Wednesday, 27 August 2014

…August Reads...

N.B. again my reviews of these books have not been sponsored by amazon or any other book seller. I have just used links to amazon as it was easiest. 

Some more books reviews for you here. It’s not my mission to read at least three a month, but it does seem to be a good, round, achievable number. I suppose I just want to read as much as I can before I start my studies (more on that later). And having the luxury to choose what I want to read rather than it being for a particular purpose. Reading for pleasure can be a very hard thing to come by. At the moment I am currently trying to soak up as much literature as I can.

For August I managed to squeeze in another piece of classical literature – Treasure Island – which I wish I had read when I was younger. One of my reviews this month is on a non-fiction book and is about a topic that I am very interested in at the moment.

So, lets get started:




Treasure Island was such a pleasure to read. Really a feast for my imagination; a story full of swash-buckling adventure. Who doesn’t love a story about pirates, buried treasure and some good old sword-fighting, gun-power action? As an adult reading a story written for a younger audience, I found it to be a thrilling and tense story, full of plot twists and turns that kept me wanting more. I sometimes found the language used a little tricky to follow, but I suppose that adds to the feel of the novel and the characters of the pirates. I think what I enjoyed most was that I was reading from an old of copy, and I love old books. I will collect them at random, sometimes snapping up some gems. This book had a wonderful illustration of the island which added to the mystery of the story. A great, fun read if you’ve got a few spare days and are not sure what you fancy.

Now, Summer in Sorrento was an impulse buy for my kindle as they had a few free deals on, and this caught my eye. I thought it looked and sounded like a cute, little summer read to get me through some of my nothing days. Well it truly was a marvelous little story. I didn’t actually realize how short of a story it was. Its hard to tell the length of a book on a kindle but I gathered from the percentage mark it was a fairly compact book. Maybe a hundred pages or so. The story centered around a beautiful holiday home, in the countryside of Sorrento and featured a collection of characters that were searching for something more than their lives currently offered. What I enjoyed most was that it was not a taxing story or required a lot of concentration, which I love and need sometimes when reading. This did not, however, detract from the story, which flowed easily along and finished leaving me wanting more but knew the story had found its resolve.  Again, a perfect read for a nothing kind of day. I read this within two days.


…and finally, The Body Book by Cameron Diaz. I was, and still am pleasantly and happily surprised by this book, as it really is a wonderful, inspiring book about health, wellbeing and nutrition. I was not sure what to expect and thought it was going to be just another celebrity book talking about their lifestyle.  But how wrong I was. Cameron Diaz has gone to a lot of effort, and you can clearly hear her passion, to compile a book that really informs you about our bodies. How they work, what they need and how we can go about achieving the best possible lifestyle. I have taken a great interest in nutrition and understanding about what foods are and what they do to my body. I kind of got in on a whim, and have been dipping in and out of it for the past few months. It really is a helpful and informing book, especially if you want to know more about building a true and healthy, wholesome, nourishing life. She has spilt the book up into four sections and you can dip into any part of it. Everything is clearly explained and there are references to great sources of where she found her knowledge. I highly recommend this book…

xxx

Monday, 25 August 2014

…Events: Rhythm and Blues Festival...


Every year I've wanted to go to this festival and every year I've missed it. But for once, I was up at my dad's in time to catch the Maryport Rhythm and Blues festival. And what a treat it was. The whole town is taken over for the weekend. Every pub is open to different bands and music, food stalls fill the streets, as does all the leftover rubbish by the end of the night. Even though it rained, the temps were warm and fosters flowed. It was so lovely to hang out with my dad and watch some cool bands. What is so special about this event is that it is open to every generation from the very young to the very old, and everyone is there to have a good time. Next year I want to go to the Cock 'n' Bull music/food festival up where my mum lives…

We only attended one night of the festival, and at £6 for a ticket that's not too bad. It was more about experience something different and unique. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the North Lakes next July. For the event I wore a simple, easy, no fuss outfit. Pair of denim shorts, bought a size too big as I prefer shorts to hang low on hips…much more comfortable. And this gorgeous cute little top I found in ASDA. So dainty and delicate looking. My trusty Vans, which I picked up in a charity shop for £4, pretty much brand new, kept my feet nice and dry for the evening...

xxx

Saturday, 23 August 2014

…Recipe: Espresso Banana Smoothie...


On a roll here it seems with my recipe posts. I just love sharing things I enjoy, I suppose. Now, this smoothie was so yummy I had to share it with you guys. Again really simple and basic but utterly naughty and divine.

What you need:

One banana (6'' long)
Some plain, natural yogurt (I use set yogurt, and about two table spoons)
Chi coconut Espresso milk

I use a hand blender and tall container to mix mine up. Plus the container is the perfect size for a glass quantity, so I know I'm not going to make too much.

So, I blend up the chopped banana, with the two table spoons of yogurt and the espresso milk. For the milk I pour enough that covers the banana and yogurt. It should become level in the container with the other ingredients. Whizz it up and then I add more milk in to thin it out and there you have it…a delicious, healthy treat that tastes like it shouldn't be good for you…

xxx


Saturday, 16 August 2014

…Food: Sweet Potato Stew...


Continuing with my living healthy theme, and trying to be mindful of the kinds of food I eat, I thought I would do a little ‘Here’s what I cooked…Recipe’ post.

Now, to be fair, I did take the original idea for this dish from my dear friend, who whipped this meal up from random things in the fridge and cardboard. The two main ingredients though were sweet potato and tin of chopped tomatoes. Other than that feel free to add in whatever you’ve got lying around. I made my version extra hot and spicy. Love having a good kick to my meal. If my nose ain’t running then it ain’t hot enough.

Here’s what you’ll need: (I rarely use measurements apart from in baking and I rarely do that)

One medium to large sweet potato – chopped into cubes
One small onion (red/white) – diced up
Tin of chopped tomatoes – 400grams should do it

I then added in:

Tin of red kidney beans – 400grams again
Handful of tinned sweetcorn (roughly 4/5 large tablespoons)

I used to paprika and chilli powder, chilli flakes, glove of garlic (thinly chopped) and 4/5 drops of Tabasco. Bit of ground black pepper and if you want some salt (I rarely use salt but do whatever floats your boat)

In a large pan heat up your oil (I use olive oil or sometimes coconut oil), then add your onions in. Once they have begun to brown off, add your chopped sweet potato and cook those up for about another 10/15 minutes on a medium to hot heat. If the potato is sticking a little, I add in a bit of water. Not a lot though. Once the potato has softened up. Add your tomatoes, kidney beans and sweetcorn (or what other items you have decided you’d like to use , such as peas, chick peas, peppers, mushrooms – go ahead and get creative). Season the stew/dish to your liking and then allow it to simmer away on a low heat, taking it up a notch if needed. I left mine cooking away for about another 15/20 minutes to really allow for the flavors to develop.  If you find that it is thickening up, add in warm water to get the consistency you like. I prefer mine on the thicker side.


Once ready, serve up either by itself with a nice crunchy bread roll, or in my case, I used one of these pre-cooked spelt dishes that you heat up in the microwave. And there you have it, a simple yet hearty meal. James whipped up some boiled potatoes as spelt doesn’t really float his boat, ha! With these ingredients and the amount used, there will be plenty leftover for you to reuse when you don't have time to make something. 

xxx

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

…Trips: Day at the Beach...


Who doesn't love a day at the beach. I feel very blessed that I am able to walk 15 minutes down the road, and have one there waiting for me. Most of my Summer days are spent soaking up the rays, and if I'm brave enough, go for a swim in the sea. This is year I've been in 4/5 times and its so refreshing and invigorating. Usually it's still pretty cold but with the warm temperatures we've been having over the past couple of months, it's been perfect for dipping those feet in.

I love the sea, mostly water in generally. Whether it's at a pool or down at the beach, once I'm in that water, I never want to come back out. Proper water baby. It's relaxing and soothing, plus it's a great form of exercise as you don't realise until you get out how much you've been moving your body. So having such easy access to the beach is perfect for me and James.

So, last week before the storms of Bertha graced us, I made the most of those precious moments in the sun and spent the afternoon down at the beach. The tide was out but that didn't stop me from going for a little paddle. Plus, I also wanted to try out my new bathing suit from Primark. It fits wonderfully, except being a larger chested lady, it can be a bit snug up top. However, I know that if I got a bigger size, it would have been too big everywhere else. The trials and tribulations of having a large chest. What I really liked about this suit was the mesh detail around the tummy area. Very flattering if you want to show a bit of flesh without revealing your bare skin. Perfect for those insecure, feeling bloated, don't want to go full bikini days.

I will miss the beach once Autumn hits us.

xxx

Saturday, 9 August 2014

…Healthy Snacking...


If any of you readers out there follow me on Instagram @ecorbinmckenzie, you'll have seen my sheer joy and excitement for winning the WholeHeartedlyHealthy blog competition, where I got my hands on some lovely, healthy goodies. Plus a load of great organic beauty products (I will review those products one they've been used). I posted a few weeks back on my healthy eating choices and with this lot now stocking my food cardboards, I know that if I don't have a lot of time to prepare something to eat, I'm not going to fall into the trap of picking something unhealthy, making my feel bloated and groggy.

When it comes to snacking or having been lazy, I can fall foul of picking an item that is not going to do me any favours, such as biscuits. Biscuits are like my kryptonite. So when I saw this giveaway and what products were involved, I knew I had to enter. And, yay, I won. I received lots of great products from a range of Chi coconut products - water, milk and oil - to some delicious savoury items, such as Quinoa and Buckwheat pots. Plus some amazing raw, organic chocolate. Which I will generally choose now over biscuits, as it helps to curb that sweet tooth of mine. Plus the ice tea concentrate is another great alternative to getting that sweet fix. For me, having fun, healthier versions of my favourite treats means I don't feel as bad as I normally would for pigging out on a few biscuits or packet of crisps. I know when I do have a cheeky slice of cake or once in a blue moon take out, it's going to be alright 'cos I won't have gorged myself on stuff like that all of the time.

Now, for those of you who don't already, go away and buy some coconut oil. It truly is magnificent. I have two jars now, one for cooking and the other for my hair and body. I love it. Plus I have lots of water and milk to add to my collection from this giveaway. It so hydrating and the oil is a great source of getting those good fats we need in our systems. Fat is not the enemy people. High quantities of sugar is.

As I make my way through these items, I will post updates on my instagram and twitter feed. I have already tried the Buckwheat food pot and unlike a pot noodle which is so bad for you, I felt light and full after it. Perfect for a quick lunch.

xxx

Thursday, 7 August 2014

…REVIEWS: July Reads...

(Disclaimer: This post has not been sponsored in any way by amazon or any other book sellers)


This is kind of new thing for me. I've reviewed products, gigs and sometimes places I've visited but never books. However, I love reading book reviews. Sometimes I'll read books thinking that it's something I have to do, like classical literature. What I find though is that I didn't really enjoy it but I value and appreciate for its worth. So reviews, for me, are a way to sift through books that I've heard about but am not too sure if it's for me. I especially enjoy reading Bee's reviews over on Vivatramp. She has a very clear, honest and simple way of critically evaluating a book from a personal yet objective point of view.

Now, I'm in no way suggesting my reviews will be as good as hers, but over the past couple of months I've read some really great books, in my opinion, and wanted to share my thoughts on them. So here goes: (click on the title which will take you to more reviews and images of the book).

Lee Child - The Hard Way 
Erin Morgenstern- The Night Circus
Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

Wow! Three books in just over one month. That is a record for me. Currently, I have a fair bit of time on my hands and reading has been taking up most of that time. I love it. All three of these books are very different and offer three dynamic and interesting story lines. Firstly, my most recent read - Lee Child's The Hard Way. James has been on at me to read a Child book since we've been going out. Finally I picked up a book James recommended and couldn't put it down from the very first page. I pretty much read it in one day. From what I've heard of Child's books, is that they are brutal and fast paced, involving lost of twists and turns. This book did not disappoint. A high intensity thriller, involving a kidnap and a man with no tongue. Well who wouldn't be hooked. I really liked how the chapters were short, and the sentences were concise, keeping in line with the fast paced plot line. As a newcomer to the Jack Reacher saga, this was a great introductory book to start with. I look forward to delving deeper into Reacher's world of action and violence.

Secondly, moving onto a completely different story - The Night Circus. Again this book captured my imagination and drew me into a world full a magic, mystery and mostly importantly love. Set in the 1800's this book captures a world full of wonder and illusion. I don't want to give too much away but this book is full of hidden treasures. Centred around a magnificent Circus, a deadly battle of power ensues where friends and foes are drawn into a dark game of illusion and deception. However, all is not as it seems and those outside the forces of Circus will play a role no one could foresee. Morgenstern writes in such an eloquent, descriptive manner that her words pour out of the pages and into your imagination. My friend recommended this to me to help get back into fiction and it completely re-ignited my love of literature.

And finally, Frankenstein. This has been on my 'to read' list for some time now. I thought better late than never. I have seen the Peter Cushing adaptation from Hammer horror and really liked the film; however, I had no idea whether it was a good adaptation because I hadn't read the book, or short novella. Well, I was pleasant surprised at how much I preferred the book rather than the film. Both completely different works of art. What grabbed me about Shelley's writing was that it was full of deep, dark thoughts about humanity and the nature of morality. Questioning what is good and what is evil. You are encouraged to think critically about the two protagonists and decide whether they are good or bad people. A fascinating fact I found out about Shelley was that she started piecing together this story from the age of 18 when she had a horrific nightmare that she couldn't forget. Because of this I read the book as if it were Shelley trying to make sense of what she saw in her dream. Grappling with the idea that a monster could be cruel and heartless yet justify his actions based on the principles of human nature. It is great story that pulls you into a dark, sinister world where your greatest fears have the possibility of becoming reality.



I hope you enjoyed reading some of my mini reviews and like I mentioned these are my own personal views not sponsored by anyone else. I have linked the titles of the book to the Amazon website where there are further reviews and images of the covers.

xxx

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

…TRIPS: Frome...

I feel very blessed that I have a family who live in some of the most beautiful areas in the U.K - way up North and then all the way to West. One of the perks, is that when I go and visit the fam, it's like I'm going on a little holiday. This is exactly what I've been doing for the past two weeks - visiting my Mum and then my Dad.


Now, Mother took us to one of the quaintest places I've ever visited - Frome. Narrow, winding, cobbled streets, filled with independent stores and lots of classic vintage boutiques. Frome (pronounced froome) reminded me a lot of Brighton and the North Lanes, where you can easily get lost in the quirky little shops that are all packed tightly together. Again whilst I was visiting, the weather was absolutely amazing. Being bared legged, wearing floaty tops and pretty sandals are just some of the reasons why I love Summer.


That day was no exception. We ventured into some amazing vintage shops, where there were too many stunning dresses I wanted to add to my collection. I don't think James would have approved. Visiting quaint little towns like this is something James and I love doing, and Frome is definitely somewhere I'll go to again.


Sorry for the heavy picture post but I really struggled to choose images from my collection. This might become a reoccurring feature over the next few posts, as I'll be showing you guys some of the highlights of my two week trip away. I have never taken this many photos before. But I just couldn't resist it. Everything was too wonderful not too…

xxx

Thursday, 31 July 2014

…OUTFIT: Mixing Prints…

Trousers - H&M, Bomber jacket - River Island, Shoes - TKMaxx, Top - Primark


Hmmm? Mixing prints? Never too sure if it is something I can pull off. However, this jacket and these trousers are just two among many of my favourite items in my wardrobe. Both incredibly beautiful patterns. I think they fit together nicely, completing each other's colours pallets. I am fully aware though of the crucial balance needed when mixing too different types of prints. I feel however mixing palm, Hawaiian style with floral a good combination. The colours go well and the patterns because they are different don't overload the overall look. I've never been one to follow 'fashion' rules, mixing blues and browns together, shock horror! Thankfully due to the plain charcoal colour of the top, the prints on the trousers and jacket were able to shine in their own way. And yes I am referring to items of clothing as if they were people. Ha! I've always looked as fashion as something to experiment with and have a little fun.

For me there are times I will get an outfit completely wrong and will generally notice, and change quickly before I leave the house. Style is personal to each individual. This outfit was not put together with much thought, I just grabbed what nice items I had in my suitcase. Sometimes having a small window of time to get ready is better as you're less likely to over think and analyse an outfit. That's my opinion at least.

xxx

Sunday, 27 July 2014

…Soft Tops...


Here are the follow up images of my trip last week in the vintage convertibles. I felt very lucky to be able to have a spin in those cars. The cars actually belong to James's dad and his uncle, and when on sunny, clear days they take them out along the country roads.

We stopped off for lunch in a local village and then made our way to a nature reserve for tea and cake. Always gotta have a bit of tea and cake on a trip out. Especially in the British countryside. Now back to cars. Beautiful, sleek designs. Very simple and elegant. However, the only thing was, that it got so hot when driving them. It was like the engine was overheating constantly and with the temperatures we've been having recently were not the most helpful in keeping the cars cool. But it only adding to the experience of the cars. All those little details add to its quaintness. 

xxx