It's been a while....

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

I remember a time when bloggers used to use song lyrics as post titles, which generally told you nothing about the post content but it was thought to be the 'blogger thing' to do. Fast forward a few years and we've learned a lot, however on this occasion I felt a song lyric (bonus points if you know it!) completely said what this post was about.

Well, it has been a while - two years in fact since I last actually posted anything to my blog. I'm not even sure how that happened. I've enjoyed taking photographs more than ever and my passion for reading blogs hasn't gone at all. I do feel that I maybe got left behind somewhat though. As so called 'super bloggers' got bigger and bigger and bigger it became harder to do something original and different, and ultimately be noticed. With readers inboxes being flooded daily with so much amazing content how would a sometime-inconsistently-posted to-blog ever get engaged with?
So why come back at all? Because I've grown and I've changed. And I missed it. I've been knocking around Instagram a lot and it re-ignited the joy I used to get from blogging. Writing, reading and engaging.  I decided to come back with a different feel, a different approach and a different blog name (Hi!). I intend to post when I want, that may be once a month, once a week, hey, even once a day, if the mood so takes me, but I don't want to feel tied to the advice of needing to post regularly to get followers. If you're here and reading that's great and I already love you for it. Hopefully you wont mind how regularly I post, because you will enjoy what I do, when I do it.
It also seems appropriate to explain that my content is likely to change. A lot has happened in two years - I moved house and became a (joint) home owner for the first time (it only took until I was past 30 and married for it to finally happen) and became a Mama to a real life actual mini human being! Throughout being pregnant I wondered whether it was something I should document via my blog but in all honesty I was very tired and very busy with work, home renovations, and generally just being a fat hot mess! These changes do mean that my beauty regime is not quite what it used to be and I get a kick out of buying baby sized clothes rather than adult sized clothes, and as maternity pay is rubbish it means our finances are certainly not what they used to be. We try to go on some min adventures still (everyday is an adventure with a baby though right?) and I'm still all about my home interiors but there is invariably likely to be a lot more 'mum and baby' talk than previously (but without becoming a mummy blogger)
So, hi, welcome, stroll through the (sometimes embarrassing) archives and as Bows Bangles and Bakes is now no more, Jenni's Journal will take its place.

Mini Shopping Spree

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I suppose this is actually what you would call a mini haul but I wanted to avoid calling it that for some reason. Some of the pictures for this post were partly a way of playing with my new camera but I liked how thy turned out so thought I'd shared what I'd actually bought during a bit of a mooch around Meadowhall. I think I probably bought some other things as well but probably didn't photograph them.
I picked up this statement necklace in good old Primark. For Primark it was on the dearer side (£8) but there was a lot of necklace for the money and I knew I would get plenty of wear out of it. I had initially planned to take the ribbon off and change it for a change, as I thought I'd struggle to keep getting it undone but so far I haven't actually had a problem so I haven't gotten around to doing this yet.
I picked up this Revolution Eyeshadow Palette, in Flawless Matte as I liked that all the neutral shades were a matte finish, which I find more wearable on a day to day basis than shimmery shades. At only £8 I thought it was pretty cheap which may mean the pigmentation was not as good as some more expensive eyeshadows, but for a day to day eyeshadow, overall, its pretty good. As its been a while since I've really engaged with the blogging world its probably that Revolution make up has been blogged about until the cows come home, but it still a bit of a new discovery for me.
I've always read lots about Topshop makeup, but never actually bought any, and as cute as I found the packaging (I really am a sucker for packaging!) I could never really justify the purchase. However I was in the market for a couple of new lipsticks and some new make up brushes. I've always used Body Shop make up brushes, but I liked that these came in a little roll up pouch which makes it perfect for weekends away without having to choose between my bigger brush collection. I am still being a bit precious about them at the minute - only using them for my full on "night out" make  up rather than my everyday make up. I know its silly really but it does mean that hopefully they will last longer. I love the softness of new brushes and how much smoother your make up goes on.
I also picked up two lipsticks, but in two different finishes. Pillow Talk is a velvet finish pinky nude lipstick. I have a similar colour pink but in a much more vibrant shade, which I love to wear for a night out instead of a red lip on occasion, but this is a more day to day wearable shade. I've actually had a few compliments on this colour and for £8 I don't find it overly pricey (particularly considering a lot of 'drug store' lipstick are coming in at a similar price these days). Role Model is a matte finish lipstick and over the latter part of last year this got some serious use. Its such a great autumnal shade, but again works well for a night time look.
I'm pretty impressed with my first foray into Topshop make up so far, and I will definitely be buying some more.
Do you have any recommendations for your favourite items of Topshop make up?

P.s If you want to find out a little bit more about me, you can check out my interview on Cider with Rosie

Home Interior Dreams

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Oh Pinterest, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You got me through a DIY budget wedding and have always been there with a last minute outfit idea, and now, my little fingers are exhausting your beautiful interior inspirations.
During the lull times of buying a house (there are lots of them) I like to waste many an hour planning what my home will eventually look like when we move in (please just take my money and give me the keys!!)
Even though we rent we've been looking enough to  be able to decorate more or less to our own tastes. Previously I've always like to inject a bit of colour into my walls and furniture, but over time I've felt tied to the accents colours in the wallpaper and sofa. Although its only subtle, its amazing how restricting this can be. This time I've made the decision to keep my décor fairly neutral and inject colour via accessories and soft furnishings.
Greys and white seem to be my neutrals of choice. I love the simplicity of grey and with two black fur babies (one of whom with a love of muddy puddles) creams and whites are not always practical, so grey is a good choice, particularly for furniture. Purples with a grey undertone like lavender create a really calming scheme which is exactly what I want to aim for. We are planning on changing our furniture for a chaise sofa and a chair, but I really can't justify the expense of a full on wing back chair (I'm looking at you £400 Next chair!) so Pinterest came up trumps with the Ikea Strandmon. Its so classic looking with a retro vibe and with a matching footstool for under £200, the husband is pretty pleased too!
I've really struggled to choose a colour scheme for my bedroom. I currently have navy and I still really like it but with a new house you feel you have to have a completely new colour, you know? I  feel in love with copper accents and while these won't work in my kitchen, copper will look great for my drawer pulls and dressing table accessories. Teamed with a blush pink, ala this years Panetone colour of the year, and my neutrals it should work for a feminine but not overly girly bedroom.
As I updated my bathroom and kitchen recently, I intend to keep the same schemes when we move, but as we will have windows I can add extra blinds and other items to finish it off properly.
Now all I want to do is go shopping - hurry up house!

My Most Expensive Blog Purchase - Sony A5000

Monday, 25 January 2016

When I first started this blog, way back when, my photography skills were terrible and my layouts had even more to be desired, I used a combination of whichever iPhone incarnation I was toting around at the time, and a pretty dusty point and shoot. I fairly swiftly upgraded to a second hand bridge camera, but secretly always wanted a camera with changeable lenses, but didn't really feel I could justify the purchase

Despite not blogging for a while, my hankering for a more complex piece of kit never went away, but the cost was still pretty high. Coupled with knowing it was never going to go very far, just by virtue of the sheer size of a bonafide DSLR, choosing said camera was pretty difficult.

Enter the Sony A5000. This little piece of gorgeousness is my current favourite new toy and has travelled a fair distance so far (although it is far too precious to make a girls night out).

First of all - I mean it's pretty pretty isn't it? Ordinarily  I would always choose black or silver, but when I saw this came in white, I knew that was the colour I had to go for - because its all about the outside when picking a camera right?
Well no, obviously not. I really want to get into trying different lenses in order to achieve that ever so sought after blurred background. The A5000 comes with 16-50mm zoom lens which is just perfect for achieving these shots. Whenever I've zoomed in on something before it tends to lose focus or go blurry but this doesn't - it stays crisp and clear.
The LCD flip up screen is also a great little feature - particularly  for taking selfies or outfit shots. Its a shame it doesn't swing out sideways, which I seem to instinctively want it to do, but I'm getting used to it flipping up.
The A5000 has got various little features for making your pictures look extra perfect, including soft skin effect (helps smooth out some of the wrinkles which I seem to be acquiring the older I get!) For a lot of bloggers the inclusion of HD video and the ability to connect to WIFI and upload straight to your mobile is fab! I haven't used the video feature just yet but I love sending pictures straight to my mobile, adding an Instagram filter and uploading straight away, without the need to involve my laptop at all.
Without the lens attached the body is really slim and easily fits in a small bag - its similar to a point and shoot, however the lens does make it a slightly more bulky shape, and then only really fits into a proper size handbag. As I'm still a bit nervous about taking it anywhere, its only really come out on day trips when I have a big tote with me, so this hasn't really caused too much of a problem just yet.
I picked this one up for about £180.00 on Ebay. It was advertised as used, bt the box and all the contents were in pristine condition - with all the wrap ties, so I'm not even sure it was used. Either way, I fell like I've got a bit of a bargain.
I'm still learning more about my camera and its features, but I've got some events coming up this year and I'm excited to see what I can achieve with it.

Where to begin.......

Saturday, 23 January 2016

This has actually been a petty hard post to write - I mean, where do you start? It's like going back to school after the school holidays only you're a week behind everyone else and you kinda don't know where you fit anymore. The blog world changes so much on a daily basis that to be away as long as I have you start to wonder where you slot back in, and the longer you leave it, the harder it is.
The lovely Rosie popped an email into my inbox gently reminding me I was currently top ad spot on her blog. I'd signed up months ago (because she is so lovely she has a super huge waiting list) never dreaming my blog would be virtually disappearing by the point it went live. So actually big thanks to Rosie for giving me the kick up the bum I needed! The weird thing was I never stopped being a blogger in my head, snapping pictures, replacing my old camera with a shiny new one (more to come) and regularly thinking "ooo I must blog about this!".
With such a long absence you expect there to be some sort of long winded explanation with reasons why. The truth is I don't have any big revelations it just that sometimes life just gets in the way! The last you heard of me I was getting very excited for my honeymoon then - bam nothing! (Just for the record the honeymoon did happen, honest!)
I think the problem was after the honeymoon I sort of fell out with the world a little bit after that. We had been in the process of starting to buy a house and we came back from holiday pretty excited. Three days later everything fell through and I was pretty annoyed frankly. We currently rent and because we rent off my parents we have a lot of freedom in terms of our décor choices. After almost four years everything was starting to get a bit tired and ready for a refresh but we had been holding off as we were moving and my Mum had plans to renovate. When everything fell through, I got pretty down. I've always been a house proud person and I'd lost that a little. The next two or three months saw the paint brushes get whipped out and various little changes occur which made big changes to my mood. This did mean dipping into our savings but we figured it would be worth it as most of what we did was transferrable.
Life never really works out for us like we hope it will. After settling back in to our slightly tired but slightly improved home, having just spent a little bit of "house" money, the house thing all started back up again! We are currently mid-purchase and let me tell you, the sooner it is over the better! Once you view and put your offer in you can't help but spend hours on Pintrest, swooning over Laura Ashley wallpaper and cosy evenings marking pages in the Book of Dreams (also known as the Next catalogue!)  Yet to me it all seems to be taking blumming forever. Having never bought a house (we've always rented) after just over two months and being no closer to exchange and completion I'm getting itchy feet!
Aside from the above, the back end of 2015 seemed to be a bit of a whirlwind of weddings, parties, events (including our first wedding anniversary - I've been a Mrs for, well, over a whole year now!) and work, and before you knew it Christmas (and all that goes with that!) had arrived - mid house purchase! Our timing, as always, is impeccable.
So despite this being hard to start I didn't struggle with things to say. I thought I'd include a picture of a few of the things 2015 entailed but rather than looking back lets move forward to lots of exciting things for the rest of 2016!

Time for us....

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I've had so many unplanned blogging breaks of late, but it's just because life is just too busy at times. Even my downtime seems to be busy, or even when its not, sometimes I just need to completely chill out and relax, and although blogging is a hobby I enjoy, at times it can get a little stressy.

I haven't been abroad since we went to Cuba three years ago. I know for some people this isn't a big deal, but as someone who usually goes away once per year, this is a long time for me! My husband has still managed to top up his tan in between with various 'lads' short breaks, but when you work in quite a stressful job, the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing is something I really look forward to!

We've had a couple of UK mini breaks over the last couple of years but with saving for our wedding and having Toby and Star,  abroad holidays are going to be something of a rarity. I always thought I would never be a lazying at the beach kind of person, and as much as I enjoy our adventuring, sometimes a girl just needs to kick back and enjoy a bit of downtime in pure luxury.

This year Scott and I are going to Sensatori Egypt for our honeymoon, albeit a little late! We were so lucky that so many of our guests contributed towards our honeymoon fund, and it meant we could go for that little extra, by having a swim up room in the adults only section. As a couple with no children at this time in our lives, that bit of peace and quiet and privacy is exactly what we both need. The warm weather we've had recently in England has only wetted my appetite further to feel the warm hot sun on my face!

I am literally on countdown to our holiday now, so these pictures are probably as much for my benefit as yours! I've never been to Egypt, or a Sensatori hotel before, but the reviews suggest I won't be disappointed! I also turn 30 whilst we are away so I will certainly be making use of the resort spa in an effort to turn back the clock so to speak!

Have you been to Sensatori Egypt? Do you have any tips?

BBB Book Review - Mr Churchill's Secretary

Monday, 6 April 2015

Mr Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Now and again I like to ignore the age old adage of "don't judge a book by it's cover." Occasionally I like to pop into The Works as they often have 3 books for £5, which are usually quite unusual or unknown. I spotted the cover of this book due to the leading lady's striking red hair and the bomber planes in the background. When the corner title implied it was a mystery novel, for the price, I had to give it (and the next two novels in the series) a try.

"London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself."

My keen eye for an attractive cover served me well on this occasion, and I was hooked throughout! I've always been a bit of a lover of WW2 Home Front fiction and mystery novels are usually my genre of choice.  As the novel is set against the backdrop of real events and feature real people you have to expect some level of artistic licence with some things. The book is a work of fiction and doesn't pretend to be entirely accurately historical. That being said it seems well researched and references the era well.  To some extent I could have happily just read about Maggie's strife's of living in war torn London, but add in codebreaking, Bletchley and MI5 and I was a happy little bookworm. At first you wouldn't necessarily know it is a mystery novel as the sections featuring Maggie are generally about her day to day life, but every now and again there are little snippets of other people that hint that Maggie's life may be about to get a bit more complex.

I found Maggie a likeable character and although other reviews I have read have commented that she is not entirely believable, I feel that her level of intellect is clearly backed up by her character biography. Without spoiling the plot line I liked the way the story twists and turns and it's been a while since I've sped through a book so quickly. I've already started the next book in the series!

Can you recommend any other books like Maggie Hope that I might enjoy reading? 

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