a groove, amiright?

How was September for you?

Chelsea xo
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