Book Review // A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This book, guys. Where do I even start with this book? If there was ever a book that changed the way I viewed the world and sculpted my path in life, this would be it. My dear grandma had been telling me all about this book for a good few months before she gave me a copy for Christmas when I was 15, and I absolutely devoured it. For a couple of years now, my Grandma has been begging me to write a review and I've finally done it, although I'm uncertain whether she'll ever read it, unfortunately. To be honest, I put it off because this book means so, so much to me and I was worried I'd either get comments along the lines of "I hated this stupid book", or someone would read it based on my recommendation and hate it. It's so very personal to me that it seems a great risk to through my views out there. I truly believe it is one of the greatest books ever written, and it's a huge shame that it is so grossly overlooked.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn- Betty Smith
Copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith


Sponsor Becky Bedbug in August

Woohoo! Summer holidays are here and it's the best time of the year! Summer is always a peak time for my blog and I get a huge spike in traffic every year, which means more eyes on your ads. Perfect time to sponsor!
Lifestyle blogs to sponsor
For all the details, and to purchase an ad spot, check out my sponsorship page here.

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Review // MAC Viva Glam Miley Lipglass

I'm going to level with you- I'm not usually one for lip glosses. However, MAC Viva Glam Miley Lipglass was just so pretty and perfect, I couldn't resist! I already owned the Viva Glam Miley Lipstick so it was only fair to reunite the friends, right? You may have seen this product make its first appearance in my SS15 beauty trends post, but it's about time I gave it a proper review (and yes, I'm reusing the photos. I'll also be reusing them when I review the other two products so get used to it!)
Pink MAC make up

A health update

Last month, when I went through the results of my reader survey, somebody said that they wanted to know more about my CBT. It was a fair enough suggestion since I'd written about my therapy sessions in depth until they suddenly dropped off the radar.
Yachts at Plymouth
The truth is they all became one and the same. It felt like every single session went the same way, with the same conversations, the same exercises, the same homework, and this didn't seem useful any more. Why would I write a post every Thursday saying exactly the same thing? Rather than explain this, however, I decided not to say anything at all. I supposed nobody was really that interested, so they wouldn't notice if I just stopped mentioning it. Until I read that response, when I realised that actually people do care. At the time, I wasn't in the right place to start writing updates so I just left it sitting there until I was ready. Which is now.


Top 5 book covers

There's a cliché here that I am avoiding at all costs but a beautiful book cover can make all the difference for me. I'm the sort of person who will spend more on the edition with the pretties cover. With that in mind, I've raided my bookshelf to choose my five favourites.
Books with pretty covers


A beginner's guide to affiliate schemes

If you're looking to make money out of your blog, affiliate schemes are probably not the way to go about it. The amount you may earn is very small, although it can help bring in some pocket money and takes very little effort. I've been using affiliate links for a few months now, but really focusing on them over the past few weeks, and have used what I've learned to write this post:

Affiliates for dummies

What is art?

In my last (and first- that's a weird combination of words) art post, I pointed out that all the art I love is of the "I could do that!" variety, and it got me thinking about how we define art. For so many people, it's about things that look aesthetically beautiful. The Mona Lisa, for example, is obviously painted extremely well. I get that. It's art, of course. But for me? It does nothing. It's a painting of a woman. Yawn.
Grayson Perry pots


Review // Paul and Joe Moisturising Foundation Primer

I'll admit it, I bought this for the packaging. I had some ASOS vouchers, it was in the sale, it went in my basket. No regrets. 
Review of Paul and Joe Foundation Primer

Ed's Bacon Blues Burger with Castello

True story: About 5 years ago, I went through a 50s/60s phase and would only wear vintage dresses. I dyed my hair red and everything (it didn't work, as the black dye from my emo years hadn't grown out so I ended up with an awful red/black ombre thing going on). My grandma recommended some albums and I exclusively listened to music released around 1955-1965. This love of retro rock is still firmly embedded in me, so I adore a good American diner. Of course Ed's Easy Diner is the top chain of diners in the UK, so I was already a fan when they contacted me to ask whether I wanted to review their burger of the month.
Ed's Easy Diner Burger of the Month
This month's burger is named the Bacon Blues as Ed's have teamed with Castello to create the cheesiest burger ever. Castello's burger blue cheese is the only pre-sliced blue cheese available and has been specially crafted to the perfect size and meltability (totally a word) for burgers. Every Bacon Blues burger is topped with a slice of Castello's creamy Danish blue cheese.


Sponsor Shoutout // July

End of summer already? Time is flying by! Luckily for me, it's now the summer holidays so I've got lots of time to catch up on blogs, including these lovely ladies:

Alternative rock bloggers
I've had the pleasure of meeting Emma in real life and can confirm that she is adorable! A true rock chick at heart with the most perfect style! Emma's hugely into travel, from the USA to Europe, and I love her more personal lifestyle posts. If you like alternative, well-travelled bloggers, Emma is perfect!

Asian fashion bloggers
Damzel in this Dress is a super-cute fashion and lifestyle blog by Rosie, featuring both English and Asian fashion. I love the gorgeous mohawk-inspired updo I've posted above as well as her more analytical posts, like this one on whether it's ok to use religious and cultural symbols in fashion. Rosie's blog is hugely inspiring so make sure you check it out.

Nutella Mug Cake
Written by Stacie, Parker and Me is a lifestyle, parenting and book blog. I love Stacie's book hauls and reading roundups, as well as her bucket list posts. Make sure you check out her recipe for the best Nutella cake ever

Don't forget, if you'd like to see your blog featured in a post like this, check out my sponsorship page.

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Trip to Rome
I am so jealous of Emily's trip to Rome!
Button collection
Ally's post about her button collection is magical!
How often should you update your blog
As always, Amber has hit the nail on the head: How often should you post on your blog?

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Book Review // How To Be a Woman

3 years ago, I read that article in which Caitlin Moran said she doesn't wear high heels because it would be easy to rape or murder her, and that billionaire heiresses never get raped or murdered. She really said that. Right at that point, I decided that Caitlin Moran was a knob and wanted nothing to do with her. This summer, I saw a copy of How To Be a Woman in my local charity bookshop and snapped it up, figuring it would be great fodder for inspiring rants. And then something unexpected happened. I actually kind of liked it. Erm, and by "kind of liked it", I mean loved it. Whoops!

How To Be a Woman- Caitlin Moran
How To Be a Woman review


Advice for new drivers and learners

A month ago today I passed my driving test. A fact you all know because I mention it every three seconds. While I'm shoehorning in driving references left, right and centre, let me take a moment to write a helpful post with my advice to new drivers and those who are still learning. This is all based on my experience so may not match up entirely to your own, but hopefully it will still help somewhat.
Hints for new drivers

Sponsor Shoutout // Love in Modern Life

I'm pretty excited this month because my sponsor is Chelsea, who is one of My Favourite People On The Internet. She even came to my wedding. True Facts. So it's both an honour and also a huge pressure to write this post about why you should follow my friend Chelsea: Love in Modern Life

Blogger friends
That should be reason enough, right?

Stack of classic books
Anyone who writes book posts is an instant follow, if you ask me. Chelsea has finally signed up to the library and has a load of book reviews, including this one for Haus Frau which I can testify she is obsessed with. She also has some great ideas for her general book posts, which I may have to steal sometime.

Kid with Playdoh
Dylan is the cutest boy in the West Country! Whether it's playing with Play Doh, trips in the countryside, or chilling with Batman, Dylan will definitely make you want to squish his lickle cheeks (in a totally normal, not creepy, way). 

University of Bath graduate
Chelsea has just graduated from university with a 2:1 in creative writing and publishing which means that her written work is top notch. You can also see her portfolio here- it's amazing! 


Seriously, go and follow Chelsea... if only because this has been the most stressful sponsor post I've ever written. I like her being my friend and don't want her to hate me if this flops spectacularly! She's awesome, I assure you! I'd back this up with extracts from our WhatsApp conversations but then she might kill me.

As well as following Love in Modern Life on Bloglovin, you can find Chelsea on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

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Family in Liverpool

Last weekend, I went Up North to visit my family near Liverpool. Now that I'm driving (did I mention that?), I'm making the most of it so a trip to visit my dad and siblings was top of the list. 
Girl riding horseSmiling horse rider


My favourite artists

Art is a big part of my life. At least, it used to be. Since I started my teaching career 4 years ago, the closest I've got to art is ordering backing paper in my role as art co-ordinator. The glamour! Now that I'm cutting down my hours at work, I'm hoping to devote more time to art, especially as I can now drive to hard-to-reach galleries and sculpture parks. This also means I'll be able to write more about my passion, developing a weekly art series. So, to kickstart this series, I'll be writing about my favourite artists and explaining why I love them.

Close up of Grayson Perry pot


Announcing monthly giveaways!

Let's be honest here: Most giveaways are not for the purpose of giving something nice to regular readers. They are, first and foremost, a way to gain followers and, as we all know, there's nothing wrong with that! Some regular readers may have noticed I rarely host giveaways (I've had two in the past 18 months) and that's for this very reason- I want them to be a way to thank my current readers, rather than someone who's only followed for the purpose of winning some make up. 
Best MAC lipsticks



Bloggers and marble trays
Michelle's open letter to her marble tray is hilarious. 
High End Mini Make Up
I don't normally go for beauty boxes but Helen's Selfridges one looks pretty amazing.
French-themed outfit
Lucy's red, white and blue outfit is adorable! 
Pink and purple hair
Kat's pink and purple hair is gorgeous! (and I have the same My Little Pony top as her) 
How do I write a short story?
This post from Bee on how to write short stories is really inspiring. 

Weekly Wishlist // Unicorns
I promise my wishlists won't always be extinct-slash-mythical-creature-based!
Unicorn wishlist
Unicorn Tears Bag // Fluffy Unicorn Necklace // Unicorn Plasters // Unicorn Travel Mug // Unicorn Pinata // Unicorn Best Friends Keyrings // Unicorn Jewellery Holder // Fat Unicorn Vest // Unicorn and Dinosaur Top // Unicorn Air Freshener

Affiliate links have been used in this post

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Review // Olay Total Effects Moisturiser

You may have seen a Twitter promotion recently in which Beauty at Tesco allowed you to nominate friends to receive a free gift. I was very kindly nominated by Emma and chose the Olay Total Effects Moisturiser as, despite having two slightly-past-their-expiration-date Lush moisturisers that I'm desperately trying to finish off, I just haven't got enough! 
Olay Total Effects 7 in One Age Defying Moisturiser Review
Total Effects promises seven benefits: smoothing fine lines, maintaining moisture, evening skin tone, minimising pores, smoothing skin texture (this is the same as the first one, surely), enhancing brightness and hydrating skin (which is also the same as maintaining moisture). So really, this promises five benefits worded in seven different ways. Remember these because we'll come back to them later.


Summer driving plans

Now that I can drive (did I tell you I can drive?), I have a huge list of places I want to visit! With the summer holidays approaching, it's time to write a list of all the things I want to do before autumn arrives.
View of moor in mirror


A picnic with Pimm's

Wimbledon is in full swing (see what I did there?) and what would it be without a glass of Pimm's? Spurred on by the recent heatwave,  I made the most of my visit to Lewes with a picnic in the park, complete with Pimm's and a little spot of tennis. 


Review // Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

While you guys have all been out buying, using, and raving about Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water, I've clearly been living under a rock as I've only just got round to purchasing some. The hype made me super excited, even more so when I got to the till and the girl serving me would not stop talking about how amazing it was. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to try it!
Review of Garnier Micellar Water


4th July Party

What did you do for 4th July? If you're British like me, probably not a lot. However, I was visiting Laura and Matt in Lewes this past weekend and we decided to make a little party out of it. 
American Roulette board
I was very kindly supplied with this roulette table from bgo and, conveniently enough, it was an American layout (with a double zero, instead of the European single) so that worked out very well. 
Spinning roulette wheel
Unfortunately, it turns out none of us are very good at roulette, but we've still made plans to visit a Real Live Casino one day. Logic.
Mini roulette table
Because I'm a total sucker for a fancy dress theme, I bought this stars and stripes dress on eBay and went the whole hog. (It's a very stretchy dress and the XXL fit my size 18 bod perfectly. I also bought these boots but forgot to wear them!)
July 4th party
Together, we compiled a list of American-themed food like New York cheesecake, New York bagels, erm... Lucky Charms. To be honest, we weren't that imaginative! 
Pot of Lucky Charms cereal
Since I'd never seen Jaws, we popped it on, completely oblivious to the fact that it's actually set around 4th July. Perfect! ...well, apart from all the gory shark-on-human action, of course! 

This is totally unrelated, but can we take a moment to appreciate the view from Laura and Matt's flat? I'm very jealous!
View of Sussex hillside
View from Lewes
Affiliate links have been used in this post.

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Gray & Willow AW15

This Autumn/ Winter, House of Fraser will be launching an exclusive new Scandi-inspired brand, Gray & Willow. If calm, soothing, natural aesthetics are your thing, you will love this collection.
Gray and Willow Home AW15


How to make a button for your blog

Back in the summer of 2012, I was fiddling with my layout and wanted to make custom social media buttons for my blog. I Googled it, found a few different tutorials and eventually bumbled my way through it. Afterwards, I was so proud of myself that I wrote my own tutorial for creating buttons and icons that, more than 3 years on, is still relevant and helpful but very, very embarrassing. It's got to the point where I'm a little reluctant to give out the link, so I figure it's high time I gave it a revamp!
Blog button tutorial

In this tutorial, we are looking at creating anything that is based around an image taking you to a link when clicked. This might be social media icons, blog buttons, sidebar ads and so on. The process is the same for all of them.


Nails // China Glaze Go-Go Pink

Since I've had so many bright colours lately, I thought I'd go a bit more sophisticated with my nail choice. I wanted a nude-beige shade but the salon didn't have any so instead I settled on this very pale pink: Go-Go Pink from China Glaze.
Swatch of China Glaze Go-Go Pink
Since it's such a pale colour, this shade isn't very opaque. I have two coats on and it's still pretty streaky, so I'd say three or even four coats would be best. However, it is a gorgeous ballerina-pink shade. Very subtle but super pretty!

What shall I go for next?

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DotComGiftShop AW15

It's always so strange checking out Christmas products in July, especially on The Hottest Day Of All Time. DotComGiftShop invited me down to their press day to check out the new products for the winter ahead and, as you'd expect, everything was absolutely adorable!
Raspberry lemonade in mason jar with straw



Sorry if you were hoping for some XXX action with that title! Instead, you're getting blog posts and dinosaurs. Deal with it.
My Little Pony sweater and tattoo
Kat sure loves My Little Pony clothes. Remind you of anyone you know?
Dreamcatcher tutorial
Paige's DIY dream catchers are so cute! 
Glasgow Jellybear
Charlotte went to Glasgow restaurant Jellybear and I totally want to go for the name alone. Oh, and maybe the ice cream too! 
Brightly coloured book nook
Midge's reading nook is adorable!
Taylor Swift concert
Erica's post on her disappointment with Taylor Swift at Hyde Park is an interesting read. 

Other Favourites
I love Polly's post about Victorian Birmingham. It's really inspired me to include more historical content on here.
My girl Dannie has had a blog redesign and it's gorgeous!
A great post from Amy on preparing for blog events if you're nervous.
Jes's post on visible belly outlines was so inspiring for a fatty like me! 

Weekly Wishlist
I used to do weekly wishlists and I enjoyed them but there was something missing. I've worked out what it is: Themes. Weekly themed wishlists. Yes! This week: DINOSAURS! Because who doesn't love dinosaurs?
Dinosaur wishlist

Dinosaur sunglasses // Dinosaur cookie cutter // Dinosaur jumper // Dinosaurs iPhone Case  //  Dinosaur Skeleton Necklace // Dinosaur Map of the World

Affiliate links have been used in this post. 

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