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Monday, 31 December 2012

Here we go again...

I bet you £10 that I am not the only blog you'll be reading that has a 'New Year' themed post, no, in fact I bet you £100... Today is the day where the blogging world goes a little bit bat shit crazy in posting various blogs about what they intend on doing/saying/keeping as their New Year Resolutions. At the age of nearly 29 I can safely say that I am a little 'done' with making New Years Resolutions, if its one thing that my age and life has taught me, is that there is no time like the present to change your life or yourself. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the feeling of a fresh New Year... the feeling of unexpectedness, that something exciting might be round the corner, but along with the expectation comes the opportunity for you to fail. So much pressure is placed on these 'resolutions' that more times than not, the times that you do fail wil have a negative impact on your life... and along with failure comes the disappointment in yourself - it's a vicious circle if you ask me, and that is why I'm staying away. Of course there are certain things I'd like to push myself towards but to be pretty frank with you, I'm not going to punish myself if it doesn't quite happen.

Sure, I could do with losing a couple of stone, trimming up, improving my eating habits, being more structured with my fitness but you know what? I have a normal life, I adore my food and everything about eating and well, I actually like having some more curves - I sure as hell know I'm not going to punish myself should an extra slice of cake magically fall into my mouth. Y'see, this year has taught me all about the importance of life as a whole. Some of us (including myself) go about their daily life moaning about things that really aren't worthy of a moan about.... When you look at the bigger picture and think of lost ones or people who are ill etc, there really is so much more to life than say, missing out on an opportunity to buy that extra pair of shoes... Hey, perhaps I'm getting old, perhaps I'm getting a little sentimental but lordy, I am so happy that myself and those close to me are alive, well, happy and smiling. 2012 has been a year of wakeup calls: from health to love, from losing someone to wishing people well, from goodbyes to hello's, I have learnt alot. I will go into 2013 with no real goals, nothing set in stone because mostly I want to enjoy every single darn second on this earth, I will hopefully take the hardships on the chin, embrace the good and mostly I will feel god damn lucky I have what I have.

All my love to all of you who have read this blog and supported me, Here's to 2013 and that extra slice of cake...

Monday, 17 December 2012

Am I really running?

From reading this blog you may know I like a bit of running, and all things to do with keeping fit for both the body and mind. In the past I have happily blogged away on here but have always felt it wasn't the right platform for it, and so, it is with great pleasure to introduce:

I have decided to start a new blog over on Tumblr, rather aptly named: amireallyrunning.tumblr.com  The real aim for this separate blog is to be all about fitness, my running journey and all things female and motivational.

So I would really kind love it, if you could pay me a visit over there once in a while, I hope it may help spur others on and allow me to tell me story properly.

Thanks everyone...

Hi, My name is Sarah and I am flaky...

I have to be honest, I am the Queen of the flake.

Not the chocolate kind, and nor do I have a dandruff problem, the truth is, in all honestly, I have a penchant for cancelling on anything, any event, any invite or anyone if it means I have to show my face in a public place. It's embarrassing and causes people to actually doubt me, and possibly not want to be friends with me - that I do know. I have always tried to cover this 'flakiness' up but there are only so many times you can use the excuse of 'I'm busy' It is no-one's fault but my own.

Y'see I suffer from anxiety issues and panic attacks. I'm pretty sure this isn't a medical thing, I've never seen a Dr about it so don't quote me medically, but it takes alot of guts for me to step outside of what is 'safe', what I know. When I do it, its not that I don't like you or that I don't want to partake in going for nights out, or drinks, for tea and cake or even meeting up for something more adventurous, I do, I really, really do want to go, but I cant. I really cant.

I struggle to speak to people, I can never find the right words to say, I get tongue tied, I come out with an awkward red rash through embarrassment and that is even if I get out of the house. I struggle with accepting 'me' as a whole and find myself fretting so much about what I look like to 'go out' it can take me hours and yet I'll still be sat in my pj's hours later. I am convinced that the people I will meet will judge me (even if they are existing friends) and will subject myself to a mad inner monologue that will tell me how fat/ugly/pathetic I am, I am never as 'cool' or as 'interesting/successful' as the rest of you lot that it will take the excitement and enjoyment out of why I am there. I will talk myself out of things, I will get a tightness in my chest that confirms my feelings: I cant come, I just cant. This is not your fault y'know... this is me...

I let people down, and I wish they knew how much I hated that. I want to be a good person but something inside of me wont let me 'break away' from the feeling of anxiety if I step out of the house or meet someone new. I have tried and sometimes I can do it. I used to have a zest for life, for new opportunities and 'getting out there' and believe it or not I was well known for having a giggle but I've lost that person... she's gone... replaced by this flaky person.

I hate it.

Why am I blogging about this? I'm not sure, perhaps I don't want people to see me as flaky anymore. Perhaps I want them to know what 'this' feels like. Perhaps.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

New running for a New Year in 2013...

2012 has been a good year for many things but for me this year was all about running. Granted, I haven't run all that much, and am still at the 'half marathon' stage, but this year was a year of progression - I felt more solid about running, knew a little more about what I was doing , experienced some injuries, paid a visit to some physio's, purchased countless trainers and most of all I believed in myself a little more. I still cant believe I've been running a year now and despite some monumental hiccups I still absolutely love it and have a 'want' to improve.

For those of you out there thinking this is another running post with some added 'boasting' from me, you'd be wrong, I still dont consider myself a 'runner', I'm not even sure I ever will: I'm still slow, a little dumpy and moan alot prior to a run but hey, I am still getting out there right? With  my 'self' progression this year, I have turned my attention to what the New Year may bring me...so when does running move from being a hobby to something a little more?

I'm not a naturally competitive person that's for sure, I pretty much run for the sheer love of it (so shoot me) but I am not against trying to push myself a little further. Entering distance timed 'runs' acts as a really great motivation to keep going, aiming higher and achieving more goals. This yeah I ran two half marathons and two timed 10k's and in total have run three half marathon and three 10k's since I began this thing I like to call running. People often ask me why? Am I doing to to raise money? Well, not always, but sometimes yes. Do I consider myself a athlete? No, I simply run because I can. Running on a weekly basis is fun, I get to explore my home surroundings and I get to get rid of the stresses and strains of everyday life, but there is nothing quite like being in full-on training mode ready for the next timed run -  I always seem to work harder and stronger. So 2013, what has it got in store for me on the running side...

I took a rather long time to make the decision I have, and after three half marathons already completed, I've decided to sign up for my first full marathon. Missing out again on a chance to run the VLM (Virgin London Marathon) I decided to look elsewhere and there it was, the Manchester full marathon. Apparently this is the UK's flattest marathon so I thought it'd be a good first full marathon for me, I wanted to ease myself in gently yknow!! By the time I run this full I would have completed four half's, so it's about time I took the step right? But I'm scared, dont get me wrong. Even running 13.1 miles pretty much kills each toe on each of my feet, shortens my legs and makes me puff like an old man but hey, it's a new year and I might as well go for it... So far, 2013 has these planned for me

But I am looking for other runs from May onwards and I'm hoping that maybe I might get to venture further afield... but err, lets just get over this first full first .Anyone got any tips?

Along with all things running, the rather amazing runners Laura Fountain from Lazy Girl Running and Liz Goodchild from Runnerstood have grouped their amazing-ness together to create Write This Run. 

Write This Run is chance for UK running bloggers to get together, learn from each other, talk about all things running and blogging and be treated to some great talks from guest experts who know all about this thing we call running. Launching fully in 2013, you can sign up now HERE to find out more info when it's released. I signed up straight away and reckon all you lot should do the same. Get in the zone with like-minded people.

Tell me your fitness plans for 2013

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

What to wear at: Christmas with Matalan

Carrying on from my previous blog post where I showed you how to dress at Christmas with Joules, this time I pass back to the High Street and show you how to dress at Christmas with Matalan.

Matalan, for me, is a staple 'must-visit' shop - not only can I get the 'boring' stuff there like good fitting under layers, everyday knickers, bras and socks but Matalan is jam packed with occasion wear, going out clothes and surprising to some, high fashion items. Value for money is key with Matalan and not only do you save money, you also get a good quality garment - which comes in handy with the latest trend of fashion going in and err, going out again. Below are some 'looks' for to create over the Christmas period suiting all figures, shapes and sizes.

For this evening look I've played it safe with a 'hit on the ankle' trouser. Alot of people sometimes feel a little self-concious about showing their legs off and I dont know about you, there is no way I am fake tanning in Winter. These trousers are great for slimming a more curvier leg but please check on the length - make sure they hit on the ankle only. Teaming with a simple metallic tee manages to 'party' this outfit up. The colour is understated enough to showcase the trouser and accessories  Going for a chunky bib necklace draws peoples eyes to your neck and away from any part of your body you may not want people focusing on. Finish off with a colour pop shoe - I chose a festive red, but alternatively you can change this for a nice neon! 

Once again, Christmas Day is always going to be a little bit busy. Whether you're preparing the Christmas feast, keeping control of the kids/elders, or relaxing in front of the tv, comfort and style is key on this day. I have picked a free flowing printed lace dress. The fabric is generous for all figures - for the smaller framed among us: try cinching in the waist with a belt and for the more curvier: loosen this slightly or get rid altogether. The dress will allow for movements of all kind - especially the belly kind! I've layered the dress over a long sleeved basic red top - this will bring out the floral print and also help add some extra warmth on a flimsy dress. Layer over a cable knit cardigan to keep the heat in and for that added snuggle factor. Team with tights and these fab leg warmers and the simple tan boots are comfy and practical. All you need to finish this look off is some delicate, feminine flower hairclips - keeping it simple is key
Boxing day is when the family are out in force - whether you are travelling to them or they are loading round yours - smart casual is the way forward. I am a massive fan of the jegging - suitable for all figures and this is oh so important in this season of 'eating'. With the jegging you dont really need to 'think', they just work. I've layered this chunky shawl collar cardigan with a supersoft knitted jumper - ideal for every day use. The key with this look is accessories. Layer the necklaces, even add in some rings and bracelets too if you must - As the outfit is relatively simple, it is a good excuse to pile up on the jewellery. Finish the look off with these rather amazing tapestry slipper flats - I am completely in love with these and are a fab talking point to the outfit. 

Three perfect outfits for the holiday season, all at amazingly cheap prices - this is why Matalan is queen of the high street.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Getting back out there...has the will returned?

Three weeks ago I typed about how I'd lost the will to run and quite frankly I have been struggling ever since.... my body is still very much saying 'yes' in fact it almost needs me to get back out there - my skin is bad, my ass is jiggling so much it looks like jelly and I'm pretty sure my legs have forgotten even how to put one foot in front of the other, but despite all of the above my mind is still refusing to allow me to lace-up the trainers.

All your comments on my last post were brilliant, and you spoke alot of sense, but the reality is none of them have made me get off my lazy ass and get outside. Despite it being a purely 'mental' thing as to why I cant seem to get back out there, the non-running thing is having a detrimental effect on my mood and dare I say it, the way I feel about myself. We all know about my long standing reluctance to accept me and the way I look. I have almost grown to accept that I will always feel the same way about myself, I do often dream about actually liking what I see, but I'm not so sure that'll ever come, but running was the one thing that made me, how shall I say, be more positive about who I am. And so, with not running, my mood has gone downhill - I'm temperamental to say the least and with my body devoid of any endorphin rush I turn to my good friend sugar.

A temporary release from the day to day struggles that happen, ones that were often tackled with my daily run.  A body that is being fueled by non-stop sugar highs is never going to be a successful well run machine. I'm no oil painting and I'm no athlete but it is only common sense that 'cake' doesn't make for a suitable food source, despite it tasting YUM.

I have been punishing myself daily, not physically, but mentally. Beating myself up for not running, for not taking the first step, for shoving that extra mince pie in my mouth, for shutting away my trainers - but the reality is, my heart and head just haven't wanted to do it. I still don't.

With a half marathon planned in Feb (a week after my 29th birthday) and my first full Marathon planned for April I need to pull my socks up..... literally. I am in denial and still at this time, 4:05pm on Monday 10th December NOT wanting to run, but the reality is, if I don't get out there tonight I am not sure when this running drought will end. And so tonight, when I get home from work I will pull on the Drifit, lace the trainers up and hope to god my body has one ounce of strength to allow my legs to run, but mostly I hope my mind will allow me the release.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

'A Simple Christmas' Idea Five... The snack attack

I dont know about you, but as well as Christmas being all about the Christmas dinner, you cant deny the excuse to snack on all those yummy foods throughout the Festive period. It's a real pure simple pleasure of mine to casually snack on some sneaky chocolates from the tin, or to cut off a wedge of strong cheddar, there really is nothing better...

My latest Simple Christmas idea is one for you and for your neighbours or friends alike and I'm talking nuts. One of the first things I do around the Festive period is buy a net full of nuts that I can pour into a bowl along with a nutcracker, so my guests (or me!) can crack them open in front of the tv. Aside from nut-cracking I like making some homemade honey-roasted nuts  - giving them to my neighbours and friends on a festive visit or packing them up and handing them out on shopping trips, long walks or as a simple gift idea. There is something really moreish about a homemade honey-roasted nut - full of protein and energy, great as a pre or post dinner snack.

All you need is (this serves about 2 peoples):

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 160g honey
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 80g raw almonds
  • 80g cashews
  • 80g walnuts
  • 80g peanuts
What to do:

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper. Grab a small pan and melt the butter over a medium heat - add the water, brown sugar (2tbsp worth), honey, cinnamon, salt, vanilla extract and orange zest. Stir this until all the sugar has dissolved.
Pour in your nut selection and cover them all in the gooey mixture
Turn your nuts (ooolala) out onto the lined baking tray and try to lay them out evenly. Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until they are nice and golden in colour. This is when the wafts of roasted nuts gets hard to bear! 
The only thing I would say is that make sure the nuts are baking evenly, we dont want any burnt nuts!
Remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool ever so slightly (for about 4-6 min) sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and toss the nuts about a bit. 
They are now ready to serve/munch!

Add whatever nuts you like and well, hand them out to anyone!

Friday, 7 December 2012

What to wear: at Christmas with Joules

I'm currently on a week off at work and well, the biggest joy, aside from having time off and eating non-stop chocolate, has to be the fact that I havent had to put on normal clothes. Me and loungewear have become a little bit too close and so short of wearing my pj's throughout the entire Christmas season I have decided to show off some perfect looks especially for the three day Christmas period, and hopefully get me out of the Pj's.... I hope...

First up is the ever dependable Joules...

I decided to go with a layered, more casual outfit for Christmas Eve. I dont know about you but everything is always a little hectic on the day before the big day - there is presents to wrap, food to prepare, people to visit, and mostly you need a practical but stylish outfit. This look is wearable and versatile, p.s the Robin jumper is just perfect right?

If there is one thing you must wear on Christmas day is either a elasticated waist trouser or a dress. We all know just how much food is involved on this day and why should you not enjoy it! I picked a cute floral red dress that can easily be teamed with  a navy tight/legging belt it up (you can discard this when you eat a little too much) and layer underneath a fine knit jumper and finish with a hunky cable knit cardigan and beaded necklace. Pretty but practical.

Boxing day is ever so slightly more chilled out. Normally, I like to get some fresh air, perhaps walk off a few mince pies/turkey/roast potatoes etc or failing that a few glasses of bubbles, a boardgame and some in front of the tv dozing. All in all, keep the outfit simple and easy to change - if going out, put the jeans on underneath, if staying in go for comfort with some leggings. Mixing tan with the stripes makes for a classy well put together look.

See, thanks to Joules, dressing for Christmas doesn't have to be hard...

The one where you have no answers...

I've been struggling a little lately with the ol' blogging thing, not for the usual 'idea shortage', In fact I have too many ideas but a part of me cant bring myself to type some infantile words onto my blog when last Friday I heard some terrible news.

A friend of mine, Valerie, whom I've known since school, passed away suddenly. Hearing the news was not only a shock to hear but it shook my core, and changed how I view things in my life. This remarkable lady who was not even 30 years old and had a baby of 2 months old, had died after a short illness (Cancer) after the birth of her baby girl. My brain is still refusing to accept it, to take in the fact that this amazing teacher, mother, wife and influential lady has gone from my life and others.

At school she was one of natures gems. She would've never done anything in her life to hurt anyone or anything, she was always nice, had remarkable talents and was the kind of beautiful that there was never any need for make up, she was natural in every way. The group that we were in was never one of the popular girls groups, nor did we have many friends, but we all had our qualities that made us very special - Valerie was super clever, the type of clever I now longed to be, but she was funny and had a gentle soul. When I think back to her, in her school days, we all knew she'd make a remarkable mother and wife... a dream she only got to fulfil briefly.

To me, this news should have never have come. I still refuse to believe that this lady, so full of life, could have left this earth without getting the chance to get back what she gave out in her life. It makes me wonder why these things happen in life, it is so unfair. I have no answers to these questions, and I don't think I ever will. I am so angry with myself. I never ever took time when we left school to stay in touch, to offer my congrats on her wedding day, to support her or wish her and her family well. I am a poor excuse for my friend, we all have our own lives, that I know, but a part of me wonders what was so important in my life that I didn't have time for a 5minute message via facebook....

I cant explain the loss I feel at losing Valerie. It sounds dramatic but a part of me just feels heartbroken. I look at everything differently: I wake up wondering what more I can do, instead of the normal moans that come out of my mouth I stop and smile instead. I find myself being more patient, I find myself appreciating everything around me more, but most of all the second I feel like I'm not doing one of the above, I think of Valerie's life. Losing a friend makes writing this blog harder. My posts aren't life changing and part of me wonders why I carry on, it all seems a little futile.

Time is always an issue in everyday life, we all have families, jobs and at times everything is so hectic but I cant stress enough at how time is utterly precious to us all. Stop with the 'I'll text back later' thoughts... friendships are hard to find but easy to lose, what takes the time and effort is keeping these friendships alive. I wish, God do I wish, I had taken the time to be a better friend for Valerie.

I will continue to miss her and her natural beauty inside and out and I hope that she knows I will always think of her.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

What's on your menu?

I like my food and I eat alot of food, I cant help it. And in fact I enjoy everything about eating food - whether it's eating in or dining out - food for me, is one of life's simple pleasures.

I wanted to blog about all the things that me and my taste buds have been consuming each and every month and things that have got the taste buds going - with new products coming out constantly, I thought I'd go and share my faves, my not so faves, items I want to try and how I've been creating new recipes. This month I have mostly been chowing down on:

Warburtons Winter Loaf
Available at most supermarkets - £1.80 from Coop
For a limited time only

I had wanted to try this when I first read about it! I'm a big fan of bread regardless (have I mentioned lately how much I rely on toast?!) so when I realised Warburtons had produced this Winter Loaf, filled with plump sultanas, currants and cinnamon I knew I wanted to eat this toasted and dripping in butter. It's every bit as good in real-life as it was in my head. This is ideal for anyone wanting a little bit more from their normal loaf and wants a fruit 'loaf' not just a tea cake etc. Not too heavily seasoned (probably playing it safe) I would of preferred more of a cinnamon kick but that is just down to personal preference. This loaf is filling but really moreish and despite it being lush to just eat on it's own, when toasted? it is perfection. 

Available at Sainsbury priced at £1.89 for 150g

I have yet to try these yet, and disappointingly I have seen very little advertisement for these amazing new flavours. Word is that KettleChips put a competition out on Facebook for people to choose their two favourites and granted I seem to be a little behind on this but look at the flavours god dammit! I'm pretty sure they must plucked those flavours straight from my 'hungry brain' because they just sound amazing! I cant wait to try and get my mitts on these!

Available at Sainsbury £2.25 for 200g

This is most def a 'love or hate' kinda thing, but I am 100% smitten with this cheese. I first sampled this cheddar in a mini selection pack and have been long awaiting it's arrival in a slab of cheese that big mice like me can sink their teeth into. The cheddar itself is crumbly, a delightfully strong but marbled with a hint of Marmite and quite frankly it is better than I assume, winning the lottery. I know this cheese wont be for everyone, but heavens to Betsy, it is amazing.

Available at Sainsbury £5 for 500g on offer!

I know we all know about crackers, but for me, there are no better than Jacobs. I'm a bit of a traditionalist me, and this Heritage assortment of crackers from Jacobs is all kinds of yummy. With the choice of Cream cracker, poppy+sesame seed, salt and black pepper, water biscuit, multi grain  digestive, bran cracker and wheat germ  there really is something for everyone. And crackers are the perfect addition for the family to chomp on over Christmas... cheese and wine anyone? Oh and if crackers aren't your thing, just look at the amazing tin... that swayed it for me!

Available at their website or at Sainsbury HERE

I do like my coffee and considering I spend a large proportion of my monthly earnings on Costaa/Starbucks I long for the weekends when I have time enough to put the coffee machine on and drink some free coffee. I'm a long standing fan of Taylor of Harrogate coffee regardless and their Lazy Sunday coffee is my go-to coffee, however when I saw this Christmas Blend I just had to try. A real nice strong and highly aromatic coffee, this sent the tastebuds crazy and also gave my house a lovely smell to it! Easy to drink and with a strong richness that almost makes it chocolatey. A firm favourite for me.

Available at Sainsbury £1 special offer for 5 bagels
There is nothing new about these bagels, but what I love the most about the New York Bakery bagels is they work great this time of year. You can instantly make these bagels more Festive - chuck in some leftover turkey and cranberry sauce on this cinnamon and raisin bagels and well, it's Christmas dinner all over again! And even better... I feel it's more socially acceptable to eat bagels any time of the day. 

And that folks is  all I've been cramming into my gob! Until next time...

What have you been eating lately?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Wednesday Wanted... The wrist candy edit

I love jewellery, but never have I been a fan of bracelets. For me, it was either a statement ring and necklace kinda combo for me, but lately, thanks to my rather fabulous Nan and her regular gifts of her old jewellery, I have fallen a little more in love with bracelets - This is the most recent one Ive been gifted:

And yeah, it may not be worth anything but the fact it's been with my nan kinda makes it feel a little more, I dunno, more precious. And so, here comes my Wednesday Wanted all dedicated to the wrist candy

I love the simple effect of this triple wrapped leather bracelet from Astley Clarke. With a diamond cosmos sliding charm included, this bracelet would make for a great Christmas pressie (err hello?!?) I like classic charm bracelet's but sometimes I do find them a little dated, this has a nice modern, sleek look to it.

2. Coral and grey glitter friendship bracelet £130 Links of London
Better known for the sweetie bracelet, everyone and their mother has something from Links of London, I was beginning to move them down on my 'Most Wanted' list, but with their woven friendship bracelets I do indeed want one in every colour.

Again, a more of a well known brand for the 'beads' collection, I like how subtle the leather wrap bracelet is. This bracelet is wearable and most certainly purse friendly. A staple.

I could believe how cheap this bracelet was when in fact, look at it! With the ability to make this bracelet personalised - choose your charm or any extra's you fancy. Wear alone or stack them up, and may I take this opportunity to say Melinda Mulcahy makes some amazing other wares!

A high street fave for inexpensive jewellery, this bracelet would look amazing when worn on a party night out. It's sparkly and fun and only costs £22 quid - perfect.

I'm hoping Santa is reading this, because heavens to Betsy  I sure as hell want this! I want to stack this bracelet up high with a masculine, heavy watch and a few more simple chain bracelets. A bargain at £80 and well worth it.

I've always been a huge fan of Laura Gravestock and this dainty and delicate bracelet is one of those bracelets that you really can wear with just about everything. 

This bracelet isn't necessarily purse friendly but it is gorgeous. With a teapot, crown, luggage tag and acorn charms this bracelet would look just great with that little black dress.

Delicate but still this bracelet stands out. Monica Vinader is one of my fave jewellery designers, this bracelet just exudes class and serenity. This is the only bracelet I think I wouldn't stack, I'd wear it alone, bare.

Leaving the best to last, Astley Clarke have come up trumps with this stunning bracelet. The evil eye has many meanings for me and quite frankly I'm all a little bit obsessed. This bracelet with its 8ct yellow gold vermeil on sterling silver chain and delicate lobster clasp there are so many different connotations to the symbols, stones and talismans of the beautiful gemstones in this bracelets.

Are in into bracelets? what are your faves?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sunday Reading : The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

After reading Jojo's book 'Me Before You' not only did I spend my entire time crying (sobbing) over it but I fell deeply in love with JoJo's writing style. What is so perfect is the immense descriptions she uses and I had exceptionally high hopes for this second book I've read of hers. Did it disappoint?

No. Way. 

From the outset the scene was set as I was shot back to 1916 and right into Sophie Lefevre and her family's life. This section was set in a small French village that has been occupied by the German's. Not knowing how or where her beloved, devoted husband, Edouard is, Sophie is the matriarch of her family consisting of her sister and children. Running the Le Coq Rouge in the hopes of making ends meet, keeping her precious family alive through the small amount of scraps of food, Sophie has to deal with the uttermost disgust by cooking for the German Kommandant and his men. With the Kommandant becoming increasingly bewitched over a painting, a painting Edouard drew of his beloved wife Sophie. It is the relationship that evolves with the Kommandant and Sophie that is utterly intriguing. Throughout the first part of this book I felt just completely and utterly immersed in Sophie's life, I couldn't help but feel for the way the Germans and their ways were ravaging what was left of her life, her feelings and passion toward believing in her husband, missing in action, and smiled at reading how she met her one, her Edouard. 

The book then shoots us forward to present day, where Liv Halston takes on the lead. Leading a shattered life following the tragic death of her husband David, Liv is just a shadow of her former self. The pain of Liv's loss is felt almost immediately in Moyes description, I could almost feel the pain and loneliness that our character Liv feels, the way she takes in Mo and befriends another lost cause. Throughout Liv's journey in this section of the book we get deep into her mind and relive the moment where she lost what she once thought was everything. The two stories combine when we realise that the very same painting of Sophie is in fact hanging in Liv's bedroom, gifted from her husband to her. Moyes manages to cleverly intertwine the two stories: as the Lefevre family seek its return to them in the modern day, and where Liv begins to rebuild her life when trying to save this piece from being taken away from her. With intermittent snapshots taking you back to Sophie's life, I became completely and utterly involved in both these stories - I felt such pain for Sophie, to read about a character, a female lead, that was so strong in that time was something I've ever read before - we are used to the men of the war taking centre stage but Sophie's often heartbreaking story was never uncomfortable to read, just emotionally sad. 

The story of these two women, who were both, in a way, so strong in their sadness was so believable. Moyes managed to tackle the historical element perfectly without being confusing or too fact-focused, there was love and passion in both stories. I couldn't put this book down and managed to read this is 3 days flat. Utterly amazing. A must-read.

Snap up the book over at Amazing HERE

The Winter Boot with Simply Be

I am one of 'those' people who can never seem to get my footwear choices right to match the weather... the countless times I've been caught out and about when that elusive rain cloud has appeared and rained on my ballet-footed parade... who likes wet feet huh?! Now that Winter is here, me and my footwear choices are still no better. I am currently still attempting to stop my feet freezing off with a pair of brogues that have holes cut out of... yeah... I know.. 

For me, comfort is always first on my list, closely followed by style. Obviously I still want to look good when braving the outside, but if I end up having to hobble home, those shoes are going straight in the bin. Thanks to website Simply Be I am now the proud owner of the ankle boots that were made for Winter.

Being of a curvy figure I have always looked on website Simply Be as a 'failsafe' option, I am often finding myself disillusioned with other high street brands I visit, such as Topshop and Next, who are consistently failing to ever have items in their shop over a size 8.. It does nothing for my self confidence that's for sure. I like the way Simply Be always restores my faith in clothing and well fitting clothes. Before, choosing a plus-size brand was something to shy away from, but not now - Simply Be have bridged the gap, no-one can turn down good value clothes, that fit amazingly well, and are at the forefront of style, they make having curves something to be proud of.

Say hello to my Simply Be brogue ankle boots - these pretty much tick all the boxes - they are flat for comfort for all day shopping or woodland walking, lace-up for an even better fit and the even more joyous thing is the wide fitting. I have naturally very wide feet and unbeknown to most shoe makers, my feet actually do swell when hot (who knew) I took these boots on a test run by going out Christmas shopping...Never the most enjoyable thing and the last thing you need alongside the heat, the cold, the queues and too many people, is ill-fitting shoes that leave you hobbling. I walked all the way to the local train station, spent the day traipsing round the shops and began the long walk home too - did my shoes pinch my feet? no, did my feet get cold/damp? no, and could I have shopped for longer? yes! 

A resounding successful boot. I teamed mine with some standard skinny jeans and some festive socks (fetching huh) But I would team these with either leggings or tomorrow's choice (out shopping with the fella) a classic dress layered with tights! These are versatile and completely and utterly value for money at only £30. Go check them out HERE

What are your Winter footwear choices?

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