Monday 30 March 2015

Anybody Out There | BOOKS


"you'd find yourself getting very emotional over, laughing with, crying with and definitely enjoying every second of it."

Since the last book I read (review here) I had sort of lost hope in reading. Dramatic? Yes, I guess it is a little bit. Well, when one of your favourite authors of all time end up disappointing you so much, you're bound to feel a little disheartened (J.K. Rowling, how could you?). Everything happens for a reason, and I believe it was fate that this beauty entered my life.

The best thing about the novel? The storyline kept on going. There was not one point at which I thought 'I could do with skipping a few pages'. I wanted to read and read until the cows came home - or until my eyelids gave up on me.

"It'd be one of those movies you could watch again and again."

Another thing I've got to give Mariyan credit for, the lack of confusion when she writes.
Throughout the book, especially the first half of it, there is a lot of back and forth on what's happening 'right now' and what happened in the past. The thing is: you can tell the difference. It's put very clearly and it's incredible to see how a persons life can change so dramatically.
One more thing: the protagonist is very 3 dimensional, making the whole thing even more realistic.

On the note of characters, she has done a fantastic job! There are characters of which you will end up crying of laughter over, characters who you admire and characters that you wish were your best friend.

"Everything happens for a reason, and I believe it was fate that this beauty entered my life."

If you've read a few of the previous book reviews on BBXO, you'd know the ultimate thing I judge a book over: how it visualises as being a movie.
Let me tell you, this story was definitely a movie in my head. It would be a movie you'd find yourself getting very emotional over, laughing with, crying with and definitely enjoying every second of it. It'd  be one of those movies you could watch again and again.

Have you got any books you can read again and again?

Friday 27 March 2015

Current Music Faves ft. Sam Smith, Taylor Swift + Daniel Duke | MUSIC


"I was out and about with music in my ears, I noticed the song was super catchy and was thinking to myself: Who is the artist?"

We all need a refresh of the playlist every now and again, and when One Directions 'FOUR' get's a bit boring, it's time to hit the charts and see what's new.

Having said that, the charts at the moment are not-so-good. Yes, FourFiveSeconds is a good song, but of the new ones in the top 40, I was probably a fan of all about 3 of them. The songs mentioned here are actually in the charts, expect one of them. That one isn't even available in stores...

1. Sam Smith - Lay Me Down
This is in the title picture for a reason. The song is amazing. The thing about Sam Smith and his singing, is that you can almost feel the emotion as he opens that mouth of his! Through the headphones you are transformed into another world - and one which I would happily live in.

The minute I heard the song, I played it on repeat 3 times. If you know me, you know I rarely watch a movie twice, read the same book again or play a song on repeat (especially when it's the first time I've heard it). This? This was an exception. Other than the song 'Say Something' by Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World, which I played around 8 times in a row, this doesn't really happen to often. So, long story short: if you haven't heard this song yet, run over and put it on before continuing to read the rest of this post!

2. Taylor Swift - Style
I'm a big fan of T-Swift. She sings the kind of music I like, whether it be Love Story or Shake it Off - I'm a fan. Style? Style's a little bit different. I was out and about with music in my ears, I noticed the song was super catchy and was thinking to myself: Who is the artist? They're AMAZING! Next thing I know, it's good old Tay Tay. It's something quite different to what I'm used to with her, but it's a great song, nonetheless!

3. Hozier - Take Me to Church
When I first heard this song on the automated YouTube playlist thing (which, by the way, I think it's quite handy) I was totally loving it. I thought the emotion I felt through it was good, and it's like sort of rock/grunge vibe I do actually like. Being a pretty low key, not in-your-face song, it was right up my street! However, it was not one I instantly downloaded. Hearing it again on The Voice UK (covered by Clarke), I knew I had to have it in my playlist, and off I trot to download it.

It's such a great song, and I hope to be loving more songs by the same artist.

4. Daniel Duke - Gonna Be/500 Miles
Finally, the unexpected, not-in-the-charts song you'd probably never expect to see in a current favourite music post. The song that didn't get enough credit, in my opinion, and the artist that should have gotten through to the lives on The Voice UK. That's right, the artist was a contestant on The Voice UK this year, and he was on Sir Tom Jones team.

Tom didn't pick him from the knockouts, and I'm thoroughly disappointed. Tom had a great team - and there were about 4 of the 8 that I thought had great potential, and of the 8, he chose 3 that I think didn't do his team justice. This is all my opinion, but I think I'm just a bit annoyed by the fact than Daniel was let to go home.

Gonna Be/500 Miles was the song he sang on his first audition, and it was incredible! He has such a unique voice that he uses to recreate hit songs in a different way. Here's the YouTube link to his other performance of Shake it Off. The version he crafted was different to the original, but it still sounded awesome!

Although this post was not meant to be a huge ramble on about The Voice, it has been a show I've been loving recently. The songs they choose are the wonderful, and the amount of talent the contestants have is incredible to see.
All in all, these are the Top 4 songs I recommend you listen to, at least once, and possibly add to your playlist.

Tell me, what did you think of Daniel's performance? Like his spin on things, or do you think it's not for you?

Wednesday 25 March 2015

April 2015 Calendar | FREE PRINTABLE


It's come that time again, and the April calendar is now out for you to grab and enjoy. It is, as always, completely free. The thing about the calendars is, they're cute enough to be Pinterest worthy yet absolutely practical too. What's to loose, hey?!

Keep organised, be productive and remember those all important birthdays!

Hope you have a lovely April, it's not too far away ;)

Monday 23 March 2015

Spring 2015 Nail Picks | BEAUTY


"the colours I picked haven't 'gone-all-out', but there's a nice range that I think truly represents me"

It feels like forever since we've bought out the pastels, and now the time has come. The first day of Spring has sprung (ha!) so you can feel free to whip out those shades you put away about 6 months ago. Having said that, it is totally fine to wear whatever shade you want to in the autumn and winter - so if you were rocking pastels in the mist of November, GO YOU! :)

"the grey may still dominate"

Although it's Spring, the weather hasn't been wanting to change too much in London. Well, it did for about 3 days, and then went back to grey clouds. Maybe it's the weather that doesn't let the little nail-colour freak inside of me not want to pick out all the pastel shades, or maybe I'm just saving them for the summer. Either way, the colours I picked haven't 'gone-all-out', but there's a nice range that I think truly represents me.

From Left to Right:
Barry M Watermelon
Barry M Kiwi
Barry M Limited Edition 030
Barry M Cappuccino 
Barry M Aqua Glitter
Ciaté Pocket Money

"choosing the colours that make you feel comfortable"

As you can tell, there's a lot of Barry M going on here! With great formulas, an ever-growing shade range and their incredible price - where can one go wrong?

In the end, it's all about choosing the colours that make you feel comfortable. To me, these are the ones. I'll leave them lined up on the shelf near my nail polish box, so I can just pick and go! Having still being obsessed with grey's, I have a feeling it may be the most used this season, but I shall keep you updated!

"It feels like forever since we've bought out the pastels, and now the time has come."

As most of the colours on the runways for SS15 were bare/nude nails, it'd be wrong not to include Ciaté Pocket Money. Nonetheless, the grey may still dominate for me. It's not ALL about the trends now, is it?! :D

Tell me, what shade do you think will be on your nails a lot this Spring? 

Friday 20 March 2015

Spring Inspiration Board


"it's about time we appreciate everything Spring brings us!"

Now that March is past the half-way point, we can agree it's beginning to feel a lot more like Spring. Although Spring screams EXAM TIME, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy the beautiful weather, the gorgeous flowers and of course, the festival of Easter (hello, Easter Eggs!).

Putting together a seasonal inspiration board is so much fun, and as you seemed to enjoy the last one, why not gather a few things to really get you in the mood for this season... Season's Greetings! 

(PS. Feel free to Pin on Pinterest)

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
"beautiful weather, the gorgeous flowers and of course, the festival of Easter

It's all about the pastel shades, and brighter colours as we lean towards the warmer season. Having really beginning to notice the ravishing sunsets, it's about time we appreciate everything Spring brings us!
My favourite thing about Spring? The chance to wear Spring nail colours.
HINT: New post all about nails coming to a blog near you! 

What's your favourite thing about Spring? Is it possibly your favourite season?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Contemporary Jewellery in London | FASHION


"they hand-make a lot of their pieces."

Having never been much of a jewellery person, other than the occasional stud here and there, and a trusty bracelet that never comes off my wrist, you won't see me go crazy with the bling. Having said that, dainty necklaces are something I can deal with.

Spotting the brand 'NUDE', a contemporary jeweller in London (also available online), I lost interest as soon as I saw the words "statement". Having said that, not all the jewellery has gone all-out, and there's a huge choice of pieces to pick from!

"It's simple yet beautiful"

The cool thing about NUDE is that they hand-make a lot of their pieces. In fact, the one pictured above is handmade, and I believe they do it right there in-store too! This one is slightly hammered to create the effect of un-even edges. Link to it here.

"a collection is not complete without a silver piece!"

It reflects the light wonderfully, and the best thing about it? It's simple yet beautiful. Like I said, there's something for everyone in that store!

If you know me, you'd know I tend to lean towards gold over silver. Nevertheless, a collection is not complete without a silver piece!

" dainty necklaces are something I can deal with."

All in all, a lovely - different in a good way - necklace which can compliment an outfit nicely!

Tell me, are you one for a statement necklace, or are you more of a fan of dainty ones?

Monday 16 March 2015

Are You YOUR Best Average | QUOTE


"be around people that make you happy, that have good morals and bring out the best in you!"

I can't remember exactly where I picked this quote up, but I did end up writing it down on the notes section of my phone with intentions of one day sharing it. That day has now come. It's a quote that makes you think: 
a) who are the 5 people you hang around most with?
b) are they a good influence?

"are they a good influence?"

Although there may be pressure (especially in high school) to be with the 'popular' crowd, but really, there is no need. Just be around people that make you happy, that have good morals and bring out the best in you! You want to be the best 'average' you can be, so be around people who inspire you and you're on the way to greatness!

It may be easier said than done, but there are friends for everyone in this world, and you have the control to choose the ones right for you. So, don't bother spending time with those you don't enjoy being around, and have fun being happy!

To round that off: Happy Monday!

What is a quality you admire about your friends? Is it their kindness, humour or simply just because they're great people?!

Friday 13 March 2015

Clinique Chubby Stick: Woppin' Watermelon | BEAUTY


" Just as I expected - I was not sold."

There was definitely a phase of tinted lip balms. You know the time, when Maybelline BabyLips was sold out pretty much everywhere? Well, Clinique had jumped on that bandwagon and released these beauties - the Chubby Stick. Although the packaging is a real beauty, the product itself? Not so sure...

I'm not going to lie, I never had much of an interest in the Maybelline BabyLips phase, and still to this day would rather just use my trusty Burt's Bee's Pomegranate Oil Lip Balm - good for the real moisture and adds a little bit of a tint. Perfect.

Being a subscriber of Glamour Magazine, this popped through my letterbox one morning, and I was reluctant to try it. Having had a history of allergies to many lip balms (yep, Carmex is not my friend), I didn't know if this could be trusted. Anyhow, I went for plunge and tried it out. Just as I expected - I was not sold.
(For the record: No Allergic Reaction in sight!)

"Although the packaging is a real beauty, the product itself? Not so sure..."

Maybe it was the shade they send, or maybe it was the actual sheerness of the balm that put me off. It was super sheer, and although I was pleased with the lack of sticky-gloss feeling, it still wasn't a winner in my eyes.

If you're a fan of the glossy look (I'm more of a matte girl myself), and need something you would like to apply regularly throughout the day, giving a slight tint but not much - this is the one.

For me, it just left a greyish colour on my lips, and although it was slightly moisturising, something about it didn't feel right. Plus, as I'm not a biggie on that shiny lip-gloss look, this product was probably never going to work in my favour.

"although I was pleased with the lack of sticky-gloss feeling, it still wasn't a winner in my eyes."

If this product was more pigmented, I think I would have liked it. As shown above, this is a swatch of many layers of the balm - and if that came out in one swipe, I might have been sold.

In terms of packaging, it's a seller - no need for any sharpening and it's a cute little pencil.
I think it's one of those 'love it or hate it' kind of things, and at £17 a stick - I'm not quite loving it. Oh well, you can't win every time!

Tell me, are you a Matte or Glossy kind of person? 

Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling | Books


You may have seen this picture somewhere (i.e. Instagram) which hugely hinted at this post coming your way. Since then, I have debated whether or not this should be written. Also since then, another book has been started being read. Let me tell you, it's completely different to the one pictured above!

Well, as we're mentioning all the things that have happened since I started reading The Casual Vacancy, I'll just throw in there that this book has been the inspiration of a new show on BBC called 'The Casual Vacancy'!

For the record, I watched the first episode of that show and was not a fan. It is completely different to how I imagined it would be. To be honest, when I was reading this, I did imagine it to be a bit like EastEnders. You know, with the whole 'peaking into people's lives all over the town and their lives all intertwine, and everyone knows each other' kind of thing, yet I thought it was more 'posh' than they portrayed it in the show. Let me just say: I don't like EastEnders and I didn't like this book.

The reason I picked it up? It's got J.K.Rowling as the author, and as much as I love Harry Potter books, it's the fact that I absolutely adored The Cuckoo's Calling that made me want to pick up this one. It is nowhere near the standard of The Cuckoo's Calling. I feel like it took forever to get the ball rolling in terms of the storyline itself, heck, the ball was never rolling! It was a totally stationary ball.

I do like J.K.Rowling's writing style, which again wasn't too bad in this book, but just when you're getting into a character, it changes and another character is the main story. There are a million characters and it's so difficult to get your head around it - especially if you're not into the (practically non-existent) story line. Maybe that's why it didn't grab my attention, as there was just too much going on.

Long story short, just when you think J.K.Rowling never disappoints (after reading this book by her), she disappoints!

Have you read any other books by J.K.Rowling that may redeem her in my eyes? 

Monday 9 March 2015

The Ideal Bracelet | FASHION


"Is there such thing as a perfect piece of jewellery? Yes, I think there is."

While rummaging in my bedside cabinet I found this beauty. Hold on. Let's take a step back. I never really open my bedside cabinet, as everything I need is usually on the top (i.e. a good book, a magazine and a candle!). However, when opening the cabinet, I found the lovely bracelet pictured above, and I realised how much I missed it.

I used to wear this bracelet every day about a year and a half ago. Back in school, we weren't allowed to wear jewellery other than a pair of stud earrings, but I always used to wear this bracelet and was rarely ever caught. When it came to college, where you're allowed to wear whatever you want, I never wore it. Oh, the irony

"it has meaning to you, and nobody else needs to know why it means so much."

The bracelet was actually from my mother. She used to wear it all the time when I was a child, and I distinctively remember thinking it was beautiful. A while back, she gave it to me - not in any sentimental way or anything, just because she never really wore it anymore! Either way, I still think it's lovely and since these pictures were taken, it hasn't come off

I think everyone has that one piece of jewellery that goes with everything, and that you could definitely wear everyday. You know the one I mean, where you've kind of forgotten that you got it on in the first place? Where it has pretty much become a part of you. 

"it has pretty much become a part of you." 

Is there such thing as a perfect piece of jewellery? Yes, I think there is. Sometimes, I believe that simplicity is the key. Kind of like a tattoo, where it has meaning to you, and nobody else needs to know why it means so much. In the end, it almost makes you feel... content.

Just like how a tattoo can be made just the way you want it, you can with jewellery too! The picture above is another bracelet that I 'designed' that would be ideal to me. It's got sapphire, which is my birth stone, and has diamonds on a base of gold - what luxury! Although I designed a bracelet, you can also design your ideal diamond necklaces, rings or earrings on The quality of the diamonds and stones are adjustable, and they come with a certificate to prove their authenticity. 

Do you have a piece of jewellery you wear all the time, or that you always reach for? What's the story behind it?

Friday 6 March 2015

Cameras, Pets, Bars & Baking |BERRYWEEKLY


"it was practically waiting for us to open the door to freedom"

Another Friday has come, and it's time to reflect. These BerryWeekly posts are so lovely, as it's almost like a mini scrapbook - with pictures and small descriptions of some of the weeks highlights! Actually, seeing as scrapbooking is kind of become a thing, I wanted to get on board and made an actual scrapbook (see here)! Who say's scrapbooking is only for kids?! Not. Me. :)

The idea of scrapbooking actually came to me when I ordered this baby. It's the oh-so-beautiful Canon 700D. I was debating whether or not I should jump into the DSLR bandwagon, wandering whether it's really worth it or not. Being a blogger, it is (silently) believed that having a DSLR makes you an "official". How much I agree to that is another post entirely. For the record, even though I now am lucky enough to own one now, I still don't regard myself as an 'official'.

So far, I have been loving it! The crisp photo outcomes are lovely. What made me feel it was the right decision to pick the camera up, was your responses in this post, which was the first I properly used it.

"I used to be a rabbit owner and miss her to this day."

On another note, I paid a visit to Pets at Home the previous week and saw the cutest little animals. I've forgotten the name of the animal species on the right, but they were super cute snuggling on their little wheel! Though it did sadden me to see the rabbits in their tiny cages. The rabbit next to the one pictured was jumping about, and when we came close to the cage, it was practically waiting for us to open the door to freedom.

 I wish I could say I adopted one, but we have foxes that come to our garden, and it wouldn't be right to put the animal in danger.

If you didn't know, I used to be a rabbit owner (see here) and miss her to this day.

With birthdays come birthday parties. Was it me or did everyone seem to have their birthday in February? My good friend had her birthday and took us all out to Piccadilly Circus. We went to a bar called Jewel Bar based in Glasshouse Street. It's beautiful, and I fell in love with the decor. The seats reminded me on my headboard on my bed - so it felt a little like home! I loved that they had separated sections so you don't feel intruded on by strangers, and you even have your own little area to use as a dance floor.

Although I'm not a huge fan of clubbing, bars I can deal with. Nonetheless, they probably wouldn't be my outing of choice, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't try to get out of it. Though I was told I must attend, and I didn't have a choice, it did end up being a lovely night. Give me anything with coconut and I'm happy (hello, Piña Colada!).

"We went a little artsy and even tried some marble biscuits - completely unplanned but they looked gorgeous."

Finally, to wind off the week on a calmer note, I resorted to baking. My mother and I had some bonding time making these lovely biscuits. We went a little artsy and even tried some marble biscuits - completely unplanned but they looked gorgeous. We had a little cocoa biscuits going on, some plain and the pretty marble mix! It was a lovely time and definitely therapeutic!

What do you think of the whole blogger/DSLR debate? 

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Win a Weekend Away for Mother's Day!


"Everyday, she'll be doing things for us to make our lives easier"

That time of year has approached us already, and Mother's Day is just around the corner. Well, actually it's next Sunday!

It's nice to have a day to appreciate the mothers. Mothers do so much for us and we definitely don't given them enough credit (well, at least I don't - guilty!). Just like Valentine's Day, we shouldn't thank our mothers one day a year, but should everyday.

My mother is so lovely. She always puts us (my brother, dad and I) first, and it feels like she's living for us. Everyday, she'll be doing things for us to make our lives easier, and not once has she thought about herself. In the morning, mum would wake up before all of us, whether it be a 4am emergency call for my dad, or a relaxing Sunday, or whatever, she'll be up and ready, cleaned the bathroom, made breakfast and tea and freshly presses juice for us all before sitting down herself. She'll be doing anything she can for us, and is the most happy person I know - always has a smile on her face!

My mother is One in a Million, and I love her to bits, but don't tell her enough!

As me, I'm sure you love your mum just as much, and to treat her this mother's day, there's a competition you can enter to win a weekend at one of Parkdean's Award Winning Holiday Parks.

All you have to do, is write a short paragraph as to why your mother is One in a Million. How lovely would it be to surprise your mum?!

I hope you have a lovely Mother's Day on Sunday 15th March 2015.

Tell me: What's one way your mother is One in a Million?

Monday 2 March 2015

Afternoon Tea at No. 12 Bloomsbury, London


"To our surprise, it tasted like a pizza in a sandwich!"

Afternoon tea is the perfect way to spend a day off, with people you'd like to sit with for 3 hours and talk until the cows come home! What's more, when it's raining outside, afternoon tea tastes just that much better!

Tea is known for the British, and London has a million and one places for you to enjoy it! We went with this place: Number Twelve, Bloomsbury. Based in the heart of London, with wonderful buildings giving that true admiration of British culture. Although the pillars pictured above has nothing to do the tea itself, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a snap and take a moment for architecture!

"next thing you know it's super bitter and not chocolate-y at all!"

The café itself is actually quite the opposite of traditional English. It is quite modern, contemporary should I say, and gives off a clean, fresh vibe. It's quite beautiful and there's such open-ness about it - possibly due to the beautiful high ceilings and crisp white accents.

The tables were spacious and the tea menu decent. I say decent because at first we were going to give Darjeeling a shot, as it was on the back of the menu, and then they say, "well, we only have certain teas available, shown on the inside cover of the menu". This did not include Darjeeling so we went for the good ol' English Breakfast and Ceylon. Ceylon was a nice tea, but it wouldn't be one I'd order again. Darjeeling is next on the hit list!

"We weren't left out to dry before they gave us our teas"

In terms of the cutlery, which I didn't think I'd mention today, it was beautiful! I love big cups, and this cup was big and it had a fancy contemporary design! What more could I ask for? Although my ideal cup would be the same volume but taller instead of wide - okay that was tmi! Continuing with this, the knives and forks were incredibly light! It was lovely.
I still find it incredibly weird to write about the cup and knives and forks, but it had to be thrown in there! ;)

The sandwiches were super yummy! What we did was have the ones we thought would be the not-so-nice ones first - which was the tomato one. To our surprise, it tasted like a pizza in a sandwich! Absolutely delightful!

As for the treats dish - there were scones, scones with raisins, tarts and two sets of dense bread/cake type of things with dried fruit in them. The dried fruit things were not that great. In fact, one of them looked like a chocolate brownie, so we saved it to last - next thing you know it's super bitter and not chocolate-y at all!

To top it all off, the scones were served with the most delicious blackberry jam (as well as strawberry jam and clotted cream). All of this served in the most interesting cake tray ever!

"when it's raining outside, afternoon tea tastes just that much better!"

Another great thing, which is quite important in any place you go, is the staff. They were lovely, efficient and super friendly! We weren't left out to dry before they gave us our teas and tray of goodies. They came fairly quickly and overall, pretty satisfied!

A great place to visit if in London and fancy some contemporary Afternoon Tea! Without a doubt an upgrade from last time and definitely one that upped the standards of Afternoon Tea.

What is your favourite type of tea, have you given Darjeeling a go?