Monday, 31 July 2017

My Favourite Things 7

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July was a busy and transformative month for me, as it often tends to be as it's my birthday month but this month felt even moreso!  

In July, I was coveting an exciting proposal, a new album, and much more.

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3RD JULY
I turned 25 years old on the 3rd July and it felt like kind of a big deal because of where I am in my life. I had a low-key day and it was everything that I wanted it to be. I spent the afternoon sat in the sunshine outside one of the local pubs eating an incredibly good brownie, before heading to dinner in the evening with some of my family. I got some wonderful gifts, which I'm very grateful for, but, most importantly, I spent time with a lot of people that I care about and that's what made it good. The chunky post-dinner chocolate cake was pretty high up there though, not gonna lie...


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BIRTHDAY GATHERING
A couple of weekends later, I held a birthday gathering with all of my best friends and a few extra family members and family friends. We held it in my Grandma's garden and enjoyed a massive buffet followed by an excellent ice cream bar. It's safe to say that the food was a roaring success with everyone clutching their full bellies come the evening.

We did a lot of chatting, laughing, eating and I emptied out six tote bags worth of books for everyone to rummage through in return for a donation to charity. It was wonderfully chilled but also extremely exciting for the following reason...   

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BRIDESMAID PROPOSAL
As  all of my BFFs were going to be attending the gathering, which was the first time ever, I decided to get some little gifts together and propose to my bridal party! None of them had any idea it was happening and it was such a special moment that I will honestly treasure forever. 

If you've yet to read my 'will you be my bridesmaid' post where I share some super cute reaction photographs and a lot more info, you should probably go and do so PDQ.


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EXQUISITE 
I spent a fair few days this month head-in-book thanks to Exquisite by Sarah Stovell, another recommendation from the Hello Friend podcast episode with Alice Slater. I don't think it's one of my favourite reads of the year but it was definitely one of my favourite reading experiences. I was hooked. 

If you're in the market for a psychological thriller, give this a look. More on this soon. 

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MORE ARCADE FIRE 
I shared my love for Everything Now in my last Favourites post and since then they've released the whole album! I am loving the mix of 70's disco vibes and 80's Talking Heads vibes. There's elements of several of their previous albums on these tracks and I'm looking forward to listening to them more.

It's still early days but my favourite songs so far are: Electric Blue, Put Your Money On Me and Creature Comfort.


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RAISING MONEY
My family took part in the Walk It event in Bristol to raise funds and awareness for Crohn's and Colitis UK. The walk took them passed the harbourside and around Clifton and they even got to wander through an inflatable bowel at the base that taught them all about the two conditions. 

They had a great day and I'm really grateful that they decided to participate, having supported me through my own turbulent times with Crohn's Disease over the past seven years. If you've ever enjoyed anything I've done over here, or if you fancy donating a little bit to charity this month, then you can find our fundraising page online. We have raised £271 so far! It'd be cool to reach £300.

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POST-OP CUDDLES
Poppy was spayed this month which wasn't fun at all but it did mean that we got to have some cute cuddles on her fancy new memory foam mattress whilst she was in recovery. She was kept cooped up in a pen in our living room for 10 days and she did so well considering. I'm now dealing with a very bouncy manic puppy who is extremely grateful to be free though...

I need a drink, or ten.

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SORTING MY MENTAL HEALTH
I have been dealing with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD for years on my own without any help. The other day, inspired by multiple things, I decided to head back to the doctors and say: 'I deserve to have a life' out loud. 

This is just the first step to getting myself sorted out, again, but I am so willing to give myself the time and care.  


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BOOKTUBEATHON
The Booktubeathon is a week long readathon created and curated every year by Ariel Bissett. I decided to low-key participate this year as a way of getting some reading done before the month was through. I wasn't going to go the full hog but I was up for tackling a couple of the reading challenges and for keeping up with Ariel's daily updates. And, thankfully, I really enjoyed myself.

I even did my own daily updates on Instagram stories throughout the week. I love readathons and highly recommend them to people wanting to get inspired by the books on their shelves. You'll see these in my upcoming book haul and my upcoming book reviews post!  

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PERSONALISED CHILDREN'S BOOK 
Franky recently shared a photograph of a book she had bought a little one in her family and I loved it so much that I bought one for my cousin's daughter on her Christening day. It's called All The Things I Wish and it's a story written to inspire both teeny tiny bubs and bigger kids alike, with its fun story and bright page spreads. The pages are personalised too, along with the front cover, so it makes the story even more immersive. I, unfortunately, didn't get to take a photograph of my copy but if you head over to the website you can get a better idea of what it all entails. 

I was so pleased with my purchase and I will definitely be repurchasing it for future littles. Everything I've bought from Papier has been of high quality and I would recommend the website if you're looking for gifts for friends and family! 

(photo credit: papier) 


+ THINGS OF NOTE
•  Elliot's time capsule was great. 
•  Sarah bought a couple of pairs of clogs after seeing them in my Favourites and they look SO GOOD.
•  The XX released a video for one of my favourite songs off their latest album 'I See You', as featured in a past Favourites post
•  this photoset of Palm Springs in infra-red is super cool 
•  Laura has been creating some beautiful collages of late. Hire her!
•  dodie shared a video about oversharing on the internet
•  Michelle wrote this beautiful and personal post on living with grief
 Book Riot shared a list of books focused on female friendships


+ JULY BLOG POSTS
•  monthly things that make me happy list
•  big book haul ft. lots of recommendations
•  july's book reviews featured two five star reads
•  will you be my bridesmaid? proposal & meet the bridesmaids!


A month of varied favourite things. What's on your list? If you're wanting more, I've got six more months of  favourites for you to scroll through!


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Monday, 17 July 2017

Will You Be My Bridesmaid? Boxes + Meet My Bridesmaids!

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This weekend just gone, I held a little belated birthday party that, luckily, all of the women that I wanted to be in my bridal party happened to be attending. Realising how unheard of that is, as they're from different friendship groups, I decided to jump the gun a bit with wedding planning and go straight to the part where I get to propose with a cute box of gifts to my desired bridesmaids!


I kept it a secret for them all so when they opened their boxes they had no idea what they were going to be faced with. It was excellent!


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contents
bff mug, asos 
true love pin, asos 
rifle paper co. cards, the paper parlour & paperchase
ban. do pencils, the paper parlour
kraft boxes, paperchase 
IRIDESCENT heart confetti, paperchase 

Luke and I haven't even thought about a wedding, let alone made any concrete plans, so this was the first step. I decided to keep the contents of the boxes completely the same. I also kept the items £5 and under because lord knows I am not made of money and, to be honest, I don't think you need to spend much more than that.

I love putting pins on my jackets so I thought it'd be cool to include one in the box for my bridesmaids to wear at their leisure or bring along to the big day in some way. The true love pin from Skinny Dip fit the bill perfectly. All of the girls are partial to a good hot drink, or the occasional spot of wine in a mug, so when I saw the ban.do BFF mugs I thought they'd make the perfect addition. Sticking with ban.do, I saw their complimentary pencils and thought that they would make a cute addition to the box too. I had fun assigning the pencils to each person and I think I did a pretty good job with allocating them appropriate slogans. Buying things as a pack and then splitting them down is also a great way to keep costs down if you are, like me, on a budget.

I have been a big fan of Rifle Paper Co. for many years now and I knew that their Will You Be My Bridesmaid / Maid of Honour cards would look really cute in the box and would be the best way to surprise the girls when they opened their boxes. They are pricey for cards, sure, but I made it worth my while by filling the card with lots of soppy stuff for each of them to read and keep. I went for simple Kraft boxes because I wasn't looking for anything particularly busy. You could keep the costs down further by recycling gift bags of yore (we all have a selection) or by tying everything together with ribbon or string instead. The iridescent heart confetti, which is impossible to photograph, the gold glitter letters and the shredded tissue paper were all just ways of making it look a little more cute but they weren't at all essential. 

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more bridesmaid box ideas!
Of course, there are many different things that you could put in your bridesmaid proposal boxes. You can tailor them to your bridesmaid's taste, making different boxes for each, or you could keep them uniform like I decided to. Here are a few other things you could include in your 'will you be my bridesmaid' box:

1. photographs of the two of you 
2. an item that corresponds to your chosen WEDDING theme 
3. little notebooks, perhaps personalised, to fill with ideas 
4. a little something for them to wear on the day, be it accessories or a make-up item
5. write them something, A POEM OR WHATEVER
6. a mood board for your wedding 
7. a mixtape or some form of modern EQUIVALENT
8. a small bottle of their favourite tipple
9. one of those fancy personalised coat hangers for their dress
10. if you're creative, make them something
11. an item relating to an in joke that you share
12. pamper items 
13. love heart sweets or heart-shaped chocolate
14. if you like a gimmick, pop a ringpop in a box as a take on a proposal 
15. fresh flowers, or fake, that you hope to have on the big day 


You don't need to create a box, or even give a card, at all. Asking them face-to-face, or via technology, is totally fine. I decided to be a little extra with my bridesmaid proposals because, like a true Cancerian, I will always be driven to go a bit EXTRA where my best friends are concerned. 

their reaction
None of them had a clue what was going on because I sneakily spontaneously told them I had just bought them little gifts because I was so grateful for their friendship and support. I decided to host the moment upstairs at my Grandma's as I wanted to keep the moment between us all and I'm so glad I did. It made it all the more special that it was just us. There were a lot of squeals, a lot of tears, and a lot of wide grins. I'm so glad I got to share that special moment with them. Each and every one of them has experienced hardship this year and I wanted to earmark that ten minutes or so just for us to celebrate friendship. It was perfect. I managed to capture a few reactions in photograph form so here's a small selection!


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This was G's perfect reaction face when she realised what was happening. 


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Sophieanne pulled off some perfect Sinead O'Connor-esque singular tears. 


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Lyzi was grinning, and also gurning, from ear to ear. 


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Even Amy had tears in her eyes and that is unheard of!


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Claire was effectively wagging her entire body like a little puppy because she has been waiting for this moment for about 5 or so years. The scamp!

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meet my maid of honour & bridesmaids
I'm not really one for big things about me but I absolutely loved having the opportunity to make this all about my favourite people instead! In terms of choosing bridesmaids, I opted for my best friends and my sister. I have four bridesmaids and one Maid of Honour. In true 90's game show style, I'll introduce them all now...from left to right: 

SOPHIE-ANNE, BRIDESMAID
I met Sophie-Anne when she came to our Sixth Form after years of homeschooling. At first, I didn't know what to think of her. She waltzed into our English class and was giving all these really insightful answers to the teacher's questions and we were like, hang on a minute who the hell are you? However, a few hours down the line, and after carefully observing her, I asked her if she wanted to chat and the rest, they say, is history. Sophie-Anne is one of the best people on this planet and I feel so indebted to whoever made our meeting happen because I wouldn't have got through half of the stuff I have gone through without her. 

She is my role model. You lot always say I'm so strong to deal with all of my health stuff head on but, honestly, I wouldn't be half as strong without her. I love you, Soph.

GEORGIA, BRIDESMAID
Georgia and I first met in a Facebook group for the people on our university course back in August 2011. We met up as soon as we started lectures and, thankfully, got on straight away. Georgia is the friend you turn to when you're in desperate need of some self-care or self-reflection. A bulk of our shared memories involve treating ourselves right after tough times and I appreciate having someone to remind me to take care when times are tough. 

She has the most perfect grin and I was so happy to squeeze her to death after a year and a half apart! I love you, G.

AMY, MY MAID OF HONOUR
Amy, if you can't already tell, is my younger sister. She also happens to be excellent at organising and currently works in event planning so she is the one in charge of sailing the ship! She is essentially Leslie Knope, complete with love of sweet food. Whilst we are very different people at times, we are also pretty similar. You will often find us giggling at things whilst other people around us wonder what the hell is up. We are part of a two girl gang, in a way.

We have been through a lot together and I can always count on her to have my back. I love you, Cub.


CLAIRE, BRIDESMAID
Before I started university in 2011, I joined a Facebook group to try and meet people who were going to be living in the same building as me. I got chatting to a girl who said she'd come and meet me on our first morning and she'd be bringing someone else, who was also on our course, in tow. Little did the girl in tow and I know that we would soon become inseparable. 

Claire is so inherently Claire, and so unlike most other beings on this planet, and that's what I love about her. Within a week or so of knowing me, she turns and says, 'Shall we be each other's bridesmaid?' and, as weird as I found it, I was so happy to make part of that a reality. I love you, Claire.  


LYZI, BRIDESMAID
I met Lyzi online via the blogosophere back in 2010 after I saw a post of hers where she was wearing a Backstreet Boys t-shirt. I'm pretty sure that, in a way, it was fate because we now talk every single day and can't really function without spouting crap at one another. 

Lyzi is the person I turn to for basically everything, be it emotional chats or rants or really weird niche conversations that would probably creep everyone out. I feel so lucky to be in a weird 'little and large' double act with her and it makes all of this blogging stuff feel worth it knowing that without it I wouldn't have one of my best friends. I love you, Todd.

I wouldn't have changed a thing about my bridesmaid proposal. It was perfect and I took so much from being able to see such big grins on their faces. I love them all so dearly. Thank you so much, pals. I wouldn't be half as happy without you all. 

I hope you have managed to find some inspiration for asking: 'Will you be my bridesmaid?'. What do you think? If you're married, how did you propose to your bridesmaids? If you aren't, how would you?

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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Book Reviews Feat. Meghan Hunter & A TBR

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Summer is finally here in the UK which means it's time to buckle down and read in the sun before it disappears / attempt to read but ultimately fall asleep because you aren't sleeping much and everything is an extra effort. Anyway...

In June, I read three books: a stunning novella, a novel about a wayward friendship and a surreal poetry collection. 
reAD.

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FINISHED: 05/06/17 | PAGES: 160  | ISBN: 0802126898 
In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees.

A meditation on motherhood and making sense of that responsibility in a world with a looming expiration date, The End We Start From is a novella that deserves all of the praise it has been getting.  

Hunter offers up delicate vignettes that describe the smallest and most unassuming of things against a landscape and situation that is anything but isolated. The country is slowly being submerged. Home doesn't look the same anymore. She takes familiar post-apocalyptic themes, of loss and domesticity, responsibility and weathered determination, and makes them all the more haunting by setting them in a world that isn't too different from ours. If you like hulking great dystopias full of re-imagined worlds and new-world politics, this isn't for you. If you love careful poetic novellas, think Grief is The Thing with Feathers, then you need to pick this up immediately. 

A stunning novella, that is both sorrowful and hopeful, that you'll want to re-read straight away. Read it on a rainy afternoon before it hits the big screen. 

RATING: 

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FINISHED: 15/06/17 | PAGES: 80  | ISBN: 0143126520
Colloquial and incantatory, the poems in Patricia Lockwood’s second collection address the most urgent questions of our time, like: what if a deer did porn? Is America going down on Canada? What happens when Niagara Falls gets drunk at a wedding? Is it legal to marry a stuffed owl exhibit? What would Walt Whitman’s tit-pics look like? Why isn’t anyone named Gary anymore? Did the Hatfield and McCoy babies ever fall in love? The steep tilt of Lockwood’s lines sends the reader snowballing downhill, accumulating pieces of the scenery with every turn. The poems’ subject is the natural world, but their images would never occur in nature. 

This collection is wild! There's a man attempting to marry a stuffed owl exhibit, ffs. These poems, whilst out there, read like stoking fires rumbling into existence, with the more surreal elements alluding to very real societal issues, trauma and pressures. It reads like a transcript of 3am post-party conversations with your mate, full of bumbling questions that you pose in lulls of late night conversation such as: 'Why aren't babies called Gary anymore?'. 

Whilst this collection didn't burrow down deep into my mind, it was fun, delightfully messy and creative, and it inspired me to be a little more loose with my own poetry. Read some of her poems online to see whether this is a worthwhile purchase for you. Lockwood's newly-released memoir, Priestdaddy, sounds interesting so you may see her grace these book reviews again in the future.  

RATING: 

animals emma jane unsworth book blog vivatramp uk

FINISHED: 11/05/17 | PAGES: 256  | ISBN: 178211212x 

Laura and Tyler are two young women who have been tearing up the city streets for ten years, leaving a trail of angry drug dealers and spent men in their wake. Now Laura is engaged to be married and her teetotal classical pianist fiancĂ©, Jim, is always overseas. Tyler wants to keep the party going but Laura is torn between the constant temptations provided by her best friend and a calmer life with Jim on the horizon. As the wedding draws closer, the duo's limits are tested, along with their friendship. 

I was sat on my bed one afternoon in June and I suddenly got the urge to pull this book from my shelf, despite the fact that it had been on my shelves for several years. I love reading about women and their mates and all the bad and messed up decisions they make and this offered all of that in spades. Animals is brash, laugh out loud funny, heartfelt and exactly what I needed to read at the time. My heart was in it from the get go and that doesn't happen very often. It ebbed and flowed, ceaselessly, and never felt try-hard or too Skins season 1. The characters were messy, as were the situations they found themselves in, and I found that so vital. Laura and Tyler felt so real to me. 

One of my favourite things about it was how it explored the romance in friendships, the frantic highs and the awfully shit lows, the strained loyalty and the shy forgiveness. Unsworth took great time and care when highlighting  all the things that we do and say to one another in the pursuit of love or something better and it hit me hard.  

Read this in the space of a day and thank me. I'm kicking myself that I let this sit unread for so long. A new favourite!

RATING: 

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to be READ.
This month, I'm in the mood for two books that are so new to my collection that I haven't actually shared them with you yet. Scandalous!
I'm in the mood for reading about a queer romance to ease myself back in and this book, newly re-published with a much better cover, promises just that. There has been a lot of positive buzz for Pages for You, and its follow up Pages for Her, so I think I will try and read this in as few reads as possible.

My reading has been extremely slow this year and that's something I want to rectify. I think I may be able to kickstart it a little with a well-written thriller and Exquisite sounds like the perfect fit. 

Both of these books will feature in my next book haul, so stay tuned if you want to find out more about them! 

If you aren't bored to tears, you can read all of my other book blog posts. Or, scroll through my book reviews instead. 

Links to books are affiliate links. If you don't fancy any of these books but would still like to use my link to purchase some books with, please use my general Book Depository link. Thanks, pals! 



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