Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Full of romance and festive magic, Mistletoe on 34th Street is the funniest and most charming love story you will read this Christmas!


Mistletoe on 34th Street encapsulates the spirit of Christmas in one of the most festive stories I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Olivia our main protagonist finds herself in New York over the festive period, but where others would find themselves sharing in the celebrations around them Olivia is numb to Christmas and the magic that surrounds it. That is until her friend Jon takes it up on himself to show her just what the magic of New York at Christmastime can do….

As with everything that Lisa Dickenson writes this story is both heartwarming and witty. In fact I defy anyone not to read this and laugh out loud!

From the very first page I was pulled imagination first into a story that I never wanted to leave. Thanks to the descriptiveness that Dickenson writes with I found myself walking the streets of New York and longing to kiss Jon under the mistletoe. This book has made my need to visit New York even stronger.

I adore the characters in this book and love the strong female characters that always feature within Dickenson’s novels, women who have strong friendships and don’t need a man to fulfill their dreams. To sum it up… this book has everything and you need it in your life!

 

Tinder-ella and her Prince Charming

I am pretty sure that at some point in everyone’s life they think about the kind of partner they want and imagine the love they will share. Some people watch movies and long to have that, others read about it and then there are those like me, the ones who are lucky enough to witness true love first hand and know that they don’t want to settle for anything less.

My parents were my inspiration, they were my reason for not settling. I wanted the butterflies, the contentment, the friendship and the love that grows daily. I want to raise children who look at their parents and know they love each other, that they are happy together and not craving something else.

Over time I became disillusioned, maybe I wasn’t meant to find someone and instead just focus on others and playing matchmaker to friends and family. I became content with single life and at times found myself talking about how great it was. Now when I look back I realise that more often than not I was trying to convince myself.

Late last year after a lot of questioning from friends and family about my love life I finally decided to give Tinder a go.

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At first I found myself approached by creeps who seemed to use the app for hook-ups and I must admit this left me disheartened and meant that I didn’t use the app seriously. I would find myself only really swiping on it when i had been out drinking with friends and then regretting all my swipes the very next day.

But then one day whilst on a break at work I came across a profile that made me want to know more and uncharacteristically of me I made the first approach. Before I knew it we were messaging daily and I was excited when my phone lit up with a new message. Two days before Christmas I built up the courage to message the mobile number that had been sent to me a few days previous.

If I am being completely honest I found Tinder a safe environment, you could talk to people without swapping personal information and if they got too much you could block them. My worry was that once numbers had been exchanged I would lose my security blanket. But something felt right with him and with encouragement from my parents I sent a message from my phone.

Over the christmas period we messaged from first waking to going to bed and I was honest, if not at times a little too honest. I went with the theory if I laid out my flaws and he still spoke to me then this was someone I wanted to meet and when the discussion turned to meeting face to face I committed to a date.

Then on the 29th of December I received a message asking if i wanted to meet sooner and before my nerves could kick in I agreed to meet him the next day.

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If anyone had of told me that that date would go the way it did I would’ve laughed in their face. Because pretty much every first date I had ever been on had seen me face some sort of disaster. From the lad with the nervous knees who knocked the table and spilt all the drinks, to the one who kept messaging saying he was running late and turned up an hour and a half later, not forgetting the lad who told me if it didn’t work out he was going to ask the waitress out. These are just a few of my dating disasters….

So imagine my surprise to turn up at Birmingham Central Library on the 30th at 10:30 to meet the exact person I had been talking to on Tinder, not a single catfish involved. And then carry on our date throughout the day and evening, heading home at 21:00 hours.

The next few days were a whirlwind that saw him meet some of my friends on NYE and then my parents, brother, sister in law and niece on New Years Day.

I was amazed at how quickly I felt comfortable around him and how much I found myself smiling. a matter of months after knowing him I knew I had found what I had been waiting for.

Now nearly 11 months later I wonder how I would’ve got through the days without him. Losing my dad saw me change and at times not for the better but thankfully through it all he stood by me, holding my hand, hugging me or stroking my hair.

Through everything that has happened I am happy that my dad and he got the chance to know and like each other, but most of all I am pleased that my dad knew how happy he made me.

It has taken me time to write this post, to sit down and feel ready to introduce my blogging life to another aspect of my private life. I haven’t held back because I wasn’t sure of my feelings but merely with everything that has happened these past months, I wanted to make sure that he was ready for me to mention him because as you all know I am prone to babbling and I know for a fact I have many more posts to share to do with him.

So ladies and gentleman allow me to introduce you to Adam, the man that made me realise my heart could beat in a completely different way!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul Tour

On the 23rd of October my nephew and father-in-law were invited to London to take part in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul tour.

The festivities started in central London where guests were picked up by a Diary of A Wimpy Kid inspired party bus. The bus offered a screening of the DVD whilst on the road, There was also sweets and pop included to add to the onboard movie experience.
Whilst guests watched the movie the bus made its way to Old Amersham Farm which is a  micro pig farm.

Here the guests were given exclusive access to the pigs and allowed to pet, hold, hug and play with them! After the excitement of the farm everyone was taken back to central London and treated to a meal at The Crowne Plaza.

About the movie:

Pack your bags for more fun, more laughs and more “wimpy” mischief! in diary of a wimpy kid: the long haul, the heffley family road trip to meemaw’s 90th birthday party takes a wild detour thanks to greg’s newest scheme to attend a video gaming convention. based on one of the best-selling book series of all time, this cross-country adventure turns into an experience the heffleys will never forget!

What my correspondents thought of the experience:

Having previously seen the movie at the cinema both myself and Fin (aged 9) knew that we would enjoy it. On our first viewing of the movie we attended with my other grandsons who are 12 and 4. Despite a lot of the humour going over our youngest grandsons head he did love all the scenes with the pigs in and I myself enjoyed it both times, which shows that this movie appeals to different ages.

An adult’s perspective of the movie:

The plot is the almost inevitable US road trip, and the mishaps encountered along the way.
I couldn’t shake the Griswald’ s trip to Walley World in the National Lampoon classic from my mind, however that was definitely made for a more mature audience, this one more so kids, especially as they are assumed to be the target audience for the book series.

A child’s perspective of the movie:

Although Fin who is a Wimpy Kid aficionado, has pointed out that some scenes from the book were omitted from the movie, including a visit to the water park. Other scenes I have reliably been informed were added into the movie but weren’t featured in the book. However, he still very much enjoyed the movie in its own right.

We would both highly recommend this movie to older children and adults who like a good chuckle.

Our views on the tour:

The layout of the coach did result in a number of the adults having to sit under the screen which meant that they were unable to see the movie. So the tour if it’s continued does need some tweaks, but overall the kids enjoyed themselves

I don’t think the tour will be a permanent thing, from what I can gather it was suggested by the lady who owns and runs the pig farm. She normally takes a selection of the pigs to the Crowne Plaza Hotel (where we had a rather lively lunch), and puts on a show there, where the kids could pet and hold the pigs.
Unfortunately the visit to the farm itself meant entering the pig enclosure, and what do pigs live in, that’s right mud, and lots of it. As no one including the Premier girls were expecting this lots of nice shoes and boots got very, very muddy. But despite the footwear problems a lot of fun was to be had at the pig farm.

The two Premier hosts, especially Jenny, were good fun. We even witnessed Jenny kiss a pig sadly it didn’t turn into a Prince though.

A big thank you to the wonderful team at Premier!

7 Creative Ideas for Storing Your Books

Today I am pleased to welcome Sara McQueen to the blog, Sara has created an amazing guest post that I am sure every bookworm will love.

 

Bibliophilia is the love of books, and a bibliophile or bookworm is an individual who loves books.

Kirsty and I know we both fall into this category! How about you?

Even in today’s world of e-books and reading online, book sales are thriving in comparison with their digital counterparts. Moreover, it’s the younger generations who are driving these trends.

This means that I am probably not the only person who has gone into a book shop, just for a quick look, and come out with an armful of books! Whilst excited to read them, treasure them and talk about them, this event always leaves me with one question bigger than any novelistic cliffhanger:

Where am I going to put them all?

With this in mind, I decided to research some of the coolest, most useful and creative ideas for storing your books. Whether you have a modest collection of favourites and you want to display them aesthetically, or you are just looking to make the most of any space possible for your beloved stacks, you’ll find some inspiration (and some Instagram) here!

1. The Artful StackUnsplash1

You know the one. It usually pops up entirely by accident, by a bedside or on a desk. It grows and shrinks according to how much reading time you’ve had that week, and it basically represents your current reading list.

It might not be the most intentional way to store books, but it is creative. I love looking at my book stack and wondering what it says about me!

2. The Freestanding Bookshelf

Unsplash2Whether your bookshelf is from IKEA or custom-made, there are definitely things you can do to increase the interest in the space!

Try not to let your books go dusty and forgotten. Take them out every so often to flick through, and don’t be afraid to rearrange, even when it doesn’t seem strictly necessary.

You could try organising by colour, size, genre, or by nothing at all. Just make sure you check in with your books every so often, and get tempted into rereading them. Some are even     better the second or third time, I promise.

3. The Wall-Mounted Shelves

If you only have a small but perfectly formed selection of books, then you could present Unsplash3them on a wall mounted shelf. This way, they tend to be at eye-level and more likely to draw your eye.

It is also the perfect excuse to get yourself some gorgeous book-ends. Go traditional, or try a large crystal, pot plant, or even another pile of books stacked horizontally to keep your favourite novels standing to attention.

4. The Kooky Furniture

Etsy - Book Chair
This suggestion is a bit of fun – unless you actually have the budget to get yourself a chair made of bookshelves. How cool would that be, though??

If you want your own like in the picture, then check out The Library Chair, on Etsy.

5. The Coffee Table Layout

If you have a coffee table, then make the most of laying out your most inspiring books. Ever since I did this, I actually flick through them far more often that I would if they were tucked away on a shelf.

6. The Box Approach

Boxes of books can be a challenge, as it gets too easy to forget all about the ones that inevitably end up at the bottom.

Plus, most people who love buying books also love displaying them! If you are lacking in shelves or you live in rented and can’t put up shelving, then stacking boxes into makeshift shelves can work if they are strong enough.

Crates would be best, if you can source them. And the best part?

You never run out of space, you just add another layer of crates!

7. The Admission of Defeat

Sometimes, you have to know that it is better to let a book go. Do it responsibly to ease the guilt of parting.

Can you give it to a friend who can’t afford books at the moment? Charity shop? Or even a book-swap, and then you get a whole lot of new reading out of it!

At the very least, make sure you recycle. Think of all the books that are yet to be written – perhaps your old pages are destined to be a part of that. And the circle goes on!

What’s your favourite way to store your books?

Let us know in the comments!

Bio: Sara works for Storage Vault, a Self-Storage company passionate about finding creative storage solutions to help you be more productive!

 

Five months…..

Today marks five months since I last heard my dads voice, got to see his face and kiss him goodnight. The past five months have been the hardest of my life.

I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions that has seen me push people away and watch those I love the most fight to prove they are here for me.

People often talk about grief in stages but what they don’t say is that those stages can hit you at anytime, in any order and sometimes more than one will creep into your day.

The truth is I am constantly being advised on my grief and told how other people handled their loss, but the one thing I have learned since losing my dad is everyone’s loss in different. I lost my dad, the only other person to know how it feels to lose my dad is my brother and even our loss is different. Every person is unique and every loss is too.

Days vary between the really hard, the bearable and the ones where you can smile, and like I said above, some days are a mixture of all three. I often find myself fighting the guilt I feel when something feels good and makes me smile and the reason for this is that in moments where I feel some happiness I feel a rush of sadness that my dad isn’t here to witness it. That he won’t be here to witness anymore of the milestones in my life.

All my life I imagined my dad at my wedding, holding my children and being there every step of the way. It makes me angry that I got robbed of this, that he won’t be here for any of it. It breaks my heart that any future children i might have will miss out on having him as a granddad.

I’ve experienced grief before but nothing as raw and painful as this, nothing prepares you for losing a parent, a friend and a confidante. I count myself lucky that I was blessed to have such an amazing dad but I feel heartbroken that he isn’t here anymore. I can only promise to always carry him in my heart, my thoughts and my memories and strive to make him proud on the days I manage to break through the dark cloud.

I apologise to those I pushed away and I thank those that have stuck around. I love some of you more than you will ever know. Thanks for being in my life through the good times and the very bad.

Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbours, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

By GSnow

MYSTERY OR MISFORTUNE?


Knock on wood, avoid the cracks in the pavement and keep your fingers crossed as it’s that time of the year again. That’s right, coming up is Friday 13th…

Paraskevidekatriaphobia or Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the official name for the phobia of Friday 13th. Fears surrounding the superstition are also surprisingly common, in fact new data reveals that 49 million Brits dread the date.

The history and origins of Friday 13th fears are widely debated, however, two examples are consistently referenced. The first, is that Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus was the 13th guest at the Last Supper.

The second event, dates back to 1307 when King Philip IV of France commanded for hundreds of members of the Knights Templar to be arrested, they were then tortured and burned alive!

In the modern day, superstitious people believe that Friday 13th brings bad luck to employment, finances and even love. Dating and relationships can be affected which is proved by the many celebrity breakups. Michael Chopra and Heather Swan married on Friday 13th and argued throughout their honeymoon splitting only a few weeks later.

The devastation of divorce has also occurred on the unluckiest day of the year wreaking havoc on celebrity relationships. After ten years of marriage, Bill Murray and Jennifer Butler finalised their divorce on Friday 13th. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s marriage also ended on a Friday 13th after months of arguments.

So, with cases like these is it any wonder that we don’t want to tempt fate with our love lives?

The Dating Guru, James Preece, has noticed the connection between love and superstition throughout his career as a Dating Coach and Relationship Expert. He said:

“Everyone has their own little quirks and beliefs. I’ve had dating coaching clients who only want to date singles who are a certain star sign. Or they think that they will jinx the relationship by taking certain actions.”

James Preece also noticed that he had a lower turnout to his dating event on Friday 13th: “I once tried to run a singles event on a Friday 13th. I hadn’t really given it much thought until I realised ticket sales were low….Rather reluctantly a few did admit to me that they didn’t fancy attending due to the date.”

He added: “This wasn’t just because they thought they’d be unlucky but also due to them not wanting to travel at such a risky time.”

So if the thought of Friday 13th makes you tremble, we’d recommend you hole up inside with a cup of tea and some biscuits…day off anyone?

If you prefer a risk free Friday 13th, why not book the day off and hole up inside with your loved ones?

Elegant earrings with T.H Baker

When it comes to my jewellery I am extremely particular, I love small, dainty and pretty pieces.

I must admit that I sleep in my jewellery (which I know some people will disagree with) but this means that when I purchase new jewellery I always look for comfort 24/7 as well as something that will look amazing both day and night.

My latest obsession are my Rosa Lea – silver open circle pave stud earrings from T.H Bakers. These earrings are gorgeously presented in a white box that showcases the brand name in a beautiful rose gold. Within the box you will find a pair of stunning earrings that feature a cubic zirconia design on top of sterling silver circles, which are completed with butterfly backs.

The earrings are sophisticated and offer a day to night look for anyone who wears them. They aren’t heavy on the ears, look amazing when the light catches them and are comfortable to sleep in.