2013 A Year of Highs And Lows

As this year draws to a close I think overall I will be glad to see the back of it.  Sadly it has been a year where the lows seem to far outweigh the highs, I have friends who have lost parents, my own dad was very ill following his spinal op and hardest of all I have watched three families try to come to terms with the loss of precious Angels, all three of them under the age of three and the last one losing their fight against illness just before Christmas.

At home there have been changes when I decided to end my relationship after 17 years, not an easy decision but I still maintain it was the right one, what the future holds there I cannot tell but right now I am happy alone, and feel more relaxed and contented than I have in a long time.

I have written up the final months of the year and you can find my summaries here…

November

December

Writing Resolutions 2013 Review

Tonight once I get the monster to bed I shall curl up in front of the TV with the required creature comforts…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou notice the tissues but that is because I am borrowing the picture I took Christmas day watching Doctor Who to demonstrate lol

So for tonight I wish you all a safe, and joyous New Year and tomorrow will tell you all about my writing resolutions for 2014. 1525624_10203042119961086_1199269654_n

Right nearly time to put monster to bed and crack open that bottle….

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

From Me and Mine To You And Yours

Festive Greetings that is of course.

It is Boxing Day which of course involves lots of time curled up on the sofa consuming chocolate and generally complaining that we are too stuffed to move.  Here in my home we had a wonderful, quiet Christmas this year, just what was needed after a difficult year on so many levels.  What the future holds one can never be completely sure of, even the best laid plans can have spanners thrown in them but for the most part I know the future lies in my own hands it is only for me to have the courage and belief to reach and and grasp it firmly with both hands.  As I sit writing this I feel more at peace and contented than I have for a very long time and I hope that you are all feeling peace at what can be a stressful time.

I count my blessings daily this year too many people I know have an empty place at their tables and an extra Angel watching over them, only last week anther friend laid their 8 month old daughter to rest after she lost her battle against an illness I had never heard of before the dreadful diagnosis, life is too short for what ifs.  Take pleasure in every minute you can spend with your children and loved ones, make as many memories as you can every day.

From me and my monster I hope you all and your families have had a wonderful Christmas and that the new year will be greeted with the smiles of those you love. xxx

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know its a terrible pic but monster was too busy talking to smile 😀

Have you missed me? GlossyBox Monthly Review – December

Well hello there I hope you all missed me at least half as much as I missed you.

Not having the internet is crap but at least you can get stuck in and write but having no computer at all has certainly added to my grey hairs, I shall be adding buy a second computer onto my list of New Year Resolutions so fingers crossed I can avoid technological limbo in future.  I shall also be investing in a new phone which actually works lol.

It is going to take me some time to catch up and I have very little chance of reading all the amazing posts sat in my inbox in the near future but I will file them away for reading a few at a time on rainy days I also will be playing catch up with posts and trying to tie up the year before getting back on track in the New Year with the actual scheduled posts. On the plus side I have a note book full of ideas for blog posts, so lets start with the final subscription box for this year….

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Do you think they heard me complain last time about the plain box? This time we got a really cool Christmas box and Candy Cane wrapping paper…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to confess I almost wanted to close it up and place it under the tree but instead I peeled back the layers and found…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMixed feelings on opening it especially given I received hand cream last month but lets take a closer look…

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Miracle Balm by Rituals

This smells gorgeous but I have to say on closer inspection you can’t use it like you would a normal hand cream.  It states it can be used overnight with moisturising gloves and I can imagine it working well in that respect, as an everyday hand cream it does give great results but you need to be aware this is very much a paraffin type cream like Vaseline so when you apply it it does not soak into the skin straight away.  Now this is great for locking in moisture and really softening the skin but rubbish if you need to do anything constructive in the first ten minutes after applying, I am using this as I prefer the smell to last months chocolate/orange mixture but I am having to consider when to apply it. I received the full size version worth £10 and I have to say the price and having to order on-line puts me off the idea of getting more, it smells great and is making my hands softer just not sure they are soft enough to justify the price tag.

Next up….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIntuition Naturals Razor By Wilkinson Sword

I have owned an Intuition razor before so knew exactly what I was getting with this.  I do like these razors and they certainly do the job, having the top or the holder to use with it is a real bonus over some other razors…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe only real down side is how long they last, you tend to find that it never seems to be an equal usage of the parts either you run out of the lathering soap surround before the razor has been used frequently or you find the razor clogged and blunt before the soap has got half way down, either way you find yourself frequently having to replace them and no way do they last as long as some razors where the two are separate.  Some reviews argue it is bulky to hold but actually I rather like the grip the down side to the size obviously comes if you are travelling and want to take it with you.  At £6.49 it is around average price wise for a razor, the replacement blades are roughly between £6-7 for 4 so while not overly expensive but not a cheap option either.  I will be keeping an eye out for the blades on offer and will stock up then.

Next up…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeche Nail Lacquer by Seche

First off I need to point out they recommend using this with their own base coat and topcoat which obviously I don’t have so I used it on its own which may have affected the results but not sure how much.  I was not sure about the colour of this when I opened it the colour on the picture is pretty much the colour in the bottle, the actual product is a nice consistency and covered fairly well, I could have almost have stopped with one coat but as it was slightly uneven I felt a second was required…

Sorry didn't clean up the edges of my nails better but was rushing lol

Sorry didn’t clean up the edges of my nails better but was rushing lol

When it dried it almost looked as if I had had Shellac put on my nails and it all seemed great but then the down side.  Off I went to do a little house work and was disappointed how easily it seemed to chip, had this been a cheap polish I would have thought nothing of it but at £ 9.95 for 14ml I really expected better of it.  I will of course use it and try it again when I have less to do but unless it shows improvement I cannot see me buying this, maybe great for a night out or ladies that lunch but if it chips so easily not very practical for those with busy lives.

Now on to a product which has me pondering….

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Brow Drama Sculpting Mascara by Maybelline

Okay I do not normally use Maybelline products because although they say they themselves are cruelty free they do admit some of the companies who the work with on their products do still test on animals and even though I know the same is probably true for lots of companies when I know they still support animal testing even if through a third party I choose not to hand my money over to them.  But that having been said obviously I can’t review products without trying them and I confess to being curious as to this.

I have been contemplating my brows a lot recently as over the last couple of years they have got a little bushier and lost shape so I decided to give this a go…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo here I am all my make up done except lips (you will see why with the next product) and eyebrows.  As you can see I had plucked them a little but they are naturally slightly uneven and I worried this would show more by making them darker…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne brow done and you can see the difference it makes…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth brows done and I like the results, it is great for thickening any areas where one brow is thinner than the other and balancing them out.  This one is dark brown but is not overly dark and at £4.99 for 7.6ml I would definitely have bought this if it were cruelty free, as it is I will be looking into getting my brows shaped and looking for alternative products to use in future which is a shame because I do like this one.

Last up…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANude Lip Gloss By Beautiful Movements Cosmetics

I am in love, this is the first product that I have to say I will be buying based just on this half sized sample.  At £12 for a full size 8ml gloss it is more than I would normally spend on a gloss but this one I will be ordering as soon as Christmas is out of the way.  It is only available on-line at the Beautiful Movements website but I am just crazy about it and I have to say a quick peek at their site has me contemplating several eye-shadows to go with it.  It is thick enough to give nice coverage without being too greasy or gloopy and lasts really well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see perfect for the barely there lips to go with bold eye make up, just hoping this one lasts until I get another in my hand lol.

Anyway enough for today more catch up news tomorrow.

Still in Techno Limbo

Well am still here in technological limbo and in someways it has been freeing not feeling the need to read every email immediately but I desperately miss all the friends I have around the world with whom the internet has connected me. I find myself wondering how friends are doing, hoping those who have been unwell are recovering and feel frustrated that communication has been cut. Here in real life my ex ended up in hospital with a broken hip – no I did not do it before you ask – but it reminded me how quickly life can change that the unexpected is waiting round every corner and you must seize every opportunity.

And with a new year just around the corner it brings me to my other point for today…

This morning was a glorious sunrise and as I stood in the garden I realised how often we look but fail to see. If I asked you to describe a sunrise I pretty much guarantee the colours red, orange and yellow would feature almost sunset in reverse but this morning I sat on the step in the cold crisp air and watched where peaches merged with pinks, the contrast against the most resplendent turquoise. A glow was cast over everything like being sat at a giant fireside but I wondered how often we actually stop to make full use of our senses.

I know my interest in photography has altered the way I see the world but next year I want to pay attention to the other senses as well and think more about tastes, smells and textures and more importantly how I get that across in my writing.

Anyway enough for now it is hard work doing blog posts when the whole keyboard is only two inches long and an inch high. Hope you are all well my friends and fingers crossed I get my computer back soon.

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Lizzie Bennet Diaries Episodes 49-52

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We left Jane preparing to go after Bing to demand an explanation and Lizzie heartbroken for her sister, lets get straight on…

Lizzie is of course right about Darcy as we all know, we now have the departure of more characters as Wickham and Jane both leave town, we really do need more characters.

Wickham shows his true colours on Twitter within hours of leaving letting Lizzie reflect on emotions and the difference between her relationships and Janes.  Charlotte calls with a well timed invitation and we know that there is the possibility we will get to meet Darcy soon, if the time line parallels the novel at this point.  I have to confess that it took only a very short time for Wickham to descend from eye candy to annoying so I am looking forward to seeing how Darcy is played.

We travel to visit Charlotte and get to see her office and also we are re-acquainted with Mr Collins who becomes increasingly smarmy with every appearance.

I love they got a name check in for Doctor Gardiner, I know they are keeping the cast down to a minimum so it is great when minor characters at least get mentioned even if they don’t appear.

We have crossed the half way point now and still no Darcy but he has to show soon, doesn’t he?

One of the things I love about this and the original novel is it makes you question the nature of relationships, with Jane and Bing they almost miss out because they fail to outwardly show their feelings, Lizzie and Darcy show feelings but they are interpreted wrongly and Wickham deliberately sets out to deceive, the thing is growing up we experience all of the emotions and actions to some extent or another, it is only with age we learn to recognise them if we are lucky.

Preconceptions

You might wonder what the picture could possibly have to do with the title well it was the catalyst for this post and I will explain why.
Two days ago I finished Raising Steam and thoroughly enjoyed it, I contemplated what to choose to read next and was tempted by my new Anne Rice book but knowing I had work and would be grumpy about having to put it down again so quickly I looked again and spotted the thin volume. A novella, only 75 pages perfect to read in a day, right? Oh how very wrong I was!
After several hours yesterday I have reached page 23. The reason you ask? I seriously misjudged the story!!!
I have read Henry James before ‘The Turn of the Screw’ etc and had never had too much difficulty but this one has me reading each sentence a dozen times to be sure I have it right.
They say never judge a book by its cover but to that they should add or by its size or author. Every book must be judged solely on its own merits.
I was guilty of assuming that a short novella would contain a straightforward story after all one would assume when words are at a premium the writer would get straight to the point but I was wrong. A third of the way through and while I have a grasp of the basic plot I find myself frequently looking back for things I have missed.
There will be those who will suggest that it is simply a bad story and possibly had it been written by an unknown author I possible would have thrown it aside after a few pages. But I know the author who wrote this is a great writer I have loved his other works. So then I must question if the fault lies with me as the reader? But again I have reasd his other work without issue.
So that leaves one possiblity – that the preconceptions I brought to the book from my expectations of its contents have marred the experience of reading it. So for now it shall slide back into the TBR pile until I am ready to take it down once more with a fully open mind.

Do you think your preconceptions have ever spoilt a book for you or stopped you reading one you later discovered you may have been wrong about?

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Ink Drops Monthly Review – November

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As you all know a while a few a subscribed to a monthly make up/beauty box and have loved it so I decided to sign up for another but this time one that provided stationary.  Now this one is more expensive coming in at £15.95 a month including postage but as I am counting it as one of the treats for stopping smoking then I don’t feel guilty, both boxes together come to less than I would have spent in one week on cigarettes.  I received my first pack last month but my daughter was here and grabbed a couple of bits before I got chance to actually take photos for a post.

So in this months box….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst think you will notice is it is not a box, rather it comes in a paper bag but you do get a lovely little hand written note from the lovely ladies who run the company, a personal touch which does make you smile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst item I pulled out is this Memo Book by Silvine, not a very high monetary value but handy never the less, next up…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3 Eco friendly paper pencils by Ecobridge again not high monetary value but I have to be honest that is really not the attraction of theis subscription, the appeal is receiving things such as these that I probably would never have looked for and different things such as this next notebook….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI put the ruler next to it to show how tiny this is it is lovely and has a cord to wrap round it to keep it closed, it is designed as being perfect to fit in handbags but I would personally not use it for this because of the glitter and the fact glitter gets everywhere lol.

The final items in this months bag…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the real reason I signed up to Ink Drops, the cards, notelets and postcards.  This batch of 6 postcards are all mimicking polaroid photos and glory in the Summer the perfect pick me up when it is raining outside.  I love writing to people, I know from those who have received letters how much they enjoy them, and knowing you give joy is a very fulfilling feeling.

I would not recommend this subscription to anyone looking to receive amazing value for money because if I add up the cost of everything I probably break even, but if you love writing letters, like notebooks and like trying new pens then consider giving it a go, I am going off now to write a letter to my Great Uncle and I may just add a P.S on a postcard.

What Are You Reading?

I am trying my best to keep blogging via my phone and decided today to talk about reading. I am currently three quarters of the way through the Terry Pratchett book Raising Steam and loving it.

It is the fortieth book in the Discworld series and I marvel at the way Pratchett has continued to create stories and develop already familiar characters without things becoming stale or repetitive. If you consider a film series the first film tends to be great but the sequels become more and more blatently about squeezing every last penny from a franchise rather than continual development. Pratchett however goes on from strength to strength introducing new members to an already spectacular cast.

Very few film franchises can achieve the depths of characterisation to make long term impact in the way books can but it can also be argued very few authors can keep their standards as high and the storylines fresh without frequent cast changes. Which book series leave you in awe? What are you reading right now? And could it spawn a lasting legacy?

The Old Fashioned Way

Well day two of no computer but hopefully if I have worked this out properly you will be able to see a photo with the post. Luckily prior to the computer dying I had printed off a few stories for editing as I prefer to edit on a paper version so I can at least get some work done.

I cannot help but wonder how many of todays younger generation would cope should they find themselves having to resort back to writing everything out in long hand in their best handwriting (so that you can make out what you wrote later).

I think this is one aspect where journalling helps the writer, I recently listened to a discussion about why writers still use notebooks and apparently there is a scientific reason to do with the different parts of the brain used in writing and typing which suggests those hastily scribbled lines stimulate the creative juices more than typing it straight out.

Would love to here your thoughts on this….