Books I Read in 2015

This year, I set a reading goal to read 50 books this year.  Unfortunately, I missed it by just one book!  Didn’t read as much during my Australia trip in December as I thought I would, haha!  Still, 49 books isn’t bad!

I am not going to list all 50 books here as that would be a bit much, but you can check out my complete list on my Goodreads account here.

The 49 books I read totalled 17,074 pages!

Longest Book I Read:

Bleak House by Charles Dickens-The longest book I read at 1,017 pages, however I did not find myself getting bored and found this book about the a court case that just won’t end highly entertaining.  Definitely a must read classic.

Most Popular:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak-This book won many awards and rightfully so.  It had me in tears by the end, but if you haven’t this yet, pick it up, you won’t regret it.

Least Popular:

A Night Inn Hell by John R K Powell-Well, they all couldn’t be good…I picked this up due to being set in Dorset where I live, but it was pretty terrible.  I don’t think it was proof-read and the language did not seem to match up with the era the story takes place in,  bit of a confused story line.

Some Great Series I Discovered:

Flavia de Luce Series by Alan Bradley-This is a series about an 11 year old little girl who is somewhat of a chemistry genius and manages to solve a series of murders.  Hilarious and whimsical!

D.I. Kim Stone Series by Angela Marsons-If you like crime/thriller type novels, this series is excellent.  Can’t wait for the next book to come out!

Books I Gave 5 Stars:

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Lost Girls, Evil Games and Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Hide Her Name by Nadine Dorries

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Have you read any of these books?  Thoughts?  What was your favorite book of 2015?  Any recommendations for my 2016 reading list?

xx

 

 

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New Year 2016 Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas/New Year’s Eve.  It’s time to look back on last year’s resolutions and look forward to what I would like to accomplish for 2016.

Check out my 2015 resolutions here.

Get My Driver’s License-I will begrudginly say fail for this, but just by a hair hopefully.  I actually applied for my provisional, started taking lessons, passed my Theory test and my actual test is booked in for the end of January so I am hoping I can tick this one off fairly soon.

Exercise-I will say this is a success thanks to Yoga with Adriene, I absolutely fell in love with her channel.  I completed 30 days of Yoga and managed to do her other videos 2-3 times a week fairly consistently as I actually really enjoy yoga.  I am taking part in her Yoga Camp for January, 30 days of free yoga videos, join here if you haven’t already!

Home Improvements-Another successful resolution as we managed to repaint our lounge, renovate our bathroom and replaced all our windows and doors this year!

And for consistency’s sake, 3 new resolutions!

Get My Driver’s License-Third time’s a charm?

Adopt a Dog-I’ve wanted my own dog for ages, I always thought when I was an adult with my own house, I’d automatically be able to have my own dog, but unfortunately it’s not that easy.  I think the mister and I are in a place now where we are able to have our own pooch.

Keep Up with Regular Exercise-After 3 weeks in Oz over the festive period where you pretty much live on cheese, chocolate and booze, I want to make sure I keep exercising regularly.

Have you made any resolutions for 2016?  How did you do on last year’s resolutions?

xx

The Problem with “Tea Detoxes”

Tea detoxes have been around for a little while now, but recently they seem to be cropping up on blogs and all over the internet.  Which is really concerning to me as these companies are basically promoting laxatives to a target market the consists of young girls/women.  I think the issue is that bloggers/people who are promoting these products don’t realise that it’s a dangerous product because it’s tea.  Bloggers love tea.  Tea is natural and healthy.  What’s the problem?

Being Natural Doesn’t Mean Safe/Healthy

Senna leaf which is an ingredient in most of these tea detoxes, is a non-prescription laxative.  What this ingredient does is irritate the stomache lining which can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea.  Lovely!  Using for more than two weeks can cause heart problems, liver damage and abnormal bowel function.  Overuse/abuse of laxatives is also a symptom of disordered eating which is why I am starting to get irate about the fact that young girls are being peddled this crap.

What’s the Point?

Another thing about these tea detoxes that annoys me to no end, “Use in conjunction with a healthy, balanced diet”.  If you are eating a balanced diet, what’s the point of the tea?  Eating a healthy diet will allow you to lose, weight, decrease bloating, give you energy, etc.  All of the things tea detoxes claim to do.  These claims which don’t actually have to be proven as tea detoxes are a dietary supplement so the companies can basically slap whatever they like on the box.

Your Body is “Self Cleansing”

Your body is an amazing thing and doesn’t need to be “detoxed” or “cleansed”.  As long as you don’t have health issues which prevent it from doing so, your body detoxes itself.  As long as you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, your aren’t building up full of toxins, demons, etc.  And if you are eating a bunch of junk, some tea that makes you poop (and possibly worse) is not going undo the effects of an unhealthy diet.

End of rant.  Please don’t take my word on this either.  Do your own research, especially when considering taking any sort of dietary supplement, juice cleanse, detox, or any of these other fad “quick fixes”.

Thoughts?

xx

My First Time Epilating

I hadn’t really considered epilating as process of hair removal ever.  I typically just shave, have dabbled in home waxing with fairly disastrous results, but typically it’s the trusty razor.  After watching this Lilly Pebbles youtube video about hair removal, I became intrigued.  Some of the attractive benefits of epilating are less frequent hair removal and your hair growing back thinner and finer than with shaving.  I started researching epilators and decided to give it a go.

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First off, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on an epilator, some of them do range up to £100+ just in case I didn’t like it.  I ended up purchasing the Philips Satinelle HP6423/02, which had good reviews and was reasonably priced at £32.50.  It comes with a shaving attachment and comb attachment, which is fine for me.  Some of the epilators you can purchase have a ton of different attachments, but I didn’t really feel that was necessary for myself.  This is a dry use epilator only and it’s corded, but I haven’t really found that to be an issue.  It has two speeds, I always use it on the high speed, but you can use the lower setting if it’s too painful at first.

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And on to my experience using the epilator on my legs:

-I shaved my legs two days before using it, you won’t get all the hair on your first go, but it will be a lot less painful.

-Exfoliate before and after epilating, I use Lush’s Buffy Bar for this and it works great.  This prevents ingrown hairs, epilated hair grows back thinner and weaker and has difficulty coming through the skin so its important to exfoliate.

-Shower or take a bath before you use your epilator to soften the hair, but make sure your legs are completely dry before epilating.

-I just did my lower legs the first time I used it, I have a pretty high pain threshold and I didn’t really find it painful.  It was just more of an odd sensation?

-Some people do get really red and spotty after epilating so bear that in mind if you are going to be having your legs on display, you might want to give it a day or two.  My legs actually looked fine afterwards so your mileage may vary.

-I waited another two days and did my legs again (lower and upper legs this time) to catch the hairs that were too short first time around and now they are pretty smooth so will probably wait 4-5 days now to do them again.

Overall, I was really happy with how the epilator worked for my legs and definitely will continue to use it.

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Now onto underarms, this didn’t go quite as smoothly as the legs did:

-The first time I used my epilator on my underarms, I was pushing it way to hard into the skin and had really sore armpits because of this.  You want the epilator to glide over the skin, you don’t need to push it down.

-I tried again about two days later after I realized what I was doing wrong and it worked a lot better.

-You need to make sure the skin is really taut so hold you arm above your head to stretch the skin tight as possible.

-I found that it did miss a few hairs so I just plucked these out with a tweezers.

-Unlike my legs, my underarms were sore and red for about a day.

Overall, I’m really happy with how epilating has been going so far and will be continuing to use my epilator.  It’s is very satisfying to see all the hairs plucked from your body, haha!  Also, no more scratchy razor stubble and it should save money in the long run as well, not having to purchase razor cartridges, shaving cream, etc.

Have you ever tried epilating before?  How do you keep your skin smooth (if you choose to do so) for summer?

xx

Books I Read in 2014

I saw a few other bloggers doing posts about books they read in 2014 and thought I’d do the same.  I love reading, I received a Kindle Paperwhite from mister for Christmas 2013 which I absolutely fell in love with.  I usually have 2 books on the go, a book on my Kindle to read at work and then an actual book for bath time reading.  I set a goal of 40 books on my Goodreads account for last year, didn’t quite make it though.  I did read quite a few 700 pages books (including all the Game of Thrones books) so I can forgive myself, but I am trying for 40 again this year!  If you are on Goodreads, add me here.

And on to the books!  I read 35 books for a total of 17,171 pages! (I’ve marked my 5 star books with an asterick.)
Life Mask by Donoghue, Emma

*The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1) by Robert Galbraith-Loved this and can’t wait to read the second book in the series which is already out apparently!

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling-Preferred Cuckoo’s Calling to this offering from Rowling, felt like she was trying too hard to shake the Harry Potter rep.

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King-My favorite author, picks up where The Shining left off.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie-Great read!  If you’re a fan of the movie, Clue, give this a go!

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

The Loyal Servant: A Very British Political Thriller (The Women Sleuths, #1) by Eva Hudson

Perfect Meringues by Laurie Graham

Dust (Kay Scarpetta #21) by Patricia Cornwell

Falling by Emma Kavanagh-I won this as a First Reads book from Goodreads.  It starts with a plane crash and follows 4 different storylines that somehow all intertwine, would definitely recommend.

*The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins-I loved this book, it’s really long and really old, but as a mystery, it was just as good as any modern-day novel.

Under your Skin by Sabine Durrant

Bloody Mary (Jack Daniels Mystery, #2) by JA Konrath

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Am I the only one who thinks Heathcliffe is a complete asshole??

*Joyland by Stephen King

The Liar’s Daughter by Laurie Graham-I love this author, if you like a bit of dark humour along with some historical fiction, you’ll love her books.

Blood and Justice (Jake and Annie Lincoln, #1) by Rayven T Hill

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde-Another amazing classic that I finally got around to reading (a lot of them were free for the Kindle off Amazon).

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4) by Arthur Conan Doyle

The King In Yellow by Robert W Chambers

Doll Bones by Holly Black-Had high hopes for this book just because the cover looked awesome as did the tagline, but it was a bit disappointing.

Fresh Doubt by Eva Hudson

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah

Longbourn by Jo Baker

A Game of Thrones, *A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin-I read these books after watching the tv series, I did find that I was rushing through trying to get to the bit where the series ended (it took awhile), but I still really enjoyed the books.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt-Everyone raved about this book, I thought it started off strong, but I hated the main character by the end of the book as it slowly went downhill.

The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory-I have a thing for tarted up Tudor stories.

Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards

Whew!  If you want a more in depth review of any of the books listed, let me know and I’ll answer in the comments!  If you have any recommendations for my 2015 reading list, let me know!  Have you read any of these books, thoughts, opinions?

xx

New Year 2015 Resolutions

It’s that time of year, time to set goals that you will undoubtably fail at halfway through March when you can’t even remember what a “resolution” means.  I kid, I kid.  Looking back at my 2014 New Year Resolutions here I actually didn’t do too terribly.

Save Money-I think I can tick this off the list, we managed to buy our house last year and it is fairly well furnished and even managed to save up for a holiday or two as well!

Get My Driver’s License-FAIL.  This kind of fell by the wayside in the madness of house ownership, but there’s always this year!

Be Healthier-This was a part success, part fail.  The mister and I do eat fairly healthy (not counting the past festive month of copious amounts of cheese, chocolate and alcohol, one night we had a tray of pigs in blankets for dinner, followed up by a tub of Roses, and I’m not ashamed).  I did start the 30 Day Shred, but only made it through to Level 2 after getting ill.  I did do lots of Pilates at the beginning of the year however.

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So let’s have 3 changes for 2015!

Get My Driver’s License-For real this time, I get my bonus from work in March and I will be booking in lessons at that time.  It’s not like I can’t drive either, I’ve held a valid Minnesota driver’s license since I was 16.  But I’ve been living in the UK for about 4 1/2 years and your US license is only good the first year before you have to start from scratch.  And I only know how to drive an automatic which doesn’t really work over here.

Exercise-This is going on the list again (I think it’s on everyone’s list among the “save money” and “be healthy”).  Monday I am starting the 30 Day Shred again, I will probably try to alternate this with Zumba on the Kinect.  I am contemplating a gym membership at work, but not sure if I am ready for that kind of commitment yet.

Home Improvements-There’s few things we’d like to improve with our new house, we need new windows/doors, we’d like to redo the bathroom, as well as repainting the lounge and kitchen.  So I’d like to check a few things off that list this year!

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?  Were you successful with last year’s resolutions?

xx

Shredtober Diary: Level One

At the beginning of October it seemed like everyone was giving up smoking or drinking for Stoptober.  I don’t smoke and didn’t fancy giving up alcohol so I decided to do the 30 Day Shred as my October thing.  I have been meaning to exercise more so this seemed like the perfect way to kickstart that!  My goal is to do the Shred 5 times a week, giving myself two “off” days.  You’re not actually meant to do this everyday according to Jillian Michaels which seems to be a common misconception.

I am really picky about exercising, mostly to be honest, because I’m lazy and like doing other things better.  So my requirements are that is must be around 20 minutes, no longer, preferably a video to follow along with (I need some entertainment!), and not require a gym, I hate the gym.  The 30 Day Shred seemingly fulfills all these.

shredtober

The Equipment:  You need a mat and some weights.  I have this mat from Amazon which is awesome, it’s thick and squishy and perfect on my wood floor.  For weights, I used two tins of beans the first night.  Then we ate them.  So I have two filled up water bottles so you can improvise if you don’t actually have hand weights.

Level 1

What I found easy: Crunches, ab workout.  I have a fairly strong core from doing Pilates so I can crunch like nobody’s business.

What I found difficult-Push ups for a minute, I have zero arm muscle, this was killer.

Day 1-It was hard, I got sweaty, I moaned and groaned, but I made it through,

Day 2-More difficult than Day 1 because my entire body ached!

Rest Day-Friend coming round to hang out after work so took the night off to stuff my face with pizza!

At this point, I was having trouble sleeping at night because I’m sore and achey and can’t get comfortable.  Hopefully, as I continue, the soreness will go and I will sleep better.

Day 3-Tackled with a bit less enthusiasm than the first 2 days.  I noticed that my right knee has started clicking, reading up and quite a few people experience knee problems with this work out.  Going to try to take it a bit easier on “hard on the knees” moves as I really don’t want to give up already!

Day 4-After doing some research, jumping jacks are not good for bad knees so I jogged in place, pumping my arms instead at those parts.  I was also very careful not to bring my knees forward during the lunges and lateral lunges.  I wore shoes as well as I had been doing it barefoot.  My knee was a bit sore afterward, had a soak in the tub with some muscle relaxing bath oil.  It is starting to feel a bit easier, I didn’t feel like I was dying by the end of it and definitely not as sore and achey.

Rest Day-Working a late at work and I am not a morning exercise person!

Day 5-Was really good today and squeezed in a workout after I got home and before we met friends for dinner!

Day 6-Bit hard to get into it tonight, but still felt really good afterwards!

Day 7-The cardio at the beginning kind of left me out of breath, but once I got to the second circuit started getting some more energy.

Rest Day-Wine and movie night with the mister!

Day 8-I’m getting a little afraid to tackle Level 2 because Level 1 is still leaving me out of breath and sweaty, no more knee problems though!  I read that your knees can hurt doing strenuous exercise if your leg muscles aren’t strong enough (obviously this doesn’t apply if you have actual knee injuries/chronic knee problems) so hopefully my leg muscles have strengthened up now!

Day 9-Much of the same, out of breath during the beginning cardio, but starts to get easier towards the last half!

Rest Day

Day 10-My last day on Level 1!  I was too lazy to put my tennis shoes on so I will see if my knees hurt again tomorrow or not.  I still have been running in place instead of doing the jumping jacks though.

Recap of Level 1

Overall, this was relatively easy after the first few times and the soreness had gone.  I did need to do a few modifications because of the knee pain, but it’s gone now so those have worked!  I actually looked forward to doing the Shred once I got into the swing of it, I think the 2 rest days a week really worked well for me.  The 20 minutes really do fly by!  I am a little apprehensive to attempt Level 2, but looking forward to some new moves!  I have taken a before picture, and I will take one after each level, not sure if I will post them yet, it just seems a bit unnecessary as everyone will have different results, but I know it is interesting to see how others have done!

Have you tried the 30 Day Shred?  Giving up anything for October?

xx