My Foxy Book Challenge #1-5

Hey fellow book lovers,

Back in 2013 I did the 50 book challenge through Goodreads (which I use and love) and although the blogging trailed off, I was pretty pleased with myself for completing it. Last year reading took a bit of a back seat and I didn’t keep much track of the few books I managed to get through. Reading for me has always been an escape from reality, a journey into my imagination and a source for creativity. I feel more relaxed just by giving myself 10 minutes a day to absorb the pages of a new book (or an old one) and so this year I wanted to try and make more time for it.

2015 has been a bit shaky so far so I lowered the bar to 40 books. I know it seems strange to go backwards in terms of goals but I had a few ridiculously long ones to get through this year (I’m looking at you Luminaries) and didn’t want to set myself up for failure. I’m a bit late in updating the blog so here are the first 5 books I read this year (this is your cue to grab a cup of tea and a good seat).Book Challenge

1. Paper Towns by John Green

I love pretty much everything John Green writes. I lap up his words like milk for the mind. The way he does these character studies that are seemingly simple in their plots and descriptions, but actually have a much more complicated symbolism always boggles my mind. Paper towns was another good book by him, but I hesitantly admit that it wasn’t as great as others like Fault in Our Stars or Looking for Alaska. Unlike before, it took me ages to get through and I didn’t read it as quickly as usual. This could be why I feel like I didn’t *get* the imagery behind the characters and their story. Maybe if I reread it I would feel different. Nevertheless, I can still appreciate the way the book was sectioned into three careful themes and I still loved the way he weaved his story around two young characters. It was definitely a book that leaves you pondering long after you put it down. 3 stars.

2. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis

Lets be honest, autobiographies are normally something I don’t consider wasting reading time on. If I wanted to involve myself with reality I would deal with my own issues. After my flatmate giving this rave reviews and a trip to the beach where I wanted something easy to read, I gave this a go and was really surprised at how powerful this read was. It was a pretty raw and honest depiction of the damage addiction can do to a life, and although the writing sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, it was pretty gripping the whole way through. Definitely not a boring life (although I don’t think I was expecting his to be). 4 stars

3. We Were Liars by E.Lockhart

Okay, so I chose to read this book because I felt a bit defensive about my name being used by an author (how dare they) and I was hoping it would be rubbish so that if I ever became an author, I would be the better E.Lockhart. Alas, it was not to be. This book was unusual and written in a pretty unique way, but once I got into it you couldn’t pry this out of my determined hands. It was a short read and also pretty gripping so I got through this in a couple of days. The book is a suspense novel, with a twist that people smarter than me apparently worked out really early (I’m actually glad I’m not clever enough to work it out because I enjoyed the twist more that way…right?). Its better to just jump in knowing nothing and appreciate its cleverness at the end. 4 stars

4. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

This was a book that I swear took me months and months to finish. This is another true story, written by a young woman who survived as a prisoner for 18 years. Its not a fun or easy read, there were parts where I put the book down and was pretty convinced that I wouldn’t get through the rest. If you can handle an awful situation and a brutally honest retelling then this is definitely worth reading. 4 stars

5. Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb

Ending with the only book I would suggest no one bothers reading, this crime novel set in the future was a book chosen for book club (not by me I might add). Maybe I am misjudging because there are a whole series of books based around Detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas before this, but I didn’t enjoy this at all, and I have a BIG section of my book loving heart dedicated to crime fiction. They are my Mills & Boon. This was pretty rubbish, the setting was pointless and a little confusing, the plots were complicated but not in a way that ever made sense, the characters were annoying and made me angry most of the time. I gave this book more stars than it deserved. If you are looking for a good crime message just flick me a comment because there are SO many that I could suggest over this. 2 stars

Bit of a mixed bag, hopefully my book choices improve over the course of the year. Don’t forget to keep up with me over on Goodreads.

What have you been reading so far? Let me know if you are doing any book challenges this year

Advertisements

Friday’s Letters: Consciously Existing

Dear Friday: It feels like you were a long time coming but now you’re here and I am so glad. So. Glad.

Dear Madmen: Thank you for being a new show to occupy the late hours of the night. I love your 60s outfits and loathe your outdated attitudes. It was fun. See you for round 2.

Dear Laura: Just a reminder that you are an amazing person with so many possibilities open to you right now. Let your heart lead the way because whatever you do will be fantastic, but you deserve to do what makes you happy. Thank you for being an incredible friend.

Dear Chinoiserie: You do the best darn food and are unfortunately just walking distance away. Dangerous. So, so dangerous.

Dear New Car: I thought there would be a transition period where we got to know each other but you are already the highlight of my day. Is that sad? Probably, but your new car smell and comfortable driving make me happy. Its the little (but still really expensive) things.

Dear Merlin: You grow so big everyday but your still my little baby. Your tail is as fluffy as a possum and your paws are ridiculous. You make me and Edd the happiest fur parents, especially when you keep trying to make friends with the neighbourhood cats who have no time for you. Keep trying, your optimism in the face of such blatant dislike gives me hope in my own social life.

Dear Stressful yet Satisfying Job Interview: Finally an interview that I aced instead of screwing up with nerves. Apparently being too sick to be totally in control of your mind does wonders for coming across as relaxed when you are usually the total opposite. It was nice to see that practice really does help in the world of not crying all over potential employers.

Dear Edd: Congrats on getting your license! Although I have loved being sober driver for a rather long time, I do look forward to now being able to drink as many margaritas as I can handle before you take me home.

Dear Self: I think this week we learnt two really awesome and important lessons, even if there was a bit of pain and unhappiness in getting there. Firstly, no one needs to be involved with high-school dramas. The moment I realised that it was my choice to let immaturity affect me was the moment I was free. Free to be happy and surround myself with the positivity the radiates from so many of the awesome people in my life. Secondly, self-care. Don’t let yourself be second to everything else. When my body decided it had had enough of not being looked after I felt the consequences. In order to be effective in life and productive in what you do, you have to make sure that you are happy and healthy. Lesson learnt, now I am just working on the ways to ensure my relationship with myself can be prioritised.

Friday's Letters

Best for Brunch: Okra

Okra Menu Cafe Review

So I have done you all a great disservice. Somehow, despite being a regular at Okra for a couple of years now, it has managed to slip past a blog post. Let me remedy this now because, spoiler, this place is one of my favourite spots in Auckland for a relaxing weekend brunch. Its where I go when I need somewhere to unwind. Its where I go for a bit of time together with my husband. Its where I go when I want to take visitors out to somewhere reliably delicious. For me, Okra ticks all of the boxes and that’s what keeps me coming back despite the plethora of options we are lucky to have in Auckland.

Okra Cafe Review

Coffee here is a bit of a flat debate. Personally Edd and I both love it. It’s one of the few places where I can enjoy a long black and their lattes are still strong and full of flavour. My flatmate is not such a fan, so you will just have to go and try it yourself!

Okra Cafe Review

The good news is that it’s not just their coffee that is on offer, they also offer a selection of delicious smoothies and fresh juices. Their morning slap isn’t just random abuse (their staff are incredibly friendly in fact) but their orange, lemon and ginger juice which I order without question every time I visit. When I’m not feeling so healthy, their salted caramel smoothie is equally as mouth-watering.

Okra Cafe Review

This is me trying to show how much I love juice but actually just being a bit awkward. Sorry.

Obviously I eat when I come here. In fact I usually eat too much. The first 10 minutes or so are me debating whether I should go for something savoury, like the perfection that is their vegetarian big breakfast, or for something sweet, like their pancakes which are sandwiched with lemon curd, smothered in maple syrup and served with a side of yoghurt (to make it easier for me to pretend I’m not eating desert for breakfast).

Okra Cafe Review

This is the perfection that is their pancakes. Perfection I tell you.

Their menu is simple yet satisfies all of my tastes (check it out over at Zomato). There are full on brunches, light snacks and delicious lunch choices as well as a newly added nigh time menu so that you can spend all day here if desired. And everything is delicious. Their creamy mushrooms are to die for, I could live off their hash browns, their hollandaise is creamy and light and their eggs are always cooked to perfection. In other words, the food is reliably amazing.

Okra Cafe Review

The very delicious Eggs Royale (i.e. my constant brunch envy)

The cafe has a few different seating areas; outside in the sunshine, out back in the sheltered courtyard, inside where its busy or upstairs in the peace and quiet. Okra just has it all for me, friendly staff, delicious food, strong coffee and lovely surroundings. I see many more Sunday mornings spent here and I don’t mind at all.

Okra Cafe Review

Check out their Facebook page and keep them in mind for a free morning where you crave something local and delicious.

Okra Cafe Review

 

What are your favourite local brunch spots? 

signature

 

50 Random Facts About Me

I have loved reading this tag all over the blogging and youtube community and after being tagged by Laura I couldn’t wait to do it myself. I was expecting to find this a struggle and it almost worries me how easy it was. Too easy. Oh well, hope you enjoy learning more than a few pointless facts about yours truly.

  1. I have two big obsessions (probably more but two is enough to disclose for now): tea and nail polish. it can be a little ridiculous actually.
  2. I’m a Pisces and live up to quite a lot of the typical traits.
  3. My favourite flowers are hydrangeas, forget-me nots and peonies.

    I love Hydrangeas so much that they were a big part of my wedding!

    I love Hydrangeas so much that they were a big part of my wedding!

  4. My favourite colour is periwinkle blue
  5. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1st Jan 2014 and have loved making the change.
  6. I would love to go vegan but I also love cheese. So for now, no deal.
  7. I’m not a morning person (but would love to be). Instead I stay up all night reading pointless things on the internet when I should be sleeping.
  8. I find doing dishes super relaxing but I really hate vacuuming (no one said these facts were going to be interesting).
  9. I have pretty bad asthma and have to take my inhaler where ever I go.
  10. I also have eczema and hayfever/allergies.
  11. You probably had no idea, but my favourite animals are foxes, followed very closely by cats.
  12. I love churches as well as other religious buildings and could spend my life wandering from one peaceful building to the next. Something about their history and their stories as well as the effort that goes into them, whether its the art or the architecture or just the overall sense of spirit.
  13. I really hate asparagus and asparagus rolls are my idea of hell on earth (I’m really sorry Nana).
  14. Baking is one of my favourite things to do but I take any cooking failures extremely personally so the whole thing can be a bit love-hate.
  15. For 3 years I lived in Sydney, Australia and was lucky enough to call Manly Beach home. It’s a beautiful place and I can’t wait to go back some time soon.

    Manly was one of those places almost too beautiful to ever appreciate properly. Image Credit

    Manly was one of those places almost too beautiful to ever appreciate properly. Image Credit

  16. I try to use contact lenses but ultimately I’m too lazy and cbf putting them in every morning. Also my nails make taking them out even worse then trying to force them on my eyeballs. Its a mission that I just don’t care enough to bother with.
  17. My parents divorced when I was one year old and I find it super weird to think of my mum and dad together.
  18. I have always wanted to write fiction and I really hope that one day I can motivate myself to do so.
  19. Coke over pepsi. Always.
  20. I am extremely clumsy and always have been. I would always come home looking like I had been in a fight but it was usually just a fight between me and the concrete floor (or a glass door).
  21. When I was a child I wanted to open up an animal shelter in my home and even had drawn out floor plans of how it would all work in a giant house I was somehow going to obtain. It was a little strange but the good intent was there.
  22. I’m a terrible gambler. Don’t take me to the casino because we will all end up regretting it.
  23. I make daily to-do lists to help my chaotic mind in order. It works, sometimes.
  24. My favourite holiday is Christmas and it makes me go a little crazy. Okay, a lot crazy. Bonus fact – my favourite Christmas movie is Elf.
  25. If I had to choose one makeup item to use forever it would be a lipstick. I love bold bright colours, but if I could only have one it would by Ruby Woo by MAC.
  26. My favourite ice cream flavour it orange chocolate chip. Hands down, for life. Summer in a cone.
  27. I have a terrible tendency to sign up to things for free trials and then end up signed up for life because I am too lazy to figure out how to terminate my subscriptions.
  28. I played the flute throughout Intermediate and High School but am now trying to learn the guitar. Its not going so great.
  29. My favourite family summer spot is Hot Water Beach on the coromandel (as well as nearby Hahei). Its our yearly family getaway and I couldn’t choose anywhere better.
  30. The first chapter book I ever read was Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox.
  31. I am yet another art history nerd and my favourite artist is J.M.W Turner (but there are so many who I love).

    Turner

    The Slave Ship by J.M.W Turner, and the first piece of his that I came across.

  32. I would love to work with kids, either as a teacher or psychologist.
  33. I have been married for two years and been with my husband since I was in 5th form (around 9 years ago).
  34. I’m allergic to seafood but the allergy only developed around 4 years ago (I didn’t even know that was possible).
  35. America’s next top model is my guilty pleasure and I have watched every single episode, sometimes twice. It’s not something I’m proud of.
  36. I have two fox soft toys. One is 20 years old (Cedric) and the other is 1 year old (Basil).
  37. Sticky date pudding is the best desert ever (especially when smothered in caramel sauce), closely followed by creme brûlée.
  38. My favourite comfort food is a big steaming bowl of tomato pasta covered in cheese. All of the cheese.
  39. Merlin is my furbaby. We adopted him on 1 Jan this year and he’s now 5 months old. Feast your eyes on his cuteness, you know you want to.

    50 random things about me

    I cannot deal with his cuteness.

  40. Dual citizen, woo! (NZ and Australia)
  41. I am not a sports person in general but love watching tennis and would love to learn to play but am too uncoordinated to ever be any good.
  42. I don’t like white chocolate (except for Milky Bars, cause there is something special about those). Don’t even get me started on white chocolate brownies.
  43. My favourite word is Echo and I have no idea why.
  44. My favourite movies are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Fall. Don’t make me choose.

    The cinematography of The Fall is indescribable.

    The cinematography of The Fall is indescribable.

  45. I’m also a sucker for disney movies (Disney night anyone?) with my favourite being Beauty and the Beast.
  46. I have a Bachelor of Science (majors in Psychology and Biology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Major in Art History). I really want to go back and do more (but without the poor student..)
  47. I hated blue cheese for most of my life but in the last year or two have realised how it is actually the BEST CHEESE EVER.
  48. I had a big crush on Elijah Wood when Lord of the Rings came out (and I was around 12/13). Like an obsessive crush. Creepy level crush. I even had a movie cut out of him (its super weird, I’m so sorry).
  49. I’m not the best with crowds. Sometimes I’m late to work because I try and avoid the crowded elevators and end up letting several go up before eventually getting in and trying to hold by breath for 7 floors. Its weird (a lot of my facts seem to be weird, I should probably have chosen more carefully).
  50. I spent ages trying to come up with a fact good enough to finish on and found it the hardest part of the entire tag. Does that count as a fact? It does now.

I’m probably the last person to do this but if you haven’t yet, then I tag you! Go forth and share 50 random facts that are probably a little too revealing about how strange you are as a person (you did such a great job of hiding it up until now).

signature

Anatomicals Skincare Review (and it smells like heaven)

Anatomicals Skincare Review

Its not everyday you blow your food budget on buying skin care at the supermarket, or at least it shouldn’t be. But when my flatmate bought home the lilac body lotion from the Anatomicals skin care range, I became a little obsessed. Flash forward to Edd’s shocked face when I loaded up our trolley with these beautiful items instead of our normal vegetables. Necessary purchases (promise).

Seriously though, after loving the scent and moisturising ability of the lilac lotion I wanted to try a few other products and then see how they fared with my sensitive and rather unreliable skin.

The Seven Deadly Skins Melon | Body Scrub NZ$10.99

This would be my least favourite of the 4, but still something I would happily repurchase. Although it doesn’t last too long, this scrub is scented pretty substantially with melon (I get a honeydew scent but my melon smelling abilities may leave a lot to be desired) so if you aren’t a big fan of those kind of scents…get another scrub.  The reason I did enjoy this pumice body scrub was because although it does the job well it wasn’t too harsh on my skin and I find I can use it a couple of times a week to keep my skin smooth without it freaking out. I love to focus this on my legs where the skin can use a bit of extra help.

Help the Paw | Vitamin Rich Hand Cream NZ$9.99

The hand creams I have tried are my favourite products in the brightly coloured offerings by Anatomicals and of the hand creams this fruity one is my absolute winner. Seriously, this ticks every single box for me with a hand cream. Apart from the fact that it smells like I washed my hands in fruit salad (in a delicious way…not a gross way), this absorbs super quickly into the skin making it perfect to apply during the day. Despite it being fragranced, it has never irritated my skin like some other hand creams. If you don’t like strong scents then you might prefer the next option, but for me its perfection and people around seem to become obsessed with the wonderful smell of fresh papaya.

The Cream of British Society | One’s Favourite Hand Cream NZ$9.99

This is another fabulous hand cream, again full of the good stuff (Vitamin E and shea butter) and not at all greasy. This one is the perfect option if you want something that is moisturising and rich without being fussy, but you also want something that doesn’t have a strong scent. This is very lightly fragranced with white tea (a little bit musky) which is pleasant but also really subtle. Other than the scent there isn’t much difference between the two hand creams and they are both amazing. I like having two because I almost always leave one somewhere weird. Now I just need the third one…

Not Another Rough Day Please | Vanilla Body Lotion NZ$10.99

Lastly, I grabbed a body lotion to try and get a bit of a feel for a few different products (just the essentials…). I was tempted to pick up the lilac lotion which I already know I love but chose to try this one instead and it was only partially because I love blue. The body lotion is good but didn’t blow me away as much as the hand creams. It’s a pretty light moisturiser but still gives my dry skin plenty of hydration. Again, because it’s not super thick it absorbs quick and doesn’t leave any greasy residue. The vanilla scent is delicious and to my pleasant surprise its not too overpowering and is quite subtle once it settles into the skin.

Overall Review

The products in the anatomicals range are priced between $9.99 to $11.99 which is not on the crazy cheap end (especially when paying $11 for a hand wash) but for me is pretty acceptable considering how much I love the quality of the product and the overall branding/packaging (I’m a sucker for good container, a delicious smell and a funny pun).

Apart from the fact that everything looks amazing, smells incredible and has hilarious little backstories, the products do the job well and nothing irritates my unreliable sensitive skin. This automatically gives them a giant tick in my book.

The hand creams are my pick of the products tried so far (and may be the only hand creams I buy from now on) but there was nothing disappointing and I’m already planning my next purchase.These can all be picked up at your local supermarket which is great because its so handy but also terrible because its so easily to accidentally chuck a whole heap into your trolley to hide amongst the cauliflower.

Check out Anatomicals over on their website or on the New Zealand Facebook page.

Have you tried any of the Anatomicals range? If so what did you think?

*This post was not sponsored and all of the products were (unfortunately) paid for in lieu of real groceries.

Music to my Ears #3

Another month nearly over, another post to share some very well-loved albums. Somehow I accidentally managed to select albums all released in 2014, which is strange for someone who is usually at least 5 years behind everyone else. They are all excellent albums worth your time, promise (or at least they were for me…but that sounds a lot less convincing).

Chet Faker: Built on Glass (2014)

Chet Faker Built on Glass

I think I discovered Chet Faker through Pandora and have been enjoying his chilled vibes ever since. His music is a real mixture of influences, with a bit of R&B, soul, jazz all wrapped up in a modern techno sound that gets better each time I listen. Each song has a different feel to it and yet it all flows together as an album really smoothly (it’s actually split into two half’s but I didn’t even realise this until today) . I love it all. Its well reviewed by most for good reason and a great album to have on for a relaxed sunday get together over a few beers. He is right up the top of artists I would travel to see live.

Listen to: Talk is Cheap, Gold, 1998 and Cigarettes & Loneliness (my favourite)

Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (2014)

Tiny Ruins Brightly Painted One

You might remember Angel Olsen from my Laneway related music post where I mused over musicians I was excited to see. Well I saw Angel Olsen, and she was just as good live (and also a total babe). I have still been loving this album pretty much constantly and wanted to bring it up again in case you hadn’t taken my advice to give her a listen last time round. I love this album because it shows off two very different sides to Angel’s music. There’s the electronic folk rock side that is upbeat, energy driven and fun like in Hi-Five and Forgiven/Forgotten and then there is her other quieter, more minimal and emotional songs (that if I’m honest I connect with and adore the most) like Unfucktheworld and  White Fire. Its all good stuff and if you are into alternative rock/folk music then this could be right up your alley.

Listen to: Unfucktheworld (the song that made me fall in love with this album), Hi-Five, and the beautiful Windows.

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (2014)Tiny Ruins Brightly Painted One

Another Laneway find, we were lucky enough to stumble across this act whilst trying to source coffee and from across a very hot carpark I was enchanted by the dreamy, delicate vocals of Hollie Fullbrook. Their album offers the same evocative and gentle sounds that are a result of her simple yet beautiful lyrics and the sparse use of instruments. The sound reminds me of things like Fleet Foxes or Kings of Convenience, and its equally as wonderful. This is the kind of album where each song asks to be replayed over and over until you finally get the image being created. Its beautiful and definitely worth a listen, especially if you need something for relaxing evening (i’m thinking bath, candles and wine…).

Listen to: Me at the Museum, You in the Winter Gardens, Carriages and Reasonable Man

Give them all a listen and let me know what you think 🙂 What have your ears been listening to?

signature