Five Ways I’m Going Green – May 2017

Since the popularity of the last Five Ways I’m Going Green blog post, I thought I would update you all with how I’m progressing with my mission to go green. I’ve continued to make small changes throughout both my house and my lifestyle to try and reduce my carbon footprint and to try and spread the word of overconsumption and plastic pollution.

  1. Use Less Plastic – after reading up on plastic pollution, I’m making a conscious effort to use less plastic in my daily life (or if unavoidable, trying to reuse it!). I’ve stopped buying single use bottles of juice, solely relying on my reusable water bottles and I’ve stopped buying lunch at work and packing my lunches to take with me. I’m trying to source a reusable travel mug that is ‘non-spillable’ as I can’t have one at work that if it gets knocked over it won’t spill hot liquid onto the computers or paperwork.
  2. More Home Cooking – I’m trying to make more food from scratch at home, from soup to pasta sauces. Generally speaking, I do make a lot from scratch normally, but I’ve been trying to increase the amount I’m making fresh and in batches so I can freeze it and defrost when needed.
  3. Shop Locally – alongside the buying loose vegetables from my last update, I’m trying to shop more locally as well. I’ve found a lovely local fruit and veg shop that is great for finding loose fruit and veg as well as bulk beans and pulses. I’ve also scouted out another local shop that has bulk herbs and spices, as well as coffee and loose leaf teas.
  4. Reducing Waste – In general, I’m trying to reduce the amount of waste that me and boyfriend are responsible for producing. One thing I’m struggling with is that we live in a flat without a garden, so we can’t compost. It’s a slow process but I feel like we’re working towards the same goal.
  5. Instagram inspiration – okay, so this isn’t specifically related to going green, but I’m finding that whenever I’m struggling along the way turning to Instagram is really helpful at getting my inspiration and motivation back. #zerowaste and #ecoliving are my favourite, but there are plenty more that are very inspirational. Go on, check them out.

Let me know if you’re already on a green living or zero waste lifestyle and what you find helps to keep going on your environmental mission. have you got any tips for newbie eco warrior and ways to help me on my green path?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I was in a bit of a reading slump that had been ongoing for a little while and I wanted something that I knew would get me back on the reading bandwagon, so I picked up Harry Potter. I’ve not read any of the Harry Potter books in years, since before I joined Goodreads back in 2012 so I thought it was about time that I revisited my old favourite!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone may classed as a children’s novel, but it is still as enjoyable as an adult. I’m not going to go into details about the book because I find it very hard to believe that due to the popularity of the books and the film series that there is a single human being reading this blog post that doesn’t know the basic premise of the books.

What I will say is that when reading the first instalment of Harry Potter again, I noticed a few little bits and bobs that hint at things to come in future books and I also noticed bits of the story that I hadn’t noticed the first few times of reading. I was a child when the Harry Potter books came out and my Dad used to read me the books at bedtime,  so all of the books hold a very special place in my heart. The amount of influence that J.K Rowling’s books had on me is immense, and it’s all most fully down to the Harry Potter series that I am a fully fledged fantasy lover.

If for some bizarre reason you’ve never read Harry Potter, then I urge you to go and pick up this book. If you’ve not read Harry Potter for a long time, then I urge you to go and pick up this book. If you’ve read Harry Potter recently but you love it, then I urge you to go and pick up this book. You can’t go wrong with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (even if it’s not the best book in the series!).

Perfect – Cecelia Ahern

Everyone knows how I much I love Cecelia Ahern and her writing. So every time I get the opportunity to read her books, of course I jump at the chance to pick them up. I loved Flawed, and as soon as I realised the Ahern was writing a sequel, I got exceptionally excited about it.

Flawed follows Celestine North as she lives in a society where going against what is deemed ‘acceptable’ results in being branded Flawed. After standing up for an elderly Flawed man on the bus, Celestine faces being branded Flawed herself and along the way she begins to see just how flawed the society she lives in actually is.

As this is the sequel in the duology, I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. What I will say is that this book could not have come at a more appropriate time. With the current political climate in both Britain (with us leaving the EU) and in America (with Donald Trump as President) and all the hate it’s stirring up, this book helps to remind it’s readers about the power that the public and each individual has in the greater good of society.

As always, Cecelia Ahern’s writing is powerful and moving. Her writing is inspiring, and will instil a motivation to be a better version of yourself as you read the novel. Her writing will make you question your own views of the world around you and any prejudices that you may or may not hold. And I will say that she writes a damn good lead male, because I fell a little bit in love with Carrick throughout both of the books.

The Flawed series is one of the best Young Adult that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time, and although the plot is quite political, the books are very easy to read and almost impossible to put down. I would highly recommend both books.

Five out of Five stars.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

I love walking and hiking, so this book has been on my radar for a while and I finally decided to purchase the audiobook from audible. I’ve read so many mixed reviews about the book, so I was unsure about what to expect when I started listening to the book on my commutes to work.

First thing first, can I just say how lovely the narrator of this audiobook’s voice is? She has one of the most soothing, relaxing and easy-to-listen to voices that I’ve ever heard and that alone made listening to the book good. I often find that the narrators voice can distract from the storyline (some of the voices are downright annoying), but her voice suited this book to a tee.

Now on to the actual book. I understand why some people rate this book so poorly, it’s definitely not a classic, but that’s not what the book is about. The book tells the story of Cheryl as she hikes her way along the Pacific Crest Trail and the moments that led her to the trek. Yeah, she slept around and cheated on her husband (which I don’t condone) and yes she did heroin (again, not condoning) but without talking about them, her book wouldn’t the real story. Again, she moans about the task at hand and also about what led her to doing to trail, but realistically who wouldn’t reflect and moan as they hiked through hundreds of miles of American countryside, especially when doing it on there own?

What I liked about this book was that it inspired me. It made me want to spend time outdoors and to go on a walking and camping holiday, which I think is one of the main points of this book. We live in a society where we’ve become so wrapped up in everyday life and often we turn to Drs and medicines to seek help, when the outdoors and some time away from normality can do all the wonders in the world.

I don’t think that the point of this book was to be ground breaking, or to be something that is taught in schools. The point of this book was for Cheryl to share her story of the Pacific Crest Trail and to pass on the knowledge that she learned as she went. And this it does very well. It’s her story to tell, and tell it she did.

Four out of Five stars.

A Day Walking – Kelso to Roxburgh Old Circular

Boyfriend and I don’t get very many days off together, so when we do, we like to spend as much time together doing what we love. Which tends to mean that we spend the majority of our time off outside walking, biking, exploring or hiking. However, we run into problems with what to do with our time during winter, because we live in Scotland and the weather is cold and miserable and snowy. So when it gets back to nice, sunny and warm weather, we come alive again and start going outdoors to enjoy the end of our hibernation.

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So on our last day off, I forced Boyfriend to come for a nice 10km walk along to riverside at Kelso and along the old railway line to Roxburgh and back again, and of course, I had to bring my camera with me for some photos!

LambsIt’s a lovely circular walk that’s relatively flat, and takes you along the riverside, up onto the old railway line towards Roxburgh and then back along the other side of the river. It’s so serene and peaceful, you come across very few people the majority of whom are either fisherman or dog walkers.

Bridge

Honestly, the amount of beauty that surrounds you on this walk is astounding. I love being surrounded by nature, and the Scottish Borders is an incredibly beautiful place. I am blessed to live in such a lovely part of the world and it’s not something that I take for granted. But I think a lot of people do take where they live for granted more often than not, and I really think that’s a shame. Go and explore where you live, find all the beautiful spots, and explore all the wonderful nature that’s on your doorstep!

Railway

I am so excited for getting out and exploring more now that the weather is getting nicer and sunnier! Who else is excited about summer?

 

Healthy Habits – March 2017

Oh guys, it’s been such a long time since I’ve written a healthy habits post, and I must admit it’s because I haven’t really been keeping up with my healthy habits myself. However, I’m feeling motivated and I really want to start focussing more on healthy eating and fitness again. So, I thought I would restart these posts (probably monthly) to try and keep myself on track.

I’m not aiming for weight loss, I’m more focussing on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One that’s manageable and somewhat effortless, by making small changes at a time in the hopes of keeping them up in the long term. I’m somewhat happy with how I look, although I could do with losing a little bit of belly flob and I’m struggling to get my face under control (I always thought that as soon as I was out of my teens, the spots and breakouts would end, boy was I wrong!).

I’m setting myself four little lifestyle adjustments for the month of March, where I’ll be implanting one per week and then keeping it going as I take on the next change for the week ahead and so on and so forth. I like this idea, because it seems much more manageable, but I suppose it’s not what suits everyone. Some people want to dive in and go full steam ahead. That’s not me and I know that the habits won’t stick in the long run if I were to do it that way.

  1. Leave my purse at home/in the car when at work – hopefully this will stop me impulse buying chocolate and fizzy juice whilst at work. Helping me to be a little healthier and also saving me money as well! I’ve got a terrible habit of buying myself unhealthy treats to brighten up my day and I need to stop it.
  2. Go for a walk – I want to be more active generally, so I thought it would be good to re-introduce my lunchtime walks. I get two half hours of breaks at work and I usually spend both of them on my bum, doing nothing but staring at my phone and wasting away some of my precious time.
  3. Drink 1.5 litres of water a day – I always, ALWAYS, have my reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go. But for some reason, I really struggle to drink more than 1 litre of water a day. I know that it’s good for your skin and your brain so I really want to push towards drinking less juice and more water.
  4. Work out twice a week – okay, so I really mean three times a week because I want to start getting back into Yoga as well. I want to do either a run or a cycle and then an at home HIIT workout each week as well as one yoga session. Achievable but something I’ve not being doing too much of recently and I really need to sort it out!

What health and fitness goals have you been setting yourself since the start of the year?

March TBR Pile

Hello!

I didn’t do quite as well with my reading in February as I would have liked (I only read ONE book, what!?), so I’m hoping to get back on track again this month. I’m not giving myself too big of a goal, but I really want to get back into listening to audiobooks on my commute, so hopefully that will help to up my reading game!

1. Wild – Cheryl Strayed: Does this count as cheating because I started this is February, but I’m hoping to finish this audiobook this month. I’m loving it so far, the narrator’s voice is so relaxing (which probably doesn’t make it the commuter audiobook). I like how the narrative combines the walking and adventure with the stories about the past so seamlessly.

2. Charlotte’s Web – E.B White: Okay, so this definitely counts as cheating. I started reading this at the very start of February, but I left it at my parent’s house when I stayed over for the weekend and I’ve only just got it back this weekend. I’m loving it so far, it’s terrible that I’ve never read such a popular and classic child’s book before. I need to finish it this month!

3. Happy Mum, Happy Baby – Giovanna Fletcher: Is it weird that I purchased this book, despite not having a child, nor having any intention of having children at any point in the near future? Having said that, I’m very excited to listen to Giovanna narrate her way through her trials and tribulations of parenting!

4. If You’re Lucky – Yvonne Prinz: Okay, so this is terrible of me but I received this book months and months ago for review and I’ve still not managed to get round to picking this book up. So, I think it’s time to perhaps finally get round to reading. I don’t even remember what the book is about, but I’m planning on leaving it like that because I like a surprise read every now and again!

What books are you planning on reading this month?

Five Ways I’m Going Green

The planet and the environment have always been a great concern for me. I love nature, I love animals and I want to cherish and protect the beautiful world that we live on. I hear so many people saying the same things and posting on social media and blog posts about global warming and how important it is to protect the environment. However, I see very little on social media and blogs about how people are helping and trying to do their own bit, so I thought I would pitch in and tell you all how I’m going more green this year. 

My plan is to continue making changes throughout my lifestyle in order to do more and more to go towards protecting the environment. The reason for making the changes gradually is because I feel like if I make the changes too quickly, I will not be able to maintain the lifestyle that I want to eventually lead. I also, have other people in my household, so have to introduce them gradually to all the changes that I plan to come. 

So far, I’ve come up with a few changes, some of which I’ve already started to implement. So far, I’ve found that these are not only helping me to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but they’re making me healthier as I go along! 

1. Stop eating beef – after watching the documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio, I haven’t touch beef. I’ve been using pork as a substitute and I must say, myself and my boyfriend are finding that the recipes are even more tasty without the taste of beef! I hadn’t realised that beef production was so bad for the environment, so I’m grateful for the documentary for teaching me this! 

2. Buy loose veg – this is such a simple way to reduce the amount of plastic you consume, and I’ve started doing it recently. Normally the loose veg is actually cheaper or the same price as the packaged veg so it’s not costing me any more and it’s costing the environment less….the only thing I can’t find unpackaged is cucumber, they’re always plastic wrapped! 

3. Less Palm Oil – ultimately I want to stop using palm oil entirely (unless sustainably sourced -Nairn’s do this!). So I’m working on cutting down on my palm containing products, slowly but surely. I’ve stopped buying my favourite Kellogg’s snack bars as they all contain palm oil, and I’m making sure I’m checking all the labels as I shop! I’m finding beauty products that are palm free a lot harder to find! 

4. Use More Glass – this is one I’m working on, buying less plastic and more glass. Things like oil is easy to source in Glass, but very little else comes in glass containers. I’m also starting to use glass more to store things at home after learning how much toxins plastic leaks into your food whilst storing! Scary stuff. 

5. Walk or cycle – this is a very simple change that people can make in their lives to help the environment. I can’t cycle to work regularly as it’s about 30 miles each way, but I’ve started to walk to my supermarket for the weekly shop (about a 40 minute walk away). Helping me to reduce my carbon footprint and also helping me to get a little fitter whilst doing chores! 

What ways are you adopting to help reduce your waste and your carbon footprint? 

Blood For Blood – Ryan Graudin

First and foremost guys, how is this the only book I’ve managed to read in February? I was all set to have a great reading year, I read four books in January and it’s already tapered out in the second month? The fact that I’ve only read one book does not reflect poorly on the quality of this book, merely that I’ve had little to no time to actually read (or at least, whenever I’ve been picking my book up before bed, I’ve been nodding off because I’m shattered).

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Blood for Blood is the sequel to Wolf by Wolf, which I don’t think I ever reviewed for this blog. The duology follows Yael, as she’s challenged to murder Hitler after he won the Second World War. I love historical fiction, particularly historical fiction that surrounds World War II, so a Young Adult series set in the aftermath of Hitler winning the war was something I was going to love.

Obviously, I’m not going to go into details, because I don’t want to spoil the books for anyone who hasn’t read them. However, what I will say is that I’ve fallen in love with Graudin’s writing style, so much so that halfway through this book, I purchased The Walled City, also by this author. Graudin writes characters that are relatable, believable and likeable. I wanted to be Yael’s friend within a couple of chapters into Wolf by Wolf, and I was eager to see how her story progressed throughout Blood for Blood.

Not only does Graudin write great characters, but the storyline is completely and utterly believable. Obviously, Hitler didn’t win the war, so no one knows what would have happened but everything that Graudin includes in the books could easily have happened. Except from maybe the whole skinshifter element, but that didn’t deter from the story. In fact, it adds to the story, because Hitler did indeed commission experiments to be carried out on those in concentration camps, so it fits easily into the story. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of science fiction in their novels?

The only real problem that I had with the book was the skinshifting element, whilst yes their were experiments carried out, skin shifting is a little bit far fetched. I also think that the premise of the novels could have been carried out easily without the inclusion of skin shifting. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy both of the books overall. In fact, their one of my favourite duologies that I’ve read in a while.

Four out of Five star.

 

My Top 10 Favourite Authors

Hello!

I thought I would do a little bit of a different book-related post today and tell you guys my top 10 favourite authors, who generally tend to be ‘auto-buys’ whenever I see a new release! I will admit, after writing the list down, I would never have thought that my favourite author list would be so varied – there’s even a couple of celebrity authors on the list. Any without further ado, I present my favourite authors!

  1. Jodi Picoult – is this a surprise? Anyone who reads my blogs will already know my love for Jodi Picoult’s writing. She has written some of my favourite books and I love that each and every book she’s written is completely and utterly unique. She writes books about topics that no other authors tend to write, about difficult topics. Her books books range from suicide pacts, racism, school shootings, brittle bone disease and autism, and I truly love her for that. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing Jodi Picoult speak about her books, and she is the loveliest lady in person as well! Book recommendation: The Storyteller dsc_0133
  2. Sarah J Maas – Again, this is no secret, I love Sarah J Maas. I was so conflicted when A Court of Thorns and Roses was released because I was fully in love with Throne of Glass. I didn’t think I could enjoy a book series more than Throne of Glass but A Court of Thorns and Roses is even better in my opinion. Definitely recommend both book series written by her.
  3. Malorie Blackman – Malorie Blackman was one of my favourite authors when I was in my teens and I still love her writing to this day. I find myself re-reading the Noughts and Crosses series every now and again, usually every couple of years, because they’re like my security blanket books. Some people re-read Harry Potter, I always turn to Noughts and Crosses. They’re brilliantly written and there are very few teen books I’ve read that tackle racism and politics in such an understandable way!
  4. Rosamund Lupton – I always get a thrill whenever I hear that there is a new Rosamund Lupton book coming out, and it’s something I look forward to for months before hand. Rosamund Lupton writes thrillers with a twist. You will never EVER see her endings coming and it’s one of the reasons that I love her writing. Other than the fact that she makes you fall in love with characters and makes them feel like their your best friend. Book recommendation: Afterwardsdsc_0138
  5. J.K Rowling – how could I not include the Harry Potter author on this list? Harry Potter defined my childhood, my dad used to read me the books at bedtime and whenever a new book was released, I would go to midnight releases of the books and would even get dressed up as a wizard when I went! I will admit however, that I have not read her latest books (do they count if they’re written under a pseudonym?). I need to reread Harry Potter, it’s been too long!
  6. Bill Bryson – I always try to read a Bill Bryson book a year, I love his writing style and I love how I always walk away from his books having learned something new. I’ve not read many of Bill Bryson’s books, I always take a while to read them for some reason but I would definitely include Bryson as one of my favourite authors. I don’t have a specific favourite by Bill Bryson, all his books are so different and teach you so much that I think you should join me in reading them all!
  7. Heather Gudenkauf – I have my mother to thank for introducing me to Heather Gudenkauf’s wonderful thrillers. Much like Rosamund Lupton, Gudenkauf throws twists and turns into her writing that you will not ever see coming.   I’ve not actually read a book by Heather Gudenkauf for a while, which of course means that as soon as this post is done, I’m away to order more of her books! Recommendation: One Breath Away
  8. Giovanna Fletcher – now, I know that this might seem a little weird because the last post I wrote about Mrs Fletcher was a scathing review about Always With Love, but overall, I love Giovanna’s writing. I will admit, I have a little bit of a girl crush on Giovanna (and her whole family) so I do get a little bit too excited whenever she releases a new book. I immediately have to go and pre-order her new books as soon as I hear about them. And who doesn’t need more feel good, chick lit in their lives? Recommendation: Dream A Little Dream
  9. Richard Hammond – Okay, so I admit this is a little bit of a weird one to be included in this list, but I love all the auto-biographies that Richard Hammond has written. I love reading about the adventure he’s gotten up to on Top Gear from his sole perspective and I think that his book On The Edge is one of my all time favourite reads. It talks about his life after the high speed crash that happened whilst filming Top Gear and the aftermath of dealing with his brain injury.
  10. Ryan Graudin – I’ve recently found a new out about Ryan Graudin and I am in love. Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf series is becoming one of my favourite series. I love that the Wolf by Wolf series tackles WW2 as a young adult topic, but I love it even more that it’s written as if Hitler had won the war, that really appeals to my inner geek! After reading that one series, I’ve since purchased The Walled City and I fully intend to read it soon within the year.dsc_0140

I hope this gives you a little more insight into my reading habits and my ‘auto-buy’ authors. I’m away to go and browse through all these wonderful authors and perhaps buy some of their books that I’ve never purchased yet!