Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Clariel by Garth Nix Giveaway!

As a child, I literally devoured any book I could get my hands on. The bigger and the longer the better (I'm not much changed, I'm looking at you, ASOIAF). So when I was about nine, I can't remember exactly, a friend let me a copy of Sabriel, I sped through it as quick as I could, and asked for the next in the series (as I was big into series, as this kept my attention for longer), only to be extremely disappointed to find out there was none. Skip forward a few years, and to my delight, discovered Lireal, and subsequently Abbhorsen

Clariel by Garth Nix

So as you can see - I have long been a fan of the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. If you've picked up any of his works, you know he's got a great writing style. One thing I do particularly love is the way that he writes young women - which you think would be poor or a pastiche, but it's really interesting to see the perspective of a realistic and flawed young woman. I think this is something that is becoming more prevalent in literature these days, but Nix has been doing this at least since 1995, when Sabriel was released. 

The story focuses on the titular character, Clariel, who has been moved from her life in the forest, where she enjoys the company of herself, to the capital city, and is immediately thrown into a world she doesn't care for, and a society she is at odds with. I could describe more, but I think I'd be in danger of giving the plot away, but it's a really fantastic story, set in a world that reminds me of nothing else. The magic in the book really intrigues me - as someone familiar with the magic in the later books, it's interesting to see it's foundations, and what things will become. The book weaves elements of intrigue, magic and action to become what it is, and if you like any of these strands, I think you'd like this book.

I always worry when books say they can be read alone, but considering it's been quite some years since I re-read the series - I can safely say that this is a great story for someone familiar with the Old Kingdom world, and also new to it. 

You can purchase Clariel by Garth Nix at Amazon, however, Hot Key Books have given me the exciting opportunity to give away a copy of Clariel! I've never done a giveaway before, so it's really lovely to be able to give something back to you my lovely readers.
To enter, simply follow me on Bloglovin' and leave your username in the box below - that's it! You can win an extra entry if you want to follow me on Twitter. 


Terms and conditions: Giveaway is UK only. Prize is being awarded by Hot Key Books, so if you win, I will need to be given your name and address to pass on to them. Winner will be drawn at random on the 7th July - if the winner does not reply within 48 hours of me contacting them, I will pick another winner. Winner must be a follower on Bloglovin', I will check.

This copy was sent to me to review by Hot Key Books.

Monday, June 29, 2015

homemade pina colada ice-cream recipe!

Look, I could've easily gone with a if you like dancing in the rain, you'll like my ice-cream sort of title, but thought I'd be chill, because I was hoping I'd get your attention anyway with this bowl of deliciousness.

pina colada ice cream recipe
pina colada ice cream recipe

This is no recipe of mine, but one from Nigella Lawson, whose way of describing food disturbs me (something too sensual about it for my British sensitivities) but her recipes are always some of the very best. I suppose that's why she's good at what she does - that and she looks great in a wrap dress and was married to a multi-millionaire but I digress.

It's so freaking easy to make, it tastes phenomenal, and when you say you've made your own ice-cream sans ice-cream maker, people think you're some sort of culinary genius, when you're really just a bit lazy.

For more pictures and the recipe, keep reading;

Sunday, June 28, 2015

weekend wanderings #65

Saturday, June 27, 2015

the importance of a weekend

Until recently, I've never really understood those living for the weekend types - those people that just laze about on a Sunday morning in bed, as those mornings were so precious to me. Since about half-way through my seventeenth year, until just a few months ago (about eight years year, I shudder), I'd worked every Sunday, pretty much. The nearest I got to a 'lazy Sunday' was the shop I worked in being quiet on a rainy morning. 

morning routines lazy sunday

And recently, I've had some pretty packed weekends - which has been so great, don't get me wrong! It's a weird thing, transitioning from shift work to a regular 9-5, because suddenly all your friends are free when you are! You don't have to uhm and aah over making plans 2 weeks in advance because you don't know your schedule. It's been lovely - I've been loitering around London most weekends, seeing exhibitions and catching up with friends I haven't seen for far too long. I helped treat my parents to a fancy lunch, been to the beach and all manner of activities.

But this weekend, I have had a change of pace... I've got literally no plans, no-where to be and nothing to do. I have the house to myself all weekend, I've slept in late, brought my giant cafetiere up to my bed so I could have coffee all morning, and have just chilled. As I write this it's almost two o'clock, I have all the windows open to let in the warm breeze, and I've painted my nails a bright green and caught up on the last couple of episodes of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (please tell me someone else is loving this as much as me?!). That is about the extent of my day. I might go get a burrito for lunch, and I have to put some flowers in some water, but that's about it.

What are you upto this weekend?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Q #54


When you do things that terrify you - and you realise they're not so terrifying after all - that is a good feeling.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Homeware: Christy Bedlinen

If there is one thing I take seriously - it's my bed. I do enjoy sleeping, above anything else in life, I think, and there is nothing greater than a lie-in. As I like to ensure that I have the exact right amount of cushion to Clare ratio, and I like to think I am a connoisseur of a good nights sleep, so when Christy offered to send me one of their bedding sets, I wasn't going to turn down this opportunity...

christy salome bedding
christy salome bedding
As all my soft furnishings are very neutral/earth-toned with splashes of green - I wanted to pick something that would go with this, and opted for the Salome bedding, although they have a range to suit most rooms, I would think! I had my concerns it would lean too pink, but it is a beautiful warm neutral shade, with a pearlescent sheen, that is described as 'oyster'. I love the light reflecting qualities that the lustre has, my room is north facing, so typically doesn't get a great deal of light - so it definitely brightens up my room.

christy salome bedding
christy salome bedding

It's always tough buying anything online, not knowing whether the colours are true to life, but they're represented very well in the images on the Christy website. They're also a brand that have been around for years (since 1850!) - and they're often the ones I would stroke longingly in department stores - so I think it helps to buy from a trusted name when purchasing something that is ultimate an investment purchase.

The fabric is beautiful, and heavy weight, with gorgeous stitching all over, and is even on the pillowcases. The white pillows have really lovely stitching along one edge, and I love that detail. I'm also quite maintenance, in that if my duvet is in the slightest bit itchy or rough, I cannot stand it, so I love the underside is 100% cotton with a 200 thread count, as I can sleep peacefully. Totally not a diva, I promise. Just particular!

Are you as picky about where you sleep as me? Please tell me I'm not alone! 
Have you tried Christy bedding before?

christy salome bedding

Sunday, June 21, 2015

weekend wanderings #64

lifestyle blog links

Friday, June 19, 2015

Q #52

sylvia plath quote

I was having with a discussion with my father last weekend about books - which is odd, if you know us. My father and I have differing opinions, about virtually everything, and he is not much of a reader, so to open up this dialogue is a little odd, but it was happening. His point was something along the lines of a book is only good when it helps you to understand the point of view of another person. I couldn't disagree more, at this point.

It is probably an arrogant stance, but the books I place most highly, are ones that help me gain a further understanding about myself. I think one of the greatest feelings, is to read the words that someone else has put down weeks, years, decades or even centuries before that moment, and feeling a piece of your brain slot in place like a jigsaw. There is a feeling of affinity that rushes back to you from somewhere you didn't know existed - and it's like something makes sense, suddenly. It might not be a giant piece of the jigsaw, nor a crucial part like a corner or an edge, but a piece that helps build something bigger...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Let's talk... I want to get to know you!

I think we need to talk...

bay leaves

I'm not breaking up with you, no, it's not you, it's me.. This blog has been around, in one form or another, for 7 years now. I've become really proud of my little space on the internet, particularly in the last couple of years, it's become something I really love. However, recently, my heart just hasn't been in it. I've really wanted to blog! But, I have a new job, which is mostly spent in front of a computer. The last thing I want to do when I do some evenings, after I've dragged my butt to the gym, had dinner and made my lunch for work - is to fire up my laptop and do, what sort of feels like work at the moment. I know it won't always, and I just need to get into a routine, but I used to do shifts and I was on my feet more - which means the gym and my healthy eating needs to be more of a priority, or it slips. Some nights and most weekends, I want to socialise, too (shock horror). 

Anyway, the last few weeks - I noticed my follower count dropped marginally - and this concerned me. I found this weird as I've never really cared about my follower count - it was something I was aware of but never put much weight in - as I've always just blogged for me, about me, about my life, and rambled on in my own little way. However I noticed this number dropping and it bothered me and I couldn't work out why - and I think at this point I realised that I didn't know who you are, my readers! I often see similar faces in my comments as I do on Twitter, I try and reply to all my comments (although I've been shit at this recently!) and I do read a lot of your blogs regularly, however I really want to know you all better!

So I've come up with a little survey - and I'd love it if you took the time to fill this in! You can leave it in the comments (or fill it out on your blog if you have one, and link it in the comments!) because it would be amazing to find out more about you lovely people. 
1. Your name, age, country, if you feel like sharing. :)
2. What is your most recent purchase?

3. What is your favourite book and why?

4. On a Saturday morning, where are you and what are you doing?

5. What TV show are you currently binge-watching or what book are you currently reading?

6. Do you prefer to be controversial or liked-by-everyone?

7. Are you more introverted or extroverted?

8. What was your first job?

9. What is your favourite painting?

10. Leave links to where I can find more about you (your blog/twitter/instagram, etc).
And here are my answers - so incase you didn't know about me, here are a few little insights...
1. My name is Clare, I'm 25 (first time I've written that since my birthday, oh god I feel old!), and I live in Hampshire in the UK.
2. My most recent purchase was a fancy lunch out for my parents 30th wedding anniversary - and 2 blouses from the Topshop website, somewhat sleepily, last night.
3. Until recently I would have said The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, but The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt comes in a very very close second.
4. Recently I've been all over the place, from spending time in London, but more regularly I'm probably having a lie in, doing some shopping, or catching up with my friend Gemma.
5. I'm about to start on the second series of Orange is the New Black - and I've just finished re-reading the Harry Potter books.
6. Liked by everyone. I am too worried what about what people think to be controversial!
7. I'm somewhere in between, but definitely more introverted than the opposite - I much prefer to just chill in bed with a book or put a film on than go outside and be sociable.
8. My first job was at Waitrose, being a Sunday deli-girl.
9. My favourite paintings are a series by Mark Rothko called the Seagram murals, in particular this one which is called Red on Maroon. A lot of people think they're very overrated or cliche, but I like them for some personal reasons.
So there we go! I'd love it if you took part.. :)   

Sunday, June 14, 2015

weekend wanderings #63

lifestyle blog links
(It's still the weekend... just...shh! haha)

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Tom Ford Black Orchid Review

I remember when I was in college I really loved the song Perfume, by Sparks - and thinking it was really cool that I new all the perfume names... I was young, shh. I do still like the idea of being someone that has their fragrance. Black Orchid isn't that for me, I don't think, but it probably is for a lot of people because it's so iconic. It's a scent I can pick out of a crowd, like Opium or Poison (and, unfortunately, that Paco Rabane 1 Million because every club used to reek of it at one point...). 

tom ford black orchid review

Since purchasing this fragrance, I've realised that there are few scents as polarising as Black Orchid. I've had people tell me I smell amazing, and that I smell like a man (I don't consider this an insult, per se, as I love a cologne-like scent worn on a woman, but I think it was meant as one, so I'm including it here). It's definitely something you'll know if you like or not. I knew from the first whiff that I liked it. But because so many others seemed to dislike it, I questioned my taste, so I picked up a small bottle..

I should've realised it's a classic for a reason! This fragrance is really not for everyone: as a good rule, I would say if you like anything sweet and light and fruity and floral, you probably won't like it (though I would still urge you to try it out, as I adore it and I do like some floral scents).

It smells rich, oriental, dark, woody and like incense - it reminds me of the smell of burning incense from the 70's, think ylang-ylang, sandalwood or patchouli. Looking up on the notes, it also tells me that there is vetiver in there, and that is probably the reason why I am obsessed with it (as I love that scent). In reviews, people say it reminds them of 'balsamic chocolate' a lot - which I don't get in the slightest, so who knows.
It lasts on me like no other, too, and I still get a whiff of it at the end of the day, which is a huge plus point for me. In the summer I love those fragrances that smell like a gin & tonic with lime, but they're gone by lunchtime, and you have to reapply.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, also, it's definitely an evening perfume, if you get me. When I look at the word sexy written down, it looks so inadequate, but it's a definite night time, date night, evening fragrance. That doesn't mean I don't wear it during the day, but I wouldn't call it an everyday scent - plus, I like to keep somethings special, and this to me is a definite luxury fragrance.

Do you like Black Orchid? Let me know if you've loved a perfume everyone else has disliked! 

tom ford black orchid review