Spring Reading List

Hi, my loves! I hope everyone is safe right now more than ever, and learning to live in our ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable. I’ve been quite undecided whether or not I should carry on blogging as if the world isn’t THE most terrifying place right now, and after a lot of debating I thought it best to carry on, and hopefully spread a little much needed positivity. I didn’t post last week as my Spring Bucket List was due to go up but as we’re not allowed to leave our houses (except for grocery shopping or medical attention!) it really wasn’t the right time to post it. The way things are looking right now we might just have to wait for a Summer Bucket List… but we all know this is going to be the most amazing Summer once all of this is over right?! *crosses fingers*

I don’t want anyone to think I’m feeling particularly happy and upbeat right now because honestly, each day is so different. I’m scared and I hate the unknown more than anything, but I am really trying to have a PMA* (*Positive Mental Attitude). I think the only thing we have to hold onto right now is positivity and hope! I think I might record a Week In My Life next week, which seems strange as my days are only just working from home, watching Netflix and not much else, but I think a little bit of solidarity could be extra helpful right now! Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing 🙂 

I’ve seen LOTS of bloggers online talking about now that they have ~so~ much more time on their hands they’re picking up hobbies, working out more etc but honestly, I feel like if anything I have less time? I’m extremely fortunate to be able to work from home which I’m so grateful for (I started my new job two weeks ago, then took pretty much my whole desk home on my second day to work from home for the foreseeable, pretty crazy right?!) I guess I technically have more time as I’m not getting ready the same as I would for work and I don’t have a commute anymore. Unless you count walking the 20 steps from my bed to the dining room AKA my unofficial home office but I’ve been filling that time with other happy things. Real talk: I really miss getting in my car and driving to the office, I never knew how much I enjoyed my commute!

I’m not getting fully ready most days (I think I’m going to change this from next week because honestly I love doing my makeup – and sometimes my hair – so maybe this will make me feel more ‘normal’). But… I’m SO DRAINED. Does anyone else agree with me on this?! I’m only reading the news once or twice per day as honestly I’m finding the whole thing terrifying, and it’s really hard to mentally cope with. I’m so grateful that Matt and I are safe and healthy, and so are our families. We’re staying permanently with my family until this is all over and we are missing Matt’s parents so so much! We miss our grandma’s, our friends, and I haven’t even met most of my new co-workers yet. It’s a crazy time and for me personally starting to learn a new hobby just isn’t something I can do right now. Instead I’m working really hard and trying to learn as much as I can with my new job, sleep well, eat well and enjoy all my favourite downtime/self-care activities. I especially love taking baths, spending extra time on my skincare routine, watching my favourite vloggers, Matt and I look forward to walks more than your average Labrador and I LOVE reading! My Kindle is packed with fun books to read and I’m so excited to be sharing some of those with you, as well as a bunch of books that I really loved and recommend you get immediately! 

My To Read List:

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
This was recommended to me on Amazon and the synopsis and reviews made me download it immediately! This book is a love story of a couple based in New York (I mean that alone had me sold) who have their life planned out. Dannie, the main character, falls asleep one night and wakes up five years in the future, with a completely different life to the one she currently has planned out. I was really careful not to read too many reviews – someone always spoils it! – but this is the next book I’ll be delving into because I’m so excited about it.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
I’m currently reading this now, I’m about half way through and I am really enjoying it. I loved Josie’s first book (more about that below) so I had high expectations! I admit I found it a little slow at the beginning and I wasn’t as excited about it as I was her first one, but now I’m wrapped up in the story and can’t wait to see what happens. Lydia is married to Freddie, who dies suddenly in an accident and her whole world is turned upside down. She soon realises that when she sleeps life in her dreams is just the same as it always has been…

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter
I have had this on my ‘to read’ list for a long time but there’s just always been other books I’ve been more excited about, although after how much I loved So Lucky (again, more on that below!) I am really excited to get stuck in. The story is based on three women who are all united in their views, if nothing else, and I have a feeling it will be very much based on the way society is nowadays. By her own admission, Dawn likes to talk about reality in her books and show that different perspectives can work together, I hope it’s as witty and off-the-cuff as So Lucky!

Dear Lily by Drew Davis
Anyone else hear the name ‘Lily’ and immediately hear ‘where’s the dog, Lily?’ in their head? Just Me? Okay… Again this was recommended to me on Amazon and I’m really looking forward to reading it; the story is about Joy moving away from her family home – and her sister, Lily – and sounds like the perfect escapism girly read. Joy communicates via letter and I’m assuming goes through things from her childhood/past as it appears to be very emotional based on the reviews.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Shay talked about this in her March book review this past week and I immediately downloaded it. I love pretty much all of her recommended books, and if I’m ever feeling at a loss looking through Amazon I head over there for inspiration (and check the comments section too)! This book is about a mum and son who live in Mexico, and have to escape to the US away from the Cartel. From Shay’s review and the Amazon reviews it seems to be a very suspenseful, tragic, heartwarming read, and I’m kind of obsessed with all things about the drug cartels in Mexico! Matt and I watched Narcos: Mexico and LOVED it, and I think that’s what got me into that kind of storyline. This book is fictional but wanting to cross the border for a better life is an everyday thought for so many people, I’m so excited to read this… I just need a few more happy, easy books before I delve in!

No We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
Okay so I adore Sophie’s books and I’m so excited to read this! This books seems like a typical girly, romantic comedy that I really bloody love… Sloane is looking for The One and she’s pretty sure she’s found him, until she finds out Myles is hiding a huge secret from her and everything falls apart, as it always does in a rom-com! This feels like a perfect chilled read, especially when the world is so topsy turvsy.

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher 
I really like Giovanna’s books because they’re generally very light hearted, easy-to-read and something you can pick up and put down without being too gripped. I mean that as a good thing! This story follows Lizzy, who thinks after being with her boyfriend for ten years there’s a proposal on the horizon, however that doesn’t exactly work out. Gi’s books are super down-to-earth and I always fall in love with the main character, who I’m assuming is going to be heartbroken and on a journey to find herself throughout the book…

Books I loved and recommend:

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
I’ve bought this book for so many people! This is a great read that would be such a welcome distraction for someone during this crap time. Dolly recounts SO many memories throughout this book, and so many of them are things that our teenage selves will relate to! She covers heartbreaking times in her life, funny times, learning experiences and everything in-between. I really feel like Dolly comes across in a big sister kinda way throughout this book, and it’s a bloody fun trip down memory lane as I guarantee you’ll remember certain things/people/times whilst reading her story. I think every woman should read this, I’ve actually read it twice and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time!

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
This is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year! Literally laugh-out-loud funny and not the predictable storyline I was expecting a few chapters in. Tiffy, the main character, is the most lovable, friendly girl and I think that’s partly why I loved this book so much. I found it so funny, I always wanted to know what was happening next and I was jumping to conclusions of what would happen next all the way through. It also really shows how people can get to know each other without knowing each other, and that’s something that happens more and more in the world we live in. Imagine how many couples will be saying in a few years ‘oh we talked every day during quarantine!’ hahaha.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
I’ve talked about this book several times on my blog and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it’s so worth a mention for anyone new reading! Let me just be clear: this is NOT a light read. It’s a very moving, heartbreaking, touching story and my heart physically hurt reading this. But, it’s still so amazing! Elsie, the main character, is living in a happy little bubble when the most distressing thing happens; her husband is killed in an accident. The writing is phenomenal; Elsie’s personality shone through in this book even in the midst of horrific grief and all the way through I just wanted to pop round and give her a hug. I also really cuddled Matt tight each night when I put this down, it brings a whole other level of appreciation to your loved ones! To be honest all of Taylor’s books are incredible, you can’t go wrong with any of them!

The Accidental Life Swap by Jennifer Joyce
This is a very fun, light and easy read, which is perfect if you’re struggling with everything going on in the world right now. I read this in two or three days a few weeks back and I just loved the storyline. Rebecca is a pushover who works for a horribly mean boss (we’ve all been there!), and she thinks she needs to be more like her in order to do better in life. She quickly learns that being a bitch is not the best way to go through life and the way she learns it is SO funny. I also would love to see if the house in this book was based on one in real life, and if so I want to move in!

One Day In December by Josie Silver
I read this last December, assuming by the title it was a Christmas themed book. It’s not! I loved this book from start to finish and read it SO quickly, I wish I could go back and re-read it for the first time! Laurie and her best friend Sarah both unexpectedly fall in love with the same guy, but it’s not a typical love triangle story at all. The book moves through years pretty quickly and you really get to know the characters so well, I was rooting for different people at different times in this book but overall I loved the ending and I so want a second book to see what happens with the characters! Also there is some really sad moments in this book, so just bear that in mind if you’re struggling a little right now.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom
This was such a heart-warming read, I truly adored the storyline and the characters! A twenty-something girl who was adopted as a baby goes to find her birth mother on the other side of the world in New Zealand, and as you can imagine it’s not straight forward. She’s led there by a tragedy, and the truth behind her adoption is told throughout the book. I literally gasped at parts of this, again I was thinking I knew what was going to happen but I was so off. This is an easy read and I was so happy with the ending (even though I felt it was a little rushed). Also, it really made me want to visit New Zealand, it sounds like such a beautiful place and the way of life seems very similar to the UK!

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes
I’ve also talked about this on the blog a few times recently but oh my goodness I just LOVED this book! This is the perfect quarantine read because I promise you’ll not want to put it down. Caitlin is a professional matchmaker running her own agency, with the most perfect cookie cutter husband and life, or so her followers think. This is a great story that shows what you see on social media is not always as it seems, and although some parts are completely heartbreaking overall the book is beautiful and heartwarming. I love that the reader doesn’t know exactly what’s going on right away, and you are led to make your own assumptions before being told the truth. Such a great read, and another book that makes you feel especially lucky for your life right now.

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter 
I saw this book all over Instagram and I downloaded it because I just had to see what all the hype was about. Around three chapters in I was feeling like this book was not for me, but boy was I WRONG! I did find it a little hard to get into, but it is so worth sticking with. This book is relatable, hilarious, thought-provoking and it also covers some really hard parts of life. The story is based on three very different women whose paths overlap and it’s a really great testament to the power of female friendship. Warning: it gets… graphic(?) pretty quick!

Have you read any of these books? Which is your favourite?! Please share all of your recommendations below, I love hearing what books people would recommend and why! Sending you all positive thoughts and love in this horrible time, we’re all in this together friends 🙂 (and that reminds me, Matt and I have got a date with HSM this afternoon… yay for Disney+!) 

-G x

How I Find Time To Read & My Current Picks

Hi, loves! Today’s post is one I’ve teased on the blog for a little while, and I’m so happy to be writing about BOOKS. *Warning: it’s a long one, and perfect if you want to carve out a little self care time this bank holiday weekend. I’d recommend you grab a cuppa and settle in!* I love love love reading and it’s something I really wish more people were passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of people love to read, but I really don’t know that many people who do! I have loved reading since I was a child; my parents and grandparents always read to me whenever they had time to, and I learned to read so quickly myself. I read my beloved Jacqueline Wilson books so many times I swear I knew the stories off by heart! When I was around 10 or 11, I was helping my granddad clear out a bunch of stuff, and discovered all of my mum and auntie’s old books by Enid Blyton. He kindly gave them to me, and I spent the rest of my summer engrossed in those books! The Secret Seven and Famous Five series ignited a serious love of reading (and dogs – I wanted my own Timmy SO BAD) and I’m forever grateful. I literally spent so many nights in my lilac groovy chick themed bedroom, curled up with a blanket and a book thinking I was so grown up. Ha!

In the years since then, I’ve never lost the joy in browsing book stores, talking about books and of course, reading them. I literally can’t walk past a bookstore without dragging Matt in ‘for a look’ – although, if you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?) have a perusal in store and check the prices on Amazon whilst you’re there; I can pretty much guarantee you’ll always get a better deal on Amazon! No, this post isn’t sponsored by Amazon, I just really love it.

Whenever I talk about my love of reading I am often met with “I wish I had time to read”. News flash: everyone has time to read. Let’s be honest; if Michelle Obama can find time to read, so can you. I have time to read so often because I literally set time aside to do so; making reading a priority is really important to me and it makes the world of difference to my mental health. It’s the perfect self care treat for me (along with a pamper evening and a cuddle from Matt, of course) and it truly opens your mind to SO much you may otherwise not know. Books can cover all different topics, issues and situations, and it’s crazy how much you can learn from a book. My mum and Matt’s mum share my love of reading, and we’re always swapping our current reads, like an unofficial book club! So, how do I find time to read? What are my top tips to help you make reading a priority?

Keep your book on your bedside table
Possibly the most obvious tip, but it makes sense guys. I always keep my current book on our bedside table, and take a little time to read most evenings/mornings. Matt often has to send a few work emails just before we settle in for the night so I take those twenty or so minutes to read a few chapters and get my reading fix. Similarly, he starts work early several times per week (which means a 6am alarm for us both) and I also take a little time once he’s left for work, before I blog or get ready for my work day, to read too. It’s a lovely way to begin or end your day, and if you’re struggling to fit reading time in, this will make a huge difference.

Set goals
Like with anything else, setting goals to read X amount each day/week, will make you hold yourself accountable, and make reading a priority. I love to set goals and have things to work towards, so of course this is no exception! I really think being able to tick a goal off a list helps to visualise it; of course this is a very niche goal but if you want to read more you need to treat it seriously. Maybe you could set out a week Monday to Sunday in the Notes app on your phone, using the bullet point system you can tick off, and then you can see how many days out of seven you read each week. Doing this week by week until it becomes a habit (which it should within two months, as scientists say on average it takes 66 days to create a habit) means that within a really short space of time reading would just become part of your everyday life!

Incorporate reading into your day-to-day life
Similarly to reading before bed or first thing in the morning, it’s amazing where you can fit time in to read. If you spend hours scrolling mindlessly on social media (your phone literally tells you how much time you spend now so you can’t avoid it) you could easily spend at least some of that with a book in your hand instead. I love to read in the bath, I seriously take super long baths just to be able to read for longer, and it’s the ultimate self care time for me. Matt sometimes spends a little time in the evenings working or playing on the playstation, which gives me a good chunk of time to read and not feel guilty about it! I also will spend a little time reading whilst sitting in the garden when it’s warm, or on a cold day I love to curl up with a cuppa and a book. I really should take my lunch break at work away from my desk, as that would be the perfect time to rack up some reading time.

Read digitally on your iPad/Kindle/phone
If you find reading a struggle or would just like to switch things up, I’d really recommend downloading a book onto your tablet or phone. I have been really enjoying reading on the Kindle app on my iPad recently; it’s so convenient as I always have my iPad with me anyway, and it’s very accessible no matter where I am. Downloading books onto a tablet is so handy when travelling too; it limits the weight/bulkiness of books (although I do think you can’t beat a ‘real’ book!) and it allows you to take several options, not to mention ebooks are way less money than a physical book. I am still so mad at myself for not picking up a Kindle Paperwhite during the Prime Day(s) sale, and it’s very high on my wishlist right now.

Carry a book with you day-to-day
If reading on a tablet is not for you I totally get that, but you need to carry your book with you if you want to make the most of reading time as and when you can. If you take public transport to work I’d really recommend making the most of your journey time and lose yourself in a book (just make sure not to miss your stop). Side note: I drive to work each day, and spend lots of time during the week in my car; I’m tempted to try Audible but it’s just not something that’s crossed my mind before. Please let me know if you would recommend! If you’re going somewhere where you may be waiting around, hospital appointments spring to mind right away, pack a book and the wait definitely won’t seem so bad.

Find authors and genres you find interesting
Another thing people tell me, is that they have the time to read, but they can never find a book they actually want to read. This is a little trial and error, but if you put the effort in to finding what makes your heart sing, you’ll see the benefit of it. Personally, I love fiction stories that feel like you’re right in with the characters but as you’ll see from my current picks below, I do like varied content. I really want to read more mystery books as I’ve borrowed a few from my mum that I’ve enjoyed, so that’s something I need to explore more in the coming months. It’s the best feeling finding an author you love, as you are drawn to their writing style and therefore can find so many books. Amazon’s ‘Recommended for you’ section pretty much always brings up amazing options, and I’ve found so many books I love that way!

My current favourite author is hands down Taylor Jenkins Reid. Two books I’ve read (and loved) recently are Forever, Interrupted and After I Do; both books are filled with love, heartbreak, sadness and happiness, and you truly feel like you’re experiencing the emotions of the lead characters. Zoe Folbigg is an amazing author and I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve read! I just finished The Postcard, which was the sequel to The Note, and it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Two books that changed my life (in different ways) are Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and How To Be A Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan. I’ve read both several times; they’re incredible and would make for brilliant presents for the gals in your life!

Michelle Obama’s Becoming is a must read for everyone, everywhere; she is, in my opinion, the most inspirational woman of our generation and I’m so happy she shared her story. The best non-fiction book I’ve ever read was This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay; I don’t know anyone who disliked this book, it’s filled with so much emotion – I’d literally be laughing one page and sobbing the next – it’s a must read. If you like books that let you escape from every day life, I’d suggest anything by Elin Hilderband. She writes about Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) in so much depth I feel like I’ve been there myself; it’s a book that takes you on holiday from real life, and her stories are always so enticing. My favourite book of hers is hands down The Identicals. I’ve just downloaded a new Elin Hilderbrand book called The Perfect Couple (and One Minute Later by Susan Lewis) onto my Kindle app for literally 99p each! Order while you can! Shoutout to the lovely Savannah for originally recommending Elin Hilderbrand books to me!

Some of my current ‘to read’ list include the last in a wonderful series by Louise Pentland; Wilde Women. Louise is someone I’ve loved and admired for years, from way back to her Sprinkle of Glitter days, and I’m so happy that she’s began to write. She writes from the heart, her characters are lovable and I’m so excited to see what is happening with Robin, Lyla and Kath in the final installment! Queenie is a book I saw in Anna‘s reading pile and immediately purchased (the girl just knows her books, and also wrote a cracking book herself, An Edited Life) and I’m so excited to read; the book talks all about love, life and race issues and has rave reviews. Another author I’m very interested in is Jane Fallon, I often see her books featured on Instagram and I need to order one soon!

Thank you so so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post and found my tips and tricks helpful in some way. Can you believe my boyfriend (who is perfect in every other way, if I do say so myself) doesn’t like to read?! He’s literally been ‘reading’ the same book since Christmas 2017… maybe you take a few pointers from this post, Matthew?! Ha. So, are you a bookworm like me? Where’s your favourite way to make time to read? I’d love to share my favourite books every few months if that’s something you’d be interested in? Please leave me all your book recommendations below, I love to hear what other people are reading!

-G x

May Favourites

Hi, loves! Another month has been and (almost) gone, and it’s nearly JUNE! How are we nearly half way through 2019?! May has been such a busy month for Matt and I, but wow has it been a good one. We enjoyed two bank holidays, I turned twenty five, we went for a spa break at Ramside Hall to celebrate, we saw our friends, I got my hair dyed lighter, we went on a road trip to Manchester for a family re-union and we spent so much quality time together.

We’ve also been working super hard and it feels like we barely stopped all month, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind but I loved every second and my heart is so full! I’m not looking forward to the start of June as Matt is going to be away for the first week and I’m going to miss him like crazy, I feel so lost when he’s gone! I’m really dreading trying to get to sleep without him there, I realise I sound so ridiculous LOL. But I know he’s going to have so much fun, and I get to pick him up from the airport a week later! I already can’t wait, and our Summer officially starts when he’s back. We’ll get to settle back into our lovely little routine, and two weeks later we go on holiday to Croatia, we’re so excited! Anyway, what have I been loving a little extra this month?!

*Also, apologies in advance that these photos aren’t the greatest. I did everything I said I was going to stop doing in this post, and took these in a rush yesterday morning after Matt had left for work, to make sure I got this edited and scheduled on time!*

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask
I flipping love this face mask, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve re-purchased so many times since I first bought it a few years ago and I’ve encouraged so many of my friends buy it. I just read an article last week that said one of these masks sells worldwide every fifteen seconds, which is so crazy! I totally understand the hype though, it’s truly a miracle worker. I’ve wrote a full review in an upcoming post (it’ll be live on the blog next week!) and I raved about it so much in that post, I’m trying to keep this short and sweet. I tend to use this in rotation with Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty, but I think it works a little better than MoM for me! I have sensitive skin but this mask doesn’t irritate it at all; it leaves my skin fresh, glowy and clears up any blemishes or blackheads. Matt loves this too, it’s his favourite of all the charcoal masks I make him use!

No 7 Hydraluminous Moisturising Foundation in Cool Vanilla
Okay, I’ve been using this foundation since it was released in February (or March?) and I really really love it. I originally bought it as it was on an introductory offer in Boots, and I like trying new foundations. I thought it could be a great alternative product to wear during the days I’m at work, and keep my It Cosmetics CC Cream for weekends/evenings out, but I actually have reached for this pretty much every day since I first tried it. I re-purchased this month, and I also am going to buy another tube one shade darker ready for our holiday in June. I only wear makeup in the evenings on holiday and this will be perfect! It lasts all day, doesn’t settle into any dry patches or give me spots, I really love it. This is hands down the best drugstore foundation I’ve ever tried, and it’s a steal when it’s on promotion!

Evolve Beauty Nourishing Hair Elixir
This is the only hair oil I’ve used that has made a noticeable difference to the look, texture and quality of my hair. Evolve Beauty are a fairly small brand based in London, who create vegan friendly and cruelty free products. I’ve been using this oil since March and I only just had to purchase another bottle this month, a little goes a long way. I’m so impressed by this product and it’s so inexpensive, especially considering how much you get out of one tiny bottle! I take two to three drops between my palms every day (well, almost every day) and run through the ends of my hair. I lightly smooth any excess product over the top of my head to get rid of flyaways, and it helps keep my hair nourished and soft. It also smells so beautiful!

Nest Candle Co. Mason du Plage Candle
This is one of the most beautiful scents I’ve ever smelled, I wish I could bottle it up into a perfume! It’s the perfect Summer-evening-at-the-beach scent, burns evenly and looks gorgeous in our bedroom, whether it’s lit or not. I purchased this candle when it was first released (there was a little hype in the blogosphere) and I’m going to order another in the scent Soleil. These candles are created by the lovely Becky at Sail Away, I’m so excited for her new adventure! I’m so pleased for her that they already seem to be selling so well, and I see photos all over Instagram pretty much every day. I love supporting small Etsy shops, and I’ll always support fellow bloggers. If you’re looking for a beautiful handmade candle for yourself or as a gift, look no further! They are constantly selling out but stock is replenished often, you just need to keep checking back.

Please ignore the marks from my Invisibobble, lol!

Fitbit Inspire HR
I purchased my Fitbit as an early birthday gift to myself, and I’m head over heels obsessed with it. I used to have a Fitbit Alta around two years ago, but it broke and I never replaced it. I’d been thinking about getting a new Fitbit for a few months, then when I seen this model launch in March I knew it was exactly what I wanted. This is such a huge improvement on my old Alta! I mainly use my Fitbit to track my steps, how I’ve slept each night, and my workouts. It tracks yoga which is a huge bonus as that’s my favourite workout, and it’s so interesting to see my stats each day. Matt is equally as obsessed as I am since I never stop talking about it, and he’s just bought a Fitbit Versa yesterday! That’s definitely going to be motivation to go on a beautiful hike I really want to do over the Adriatic on our holiday, yay! If you’re thinking about getting one I’d definitely recommend making the splurge, you won’t regret it.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I swear this is my favourite book I’ve EVER read! I read this in less than a week (which is super quick – I don’t know how people say they read a book in a day?! Unless I’m on holiday that’s just not physically possible with my life!) I cried three pages in and then spent the rest of the book smiling, laughing and crying a little more. The book centres around Elsie, who got caught up in a whirlwind romance with Ben and got married to him in less than six months. Ben is tragically killed nine days after their wedding (no spoilers, you can see all this on the back of the book/on Amazon!) and the story of how they met is told at the same time as she deals with the horrific grief she feels. I love love love the main characters Elsie and Susan, I truly felt their heartbreak! From when I started reading, each night when Matt and I snuggled up in bed I squeezed him a little tighter and kissed him a little more. It’s a very sad story which makes you think of all of the amazing things you have this very second, and a reminder that you never know what could happen tomorrow. It scares me to think that way, but it’s true. I finished this book in the bath last Friday night and ordered One True Loves and After I Do immediately, I’m torn whether to save them for our holiday or start reading when I’ve finished my current book!

Chilly’s Water Bottle in Pastel Green
It’s a bold claim, but this water bottle might just be the best thing I’ve ever bought! I’ve spoken several times on my blog about the fact I really need to drink more water, and it’s something Matt and I talk about all the time. I drink Diet Coke like my life depends on it, and although I love Diet Coke and will absolutely not be stopping my obsession, I’m really happy to be drinking more water. Some days I really didn’t drink any at all, and that just can’t be good for me! I’ve used my Chilly’s bottle every day since I got it – I’m always trying to do my bit to help the planet and live more sustainably, and I really hate purchasing bottles of water (or more realistically, bottles of Diet Coke) when we’re out and about. Now I don’t need to! Also, it really does keep your drinks cold – I’ve not tried putting hot drinks in yet – for so long, up to twelve hours. Through the night, even when it’s been super hot (where did the warm weather go?!) if Matt or I take a drink it’s like it’s fresh from the fridge. I love that the technology of this bottle means you don’t get any condensation on the outside, and it’s leak proof so you don’t need to worry about throwing it in your bag!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you had the most amazing month, what have you been up to? What items have you been loving this month? I’m so excited for all of my Summer and holiday-related content which will begin this month on the blog. I have pre-written lots of posts already and I have so many other posts planned – I hope you enjoy it too!

-G x

Road Trip Essentials

Happy, happy Sunday, loves! As this post goes live Matt and I will be in Manchester for a family re-union, we’re so excited! My mum is from Manchester and most of her side of our family still live down there, so we’re all getting together for the first time in a LONG time. My great aunt and uncle are also visiting from Canada and I haven’t seen them in around four years! The rest of our family from up North are headed down a day earlier than us, because Matt was working we couldn’t go until Sunday. We’re happy though because we get to make the most of a cosy Saturday evening at home then leave early on Sunday morning. Fingers crossed we’ll miss most of the bank holiday traffic and get there pretty quickly!

As I mentioned briefly at the end of this post, Matt goes away for a whole week from next Sunday *sob sob* so we’re making sure to enjoy every second we’ve got together before he goes! I’m going to miss him like CRAZY but I’m so grateful we have a fun trip to look forward to before he leaves. I know he’s going to have so much fun being away but I literally feel like my right arm is missing when he’s not around! Especially going to sleep and waking up without him, it’s so rare we’re apart at night and it’s the worst feeling. I’m really excited for him to have an adventure, but I’m already (not so) secretly counting down to picking him up from the airport on his return… sssshh! Literally me right now:

BUT back to the present: we’re even more excited for this weekend because we’ve got tickets for the Manchester United Legends vs Bayern Munich Legends game and my mum, brother and uncle are tagging along too! Everyone else is sitting it out and enjoying being with family, but I know we’ll have a great time at the game. I can’t wait to see David Beckham up close! Matt and I did a stadium tour of Old Trafford back in December – I’m linking my photo diary from that trip here!

Road trips are seriously one of Matt and I’s favourite things, and whether it’s for a day trip or a weekend getaway we are pros when it comes to knowing what we need, and what we don’t. I absolutely love packing, especially for weekend breaks! There is however so many things we’ve found are good to have on hand whilst travelling that you don’t want stuck in your suitcase whilst on a motorway. I also love travelling by car because there’s no weight limits, and you can bring whatever the heck you like!

Aside from what to take with you, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks we put into practice for each road trip:
1. Use Waze to navigate your journey, it will be your best friend. This free app is seriously the best, and I never see people talking about it! You can add your destination, set the time you ideally want to arrive and it will tell you exactly what time you need to leave. It warns you of any upcoming traffic or roadworks, and advises the best places to detour or stop.
2. Check your tyres, screen wash and oil before you set off to give you peace of mind. You definitely don’t want your journey to be interrupted by issues with your car, so making the necessary checks and alterations alleviates most of this worry. We’re not used to driving super long distances in England (literally you can drive from the most Northern point to the most Southern point in less than ten hours) but it’s still so important to be safe and make those checks.
3. Carry cash for any service station stops. Matt and I are so bad for paying for most items on our debit card whether we’re buying groceries or clothes, but I’m trying to make a concious effort to carry – and use – cash on a more regular basis. We once stopped at an M&S in a service station and their card machines were down, all I wanted was a pot of fresh pineapple but we didn’t have any cash, learn from my mistakes!
4. Dress comfy. If you’re sitting in a car for a long time you do NOT want to be wearing jeans. Unless you’re like Matt who finds jeans ‘comfy’ but he’s just weird and if that’s you, you shouldn’t admit it! Ha, but for real I can’t stand sitting around in jeans! To travel for a while I typically wear leggings, trainers/comfy sandals and a t shirt, with a sweater or denim jacket to throw on if I get chilly. Also, if you’re the passenger and you’ll be taking your shoes off (the only way to travel in my opinion) make sure to take fluffy socks!
5. Pack your patience. Seriously, the chances of a slight detour or traffic at some point during your journey is pretty high, and you don’t want to spend your travelling time stressed out or speeding to make up lost time. Apps like Waze really help out here, but sometimes even stopping to grab a breakfast muffin or re-joining the motorway after stopping off can be a headache. Stay calm, and stay safe!

Just to be transparent: the photos of me in this post were actually taken in Matt’s car, not mine! We were coming home one evening last week and the light was so good we decided to take the opportunity to take pictures there and then! #doingitfortheblog. So, we have a full tank of diesel and a clean car, I’ve made a snack run and our suitcases are filled to the brim. (Well, mine is…) so let’s get into the essentials for our road trip:

The must-have beauty bits
I definitely don’t need my skincare or haircare products, makeup bag or toiletries whilst we’re on the road, so they are safe inside my suitcase in the boot. There are a few things I would always keep in my bag whether we were out for the day/night or I was at work, and these are the things I want in the front seat with me! I have to take lip balm wherever I go (even like… downstairs, lol) so that is a must. I’ve packed two for this trip – Glossier Balm Dot Com and Burt’s Bees Coconut & Pear; they’re both super nourishing and hydrating, and I just like to have options! Keeping my hands soft is just as important, and my favourite cherry blossom hand cream from L’Occitaine is a must. The last things I like to keep near me are the products I reach for just before we arrive at our destination; my face powder, tangle teezer (this one is so much cuter than mine), my favourite travel sized perfume and my current favourite lip gloss in the shade Hot Toddy. We’re heading straight to my aunt’s house and I want to look somewhat ‘put together’ after a long drive!

A good soundtrack
When you’re going to be in a car for X amount of hours, you really need good entertainment! Thankfully Matt and I are easily entertained, and could happily talk the whole drive there (and back) without any distraction from music or podcasts, but we actually really enjoy listening to both. I’ve saved my Sh*gged, Married, Annoyed podcast from Friday to listen to on the drive down – it’s my favourite EVER podcast and Matt really enjoys it too! Seriously Rosie and Chris are freaking hilarious; I wrote about it a lot more in this post. We’ll also listen to one or two Small Town Murder podcasts, James and Jimmy are so funny and if you’re a fan of true crime (told in a comedic way) this is the podcast for you. I’m pretty sure I’ll add a little Ed Sheeran and Disney songs into the mix at some point too – perks of riding shotgun is you get to make all the music decisions, sorry babe! Also we love the pre-made Spotify playlists (Cheesy Hits, Feel Good Friday and Road Trip Sing Along Songs are our favourite), I can hardly wait for us to hit the open road and sing stupidly loud! 

A blanket
LOL so hear me out on this one, I promise I’m not like a three year old. It may be Spring on the calendar but that doesn’t mean we have Spring weather, in fact it’s been completely all over the place recently. The mornings and evenings are cool, and some days have been absolutely freezing! I’m also one of those super annoying people that’s always cold even when it’s hot and humid, and Matt is pretty much always hot. Having a blanket for the journey means he can have the air con blasting but I’m still toasty and cosy! I even have a specific car blanket – the multi coloured one pictured above – that I got in Florida when I was 12 (yes I was cold in Florida…) This blanket has been half way around the world with me so many times and I absolutely love it, it’s the perfect travelling companion! Except for Matt, of course. As mentioned above, I also always pack fluffy socks and wear a comfy sweater or hoodie, I just want to be warm and comfortable!

iPhone charger
No matter how we are travelling or how far we’re going, a phone charger is a MUST for any journey. Battery packs are great and something I pretty much always keep in my bag, but if Matt or I wanted to charge our phone whilst on the road we’d more than likely plug it into the car USB port. Keep your cables up front so you don’t have to stop at a service station and root around in your suitcase mid-trip, I may be speaking from experience… you’ll thank me later!

Drinks and snacks
The best part of a road trip is 100% snacks, right?! We’re fully stocked up on the essentials and for us that’s almost all junk food. Sorry not sorry. I really wanted to take bananas (I’m obsessed with them right now, I don’t know why!) but the thought of the peel sitting in the car for a few hours makes me feel sick. So I guess I’ll have to eat chocolate instead, ha! As we’re heading down super early on Sunday morning we’ll probably eat very little of what we’re taking, but I’m sure it’ll come in handy when we’re at the hotel and for the trip back up North! We’ve got plenty of Diet Coke, water, chips and dip, Cadbury’s chocolate buttons, Propercorn coconut and vanilla popcorn, strawberry Starbursts and our favourite Kind bars just incase we’re stuck between meals! Also you can’t forget hand sanitizer or wipes, I never leave the house without my pocketbac, it comes in SO handy and Matt is always borrowing it too. I find wet wipes are a necessity when you’re travelling no matter what you need them for, and these ones from Cheeky Panda are biodegradable so they’re good for the environment!

Sunglasses
Sunglasses are a necessity when heading out on a road trip for passengers and the driver, and we’re being hopeful we’ll actually get lots of sun this weekend! The sunglasses I tend wear most are from Quay and they’re my absolute favourite; I always pick them over my Raybans, they’re so light on my face and go with any outfit! They were also super inexpensive compared to so many sunglasses brands, definitely keep your eye out for deals coming into the Summer months. Eye. Get it?! I wear sunglasses on my head as a ‘hairstyle’ continuously throughout Spring and Summer, and it’s one of my favourite looks – I love having my hair down but just hate it being in my face. 

Reading material
I don’t always feel comfortable reading in the car, it completely depends on how I feel that day. For the most part, Matt and I will be talking, listening to podcasts and singing (badly) to our Spotify playlists, but I like to have options. I just finished the most amazing book (Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid – it’s so so good guys! There’ll be lots more about it on the blog this coming Wednesday). I picked up If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon and although I’ve only read a few chapters, I’m really enjoying it so far! I also grabbed my latest issue of Cosmopolitan for good measure, and Matt has his copy of Four Four Two in case we have a little downtime at the hotel in the evening or following morning.

A rubbish bin
Seriously, how many times have you been on a road trip and had nowhere to put all of your rubbish?! Cans of pop, crisp packets and chocolate wrappers always end up stuffed in the side of the car doors for us, but this trip I wasn’t having it. I picked up this pop-up rubbish bin from eBay (Mrs Hinch has got me browsing eBay like no tomorrow!) that we can keep in the back so we don’t need to worry about finding all of our rubbish when we get to our destination! 

Re-usable bottles 
Chances are we’ll be stopping off at a Starbucks at least once on the way there and on the way back (and there’s one super close to our hotel, I can’t wait for a morning Starbs as that’s a complete luxury for us, we don’t live near one!) but I’m really trying not to buy one-use cups as much as I can help it. My Chilly’s bottle is my new favourite thing! The colour is perfect, and I’m already getting so much use out of it. I’ll fill it with water before we set off, and re-fill along the way. I’m trying to convince Matt that he needs one too! I’ve also had a Kate Spade thermal mug for so long and although I use it more in the Autumn and Winter months, I’ll almost definitely be grabbing a hot chocolate or vanilla chai in the morning!

Umbrella and raincoats
Like I said, it may be Spring but you just never know what weather to expect in England. As well as my obsession with the Co-Op (lol, more context in this post) I’m kind of obsessed with looking at the weather, Matt and our families are always joking about me being a weather reporter LOL. But, the forecast is almost always wrong! We’ve been on too many road trips where we’ve stopped at a service station and I’ve had to grab my scarf or blanket to cover my hair from the rain, not this time. Lesson learned!

Medication
Of course you hope you won’t need it during the journey (or the trip itself) but it’s always better to have it on hand. I have arthritis and sitting still for any period of time is just not good for my legs – my arthritis is much worse in my knees, hips and ankles – so I literally need to have ibuprofen with me. I also pack other medication I need for the trip, which stays in my bag anyway so would always be close! Since last Spring when we road tripped to Harrogate I’ve packed travel sickness tablets too, as sometimes Matt and I can feel really unwell being in the car for so long. I think it’s worse when it’s super hot and humid (which it’s not meant to be this weekend… I’ve checked all my weather apps) and Matt is poorly if he’s the passenger. This means he’s always our designated driver, bless him! 

Thank you so much for reading! Do you love road trips as much as we do? What are your road trip essentials? I hope we haven’t forgotten anything, I always feel worried as soon as we hit the motorway and there’s no turning back! We’re going to be making the exact same trip in just over three weeks as we’re heading to Croatia and flying from Manchester airport, I can barely stand how excited I am!

-G x

Photo Diary: My 25th Birthday Weekend

Happy, happy Wednesday loves! I’m so happy to be back! I know I only missed one upload (more on that in this post) but wow it’s felt SO long, I missed blogging and I missed you guys! I love love love writing photo diaries and Weekend In My Life posts, and I appreciate that they always get such a great response from my readers! You can read my latest WIML post from way back in February here, and if you type ‘weekend’, ‘week’ or ‘photo diary’ in the search bar at the side, a ton more posts will come up!

Thursday May 16th

Thursday was my last day at work for the week, which meant early birthday celebrations! The girls in my office are so sweet and thoughtful, and as always they totally spoiled me with so many lovely gifts, including a Lush gift card that I’m super excited to use!

I finished work a little earlier than usual, and headed straight to the salon for an update to my balayage! I was there a good three hours, and I’m so so happy with how it turned out, my hair is WAY lighter and feeling ready for Summer. Erin at Rein & Co is the best; she’s so sweet and knowledgable, and there’s something about having your hair done that just makes you feel so dang good. I’d really recommend visiting the salon if you’re in the Newcastle area! I drove home via the beach (literally the sunset was SO pretty – I pulled over in the worst spot to take a photo but trust me it was beautiful. I love the beach so much!) While I was on my way home, Matt headed out to pick up Indian food for dinner for us and my parents, we always go to the same place and their food is delicious. After the quickest shower ever, Matt and I snuggled in to watch a few episodes of Brooklyn 99 and got an early(ish) night in. It was the perfect ending to my last day as a 24 year old!

Not the greatest photo. I snapped this super quickly before I headed home

Friday May 17th

I turned 25!! I woke up to Matt being the cutest ever (I mean, he is every morning, but he was extra cute on this day). We woke up around 7ish – no lay in for us! – as he was so excited for me to open my presents LOL. I love our little tradition on birthdays, Christmas and our anniversary of opening gifts in bed, it’s so cute. I also usually feel super awkward opening gifts from people, but when it’s just us two I don’t feel like that at all. Matt was SO generous and spoiled me like crazy, I love him so much and am beyond grateful! We spent a little time with my parents opening gifts from them and other family members, then my mum had to go to work. We ate birthday cake for breakfast (a must, right?), got ready for the day and packed up for our weekend getaway.

Literally the luckiest girl in the world, he’s so good to me!
My favourite EVER cake is the Red Velvet from Costco, I could eat this every day for the rest of my life!
I kinda love this photo, even though I’m squinting so bad in the sun and I’ve no idea why my hair looks super dark!

We visited with my grandma for a little while which was lovely. She absolutely adores Matt, it’s so sweet to see! We said our goodbyes and set off for Ramside Hall. We got there around 1.45pm and, as our room wasn’t ready, took a little time to relax in the bar area and grab lunch. Matt got a Heineken (of course) and I opted for a strawberries and cream gin with lemonade, and we both ate club sandwiches. We got cosy in the bar until our room was ready, then went up to have a look around. We’d stayed in this hotel before – I booked a surprise trip for Matt after he’d had such a busy time at work a year past April – so we had an idea of what to expect, but our room was way bigger this time! There was a HUGE bath – it doesn’t look as big in the photos at all, we were super excited to jump in haha.

I just love the decor!
Matt had told the hotel it was my birthday and they left chocolates for us – how sweet! Also Cadbury’s is my FAVOURITE
Our bath of dreams… serious house inspo for next year!

After we’d unpacked (well, Matt unpacked. He’s the cutest and the first thing he does when we get to a hotel is unpack everything and hang his clothes up. I just love him!) we quickly threw on our bikini and swim shorts, and headed down to the spa. It was so warm and relaxing, we lay by the pool for a little then Matt went for a swim whilst I spent five minutes catching up on birthday messages (I was so overwhelmed with the sweet messages I recieved – thank you so much!) I joined him in the pool, and we spent a while just messing around, it felt like we were back in Kos for a split second! We stayed around the pool area for around an hour, but that huge bath was just calling our name. We caved and headed up to our room to take a long hot bubble bath and chilled the F out. It was bliss!

These robes were HUGE and so snuggly – I wanted to take them home! Also, don’t mind the no makeup. Wowzers
I just love him so much!
My handsome guy

Afterwards, we got ready for the evening (I’m SO mad we didn’t get a good photo together) and headed for dinner at Fat Buddha. It’s one of my favourite places to eat – their honey chilli chicken is incredible! We spent the rest of our evening out at a place nearby called Missoula that had the prettiest decor, and really good music. We had a few drinks and were beat, so headed back to the room to snuggle up in bed with a drink from the bar. #25goingon85. We watched an episode of The Force: Essex and fell asleep, we’re so cool. Honestly, we aren’t always like that but I kinda love when we are, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I had the BEST day and I am so thankful for Matt making every day feel so special, not just my birthday. I love you so much, babe!

Saturday May 18th

Since we’d gone to bed pretty early the night before, we were up early and ready to take on the day. It was POURING rain out, so our plans to go for breakfast in Durham were unfortunately squashed as everything is outdoors, and we didn’t bring coats or appropriate footwear. #packingfail. Instead, we checked out, packed up the car and headed to the Metro Centre for a few hours of shopping. What else are you supposed to do when it’s pouring rain and freezing?! We ran a few errands, shopped in our favourite stores and ate lunch at our favourite place, Wagamama’s. I always get the same thing (either teriyaki chicken donburi or chilli steak ramen) and Matt ALWAYS gets chilli steak ramen, however this time I branched out! I got teriyaki steak soba noodles (without onions) and it was incredible, I think I’ve found a new favourite dish! We spent so long browsing Waterstone’s – book shops are one of my favourite places – and I picked up a few new books, I can’t wait to get stuck in! (I also made an Amazon order for even MORE when we got home as they were way cheaper on Amazon, I think I’m good for a while… LOL)

I love you!
My forever date!

We left the Metro Centre, and headed home via Tesco, our second favourite shop. Costco is obviously number one, we literally LOVE walking around buying crap we absolutely don’t need, haha. We were in and out pretty quick, just picking up groceries to make dinner that evening (and my favourite chips and dip… I couldn’t resist). Matt’s parents were away for the weekend so we were staying there the whole time and when we got home Matt went out for a run whilst I snuggled up with a cup of tea and my new book. Although I was in tears by page three – it’s so sad, but also heartwarming, moving and kinda funny – I’m completely hooked. I also kissed and snuggled Matt extra hard for the rest of the weekend, if you read it you’ll know why! And if you haven’t, I’m linking it here and saying you need to buy it immediately, you won’t regret it. (Well, I hope not. I’m 145 pages in when I’m typing this up on Monday evening, and it’s honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read up to now).

A little beauty haul… all repurchases of products I use and LOVE every single day!
Buying new books makes me so happy. Also, how cute is our bedding at Matt’s parents?! I love it so much!

Matt got home from his run and we watched the opening ceremony to the Man City match, I really love how exciting the atmosphere feels at big football games! We watched for a little while, then Matt got a post-run bath and I went straight back into reading my book. I really struggled to put it down! Matt ran me a bath (and he put a Lush bath bomb in, what a cutie!) and I soaked with a face mask on… yep, whilst reading my book. I used The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal purifying glow mask which is one of my absolute favourites, it always makes my skin feel SO good afterwards. Matt usually joins in on face mask night but he was not feeling it this weekend… party pooper! After I’d had a lovely bath, exfoliated, shaved and washed my hair, I jumped out and got ready for the evening. We made dinner – roasted veggies with ham and mashed potato – and got cosy on the couch to watch a few more episodes of Brooklyn 99, we’re seriously obsessed! We went to bed pretty late, and snuggled in for a loooong sleep.

My favourite kind of beer! It’s SO GOOD
Do you put butter on your mashed potatoes? If you don’t you really should!

Sunday May 19th

Okay, so Sunday is where I FAILED with the photo taking. I’m sorry, I was on a roll for the first part of the weekend but then I was a #badblogger. To be honest, I felt a little bit off all day – I was really anxious and a little teary randomly. I’m not sure why as there was no specific reason but Matt was so good to me. He loved me a little harder all day and I thankfully felt so much better by Sunday night. We still had a lovely day, I just felt super anxious. So, what did we get up to? We lay in pretty late, and after a little too long snuggling I finally got out of bed to make Matt breakfast. We slowly started moving to get ready, and booked a hotel for a pretty spontaneous trip to Manchester this coming weekend! We’re road tripping down for a family reunion, and I’m so excited for Sunday’s post… can you guess what it’s about?!

I bought this mug for Matt over a year ago and it still makes me laugh!
My new Adidas sneaks from bae! I am so in love with them 😍

When we finally got ready, we headed to Aldi to grab a few groceries we needed for the beginning of the week until I do a big shop mid-week. I typically grocery shop by myself when Matt’s at work or when I’m on the way home from work, so I always appreciate when we get to run errands together. We went to see my parents and open a few extra birthday presents that had been dropped off (my family are so generous!) and caught up on what we’d all been doing over the weekend. After, we went up to see my godparents – we love being at their house, it’s so beautiful and they’re so lovely! We stayed for a while, and got some puppy cuddles in with Phoebe. Isn’t she just so cute?! We went home via a pit stop at the Co-Op (I’m literally OBSESSED with going into any Co-Op we pass, whether I need something or not. It’s become a running joke between Matt and I, then my godmother said she totally gets it and loves going in too! HA we’re so weird. They just have everything you could ever need) and Matt got on with some work whilst I read some more of my book and started editing photos for this post. We showered, cooked the most amazing steaks for dinner and snuggled in for a night of TV on the couch with some yummy snacks. We of course watched a few more episodes of Brooklyn 99, then A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health, featuring several football players and Prince William. It was so insightful, and if you haven’t seen it I’d definitely advise watching it – and recommending it to any men in your life!

Photo credit to my favourite lil cousin Ellie, I totally forgot to take a photo whilst we were there! #badblogger
These rainbow pencils are AMAZING! The pink ones are rhubarb and custard flavour… what more could you want?!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed a look into my life from this past weekend! We had so much fun, and I’m always so grateful for all the quality time Matthew and I get together. Our schedules have been jam packed lately so we’ve had to make the most of our mornings and evenings, and he’s going away the first week of June – I miss him and am counting down to picking him up from the airport already! LOL. We’re enjoying every little moment together more than ever right now, and we’re SO ready for our holiday together at the end of June! How was your weekend, what did you get up to? I’m counting down to this weekend already, I can’t wait for another weekend with my love, and to spend time with family!

-G x