Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Reviews for February

I haven't read as much this month as I did last month, but we did buy me a tablet so I've been using the Kindle app and I really like it. (My tablet is an Asus Memopad, it's PURPLE, I love it!)

I'm on Goodreads here so do add me!

1) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I'd avoided this for so long because I don't really like John Green, despite the fact that he's huge in YA fiction. I tried to read An Abundance of Katherines and loathed it, so I hadn't read anything else. But we're doing this and the film in my Children's Writers group so I had no choice. I didn't hate it. I thought it was manipulative in parts - that the reader was "supposed" to feel a certain way - which I didn't like. I also think the portrayal of Augustus was slightly ridiculous - teenaged boys aren't like that. But, I liked Hazel and I didn't hate the book.


2) Look Who It Is by Alan Carr. This is his autobiography, although in ends in 2008 which seems a shame as he's done lots since then. It does focus on his childhood though, which he recounts in typical fashion. I enjoyed this, nothing too strenuous but interesting to learn more about him.

3) The Teashop on the Corner by Milly Johnson. A friend recommended Milly Johnson to me as her books are set in Barnsley (where I live). I had some Amazon vouchers to spend and they had loads of books on 3 for £10 so I chose this one as part of that. It is nice to read something set in Barnsley, even though I felt the geography was off sometimes. This is pure chick lit but it's well written. The women are great, but the men are too. Often the men in chick lit are rubbish, but not here. This was a really big novel, but nice to get my teeth into.

4) The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. Oh man, this book. I read it for a Bloggers Book Club discussion and I'm really glad I did. It's a collection of 9 short stories and 9 essays from this author, who graduated from Yale and was then killed in a car crash 5 days later. One of her essays - the titular one - went viral, and her family published this. I went into it quite sceptical - what if it only got published because she had died? However, when I finished this I was genuinely upset that Keegan never got to write a full length novel or more of her excellent stories. The essays are interesting and the stories are SO gripping - the one set on the submarine was TERRIFYING. I recommend this so much - it isn't much on Kindle at the moment.

5) The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths. I absolutely love Elly Griffiths' early novels, which centre on an archaeologist called Ruth Galloway. They're slightly ridiculous and stretch plausibility at times, but I love Ruth as a character and her live and friends. They also have a strong theology/mythology theme, which I love. So I was interested in Griffiths' first novel which doesn't focus on Ruth. Instead, it's set in 1950 and focusses on a policeman called Edgar who was part of a secret service thing with a lot of magicians in WWII. A woman connected to one of the magicians gets murdered, which means Edgar has to get back in touch with all his old friends. There's a lot to get into, and I really liked it. I'm excited to see what Griffiths writes next!

What have you been reading this month?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Photo an Hour 21st February

It was Photo An Hour on Saturday so I joined in on Instagram during the day (sullen_hearts) and am posting my photos here. It wasn't an ordinary day for me as I headed across to Manchester to see some friends.

8am and the cat woke me up by standing on me and poking me in the face. She wanted cuddles. 

9am and I got out of the shower

10am and this was the view from my car as I drove to Manchester. This is near Penistone, you can see the train viaduct.

11am and I was in the fitting room at Topsy Curvy. I love this wallpaper!

Noon and I was in Slattery's waiting for my friends. It's a gorgeous restaurant in Whitefield, Manchester, with amazing cakes and chocolate goods. I recommend the hot chocolate!

1pm is featuring Gillian and Michelle. I have known these girls since 6th form college and love them both. Gillian has just got engaged so we were talking about the wedding!

2pm and this was my dessert - the Wicked Chocolate Sampler. The cream is in an edible pot, and the melted chocolate is too. However, after my delicious main course of pate, cheese, bread, and chutneys, I ate barely any of this and brought it home! I ate the melted chocolate because otherwise it solidifies, and most of the (white chocolate dipped) cookie, but brought the rest home. It's still as delicious today though!

3pm and I had just set off around the M60

4pm and it was very wintry and snowy over Woodhead Pass. I took it slow - better than not arriving at all. 

5pm and I was safely on the couch talking to Lee, who wasn't ignoring me, honestly. 

6pm and I was on my computer reading blogs.

7pm and I had some things to write in my diary!

8pm and I was hungry enough for tea. I bought this mushroom quiche at Slattery's and it was delicious and really cheesy. We also had roasted sweet potato and sweetcorn.

9pm and we were watching Father Ted

10pm and I was writing a letter to my friend Laura.

11pm and I was in bed ready for sleeping! This is my dove tattoo, which is a memorial to my dad.

Let me know if you joined in so I can come and look at your photos too!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Visit to Topsy Curvy in Manchester

I met the lovely girls from Topsy Curvy at Style XL last year, when I modelled for them. They mentioned that the shop is on Bury Old Rd on the outskirts of Manchester, so when I went to a place nearby yesterday I decided to go to the shop.

It's really easy to find from the M60, and parking wasn't a problem. I had mentioned to Jo that I would be in, so when I walked in the shop I got a lovely welcome from Jo, Charlotte, and Bethany. I had a wander round the shop and the first thing to say is that everything is given enough space to show itself off. It's not a huge shop, but there's plenty of space to browse and all the rails are well tended - nothing is cramped in.

The other thing that jumped out at me is the prices. Nothing seemed to be over £20 which is great! The sizing goes up to a 26, which I'm on the cusp of, but I tried on things in a 20/22 and a 24/26 and lots of things fitted me - so do try on even if you're past a 26.

I picked up a few things and one of the girls took them from me and put them in the fitting room. It's a FAB fitting room - it's huge (probably big enough for a wheelchair user), there's a cute little stool, a big mirror, and even some toiletries if you need to freshen up!

See?! How lovely!

I liked this dress but they didn't have my size

I liked this but again my size was gone

Love this tartan dress, especially the long sleeves!

This was a really interesting dress - I've never tried anything with PVC sleeves before. 

This top was 20/22 but very generous as it was almost a whole circle on the bottom. I NEARLY bought it

I liked this but it was more of a long top on me, so I decided against it

And here is what I did come away with. Jo picked this up for me, and I probably wouldn't have chosen it for myself. The top is a 26, which I went with in the end, but below is a 24. I think it fitted a little better on my chest but the length of it was just too short. I went with the 26 for the length. 

I definitely recommend Topsy Curvy if you're in Manchester or visiting - and tell them I sent you! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A to Z of me: A

I've decided to do a new thing every month where I talk about things I like related to each letter of the alphabet. I like the idea that this will take me over two years to complete! I will post on the 19th of each month. If anyone would like to join in, please do!

An author I love:
Margaret Atwood: I first read The Handmaid's Tale when I was around 15. I regularly reread it (when rereading is something I don't do as a rule) and get more out of it each time. I've also read Cat's Eye and Alias Grace. She's amazing.

A band I love:
Ash: I got into Ash when I was around 13 in 1997 and their album 1977 was one of my favourites of the Britpop era. My favourite song is probably Oh Yeah.
Arctic Monkeys: My friend Laura told me in 2005 about this band who were about to be massive. I really loved the demo tracks I downloaded, like A Certain Romance, Fake Tales of San Francisco, and Mardy Bum. I'd never heard anyone sing in an accent like mine! Laura and I saw them in Fibbers in York, which is TINY. I loved them, but I didn't like the second album. Still, I'm glad I saw them when I did
Amy Winehouse: I'm still not over the fact she's dead. I loved her voice and her look and how she just did what she wanted to do. I was in Matlock Bath with Lee's band on the day she died, and was so shocked. I love Back to Black best, and also her cover of Sam Cooke's Cupid
Alice Cooper: I was a huge Alice fan in my teens and saw him aged 16 when I'd just left school.

Something I love:
Adding up - well I'm not sure I love it, but I sure do do enough of it in my bookkeeping jobs!

A film I love:
About Time: this, starring Domhnall Gleeson as a time traveller and Rachel McAdams as his wife, was really underrated, in my opinion. I really enjoyed it. I love Rachel McAdams though. I'd watch her reading out loud the phone book.

Somewhere I have been:
Lake Annecy in France. Lee and I went with my parents in 2004. It's so beautiful, really pretty. We had a great time, including a storm overnight which nearly wrecked the caravan awning, but which I saw from safely inside the caravan...!

Somewhere I would like to go:

Australia to see my friend Mellissa and her family. I've known Melly online since the late 90s and would love to meet her in person. 

Someone I know:

Amy: I met my friend Amy on one of my first days at 6th form college in September 2000 and we've been friends ever since. She's so full of life and funny and creative and passionate. She got me into camping! I adore her. 

What's in your As?

Monday, February 16, 2015

What I Wore 3rd February

February 3rd was a work day for me, so I wore my long Yours skirt and this top. I bought it in the sale in Simply Be in January when out with my friend Sarah. It was only £6 which was a bargain! It will be perfect in the summer but under a jumper it added a lovely pop of summery colour to a winter's day.

Sorry for the bathroom shot but it is by far the brightest light in the house.

The sleeves are mesh with little velour hearts on them, they're really cute!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Trip to Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield

A couple of weeks ago when I had people at mine, we went on a trip to the Hepworth Art Gallery in Wakefield. I've never been before even though Wakefield is my home town and I don't live too far from it. I wish my dad had seen the building actually - he was a quantity surveyor and I think he'd have liked how brutalist it is!

The car park is over the bridge, but it's nice to walk over the river. On the old bridge is the Chantry Chapel, which is one of only four examples left in the country (bit of hometown pride for you there!), so do have a look at it as you go over. Entry to the museum is free but we did give a small donation. We firstly had lunch in the cafe, which was nice. Then we headed upstairs to the galleries.

Some of the galleries allow photography, some allow no flash photography, and some allow no photography at all. Check on the walls to be sure.

There's lots of Barbara Hepworth's work in there, as the gallery is named after her. I absolutely love her art and have lots of pride for her too as she was born in Wakefield. There's a couple of Henry Moore's sculptures - he was from Castleford which is close to Wakefield. There is also a load of stuff about Wakefield and Yorkshire, including old maps, which I LOVE. I found the village that I live in.

Here's some of the photos I took

Some of the colourful barges on the river

I love this old merchants building - I used to work near it

Von, Ros, and me.

Henry Moore's Pitboys at Pithead - I love mining 

Hepworth's Two Forms. I love how this has been displayed, with bright lights from above so that the shadows are very crisp.

Hepworth's Elegy III, made of plaster and painted to look like wood. 

View from one of the gallery windows.

This is also a Hepworth, I love the colours. 

Hepworth's The Winged Figure. This picture doesn't show the scale of this piece - it's huge. Apparently 19ft high, it's fab to stand under it and look up into it. 

I really recommend the Hepworth for a visit if you're in West Yorkshire - be sure to find the hidden seat and window which looks out upon the Chantry Chapel, it's really cute!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What I Wore 1st Feb

I had a bit of a get-together over the weekend of 30th Jan to 1st Feb, where people dropped in and out and we all had lots of fun. On the Sunday we went to a pub in Wakefield which was really lovely. I decided to wear this new skirt.

It was from Asos in the sale last November. It's a weird scuba type of material, but I liked the pattern and I like the length - it falls past my knees so in warmer weather I'd wear it bare-legged. The t-shirt is from New Look and the shrug is also from New Look. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Printed wood necklaces from Life's Big Canvas

I have this amazing friend called Pesky Chloe. She is an artist; she has made jewellery in the past and now she makes badges and origami. She's always thinking of things to do and make and I love how much she pushes herself forward.

Her husband Ian is also a really talented artist - in fact he's one of the Mouth and Foot Painting artists and his work can be seen on their website here. Chloe decided to combine their skills and had these printed wood pieces made, which she has then made into necklaces and brooches.

I got all three because I just couldn't choose my favourite. I love the colours, the shapes, and the size of them - they're not small so they make quite a statement!

You can buy them here on Chloe's shop, which I strongly recommend taking a good look around. I'm wearing the poppy one today along with a peach t-shirt!

Which one do you like best?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Clothes swap in Sheffield!

As you might know, I've been part of organising clothes swaps in Leeds for a while now, and we've done a couple in Sheffield too. We're back in the Steel City in March for another Sheffield swap. These haven't been as well attended as the Leeds ones so I'd love if we could change that this time around!

There are very few rules when it comes to one of my swaps. Firstly, you don't have to bring ANYTHING in order to get in. We always have plenty left over so feel free to take AS MUCH as you'd like. We have people of all ages and all genders come and enjoy themselves, and inasmuch as we can, it is run as a safe space. We start from a 16 and a size L, and clothes are divided on tables by type - eg all tops are together, all jeans, and so on. If you can't afford the entry fee, it will be waived. The Hubs is a fully accessible space and although the room used is on the first floor, there's a lift.

Clothes that are left over are usually given to a mental health charity I work for, or to the women's prison in Wakefield as it had an appeal for clothes. (It must be awful to be fat and in prison and have no clothes...)

The Facebook event is here, and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me on I'd love to see plenty of people there!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Secret Santas #2 and #3

I know, it's ages after Christmas, but my living space has been in such a mess that I wasn't able to get to these boxes to photograph until now. But I thought I would still post them as I am really grateful for the gifts, and because I'd like the senders to see that if they happen to read my blog! (First SS is here)

Both these boxes were filled with such wonder, I loved them. They were both thrifty swaps.

This one had a fun looking book, Santa and Mrs Claus socks, funky paperclips, chocolate, a stamp set, sunflower seeds for my garden, and HOMEMADE strawberry and rhubarb jam! Gosh, homemade jam is amazing 

This one had a gorgeously patterned notebook, a crime novel by an author I haven't read before, handmade chocolate orange spoons, and this very cute handpainted mug with my initial on it :) I love the green colour! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Films I Watched in January

I have been keeping a list of films I've watched for several years now. I write down the title and the date, and note whether I've seen it before. I also make a note if it's something I saw at the cinema, although that doesn't happen often as I don't really like the cinema experience! I went maybe three times last year, so definitely not a regular occurrence.

I thought I'd share what I've watched and some brief reviews. I sometimes have terrible taste in films and don't like much that's too highbrow - but I don't care. Lee and I have very different taste in films so we tend to watch stuff that we've both seen before, too.

1) Despicable Me and 2) Despicable Me 2 - my uncle and cousin were watching these while we were away at New Year, and I enjoyed them even though I wouldn't have chosen to watch them
3) Anastasia - I chose this because I'd read The Romanov Prophecy where Anastasia survived the deaths of her family, so I wanted to see this version. It was quite sweet!
4) Animal Farm - again because I'd read the book. I don't think this is great actually - it misses a lot out of what is only a short book anyway

5) Frozen (2005) - this is a creepy film about a woman's dead sister. I really enjoyed it, but I like Shirley Henderson anyway (she played Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter film if you're not familiar with her). It kept me guessing
6) Back to the Future I and 8) Back to the Future II - who doesn't love these films?! I do - I love Michael J Fox SO MUCH. I was so happy when he was in The Good Wife and when they wrote in his disability rather than pretending it wasn't there.
7) Men In Black - again, lots of people love these films. I love the first one especially - it's very clever and the dialogue is slick.

9) The Beach - I first read the book back in high school about fifteen years ago and LOVED it. I recommend it if you've never read it. I have seen the film before but it cuts out a lot of the psychological stuff (which is I guess hard to portray in a film). It is still a pretty good film, and it's VERY pretty, even if I still think Leo was miscast.
10) The Mummy Returns was on over Christmas and I watched it, and liked it, so I decided to watch The Mummy as I've never seen it. I liked it, but I think I preferred the second one.
11) Back to the Future III - well once you've watched the first two you might as well complete the trilogy! It's the weakest of the three in my opinion, but I do like Clara a lot

12) East is East - if you've never seen this I really recommend it. It's set in the 1970s and features a mixed race family trying to fit in. Their dad is Pakistani and their mum is English. It's got a fab soundtrack and a host of great cast. I particularly love Linda Bassett as the mum and Archie Panjabi as the only girl in the family.
13) Kinky Boots - again, one of my favourite British films. It's about a failing shoe company in Northampton who branch out into making boots for drag queens. It's amazing, and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Joel Edgerton are both fantastic
14) GBF - I love teen films (one of my favourites is Mean Girls) but this didn't really cut it. It was very self-aware and clever in parts, so not a total write off, but I didn't love it.

Have you seen any of these? Would you like to disagree with me?