The one with (one of) my all time favourite books

I can probably count on my fingers the number of books that I have ever reread. And I would say that most of them were books that I read at school and only realised with age that I maybe didn’t appreciate them quite as I should. But this January, I decided that I would go back and reread some of my favourite comfort reads. January is always such a gloomy month and always by far the longest, what better way to cheer it up than by losing myself in some old favourites?

I didn’t have to think very long about what the first book would be. One Day by David Nicholls. I actually had to go out and buy myself another copy though as my original was long gone. It was one of those books that I just couldn’t wait to pass on to a friend because I loved it so much and needed to share it in a oh-my-godfathers-you-have-to-read-this-book-right-now kind of way. The first time around I remember reading it in a frenzied turning of pages. I just couldn’t put it down. But this time I purposely took my time to devour each and every page while falling in love with Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley all over again. Dex and Em. Em and Dex. One Day by David Nicholls (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

One Day follows the ups and downs of life over twenty years but for me this is no ordinary book. We get to see a snapshot of one day each year since they met on St Swithin’s Day. I suppose the concept could be seen as contrived but actually it’s utterly absorbing. I’ve never loved two characters as much in my life.

This is a book that makes me laugh and cry but at the heart of it all, it is a tragic love story. It got me thinking how in real life the whole happy ever after thing is working out just fine thankyouverymuch but I am actually drawn to love stories with a side order of tragedy. Off the top of my head: Romeo and Juliet, The Proposal, Me Before You, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Wuthering Heights. As a side note, Wuthering Heights was bumped up my to be reread list. I just couldn’t resist after all of the references made to it in One Day. I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul! Sigh. But I digress. Having read and loved One Day the second time around, I can honestly say that it wouldn’t be the love story that it was without the tragedy. And without wanting to give anything away, the tragedy is far from being the end of Dexter and Emma’s story. In fact, the story ends where it all began and it couldn’t be more fitting.

If you haven’t read One Day though, please promise me that you will. Or if you saw the godawful film version then please don’t be put off, read it anyway. (I must confess that I watched mere minutes of the film before giving up, the terrible accent was too much to bear. Besides, how could any film live up to such an incredible book? But I think that might be a whole new post in itself.) David Nicholls is pretty Marmite in my circle of friends though there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. People love or hate his books. I’m firmly in the love camp as you might have guessed and I just wish that his books weren’t so few and far in between. One Day for me though really was exceptional. Most definitely one of my all time favourite books.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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Slendertone: Does it really work?

I can’t help but notice that over the last few weeks, a lot of people have reached my blog searching for Slendertone reviews. Of course the one question that everybody asks is does it really work? And in a word – yes! It really does work!

Slendertone Abs is an electronic muscle simulator and the only belt to be able to exercise all of your abdominal muscles to tone your stomach. It is clinically proven to tone and firm your abs in just four weeks and it is recommended that you use it five times a week to see the best results. Over a year ago now, I was sent the Slendertone Abs to trial and you can read my post here about getting started. I then followed it up with another post here with a full review at the end of the four weeks. It has to be said that I saw amazing results in a very short time but a year later, I am still using the Slendertone belt at least four times a week and still absolutely loving it.

Slendertone Abs review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy BlogIn the last fifteen months or so, I have been on a bit of a health kick and made realistic lifestyle changes. By watching what I eat and exercising regularly, I have lost 28lbs in total and an overall 21 inches. A whopping 9 inches of that was lost from my waist alone which I’ll be honest with you, I still find absolutely staggering. There is no doubt that losing weight has also meant losing inches (not just from my waist but from everywhere else as well) but there is no question that the Slendertone belt has played a huge part in that too. My tummy is firmer and flatter than I can ever remember it being, even pre children. My body shape has completely changed and I’ve gone from being barrel-shaped to actually having a waist again. Amazing.

Although I don’t plan on losing any more weight, the changes I made to my lifestyle are very much here to stay and I include the Slendertone belt in that too. Slendertone is clinically proven to work. I don’t claim to fully understand the ins and outs of the technology behind it but I do know that it has helped give my tummy that extra concentrated workout that it needed. I would never have got to this point without Slendertone, no question about it. Whilst I don’t expect to lose any more inches from my waist, I definitely want to maintain the results that I have achieved. A 27 inch waist at knocking on forty and after four children? Yes, that will do nicely thank you!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

P.S. I always try to be completely open and honest about anything I ever review here on my blog and in the interest of fairness, it only seemed right to tell you about my thoughts about Slendertone Abs a year on. I haven’t been asked (or paid) to write this post I just wanted to share my full experience with you, especially as there has been a renewed interest with my readers. As clearly stated in my original post, the Slendertone Abs was sent to me free of charge for trial and review but the love affair with it is all my own.

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Birchbox Hit Refresh

What better way to cheer up a gloomy January than by treating yourself to a Birchbox subscription? This month, Birchbox have teamed up with Women’s Health magazine to kick off 2015 with a bang. This months box is another absolute cracker. I feel like I say this every time I review Birchbox here on my blog but I’ve been subscribing myself for about a year now and I am yet to be disappointed with a single box. Seriously. They just seem to get better and better!

Birchbox Women's Health up for review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

So what’s in the box I hear you cry? Well for starters there is an exclusive subscription offer of 10 issues of Women’s Health for just £18 which is a saving of 52%. Then as lifestyle extras we have a nifty little pilates band in bright pink and a sample of Embrace Matcha Green Tea. Plus there’s a fun little Hit Refresh booklet with 12 challenges to kick start your year.

Birchbox Women's Health up for review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

For me though it is the beauty samples that really steal the show this month I love them all! First up we have the Stila Lip Glaze. Now this is a brand that I absolutely adore and this product is a cult classic for a reason. It’s a sheer gloss that comes with a handy brush applicator so it’s so easy to apply. It gives a super shiny glaze without a hint of stickiness and it tastes amazing. Although you really shouldn’t eat it but you know what I mean! Next we have the Activbod Cooling Finish Lotion which is something that I have never tried before but it is lush. You massage on to clean skin and it leaves a lovely cooling tingle. Perfect to re-energise after a workout. The HealGel Intensive helps to protect and restore skin and is a really lightweight moisturiser. My skin really suffers in this cold weather and this really is a lovely tonic.

Birchbox Women's Health up for review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Next we have the Philip Kingsley Body Building Conditioner. I am a huge fan of Philip Kingsley products so this was a very welcome treat. It’s a really rich conditioner that uses wheat proteins to transform lifeless locks and help seal flyaways. I will definitely be treating myself to a full size bottle of this beauty. And last but by no means least we have the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. Again another brand that I absolutely love and this mask really is radiance in a tube. You simply apply a generous amount on to clean skin and leave for ten minutes before rinsing with warm water. The exfoliating treatment helps to improve texture, tone and combats congestion.

One of the things that I love about Birchbox is that I get to try out products from brands that I have never used before. It’s such a great way to sample new products and of course everything is available to buy in full size from the Birchbox shop if there is something you love. Subscribing to Birchbox has made me much more experimental with beauty products and it’s great to find new things that really work for my skin. That said, it’s always a lovely treat to find your favourite brands and products in there too – I really do feel like Birchbox gives you the best of both worlds.

Birchbox is a subscription service and for £10 each month, you are sent a selection of beauty and lifestyle products to try. Each month you receive five luxe samples and you can even create your own beauty profile online so that they will be tailored for you. You can cancel the rolling subscription at any time it is totally flexible. Or if you prefer, you can pay ahead for six months at a saving of £10 (1 free box) or twelve months at a saving of a whopping £30 (which works out to be 3 free boxes!) You can also earn reward points each month with every box that can then be used on your beauty favourites in the Birchbox shop. I think it goes without saying that Birchbox gets a huge thumbs up from me. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s such a lovely treat every month!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Disclaimer: Birchbox is a brand that I truly love and I started to subscribe myself after being sent a box to review last year. For the purpose of this review however, I was very kindly sent the box shown here free of charge. All opinions here are of course my own. As are the swishy hair, super soft skin and luscious lips.
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What I Wore Wednesday: The Zara Dress Edition

It’s Wednesday..

..so it’s what I wore

What I Wore Wednesday (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Colour block dress – Zara, black opaques – Wolford, Jalouse Spiral boots – Ash, cameo necklace – Dorothy Perkins, charm bracelet – c/o X by Trollbeads, cocktail ring – Christmas gift from Mr Mostly 

I absolutely love this dress from Zara. I bought it with Boxing Day in mind but knowing that I would get lots of wear out of it after Christmas time too. It is a really simple shift dress with a grey jersey top and a black linen skirt with two – yes two – large square pockets. I love the dropped waist and loose fit, it’s just such a lovely day dress. It actually shrunk after the first wash eeekk! Zara isn’t what it used to be, is it?! But it fitted me better for it. Fingers crossed it doesn’t shrink any more though.. Ha! I often struggle with dresses from Zara as they are usually far too short for me. I either have an extraordinarily long body for my rather average height or I am old. I fear it may be the latter. Anyway, this dress is probably a tiny bit on the short side but definitely not too short. I think the style of the dress helps though. I tried on a leopard print dress when I was shopping for this one and it looked gorgeous on the hanger. Now I often have the is-it-a-dress-or-is-it-a-tunic debate with myself but that leopard print dress was practically a t-shirt. Nobody needs to see that much of me. Seriously.

Of course such a plain dress means that I can pile on the jewellery. Not that I need an excuse. Daytime or not. This necklace from Dorothy Perkins is ancient and I don’t wear it very often but I think it goes perfectly with this dress. It is one necklace but with different chains in different lengths with sweet little cameo and love heart lockets. My Trollbeads bracelet you have seen a hundred times before but it is still one of my absolute favourites. I love that I can change the look of the bracelet by swapping the links around. And the latest addition to my jewellery box is this gorgeous sparkly cocktail ring. I have no idea where it is from I’m afraid but it was a very nice surprise on Christmas morning. After twenty years, Mr Mostly certainly knows how to feed my magpie tendencies!

So that was me, what have you been wearing this week? You can see more of my outfit posts right here and be sure to follow me over on Pinterest where there are always lots of frilly things, sparkly things and sometimes even fluffy things.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

 

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This year, I have mostly been reading…

…well actually it is now technically last year of course. But that didn’t quite have the same ring to it. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I often share the books that I am currently reading and for the last year or so, I have been taking a picture at the end of each month of the books that I have mostly been reading. It’s so lovely to be able to talk books over there plus it’s such a great way of finding recommendations from other people who enjoy similar books to me. Many of the books I read are now recommendations from my Instagram chums. Although I am still working my way through my own bookshelves too. One thing is for sure, my to be read pile just keeps on getting bigger and bigger which is only a good thing of course!

When my children were very small, I just didn’t have the time to read and if I did have a spare minute then I couldn’t concentrate for long enough to enjoy a book. I missed it so much and I promised myself that when I had more time on my hands, I would make a real effort to read again and so I have done just that. I nearly always have a book on the go these days and my favourite thing of all is starting a new week with a new book.

I set up a Pinterest board to keep track of the books that I read last year and worked out that I have read something like 39 books which I am pretty happy with. When I first set out to write this post, it was with the intention of picking my top ten books of 2014 but actually, I soon realised that would be impossible. I was so lucky to read so many great books in the last year that I couldn’t possibly choose between them let alone put them in any sort of order! I think one of the reasons why I rarely write proper book reviews here is because every book I read is quite often My Favourite Book Ever until I read the next one. What can I say, I LOVE BOOKS! There are some books that have really stood out though and would wholeheartedly recommend. So, here they are (in no particular order)

Wonder by RJ Palacio (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Wonder by RJ Palacio was recommended to me on Twitter by one of my very favourite authors Jill Mansell. It really is an outstanding book and I have since passed it on to Mr Mostly and my teenagers to read. It tells the story of a boy who was born with a terrible facial abnormality and is about to start school for the first time.  It was an astonishingly moving book and I think something that we can all learn from. Definitely a lesson in kindness that will stay with me forever.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson was recommended to me by my pal Victoria and is without doubt one of my favourite books of all time. The premise of the book is what if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? It really is a very clever concept I have never read a book quite like it. It was beautifully written and I became ridiculously attached to the characters, especially Ursula Todd who we follow over the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt definitely lived up to the hype for me. It is a huge book, I mean physically huge. I couldn’t wait for it to come out in paperback and bought the hardback edition which weighed a tonne. Seriously. But it was well worth the arm ache. I’ve never read anything by Tartt before but I was blown away by just how descriptive her writing was. In fact, at times it was exhausting to read because there was just so much to take in but this was a book that I enjoyed taking my time over. It tells the story of Theo Decker who survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. It’s such a haunting story of love, loss and fate and the vivid characters will stay with me for a long time.

The Snow Child by Fowyn Ivey (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

The Snow Child by Fowyn Ivey has been sat on my bookshelf for years and I can’t believe that I am so late to the party with this one but better late than never, eh? For me it felt very much like a fairytale for grownups. Only the best fairytale you have ever read. It is set in a very harsh background of Alaska in 1920 and I think that somehow makes the delicacy of the tale all the more extraordinary. Jack and Mabel are a childless couple drifting apart through loneliness and despair. They build a child out of snow in the season’s first snowfall but in the morning, the snow child is gone and a little girl called Faina suddenly appears from the woods. I found myself completely lost in this book, it was so beautiful.

In Your Prime by India Knight (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

In Your Prime by India Knight will without doubt be my bible on how to be older, wiser and happier from here on in. I adore Knight and am quite sure that she is the bossy friend that is missing from my life. The book is part manual, part memoir and covers just about everything you need to know about getting older with confidence and panache. It made me laugh and cry in equal measure but at the heart of the book is some seriously good advice and I will be back to read it time and time again. Every woman facing forty (or fifty, or even sixty) should be armed with this book.

What have your favourite books been this year? It won’t surprise you to know that I would love to hear your recommendations. Oh and what is on your to be read pile right now? I’m actually thinking of revisiting some of my old favourites this month. January is always so gloomy, isn’t it? I can’t think of a better way to brighten it up than by revisiting some old comfort reads. Happy New Year folks!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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Creekside Christmas Trees up for review

I was asked by the lovely folk over at Creekside Christmas to review one of their beautiful real Christmas trees and of course I jumped at the chance! Over the years, we have had both real and fake Christmas trees but I have to say that for me, nothing but real will do for our main tree.

Creekside Christmas real Christmas trees (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Creekside Christmas real Christmas trees (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Nothing compares to that amazing smell of a real Christmas tree. I just love coming downstairs and being greeted by that smell every morning, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it. I tend to go over the top with decorations every year and they have a tendency to spread to every room in the house, I just can’t help myself but the main tree in our living room will always be the centre point for us. We always always always decorate the tree together as a family and it is without doubt my most favourite night of the whole year. And then of course, it is there twinkling in the background until the big day itself when Santa leaves our presents under the tree!

Creekside Christmas real Christmas trees (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Creekside Christmas real Christmas trees (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Creekside Christmas have a great range of Norway Spruce and Nordmann Fir trees in all different sizes with prices starting at just £24.99. They have a great guide on their website if you’re not sure where to start, from choosing your variety of tree to how to take proper care of it. I chose the Nordmann Fir and it is an absolute beauty! It has a classic shape and green glossy needles that are said to be more children and pet friendly than other varieties. It has become the most popular Christmas tree in the UK as it holds its needles so well. Obviously there is no such thing as a 100% drop free tree but this is as near as you will get. Since our tree arrived on Thursday, I can count on my fingers how many needles have dropped so it doesn’t get much better than that. I am seriously impressed so far. Just look at it! I love it! A lovely height with a perfect branch for our fairy to sit on and it is just so full and bushy with amazingly thick glossy needles.

Creekside Christmas real Christmas trees (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

If ordering a Christmas tree online isn’t for you and you want thoroughly inspect your tree before buying, then you can visit them at one of their two locations in London. Creekside Christmas offer delivery for all of their beautiful real Christmas trees within central and greater London and this year they will have stalls in Greenwich around the Cutty Sark area as well as in Woolwich. You are welcome to have a browse and select your own tree and they will be wrapped on location, meaning that you can look before you buy and if you have no way of getting it home, they can also arrange delivery too.

A huge thank you to Creekside Christmas I love our tree so much!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

 

*** UPDATE ***

It only seems fair that I should update this review post because let’s face it, what everybody knows with a real tree is did it survive Christmas? In a word – YES! In fact it more than survived Christmas and was by far the best tree we have had in many many years. Every morning I would come downstairs to be greeted by that amazing Christmas tree smell – it never faded. And the tree remained in superb condition even after three weeks. I was so sad to have to take it down in fact because it still looked so pretty! The needles were so thick and glossy and the drop was absolutely minimal throughout the whole of Christmas time.

Creekside real Christmas tree up for review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog  Creekside real Christmas tree up for review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

I’ve added a couple of photos here when we took the tree down on 2nd January and you can see that there is not a droop in sight, it is still full and bushy. Usually the taking down of the decorations and removing the tree sees a carpet of needles drop but not with this tree. That’s it. I was seriously impressed. Previous trees have seen me have to scoop up mounds of needles with a dustpan before I can even attempt to vacuum. I couldn’t believe just how little this tree dropped.

A huge thank you once again to Creekside Christmas for the best tree ever!

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What I Wore: The Christmas Day Dress Edition

There is no greater honour than being chosen as The Christmas Day Dress. Surely it is the most important dress of the year? It is quite possibly the equivalent of being chosen to play Mary in the school nativity (although everybody knows that your mummy has to be the head of the PTA for you to bag that particular role) Except of course I don’t think that the dresses in my wardrobe have ever given it much thought. In fact they probably have no idea that it is such an honour to be chosen as The One. What with them being dresses. But, you know.

LaRedoute black lace dress - The Christmas Day Dress - (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Last Christmas, I wore this lace dress from LaRedoute. I bought it a few months earlier and loved it so much that I earmarked it as being The One right there and then. I still love this dress to bits, in fact I wore it this Monday just gone when I went on a very rare night out with my sisters and stepmum. The lace is so soft and it has a full sticky out skirt which is always going to be a winner with me.

Baukjen sequin dress - Christmas Day Dress - (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

The year before, I wore this amazing sequin dress from Baukjen. I actually bought this with another very special occasion in mind but in the end I didn’t get to wear it. It seemed like a crime for such a beautiful dress just to sit in my wardrobe so I couldn’t resist wearing it on Christmas Day. It’s now back in my wardrobe waiting for an occasion to be worn again and will no doubt be rolled out again in a few years for another Christmas Day to come!

LK Bennet jersey dress - Christmas Day Dress - (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Now the year before that, thanks to Facebook I know I wore this LK Bennett dress. Where would we be without sisters tagging unflattering photos on Facebook, huh? LK Bennett do the best jersey dresses ever and I’m so glad I bought lots of them while I had the pennies because they have been such a good investment. I still wear this dress often and it is still as perfect as the day I bought it. It’s not the best photo to show it off really but it was the only one I could find. The dress is in a gorgeous plum colour and has a lovely sash belt. P.S. How tiny are my girls here?!

Gold jacquard dress Marks and Spencer - Christmas Day Dress - (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

This year I didn’t think that I would be shopping for a new Christmas Day Dress and had planned to wear an old (but very much loved) leopard print dress from LK Bennett. But Mr Mostly surprised me and took me shopping yesterday *squeal* I knew straight away which dress would be The One because I have had my eye on it for ages. I know I should have been more practical and chosen something that I could get more wear out of but stuff it! Christmas comes but once a year and this dress had to be mine! The photo doesn’t do it justice, it is even more sparkly in the flesh and in a super soft jacquard material. It has a high neck so I went for a size up as I felt a little strangled in the size 10. Plus Christmas Day will be the first time that I have eaten a roast potato since Easter Sunday so I figure the extra room can only be a good thing. Good old Marks and Spencer, huh? It really is my dream dress.

Have you chosen your Christmas Day Dress yet?

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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