Tuesday 31 March 2015

Midweek Health & Fitness Update 23/3/15 - 29/3/15

Another week of being topsy turvy so in similar fashion I'll start with the positives.

I'm certainly on top of eating early, well, mainly in the week, my weekend was all over the shop but that's a different story, not a terrible one just different. I've found that when I eat earlier in the evening I have smaller portions and I don't end up feeling stuffed. I also actually feel hungry at breakfast time, another positive change. Being hectic at work has meant stuffing food down my neck which hasn't been good. Once the new financial year starts I'm hoping things calm down and I can eat slower, digest and have a better variety at breakfast.

My exercise has been lacking, I've done steps basic and steps plus on the Wii but that's about it. I've been having a lot of pain where I had my surgery, I don't know if I've pulled something or twisted funny where my surgical drain was, this has the greatest amount of scar tissue, it really felt like a huge hole but it must have only been like a hose pipe. I've felt a bit bloated and this might be a bit too much information but I've realised I haven't had a period since my grandmas funeral in January. Add to that the lump in my back is irritating and aching, plus being exhausted, I just haven't done much and I haven't got my steps up to scratch.

Although I realise that the best thing is to stop whining and try my hardest this week. With any nerve pain I've had the best thing has been to do a little more. I know this week might not be completely successful but I'm planning a complete battery recharge this weekend and, depending on the weather (although right now it isn't looking possible), a little bit of walking. I had planned to go on a walk last Saturday but as it was absolutely chucking it down it wasn't possible. I'd jinxed myself this week by considering a walk on Saturday, I'd realised it hadn't rained for a while and therefore would be suitable for walking, of course now the rain has come down so hard the ground won't be suitable for weeks but as long as it isn't raining I can at least head into town.

My steps were down this week I had got a plan together that just didn't happen, I took Friday off work so I could get on with clearing things around the house for dads eventual return/home visits. It was mentioned last thing on Thursday that there would be some painting done Friday morning so it got in the way slightly but I thought I could stay out of the way and get on Friday afternoon but unfortunately the work went on all day. I did a tiny bit in the evening but had to do the rest Saturday when I was supposed to go for a walk to get my steps up, but it was raining anyway. It was still chucking it down Sunday so I ended up just walking the one way to the Vintage Fair - in a nonsense way this was when I returned home with all the shopping, this also meant it was uphill so I suppose that is a good thing, at least I had a new umbrella to use!

I still haven't got on top of my sleeping, I will really try this week, I have a four day weekend so I'm hoping I can have 8 hours sleep at least two of those nights.

Next week, walk and sleep, walk and sleep, and so on.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Vintage Fair Finds

There was a local vintage fair on in town today, as it's two days until payday I had to borrow some cash but it was totally worth it as I've picked up plenty of items for my money. £95 taken, and around £87 spent, here's what I picked up. 

Bedspread £15.00
This bedspread is in great condition, the colour is still vibrant. It's a double which means I'm one step closer to moving towards just having a sheet and bedspread rather than duvet. 

Photograph heavy so I'll cut here, a lot more photos after the break! 

Saturday 28 March 2015

Favourite Films of the Month - March 2015 (Part 1)

This is a fairly new, regular post, (see February post here) as the most important thing in my life is film I thought it would be nice to document it. As I plan to watch the equivalent of one film a day this, and every year, I'll have plenty to choose from, sure, there will be repeat viewings of old favourites plus a lot of mediocre films in-between but I'm sure a few gems will pop up so I'll be revisiting my letterboxd diary at the end of each month picking out the crème de la crème for a retrospective

In a shake up to the (new) old format, I'll be starting with the honourable mentions section. In general this will look at any exciting documentaries or those made-for-TV films or one off dramas. I wanted to start with them as this month I've watched quite a few one off dramas so I've just chosen a few that have really blown me away.  For this month there will be two posts so that in this, the first, I can focus on what would usually be an honourable mention as I'd like to bring your attention to something else.

First I'll start with what I've watched that has invoked such passion. All are directed by Alan Clarke (Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Scum), I'll start with two very dark tales, written with David Agnew (AKA Anthony Read) Diane (1975) focuses on a quiet, somewhat shy girl who has been looking after her father since her mother left, without going into what is discovered this is a realistic, stark portrayal of their situation. Written with Arthur Ellis, Christine (1987) is a look at average, suburban teens that just happen to take heroin. Again, this is stark but natural. What I like about them both is that it isn't about judgement, there is no strong, moral guidance simply a portrayal of the situation at hand. The final film directed by Alan Clarke, written by David Rudkin is Penda's Fen (1974) slightly different from the rest of his work, depending on how you look at this, is it a supernatural tale or coming-of-age, crisis of faith tale? Whichever way you look at it it's very John Wyndham-esque and very entertaining.

Diane was part of BBC2 Playhouse, Christine Screenplay and Penda's Fen Play for Today, all of these were BBC play series - now excuse me for such a loose description but these series offered quality, one off dramas, from bleakly harrowing to darkly comic, sometimes in the same play. Put it simply they were plays for the telly, high quality, featuring not only some amazing actors but also well-loved directors. Most offered social realism, which, if you have a love of recent history is a perfect way of tapping into previous decades. Those mentioned previously were just a few of the BBC play series, The Wednesday Play, another influential series as well as Screen One and Screen Two. It's hard to keep track of them all!

There are hundreds of episodes from the various BBC play series', some have been lost but many are still in the BBC archive. Some are available on DVD, others sit tucked away, possibly never to see the light of day. I've seen such a small fraction but they've all made a huge impact, just as a "regular" film would, I would love to see more. There are some very well known "episodes" from these series. most are easily available, Abigail's Party, Cathy Come Home, Nuts in May, Up the Junction (feature film version would follow a few years later), to name just a few, are well known titles that possibly aren't associated with being part of the play series (especially to those of us that weren't around for the original broadcast), these are all on DVD, those I viewed this month (and featured above), aren't, these were all viewed on YouTube, original source material - taped off the telly, so the quality wasn't at all good but it was worth it just for the chance to see them.

Abigail's Party, probably one of the better known from the Play for Today series. 

Now I'm not saying TV is bad these days, although we're possibly saturated with the mediocre due to the large number of channels available, the BBC do still make quality standalone dramas. I'm nostalgic though, not in a naive way, I don't believe things were better in the good old days although I would argue that TV programming was. I don't know whether it was the lack of channels but it feels like a serious effort was made with these productions, the impact feels greater and a lot of these plays are unforgettable.

A friend of mine, Mark, currently has a petition on change.org asking for the BBC to repeat their one off drama series, now as mentioned there are hundreds of episodes especially when you group together all the different series, I'm sure there might be some duds but I would love to be able to make my own mind up. I feel that the BBC, in the past, has stayed away from repeats for fear of being struck down by the viewer for "wasting" their license fee by just repeating shows but in a world where hundreds of channels exist, and the BBC itself having doubled its number of channels surely repeating these dramas would really be worthwhile? Now folk like me that obsessively buy these type of releases when they come out would still continue to do so (I am drowning in box sets of this nature) but this could introduce the younger generation to some real gems. I've been enjoying the repeats of old comedy series on BBC Two, it would be great to see something similar with these plays. Abigail's Party was repeated on BBC Four late last year, I recorded and watched even though I already owned a copy, it would be just great to see some of those that aren't available elsewhere, even repeated in the early hours would mean being able to record to watch at a convenient time.

If, like me, you would love to see these episodes repeated, or even if you're just curious, please lend your support and sign the petition.

Friday 27 March 2015

70s Fashion Lust List

Now I have an obsession with 70s fashion, I've always had alternative vintage tastes, I do like to mix it up, I once had a style that could have been considered 80s wife of a famous darts player - it really was quite a look. I like a lot of things late 60s/70s, my eventual home will be brown, orange, dark green, mustard, dark floral, rich velvets and wood, lots of wood. So I try and get my fashion to match, but I like what I like. Having been born in 1982 I didn't quite live through the 70s but of course I did have hand me downs from them. Reflecting on fashion is always hard as the photos in the fashion books are usually representative of high-end, fashion show creations - you want a true idea of the fashion from an era you need to look at the photo albums of everyday folk.

The current trend for 70s fashion makes it easier to pick up pieces, as a lot of the material in the 70s wasn't very breathable so it can be hard to pick up items in decent condition so I have a slight preference for new retro items.

I have of of course created a major wishlist on pintrest of new 70s fashion items I would love to pick up, Revisiting 70s Fashion, if I can pick up a fifth of what is on my list I'll be very happy. These are just a few clothes inspired by an eclectic era.

70s Fashion Revisited

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Midweek Health & Fitness Update 16/3/15 - 22/3/15

This week was better, it just felt better in general with everything. I'm still tired and sore but there were some positive changes.

My steps are on the up, not that I'm hitting my "best steps ever" but I'm building up to it. At least it give me a goal for this week, more steps!

Another positive is that I'm starting to eat earlier in the evening. The goal is to change when I eat rather than what I eat as I never truly over-indulge but I have a problem hour when I come home from work hungry, I'll snack and then be full but force a meal down between 8-9:30 so instead, when I return home, I eat. A simple change, I still have a little time for pudding as I aim to eat my last morsel by 7pm. I'll keep up with this, I've already noticed a difference with hunger, I never used to truly feel hungry at breakfast, delaying it until around 10am, Although I'll carry on with having a late breakfast I am at least hungry for it now.

One final positive is that I managed to do some exercise this week on top of the yoga I did a bit of moderate intensity exercise just using the wii, I also added holding light weights to my step routine, I'm really wanting to get get back to using The Firm exercise DVDs as I haven't had a dud one, they've all been fun, energetic and powerful.

Now the one thing I really wanted to do just didn't happen, I didn't get more sleep, so that is yet another goal for this week.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

NARS Orgasm Nail Polish Review

I've only recently started to use NARS nail polish and I regret having not started sooner. Their nail polish might be on the slightly costly side but it's worth it for the quality. 

As soon as I saw Orgasm I knew I had to have it, in spring I'm always drawn to lighter, pastel shades but wanted something with a bit of punch. Orgasm is a peach/orange sherbet of a shade, or shimmery and vibrant with a slight hint of gold glitter making it a perfect holiday shade. 

Now, unlike the other NARS nail polishes I've tried I found the application a bit uneven. This was due to the small gold particles. Now this isn't a major issue, I was being lazy and doing my nail varnish at an awkward angle in bed, applying it on a flat surface would have been a lot easier. 

I found three coats was needed to get a good, colourful coat, luckily it was touch dry in 15 minutes. Without a top coat it was still tough, lasting 4 days without chipping. One thing I was worried about was the small particles of glitter going everywhere when the nail polish was removed but not only did it not end up all over my skin it removed like a none glitter nail polish which is the one thing that puts me off wearing glittery shades during the week. 

A gorgeous spring shade to take me through to summer. 

Saturday 21 March 2015

What's in Samhain's Cat Hampurr? March 2015

It's that exciting time of the month where Samhain gets to open yet another box of goodies - he really does deserve it, he brings calm into my life even though he's chaotic. He looks forward to receiving his box, he knows when the box arrives that this time it's for him, not those countless other boxes containing goodies for the big cat, nope, this one is for him.

He insisted on opening the box upstairs, I was attempting to open it in the front room for a change as my bed was a mess but he likes routine so everything was brought upstairs. He certainly wasn't disappointed. So what did he get?

As usual, hiding the most stinkiest of the Hampurr contents

Thrive - Complete Wet Food 1 tin of Tuna Fillet and 1 tin of Chicken Breast & Turkey
I've not quite got to the bottom of what wet food Samhain likes from Thrive. For some reason I haven't thought to try the plain tuna fillet even though this is usually a safe bet so I'm looking forward to trying him with it this weekend. The Chicken Breast & Turkey he already loves but it's great to be able to stock up the food cupboard for him with a known favourite.

Thrive - Premium Plus Dry Food Salmon & Herring
We've had this before but I'm glad to have another sample to evaluate. I like to give him a mix of biscuits and prefer the better quality, no cereal brands. The Thrive Premium Plus dry food is not only free from cereals but also free from soya, wheat, rice, artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and genetically-modified ingredients. I don't mind spending more money on quality cat food for Samhain, I want him to have the best, but I have to make sure he enjoys it first and with Thrive he just loves these biscuits, nearly as much as their dried treats.

Tapping for a treat

GranataPet - 1 Packet of Chicken & Cat Grass Treats and 1 Packet of Duck & Catnip Treats
A new product for both of us, I've never seen this Austrian brand before but Samhain was keen to try. We've opened the Chicken & Cat Grass treats which are anti-hairball, he just loves them - other anti-hairball products don't appeal to him so I'm glad he likes these. I'm sure he'll love the Duck & Catnip treats even more.

Making sure nobody pinches his Stinky Shark
Plague Rats Stinky Shark
Samhain is a huge fan of the Plague Rat, he's reviewed the rat itself before which we received in a previous box. The new incarnation is a stinky shark with the same potent combination of catnip and valerian root so of course he lost his mind when he sniffed this, the saliva went flying! I don't think he'll ever get bored of the toys on offer from Plague Rats.

Hem & Boo Knitted Cat Teasers and Pouncers with Catnip
This is the sort of toy you don't think your cat needs until you see it. Samhain loves playing with balls when he is playing all by his lonesome, but he doesn't go wild for balls in general, however, any loose tag, bit of string, ribbon, he goes crazy for so this toy might just work for him.

Anicura Cat Spray
A very interesting product for a cat, you could almost say it's a beauty product although a healthy skin and coat isn't exactly about looking good. Samhain is a bit of a fighter, I don't know whether this was why he ended up in a rescue centre as his background is unknown. It tends to be other cats, or really one other cat. He never wins and has got himself into some silly states. Now apart from the two poo fights which ended with only minor injuries, just incredibly smelly. he has been fight free but he is still left with some dry skin where his scabs have healed so this will be perfect for getting his skin back in tip top condition!

He loves his Cat Hampurr, as usual a strong toy distracted him from paying close attention to everything although he did tap my hand (I've trained him to do that for food/snacks) when I picked up the GranataPet snacks, whilst continuing to lick his stinky shark, he can multi-task! He even tired to unwrap the goodies himself, not completely successfully but he tried so I cobbled together some of the videos I took using my camera phone - not the greatest but still worth a look!

There are a few different subscription options, mine is the monthly Cat Hampurr which costs £11.95 + p&p, you can also subscribe to a bi-montly box which costs £6 a month plus p&p or if you have more than one cat or want a really big box you can get double helpings at £21.90 a month plus p&p. Further details can be found here

Thursday 19 March 2015

Barry M - Speedy Nail Paint in Pit Stop (SDNP6) Review

Well this beauty ban is just not happening. After treating myself to many new nail varnishes at the beginning of the month I've caved in and bought a couple more, including the one I'm reviewing today.

I think I had good reason to pick this up. I've always struggled with the drying time of nail varnish, I have no patience and I'm also quite busy, usually with my hands. So when I saw that Barry M were launching a quick dry nail varnish I couldn't resist. Barry M are one of my favourite low cost make-up brands ever since I was a little kid. They've always had exciting shades, have constantly offered good quality at a low cost and are cruelty free. Over the years nothing has changed and that kind of consistency deserves loyalty. So of course I had to have a small splurge to try their new range.

Now I chose two colours (2 for £6.00 in Superdrug) but will feature just the one here, Pit Stop. This is a really rather interesting shade, in the bottle it could be considered pretty dull, it's grey but when applied it looks more of a pretty pastel grey as it is delicately light with the tiniest hint of purple in certain lighting.

The most important aspect of this product for me is it really a quick dry? Yes, it is, but with some difficulty. Now the problem with it drying so quickly is getting it even as applying thinly leaves it patchy as it does dry very quickly. It's better to use a full brush with plenty of varnish on but that does mean it can go slightly everywhere if not careful, at least if you aren't using a flat surface - I'm guilty of applying my nail varnish at odd angles! Which is why I was left with some bubbling on my thumb.

This is just a minor quibble, It's worth making the effort with this as I found after applying two coats, my nails were touch dry within five minutes, halving the time of those I already have that I would consider to be quick. It's only a small quibble and totally worth it.

Another fabulous thing about this product is that even without a top coat it lasts without chipping, I'm three days in without a chip in sight, perfect!

I just love Barry M, they continually make quality, ethical products. There are 9 pastel shades in the Speedy Nail Paint collection, I really hope in the future this collection will expand to include some darker shades, if they do I will break my ban again for them

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Midweek Health & Fitness Update 9/3/15 - 15/3/15

Another mixed week with some positives and some negatives.

The main negative was my step count. I feel like I'm slipping further and further away from hitting 10,000 a day (or even averaging 70,000 a week). I'm trying hard when I'm in work where I spend a lot of time walking about anyway, I just make sure I push it a bit further. At the weekends I don't do that much, with dads imminent return home, preparing the house, considering things and knowing that there will be a lot of caring, which is a reason for me to remain at home, I kind of feel like I'm getting as much relaxation in as I can right now. I think I'm just imagining the worst case scenario.

Monday - Tuesday holiday at home, Thursday Medical appointment, Saturday and Sunday laziness

My hospital appointment went well, the scan shows that it is pretty positively a lipoma, just a large one, bloody fatty lump, I can't win! So the preference, which is my preference is just to leave it and see if it is growing rapidly or if the discomfort gets worse - right now it could still be post-viral.

I've also been referred for counselling but that's a different story.

My surgery side has been irritating me more, I've had quite a bit of pain but I can't win, I need to find a good in-between spot - so no throwing around heavy weights but no doing sweet FA either. This prompted me to go ahead with the positive point of the week, yoga, getting back to that was fun, I was sore the next day but it really was worthwhile, I can't just do nothing while I wait.

Food wise, unfortunately I have nothing excited to report. No exotic, tasty discoveries, just bog standard, basic, eating a little bit less than I should but not by too much. Moderation with everything, of course.

This week I mainly want to focus on sleep - I know that sounds incredible as I had such a lazy weekend but I'm exhausted and it would nice to be less sleep deprived so that I don't get so many people telling me I look tired.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

NARS Inoubliable Coup d'Oeil Eyeshadow Palette Review

NARS Inoubliable Coup d'Oeil Eyeshadow Palette £29.00 (Selfridges)

I have a bit of an addiction with NARS eyeshadow palettes, well, their eyeshadow in general. With good reason, they have some stunning shades and the quality is second to none. However, I'm still relatively sensible with what I purchase but this palette was irresistible.

I'm a 70s girl at heart and have been loving its recent resurgence in fashion. With some gorgeous retro inspired clothes out there I have to have the make-up to match and this NARS palette offers some stunning shades to recreate a 70s look. 

Six gorgeous strong colours, all very practical and wearable earthy tones. Starting on the top row, working left to right we have a beautiful grey-brown, khaki colour, followed by a dark olive green then a gorgeous, rich dark brown. The bottom row is just as gorgeous, starting with a practical plain white, followed by a light bronze before finishing with another practical shade, black. 

on hand
As mentioned before, it's not just the gorgeous shades but the quality that always draws me back to NARS. I can apply their eyeshadow at eight in the morning and still have it in place at eight in the evening. The eyeshadows in this palette aren't full size but they are a decent size, I use my And God Created The Woman palette at least four times a week and I've not made that much of a dent in it as their shadows are impregnated with colour a little does go a long way. Plus the small size makes them extremely portable, and the large mirror makes it practically perfect, in every way. 

Sunday 15 March 2015

Samhain's Catnip Review: Yeowww! Hearrrt Attack

Time to feature another of Samhain's favourite catnip toys, there are quite a number of toys that he loves but one brand always comes up tops for him, Yeowww!

Yeowww! is a major brand, I usually find that with major brands you don't always get the best quality, or best strength catnip so I usually prefer to pick things up from small, cottage industries. Samhain hasn't had one dud Yeowww! product and he has had pretty much everything from this brand that you can easily pick up in the UK.

Keeping it close to his chest

His latest product, Hearrrt Attack, was actually included in his last Cat Hampurr although I had purchased one for him a week arrived he was adopted - I lost it the day I gave it to him so I was so glad to see this in the box. He was immediately smitten, he could smell it through the box and ended up drooling all over the contents.

Photo and video heavy so continues after the cut...

Saturday 14 March 2015

What's in my Birchbox? March 2015 - Habitat Collaboration

Another month, another Birchbox, It's actually been a whirlwind month and I haven't had a chance to go through last months, not that I'm complaining, it sometimes feels like I'm waiting longer and longer for each delivery.

This month they have collaborated with Habitat, for me this is a bit of a weird mix. I love Habitat, more I love old Habitat. One of my biggest inspirations for my (70s inspired) home pieces is The House Book by Terence Conran founder of Habitat, of course it has changed quite a bit but they do still have some inspiring, retro pieces that I would love to add into my (one day I'll have my own home) pile. So although I find this collaboration odd, it's still welcome.

So what does this box contain? It's all after the cut....

Thursday 12 March 2015

Nails inc. - NailKale in Duke Street Review

I have a lot of love for Nails inc, I've been using them since their start. I first discovered them when I was a volunteer for a cosmetic research company, most products you received in a blank tube with no way of knowing who you were testing for but with nail varnish it always arrived in the retail bottle. I was so happy as I would have never discovered who it was otherwise. With Nails inc I was blown away, they were the first nail varnish I'd tried that actually lasted on my nails. They were one of the only two brands of nail varnish I would buy but in recent years different, cheaper brands have crept onto my shelves and I haven't turned to Nails inc. as much.

This is my first purchase of a Nails inc. varnish since the move to square bottles. It was a random, lucky stumble. I love pastel shades but realised I had nothing in the sort of colour I wanted, a soft lilac, so by chance I saw this in an email and I just had to order. 

Duke Street is from their NailKale range, something else new to me. Now kale isn't new to me, just I'm used to cooking it with garlic and onions before serving it on a plate, not on my nails. NailKale is formulated with extract of kale, kale itself is full of high levels of vitamin A, C and K, helping to stimulate keratin production which should make the nails stronger and brighter. I'm not fully sure how that works in a nail varnish but I'm not too bothered about how it works just if it works.

I've always found application of this brand smooth and even, nothing has changed here. Two coats was all that was necessary for a good, even coat - something that can be a little tricky with light, pastel, opaque shades. The other thing that always impressed me with Nails inc. was the speed in which the nail varnish dried, this still applied giving me touch dry nails in ten minutes. I always like to test nail varnish without a top coat to see how long it lasts before chipping, and because I can be quite lazy, without this nail varnish lasted four days before chipping - not bad without top coat protection,

I'm really glad I've returned to Nails inc., I love the new packaging and although it is slightly more expensive than previously the bottles are also larger, at 14 ml rather than 10 ml. Not to mention this shade is also drop dead gorgeous. 

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Midweek Health & Fitness Update 2/3/15 - 8/3/15

Last week was a funny old week, a forgettable week in some respects and unforgettable in others. I can't remember much of the week leading up to the weekend apart from a few key facts.

  1. I ate earlier in the evening
  2. I snacked less
  3. The shower was out of action for a couple days so I had to have a bath, which was wonderful as I could read in the bath

Not that exciting but small steps is all I'm interested in, especially as I have a lot of discomfort still. I did focus on my steps, I managed to do a decent amount each day but not quite 10,000 - apart from one day when I did over 11,000.

I did do more at the weekend though, over 5,000 on my birthday, visiting dad was a few steps but walking to the restaurant later really helped. Saturday was even better as I walked to the restaurant for lunch, then we all went for a walk around the park in the glorious sunshine, in heels, so that helped with the steps. This brought my overall total to a respectable 61,095.

I know my total last week will be higher than this week as I have two days off work to do nothing but watch films. Oh, and go to the hospital. I'll be happy if I can bring my total to 50,000 this week though.

I've been in quite a lot of pain and discomfort still, not to mentioned being knackered, but I'll speak to my doctor in regard to that this week. I just want to feel okay Actually, I don't just want to feel okay, I want to feel full of energy and active.

Now my birthday weekend included plenty of heavy meals, although I made sure I had lighter meals either side. Plus I didn't stuff myself on Sunday with birthday cake just for the sake of it, after a wonderful meal at my local Tapas place I took a break and waited until the Monday for cake. 

I just want to get through this week, keep my steps above 50,000 and my evening meals as early in the evening as possible. 

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Thirty-Third Birthday Bonanza

Well last Sunday marked yet another birthday, 33, thirty-friggin'-three, I'm starting to dread these birthday events, they seem to be ageing me. It was great having lunch out with my friends on the Saturday, an event I've already shared (well I shared what I wore - it counts!) so this follow up post is one where I can go, oooh, look at my presents (I'm allowed to brag as I always give fantastic, over-the-top with thought, gifts - so I like to give as well as receive).

However I'm going to start with the best part of the day, visiting my dad.

Dad has been in hospital since last September, he's in a neurological rehabilitation centre, getting better, but still needs a lot of help. As part of his occupational therapy he was taken out to a shop, a bit of walking but most of the time in the wheelchair, where he chose a card for me and a Cadbury's Flake. The best part of that was him being able to do a little more, even if mum also helped.

He was also able to remember that it was my birthday, with a little bit of prompting, not much. We also managed to get him to stay out of bed for an hour while we were there, then after he'd been in bed for a bit we managed to convince to sit out in his chair. It's sometimes hard to encourage him to do things, he doesn't have much drive, an effect of what happened is a change in personality and lethargy

After the visit to my dad we stopped in to see my aunt, uncle and cousins (I'm now addicted to Crossy Road - blame it on my love for Frogger). Now for tea we went out for a meal to a restaurant called Flamenco, a fantastic, very vegetarian friendly Tapas restaurant in town that mum also loves so it was great to get out for an early meal before coming home and crashing. All in all it was a great day.

The birthday cake had to wait until the next day as we were stuffed and tired. It was worth the wait.

I received some wonderful gifts. Exciting gifts. So what did I get? It's all after the cut.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Birthday Lunch Look + Outfit

This is a bit of a late post but it's been quite a long day, my birthday is tomorrow so today I had lunch out with friends. It also felt like the first glorious day of spring and it was the first time I got to wear the gorgeous dark floral dress I bought late last year.

Now my outfit plan changed because of the weather, it was just too warm but I had to take photos in what I had originally planned. My new faux fur jacket and the platform shoes which I bought to wear with the dress. They weren't worn today, heels this high at lunch is a bit OTT, especially if you happen to be tall. I still ended up wearing a slight heel, a pair of heeled boots that I'm pretty sure I've worn on my birthday lunch the last 3 years in a row.

This will get photo heavy so for the rest see after the cut.....

Friday 6 March 2015

Birthday Weekend Binge Watching

I'm a bit of a loner, a social recluse, except one with friends, I do sometimes venture out of the house to do something "normal" however my first love is hanging out with my cat watching any one of the DVDs and Blu-Ray's I have amassed over the years. I prefer to use my time off work to stay at home for marathon watching sessions. Each year, after my birthday, I usually take a couple of days off work to be miserable and to do some serious watching.

I try to plan my viewing schedule, I do own an unbelievable amount of DVDs so strategy is needed. I know my moods though. There will be a day or two of misery where I'll want to watch old favourites, in the evenings horror will be in order followed by something old and British, or possibly sleaze but not necessarily. I'll also want to fill the mornings with old TV shows and also save a few for when I want a gap between a film.

This post is now going to turn into a glorified list.

Morning Viewing
A mixture of those I've watched before, Here Come the Double Deckers and Grange Hill, both childhood favourites that I love to revisit. The other three are fairly new to me, I'd usually watched the spookier TV shows on the run up to Christmas but I buy so much I need to keep on top and live in the moment rather than "saving for best", The Fenn Street Gang (a spin off from Please Sir!) is new watching but as a lover of 70s culture I'm looking forward to watching for some fashion and make-up inspirations. Oh, and hair, I've already requested a new haircut in the morning (my mother is an ex-hairdresser, trained in the 60s ideal for my old tastes), I'm going for the Carol Hawkins (centre, bottom on the DVD), it isn't too far off  my style now and my hair is thicker but I'll give it a go but without as much fringe, quite apt that her character is called Sharon.

Not all are true fillers, both Grey Gardens and Dennis Potter at LWT are pretty full on, the rest, apart from Look at Life are TV series that I can dip in and out of. I do sometimes get a bit of film burn when watching one after another so these can be seen as the sorbet between courses. Queenie's Castle might make the perfect lunchtime viewing.

A smaller horror selection than usual
Now usually my horror pile is unmanageable but this time I've tried to make sure I pick the ones I will definitely watch. Handgun is more of an action but for me it makes sense to include it here. I have some old loves here with a few Shameless releases, I love Shameless but have chosen just three to be sensible, well Samhain chose the first one, The Black Cat - he thinks its about him, I've tried to explain. Plus a couple of the recent 88 Films Slasher Classics Collection releases, neither of which I've seen before but I have high hopes, I'm a bit sad that once I've watched these I'll have to wait a couple of weeks for another release!

Late Night Selection
My late night selection could almost be called my Network choices, apart from Girl on a Motorcycle they are all Network releases. Late at night I always like to watch either something sleaze or some kitchen sink realism, or random British releases. Unfortunately I've only got four nights off so two will have to wait until the next marathon session.

New Favourites
I've seen none of these films before but there is a strong chance I will love them all which is why they fit under new favourites. For some reason they feel extra special, too special for everyday weekend watching which is why I've saved them to watch on days when I'm on leave - I really have a twisted logic when it comes to the order I watch things in.

New/Old Favourites
 Sandwiched between new and old favourites are the box sets. They compromise of those films I've already viewed and consider favourites and those I'm yet to watch but know I'll love. I don't know if on the day I'll choose an old or new favourite but have a feeling one or both of the Fassbinder box sets will be heavily viewed.

Old Favourites
My selection of old favourites, The Room is terribly bad but incredibly entertaining, it baffles me but I keep watching it - it is in no way a classic but is essential viewing. The rest are a small selection of favourite films, after featuring Louise Brooks autobiography on my Women's History Month book list I felt the urge to watch Diary of a Lost Girl again so I'm hoping to fit it in Sunday morning. The one film out of this selection that is at the top of all my lists this weekend is The Bride Wore Black (La Mariée était en noir) it's one of the most stylish thrillers I've ever watched, I can't stop thinking about it which is why this is essential viewing this weekend. I don't know what else will be watched but I know one I forgot to photograph, a real top 5 favourite of mine, Wings of Desire, I will be curled up in bed being miserable after turning 33, sobbing at how wonderful the film is.

A pretty hefty pile of DVDs/Blu's to watch over the next four days (especially with a couple of social outings with friends and family) but I love a challenge. 

This Women's History Month I'll be reading...

Not only is it Women's History Month but Sunday, 8th March is also my birthday, okay, no, not the point, it's International Women's Day, but I am a woman and it is honestly also my birthday.

Now I'm making the effort to get back into reading more so I've decided that this month I'm dedicating solely to female authors and books about women I'd like to know more about. I don't read anywhere near as much as I did when I was working in libraries, the will is there, the overflowing bookshelf is still overflowing but I don't get the hour lunch I did when I worked in a library and that makes a big difference. This month I'll make the effort to take my book to work for lunchtime and to read for 30 minutes before bed each night.

So what's on my reading list? A wide mixture, short story collections, biographies of Hollywood stars, books I've read before and those I've been meaning to read forever.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

I've already started reading this anthology, it inspired me to start this list. A dark, sensual, feminist retelling of classic fairy tales. I've never read any Angela Carter before but have watched, and loved, the film The Company of Wolves which is based on a story in this collection.

black water by Joyce Carol Oates
Now I'm not new to Joyce Carol Oates, I read the novella Rape: A Love Story when it was first published in 2003, I loved it and immediately set about to amass a small collection of her work, which I did, I just haven't read any of them. I can tell I tried with this as I have my name written inside the cover meaning I took it in hospital with me when I had my surgery, or my other procedure, I can't remember which! I know I didn't read it but this will be a nice way to get back into Joyce Carol Oates with another novella.

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
This is a well thumbed, well loved collection of short stories that I'm ready to give another read through, having only just finished reading it again a couple of years back and possibly the last before I have to pick up another copy. A collection of rather arousing short stories including Secretary, the basis of the film Secretary. 

Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin
Another collection of erotically charged short stories, this time from Anaïs Nin, Posthumously published in 1977, the anthology was originally written in the 1940s for a private client making them all the more exciting. This book has sat on my shelf for many years in pristine condition, time to dedicate some time to reading it.

Don't Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
Now I know everyone raves about Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca and it is fantastic, I do love it but I even more I love the short story Don't Look Now, I do love the other stories in this collection too. However, I was a fan of the film Don't Look Now, boy is Donald Sutherland attractive, besides the point completely but I had to get that out there. I suppose it gives me a reason to love the film more, the short story is just that much better. I remember my first time reading this collection was a library loan so this copy is pristine and new just waiting to be broken in.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

We've had fantasy, and now we have some sci-fi. I feel ashamed to say that I've never read a single Margaret Atwood story, The Handmaid's Tale, arguably one of her most popular novels this dystopian tale has been on my to-read list for some time. I only made the true effort when I finally picked up a copy last summer.

Self-Portrait by Gene Tierney
I love Gene Tierney, I love her eyebrows, I love her acting. She features in three of my favourite films, British Noir, Night and the City (1950) and in earlier films Heaven Can Wait (1943) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945), she plays characters that are wildly different from one another in Leave Her to Heaven she truly shines. This led me to want to find out more about her, the fact that she had an auto-biography giving a true insight to her life was more exciting than reading second-hand accounts of online but it's still been sat on my bookshelf for a while.

Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks

My mini obsession with Louise Brooks started after viewing Diary of a Lost Girl (1929). Predominantly a start of silent films, I've never seen a single one of her talkies which is why I'm looking forward to reading her auto-biography, originally published in 1982, quite some time after the silent era and quite an age from when she retired from film in 1935, Rather than a heavy tome this auto-biography is full of tales, gossip and photos, the perfect mix.

Living My Life Volume 1 & 2 by Emma Goldman

Now if I manage to get through all the other books listed it's finally time I read the memoir of Emma Goldman. The things she fought for, her strength, her beliefs, her fire, it's inspiring and fascinating. There is just so much to know about her so it's not hard to believe her memoir comes in at just under a thousand pages. First, I need to find where I've put volume 1, I knew I wouldn't read them both in one go and as I'm swimming in books and piles of dvds I can actually manage to lose a 500 page book. So in Women's History Month, and coming up to International Women's Day this memoir is a fitting way to end the list.

This might not be the most varied list but it's a start, Once I'm through these I can look forward to planning my reads for April, I think a theme needs to be found for that too! Suggestions welcome. 

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Midweek Health & Fitness Update 23/2/15 - 1/3/15

There hasn't been much change since last week, in fact I did less steps. I made it through the week though. I'd started to feel a bit flu like (again) by the end of the week but my main problem was exhaustion. I'm just so tired. I just don't have enough time for everything which I'm sure makes things worse. I'm busy at work, dad is still in hospital and I have my own health problems - my scan is next week followed by with a doctors appointment (in regard to pain relief - I take quite strong painkillers on a daily basis) later in the week. It's strange how not being able to drive makes a difference, it helps with my steps but hinders when it comes to having free time. At least I generally walk more because of this.

I'm not going to focus on much this week but I'm making a few changes. Eating earlier in the evening in the week - I do have a tendency to eat later at the weekend too but I'm usually up longer after it and waking up later in the morning so I'm not bothered about that. In the week I tend to snack when I get home so now I'm hoping eating my tea as soon as I get in will help stop the evening snacking.

I'm also hoping after I've had my scan and my doctors appointment I'll be more relaxed. Sometimes I find the worry can make things appear worse, a tiny pain from a tweak is life-threatening when you don't know what is causing it. So while my mind is playing tricks on me I'm going to be carefree, I never go too wild though, I'm still trying to stick to a basic two out of three rule, two of my meals are full on healthy and my third meal can be a little indulgent - when I feel like it, not for the sake of it. I'm snacking less in general and trying to eat more each meal, I found that I'd pick more when I had smaller meals plus I want to make sure I leave a decent amount of time between each meal. As always, I like things within reason so I'm not going to be too obsessive with it. 

It is my birthday this Sunday so there will be a slight lack of structure with lunch out with friends on Saturday, visiting dad on Sunday followed by a meal out with mum in the evening - Tapas which, for me, means olives, aubergine in a tomato sauce with cheese, patatas bravas, vegetarian paella - all shared, of course. I usually try and balance it out the rest of the day but I'm not going to worry too much. Plus there will of course be cake! 

Forward thinking, I just want to concentrate on my health and fitness. As long as my eating is reasonably healthy, and also within the amount of calories I should have I'm not too worried. I just want more energy and more stamina. I'm having a couple of days off for my birthday on Monday and Tuesday - I always have a long weekend around my birthday so that I can binge watch films in bed and be miserable, I don't want to mess with tradition. The rest might recharge me somewhat. 

Anyway, I don't want to wish away my birthday weekend but I'm looking forward to skipping forward a few weeks so that I'll know where I stand with my health! 

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Astrid & Miyu Secret Box March 2015

Now ever since my first Astrid & Miyu Secret Box arrived, back in December 2014, I've been desperate for the next. Then, as soon as I forget about it, it arrives! I wasn't expecting it just yet as I'd convinced myself it would arrive after my birthday (8th March) so it's nice to have it as an early gift!

Samhain insisted on sitting on the paper, I think he believed it was going to be for him

So what did I get? It's after the cut so that I don't ruin it for anyone.