Wednesday 31 December 2014

2015 Bring It On!

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Let's make this one count. 

Let's open our eyes and minds, make it the year to learn something new, to explore and discover, to grow and develop as individuals, to listen to what we want, to spread kindness and knowledge, to enjoy the small, simple moments, to make the most of opportunities and to see the best in a situation, to take steps towards something new, to open doors and start fresh chapters, to embrace change, to strengthen relationships and make an effort, to broaden horizons and learn to see things through the lens of others, to love and laugh but most of all to be the best version of ourselves. 

2015 bring it on!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Turning Pages // Top Ten Books Read in 2014

The end of the year always supplies the perfect opportunity to look back over the previous twelve months, to review and observe and to reflect on another year, and to prepare ourselves mentally for the fresh new start almost upon us.

I think this is a really enjoyable thing to do, not to mention pretty important really, if you think about it. It gives the chance to look back on wonderful memories but also to objectively point out what went well, what could have gone better, what you enjoyed and not so much, and such alike. It's also a great time to take a moment to appreciate what you have. That never hurts to do, does it, and it's something I am most selfishly bad at and can often forget to notice the bloody brilliant things I've done and the precious moments I have had.

Enough of the smushy stuff, this here is a literary review post, listing my most enjoyed novels of 2014. This was the first year I really made note of the books I read, giving reviews and ratings as I went along, and it is such a fantastic tool for looking back, particularly as my memory is so gosh darn awful! Here is my selection, ranking 10-6 in order of preference and then my top 5 in no particular order, since I struggled tremendously to choose!!

10. Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson  4/5*

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn  4/5*

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims--a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story--and survive this homecoming.

8. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides  4/5*

First published in 1993, "The Virgin Suicides" announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighbourhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humour and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, "The Virgin Suicides" is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologises suburban middle-American life.

7. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane  4/5*

The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane relentlessly bears down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades--with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels.

6. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso  4/5*

A #Girlboss is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.' The first thing Sophia Amoruso sold online wasn't fashion - it was a stolen book. She spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and dumpster diving. By twenty-two, she had resigned herself to employment, but was still broke, directionless, and working a mediocre day job she'd taken for the health insurance. It was there that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Eight years later, she is the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. Sophia's never been a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she's written #Girlboss for outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is winding as all hell and lined with naysayers. #Girlboss includes Sophia's story, yet is infinitely bigger than Sophia. It's deeply personal yet universal. Filled with brazen wake-up calls ("You are not a special snowflake"), cunning and frank observations ("Failure is your invention"), and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal's meteoric rise, #Girlboss covers a lot of ground. It proves that being successful isn't about how popular you were in high school or where you went to college (if you went to college). Rather, success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break. Sophia Amoruso turned her hobby selling vintage clothing on eBay into Nasty Gal, one of the fastest growing companies in America. Her rise has been covered by major media like The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., and The Wall Street Journal, and she has a devoted following on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

My Top 5

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It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

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At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. 
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humour, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

The plot summary on this book is in Dutch, natuurlijk, but briefly, the story is set in South Limburg during the time the Germans occupied the Netherlands and allows you a glimpse of life during the war through the eyes of an 11 year old Dutch boy. This is truly heart felt and although written for a much younger audience, I couldn't help but fall in love with the sweet main character and felt such compassion towards him. This is such a great way to teach kids history whilst opening their eyes to times gone and the lives of others, in a way they can understand and reach, without being over loaded with facts and dates.

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Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin's magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

I didn't include the full plot summary, as I really really don't want to spoil ANYTHING from this series for anyone. Just trust me in knowing it is jam packed to the tippie top with action and huge G.O.T. story turning points!

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Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

A fantastic year in books, I really enjoyed devouring each of these and recording my thoughts on each, but I also can't wait to get started with next years pile!! Have you read any stand out novels this year or do you have anything especially exciting on your list for the up coming new year?

Thursday 18 December 2014

Festive Finishing Touches

Sinterklaas, Christmas, New Years; the Wintery season in general, what better chance to spend time snuggled up indoors with your loved ones? It is that time of year when the dusty old board games come out to play, we feast on sickening amounts of hot chocolate and expand our waistlines with our favourite food.

Whether it snows and provides a fluffy playground and excuse to wear three pairs of socks, tucked tight in your wellies, or if relaxing with a festive film is more your scene, Christmas time rules. Whether you have a hand written letter to a loved one, gifted perfume that conjures personal memories together or a hand knitted pair of mittens, giving a little something to a special someone can be a heart warming thing. What better way to make this little token as unique as a snowflake, than to head for your craft supplies and try something a touch different this year, when sealing your parcel with a kiss?!

I've hunted down some glorious inspiration for adding that finishing touch to a package, no matter how big or small. There are so many ideas you could try, whether it is brown paper and string, using paper doilies as gift tags or getting busy with the glitter! You can even use some of these methods of decoration on a Christmas card or letter!

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I've been busy making Christmas cards this season and after having taught myself the basics in crochet, a few weeks ago, I have whipped up a few little trinkets as really simple Christmas decorations to gift to my special peoples!

Are you trying your hand at a home made present this year? Do you have any time saving or truly creative wrapping techniques? Does anyone else find that their sellotape insists on picking up as much hair as possible, as an extra (gross) stocking filler?!

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Thinking Out Loud

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So this season will be my first ever Christmas away from my family. I know, I'm a grown up (physically if not fully mentally), but there is still a huge part of me that finds this a harsh reality to face. It is a big part of life, spreading your wings, forging your own path into your unknown future, and this year has seen many an eye opening new chapter. Moving out of home is the exciting part, especially moving in with a partner, but moving countries has proven a whole different story!

I can't believe I've surpassed three seasons here, in my new home. To be honest, I'm patting myself on the back for having held my shhhtuff together during this year! An adventure; yes. Exciting; heck yes. But difficult beyond belief; you betcha. And as the lights on the tree begin to sparkle, the old festive tunes find their way onto the radio stations and the sky settles to that thick white grey blanket, it's this time of year that really hits hard and reminds me how things have changed, what doors have opened before me but also closed at my heel, but mostly how much I miss my family and how wonderful our Christmases have been!

On the flip side of the coin, being away from your usual and familiar surroundings forces you to get some perspective on your world. It makes you appreciate the little things you once took for granted, it brings you closer together as it takes a lot more effort to spend time but it also opens your eyes to new experiences, differing cultures and allows you to broaden your thinking and vision of how the world turns. 

This year will not be about presents and shopping and spending. It will be about spending time with my Dutch family over the holidays and planning the most amazing trip to England in the new year, to spend time with my English family. I've kept myself busy making hand made Christmas cards and tree decorations as a little trinket to post home, and to place on my very own little tree. I will be calling and skyping to no end, not to mention attempting to add a Yorkshire pud here and there with our meals here in Holland!

I spend time this year, rather than pennies. Effort instead of gifts. And plan on making all kinds of new memories whilst combining my two worlds.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with distance during the holidays? Any fun festive ideas to bring people closer despite a physical distance? What are your family plans over this wintery period? If any one has a solitary Christmas in mind, PLEASE don't hesitate to drop me a line or get in touch :)

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Wrap It Up

Let's embrace this cold weather together and as the last of the autumnal leaves fall from it's winding branch, grab your warmest garb and wrap up tight, in style!

As a lover of layers, this time of year never bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of being chilly! But working with a variety of textures and shades, fixing up a weather suited out fit isn't really that big of a deal. Especially with what's on offer this season!

I have selected a few of my favourite 'out door wear' looks to give a little inspiration for those fearing the freeze!

Fashionistas Frenzie:

Bold silhouettes, simple colour ways, fine detailing and dressed up or down with ease!

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Femme Fatale:

Sweet hues, swirling skirts, figure enhancing cut, work with what you got!

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Check It Out:

Where pattern and texture unite, contrast or compliment your colours, a little check goes a long way!

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For those of us with an old faithful, hidden at the back of the wardrobe, or perhaps we're saving a few pennies here and there, why not try a little home trickery to spruce up a worn and loved coat, giving you a fresh look for the coming season?!

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Taking your coats or jackets for a good dry clean, really is worth the extra effort as this simple task can breathe life into a garment that may have seen better days.

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Another clever and cheaptastic idea is to change up your existing buttons for a complete set of newbies. You can buy buttons from most haberdashery market stalls/ shops/ online or you could hit the charity shops looking out for whatever catches your eye and upcycle a few. This is such a quick and easy way to give your favourite piece a whole new appeal.

You could add a belt to cinch in the waist, embellish a jacket with embroidery or lace or even just by pushing or turning up the sleeves you can achieve a very different out come. Next step is to add your winter woollies and you're good to go, ready for whatever frosty frights might come our way!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

A Thing Of Beauty

Wonderfully curious beings of the internet, I wanted to share a little treasure with you.

Since moving to the Netherlands and taking on this grand adventure, I have grown to love this place, taken steps towards broadening my little world and have adapted and developed in a ton of ways, but one thing that will remain a constant struggle is missing my family and peoples back in the UK. One thing I continue to busy myself with is finding ways to stay connected to those I miss, and although it takes a lot of effort on both sides, things begin to find a pattern and routine and become fun, rather than a hole in my daily thinkings.

My parents are particularly good at making me feel super special, even from this distance, and one particular moment occurred a few days ago. Following a pretty cruddy couple days I decided to venture out to the city on a solo mission to explore a little and cheer myself up in the process, and my oh my what did I stumble across? A huge book store! A spent a ridiculous amount of time wandering around (which you indeed can very well do, guilt free, when you're alone!), I was in my element. Shelves upon shelves on wonderment and promise, welcoming me amongst their midst!

After losing time hidden within the classics I was given strict instructions from the parentals, via a pleasant but brief phone call, that I was not to leave the book shop without treating myself to a brand shiny new novel AND that I was to park my butt in the store's coffee shop and enjoy something delicious with a page or two of my latest find. My folks are the best!

This, dear friends, is the little gift I chose for myself!

"If it weren't I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old! For that - for that - I would give everything!"

The Picture of Dorian Gray written around 1890 by Oscar Wilde. This classic novel tells of a mysterious young and beautiful Dorian Gray, and his life of excess and corruption. Full of secrecy and scandal, I couldn't be more excited to sink my teeth into this notorious piece of writing, a story which is well known by most but has sat on my 'to read' list since forever. Until now, that is.

This book caused huge out rage and controversy when it was first published, due to it's uninhibited content and the issues it covers. A gothic piece of writing that has staying the passing of time, has been used and referred to in countless other productions and can we please take a moment to appreciate this particular copy, which ironically so, was what caught my attention initially!

This fine edition, in all it's leather bound glory, boasts a stunning front and back cover, a satin ribbon book mark, marbled end papers and perhaps the most distinctive feature, it's green stained edging! Friends, I am in love! This will make a beautiful addition to my beloved book shelf and having devoured the opening chapter, I look forward to falling into this story and escaping into the tale of this most notorious Victorian libertine, in all it's saucy mystery!

What simple gesture can put a smile on your face? Is there something that cheers you up, a little treat for yourself or a kind moment exchanged with a beloved?

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Setting The Scene For Halloween!

Welcome boys and girls of this world and beyond, to a spectacularly spooky feast of all things wickedly wonderful, in preparation for a weekend of ghosts and ghouls! For on this very Friday eve of all things hallowed, we celebrate the frightfully fiendish and totally milk the opportunity to eat sweets all evening... So lock your windows and doors, check under your bed and be sure to grab your pillow (or teddy bear) to hide behind because kids, you're in for a bumpy ride!!

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Friday evening I'm certain to be having a heavy dose of nightmares after watching the 2013 remake of the classic horror Evil Dead. Don't ask me why I'm doing this to myself (and Rich!), for I have absolutely no idea, but I'm a sucker for a fast paced, pant wettingly jumpy, watch it with the lights on horror flick! 

Another fantastic remake I highly recommend is the vengeful tale of Carrie, a well known movie adaptation of the bloody novel by Stephen King (a great read!), with this 2013 version starring the wonderful Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore as her crazy ass mother.

If you were hoping for something a little less blood thirsty, how about this brilliant cinematic number by the majestically bananas Tim Burton, FRANKENWEENIE! This is a beautiful piece of film made using a traditional stop motion technique, and the most detailed and typically Burton style puppets. It is a really sweet story and clever take on the original Frankenstein concept with some deliciously deranged characters! Take a look over here! for a puppetry featurette.

A Halloween special would never be the same if I did not indulge and mention my top films for a fright (or simply just because!), movies I have seen an uncountable amount of times and still love: Hocus PocusPractical MagicThe Craft and The Faculty! Long live the 90s!!

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There is some brilliant stuff on tv at the moment, and my top picks just happen to be of the spine tingling variety! Gothic literary tales, beautifully intricate costumes, historical and gory to the bone; it can only be Penny Dreadful.

Fan girls and sci-fi geeks unite, or those that are here for the eye candy alone; let's share our love for the epically cheesy yet seriously addictive Supernatural (this trailer is for season 1 since I couldn't bring myself to watch the season 10 trailer for fear of spoilers... I'm THAT sad). This is one of those shows that I will watch and rewatch, the characters are brilliantly flawed and incredibly honest about it, the humour and wit is continuous despite the creepy content and my are these boys pretty!

For the more mature amongst us, Hannibal is a gripping series crammed full of intelligent story lines, unfathomable characters- some with a rather choice appetite... This programme will keep you guessing the whole way through, have you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more. One for a Netflix marathon weekend!

And if I hadn't mentioned it enough in other posts (sorry y'all), American Horror Story seems ideal for such an occasion, especially as the latest season has just begun, and if you thought the other 3 weren't gruesome and freakish enough, well you're in for a real treat! Oh, and if you aren't a fan of clowns, this might be one to skip!!

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The one thing that annoys me about Halloween is that you have this marvellous opportunity to go all out on a witty costume, hand stitching something together that is both hilarious and clever and yet into the party walks 6 slutty vampires, 11 scantily clad 'cats', 4 pirate ho's, a Wonder Woman that has more power in her cleavage busting corset than her lasso and 63 Elsas (ladies, let it go... I couldn't help myself). How about a little thought people!! Here to help are a wisely selected few that get my approval;

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And for my absolute favourite look...

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Feast your eyes on these devilishly delicious goodies!

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To top off this wickedly wonderful weekend why not pick up a gothic tale to raise shivers on the back of your neck or a classic ghost story fit to frighten even the bravest souls? My suggestions for a chilling read are as follows; the latest instalment of THE Vampire Chronicles, yes that's right, the master of Vampires is back, the one and only Anne Rice delivers number 11 in the chronicles, Prince Lestat! Only released into bookshops this week, what perfect timing to dive back into the gloriously divine world of that very naughty vamp Lestat?!

Also worthy of a read is the thrilling novel Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson. This is a chilling twister of a tale following the traumatic awakening of Christine, who starts each day not knowing who she or anyone around her is, and her frantic chase to discover hidden memories before all is forgotten for good.

And of course, on the top of my 'to be read before the movie hits the big screen' list is a book by Joe Hill called Horns, revealing a seriously messed up 'morning after the night before' for poor Ignatius... This charming yet sinister character just happens to be played in the movie by Mr Daniel Radcliffe.

Now if you aren't ready for a hellish good time this Halloween, I don't know what else to suggest! ; )
What are you guys up to in the name of all things scary?! Do you alter your reading around this time of year, gearing towards a terrifying tale? Or do you have any top tips on sprucing up our interiors to really set the scene?

Thursday 23 October 2014

Spine Tingling

That old expression to never judge a book by it's cover is worth it's weight in gold as advice on life in general, but when it comes to actually judging the quality and appeal of a book... Heck no!

I mean don't get me wrong, the story itself, the ability for the writing style to carry you off to another time and place, poetic phrasing that makes you stop in your tracks and reassess your own little world, okay okay, that is what makes a great book. But there is no denying the pure attraction of a stunning cover.

One beaut of a crowning glory is that belonging to the UK edition of The Bone Clocks written by David Mitchell.

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Not only was this novel shortlisted for the Book Manner Prize 2014, with a story packed full of mystery and intrigue, just look at it's work of art front cover! This colourful paperback leapt off the shelf at me, as I was mindlessly browsing the WHSmith specials at Birmingham International Airport. The beautiful, bright pink detailing is textured against the smooth cover and the intricate illustrations popped against the depth of black background. For a summary of the tale and further details and reviews, head over here, where you can pick up a copy. Or, if you're even more of a go big or go home kind of chap, then you must check out the Special Edition blue edged pages just for Foyles!

Now, when talking of stand out covers with picturesque spines that sit beautifully a top your prized book shelf, then it would be silly to not mention this stunning collection of classics, with reworked covers all for the Penguin Drop Caps series! Each of the 26 much loved books, boasts a specifically commissioned cover with assigned letter, by type designer extraordinaire Jessica Hische.

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From penguins to puffins, allow me to introduce to you another bold display of sheer childhood dreams and whimsy; this delightful group of classic children's books in the Puffin Chalk collection, wonderfully designed by Dana Tanamachi - Williams of Tanamachi Studio, for Puffin Books. Using inspirations from the adventure driven stories, these playful covers really capture the essence of nostalgic tales of flight and fancy! Check out Tanamachi Studio website for more images of the covers, including the detailing that even makes the back of the book a sight to behold.

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What could be treasured more, than a favourite book wrapped up in a dreamy cover, singing sweetly from your shelved collection of beloved reads?!

What is your favourite out standing cover or eye catching spine? Do you know of any special editions or wonderfully designed collections that I should keep a look out for?

Thursday 2 October 2014

From Gemma To Gemma

Being the nosey individual that I am, when I spotted a 'getting to know me' tag post on the beautiful wordsmith Gemma's blog The Perfectionist Pen, I settled in with a drink and obligatory sweet treat, to delve deeper into her world.  You can find the post here, and learn more about the literary dearheart or if you're new to the blog, well what a fantastic way to begin your journey!

I found myself nodding along to almost all of Gemma's facts, we are freakishly similar! And her answers to the 11 questions were really insightful. Much to my surprise and delight, I was tagged to complete Gem's provided questions and boy what a creative bunch they are! I was incredibly flattered to be considered for this, but since I have done the 'Liebster Award' bit before, I thought I would let the gorgeous blogs also mentioned in the post enjoy the full tag, and I would just bend the rules slightly and make it more of a general post ; ) So, to the questions!

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1. If you could invite any three writers, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you choose?

I think I would have to say Anne Rice and Jane Austin, for being down right bad ass biatches in their own ways. However different, I love both of their work and hold them in high ranking as true legends. To shake this dinner party up a little I would give my third golden ticket to the naughty and somewhat disturbing Chuck Palahniuk. My oh my what conversations we would have!

2. If you could be transported into any book, which one would you pick and why?

I feel that I (and probably every sane brain) would go straight for the majestic Hogwarts, but trying to think outside the box a little, I will go for The Princess Bride, as I do love a bit of adventure!

3.What is your favourite book cover?

Now this is a tricky one! To name a couple; I have a beautiful, hard back copy of Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann that is pink with black flocking detail, I think it is the VMC Designer Collection. I'm not going to lie, I purchased the book purely on it's cover... I have no shame. I also love the stunning artwork for The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, with it's moody, paint washed blue and luna phases allowing a glimpse of the painting underneath (I have been trying to find out what the painting beneath, actually is, alas to no avail. If anyone knows then please put me out of my google search based misery). This is also the next book I intend to read!

4. Who, or what, inspires you most?

Pretty much everything inspires me. People mostly. I love hearing peoples stories, or people watching and guessing their story! I find inspiration in the regular creative places like art, film, music, theatre, literature but also from fresh air and moments alone, getting a little lost in my tangled thoughts. So, a little of everything, if you are looking closely enough!

5. Do you mostly read books or ebooks?

Right now I am mostly reading on my kindle, due to a lack of space (I have been kindly given a shelf... that's right, A shelf), so for now I use my trusty ereader and treat myself to a real book if it's a special one. But once we're sorted with a place of our own I will be shipping over my treasures from England!

6. When it comes to film adaptations of books, do you like to read the book first or watch the film?

Book first, every time.

7. Is there a book that everyone seems to love but you dislike?

Well. John Green is incredibly popular right now, and although I really enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars, I couldn't get into Looking For Alaska. This book is often spoken about with high regard and seems to be a big favourite of many a book tuber, but I really didn't get what the hype was all about. Sorry Johno.

8. What is your favourite childhood book?

I love this question because my affinity with reading stems from childhood. Much like now, I just couldn't get enough! My all time loves are; all of the Peter Rabbit stories by Beatrix Potter, oh how I love those beautiful little illustrations that really bring the stories to life. I also adored Judy Blume and of course Roald Dahl! Which I still enjoy reading as an adult : )

9. What is your most treasured possession?

I'll let you in on a secret. I am ridiculously sentimental and overly emotional, meaning I get attached to things oh so easily! I'm the kind of crazy that could make a rock a pet... For this reason I treasure anything with a sentimental connection to family and friends. An old jumper I stole from my brother. Handwritten notes from Rich. Ticket stubs from a day out with my folks. Childhood teddy bears (obvs). I even still have sea shells I collected when I must have been about 5... These are all my treasures.

10. If money were no object, what country/ place would you like to visit and why?

Oh I enjoy travelling! Who doesn't like discovering the beauty in a new place?! If money were no object I'd go everywhere! I'm greedy like that. On my list currently stands Hawaii, Switzerland, Canada and North Europe (Norway, Sweden etc), but first up will be an epic road trip across the States where Rich and I will be eating our way through America, (hopefully next year!) and the glorious hillsides of Austria. Whilst further exploring more of the Netherlands and visiting my family in England.

11. What's your favourite part of blogging?

Since leaving the wardrobe department at Birmingham Royal Ballet, with all it's dramatic and theatrical whimsies, my life was lacking a certain creative element that I seem to be lost without, so having this wonderfully indulgent platform on which to share thoughts and ideas and crafty revelations is the perfect solution! I think I would still do this even if I was shouting into a void of readerless depths. I just enjoy the entire process of thinking up posts, creating content, editing etc. Also it is a fantastic keep sake for someone with the worst memory going! But, the most rewarding part is having a doorway to a whole community of like minded creatives. Through blogging I found not only oodles of fantastic reading material and an endless supply of inspiration but I've made some extraordinarily brilliant acquaintances!

Thank you sincerely for the questions Gemma, I hope my answers suffice! If anyone else would like to do this as a tag then I insist you go for it, use these questions, make up your own, or get in touch and I'll think up a few for you! Make sure to leave a link below so I can read your answers : )

Sunday 28 September 2014

Southern Belle

"Oh hello.
Let's share our thoughts and hopes and dreams as well as our awkward faces and our silly moments and our tragically funny failures. In other words, let's be friends." The Blue Threshold.

With an invitation like that who can blame me for falling in love with the charming Sofia and her world of insightful content, stunning photography and majestic aura, sprinkled throughout each post on her blog The Blue Threshold?

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It was the dreamy yet concise imagery that led me to discovering this delightful blog, as I borrowed one of Sofia's original photographs for a book review here. Not only had I stumbled across one of my now most frequented blogs, I also made an acquaintance in the lovely lady herself. Friendly, honest and down right sassy, trust me when I say you'll want to add this to your Bloglovin feed!

Sofia writes about all that fuels her mind. This blog has a little of everything and I don't know about you but besides having quality as a constant, I love diversity in subject. This could be because of how down right nosey I am or my will to learn as much as possible, but The Blue Threshold keeps me coming back for more, just to see what new adventure is in store.

Covering topics such as style;

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Get Styled By Me On Keaton Row
Worn: Chanel Mary Jane Pumps


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Haul: Books (Summer 2014)
Booktube-a-thon TBR (and what I've read so far)

To everything in between such as moving back to her roots in Texas and even mentions of the most desirable lip shades.

Gone To Texas
Borrowed: Taking Stock
Blog Crush

Join the journey and breathe in that warm southern air! You can find Sofia on her blog and also hanging out over on twitter and even facebook.

Thursday 25 September 2014

So Much To Say!

Hey there friends, what's going down? I feel somewhat out of the loop since getting back from my vacation of ultimate laziness (ahh twas heaven!), but am well and truly ready to jump back into the blogging pool, with both woolly sock clad feet (welcome back Autumn)!

I have posts a plenty lined up, more lists that I know what to do with and not enough hours in the day to complete the most basic of daily tasks, sorry wardrobe in need of reorganising and unfinished knitting project, you'll just have to wait!

For now I thought I would share with you a small update of things I've been enjoying lately:

- Penny Dreadful on Netflix; I can not get enough of this beautifully gothic drama, such clever entangled story lines full of classic characters and my oh my the costumes!

- Caramel cappuccino; need I say anymore?

- Thick ass socks;  Burrrrrr my tippie toes are shell shocked after returning from Spain!

- Hema!! This is my favourite shop here in the Netherlands (hitting the shores of Britain very soon I hear). Jammed full of stationary, home wear, cosmetics, baked goods, craft supplies. Yep, I could quite happily live inside the store itself!

- Getting my knit on; I have a ton of projects up my sleeve and I can't wait to crack on. If only I could step away from Pinterest for five minutes...

- Reading; whilst away I devoured some great literature and since catching up on my favourite book tubers, I am excited to get stuck into some autumnal fiction!

Do you guys have any 'new season' plans? Any tips on how to get started? Or any exciting news?

Thursday 4 September 2014

The man who never reads lives only once

Upon reading and watching some super fascinating versions, I decided to go ahead and do the...

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... Because, why not!

If you are unfamiliar with this particular tag then here is a great example to check out (ps. If you don't already subscribe to Ariel's youtube channel, then go forth and do so, you'll thank me later!), it's basically a Q&A linking literature to our most used social media platforms. Let's jump on in!

What is your favourite short book?

This absolutely has to be The Twits by Roald Dahl. I'm well aware it's a child's book my friends, but this is 96 pages of sheer imagination and hilarity. I'm sure / hope most of you have read this treasure of a book, but if it escaped your childhood then treat yourself to this petite pleasure of a read!

What was a book that everyone pressured you to read?

So, being the most stubborn and pig headed human around, I resisted the PHENOMENAL tidal wave of love following release after release of the Harry Potter books, for some bizarre reason. Just hearing poor old Harry's name had me rolling my eyes, purlease! Now, if there's one thing I'm loyal to, it's my stubbornness; this abstinence from Hogwarts lasted right up until last year. That's right 2013! Of course I loved every page of the first magical instalment and felt a total moron for being so anti 'cool' that I missed out on reading these bad boys sooner! Fun times... On the flip side of the coin however, I gave into the hype behind John Green's the Fault In Our Stars, read it as soon as it came out and thought it was pretty good. I then tried my hand at Chasing Alaska, since everyone and their next door neighbours dog loved it, and what can I say? Boring as. Apologies to those that enjoyed it...

What was a book you read before it was cool?

As teen I devoured the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, way before it became a fashion packed hit TV show. Also, worthy of a mention is the most gorgeous book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, which was a beloved possession of mine as a wee pipsqueak and is now referenced often amongst the idie hipster cool kids.

Name a book you can't remember if you liked it or not.

My memory in general is bloody awful as it goes, but usually books tend to sit longer in my musty old mind. That said, Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch is long gone. Perhaps that is a sign that I didn't enjoy it as much as other literature? Maybe I'm just getting old.

Choose a book with a beautiful cover.

I knew my answer to this question immediately. Although there are some gorgeous covers and spines that deserve pride of place on a book shelf, for me The Fountain written by Darren Aronofsky and beautifully illustrated by Kent Williams wins hands down. The cover is a dreamy wonder and throughout this entire graphic novel, page after page is elaborately drawn, intricate with detail and packs such an emotional punch with each image.

Which book do you wish was made into a movie?

I never actually noticed before preparing my answers for this tag, that so many of the novels I've read of are also films. But I would choose Sister by Rosamund Lupton, The Handmaid's Tale a novel by Margaret Atwood, and rather hesitantly considering the damage done by the under budgeted TV verison, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. While we're on the subject of book to movie, I am SO excited to see Wild based on the book by Cheryl Strayed following her adventures into the unknown, Gone Girl from the best selling novel by Gillian Flynn, The Maze Runner despite struggling through the first few pages of the book by James Dashner and perhaps most of all the adaption of Oorlogsgeheimen written by Jacques Vriens, a captivating Dutch story set during the second world war.

And lastly, which book would you recommend to everyone?

My apologies for repetition here, but the books I would whole heartedly recommend are Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed- for adventure packed, sincerity and soul searching galore; The Handmaid's Tale by my latest author crush Margaret Atwood- for a delightful mixture of past, present and future rolled into one incredibly detailed alternate world; and the A Song Of Ice And Fire collection, all hail George R.R. Martin- for a weighty commitment to a mesmerising flourish of characters, sword fights and dragons... Whats not to love?!

Well that's that chaps, I hope to leave you with the taste of words and reaching for your favourite escape vehicles, perhaps with a warm drink and slice of sweetness in tow! If that wasn't enough to get you diving into your next book, then here are a handful of visual prompts to make it happen ; )

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If you happen to complete this book tag, then PLEASE leave your link below, as I'd love to have a nose!

Thursday 21 August 2014

Facebook Follies

Bringing the joy to a computer screen near you! I have a mini post today, squashed to the max with edible images I have found floating around my Faded Windmills facebook page. Most of which are dug up from my overly worked and ever evolving Pinterest boards, but you my lovelies, need look no further- soft hues, whispering textures and words of wisdom are the gift I bestow upon you this evening!

For more snippets of inspiring visuals, feel free to head over to said page of faces, for a delightful feast for your pretty little eyeballs, where I also share fab posts from creative and intriguing sources a far, such as these insanely awesome items:

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// Bullett //

// Sew Magazine //

So there we have it chaps, a dose of pictorial pretties, on a relatively regular Thursday night, mine involving catching up on season 2 of Hannibal and knitting up a storm for an exciting project! I hope you're having a productive/ lazy/ food or craft filled evening. Be sure to stop by the fb page if you have any colourful and inspiring snaps and links you'd like to share!