Saturday, 24 December 2016

Travel: Munich and the Christmas Market!

Last Christmas Eve, I posted up a blog post about my trip to the Christmas markets of Cologne, or Köln. So, to continue this tradition, I've narrowed down my favourites from my recent trip to Munich. It helps me get into the holiday spirit, and hopefully helps some of you too! Willkommen in München...



I love how the markets contrast with the city. It feels so cosy even when you're in an absolutely huge city. And the Glühwein mugs change from stall to stall, city to city, year to year. I'm a mug collector so it's my kryptonite.



The main thing being sold in the markets was the nativity. I didn't really notice it that much in Cologne last year but it was everywhere in Munich. Everything from the traditional little baby Jesus in the manger to little campfires for the stable that flickered and smoked. You could spend an absolute fortune putting one together with an unbelievable amount of detail if you wanted to!



Although most of the decorations I bought there were of cats- I do have a soft spot for how these beautiful etched wooden ones look. They don't really match any of my Christmas decor, but we did end up buying one that spins slowly when warm for above the fireplace. High above the fireplace obviously.




In general, Munich was just really lovely to walk around. Germany definitely decorate their cities more than the British, and the Nutella crepes were amazing. But I preferred Cologne for the Christmas atmosphere. Rather than the separate and distinct markets, the Munich one just sprawled through the city (and it didn't have a chocolate museum). I guess it's personal preference! They're both amazing and I can't wait to go back to Germany next December.

Merry Christmas Eve! What do you think of the Christmas Markets?

Friday, 23 December 2016

A Late Lush Christmas Haul!

It's super late on Christmas Eve Eve and while I wait up for my family who are arriving tonight, I thought I'd show y'all the Lush goodies that my mum picked up for me when the was down in London. She's the best, and made sure to get me a great selection including some Oxford Road exclusives...



I'm a big fan of Christmas at Lush, although they definitely used to be more warm and cosy. Does anyone else remember Glögg shower gel and the Gingerbread house bubble bars? They were my jam! But they still make some great exclusives around this time and I love the way my room smells with them all piled up in my lil' Lush basket!



The first thing my mum picked up for me was the Northern Lights bath bomb because for the last four or five years, I've been running her a bubble bath on Christmas Eve with the Christmas Eve bubble bar. Lush discontinued it this year and this is the closest one to the scent. I think I'll be breaking this so we can both have a half tomorrow!



I'd never actually tried the Father Christmas Bath Bomb until this week which is strange because I sold a lot of them when I worked there and it's green inside- my favourite colour. The scent wasn't super impressive in the tub but anytime I can see green, I'm happy.



I'm obsessed with the idea of a bath bomb/ bath melt hybrid. I hope they bring more of these out in the new year because it's always nice to get a little extra hydration. It's a lot more lime-y then the orange scent that I expected but it would make the perfect wake-me-up bath for Christmas morning.



Does anyone else remember when So White was a tiny plain white bath bomb that cost £1.80 and packed a punch when it came to the apple scent? I miss those. Now they're bigger, more expensive although they do have the same kick of apple. Get it together Lush. I love the scent of apple, I'm going to keep this around for a while just to make my room smell amazing.



I used Magic Coloured Bubbles in my bath tonight and while there was a lack of actual bubbles, the deepness of the colour was amazing. I used a third and I couldn't see my hand an inch under the water. The texture of this is like the fun soaps so I'm wondering if there's a special technique to bring out the bubbles, since they're so magical.



And lastly, the Snow Melt bath melt. I would've gone with calling it a snowball but whatever. I love these little bath melts that are basically concentrated goodness for your skin. Perfect for winter and all the dry air that comes with it!

What did you pick up from the Lush Christmas collection?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Books I Took to München!

One of the things that I wanted to do before 2016 ended was to visit München for the Christmas Markets and I'll be putting up my post showing some of the photos I took in a couple days. But first, The books I took. It ended up being very similar to the books I took to Germany last Christmas. Two Deavers: Check! A Christmas story: Check! Something a little fantasy: Check! A murder mystery: Check! Completely unintentional, but obviously says something about my reading habits...



I've been meaning to start a new Deaver series for a while now, since I got up to date with his Katherine Dance one over Winter last year and there's no new book in sight. So why not his most famous series, the Lincoln Rhyme series? I tried over Summer too. I didn't actually get around to starting them but with my grandpa sending me home with some of the books missing from my collection, I'm all the more ready to dive in.

This was a book that I had started pre-putting it on my Winter TBR so it's been a 'current read' for a while now. I was hoping to finish it while I was away so I could do a little giveaway with my extra copies but that might have to wait until next year now. I just haven't had the urge to continue reading it.
I just wanted to read...

The Curse of the Gloamglozer by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
I finally started my re-read of The Edge Chronicles. Are you amazed? I'm amazed. I wanted to start it in Summer, then Autumn, then Winter. But I finally started it while I was away and it was nice to revisit that world. The Quint Trilogy wasn't one that I re-read over and over as a kid so it was relatively fresh too.

Lastly, another from my Winter TBR and no surprise to anybody. I made it all the way to December without reading this even though I started the Shakespeare series back in October. I'm currently reading this and loving it. So far there's none of the issues I've had with the series so far, like slut-shaming, and the Christmas aspect is added without being shoehorned into every sentence.

What do you think of my choices?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

5 Things that make me DNF a Book!

DNF. The three letters that strike the heart of every reader. Did Not Finish. I know different readers have different rules; some finish every book they start, some give a book 100 pages minus their age, but I just put a book down when I know I'm not getting anything out of it. Here are some examples with the books I paused in 2014 and 2015! And here are 5 things that make that decision for me...



1. Unjustifiable Racism/ Sexism/ Homophobia
None of these things are justifiable in real life. I just want to shut that down right now. However, if I can tell that the racism/ sexism/ homophobia is leading towards a character realising that it's not right- then it's a lesson rather than a bad worldview. If the narration, especially third person is okaying it though, then I'm out.

2. No female characters
I DNF'd a book over the summer that had one female character that spoke. One, who within the 100-ish pages I read, said some really disgusting things about a notable female actress. Aaaaand I'm out. Women exist. They don't have to be the main character but if I'm reading and I'm thinking it's a weird dystopia where the female population has died and it's taboo to talk about- no thank you.

3. Ableism
This is definitely something I pick up on more than I'm older and actively knowledgeable on the subject. Heck, I missed it the first time reading this series. But it's also something that's personal, I have physical and mental health issues so when I'm reading and a book attacks or says something awful about people like me- Nope. I get enough of that from the real world, I don't need that from my escapism.

4. I don't like the writing style
Writing style is personal. I don't like a lot of books that people I love and respect do. It's not like they like books that are bad. So if someone says they don't like the way my favourite author writes, I'm not going to be bothered. But if I'm reading a book and the writing style isn't clicking with me, I'd rather put it down and read something else. As a writer, if someone didn't like my writing style, I would rather they read something else that they clicked with and made them happy.

5. I'm dreaming of other books
Sometimes when I'm reading, I can't get my mind off another book. Normally this happens when I try and push myself out of my comfort zone or I have to read a certain book by a specific time. Sometimes I ignore it and it works out well, I get into the book I'm reading and forget about the other, but sometimes it's a constant niggle. If I can't get another book out of my head, the one I'm reading isn't holding my attention well enough and it might be time to stop.

A few of these are bendable, especially with classics that were written in the past where people were awful without the same morals we have now. It'll bother me, but I'll give it more leeway. And some are solid. Life is too short for books you don't enjoy.

What makes you DNF a book?

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Beauty Review: Nip + Fab Dragon's Blood Fix Set.

I bought the Nip + Fab set in my local Tesco over Summer because I kept hearing about Dragon's Blood being amazing for dry skin. It is, fortunately, from a tree and not an actual dragon because not even amazing skin is worth getting near one of those with a needle. Hypothetically, of course because this isn't Harry Potter. But this turned out to be almost as magical.



The set came with the Dragon's Blood Fix Plumping Mask which is what I went to originally buy, and the Dragon's Blood Fix Cleansing Pads. My excuse being that the set was only a couple of pounds more expensive and I'm a sucker for trying out anything that might help my skin.



I'm going to start with the eh product before I rave about the mask. These cleansing pads have all sorts of claims, like cleansing out pores and reducing redness, but they've been regulated to when I don't want to use my face wash. I just don't see any stand-out effects from them and the exfoliation aspect can irritate my skin sometimes.

But, I'll use them up for when I don't want to go through the rigmarole of face wash. All I have to do with these is wipe them over my face and rinse a couple times. Maybe I'm using them wrong and that's why they don't work for me but I hate the feeling of not rinsing after using this product, it just feels icky.



The mask on the other hand, hoo boy. I was sceptical when I first saw the clear gel after years of using the thickest emollients I could find, but when I put this on my face, I fell in love. And I just keep falling deeper and deeper. I'm almost out of it now and this is one of those rare times where I will make sure to buy a new tube before I run out because I can't do a day without it.

It has all sorts of great sounding ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration, amino acid for brightening and the dragon's blood for protection from the environment. But what matters to me is that it just works.

I have super dry skin. It's my payment for never having acne I think. So anything that claims to help, I will buy. And even though this claims to be a ten minute mask, I use it as an everyday moisturiser. I did the same with the Origins Drink-Up as well. Give me all the hydration. It's a gel texture that leaves a tacky feel to my skin but doesn't look greasy, and my makeup applies over it amazingly. When I wear it overnight, I wake up with a glow and no dry patches in sight. Actual magic.

In short, this is a dream for anyones Winter skin but I'm going to use it year-round in gallons. I want to bathe in this. The very definition of a holy grail product for me.

Have you ever tried any Nip + Fab products? What should I try next?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Books I Read in November!

I spent the majority of November listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook so I didn't get much reading-reading done. In fact, I went a whole week without picking up a book as Frodo left the Shire, that story is just addictive and I didn't want to leave Middle Earth for anything. But these are the book-books I read last month.



Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris
I read the first book of this series in October as part of my Autumn TBR, then took a short break to pace myself. And I spent at least half the book trying to figure out if I had forgotten a plot point from the last book, which isn't ideal. I hadn't, it was explained later. Lily- the main character, kept referring to an event that as a reader, I didn't know about, as if I should. This isn't something Harris has done before so I hope the trend doesn't continue in the rest of this series.
Apart from this, it was an enjoyable cosy crime novel. There was some slut-shaming and some questionable racial terms but nothing DNF-worthy. I liked that Harris approached the issue of black people being murdered in small Southern American towns and police involvement. Something we know from the news as realistic.
"-Darcy said in that jocular tone some men reserve for insults they don't want you to take them up on."


The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
You can read my full review here!

What did you read in November?

Friday, 2 December 2016

5 Things I Learnt from an Unsuccessful NaNoWriMo!

I lost NaNoWriMo. I think it was pretty clear that was going to happen after Update 1, and definitely after Update 2. I'm still excited about the story, and I'm still going to write it even now that November is over. And I learnt a lot from the experience and that's good enough for me. So here are the 5 Things my unsuccessful NaNo taught me..

5 Things I Learnt from an Unsuccessful NaNoWriMo!


1. Not editing is the key
Editing is built into the way I write and turning that off was a tough lesson. Heck, I edited that last sentence before I finished it. But sometimes it's good to turn that off and just see what happens. It can be good, it can be bad, it can be literal garbage but it's worth it for the few times that something really magical gets written.

2. It might not be for me...
I was a mess trying to balance NaNo with my degree work, classes, and blogging. My health problems, physical and mental, reared their ugly heads. I don't think I'm in a place right now where I can do without the small flexibility that I allow myself of not writing.

3. Co-Writing is hard
Do you know what's harder than organising one persons life to add everyday writing? Doing it with two people. Then add different timezones, personal lives and a busy month. But- it's worth it. I love writing with Ashley and I think we've started something great. It just might take longer, we're shuffling zombie writers rather than 28 Days Later zombie writers.

4. Failure isn't the worst
I have to keep drilling this into my brain because it's hard for me to believe. The way my education worked, failure was the worst possible thing on the planet and if you didn't do well then your entire life would be miserable. But there are worse things. And everyone learns from failure. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

5. People who complete NaNo are warriors
Seriously. 50,000 words is a lot! And people were writing that much and surpassing it. Everyone who took part in NaNo is brilliant, even if you don't win. But 50,000 words... Warriors! And I can't wait to read the books I heard about while they were being written last month.

Did you try NaNo? How did you do?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

My Christmas List!

This morning, I woke up with my Christmassy powers returned. Then I remembered that for the first time in three years, I hadn't written my Christmas list post in advance. It's not that I forgot, just that I have literally no idea what to add. This that definitely been a theme in past years. In 2013 there were 14 things on my list. In 2014, there were 10 on the list. Last year, we were down to 5. And now...



I'm torn between Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. On one hand, Pokémon Sun has a feline legendary. On the other, Pokémon Moon follows the trend of me having the blue toned games, and I'm not a fan of the actual sun. But kitty. I can't decide on which but I do know I want to add this game to my collection.

Is it one of my Christmas lists without a pair of Snooki Slippers? I can only find this pair on US Amazon but I just love the blue leopard print. I just love Snooki really!

And is it Christmas without a boxset? As a kid I remember my older cousin getting Friends DVDs every year and now I just love growing my 90's TV collection. This year it's between Home Improvement and Golden Girls! I only want one because both might be too much TV- even for me. So if you have a preference, please tell me.

And that's it really! My current method of dealing with my hoarding tendencies is to just not bring in more things so yeah. Keeping it low-key.

What's on your Christmas list?

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