November Favourites

I sent out a tweet on the 1st November saying that instead of taking part in NaNoWriMo this year I was setting myself two goals for November. Number one finish a first draft of something I’ve started writing already, anything. And number two find a job. The latter came to fruition much sooner than the first (spoiler alert: I still haven’t finished anything!) So first favourite of the month is:

New job!

It was actually quite funny how quickly everything happened – I received a call the very same day I posted the tweet, went for the interview the next, was offered the job that very afternoon to start the following Monday and I got my first salary since August today! All this despite the fact that one teeny tiny typo on my CV made it look as though I’d been unemployed for over a year… oops!

Lounge & Sleep Dressing gown

I’ve been meaning to replace my 8-year-old dressing gown for a while now so when my mum gave me some Debenhams vouchers that she wasn’t going to make use of I knew it was one of the purchases I wanted to make using it. I didn’t expect that was quite so soft for such a bargainous but I’m very happy I did. I bought it in light grey so that it would match my bathroom and I could pretend that I’m a grown up #adulting

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Meditation

So here’s a thing I never thought I’d be writing about but this month I discovered the joy of guided meditations. No I’m serious. After re-listening to The Secret and deciding that a couple of things needed to change in my life I’ve been listening to guided meditations before I go to bed for whatever I think will help me the following day and I’ve already noticed I’m waking up with a much more positive mindset when I do. Definitely something I want to explore more in the new year. I listened to this one the night before I went for my interview.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I mean this was obviously going to be on this months list being that I am such a huge Harry Potter fan right? But oh my god I didn’t expect it to be so good! It’s like being 14 years old all over again and having theories and speculations about where this new series is going and oh my god what if blank is blank and might end up being blank! No spoilers here lol. What I liked most was that it felt like a film for adults who had grown up with the original series rather than another series aimed at teenagers.

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The Hogwarts Express at Warner Brother Studios

The absolute babe Katy took me as her plus one to the launch night of Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brothers studio tour. Long term readers may remember that I went two years ago but that was before they revealed platform 9 and 3/4 along with the Hogwarts Express so naturally I had a bit of an emotional meltdown when I saw it for the first time. I also got to drink prosecco in the Great Hall, try Butterbeer ice cream and talk to a bunch of YouTubers whose content I love. Best evening I’ve had in a very long time!

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139 Copeland Road

In 1974 Mary Collins and her two children burned to death without a trace. Guided by a renowned psychic, we will revisit their home at 139 Copeland Road and attempt to reconnect with the past.

Last time I was in Peckham this happened. This time Google maps had me walking down the creepiest alleys and side streets as I tried to navigate my way to 139 Copeland Road, an address with a lot of mystery around it.

In 1974 the well liked Mary Collins put her two sons to bed as normal but during the night there was a terrific fire which was presumed to claim their lives. I say claimed because their bodies were never found and over 40 years later I and a few select others were invited along (thanks LDN Theatre Bloggers!) to take part in a séance where our guide Lesley hoped that we’d be able to assist him in contacting the other side.

Now I’m actually an absolute wimp when it comes to scary stuff so by the time I got to the venue I was starting to wonder if I’d made a mistake in saying yes but as I read the notes regarding paranormal happenings that had been encountered over the previous few evenings I was intrigued enough to stay and I’m very glad that I did.

What happened next I’m not going to say, as with all immersive theatre it’s something you should experience for yourself. The show is much more psychological than physical which I was grateful for and the setting was beautifully eerie which matched the atmosphere perfectly. The one thing that could use improving was the ending, it’s rather abrupt and we were left a little confused about whether or not the show was over. That said the immersion of the show was so good that I found myself Googling the address to find out more about the case when I arrived home!

The show is running until the end of November and you need to be at least 18 to attend. The show runs for just under an hour and tickets cost £25 which I do think is a little on the steep side but if you’re a fan of being scared I’d say go for it. You can purchase tickets here now.

BitBS Rating – £££

*Disclaimer: I attended this show for free in exchange for blogging about it.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Favourites – October 2016

Sorry I missed last months favourites yet again the last couple of months have been a bit odd for me with what I planned on doing not really matching up with what I actually ended up doing. Still there’s always positive things to be found in every day and here are the things that made me happy in October

Wil Wheaton

I made a last-minute decision to head to Birmingham for the Destination Star Trek event at the start of the month so I could meet Wil Wheaton and boy oh boy was it worth the time and money!

Black Mirror

Yes, yes, yes I’m super late to the party but I finally signed up to Netflix this month as I had a lot of time on my hands and when I read about the premise for Nosedive (the first episode of season three) I was intrigued enough to finally give the show a go. Of course I ended up binging on the whole lot and spent a considerable time having a mental breakdown – enjoy!

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Tessa Violet

I’ve probably mentioned it before but I’m not really much of a music person, I like music but I never purposefully listen to it. That said I’ve reloaded Spotify on to my phone so I can hear more of Tessa’s dulcet tones more frequently recently. I really love how YouTube has given so many people the ability to get their music out there in to the world.

Doctor Strange

My friend David very kindly took me to the fan screening of Marvel’s Doctor Strange just before release and oh my god if you haven’t seen this film yet then go and do it. It’s not your typical Marvel movie given that it’s more about magic than anything else but it’s so good and for once I would recommend that you go see it in 3D – I’ve even been to see it a second time!

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Aretsaya Cosplay

Gotta give a shout out to my awesome friend Lauren (and Ben too) for winning the C4 cosplay competition at MCM Comic Con – I haven’t really been in the cosplay zone this year and this girl gives me all the envy with her amazing skills. You should totally go check out her page to see her marvellous creations.

#AutumnalBakes at The Jamie Oliver Cookery School

I’ve been something of a hermit this month but when I was invited by Curry’s PC World and Hotpoint to try out a bread baking class at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School a couple of weekends ago I thought it would be a nice way to ease me back into blog life with Westfield only being a couple of stops away on the tube.

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However, I didn’t read the email properly until the day before though and the class was actually at Westfield White City and not Westfield Stratford, oops! Much earlier than I had planned for a Sunday I hopped on the tube though and made my way West. After getting slightly lost and wandering around the shopping mall for a while I eventually found the restaurant which also houses the cooking school.

autumnal-bakes

Now I’ve always thought that baking bread was quite tricky but turns out I was wrong, you just need a bit of patience. Of course it helps when all of your ingredients are already measured out for you, you know that you don’t have to do the washing up afterwards and you have brand spanking new Hotpoint ovens that will ensure your bread bakes evenly.

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After a quick demonstration we were put to work almost straight away making the first of what would be three different breads. First up we made a basic bread dough for which all you need is flour, yeast, salt and water!

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Kneading the dough was quite the workout and as I was recovering from a cold it took a lot out of me but it was a lot of fun and there was plenty of time to rest while we saw demonstrations of the other goodies we’d be making; a rosemary salt focaccia as well as my favourite, a red onion and walnut doughnut shaped loaf which was absolutely divine slathered in butter – absolutely salivating just thinking about it!

my-breads

Once our original dough had proved we set about getting a little creative and turned it into lovely little shapes that we then devoured along with bowls of steaming pumpkin soup and a cheese fondue to die for (recipes for both of which can be found on the Curry’s website) while enjoying a little chit-chat with the rest of the days bakers.

Bread made by me, soup made by @jocookeryschool, both a taste sensation #autumnalbakes

A photo posted by Leanne Fraser (@msleannefraser) on

The bread making classes last for 3 hours and cost £65 but the school offers a lot of different options starting from £35 – the filled pasta course in particular has caught my eye being a bit of pasta fiend!

*Disclaimer: I attended this event for free in exchange for blogging about the event.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

Why I love beards (even though I actually hate them)

As a blogger I get sent a number of press releases every week and usually I take a quick glance through the content then file it into a subfolder in Gmail called Press Releases then forget about them. Very occasionally, like with restaurant openings, I will drop an email back to the PR to see if they are having a launch party or offering review opportunities. Last week however I received one that not only did I read every word of but I’m now going to tell you a little bit about just because I want to.

You’ve no doubt all heard of Movember, a charity drive where for the month of November men everywhere grow moustaches in aid of prostate cancer but have you heard about Decembeard? It’s a similar campaign where men are asked to either grow (or decorate the beards they already have) to raise money and awareness of bowel cancer. It seems as though I’m the only girl on the planet who doesn’t really like a guy with facial hair (sorry but I just prefer the clean-shaven or slightly stubbly look personally!) but this is a cause I can get behind so I’ll make an exception for December.

roel-beard

If you follow me on social media it’s no secret that I’ve had a pretty tough time when it comes to my health this year. I had a particularly bad flare up of my ulcerative colitis between March and June which luckily steroids were able to help sort out but I’ve also been having more problems which the doctor assumes has been brought on by stress since being made redundant last month which are hopefully *fingers crossed* getting back to normal now.

karen-beard

These two things might seem unrelated but they’re not I promise. Having IBD puts me at a much higher risk of getting bowel cancer than most and it’s been my biggest fear ever since being diagnosed. Even more so than potentially having to get a colostomy bag one day – at least that would relieve my pain rather than cause more of it. Others with an increased risk are those with familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome, those who’ve had cancer before and those with a family history of bowel cancer. That said anyone can get it and with over 40,000 diagnoses and 16,000 deaths in the UK from it every year it’s the fourth most common cancer here and worth remaining vigilant about.

charles-beard

The most obvious symptoms are bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo and changes in your bowel habits like going to the loo more often or looser stools. This leads to the biggest problem that stops people from getting diagnosed early and that’s embarrassment. I’ve lived with my condition for years now so I’m pretty open about talking about poo and what not with my family and even some close friends and when it comes to doctors well all my shame has well and truly gone and I just tell em like it is! They’ve seen and heard worse, I promise – so please don’t be too embarrassed to go to the doctors if you’re worries. Early detection is key as more than 90% of cases can be treated successfully if it’s caught early enough.

I know December is already an expensive time of year with Christmas but if you’d like to make a donation in lieu of buying me a Christmas prezzie this year it would be greatly appreciated!

*Many thanks to my awesome friends
for letting me include pictures of their bearded mugs!

Ways to save money on… Gift Cards

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Christmas is approaching and we all have those tricksy people in our life who it’s practically impossible to buy a gift for. For me it’s my dad. He doesn’t have much in the way of hobbies, doesn’t like sweet things and isn’t in to tech in the slightest. Seriously until last year he was still using a Nokia 3510 mobile phone, I wish I was joking.

So what do you get for those people who have everything? Giving cash always seems to be a bit impersonal to me but a well chosen gift card shows that a little more thought has gone in to it and I’ve got a sneaky way you can get these for less than face value, sometimes up to 20% less than their face value: Zeek.

I’d never heard about Zeek before they got in contact with me offering me some credit to try out the service but it really intrigued me. How could they offer cards for less than their actual cost? Wouldn’t they lose out on money by doing that? Well the way the app works is that other people, so you and me, can put up their unwanted gift cards for sale stopping them from sitting in a drawer unused until they expire.

There’s a huge range of retailers on the app from Amazon to Hungry House, iTunes to Starbucks so you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy. I used my credit to buy a very sensible Sainsbury’s voucher to save money on my regular food shop and a cheeky £15 Hungry House credit to treat myself to a takeaway. The latter was an online voucher so I was sent the code almost immediately and scoffing my chinese in less than 2 hours whereas the other was a physical gift card that arrived in the post just a couple of days later.

Of course you don’t just have to buy them as gifts – if you’re planning a purchase anyway it’s worth checking to see if a card is available for you to buy for the store before making the final payment. It’s basically a discount off anything you want! If you do give Zeek a go enter discount code 2EXH6YCG for an extra £5 discount off your first purchase!

*Disclaimer: I was gifted Zeek credit in exchange for a review.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way

October 2016 NET Worth

Credit
Cash – £1.96
Santander – £2,494.30
Halifax C/A – £4,153.98
TSB – £213.31
Tesco – £1,341.04
Credit total – £8,204.59

Debts
Capital One C/C – £382.53
MBNA C/C – £3,139.75
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £2,297.64
Halifax C/C – £2,557.84
Loan from Mum – £4,000.00
Loan from Dad – £2,000.00
Debt total – (£14,377.76)

Net worth
£8,204.59 – £14,377.76 = –£6,173.17

Why is talking about money such a taboo?

This is a column I wrote for Bloggeration mag before going on holiday in August but which sadly was never published before being closed – rather than let it go to waste I thought I’d publish it here as part of a new Money Monday series of posts which I’m hoping to do fortnightly.

Thanks to Sex and the City and other TV shows of a similar ilk, talking about sex is no longer just for the open minded. With excellent social media campaigns like It’s time to talk, Time to Change and Rethink we’re finally treating our minds as extensions of our bodies and opening up the conversation on mental health issues. So why oh why is talking about money still such a taboo?

I have no issue talking about money as you can see from my blog. I’m happy to tell you that I earnt £27,500 a year working in my last job, that I pay £530 pcm for my room in my East London flat and that I spend far too much money on both eating out and tickets for events and shows.

Every single person has to deal with money regardless of whether they have too much of it or too little. Those that fall in the latter camp often feel ashamed at their struggle to manage their money properly and make ends meet but they shouldn’t. You shouldn’t.

One of the main reasons people find themselves in a financial fix is lack of education. I don’t know about you but I got taught absolutely nothing about budgeting, paying bills and credit cards in school and had to figure this all out on my own. This lack of information is how mistakes happen.

If we talk about our experiences, we can learn from each other, and avoid making the same mistakes!

This is one of the reasons I love the UK Money blogging community they’re generally much more open about things I find and don’t hesitate to help one another out. It feels like there’s less of a competition between them than in other blogging genres! Last month we held out second money conference and it was really good to see how our numbers have grown in just a year.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

August and September Reading

August

I was in America for the first two weeks of the month so I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped – in fact I only read one of the three books I took away with me and that was How not to Disappear* by Clare Furniss which I had been sent by the publisher a while back.

While it’s primarily a YA novel the themes that this book deals with are really important and as well as being a typical journey of self discovery for the protagonist it also touches on dementia and how the memories that we have are what make us who we are. How awful must it be to lose yourself with absolutely no control over what you do or do not remember. I did find that the plot moved quite slowly though and as I was reading it in small snatched amounts of time sometimes it did feel as though nothing was happening but the payoff was worth it.

Even once I returned from holiday I found myself super busy with a trip home to Aberdeen for a long weekend and then preparing for our office move which was at the end of the month so I’ve only really had time to listen to audio books since getting back although I did manage three this month.

The first was The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty who has quickly become a favourite of mine thanks to Rosalyn recommending a few of her novels to me before. You’d think from the title that this would be a novel about discovering exactly what the secret is but actually this is revealed fairly early on in the proceedings. Instead the author does what she does so well and intertwines the lives of the three female narrators together in such an intricate way.

I couldn’t get enough of Caroline Lee’s gorgeous Australian accent so I started listening to yet another Liane Moriarty book this time Three Wishes. Unlike The Husband’s Secret or Little Lies there isn’t much of a mystery to this story and I think it’s my least favourite of hers that I’ve read so far. That said Three Wishes was also Moriarty’s first ever published novel so of course her work would improve over time and you can already start to see the development of her own style. I think my main problem with this one is that not very much happens, it’s more a glimpse into a year in the lives of the triplets each with their own set of every day problems.

My final Audible selection of the month was You’re the one that I want by Giovanna Fletcher. I’ve previously read almost all of Gi’s books and really enjoyed them but I have to say this was my least favourite of the lot. It was another book that didn’t seem to go anywhere and very stereotypical with the whole can girls and boys really just be friends thing. I found all three main characters to be quite annoying and just wanted to shake them by the shoulders at times to get them to actually DO something. Bit of a disappointing way to end off the month really.

BOOKS READ THIS MONTH: 4
BOOKS READ SO FAR THIS YEAR: 31
BOOKS READ FOR POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE: 17

September

You’d think, or maybe just hope, that being unemployed would mean that I’d have a lot of time on my hands for reading but actually that’s not the case at all and I’ve been listening to a lot more podcasts/having Netflix on in the background while I’ve been job hunting instead so this months reading list is fairly short with only three books on the list I’m afraid! Not only that but it’s another Liane Moriarty fest… whoops!

First up, What Alice Forgot and after the slight disappointment of Three Wishes I felt that Moriarty was back at what she does best – slowly unravelling a mystery at the perfect pace. Alice wakes up after an accident having lost memories of the past ten years of her life. While there were many things I couldn’t relate to directly it did get me thinking about my own life and the differences between me at 20 and now at 30! Since turning 30 I’ve been feeling a little lost and how I imagine I should have felt at 20 whereas at 20 I was in a long term relationship planning to buy my first property with him which is kind of where I feel my life should be now. Like I said, thought provoking!

I’m not sure if they somehow sensed that I was on a Liane Moriarty binge or something but NetGalley offered me early access to her newest book Truly Madly Guilty*  – Moriarty is on form with this one, teasing the reader with what actually happened at the BBQ, making you believe everything her characters are going through and still able to surprise you with the direction that she takes the plot.  This is probably my second favourite of her novels, it was a truly fantastic read and reminded me of just how good a well written mystery could be!

I realised towards the end of the month that I hadn’t made much progress on the reading challenge I set myself at the start of the year so I gave Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix a listen as my “book that’s more than 600 pages”. I get the sneaky suspicion I’m not going to  complete the list but it has at least pushed me to try new genres of book that I wouldn’t have otherwise. As for OotP – it doesn’t hurt any less with every reread. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Harry Potter was my first ever fandom and holds such a special place in my heart there is no other fictional world I’ve fallen so head over heels with and if that’s a cliche then I don’t even care.

BOOKS READ THIS MONTH: 3
BOOKS READ SO FAR THIS YEAR: 34
BOOKS READ FOR POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE: 18

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy by the publisher in exchange for a review.
The above opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.

This page also contains affiliate links.
If you buy the books through the links on this page,
I’ll earn a tiny commission to put towards even more books in the future!

September 2016 NET Worth

Credit
Cash – £2.73
PayPal – £61.25
Santander – £2,891.63
Halifax C/A – £6,034.85
TSB – £573.80
Tesco – £1,281.14
Credit total – £10,845.40

Debts
Capital One C/C – £1,461.75
MBNA C/C – £3,139.75
Virgin Atlantic C/C – £2,297.64
Halifax C/C – £2,583.68
Loan from Mum – £4,000.00
Loan from Dad – £2,000.00
Debt total – (£15,482.82)

Net worth
£10,845.40 – £15,482.82 = –£4,637.42

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